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What Were You Thinking on ></a><a href=Bob Tarte, host of What Were You Thinking on

Bob Tarte
Exotic Pet Expert & Author

"The Crazy Critter Lady"

..........Kelly Meister on Pet Life Radio

Linda Tarte...............................Kelly Meister


Bob Tarte phones Kelly Meister, the Crazy Critter Lady (, and she talks about how she takes care of other people's ducks that were dumped at McKinnon's Pond in Whoville, Ohio. (To see Kelly in action, visit and watch the Duck Man vs. the Crazy Critter Lady video.) After the interview with Kelly, Bob's wife Linda describes the kind of care and housing that pet ducks require. Ducks make great pets, but you have to accommodate them properly.


[music] You’re listening to

Intro: “Yes the pets have gone wild. What were you thinking? Welcome to the show about everything you always wanted to know about exotic pets.   Where to get them, what to feed them and how to care for them. You’ll even find out why some people live with a monkey! Now here’s your host exotic pet expert and author Bob Tarte. Hey Bob, what were you thinking?”

Bob Tarte: Linda, Linda I’m glad you came in. I just taught Dusty to say the name of our show, “What Were You Thinking?”

Linda Tarte: You did?

Bob Tarte: Yeah, yeah listen. Dusty, Dusty what were you thinking? What were you thinking, hon? Say it Dusty, “What were you thinking?”

[Parrot: “What did the duck say?”]

Bob Tarte: Did you hear him? He said it.

Linda Tarte: You didn’t teach him that. He said, “What does the duck say?”

[Parrot: “What did the duck say?” “Merry Christmas.”]

Bob Tarte: No, no, no. It’s as clear as a bell. He said, “What were you thinking?” Didn’t you, Dusty? Listen. What were you thinking? What were you thinking? Dusty, What were you thinking?

[Parrot: “What did the duck say” whistle “Merry Christmas”]

Bob Tarte: See? He said it.

Linda Tarte: He said what does the duck say, Merry Christmas.

Bob Tarte: No. No. It isn’t anywhere near Christmas.

Linda Tarte: Well that’s what he said.

Bob Tarte: Oh well, our show is about ducks today anyway so there you go.

Linda Tarte: There you go.

[ducks quacking] [birds chirping and cooing throughout audio]

Hi. I’m author of the books, “Enslaved by Ducks, ” and “ Fowl Weather ”. You’re listening to, “What were you thinking?”  -- A weekly Internet radio show about exotic pets. And exotic pets means anything pretty much except dogs and cats. Joining me today, and every week is my wife Linda. Hey Linda. [bird cooing]

Linda Tarte: Hello, how ‘ya doing.

Bob Tarte: Good. Good. Everyone’s good too I think. And, we’re going to talk about keeping ducks as pets today.  And we have some experience with ducks, don’t we?

Linda Tarte: Oh yes.

Bob Tarte: Yeah, yeah. First, we’re going to talk to Kelly Meister. Kelly lives in Perrysburg, Ohio and she has an interesting story to tell about ducks. After that, Linda will talk about what kind of pets ducks make and what kind of requirements they have. Ducks aren’t a particularly difficult pet to keep but you have to get set up right, right at the beginning and then you have to be prepared for a pet that can live as long as 25 years.

Now I should mention that you’re going to hear birds in the background. We’ve got a dove named, “Howard,” who coos. We got parakeets. What are the parakeets’ names?

[birds chirping]

Linda Tarte: Harvey and Sheila.

Bob Tarte: Yep and then of course we have Dusty, the African Gray Parrot and you heard him talk a little while earlier and Fela, another African Gray Parrot. As I said before, we’ve had the chance to do this show from a fancy pants studio at a seven figure salary but Linda and I said no.

Linda Tarte: Oh, no.

Bob Tarte: No. That’s not for us. Instead, we’re doing this show for no salary at all, right from our dining room.

Linda Tarte: That’s right.

