Cancel the Turkeys (Because of the Ducks)

I raise chickens, both for meat and for eggs. This year, I thought I’d add turkeys into the mix, in order to raise our own Thanksgiving turkey and to be able to have some to sell. I’ve raised them before, with varying degrees of success, and had planned to make some changes this year in the hopes they would do better. I also ordered chicks to both increase our egg-laying flock and give it some new blood. The meat birds are a specific breed, so those had to be ordered as well. My youngest daughter loves ducks, and had been arguing in favor of getting ducklings again, and I finally gave in, adding a meat breed and an egg breed to the same order as for our meat chickens.

Then the ducklings came. They were adorable. They are now almost three weeks old. They are still adorable, but I remember why I don’t raise many ducks: they are messy. They can drain a five-gallon waterer in less than a day, soaking the wooden floor of the coop. They are goofy and clumsy and knock things over if at all possible. They don’t quite trample the chicks that they are living with, but not for lack of enthusiasm. They are flighty and when one of them spooks, they all race around their enclosure in a panic. They are trouble. They can’t be in with the meat chicks any more, because they are too much for that coop (and too much for the chicks). They’ll have to be moved out to another space with a dirt floor where the flooding won’t cause structural damage, and their goofiness won’t endanger chicks that don’t have the sense to get out of their way.

Last night I got the confirmation phone call that the first of my two batches of egg chicks (with a dozen tiny bantams as well) will be arriving tomorrow. The turkeys are scheduled to arrive next week. The second batch of egg chicks will be arriving about three weeks after that.

Suddenly, my brilliant plans for all the poultry I’ll raise doesn’t look so brilliant. It looks overcrowded. Where am I going to put them all? I have three spaces for putting the babies, but with the addition of the ducklings, I have four groups with specific needs. I thought the ducklings would be fine with the chicks, but their needs are just too different. The turkeys are too delicate to be in with the ducklings, and the bantams are too delicate to be in with the turkeys.

I’ve overbooked myself, and my space.

Something has to go, but the logical thing to jettison, the impulsively-added ducklings, are already here, already committed to. So it will have to be the turkeys, since I can cancel those. No homegrown turkey this year, darn it.

It’s not a great solution, but it’s the only one I’ve got right now, and something I brought upon myself with not paying attention to the limits of my space. Next year, I’ll have to remember this, and remember my frustration with my own poor planning. Actually, the planning was fine. The planning was just what it should be. The problem was I ignored the plan in the excitement of ordering chicks. Whee, let’s get ducklings too! So I’ll remember that too.

Next year, I’ll stick with the plan, so I don’t have to cancel the turkeys (that I really wanted) to accommodate the ducks (that were just an impulsive, last-minute add-on).