crazy duck lady

When I was little I kept obsessive lists of what I wanted to be, and be like, when I grew up. It wasn't all "medieval historian" and "have short hair, wear long skirts" although that was a strangely repetitive theme. 

There's a list that describes my perfect house (small, wooden, without a roof so it was nice and light and I could sleep looking at the stars) and it specifies that there is a chicken called Henrietta wandering around on the table. Ever see that movie The Slipper And The Rose? I never, not even as an eight year old, pictured myself as the romantic lead. I was the fruity Fairy Godmother who had a chicken called Henrietta in her kitchen.

My love for chickens has never waned. 

It is now second only to my love of ducks. Of which I have none. Yet. 




I went with my friend Vanessa to the local poultry auction on Sunday. We have quite a few chickens as you may know (about a hundred and fifteen), our little laying flock, but I was after a few for a new chicken tractor (*cough*, not yet built), out on my new vegie patch. I was dreaming about Orpingtons and Wyandottes and Barnevelders and my favourites: Barred Plymouth Rocks. 




There were hundreds of people there. Many in fancy gumboots. And from the start it was clear I was going home empty handed, the prices for "pretty" chickens were nuts. Even cross bred layers. Perhaps the place to sell poultry, rather than buy it.


Ooooh. Lavender Sussex. Fan-cy!


I took a quick, not entirely focussed, photo of this fella before I peered more closely at his comb. I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure he has a mild case of Fowl Pox. I only recognise it because we had it, briefly, a little while ago. Black warty spots on combs. Sends the girls off the lay. Dry pox isn't fatal, but if it gets into their beaks it can become wet pox, which is. It's spread by mosquitoes and we had a long, very wet summer here. 

We treated our flock with a liquid multivitamin that we ordered through the vet, and we also fed them raw lambs liver. Sound odd? Incredibly high in iron. Boosts their immunity right up. Adam meticulously diced the first liver, then threw the others in the food processor. Worked a treat. 

But enough about chickens. 

Because then I saw the ducks. 


My neighbour last year brought home some white Indian Runners from this very same auction, and I thought they were the duckiest creatures I'd ever seen. Wagging tails, curious necks.




Oh but THIS guy…

A BLUE Indian Runner. What a perfect creature. 




Ducks watch you in a way chickens wouldn't bother with. 



I came home and asked Adam how far down the farm job list, exactly, the duck enclosure was. He looked up the list (it's on his iPhone) and told me it was job seventy two. I'm not sure if he was joking.



Which might be a problem because my sense of who I am entirely depends on a flock of Indian Runners at my kitchen door. 

Depends on it. 



22 Comments on “crazy duck lady

May 2, 2012 at 12:44 am

Absolutely! Can you get him to move it up the list?

May 2, 2012 at 1:58 am

In my early teens I had a bit of a duck obsession (we lived in the country too) and I wrote in my diary that I was “going to devote the summer to learning about ducks”. My sisters found this and read it and much teasing ensued for me being such a weirdo/crazy duck lady. I am nearly 31 now (more than double the age when I wrote it) and I still get teased about it!!

Every farm needs some ducks so get Adam on that duck enclosure pronto! πŸ™‚ x

Nancy in Canada
May 2, 2012 at 6:39 am

get the ducks with the ‘do.. they look like Mozart in his wig πŸ™‚

My granny and grandpa bought a get away farm and hired a manager to run it. But the first year, they ran out and bought the chickens themselves. Granny named each chicken after one of her neighbours and laughed all summer long!
The next spring the manager had already bought the chickens (he had been mortified at her purchase and was probably teased all summer by his buddies), and Granny never cared about the chickens after that.

May 2, 2012 at 8:13 am

He he, he reads all the comments! We could take a vote! Or I could learn a bit of building and stop giving him instructions?!

May 2, 2012 at 9:38 am

We used to keep ducks back in Shetland and amongst them were 3 Indian Runners – they were the best pets ever. Yeah, they were messy and muddy, but they were curious and the most entertaining thing to watch with all their ducky antics. We got all of ours as little ducklings and ended up with 3 of our flock of 5 being drakes!! Strangely enough though, they all got along really well. Just not such a good move for the egg side of things. Am really enjoying watching your expanding farm, thanks for sharing xx

May 2, 2012 at 10:47 am

Erm, not sure if I’m brave enough to ask, but what is a chicken tractor?

May 2, 2012 at 11:35 am

That duck is so handsome. Maybe if your husband got to meet a duck like him, the job would get more priority!

Ducks are so cute and, I don’t know, because I don’t see ducks as much as I do chooks, they seem more mysterious? I see ducks in Beatrix Potter books, and then the rare time I get to see ducks in real life, I am amazed at how they look just like they do in books! Does that sound strange? They are more elegant than chooks too. I love my chooks, but when the thought slips into my head, “we could have a couple of ducks too”, it takes me by surprise!

May 2, 2012 at 11:39 am

I have muscovy ducks and I am a HUGE fan of ducks. If we had a dam here, I’d have indian runners in a heartbeat.