Bob Tarte: That’s how famous we are. So right now I’m going to get to my phone call with Kelly. Before I do though, there’s one little matter I want to discuss.

Linda Tarte: Mmm.

Bob Tarte: Now, book events… I wrote, “Enslaved by Ducks” and “Fowl Weather” as I can’t mention too many times. And now, book events, where I go to promote my books, they’re always an embarrassment. I drive a hundred miles and I end up talking to five, six, maybe if I’m really lucky, seven people?

Well, last spring, Kelly Meister arranged an appearance for me at Booksamillion Bookstore in Perrysburg, Ohio. And the day before the event, Kelly had arranged a photo opportunity at Simmons Pond with reporters from two local newspapers but it didn’t turn out exactly the way I planned and…

Linda Tarte: Mmmm…

Bob Tarte: To judge for yourself and to see Kelly in action and how she bested me with members of the press, go to my website, and watch a video of the event. Now, it’s kind of a high-resolution video and it takes a little while to load but it’s worth waiting for or you can go to and you can see it there. You can see a grainy version of it there. Whichever version you see, it’s pretty darned embarrassing.

Linda Tarte: It’s very entertaining.

Bob Tarte: Yeah. [duck quacking] Very entertaining.

[music] [radio break]

Bob Tarte: I’m speaking with Kelly Meister, the crazy critter lady from Perrysburg, Ohio just south of Toledo. Now, lots of people I know have ducks as pets. I mean, you can’t resist them, right?

Kelly Meister: Right.

Bob Tarte: But Kelly is unique because she takes care of pet ducks that don’t belong to her. [laughter] Now she doesn’t break into duck pens at night, though I wouldn’t put it past her ‘cause she is the crazy critter lady. But what Kelly does -- and this is just out of the kindness of her heart -- is that she cares for pet ducks that other people have abandoned and these are ducks on Simmons Pond, a few miles from her house. Kelly feeds them and that’s just the beginning and we’ll get to that. To start with Kelly, “How the heck did the ducks get on Simmons Pond in the first place?

Linda Tarte: Well, as you know, ‘cause you’ve been there, it’s a pretty big pond and you can see it from the highway. So, there may have been people driving by who thought, “Hey that’s a good place to dump ducks.” And I think that once there were a couple of ducks out there, it sort of snowballed where people thought, “Well, there’s already ducks of that size and shape so it’ll all be one big happy family. We’ll just dump a few more.”

Bob Tarte: People might want to know why can’t ducks just take care of themselves. We see them all the time.

Linda Tarte: Sure. Well mainly because they’re not made to or bred to do that. They don’t have survival instincts. They don’t have scrounging and eating instincts like the wild mallards. They fully expect you to come and feed them.

Bob Tarte: And we’re talking in some cases about big white barnyard ducks and they’re hybrids, right?

Linda Tarte: Oh golly. Well you know the white ones – I just refer to them as Aflac ducks because everybody knows what the Aflac duck looks like.

Bob Tarte: Yeah.

Linda Tarte: But you also have – especially down in Simmons pond – these ducks that look exactly like wild mallards but they’re three or four times bigger and they’re called rouens and they’re also under the heading of domestic ducks. There are, I don’t know, you would probably know better than I, six or seven or eight different breeds that come under the heading of domestic ducks and they’re all intended to just be in a barnyard. They can’t fly…

Bob Tarte: That’s the problem. That’s a big problem. Not only can’t they get food for themselves although ducks are pretty good foragers up to a certain extent, but they can’t fly if there’s a problem.

Linda Tarte: Right. Right and there are so many, at this particular pond and probably elsewhere in similar situations, so many predators. You’ve got hawks, you’ve got snapping turtles. You’ve got the neighborhood dogs and cats. You’ve got raccoons.

Bob Tarte: And kids. And kids throwing stones.

Kelly Meister: Yeah. Mean children is a big one actually. Bigger than you’d realize.

Bob Tarte: Oh I know it. I know it. And you feed the ducks, right?

