Posted by Paulette
I believe that nothing happens by accident. I promised that my next post would be on eggs, and then I got sick...eating eggs.
I get back to that story is just a little bit. Have you ever eaten an egg fresh from the nest? Last July our family bought five Muscovy Duck hens and one drake. My hope was that we would get fresh eggs every day.
They're all grown up and some of them are even laying eggs.
On January 3rd we found our first egg. We were so excited. It was like Christmas all over again. I boiled that first egg and cut it into 6 pieces so that everyone (except Daddy, who wasn't home) could have a piece. It was delicious!
Have you ever eaten a fresh egg? They lack that sulfur taste that many grocery store eggs have. The yolk in a duck egg is larger than those found in eggs laid by chickens.
This is a bonus for people, like my daughters, who only want to eat the yolk!
We got a few eggs after that, and then all of a sudden, it seemed to stop. Then one night while rounding up the ducks to pen them up, I noticed one of the hens was missing. I grabbed a lantern and went searching. I found her under a bush. And she did NOT want to move. A pair of pruning shears was produced, so that I could get under the bush to get her, and guess what I found? A baker's dozen eggs! I took all but one.
Since then, I've learned that ducks are smart. They count their eggs, and when they have enough, they will lay on them to hatch. My little hen wasn't laying eggs long enough to hatch them, but she's going to be a great momma some day. Since then, I have learned to replace eggs that we've taken with fake ones. Otherwise she goes on strike! Even that has to be done with care, because she will sit on those darn fake eggs and starve herself to lay them. I never knew how smart bird could be.
There are now about 5 nests that we check daily for eggs.
In December, we added to our flock with 5 chicks, all hens.
This new addition to our backyard farm was more costly. When we purchased the ducks, we did it a little at a time, spending $20 a duck. building their pen cost only about $7 and their bath tubs were only $6 each. But the chicks needed a heat lamp, and a coop and special feeding apparatus. The chicks themselves cost $50 for 5, at 4 weeks old. They can be cheaper, at younger ages.
But this post is supposed to be about EGGS, not BIRDS. Right? So why, you may be asking yourself, did I spend so much money and time on acquiring my own layers?
First of all, there was the nutritious factor. Eggs at the grocery store are on average 45 days old before you bring them home.
Hens in a poultry farm are kept in small boxes, raised on GMO feed, fed antibiotics to keep them from getting ill in such close quarters. They often have their beaks filed down, so that they can't injure the other birds.
My birds are free range. They eat the scraps from the kitchen as well as wholesome feed. They also eat all of the weeds and are great insect control.
Lastly, I want my children to know and respect where their food comes from. I love to see the joy in their little faces when they find an egg.
So, for you analytical types, here's the comparison of duck to chicken eggs:
Now, if you're still reading and not bored to tears by now, I'll share with you how I got sick eating eggs. For a week, every time I'd eat our homegrown duck eggs, I would react as if I'd been poisoned. At first I thought I'd had the stomach flu. It came on slowly. But when it happened 2 more times after eating the eggs, I realized that it must be the EGGS!
Now, I may be allergic to duck eggs. This isn't much of a tragedy. I can still eat chicken eggs. But the problem may be the feed. I started the ducks on game bird feed starter, which is medicated. I didn't realize this until my friend pointed it out. Being a novice, I didn't realize that you're supposed to change to a layer feed a month before they lay, which is at about 6 months of age. I've changed their feed, and have located a source for GMO feed. I am so excited! Of course it costs more, but, not as much as buying free range GMO free eggs.