Tag Archives: Indian Runners

Goodbye Mortimer

Mortimer came and spent over seven months on our little farmstead. We adored him, watched him grow from a little brown duckling into a beautiful taupe and green Mallard drake, and he gave us so many laughs with all his character. Being part of a mated pair with Phoebe, it was a tough goodbye, but a necessary one. That last two days he was here were not pleasant, especially for him since he kept getting quarantined. The mornings were the worst, running up to any duck he could and pecking them, grabbing them, chasing and chasing every duck in sight. He was not a happy guy, and the whole flock suffered. Even Phoebe has stopped laying eggs from all the stress… She’s a daily layer, but she’s had three days with no eggs!

Morty left yesterday with a great guy who resides in Harrisonville, Missouri. He has property with a pond in the country. He keeps several ducks, including Runners like Mortimer, chickens and even a turkey. He’s in very good, loving hands which made the goodbye a lot easier.

Now, for the sweet gift I found today. It was laying next to our roses:

It’s a curled tail feather from Mortimer (grainy image, but you get the idea). Only mature males have these curled tail feathers. It was a very special find, and we’re keeping it to remember our very first, beautiful male duck. So long, Mortimer, thank you for the joy you gave us, and may you enjoy your new pond & flock!

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Duck Dramas (or Quack-Operas)

Prasad held one of the ducks...

...while the other two sat in the back seat of our truck.

the light blue and black girls..

..enjoying what ducks enjoy most, a morning swim.

Part I, Three new ducks: Three. That was not planned. I’d contacted Jenn at her local Revolutionmama Ranch where we’d gotten our first Indian Runners to see if she had any females available. We wanted just one to replace the incorrectly sexed fawn & white females we ordered several weeks ago- one is female, but one is actually male. Big *ugh*, considering when you don’t buy them local, the shipping costs are high. Jenn informed me she had three Runner girls left from her baby stock for the year. They’re on the verge of laying age, probably by September.

During the drive out to her property, I told myself we’d take just two home. Nice try. By the time Prasad and I arrived and saw the three very bonded and attached ducks, I gladly took all three. They’re gorgeous in person- the pictures don’t even come close to showing the richness of their colors. One is shiny black with white speckles on the chest and iridescent green feathers in the sunlight. Another is a darker grey with bluish and black flecks, while the smaller girl is a brilliant, rich light blue. I’d been hoping for a blue Runner, and there she was. That seems to be how it goes before an animal joins us- I imagine the color or type I’d like, and they just happen to be exactly what we find. Now, onto the Mortimer/drake ordeal…

Mortimer (right) living in harmony with the new girls

Part II, Aggressive Drake: Before bringing home these beauties, Mortimer was in the slammer (the pen pictured at left). He was harassing the fawn & white babies constantly… just super rude and aggressive. He had to be quarantined both day and night, and I placed an on Craigslist ad to sell him. Last evening we brought our new girls home, and he went after them, too. So, we quarantined him another night. This morning I went out to clean up his pen and let him loose in the run. That time he left the new girls alone. He did an occasional nip or two if they came too close, but no aggressive chasing or pinning down. He went after the new fawn & white babies again, but today it’s been way less than before. He’s pinned them down a few times, but then walks away and gives them their freedom to swim and eat (unlike before). We’re hoping this is a trend, and that he’s merely asserting his dominance in the pecking order. Maybe there’s hope for Mort after all. That’s our hope, considering he’s such a gorgeous boy and we’ve had him almost a year.

Chameli & Adelaide, our fawn & white babies are free to roam the run now and seem to be our most avid swimmers.

These two cuties are the ones Mortimer has been targeting. We’ve seen a 75% reduction today, and hope that continues for all their sakes. Adelaide is on the right, and Adelaide is a male/drake. He doesn’t quack like Chameli… drakes squeak. His markings are more distinctive, too. He’s going to be another gorgeous drake to have around, and yes, we’re planning to come up with a new name.

We’re hoping that we’ve simply learned something about drake behavior; flock behavior. Introducing new members can be stressful, but it’s natural and inevitable. If Morty adjusts and is able to maintain his standing as the Supreme King of the flock, I think things will calm down.

Ermengard saying "hello" from the duck house

Last, but not least, is Ermengard. She’s our very calm and sweet Buff Orpington, and the first of our Spring chicks to start laying eggs last month. She never lays eggs where the other chickens like to lay. Instead, she seeks out new and exciting places (a really cool non-comformist). What I love most about her, is that she doesn’t mind being picked up. After this picture was taken, Phoebe, our duck came along and sat down beside her and they laid eggs together. I ended up eating Ermengard’s egg for breakfast.. thanks Ermie!

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Summer Ducklings

Two-day old Adelaide and Chameli finally arrived today. These are two Indian Runner females we plan to add to the couple we already have. I’ve fallen madly in love with Indian Runners (aka Bowling Pin Ducks , and Penguin Ducks). These two females will give a 1:3 male/female ratio to our little flock, as well as increase our yummy egg supply.

Raising ducklings in Summer is a different world from Spring time. I’m guessing we’ll find it preferable, considering they’ll only require a couple weeks indoors, versus the 4-6 weeks. They may require some supplemental heat in the evenings outdoors, but only until they’re four weeks old.

NAMES: Adelaide (Ad-uh-layd) means noble & kind, and Chameli (Chem-elly) is an Indian Sanskrit name meaning Jasmine flower.

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Expecting Ducklings… Again

After releasing our two Khaki Campbells to another farm, we’ve been looking forward to adding more Indian Runner hens to our flock. They’re extremely docile, plus super amusing to watch. I have personally fallen madly in love with the breed. Phoebe, our Runner hen has consistently laid one egg a day since she began laying eleven days ago. She’s outperforming all our chickens, and the eggs are delicious!