Kelly Meister: I feed them five days a week and I give them weekends off ‘cause I figure everybody can use a break from me sooner or later.

Bob Tarte: Yeah and you’re not going there throwing bread.

Kelly Meister: No, no, no. I have, after a certain amount of research, I came up with this mixture of crackcorn and believe it or not, cat food.

Bob Tarte: Oh yeah.

Kelly Meister: And I mix that together and they seem to like the cat food. I’ve introduced that recently.  I took your advice once – tried to mash up some vegetables and they didn’t want to have anything to do with them.

Bob Tarte: It may be an acquired taste.  It took me a while to learn to love my vegetables.

Kelly Meister: Right. There you go. So I feed them a mixture of that. Actually Pretty Boy, one of my favorite ducks, is recovering from an abscess in his wings.

Bob Tarte: Yeah, let’s talk about that because you don’t just feed these ducks. You are good enough to take them to a vet and pay for it yourself.

Kelly Meister: Well that’s suddenly changed though. The good news is I managed to get the animal control officer who I’ve been working with and he’s a real nice guy. Because he knows what I’m doing down there, taking care of them, he talked to the veterinary clinic that the city uses for stray animals and whatnot. I’m taking them to the vet but now the city is paying for it, which I just love.

Bob Tarte: Oh that’s great.

Kelly Meister: It helps a huge amount but…

Bob Tarte: But it’s no small task catching these ducks and taking them somewhere.

Kelly Meister: Right, well …

Bob Tarte: Ducks are stronger than you think. I don’t know how your ducks are.

Kelly Meister: They’ve got a hell of a bite.

Bob Tarte: Yeah if you get hit with a duck’s wing and it hits you in the jaw, I think it could probably… it might be able to knock you out.

Kelly Meister: Well it would definitely leave a mark for sure. You have to scoop. You have to scoop and run. You can’t hesitate. You can’t worry about is he struggling, is he going to get away… You just have to scoop and wrap up those wings and drop him in the carrier as quick as you can.

I’m lucky that I have a good rapport with them so they come up close when we feed and that goes on five days a week, year after year. They’re not really expecting me to grab but they do get close enough that I can grab. And Pretty Boy, who I grabbed with the access in his wing, behaved very well at the vet and needs medication, actually, which I have to go down and give specially. For that reason I am giving him bread because all the medicine is powdered and I mash it up in the bread and he just thinks he’s eating bread.

Bob Tarte: And he’s a Flintstone’s Kid, isn’t he?

Kelly Meister: [laughing] He’s a Flintstone’s Kid now. They prescribe children’s vitamins to counteract some side effects from the antibiotics. He’s getting twice as much bread and he has no idea why.

Bob Tarte: Wow.

Kelly Meister: Yeah.

Bob Tarte: Now what’s the deal with fishing line?

Kelly Meister: Oh my goodness. Every time I go down there because they stock the pond with fish -- and kids fish and grownups fish… Every time I go down there I find length of fishing line. A lot of times the hook is still attached – just lying on the ground because people are very careless about this. And, there have been some really awful things happening. The worst was a wild mallard that got line wrapped around his leg so tightly that about two weeks after this happened, his leg rotted away and fell off. It was just heartbreaking.

Bob Tarte: Now how did he do without the leg?

Kelly Meister: You know they bounce back pretty good and he managed to sort of peg leg around after he limped on dry land but you know you don’t want to be responsible for that…

Bob Tarte: Heck no.

Kelly Meister: And he was a wild mallard so he never came close enough for me to grab. I found this spring, one of the big domestic ducks literally tied to a branch in a shrub because she’d gotten caught up in this. She was trying to nest under the shrub and when I found her she had no room to move. She was trapped.

Bob Tarte: So you’re doing this every day. You do it in the winter.

Kelly Meister: Yes.

Bob Tarte: You do it all the time.

