Acquired: Breeder (non-professional, hobby breeder)
Posted Feb 15, 2015
When I was about 10 years old, a local farmer gave me some ducks, which bizarrely my father allowed me to keep. I named them all of course, as children do. While I don't remember all their names now, I do recall the drake was called Burt, after Reynolds, and one of the ducks was Farrah, after Fawcett....it was the eighties people!
Well, it turned out that old Burt was quite the Casanova and in the four years I had my ducks, at least three of the ladies would have a clutch of eggs she was sitting on. While most often I got in there to collect the eggs, great for baking cakes duck eggs are, when they got clucky, there was no way they were giving up their eggs even for me. Consequently for most of the year we would have between 50 and 60 ducklings, each duck reliably hatching between a dozen and 18 eggs.
Fantastic fun for kids, we would be straight into the nest as they were hatching, handling them from the minute they emerged. I had dug a large duck pond in their enclosure and within days it would be filled with tiny yellow ducklings all bumbling around in the mud. I fed them on a mix of bran and pollen and twice a day would open the pen and head off to the feed shed, all those tiny little legs racing along behind me, they would follow me anywhere. Not the most gracious of eaters, they would tumble right into their dinner, making a right old mess.
My mother never quite took to them, I suspect it was the copious amounts of duck poo that was forever under her clothes line! I never could bear to keep them locked up, and each morning they would gather under my bedroom window and quack their heads off until I got up to feed them.
What to do with so many ducklings? The shearers cook was always grateful for something different to dish up to two dozen hungry men, and there were many a box of ducklings sent on the mail truck to stations further up the track. I only ever kept the original six ducks, until eventually I had to go away to school. I never asked, but I suspect my parents may have had some roast duck after I left, because they had disappeared when I came home on school holidays.