The latest additions to the farm are four tiny bundles of fluffy peeping! Our first ducklings arrived this week, and are quickly settling into life here.
We ordered four ducklings to combat garden slugs and provide us with large, rich eggs on a more year round basis than geese (or chickens) are able to. Adding to our desire to have ducks was their happy-go-lucky quacking and charming personalities.
We got two pairs of two breeds of duck, Cayugas and Buff ducks. The Buff duck, also called an Orpington, is a heavier weight, attractive duck that lay large, white eggs. They were developed by William Cook, a duck enthusiast from Kent, England around the turn of the last century. They are medium weight and a little bit more upright than some other breeds, with distinctively tawny feathers. The male's heads are slate gray, and their carriage is noted as particularly elegant. Rare and hard to find in backyard flocks, Buff ducks have been gaining popularity with a lot of homesteaders because they combine a heavy weight (for meat) with proficient egg laying.
Legend has it that the Cayuga duck developed from a pair of wild ducks in New York that were captured and bred by an upstate breeder. The Cayuga is a remarkable looking black duck, its feathers appearing an iridescent greenish hue. Their eggs are also black, unique among domesticated ducks. A medium sized duck, Cayugas are known for their extreme hardiness and friendly attitudes. Because of their close links to wild ducks, they are excellent foragers.
The Cayuga ducklings have amazingly black beaks and feet that look like patent leather. The Buff ducklings, meanwhile, resemble a storybook duckling with the trademark yellow fluff. High energy and curious, within a day they were checking out the great outdoors and taking a quick dip in a specially made water dish (under close supervision, of course).
It is impossible not to be charmed by a duckling: they are much smaller than goslings and therefore less messy, and significantly more personable than chicks. Ours have been enjoying mealworms, fresh grass, and some bugs while constantly dunking their bills in fresh water. Like geese, ducklings will imprint on the person who cares for them, so spending as much quality time with the baby ducks as possible helps ensure a great relationship with them as adults.
The two Buff ducklings have been named Custard and Pudding, while our inky Cayugas are called Onyx and Opal. We're excited to have them as part of our menagerie and are looking forward to watching them grow!
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