Kelly Meister: In the winter they get more food. They act different in the winter. It’s funny. They get jumpy even though they’re perfectly safe but they seem to sense that it’s hunting season and they don’t come as close. They don’t stay as long at the feed. They kind of wait for me to leave so they can come back and eat at their leisure. But I’m there, like I said five days a week all year round. I’ve been doing this since 2000 so it’s seven years now.

Bob Tarte: Well good for you and if people want to know more about you and a book you’ve written called, …

Kelly Meister: “Crazy Critter Lady.”

Bob Tarte: “Crazy Critter Lady,”which you’re shopping around right now. They can go to your website which is And, if they want to see Kelly in action...

Kelly Meister: Uh-oh.


Bob Tarte: They can go to my website and they can see a video called, “Duckman versus the Crazy Critter Lady.”

Kelly Meister: I do love that video Bob.

Bob Tarte: OK good and they need to go and see that and find out what it’s about.

Kelly Meister: Yes and there are pictures of all the ducks we’ve talked about on my website so they can see them up close and personal.

Bob Tarte: OK and that’s at

Linda: Yep.

Bob Tarte: All right well thanks Kelly for talking to me today.

Linda: Thank you Bob.

Bob: All right bye-bye.

[bird squawking]

Bob Tarte: We’ll be right back with more of “What Were You Thinking?” after these potentially important messages.

[radio break]

Bob Tarte: Hi. Welcome back to “What Were You Thinking?” I’m your host Bob Tarte author of, “Enslaved by Ducks” and “Fowl Weather” and with me is my wife Linda.

Linda Tarte: Hello.

Bob Tarte: And this is a show about exotic pets and you know what? We would like to have you -- yeah you  -- on as a guest, to talk about your pet mice, your pet skunk, your parrot, your rabbit, your spider, your gecko, any interesting pet.

Linda Tarte: Anything unusual.

Bob Tarte: Yeah anything unusual. Please email me at [bird squawking] and you could be a guest on our show.

Now Linda has some thoughts about keeping ducks as pets and she’s going to tell you a little bit about the particulars of how to keep them.

Linda Tarte: Well I just wrote down some things. We’ve had ducks for many years and I just wrote down some things that I’ve been thinking about ducks.

One thing is they need a good-sized pen in order to move around and graze out in the fresh air and sunshine. They really love being outside.

[bird cooing]

Bob Tarte: Now why shouldn’t somebody just let their ducks stay outside all day?

Linda Tarte: Without a pen?

Bob Tarte: Yeah.

Linda Tarte: Well they’ll get eaten by raccoons or predatory birds, dogs in the neighborhood; things like this.

Bob Tarte: Yeah we’ve heard too many times about people who’ve had a tragic event with their ducks because some neighbor’s dog came over and got them.

Linda Tarte: That’s exactly right. We’ve heard that many, many, many times from people who thought this would never happen – that the dogs are quite far away and it would never happen. Trust me. It happens very routinely and we know you don’t want anything like that to happen to you.

Bob Tarte: Now, we have a fenced in yard but even so, as Linda is telling you, we have a duck pen. The ducks come out a couple times a day to graze but they …

Linda Tarte: To have their water changed.

Bob Tarte: Yeah. Yeah. To walk around and just enjoy being out but generally they stay in the pen.

Linda Tarte: That’s right it’s much safer. The pen should have a separate section. The reason for this is for the situation where one or more ducks do not get along well -- sometimes the boys and girls don’t get along well or the boys are aggressive certain times of the year. You need a separate section to put the ducks in that wouldn’t be acting right for some reason.

The feed they should have should be duck pellets. You can get that from your local mill or other stores that carry pet food.

Bob Tarte: Now what about some people just feed scratch feed which is kind of a basic chicken feed. Is that a good feed for ducks?

Linda Tarte: It’s not quite adequate as far as enough grain materials in it. Duck pellets have more grain material. Duck pellets are more nutritionally complete. And we have heard from knowledgeable sources that it’s better to give duck pellets. This is a good year-round feed. This is a better feed for them than scratch feed. You can add scratch feed to the duck pellets but duck pellets are better for them than scratch feed. It’s more nutritionally complete.

