There are ducks on our pond again!
The duck ‘n’ buck yard is a little fantasy I concocted last fall, dreaming of a way to keep the bucks near the house instead of in the bottom pastures as well as a way to get the ducks back on the pond. Year before last, we lost all but one of our Pekins. I don’t know for sure, but I think they drifted away, lured by the siren song of the river. We put our one remaining lonely duck in the chicken yard where she dreamed her own little dream of having duck friends once again. Last spring, we got three new Pekins and three Rouens. After they came out of the brooder, they, too, went to the safety of the chicken yard. By fall, I was dreaming of this duck ‘n’ buck yard.
Which is actually a duck ‘n’ buck ‘n’ guinea ‘n’ goose yard, but that’s a mouthful.
Several people have asked why a duck ‘n’ buck yard, is this common practice, what is the theory behind this combination? As far as I know, this is just my own wacko idea. It’s based in part on convenience and efficiency of the use of space and materials, but also in large part on my observation of the chickens who free-range and roost on the goat pen gates. We don’t have a big predator problem around our goat yard and chicken house. (We did have one raccoon attack a couple of years ago, but in the scheme of things, we’ve been pretty fortunate in that area.) We’ve never even had deer get in our vegetable garden–and that’s rare around here. I believe the reason for all of that is the proximity to the house, the dogs, and the presence of larger animals in the goat yard where the free-range chickens roost. (The goats and sometimes the donkeys and cows.) So along with the convenience and efficiency of space and materials, my theory is that keeping the bucks in the same field with the ducks will act as a protection to the ducks. And at the very least, the ducks, hopefully, won’t get out and run away to the river.
Beginning of March, as we were gathering materials to get started:
The duck ‘n’ buck yard encompasses our pond, which is fed from springs on our hill.
It drains down to the river below, which keeps the pond from flooding.
The pond will make the ducks ecstatic and keep the bucks in water, too. (No running hoses or carrying water! It’s not a deep pond and can be broken up in winter, too.) The hillside will provide ample play area and pasture ground for the three permanent bucks–Eclipse, Rhett, and Mr. Pibb. (We currently have five but two–Sailor and Pirate–are temporary, waiting for sale. “Little Bear” is still in the goat yard with his mama, Sprite, but is also for sale.)
These photos show the progression of the work on the yard in the past six weeks. The entire area (pond and hillside that has been fenced in) is about 12,000 square feet. A smaller area around the pond plus some pasture was sectioned off to contain the ducks with welded wire that has smaller openings so they can’t slip through it. The goats have access to the entire area enclosed with woven field fence.
The sectioned-off pond yard (area goes up the hill for the ducks):
The goats have access back and forth from the sectioned-off pond area to the entire hillside area by a stile that they can maneuver but the ducks cannot.
Here, the duck ‘n’ buck yard was nearing completion.
The smaller wire was installed along the lower edge of the field fence in the ducks’ section of the yard, and framing went up for the buck house.
Two spools are used to construct the stile to allow the bucks to go back and forth from the ducks’ pond yard to the rest of the fenced area.
Each spool is on a separate side of the fence.
Getting ready to put the roof on the new buck house:
And now the roof is on:
The last touches aren’t quite finished–the buck house still needs a floor and sides, but it’s not cold anymore and they can shelter from the rain by snuggling under the house, so this weekend, we had the big moving party. I shut the door between the chicken yard and the chicken house, trapping the ducks and unfortunately also about 8 or 9 chickens inside the chicken house and set to catchin’. With ducks, guineas, and chickens all flapping in circles, it was a wild job. I captured two or three at a time and stuffed them in a cat carrier for the trip to the pond.
They thought they were dying, headed for the big boiling pot in the sky. Er, kitchen.
Boy, were they surprised when they were dumped out at the edge of the pond aka duck heaven instead.
Then the task of bringing up the bucks one at a time began. Morgan, who usually sits in the back of the truck and holds on while we transport animals back and forth from top to bottom on the farm was NOT HERE. There were NO child-like people available AT ALL. I should have had more children, but it was too late to fix that, so I had to get in the back of the truck with the horned beasts myself. FIVE trips up the hill. Before I go into too much whining, let me just jump ahead and say, they’re in there now.
And I immediately went inside the house and took a shower.
By the way, no matter how well you think you have something set up, nothing reveals the flaws in your design like actually putting the animals in there. The goats showed us right away that they would get up on top of the duck house and be able to jump out of the yard.
Suzanne, what is wrong with you? Have you never met a goat before? Yeah, we should have thought of that one. The duck house was quickly moved a few feet back from the fenceline.
It took the goats no time at all to figure out what the stile was for and they started jumping back and forth between the pond yard and the enclosed hillside at their pleasure.
This tree is at the far corner of the outer buck enclosure. You can also see the proximity to the house in this picture.
The ducks are laying eggs willy-nilly all over the place instead of in their duck house. I’ll have to call a meeting.
Whenever they can squeeze me into their new busy schedule in the pond yard.
Old worn out glider bench in the back of the truck, headed for a shady spot outside the duck ‘n’ buck yard:
It will be nice to sit and watch the ducks and bucks and guineas. (And someday soon, the geese, too!)
The duck ‘n’ buck yard is in business!