Monday, September 9, 2013
What Goes Through Your Mind When Your Duck Lays Eggs for the First Time
We have duck eggs. That's right. Miss Buttons has started laying eggs, one per day. (I presume it's Buttons because my research into telling male ducks from females indicates that males have curly tail feathers- which Squackers has and Buttons doesn't.)
I suppose for seasoned homesteaders, this might be a time of "Yippee- eggs!" But for me (who bought ducks on an ill-fated Friday night in the spring), it's more of a "Holy crap! What do I do with duck eggs?"
Upon stumbling across the first egg last Thursday (not literally stumbling, just to be clear), my thought process went something like this:
Interesting. That rock is whiter than the others. Quite smooth, too. And a little large. And holy crap! It's an egg!
What do I do? Do I leave it there? The duck isn't sitting on it. It's not really in a nest. Oh goodness, they don't have nesting material. Should I give them hay or something? Where do I put hay? We really need a duck house now. I'm pretty sure that's where the hay would go.
But wait, I just hosed down the egg while cleaning the pen. Cold water probably isn't good for fresh eggs.
Should I take the egg? Do people eat duck eggs? Are duck eggs like chicken eggs? Do they taste the same? How do you know if an egg has a baby duck in it? Oh God, what if there's a baby duck? Do we have room for more ducks? We really need that duck house.
Eggs are really gross when you think about it. They're either fertilized baby eggs or unfertilized eggs. Female people make eggs, too. Ewwwwww. Why do we eat eggs at all?
Wait. Do ducks lay more than one egg usually? If there's a baby duck in there, why isn't mama duck sitting on it? Should I bring it inside and put it under a heat lamp? Then what if it's not a baby duck and it's just an egg? What if I end up heating an egg for weeks that will never hatch?
Do you hold it up to a light or something to see what's inside? How do you know what you're looking at? But if I take it to look, can I bring it back to mama duck?
Holy crap, my toddler is supposed to start nursery school today! I don't have time for first duck eggs!
Hell with it. I'll just take it.
So, I took the freshly cleaned egg inside and set it on the kitchen counter. Later my husband threw it out into the forest- for no good reason other than we couldn't take it back to the ducks (my quick internet research showed they would ignore it since humans touched it) and we were a little too freaked out to eat it.
After getting on with the little matter of first day of nursery school ever, I did a tiny bit of research about duck eggs. I found a few forums where people asked questions about what to expect from their ducks. The answers generally said something like this: "My duck started laying eggs around 6 months old and has laid one egg per day ever since, except in the cold winter months." One person added, "except for the day she gave me two eggs."
Sure enough, we're a few days in and getting one egg per day most days. I better come up with a plan.
A few people have told me duck eggs are really good for using in baked goods. I don't do a whole lot of baking, but it sounds like good advice nonetheless.
Someone told me you can keep eggs unrefrigerated for a few days if you don't wash them. Apparently there is some sort of protective coating that you don't want to wash away if you're storing them unrefrigerated. That person also said you can refrigerate them (and wash them). That sounds like a better plan to me.
A couple of people suggested letting them hatch. That could be fun, if we manage to get a duck house and a fence up.
Anyone else have ideas or know any duck egg experts?
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