Bob Tarte: Absolutely. It’s a good basic food.

Linda Tarte: Also they need a source of greens such as either grass or graze them out on your lawn or romaine lettuce cut up small. We sprinkle crumbs. It’s a poultry feed rich in vitamins mixed in to make them more healthy. We just add a little bit to that to add that to the top of the feed.

Bob Tarte: Now speaking of greens. You said that they like to eat grass so how did that work out with our lawn?

Linda Tarte: We didn’t have a lawn left by the end of last fall and we had to totally re-seed the backyard.

Bob Tarte: Yeah now these are geese rather than ducks.

Linda Tarte: These were our geese.

Bob Tarte: But it’s the same basic thing.

Linda Tarte: Same thing. If there’d been ducks back there, the same thing would have happened.

Bob Tarte: So chances are, if you’ve got hungry ducks, you don’t need a lawn service.

Linda Tarte: [laughing] You don’t. You will have nothing left.

Bob Tarte: OK so you were talking about the food again and the greens that you give them. You like to supplement the duck food with kale or lettuce and we give them table scraps; I don’t know if you’re mentioning that. We give them table scraps at night too.

Linda Tarte: Yes. We also, during their egg laying periods during the year, we give them oyster shells. You can get that at the mill and also at pet stores. Scratch feed can be mixed in with the duck pellets as I mentioned before.

They should have their water changed in their water buckets twice a day because ducks are quite messy animals in a way and they mess their water up pretty quickly so you want to change that a couple times a day.

Bob Tarte: They like to root around in the mud with those beaks and as soon as they dip the beak in their pool or in their water… muddy water.

Linda Tarte: That’s right. It’s filthy. That’s right.

Bob Tarte: We’re always embarrassed when people come over to our house to visit us…

Linda Tarte: Looks like we haven’t changed the water in two days and perhaps it was changed twenty minutes before that time.

Bob Tarte: That’s exactly right.

Linda Tarte: So pens should have either aviary netting on top or sturdy wire to protect them from predators. This is a very important point. It is not enough having a tall fence. I’ve heard more people say that. “Oh well we have a tall fence.” Not enough. Any raccoon can climb over plus owls or other flying predators can swoop down and injure the ducks or kill them. We’ve heard many, many stories over the years where this exact thing has happened. Very common.

Bob Tarte: Yeah I should mention where aviary netting is…

Linda Tarte: You can order it.

Bob Tarte: Yeah, it’s a kind of netting…

Linda Tarte: It’s very sturdy.

Bob Tarte: Some people make pens out of it. I wouldn’t trust it for that. I think it’s a nylon netting; it’s very strong.

Linda Tarte: Very heavily woven.

Bob Tarte:  And you can order that and another reason, I don’t know if you’re going to mention that or not, for having cover on your pen is that there’s a few ducks  -- most ducks are flightless but there are…

Linda Tarte: Muskovies.

Bob Tarte: Yeah there is a kind of domesticated duck and we’re talking about domesticated ducks today. We’re not talking about wild ducks and there’s a kind of domesticated duck called the Muskovy. That could fly right out of there.

Linda Tarte: It’ll fly right outta there.

Bob Tarte: Yep. Yep. But your other ducks

Linda Tarte: Right. Most of them can’t. So duck and chicken pens both need a footing that goes down into the ground to protect from digging animals such as the raccoons or other animals getting in. Or, a 16-inch fencing laid down sideways covered with dirt. How would you describe that?  You lay it down flat along the edge of the pen.

Bob Tarte: Yeah your lower fencing, you kind of bend down the last several inches, maybe a foot of it or so and you kind of fold it so that it’s bent down over the ground.

Linda Tarte: And cover it with dirt.

Bob Tarte: Cover it with dirt or something like that.

