Our pond is often said to be an Olympic size swimming pool as it is large, rectangular and has a very smart stone edging. However it also has a small waterfall powered by the well pump from a the well fed by a natural Cotswold spring.
The pond area houses on average 20 ducks and two geese. We also have a separate chicken enclosure for the laying hens. The hens are mostly black rocks with some Bovans Nera.
We have three colour groups of Muscovy ducks, white, lavender and brown. In general they do not interbreed but keep in their own family groups.
The Muscovy is an odd breed of duck. Most duck books say it is a goose and the goose books say it is a duck, so nobody says much about it at all. It is a very hardy duck that thrives very well in this country, and they are far better mothers than any other duck, which as a species seem to be very lax in their mothering. They are also very good for their eggs that are large and very rich, although like geese they will not lay in the winter months. They produce much more meat than a normal duck and are generally sold as "Barbary ducks".
These are the staple egg laying ducks that were bred for that purpose in the last century. They are a lovely brown mottled colour. Some Khaki Campbells can easily match the modern hybrid hens for egg laying ability and many are capable of laying 300 plus eggs per year. However, they are from the same stock and interbreed with the Indian runners.
Before the Khaki Campbell was bred for egg production, the Indian Runner was the champion egg layer, and can lay in the region of 270 plus eggs per year.
Indian Runners are the tall elegant upright ducks that are always running from one place to the next, looking as if they are always on tiptoes. Our runners are either pure white or what is known as "trout" a mottled brown similar to Khaki Campbells. They are all very pretty.
Because of their very close heritage, Campbells were originally bred from Runners, the runners and Campbells all stay together as a flock and will actively interbreed.
Our chickens are all free-range hybrids that we keep either for their egg production or for meat production. They are kept within a boundary fence of electric net to protect them from the incursions of the local foxes, which have taken their toll on the poultry over the years and will again unless we are always vigilant. They do have plenty of space and grass to peck over and dust bath in.
We always have fresh eggs for sale as they are prolific layers and our eggs have consistently won the egg competitions at the local horticultural show.
Our broiler birds (those grown for meat) are brought in at less than a day old and are processed entirely on the farm.
Bertie the gander has a mate although he thinks he is human. He rules the pond and generally finds the ducks below the salt and ignores them completely. At the moment he is the head of a small family of geese being fattened for Christmas.
Bertie was hand reared as the only survivor from a clutch of goslings that were devastated by crows and magpies, hence he thinks he is human. He is a very good guard goose as no one gets past Bertie quietly.