Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The Pros and Cons of Raising Free Range Pasture Raised Ducks

The Pros & Cons of Raising Free Range Pasture Raised Ducks



Two years ago I moved from a suburban are of  Rhode Island to a much more rural setting. I intended to raise a few free ranged pasture raised chickens for eggs, tick control and entertainment.  Growing up in Western Pennsylvania I raised around a dozen chickens and pair of Pekin ducks so I knew the basic ins and outs of raising poultry, although they were limited to the chicken/duck run during the day and the barn at night.

But once I got settled into my new home I decided that I would raise ducks due to the fact that a little over an acre of my land is wetlands with a small natural spring winding its way through the area.  I decided on Welsh Harlequin Ducks and I decided to purchase them from Metzer Farms.  

FOR A RECAP OF MY ADVENTURES RAISING THE DUCKS FOR THE FIRST YEAR, CHECK OUT THESE PREVIOUS POSTS









FAST FORWARD ONE YEAR

After a successful first year of raising the ducks came the brutal winter of 2014/2015 both the ducks and I looked forward to springtime and getting 13 more ducklings to add to the flock.  The happy hobby changed quickly as  I started loosing ducks to the neighborhood dogs and a random predator or two. At first it was a drake who never came home, although not happy about the situation I knew going into this small farm project that a few ducks would be lost due to  predators.  I also knew that any ducks lost to predators would almost solely be lost while they were out free ranging and enjoying the land, because I built a very secure duck house. Then I lost a duck and a drake within a few days because of the neighbors dog. The first time the duck went on to the neighbors property and the second time the dog came onto mine.  Then a few days later once again another duck didn't come home.  

I don't raise my ducks as pets and I don't have a strong attachment to them, but I can't help but to be saddened and disheartened when within a few months I loose two drakes and three ducks.  So do I stop letting them out of the duck house during the day and keep them in their pen?  I don't find this a possible long-term answer.  So do I just accept a certain inherent loss percentage every year  to predators?  At the moment I don't know what the solution will be.

Other than loosing ducks to predators I have enjoyed the first year of raising ducks, selling their eggs and the possibility of selling fertilized eggs, ducklings and processed birds going forward.  I do this as a hobby, because I find enjoyment of raising animals in harmony with nature relaxing and sustainable. Plus raising duck (and chickens for that matter) is entertaining and fun.

PROS & CONS

PROS______________________________________CONS________________________
Fun Hobby                                                                     Start-Up Cost-Cost to Maintain 
Entertainment                                                                 Predatory Threats
Selling Eggs, Meat and  Duckling                                 Constant Vigilance (Dog, Hawks, Coyotes)
Raising from Ducklings, Hatching                                365 Day Job, Vacations = Finding Someone to                                                                                               .......................................................................................Watch the Farm

These have been my trials and tribulations of one year of raising ducks. 

I look forward to feedback from others currently raising free range, pasture raised ducks and/or chickens and helping others decide if raising ducks is for them.



Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Earth Day- Where Did We Go Wrong?

According to Earthday.org  Earth Day -- April 22 -- marks the anniversary of what many consider the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970.


I equate Earth Day to a terminal cancer patient who decides the best way to beat cancer is to only treat it one day out of the entire year.   Every other day of the year they ignore the fact that their body is slowly dying due to radical changes going on within their body.



To celebrate one day a year where we organize groups to clean parks, plant trees just doesn't make environmental sense.  The fact is that most of these same Earth Day "do gooders" are also the ones who spray their weeds with RoundUP and destroy the soil the weed was anchored to.  According to This article in The New York Times  explains the negative effects glyphosate has on soil, effects that include compaction and resultant runoff, the killing of beneficial microbes and bacteria, and the exhaustion of necessary minerals and other nutrients that plants require.
Additionally we are just now re-discovering that some of the weeks we are trying to kill not only benefit the ecosystem where they grow, but some of them are edible and benefit out bodies eco system as well.

In a 2006 Bloomberg article entitled  The Perfect Lawn: How Obsession Fueled a $40 Billion Industry we Americans are obsessed with our lawns, the shade of green they are and trying to have the best lawn on the block.  We do this not only by dumping environmentally harmful chemicals on our lawns but we waste more and more water to green our lawns even when we are in a near drought.


