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!
Love your idea, especially separating the ducks from the chickens our chickens HATED the ducks and geese we have because ducks and geese are messy!! So we had to separate them. One thing I don’t understand though is why you put the guineas w/the ducks/future geese? Guineas don’t like water or ducks for that matter 🙂 Just curious 🙂
On April 18, 2011 at 4:13 am
Suzanne McMinn says:
Lisa, the guineas killed a chicken in the chicken yard one time. They seem to get along better with the ducks.
On April 18, 2011 at 6:10 am
Awww those are some happy ducks and bucks 🙂
On April 18, 2011 at 6:00 am
Tracey In Paradise Pa. says:
On April 18, 2011 at 6:24 am
So nicely written, we loved reading every word. We also like your idea of the advantage of a smaller space, so that all the animals can be together and protect each other. We shall be continuing to read about your ecosystem:)
On April 18, 2011 at 7:31 am
What a great concept-Duck n’ Buck-..love they way you designed it with the pond and river in mind. I used to think that I wanted to live on a big farm and have tons of animals, just like you…the time and energy ran out years ago, but I “live on a farm,” everyday, when I read your posts, see all of your great pictures, cook up all of the fabulous recipes, etc. Thank you for sharing your life!!
On April 18, 2011 at 7:46 am
Great idea! And great pictures!
A question, what kind is the duck in the first picture? Because I thought it was a wild mallard at first, it looks just like the wild ones we have here.
On April 18, 2011 at 8:46 am
Suzanne McMinn says:
brookdale, that is a Rouen. Rouens are a domesticated Mallard breed. They’re larger than Mallards and they can’t fly.
On April 18, 2011 at 8:48 am
That looks awesome! I have one question, which has been bugging me since you first announced your plans. Are you concerned about the higher concentration of “raw manure” that will be in the pond and then draining into the river below? Or maybe you have few enough animals in there that it’s not really a concern…
I’m really just curious, as water quality issues vary from region to region.
On April 18, 2011 at 8:52 am
Karen Anne says:
Everyone looks quite happy.
Which magnificent goat is that on the roof?
Anyone giving odds on how long it takes a duck to get over the stile?
On April 18, 2011 at 8:59 am
They’re going to have a blast! A new jungle-gym/fence stile for the goats to climb around (two if you count the duck house!) A splash and paddle pool for the ducks and geese. I see a lot of fun games of duck, buck, guinea, goose happening!
My guineas are roosting fine in the chicken coop so far but they’re young and it’s still chilly so I foresee them taking to the trees this summer. The funniest thing is watching them stalk the cats. They do NOT approve of the cats being outside and they start to advance on any cat they see as a group. The cats are terrified!
I predict a lot of fun days sitting out on that bench with a glass of wine, watching the duck, buck, guinea, goat show!
On April 18, 2011 at 9:13 am
I recently talked with a lady who said they just filled in their pond because of the problems with cleaning it. It made me wonder if a kiddy pool would be a good solution for a small duck family. Are you going to put some fish in there to help clean it?
On April 18, 2011 at 9:38 am
holstein woman says:
Thats a mouthful, buck, duck, guinnea, goose! What fun to get a project finished on a farm. Congratulations! :happyfeet: Wonderfully nice photos as usual.
On April 18, 2011 at 9:42 am
I think I would be concerned about the area of the pond versus the quality of the water in that pond. It seems it may get contaminated for the goats. I know we always had clean fresh water for our herd animals. Is there an inlet and outlet for the water or is it just stagnant water?
On April 18, 2011 at 9:47 am
It says in there that the pond is spring fed with an outlet that eventually leads down to the stream. From what I can see, there’s some distance and while 6-8 ducks aren’t ever going to be clean, out in the country, it’s hardly a problem when there’s lots of wild animals, including Canada Geese and wild ducks too and plenty of distance for nature to take care of things.
A major flock would surely be a problem, but that many? Doubtful. Just my opinion of course, but I live on a river where I’m used to keeping the flow of the water in mind at all times.
On April 18, 2011 at 9:55 am
A thought. Maybe, you should have the pond water tested to see if the purity is good enough for drinking. Especially if this is the only water the animals are going to be drinking.
On April 18, 2011 at 10:07 am
Hello! Gotta say, this yard looks adorable. Can’t wait for the stories. By the way, who’s “Little Bear”? I must have missed that post. And how is Dr. Pepper? Thanks!
On April 18, 2011 at 11:37 am
Suzanne McMinn says:
Little Bear is what I call Sprite’s baby goat.