And what Linda was talking about burying – that’s what some people do too. You kind of build a trench around your pen as you’re building it and then you have the wire that you’re putting around your fence continue for maybe a foot down if you can in the trench and then you fill the trench up with dirt again. That way if an animal tries to dig, they run into the fence.

Linda Tarte: That’s the absolutely best way to do it.

Bob Tarte: It is.

Linda Tarte: And that’s the way the veterinarians would tell you to do it. It’s the safest way and trust me, raccoons will try that sort of thing. It’s very common for them to try to dig in.

We have small children’s pools filled twice a day with fresh water for our ducks; we’ve always done that. They’re fed in the morning. They are given a treat in the afternoon and in the evening. You want to always check their food dishes to make sure they’ve got food. They love table scraps. They love cut up bread, grasses, romaine lettuce. I should say head lettuce does not have hardly any nutritional value. Romaine lettuce does. It’s greener. Things that are brighter green of course have more nutritional value. It’s much healthier for your animals.

Bob Tarte: And if you want to really enjoy yourselves, feed your ducks spaghetti. [Linda laughing] There’s hardly any better sight than seeing ducks eating spaghetti.

I want to say one more thing about fencing. And that is, you don’t want to use just any kind of fencing you find.

Linda Tarte: That’s right.

Bob Tarte: There’s a problem with raccoons and that is that the raccoons – they can reach their hands in – and it sounds crazy but it happens all the time.

Linda Tarte: Happens all the time.

Bob Tarte: They can reach their little paws in and if there’s a duck…

Linda Tarte: Sleeping by the edge.

Bob Tarte: They grab the duck and they kind of pull it’s head out and you don’t want to know the rest.

Linda Tarte: That’s right. I forgot about that. Now what would they use along the bottom?

Bob Tarte: Now we have something, it’s called hardware cloth.

Linda Tarte: It’s very stiff and with little tiny squares.

Bob Tarte: Yeah it only has a half-inch grid and so that means that…

Linda Tarte: Raccoons can’t get their hands through it.

Bob Tarte: Nope that means it’s made up of squares that are only a half inch and they can’t get their paws through there. You don’t have to necessarily do the whole pen in hardware cloth.

Linda Tarte: No, just the bottom part. How wide is that stuff?

Bob Tarte: I think ours is about maybe 30 inches tall with hardware cloth.

Linda Tarte: You just do it all around the bottom of the pen.

Bob Tarte: Right and so if they were to climb higher than that they wouldn’t be able to reach the duck anyway.

Linda Tarte: Right because the ducks would be down on the bottom part. So that really is a very important point.

Bob Tarte: You want to use hardware cloth around the bottom and then the higher part of the pen you can just use any kind of sturdy fencing. I wouldn’t use chicken wire, it’s too...

Linda Tarte: Not chicken wire. It’s too flaccid.

Bob Tarte: It rusts.

Linda Tarte: It rusts and it’s flaccid. What do you call that kind of wire…

Bob Tarte: Well, just use stiffer fencing.

Linda Tarte: Stiffer fencing.

Bob Tarte: Yeah.

Linda Tarte: You want the pen tall enough to walk in.

Bob Tarte: Oh yeah you should unless you like walking on all fours. Maybe you like that.

Linda Tarte: Yeah you want a tall pen.

Bob Tarte: OK so there are some health issues with ducks, right?

Linda Tarte: OK if a duck is limping, which you might occasionally see that. If a duck is limping, check the bottom of their feet for a physical condition called bumble foot. It’s where they’ve gotten a cut and bacteria’s entered the cut and it’s caused a deep infection. They’ll need to go to the vet for this and get antibiotics. They will have that cleansed out. The vet will want to wrap that area and they will have to be kept clean and dry for a period of time. We’ve had this happen with a couple of our ducks. It’s very important to get them in to the vet and get that cleansed out. 

Bob Tarte: Yeah you don’t want them to get bumble foot.

