While is has been one of the most unique experiences of my live if I had to go back in time I would do it a little differently. Last March I thought, “won’t I be the coolest mom ever if I give my child the cutest baby chicks for Easter??”, “it will be so fun to watch the chickens free range on our .75 acre property surrounded by 40 neighboring homes!”, “we live close to the water why not add some ducks?” So without really putting much thought into how it was actually going to go down, it I did a little research, spoke to a few friends, convinced my husband (this was the hardest part-I even kept the part about the ducks on the down-low) and when the local Tractor Supply Store could not guarantee chicks the week before Easter Sunday I found someone locally who I could purchase them through. “Dang, I’m all set!” I thought. Boy was I in for a big surprise after the first few weeks. Don’t get me wrong I love my chickens, yes that’s right I only said chickens. We started with 6 chickens and 5 ducks. While I do consider myself an advanced beginner on the topic 10 months later I am still learning. As I mentioned or rather didn’t mention, the ducks are all gone. We do have one tiny mallard that comes back occasionally, the rest alas, are gone. The other two mallards hens flew off one day during “pairing” season. What is pairing season you ask? Well fortunately I am married to reddish-neck guy, he’s not a full blown red-neck like the ones you see in your small town Walmart wearing a wife beater, with a mullet and lacking several front teeth. He’s from a small town where outdoor sports are extremely popular and well, he enjoys them. So, back to pairing season, this is the time of year when mallards pair with a mate for the remainder of the season. Those naughty girls had flown off before but one morning I opened the coop and they just took off never to be seen again. The smaller one, my little Pippy, took it hard at first because as you may already know, chickens are not the smartest of creatures, so she was not into hanging out with them. I actually sometimes thought the chickens thought they were ducks, they followed them everywhere even in the pouring rain and let me tell you wet chickens are not at all attractive. Our other 2 ducks were Pekins, as in Peking duck, which become a little to big to get off the ground, not that they didn’t try. Well sadly one Pekin was killed last May by our neighbor’s dog (don’t get me started on our local leash laws) along with one of the least smart of the chickens, yes different breeds are considered more intelligent and friendly than others…as a former city girl I feel I know more about chickens than necessary and the other favorite duck also a Pekin disappeared one night when we (I say irresponsibly) got home 45 minutes past their bed time of 5:30pm. We like to think she found a mate, a friend or a greener pasture but at least we didn’t have to see her carcass torn apart by the neighbors dog, used like a chew toy and thrown aside. As for the chickens we are now down to 3, yup 3, in just 10 short months we managed to get rid of most of our flock either by their own preference or our “harmless” (don’t make me curse as I write that with a massive scorn on my face) neighbor’s free roam (AKA ranging) dog. So what I’ve learned is: it is your job to protect your flock from stupid people who think it is OK to let their dogs run loose, don’t get too attached to any one chicken or duck because it’s survival of the fittest out there and I don’t care if people say oh a fox, raccoon, hawk or eagle will get to them eventually -the biggest predator to your backyard chicken is the neighborhood dog, or your own for that matter.
Link to a wonderful site that includes a forum for gaining useful information on Backyard chickens: