Ducks

Introducing the “Quacker Box” Duck House – a birthday present worthy of The Tyrant

Charlie von Cat inspects the Quacker Box at Tyrant Farms

During the first week of September, many people around the world celebrated “Semana del Tirano,” the week-long birthweek festival in honor of the beautiful, revered and very tiny benevolent tyrant, Susan von Frank (aka bitTyrant, the namesake of Tyrant Farms). Susan let me know during the months leading up to her festival that she “had very big plans” for me. She loves milking every drop of indulgence out of her birthweek that she can, and I admittedly derive a great deal of pleasure from pampering her. So, in gardening terms, this is more of a symbiotic rather than a parasitic courtship ritual.

Our birthday and holiday gifts to each other tend to be a shared experience (like a trip) or co-creating something that we need and will use for a long time (like a new fruit tree in the garden).

This year, we had a few big things we wanted to get done and Susan’s birthweek proved a worthy deadline to shoot for (as we all know, if it weren’t for deadlines and “last minutes” 99% of everything would never have been done):

  1. Tyrant Farms, the Blog - First on the list was this website er blog thing. It’s now live (woohoo!) a bit belatedly, and we’ll continue to develop it into what we hope will be an extremely valuable resource for anyone who is interested in learning more about growing and eating great food (or knowing where their food came from). It’s going to be a fun journey and we want you to grow along with us while learning from our many trials and errors.
  2. Duck House - Second on our to-do list was constructing a duck house. Not just any duck house mind you… but a duck house worthy of the Tyrant and her birthweek. The duck house feature of Semana del Tirano is the subject of this blog post.

The Quacker Box: The Tyrant Farms Duck House / Duck Tractor

The quaker box started off a few months back as a two story monstrosity that was supposed to house our new kittens on the top level and our yet-to-be-acquired egg laying ducks on the bottom level. *In case you don’t know, many breeds of ducks lay large, delicious eggs as prolifically as chickens and they don’t scratch up your yard… although they are quite messy and will turn their space into a giant mud puddle if you let them. We plan to keep our ducks on lots of mulch that is changed out often and put into our compost.

First, we had to get lumber. We had a bunch of scrap wood from palettes and our neighbor’s old swing set, but we needed a bunch more to construct the beast, which we had perfectly rendered in CAD. The picture of our car below pretty much sums up the absurdity of our Phase 1 operations.

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Duck Kitten House Plans - CAD rendering

Our Phase I duck-kitten house/castle plan that we rendered in CAD (and by “we” I mean Susan, and by “Susan” I mean The Tyrant).

We started construction early on a Saturday morning and after nearly two full days, a lot of bickering, re-CADing, and even more wine, we had constructed the shell of the beast. It was so heavy that we could barely lift it, but we eventually managed to get it in place between two lettuce beds next to our house in the back yard. It was just after this moment that we removed the sawdust on the chop saw that our dear friend Ken Flournoy at Ken’s Plumbing let us borrow, only to notice that it was set a few degrees off from 90. Yes, ladies and gents, this means that we’d created our very own Leaning Duck Tower of Pisa in our back yard. We finished off the night with a spattering of profanity and a few more glasses of wine.

Kittens inspecting old duck house at Tyrant Farms

Bob and Oscar von Kitten (unimpressed) inspecting the Phase 1 duck-kitten house.

The phase 1 duck house stayed there, untouched, for the next 6 weeks while we tried to ignore it. As Semana del Tirano approached, a new motivating wind blew into our sails, and Phase 2 duck house planning began. Our morale was further boosted when we looked out the window during a bad rainstorm and noticed that the white clematis flowers on our fence were blooming in the shape of a duck. Quackleus, God of Ducks, was clearly giving us a sign of approval.

Flower duck on fence - sign that we must build a duck house

No two story, leaning, monstrosity would be built this time. We’d keep things simple: a very basic 3-walled structure, a simple shed roof and a run. Yeah. Simple and easy.

The simple, humble beginnings of the Phase II Duck House, aka the "Quaker Box."

The simple, humble beginnings of the Phase II Duck House, aka the “Quaker Box.”

We deconstructed the Phase 1 beast, and hauled its skeleton into our garage to make sure the wood would stay dry throughout construction. For a few nights in a row, we’d finish bitTyrant client work (our day jobs), eat dinner, then head to the garage until 2-3am to work on Phase 2 construction. After a lot of bickering, pad sketching, and (of course) wine drinking, the Quaker Box emerged just in time for the conclusion of Susan’s birthday festivities. Somehow, between concept and completion, the Quacker Box received a considerable design/build upgrade package.

The Tyrant joyfully approved of the final craftsman style Quacker Box (pictures below and detailed plans for download coming soonish), which also features wheels for moving around the yard, a green roof (we’ve planted strawberries, lettuce and herb seeds), an attached wired duck run, and a spunky flower box. Next step, we have to get some egg laying ducks. We’re now bickering about whether we should source our ducks from Carolina WaterFowl Rescue, the mysterious “duck lady of Inman,” or Holderread Waterfowl Farm & Preservation Center, but we’re open to other suggestions that you might have? Our only qualifications are: (1) that they have to be mature ducks; (2) they have to be breeds known for being excellent foragers; (3) they have to be breeds that aren’t skittish; (4) and they have to be on the larger size when mature (4.5-6lbs+) and excellent egg layers.

The Quacker Box - duck tractor, coop, house... via tyrantfarms.com

 click the picture above to open a larger version of the image 

updated on 4/9/15 to include a basic footprint and a sketch. Hopefully this will be helpful to anyone else wanting to build their own Quacker Box.

Basic Footprint

click the image to view a printable pdf (opens in a new window)

Sketch of the house

click the image to view a printable pdf (opens in a new window)

Where we have it located at Tyrant Farms

white-duck-featured-image

Be sure to check out our other posts about raising ducks!

KIGI,


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  • Steve Keyes

    Wow… love this! You guys are amazing! Quack!!!

  • http://www.tyrantfarms.com Aaron

    Quack back atcha Steve! We think a duckhouse and a few duck hens would make a fine addition to the Keye’s backyard. Just be sure to check with Becky and those pesky neighbors of yours first. ;)

  • Bonnie Bigelow

    LOVELY IDEA, SO GLAD YOU DID ALL THE DESIGN WORK FOR ME, CAN’T TELL YOU HOW MUCH IT IS APPRECIATED, IT’S JUST WHAT I’VE BEEN LOOKING FOR. GOING TO PRINT THIS & HAVE MY GRANDSON BUILD ME ONE. Ducks will be good for my garden. Thought about chickens first, but will eat eggs either way. Thanks so much for this.

    • http://www.tyrantfarms.com Aaron

      Bonnie: You’re quite welcome! Please send us a photo of your duck house and ducks when you’re done or share it on our facebook page! https://www.facebook.com/TyrantFarms

  • Pingback: Welsh Harlequin Ducklings - Tyrant Farms()

  • http://gravatar.com/crcolas crcolas

    I think the images of the CAD and the house are no longer available. is there any way you can email them to me? I am considering this as a possible project for the local farm where I volunteer at :)

    • http://www.tyrantfarms.com Susan

      We just got the photos properly inserted back into the blog post. Sorry about that! The only CAD we currently have is the original version of the house that we ended up taking apart (see image about half way up in the post). We actually ended improvising most of the final house and never got it into CAD. It’s been on our ever-growing to-do list for over a year now, but we’ve just never gotten around to it. Take a look at the bottom image (with multiple angles of the house) and see if that helps you? If you have any questions about the design/construction, we’d certainly be happy to help you. Email: aaron at tyrantfarms dot com. Thanks!

      • http://gravatar.com/crcolas crcolas

        Thank you so much! I am so glad I found you guys! I’m currently working on a project for my local town farm to get 4 Welsh Harlequins, I actually have 6 at home. It won’t be until spring though, and I can’t wait to see your next update on your ducks! One question though: Can this comfortably fit all four of your ducks? Thanks!
        -Charlie

  • cleverglove

    I love your design I’m looking to make something similar for my ducks.

    How long is the quacker box? 9 feet?

    Thank you.

  • Farrah

    We just got our 1st ducklings and I LOVE the design of your Quacker Box. I’m going to try and get my husband to build one just like it—I hope you don’t mind us emailing you if we have questions about your design. Thanks for the great pictures.

  • http://gravatar.com/mdietlin mdietlin

    Hello- do you think the size of the tractor (Quacker House #1) is large enough to house 4 welsh harlequin hens? It seems to be about the same size as the coop I have (tractor style), and I am just two weeks into ducklings and concerned it will be too small.