Muscovy ducks are often promoted as well mannered and lovable, the perfect dual purpose breed for small farms and homesteads alike. They are supposed to breed like feathered rabbits while maintaining a friendly charm, if not quite warm and cuddly. So when the opportunity arose to trade some of my hens’ eggs for 6 young Muscovy ducks I jumped right on it with my usual enthusiasm. These guys and gals were great. They followed me everywhere, ate out of my hands, posed for pictures…I was smitten.
Until puberty hit. It hit hard and drew blood. My blood. I found myself perusing the internet at night, guiltily looking up recipes for duck. That came after I was bent over in the goat barn, tossing fresh hay to the ladies. Suddenly something heavy dropped off the top of the haystack and landed on the top of my head. I thought a bale had fallen until I realized whatever it was on my head was also using claws to pull out my hair. Oh- a Muscovy. Of course. It had climbed up the stack when I wasn’t looking and ambushed me. Sounds about right.
Making my rounds for last minute hay and water checks by the light of my head lamp suddenly I would hear it. The wet plodding of webbed feet coming at me- then the strike! One of the drakes would grab hold of my pant leg, using its claws it would try to climb my leg, beating its wings…some kind of weird duck mating ritual. Then plod!plod!plod! More of them would come out of the shadows, determined to get my other leg. Or one of the other drakes. It didn’t matter. I took to arming myself with a long pvc pipe to ward them off. But they were steadfast and held on.
Why didn’t I re-home them? Or eat them? Because I had a plan. I was going to collect the eggs for eating. I was going to figure out which ones were the females…but guess what? You can’t tell the difference between males and females when it comes to Muscovies. Because they aren’t true ducks. No, they are really henchmen from satan. I’m sure of that. And I didn’t have a place to put them on lock down while keeping them separate from my well behaved poultry. So I let them roam. Like a gang of thugs.
I found myself telling visitors- “Just kind of shake him off.” “Give him a little kick. A big kick” ” A bigger kick” then I’d go over and expertly pin his neck down to the ground with my boot, ignoring the bewildered look on my guest’s face while we chatted and he squirmed. Eventually it became evident that none of the ducks were female. They were all drakes. Except maybe that one that chased the truck in the road until the truck slowed and it attacked the tire…we’ll never know now. Definitely not the one that jumped on one of my rogue chickens and snapped its neck before I could save it.
Well mannered? Lovable? Perfect homestead duck? If you’re satan, perhaps.