When Lois M. inherited several ducks, she was worried that they wouldn’t make it through her hot Oklahoma summer outdoors. There are very few trees on the property, so there isn’t much shade—and it gets very dry during the summer.
So the original problem here is that there isn’t enough shade and water for the ducks. That’s one problem.
Now let’s apply permaculture to the problem. The permaculture motto is turning the problem into a solution—in this case, a quadruple solution.
A Permaculture Solution for Overheated Ducks
Ducks like water. And they turn that water into fertilizer soup.
Well, vining melons and squash like water, too—and they love fertilizer.
Ducks also like shade. Well, vining melons and squash love the sun—and they have big leaves that make lots of shade wherever they’re planted.
If you plant vining melons and squash in an open field, bugs and slugs may be drawn to the plants and the moisture.
Well, ducks love to eat bugs and slugs. And you love to eat melons and squash all summer long.
So, those Oklahoma ducks can be either one problem, or four solutions—depending on how you look at it.
The first principle of permaculture is observation: “Getting to Know Your New Permaculture Site”
You’ll Need a Trellis and an Enclosure
You may want to build a trellis to hold the vines, and an enclosure to hold the ducks. Let us combine those two things.
There is a type of fencing called a cattle panel. You can find many examples on the Internet of these being formed into an arch and used to trellis vines. Simply put a fence across the open ends, and you have an enclosure.
Place a water trough on each side, so that it can easily be emptied onto the roots of the vines each morning. Let the ducks out to patrol for pests in the morning while you dump and refill their water troughs. They will return to the troughs for water, and you can shut them in for the heat of the day.
Repeat this in the evening, shutting them in to protect from predators.
Another option is to build your duck enclosure under a grape trellis. This was done a long time ago on this farm, but I can’t show it because a heavy winter snow collapsed the trellises—so it is a mess that I have to try to solve this year. There were two trellises—a long narrow one around the perimeter of the garden for the ducks, and a high square one for the chickens.
What Do You Think?
What are your best suggestions for keeping your ducks (and other livestock) from overheating during the summer months? We’d love to read them in the comments below!
(This is an updated version of an article that was submitted by Qberry Farm and was originally published on April 19, 2016. The author may not currently be available to respond to comments, however we encourage our Community members to chime in to share their experiences and answer questions!)