Linda Tarte: Because it goes throughout their entire system.

Bob Tarte: I mean we successfully treated it but it’s kind of a pain because you kind of have to lance the injury …

Linda Tarte: It’s has to be lanced and cleansed thoroughly and they have to be given - I can’t remember if I gave them an antibiotic after that initial shot…

Bob Tarte: Yeah I think so because if you remember, we gave Ritchie a shot, I think. I think that was for the bumble foot. Another thing too is I heard if your barn floor has a cement floor like ours does…

Linda Tarte: It needs to have straw on it.

Bob Tarte: Yeah you need to have straw.

Linda Tarte: It’s hard on their feet.

Bob Tarte: Mmmhmm. You know the poor ducks you know they have kind of tender feet so.

Linda Tarte: And it’s too hard on them walking on cement all the time. They need straw on that floor.

Bob Tarte: Now you were talking before about the pellets. I think one thing we’ve noticed, is that when we feed our ducks better, their feathers look better.

Linda Tarte: Absolutely.

Bob Tarte: So you’ve got something to say about feather conditions.

Linda Tarte: Yeah, if you notice that their feathers start looking kind of bad -- well sometimes if they’re feathers look badly, it might just be that they’re molting. But if it’s other times when you would think the feathers would be good, if you start to see kind of like brownish feathers that don’t repel water properly and that sort of thing at odd times of the year, it can be a sign of an internal problem such as parasites. A vet must be consulted about this to determine what it is.

There is another situation that we’ve had over the years where a preen gland which is down at the base of their tail, it’s lanolin that is in this preen gland. And they preen all their feathers and that’s what makes them water proof. But if they start to get an infection in that preen gland, it’s sore and they won’t touch it. Then they won’t preen themselves and this will cause the feathers to kind of get kind of brownish looking sometimes along the edge of the wings.

This is a real problem as it approaches winter. If they have poor feather condition and you’re approaching winter, it’s very important for a duck to be able to repel water and the elements outside or they get sick – respiratory infection. It’s very important for them to have good condition of their feathers going in to winter.

Bob Tarte: Now another thing that can cause feather damage is lice.

Linda Tarte: Oh yeah I forgot about that.

Bob Tarte: But you have to remember, if you have several ducks or geese and just one of them has one of them has lice…

Linda Tarte: They will all have it.

Bob Tarte: Well, or an alarm bell should go off and tell you that something is wrong.

Linda Tarte: With their immunity system.

Bob Tarte: Right because sometimes with the ducks or the geese if they’re starting to get sick, their immunity system is down and so while the others might be able to fight off the lice very easily…

Linda Tarte: They won’t be able too. It’s a bad sign.

Bob Tarte: No. We found that out too late before.

Linda Tarte: With one of ours.

Bob Tarte: One of our geese had lice and we didn’t realize that…

Linda Tarte: We didn’t know the reason.

Bob Tarte: Yep and it turned out that she had been sick for a while. It’s hard to tell with ducks and geese.

Linda Tarte: They don’t show symptoms of illnesses very easily at all.

Bob Tarte: No. You’ve got to be very vigilant.

Linda Tarte: Very vigilant, yes.

If they act low energy. They’re not eating right, they’re not moving around as much as they used to, you might want to have them checked. There might be something like a respiratory infection. They can get respiratory infections overnight from some sort of chill or other.  Like, if their feathers weren’t good enough and it was too cold for a couple or three days or it was wet for a couple or three days and their feathers didn’t repel water, you want to have that checked right away. If they have respiratory infection, it’s very important to get on to that right away with a vet and have antibiotics be administered.

Bob Tarte: Yep. Yep.

Linda Tarte: Ducks absolutely love mud puddles. This is just the way ducks are so one thing that they love is to have the garden hose run out in their pen and let the streams of water make puddles and that’s one of their favorite things in the whole world. They love looking for worms where there’s been rainy weather. The worms come up to the surface and they can get the worms. They love looking for bugs and worms. You can overturn rocks for them if there are some in their pen and there might be worms there after a rain. This is something they would really enjoy.