Earth Day 2015 has the slogan It's Our Turn To Lead   So Please LEAD everyday we only have one planet, just like a cancer patient only has one body.
http://www.earthday.org/2015

And if all else fails follow this farmers motto:


Don't fail to treat the earth like you would treat your body, with respect, with intelligence, with patience, proactivity, love and care

Mind-Food-Body-Planet-Soul: 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Doug's Ducks- Farm Fresh Pasture Raised Welsh Harlequin Ducks

            The Ducks are now laying their eggs and Doug's Ducks is now in business.


Doug's Ducks is a small Welsh Harlequin Duck farm located in West Greenwich, RI. 





To provide wholesome naturally raised free-range duck and chickens to local consumers and businesses.



  • Where do you sell your eggs?---We currently sell our eggs at our small farm by appointment.  Please email us for more details.  Limited delivery is available.



  • How many birds do you have?---We have about 25 hens who are free to roam on our three acre farm, but our flock is always growing to meet the demand of our eggs.


  • How do you house your ducks/chickens?---They have a duck house /chicken coop as well as a run, but during the day they are free to roam our 3 acre farm.


  • What do you feed your ducks/chickens?---Since our hens are pastured they eat whatever is in the pasture or in our natural spring stream. The like bugs, worms, flowers, and grass. They are supplemented with layer pellets throughout the week.


  • What is you favorite breed of duck/chicken?---We raise Welsh Harlequin Ducks & Easter Egger Chickens


  • I have never eaten a duck egg before, how are they different than a chicken egg?----Duck eggs are very similar to chicken eggs in taste, look and how you cook them. Duck eggs except are typically larger in size than chicken eggs and the shell is harder and this keeps them fresher longer. 


  • The Welsh Harlequin is a fairly new breed, developed by Leslie Bonnett in Wales from two off-colored Khaki Campbell ducklings in 1949. They came to the United States in 1968 and were accepted into the American Poultry Association in 2001 in the Light Duck class. They are becoming a very popular breed due to their multipurpose characteristics. They have excellent egg production abilities due to their Khaki Campbell background yet retain the instinct to sit and hatch a nest full of ducklings. They are calm, inquisitive and excellent foragers. They seem to be the calmest bird on our farm.


  • Harlequins are primarily raised for their wonderful practical attributes. "They are highly adaptable, outstanding layers producing 240-330 white shelled eggs yearly, active foragers, excellent producers of lean meat, beautifully colored and pluck almost as cleanly as white birds when dressed for meat." (Holderread, 2001)








Thursday, July 31, 2014

Raising Welsh Harlequin Ducklings- Week 22 The Duck Are Laying Eggs- Beginning of Doug's Ducks

Raising Welsh Harlequin Ducklings- Week 22 The Duck Are Laying Eggs- 

The Beginning of Doug's Ducks

On July 28th, 2014 the Welsh Harlequin Ducks started laying eggs, at which point Doug's Ducks was started. 

Doug's Ducks is a small Welsh Harlequin Duck farm located in West Greenwich, RI. 

Raising Welsh Harlequin Ducklings


On March 3, 2014 my Welsh Harlequin Ducklings hatched at Metzer Farms and arrived at my house on March 5, 2014. To view the Raising Welsh Harlequin Ducklings from the start- Arrival Day Click Here

The Welsh Harlequin is a fairly new breed, developed by Leslie Bonnett in Wales from two off-colored Khaki Campbell ducklings in 1949. They came to the United States in 1968 and were accepted into the American Poultry Association in 2001 in the Light Duck class. They are becoming a very popular breed due to their multipurpose characteristics. They have excellent egg production abilities due to their Khaki Campbell background yet retain the instinct to sit and hatch a nest full of ducklings. They are calm, inquisitive and excellent foragers. They seem to be the calmest bird on our farm.

They can also make an outstanding dressed bird as their under-feathers are almost exclusively white making their carcass as pretty as a pure white bird. Interestingly, they can be sexed after hatching with 90% accuracy by their bill color. Darker bills mean a male and lighter bills ending in a dark spot are normally females. Within several days this distinction disappears. They are also a beautiful bird, especially the feather patterns and colors on the adult females.








Our Mission: At Doug’s Ducks our mission is simple: To provide wholesome naturally raised free-range duck and chickens to local consumers and businesses.