On April 18, 2011 at 2:31 pm
Window On The Prairie says:
A lot of work for you, but well worth it to see everyone happy with their new living arrangements.
On April 18, 2011 at 11:46 am
Miss Becky says:
in spite of all your wonderful photos I just wasn’t getting how it would all come together. until I saw the final photos. the pond looked like a small puddle, but that photo showing the goats jumping on the stile brings it all into focus. I can see that the pond is more that a puddle! good job Suzanne. whew. I’m happy that’s all over and now I can sit back and watch the show! :yes:
On April 18, 2011 at 12:16 pm
This just gives me goose-bumps! (x-cuse the pun!) I loved my ducks when I had them–long story, but someday I will post it. Anyhoo, I don’t think the purity of the water will be a problem. It sounds like the spring will keep it pure enuff. In fact, this is giving me ideas of my own duck and buck pond. M-m-m, Honey, did you read this? I was just wond’rin’… :duck: :duck:
On April 18, 2011 at 12:26 pm
Sorry for being so numerous, BUT, I am just curious about your guinea hen. Do you have just one, and does the noise bother you? I know they are supposed to really be a help in controlling ticks, but most cannot stand their mellifluous 😕 voices! It really bugs :ladybug: me that people don’t dare get any for their yards since ticks are such a nuisance now and guineas think they are a treat! :hungry:
On April 18, 2011 at 12:32 pm
I too wondered about the contamination thing. It looks like stagnant pond water. Does it have an outlet so the water can move?
We always had a fresh water supply for our sheep and goats.
I guess I’m just not used to seeing a farm in such a low lying swampy setting.
On April 18, 2011 at 1:18 pm
Suzanne McMinn says:
Bev, it’s not a low lying swampy setting and the pond water is not stagnant. It’s spring-fed from springs on the hill above the pond and it drains off in a waterfall that goes down to the river.
I think spring water is about as fresh as it gets.
On April 18, 2011 at 2:29 pm
Suzanne McMinn says:
And by the way, our pond looks very brown right now because it’s been raining a lot. Same reason the river is brown and the creeks are brown….. It’s spring. It’s raining.
On April 18, 2011 at 3:31 pm
Oh, it’s fun to see the ducks partying! They sure look happy. And I’ll bet you have fun watching duck n’ buck TV.
I would expect that the spring water feeding the pond would be about as pure as the well water.
On April 18, 2011 at 2:16 pm
Another question from somone that knows nothing about this stuff lol – don’t any of the birds fly? Or don’t they try lol?
On April 18, 2011 at 3:09 pm
Suzanne McMinn says:
catslady, they can’t fly. Despite the fact that they have wings. The chickens can fly better than these ducks.
On April 18, 2011 at 3:17 pm
Wonderful idea Suzanne they all look so excited about it all, even the guinea is having a bit of a paddle. I have really enjoyed reading all about it comming together as well.
On April 18, 2011 at 4:36 pm
No worries about any frog eggs left in that pond. They became guinea/duck delicacy. ALL the animals look very happy. Maybe if you can get the girls into the box for a night or two, they will catch on as to where the eggs are ‘spose to be dropped off. Don’t know for sure!! I’ve never heard of having to ‘drag a pond for rolled in eggs’..(That’s some wicked slope)..but there’s always firsts.Good job guys!
On April 18, 2011 at 5:24 pm
Such great photos and a wonderful story. I laughed at the part where Princess wasn’t home, and you should have had more children. Cute! I know what you mean about taking a shower after handling the bucks. Been there, done that. Thanks for a good laugh. :wave:
On April 18, 2011 at 6:18 pm
trish c says:
I’ll have to call a meeting cracked me up.
Everyone looks happy!
On April 18, 2011 at 6:46 pm
The ducks look so happy!! :duck:
On April 18, 2011 at 8:12 pm
bonita del rey says:
Susanne, I live where the soil is BLACK. Am I right in thinking your soil is more a red/rust color? While you clearly mentioned it’s fed by spring water, the soil color may have led people to think otherwise.
On April 19, 2011 at 4:06 am
Suzanne McMinn says:
bonita, yes, the dirt here is a reddish-brown color.
On April 19, 2011 at 6:14 am
On April 20, 2011 at 3:08 pm
LOL @photo #15. Those are some happy goats!
On April 21, 2011 at 11:55 pm
Looks like a great success! I think your idea of putting them together for protection is a fabulous one! Those ducks will be so much happier in there than they would be in the chicken pen!
On April 22, 2011 at 4:00 pm