We sought local farms for adult Runner hens or even ducklings, but didn’t have any luck this time around. We could have incubated eggs, but instead we decided to order two females through a site online. They’ll arrive within the next 1-3 weeks, at just a few days old. It will be ideal to have a couple more girls for our Mallard drake, and they’ll both be fawn & white like the Runner pictured below. The baby ducklings stand upright just like the adults. Adorable! We recently went through raising the two Khakis indoors for over a month when the weather was still too cold. With the current Summer heat they’ll spend just one or two weeks indoors; ideal for ducklings, considering they become quite a mess when confined in tight quarters as they get older.

When word got out about June ducklings coming again, Sky was thrilled beyond words. Despite the difficult departure of Ellie Mae and Jethro, he appears to be recovering well. Sorin and Prasad are excited, too. There is nothing like baby ducklings when it comes to melting child (and adult) hearts.

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Saying Goodbye to 2 Hand Raised Ducks

Jethro & Ellie Mae

This evening we said goodbye to these two 14 week old ducks. We’ve raised them since they were just a few days old, and it was an extremely fun and memorable experience. Sky even wrote a story about them in his 3rd grade class this year. They’re Khaki Campbells, and always seemed more aggressive toward our younger chickens than the Indian Runners. Our main concern was with tiny Mirabel, our Silkie Bantam. They have targeted her often. The Runners, on the  other hand, are very peaceful with our hens, so we’re planning to add two more Runner females to the bunch (giving Mortimer a nice assortment). It will actually be an ideal ratio of males to females, and we’ll have a lot more eggs.

Ducks consume a large amount of feed in comparison to chickens. If you choose to keep ducks, you have to weigh the expense with what you’re getting out of the deal. Practically speaking, having a 2nd male/drake in the flock meant feeding another duck who didn’t produce eggs. We could have kept Ellie Mae, but couldn’t imagine separating them. Another downside is cross-breeding. Between two different breeds, we’d never know which eggs were what breed or if they crossed. This is important if we decide to incubate eggs or sell them for incubation in the future. Simplicity- that’s the word that comes to mind. We’re choosing to focus upon one breed, and it’s one that we really adore.

How did the kids handle their departure? The ducks went to a large, rural farm with a very nice family, but it was still tough to let go, especially for Sky. He spent about six weeks nurturing them and bonding quite a bit until they left the house for the outdoors. Since then, he hasn’t had much contact with them, but he always felt they were his ducks. He has a terribly difficult time letting go of anything, a pair of shoes, school papers, etc., but these ducks were dear to him. I think it’s a good lesson in farmsteading, impermanence, and life in general. We never know how things will go, and with farm animals we shouldn’t ever get too attached. We never know how animals will get along, or what our plans may be for the future. We discussed this when they were small, but that didn’t make it any easier. Personally, I’m looking forward to having all Indian Runner ducks (they are unique and hilarious, after all), and seeing Sky with his baby bunny in a couple of weeks. That sweet girl should be a life-long keeper, and I did reassure him of that. He received a lot of hugs and comforting this evening.

Bye-bye, Ellie Mae and Jethro. It was truly an honor and a joy to raise you!

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Farmy Foto Friday, Part II

These pictures were meant to be included in the last post, but I accidentally hit “post” before they were added.

Sorin's Black Australorp, Broom Hilda on the right (14 weeks). She's super sweet, friendly, and enjoys a gentle petting

I love this boy! Our male Indian Runner, Mortimer, is such a gentleman and always looks out for the flock's safety

Mortimer bowing to his sweetheart, Phoebe. She's been an egg machine this week- 7 eggs the last 7 days, mmmm!

Mirabel & Sky's Buff Orpington, Maria (11 weeks)

Mirabel & Sky's Buff Orpington, Maria (11 weeks)

 

free-ranging, handsome Forest, our growing Flemish Giant baby. He enjoys hopping all over the grass while we follow him. His doe companion, Meadow, will be home in two weeks. He's 11 weeks old

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Kitchen With a View

Mortimer & Phoebe sitting side by side this morning

They stood up for a bite of breakfast (they always do that together). Marigold in the foreground

These pictures were shot from inside. We love having a constant view of our flock from both the kitchen and sun room windows… oh, and the bathroom window next to the toilet, too, that’s fun! It’s the next best thing to having them live inside with us, and can be very entertaining. We end up spending a lot of time standing at the sink just staring at them. Who needs rolling hills, lakes, or mountains to gaze at for inspiration when you have a glorious view of chickens?

If you look closely, you can see the beginning of a new fence post hole to the left of Marigold. We’ll be taking out the temporary fencing and placing wood posts with more secure fencing… hopefully by the weekend, weather permitting. In a previous post I mentioned that we’ll be fencing them off from the South wall of our house to prevent pecking at it. Not to mention they keep pooping on the cellar door and perching on the a/c (poop there, too!) We still have a lot of painting and light construction left to do on the coop. Despite the time and labor required, I’m so glad we chose to build one ourselves because this one is solid and should last a lifetime if maintained. The wooden coops I checked out at the feed store were no where near as solid or secure. If you have basic (and I mean bare bones) construction skills, we highly recommend building one yourself. You can see the tiny house in the background that we purchased through Craigslist. It’s an old dog house that was meant for the ducks, but I’m saving that new info for another post. Let’s just say we’re learning a lot about ducks, but the house will come in very handy!

It’s warming up a lot here, so I’m looking forward to getting the flower boxes on their coop (front and side), bird houses installed on fence posts, an herb border, and a small ornamental tree planted for them inside the run- possibly a Wisteria, one of my favorites. They’ll have their very own mini paradise, and with how much they give us it’s the least we can do for them.

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