Thursday, July 10, 2014

JWU Costa Rica Study Abroad 2014- Academics, Lecture & Field Work

JWU Costa Rica Study Abroad 2014- 

Academics, Lecture & Field Work 

Students enrolled in the JWU Costa Rica Study Abroad Program are completing (if they pass) 13.5 academic credits. The students complete pre-departure assignments as well as assignments and projects in Costa Rica.  Students work 50-60 hours on program related class time, activities and projects. 

Academic Focus: Eco, Nature-based, Adventure, and Sustainable Tourism
Satisfactory completion of the Costa Rica program fulfills all requirements for a concentration in Adventure, Sport and Nature Based Tourism. This is a physically active and comprehensive program. 

This program fulfills the following 3 courses:

  • TRVL3040 Adventure, Sport, & Nature Based Tourism 4.5 credits
  • SEE2040 Outdoor Recreation Planning 4.5 credits
  • TRVL3020 Ecotourism 4.5 credits


JWU Faculty are the academic leadership for this program. They coordinate pre-departure information, travel with the group, and deliver academic content in conjunction with host faculty.  Along with myself (Professor Stuchel) I am accompanied by Dr. Eldad Boker.




Sustainable Tourism, Eco Tourism Local Experts- In addition to the JWU faculty Carlos Roberto Chavarria of Costa Rica Rainforest Experience and Ricardo Howell enrich the course material with the history, economy, social norms of Costa Rica as well as providing in-depth knowledge of Sustainable Tourism/Eco Tourism & Sports Adventure Tourism within Costa Rica.








Field Projects- The students are given four choices for their field work project when they arrive at Tirimbina Biological Reserve in the Sarapiqui region of Costa Rica.  Students are able to pick the project they feel is most aligned with their personal preference or educational outcomes.

Guest Speakers- In addition guest speakers are brought in to the classroom to enrich the academic material.













Tuesday, July 8, 2014

JWU Costa Rica Study Abroad 2014- Mi Cafecito Coffee Tour / Finca Corsicana Pineapple Tour

Mi Cafecito Coffee Tour / Finca Corsicana Pineapple Tour

Today we toured two different food operations, the first a very large pineapple plantation and the second a small coffee co-op.

Finca Corsican is the worlds largest organic pineapple farm located near the quaint little town of La Virgen in central Costa Rica. Finca Corsicana features state of the art equipment and facilities and is home to our organic pineapple operation.  The largest of its kind on Earth! It is located near the foot of Mount Poas, a very active volcano with the second largest crater in the world.  The volcanic activity has made the land abundantly rich with minerals.  In fact, the land here in Costa Rica is so fertile, fence posts actually take root and sprout leaves!  To Learn More About Finca Corsican click here















Mi Cafecito Coffee Tour, a cooperative enterprise with social sense with over 40 years in the production of coffee. Coopesarapiquí is a nonprofit organization that brings together 137 small coffee producers as owners, located in the highlands of the canton of San Carlos and Sarapiqui, between 800 to 1000 meters above sea level. The main focus has been on the market and benefited from coffee production associates. The cooperative promotes cooperative values ​​such as honesty, solidarity and mutual aid. Sales activities Coopesarapiquí coffee will then be registered with the principles of Fair Trade. 

Coopesarapiquí RL was born out of a need and in 1969, a group of forty farmers who grow coffee decided to form a cooperative to seek a solution through the cooperative system.Coopesarapiquí is today an organization that seeks economic and social improvement of its 137 members among its members and fosters the spirit of mutual assistance in the economic social and cultural order. The cooperative promotes activities that tend to meet the needs of its partners and other conversion projects for social good.Coopesarapiquí is related to harvesting, processing and marketing of coffee activities. The cooperative is developed through continuous improvement of the effectiveness of the quality system and environment and strives to prevent pollution through the implementation of cleaner technologies to get a quality product that meets the needs of partners and customers.











Friday, July 4, 2014

JWU Costa Rica Study Abroad 2014- Tortuguero, Costa Rica

Days 2 & 3 at Evergreen Lodge - Tortuguero, Costa Rica


EverGreen Lodge
The one and only hotel in tortuguero inserted in the heart of nature


Evergreen is located in the northeastern corner of Tortuguero, 5 minutes by boat from the main entrance to Tortuguero National Park, and accessible only by air and water. Evergreen Lodge is the ideal location from which to explore this unique and magical area, surrounded by towering trees and exuberant vegetation and are adorned with tropical designs.


The following are some of my favorite pictures from our stay Evergreen Lodge and while touring the rivers and canals of Tortuguero National Park.