Everybody welcome the Huffaker House’s newest residents:
Peter was gone much of last week, and on about Thursday, he texted me saying he wanted chickens. I’ve always been on that train, but I have no idea how to take care of them. He has lots of experience with livestock, and has raised lots of chickens, so I told him that as long as he told me what to do, I was in.
Well, when he got back on Saturday, we went to the feed store to buy our chickens and had a bit of a change of heart– the minimum purchase was 6 (we were thinking more like 4, given our space) and it was an unsexed run. With our luck, we knew we’d end up with 4 roosters crowing at all hours and driving us mad. Plus, there’s a gang of roving neighborhood chickens, and the last thing I wanted was some kind of turf war between the Jets and the Sharks. So we went home empty-winged (well, The Boy got a new red shovel because it was the only way to get him out of the store after we decided not to get chickens at that moment).
…And then we started talking about ducks. Pete’s never raised them, but we did some research, and the process isn’t all that different from chickens. They’re a little more vulnerable to predators, so we’ll have to build a REALLY secure coop, but other than that, we should be able to do it. So we brought them home yesterday, and aside from my house smelling like cedar chips right now, so far so good. They’ll stay inside until April-ish, at which point they’ll move into the coop. Peter’s currently planning one for the side of the existing shed.
It’ll include a duck run along the stone retaining wall, a mounted nesting box with a ramp for getting down, and a little duck pool with a PVC valve in the bottom for draining and cleaning. And lots of chicken wire; Pete’s had chickens get decapitated by raccoons who pulled their heads through the wire in less secure situations (too graphic? I’m leaving it.).
So, that’s the big news. The Boy likes the ducks, but mostly he just likes passing them back and forth. I think he’ll be more invested as he and his daddy build the coop and then move them out there.
And also, this:
That’s right. You’ve heard of reading dogs? Well, we have reading ducks. The Boy “read” 2-3 books to those lucky ducks yesterday. For backstory, The Boy couldn’t say “mama” until a year and a half ago, and he couldn’t say his own name until he was more than 3 years old. If you have kids and any of them have been speech delayed, you know how big of a deal it is for your speech delayed child to pick up a book and start making up a story for his ducks. I think I’m going to encourage him to read to them every day while they’re in the house, and maybe once they’re out of it, too.
Also, no, they don’t have names yet, because we can’t tell them apart yet and Pete wasn’t into painting their toenails so I could figure out which was which. (Wouldn’t have done it, but they’d have looked fab.)