People keep asking me- no ducks?
And the short answer is no.
And the long answer is not this year. (But I think we're in year three of 'not this year'.)
The good thing about ducks is you have live-in weeders and fertilisers and at the end of the season you have something to put on your rice.
The not so good thing about ducks is you have to look after them.
Every day. This is a day in the life of the ducks. And that's when they're small and cute and (mostly) do what you want them to do.
Kind of like kids, when they hit adolescence all of a sudden they decide bedtime is not for them and they'd rather be playing with their mates at the far end of the paddy than tucked up safe and secure in their shed. It can feel like a very long journey between cute yellow fluffball and goodbye ducks. And you have to feed them. And buying/ sourcing/ collecting feed is another job/ expense as well....
We still go and help with the duck butchering day each year and I was asking around as to how other people look after their ducks to see if I could glean any tips on more efficient processes.
Well, it turns out we were the owners of some pretty pampered ducks! A number of farmers didn't even expect that their ducks would last the season and considered them tools rather than animals to be responsible for. (It's true that after ducks have eaten all the weeds in a paddy once at the start of the season there's usually not that many more weeds as all the seeds tend to germinate at the same time so their 'work' is done.) K and I are not this kind of farmer. We're the bring home a squished duckling and warm it up under the kotatsu and go and buy it some brandy kind of farmers.
Another percentage of farmers use electric fences and therefore save a lot of time and effort with fencing- of course they still HAVE fences but they aren't the main line of defence. Our paddy is waaayyyy too big to make this an economic possibility though.
So, as there's no easier way to do ducks that suits us we really would need to just tough it out with morning and evening duck checks and putting up fences and stringing 2000m of string up and down and up and down the paddy.
In non-duck years I am the weeder and it is definitely a time consuming job- at least three hours a week in the summer so I am leaning more towards ducks again..... and we have a couple of families interested in helping out so who knows..... no ducks this year but maybe yes ducks next year?
And here's a gratuitous picture of this year's ducks that are going to someone else's paddy:
Ohhhhhhhh they're so cuuuuuutttteeee!!