Bob Tarte: Yeah that’s a fun thing to do. Our handyman Gary built our pen out in the back of the barn because I can’t hammer a nail to save my life. Gary was out there and he had so much fun with our ducks and our chickens out there. We have so many rocks in our yard it’s like a field of boulders with a little soil on top.

Linda Tarte: That’s it.

Bob Tarte: But anyway, Gary would turn rocks over and the ducks.

Linda Tarte: …all run over and cluck and look for the worms.

Bob Tarte: He got a kick out of that.

Linda Tarte: Very kindly person.

Bob Tarte: Yep. Yep. We’re just about out of time but we should say a little bit about the many different kinds of ducks – domesticated ducks. We’re going to talk about muskovies more on another show.  Ninety-nine percent of the barnyard ducks are all actually descended from mallards.

Linda Tarte: You’d never believe it according to the colors.

Bob Tarte: Nope. Nope. And one of the most popular ducks is a White Pekin. That’s the big white…

Linda Tarte: Pure white duck. Looks like the Aflac duck.

Bob Tarte: Yep. The big white barnyard duck. And those are wonderful pets.

Linda Tarte: Very nice disposition. Get along well with others.

Bob Tarte: They seem to like people too.

Linda Tarte: Yep. Yep.

Bob Tarte: And then there’s ducks called khaki campbells which are brown ducks.

Linda Tarte: Kind of a brownish, reddish, pale color.

Bob Tarte: And some people are just crazy about Indian runner ducks.

Linda Tarte: They have a long neck.

Bob Tarte: …Yeah and they’re very upright. I think they kind of look like a wine bottle with legs or a bowling pin.

Linda Tarte: There you go [laughing].

Bob Tarte: And what other kinds of ducks? I guess there’s Black and White Cayuga or Black Cayuga. There are lots of ducks. There are even miniature call ducks. We had one we really loved named Peggy.

Linda Tarte: Oh she was a doll.

Bob Tarte: Even though she was about a third or quarter of the size…

Linda Tarte: She was the leader of the group.

Bob Tarte: She bossed everybody around.

Linda Tarte: Everyone towed the line for her.

Bob Tarte: They did.

Linda Tarte: And then rouens [pronounced roans], they’re a version of a mallard. They’re a domesticated version of a mallard.

Bob Tarte: Yeah. They’re a kind of big fat mallard that I think were originally raised for meat because they’re so heavy but I think some people keep them as pets.

We’ll talk more about ducks on other shows. I’m hoping that we’re going to get people on who have house ducks.

Linda Tarte: We would love that.

Bob Tarte: ‘Cause I’ve gotten lots of emails from people who keep ducks in the house. 

Linda Tarte: That’s right.

Bob Tarte: I wouldn’t do it.

Linda Tarte: No.

Bob Tarte: We got enough problems…

Linda Tarte: We’ve got enough mess in the house without ducks.

Bob Tarte: I also mention if you want to learn more about day-to-day life with ducks and geese, well, read my books, “Enslaved by Ducks… ”

Linda Tarte: Lots of stuff in there.

Bob Tarte: Lots of stuff about Linda and I and how we got our ducks and what our life is like. And same with, “Fowl Weather.” “Fowl Weather continues the story. They’re available in bookstores everywhere. You can get them online. Buy them both and contribute to our ability to …

Linda Tarte: Feed the Animals fund.

Bob Tarte: …feed our animals.

Bob Tarte: So that’s about it for this week’s episode of “What Were You Thinking?” So thank you Linda.

We’d also like to thank our guest Kelly Meister.

Linda Tarte: Thanks Kelly.

Bob Tarte: Please visit her website We’d also like to thank Petlife Radio and our very mysterious producers. [music]

It’s easy to be part of the show. Just email us at

[bird: What did the duck say, Merry Christmas]

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