Ducks & Chickens Bring Joy To A Damsel In A Farm Dress

The popular Damsel in a Farm Dress gardener and homesteader tells us about formulating your own feed and learning life lessons from poultry.

by Phillip Mlynar
PHOTO: Damsel in a Farm Dress

“At first we started with a garden and then a few chickens. But the idea to move to the country kept tugging at our strings,” says Ciara, a Georgia-based gardener and poultry person who’s amassed a growing Instagram following via her Damsel In A Farm Dress account.

After moving from the Midwest to Southern climes, Ciara and her husband set about “building up our property piece by piece.” Now their gardening adventures are supplemented by dough sessions in the homestead’s kitchen and caring for the poultry ranks.

We spoke to Ciara about coming up with your own feed formula and how ducks and chickens can teach you life lessons. We also spotlighted a drake named Pine.

Discovering Sustainable Living


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Ciara says that her interest in growing her own produce was kickstarted when she and her husband “started learning more about the green movement, sustainability. [We wanted] to not only become healthier for ourselves, but we also had a little guy on the way.”

A job opportunity took the family from the Midwest to Georgia. There, they were able to find a property that Ciara calls “our slice of paradise.”

Read more: Thinking about getting ducks? Great idea! Here’s why and how to start with waterfowl.

Bringing Poultry into the Picture

Ducks and chickens are a key part of Ciara’s homestead. “It all started because we wanted fresh eggs and natural bug control,” she recalls. “Quickly it blossomed into much more. They have also provided so many lessons on responsibility and life. Not only for our son, but also [for] my husband and me.”

Ciara says that each duck and chicken has their own distinctive personality. She says that they provide “entertainment for hours.”

Ciare adds, “Funny thing is, I used to be so afraid of birds. But now I absolutely adore them! They really are a wonderful gateway into this lifestyle.”

Spotlight on Pine!

Pine is one of Ciara’s resident drakes. “Pine is an absolute sweetheart and very mild mannered,” she says. “If you have been around ducks at all, you may know that most are pretty skittish.

“Pine’s definitely not one to want to be held. But he will will come waddling over for a good snack or to take a dip or splash in the freshly filled water tub.”

From her experience, Ciara maintains that “water and grubs are always the ways to a duck’s heart!”

Read more: Ducks and geese are great livestock for a permaculture operation.

Formulating Your Own Feed

Ciara’s ducks and chickens benefit from being able to forage for food when they want. But she also offers a home-formulated feed to supply supplemental nutrients.

“Chickens and ducks both need a good amount of protein and calcium. That is why we wanted to include the specifics in our supplemental feed,” she says. Her tailored recipe includes kelp, alfalfa and sorghum.

“They love every bit of it. And it shows in the quality of their eggs!”

Appreciating Family & Food

Reflecting on her lifestyle, Ciara says that one of the most fulfilling parts about it is “watching our son get involved” on a daily basis. This includes planting seeds and watching them sprout into food to nourish the family.

“It’s pretty amazing not only to say we made the meal,” she says, “but also to say that we grew it.”

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