May 2, 2012 at 12:14 pm

We had ducks – 2 of them – called dumb and dumber. They earned their names :-). They only lasted a few months cause they ruined the mini-dam and made a complete mess everywhere – much worse than the free-ranging chooks.

May 2, 2012 at 12:45 pm

That duck is divine!

May 2, 2012 at 3:00 pm

Now I don’t know anything about ducks, but I DO know the movie, “The Slipper and the Rose.” I haven’t met anyone else in the whole wide world who knows my Most Beloved Childhood Movie Ever! I loved the fairy godmother too, and I also love when they sing in the mausoleum and swing on the beams, and when the king sings as his court marches through the library, and the moment the Prince gallops up in the meadow to sweep Cinderella into his arms, and especially, the moment Cinderella has to leave and she’s singing out of the carriage (heartbreaking!). Now I have to dig up my copy and see it again. Thank you for the reminder, Fi!

Oh, and yes, that is, indeed, one handsome devil of a duck. πŸ™‚

May 2, 2012 at 3:07 pm

Oh hooray!! I can tell you Helena, after all these years I BET my sister Naomi and I could still sing word for word tell him that it wasnt love, say I cried, say I lied… as we drove off in that carriage!!!! Awesome.

May 2, 2012 at 3:52 pm

I have two Khaki Campbells called Katy and Clover (from the Katy Did books, which nobody else has ever read) and am getting 2 Indian Runner ducks this summer from a friend (I don’t think they’ll be handsome blue ones though). I love, love, love my ducks. I love my chickens too, but they don’t make me laugh like the ducks do. They watch planes fly over head. Somebody in the village booked a Spitfire to fly over head and perform rolls and stunts at a posh wedding the first summer I had them and I thought they were going to fall over!

Don’t let them free range any where you care about. I have read that ducks don’t damage gardens like chickens because they don’t scratch, but that clearly wasn’t written by anyone who’s ever kept ducks. They trample, peck and dabble, so everywhere they’ve been is just brown mud.
I keep them in a run with the bottom half of a children’s turtle sandpit as a pond- easy to empty and refill as it looks like Brown Windsor Soup again 5 minutes after filling with fresh water- and bring the slugs and snails to them. They adore slugs, and will eat the really big slimy ones that the chickens turn their noses (beaks?) up at. They don’t do kitchen scraps though. They eat layers pellets and wheat but otherwise they like their food to be green, so the children and I collect dandelion leaves and goosegrass from the hedgerows for them and the chickens. And chop it up for them.

I’d start making Adam’s favourite slice A LOT and see if you can’t get the duck run moved up the list a bit…

May 2, 2012 at 6:39 pm

I’m happy to vote with you. I love ducks, only problem is I’ve had no success with them. I’ve had indian runners, silver appleyards, khaki campbells. I accidently got some muscovies (long story) and they just keep going and breeding. But…they just aren’t quite the same! sob sob sob

May 2, 2012 at 6:45 pm

PS As I pressed post, the dogs went crazy inside. When I went to check what the commotion was, there was a fox at the back door! No wonder I’ve had no luck. Hate the buggers.

May 3, 2012 at 1:55 pm

Ooh, plymouth rocks, I’m trying to source some near me at the moment! I’ve got 3 isa browns, but I’d like something pretty as well.

May 3, 2012 at 5:58 pm

I LOVE my Katy Did books – they are just the best! But I will have to admit I don’t know The Slipper and the Rose….

My 12yo loves ducks with a total passion, but 4 chooks is our suburban back-yard limit….. so he is forever disappointed. I WON’T show him your pictures because he may just cry. But he can completely relate to your concept of your existence depending on ducks.

May 4, 2012 at 5:44 pm

My 8 year old daughter called me over in a book shop last week to say she’d read the blurb on a book and it sounded really good- What Katy Did! We’re now reading my old copy of it together and she keeps begging me for one more chapter. I was really surprised as actually the language seems more archaic now than it did 30 years ago when I first read them. Mind you, this is the child who chooses to watch reruns of the BBC series Victorian Farm, so perhaps I shouldn’t be so surprised!

Either way, I suspect our new ducks will be called Elsie, Johnnie, Dorry and Phil!

And I do remember watching The Slipper and the Rose, but it clearly didn’t make enough impression on me! Must watch it again…

Darren (Green Change)
May 6, 2012 at 10:47 pm

You go, crazy duck lady! Indian runners are my favourite ducks by far.

This morning I swapped a silver male Indian runner drake for one of my friend’s fawn and white females (he only had females). I already had a white female, so hopefully I’ve now got a nice little breeding trio. I’ve also got 3 white drakes that will be joining us at the dinner table soon :-).

Have you got an incubator? I could give you some fertile eggs once they get their groove on.

Our muscovy girl has just started hatching her ducklings – one hatched from 3 eggs so far. So cute!

May 7, 2012 at 9:27 am

OH MY GOODNESS YES I DO!! Vanessa and I went halves in one. YES PLEASE to eggs!!!

Estelle C
May 14, 2012 at 10:15 am

You realise you are living my dream?

Jhon Monsi
March 5, 2013 at 11:55 am

Please do more because I really enjoyed reading your article on this.


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