The Legal Duck
Welcome to The Legal Duck, Golden Ecology's Eco-Farm! We moved to a 200 year-old farmhouse on 4.3 acres in Simsbury, CT in mid-June of 2020 to embark upon a life-long dream of living more sustainably, using the guiding principles of ecology and evolutionary biology to enhance homestead living, and to share these practices with others.
For over 20 years we lived on a quarter acre of land in West Hartford, CT, a stone's throw from where we are today but a world apart with regard to nature and our ability to live closer to the land. We chose West Hartford for its exceptional public schools and the town served us well with regard to accessibility to UConn, where I was a doctoral student in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and the city of Hartford, where Andrew was practicing law at The Hartford insurance company.
My compulsion to farm started with container gardens on the patio, fed by a small, but growing compost pile tucked in the corner of our lot. Our sun-limited property, however, presented challenges for vegetable gardening on a larger scale. Additionally, I wanted animals, like chickens, to provide resources and to aide with recycling nutrients and improving the soil.
At our West Hartford sun-limited home from left to right: Small raised bed in my one sunny spot. Potted plants on the patio. Sun-seeking movable self-watering garden, a desperate attempt to grow peppers.
Why the Legal Duck?
I really, really wanted chickens but West Hartford did not allow for farm animals, including backyard chickens. Nevertheless, I joined backyardchickens.com, watched countless YouTube videos, and read books on raising chickens in hopeful anticipation that West Hartford would either change its mind regarding ordinances or we would move to a chicken-friendly town. I even attended a day-long workshop on chickens, which is where things turned "ducky."
Somewhere between being walked from the pullet enclosure to the adult coop, a flock of Indian Runner Ducks bisected our group, stopping our class in its tracks. The instructor scooped up a duck and explained that ducks are not only great backyard fowl, eating unwanted pests and fertilizing in return, their eggs are excellent for baking and nutritionally rich, too. "Anyone want to hold one?" My hand shot up immediately because these were awesome animals! No sharp beaks or talons... and fun to watch -- like mini people running around without arms. At the end of the workshop, the instructor asked the class if anyone wanted to take home a couple of chicks to start their backyard chicken flock "...and by the way we have two ducklings available, too." Which is how I ended up with two possibly illegal backyard ducks, named Rin and Yuki.
Rin (left) and Yuki (right) were my first, possibly illegal, backyard ducks. Yuki was a fawn and white Indian Runner Duck and Rin was some interesting combination of "others."
Fast forward to 2019 when a beautiful 1823 farmhouse in Simsbury's East Weatogue Historic District came on the market... We decided to make our BIG MOVE to farm living. Cue the "Green Acres" music!
So, in June of 2020, in the midst of a global pandemic with our three adult children and their significant others temporarily living at home, we packed our West Hartford abode, including three ducks, four chickens (our pre-move pandemic moral booster), a dog, a cat, gads of fish, potted plants and plants to transplant (I would have moved my compost pile if I could) and moved over "the mountain" to Simsbury: Where ducks (and chickens) are legal!
Our three ducks (left) and four young chickens (right), aka the illegal aliens, await their chauffeur for the trip to Simsbury's promised land.
The legal duck in our logo is Rin's one and only daughter, Stiles. I promise to write about Stile's story in the near future. It's a good one. ; )