The following was taken from a conversation in the autumn of 2000. The original email was written in 1993, five years after purchasing the farm. The author was taking some grueling university courses at the time with the prospect of doing a thesis in the near future, so please excuse the jumpy, malformed prose. Although identities have been removed to protect the not-so-innocent, the text remains largely unaltered. It has a certain manic charm that way.
From: cognomen@localISP.earth Subject: a little information about ducks you might need some day Date: Once upon a midnight dreary Ahhh, I see how you missed out on the duck story. It was written before you were invented in 1993. First, a little background. In an e-mail thread in December, we were exchanging ideas as to what we wanted for Xmas (our families had been bugging us), when I asked the question: "What do I get for my parents, though?" Farmboy responded seven minutes later with.... > 1. How about just a few ducks to get started... :^) > (NEVER try this at home) One hour 24 minutes later I responded with.... > The stepmother has ducks everywhere! > On oven mitts, cannisters, spice racks, on wall hangings, > salt and pepper shakers...... DUCKS!!!! AAAAAUGH!!!! Two hours 29 minutes later.... > No, I meant real ducks, ask me later. Two weeks 5 days later I followed up with.... > This better be good. Ten minutes later.... > you DIDN'T actually get any live ducks did you? > That was a joke. If you did, you will rue that day the rest of your > life. It's not the ducks that are so bad (they're ok) it's all of the > other animals and fun chores that follow. Did I tell you the farm-story > about.... One hour, 32 minutes later my mailbox was bombed with this! ===================================================== >8 chopchop ==== As I explained, it's not the ducks that are the problem. Let me clarify. Everyone in the country (who didn't grow up there) buys a fixer-upper -- either the house or the property. They fully expect to work on these things first. But first they happen to get a few ducks - they sound like neat, different and interesting pets - and they are. We got Muscovies since they eat *large* amounts of larvae and bugs, particularly flies. They don't eat flowers, vegetables or just about anything you want to keep. They also lay pretty good (somewhat rich and large) eggs. If you don't like them, guess who's coming to dinner. Now, you have these ducks. Well, they need shelter. Have to build a varmint-proof coop for them which includes a cement or wire mesh floor so weasels and others can't tunnel their way in at night. Hmmm, they also need clear (non-frozen) water. They also need food in the winter when they can't forage. They need to be kept out of drafts. They aren't really affected by cold itself but you should have a method for heating their area if the outside temperature gets down around 0'F. These and other considerations will probably run up a bit of a bill which will postpone one or two other things. Having said all of that, it didn't seem too bad. Now maybe chickens might be interesting. After all, you already have a coop and free-range chicken (home-grown) is supposed to be excellent (it is). Before you can object to this, someone in your family has bought several chickens. (this is not necessarily the pattern for each family but it is typical) Now you discover that ducks and chickens can't be placed in the same coop. Better build another and outfit it. Again, no big deal. Now certain individuals should be warming up to this farmer stuff; these animals are fun and do very foolish and entertaining things (unlike their owners :^). You come home one day to find goats or sheep (or both). Unfortunately, the stalls seem to be inadequate for these little suckers (they weren't supposed to be able to jump that high). Now comes the major restructuring. The barn has to be cleaned. This is much worse than it looked and takes a week of 10 hour days shoveling crud and manure. You then discover the floors and beams need replacing --> several weeks and some expense (assuming you have a used wood supply). New stalls must be built. Straw must be purchased. Oh, look here, it says in the book that they need salt and trace minerals (particularly selenium in southern Ontario) better buy some of those too. Oh, and we need medication for lice, fleas, worming. When do we shear them? Oh dear, winter is setting in. What will we do about hay? (expensive the past few years). The days are getting shorter too - we need light and eventually heat in the barn for those really cold days. Have to call an electrician in to install a box (major expense even if you do all of the wiring yourself). Gee, this hay loft is a shambles --> more repair , more money and time. Now lets try to seal up this barn against the drafts, only none of the doors really fit. Might as well replace the latches on the stalls since the animals seem to be able to open what's there. (do you know how much hinges cost?) What about water in the barn or is it acceptable to carry a dozen buckets from the house twice a day? Barn should be whitewashed with a chemical sterilizer so the critters don't catch anything. Also have to store all their food in a proper place. Usually what's good for one will kill another and they love eating the wrong food. To get rid of the rats you have to get barn cats which always end up becoming house cats anyways. When you lets the critters out to graze/browse you discover that electrical fencing (which isn't cheap) either doesn't hold them in and solid fences (for the top 1% income bracket) are the only real solution. In addition , someone in your family who shall remain nameless gets suckered into the idea that the only way to protect your critters at all times when they are outside is to buy some donkeys. They will kick and kill anything that intrudes especially dogs (wild or otherwise). So you put them in and discover your donkeys don't seem to relate to the generations of peaceful and cooperative behaviour between donkeys and herd animals. If you are lucky, none of your critters are trampled before you can get them out of there. Of course there is no market for donkeys so you are quite stuck with them. For that matter, there is no market for critters. At this point, some money would be useful (food, phone bill, etc) so the flock has to be expanded to become economical. I think you should be seeing the pattern here - you did say you were good at that. Lets just say the situation deteriorates exponentially. I hope this is sufficiently clear. I suggest in future you read the messages a little more thoroughly and above all - don't get any ducks. ===================================================== >8 chopchop ==== So now you know.
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