Tales of the Pregnant Farmer: My Ducks are Not in a Row!

Rebekah, one of our midwives, came last night and noticed there was an egg in the incubator that was starting to hatch. Leave it to a midwife to notice a birth! Ha! I was shocked at the piping. I have it marked on the calendar to stop turning the eggs in a week and then them to hatch a few days later. To say I had things mixed up would be an understatement.

Duck eggs take about 28 days to hatch. I put them in the incubator April 2nd and had marked them to hatch May 7th. Slightly off… Just slightly. To add to my confusion it was April 19th… so I thought when I looked at the calendar. Actually it was April 26th. I lost a whole week somewhere.

I swear I haven’t been drinking! I should seriously consider starting though, maybe that would straighten me out. Whew!

For now I will just blame it on being pregnant… again. We are going on four children in five years. I think it’s safe to say my mind hasn’t had a chance to recover. That’s the story that I’m going with at least.

Calendar dates and my loss of marbles aside the duck eggs are hatching! We are so excited! In fact the Little Boy was so excited he got up at 5:30 the next morning to sit on a stool by the incubator and eat his cheerios with the first duck that hatched!

I’m not sure the timing is good. I’d like to say its perfect timing because we are down to only two ducks in the yard now. We wintered five without a problem. Then lost one out of the blue. Henrietta was sitting on her nest in the barn, she must have left to eat and never returned and a day later one of our males was gone. Lucky is still sitting on her nest and I hope she doesn’t stray too far. I’d really like to see her and her ducklings make it. Our last male has been sticking pretty close, mostly because Lucky doesn’t go too far and the ducks always traveled together. I think it’s time to do some fox hunting before the new batch is allowed out.

 

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Vanilla Honey Crème Brulee

It seems like a long time ago I was anxiously waiting for fresh duck eggs for pastries and desserts. After that and before the fox I was able to gather eggs for the kitchen and some for hatching. I wasn’t sure if there would be a noticeable difference when using duck eggs verses chicken eggs. There is. I can see why some pastry chefs search out duck eggs. They add a subtle richness that isn’t there with chicken eggs.

I tried the eggs in different breads, challah and brioche both lent themselves quite nicely to the change. The recipe that exposed the richness of the change in egg was my Vanilla Honey Crème Brulee.

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Five Little Ducks

I thought the ducks were fun before, now it’s spring and they are even more entertaining. They are always keeping us guessing. To us they have a pen, they are to share with the goats. It worked well all winter long. Last fall I put chicken wire around the whole pen to keep them in. That worked well until Mike moved a panel so Hank could have access to the barn for winter. The chicken wire had to be removed from that panel and was never replaced. The ducks found their way out. It worked out fine actually. They had been in the goat pen long enough to know that that was home. They would go for a walk and be back again.

My concern with letting them wander about is that they would meet the same demise as any loose chicken, guinea keet, or turkey… Death by dog.

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A Little Ball of Fire and A Duck Egg

I don’t know what your two year old was doing at 6 in the morning, but mine was insisting that she go out and feed the “aminals”.

So out we went.

I really enjoy having the quiet early morning barn time to myself but I really want to continue to encourage the kids to work with the animals and like doing chores. I expect them to help around the farm, they start with easy chores- feeding the dogs, putting silverware on the table and such. They are encouraged to come with to collect eggs and be around when we feed the large animals. There is very little coaxing needed when it comes to the animals. It’s usually harder to keep them out of the pen than anything else.

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Tales of the Pregnant Farmer: Nesting Theory

When asked when I’m due my usual response is “sometime between now and the county fair.” This is sometimes taken as sarcasm, unfortunately I’m serious. This time around I was given four due dates depending on who I talked to. An average “safe delivery” time can be two weeks before or after the due date, which means I have/had about eight weeks of “any day now”. So the no “real” due date answer seems to shock and/or annoy the person asking when. Hmm. How about Mama? Think about how annoying it is to politely answer that for eight weeks or longer?! Not to mention the weeks of comments of “how big you’re getting!” (that’s not a compliment no matter how you try.) The only acceptable thing to say about a pregnant ladies size is “you look great!” FYI.

All that complaining aside, life doesn’t stop because of it. I still mow the lawn each week and do what I can to help with yard work, gardening and so on. It takes a lot longer to get anything done, but it does get done. In an attempt to get this baby out I thought I’d give “nesting” a try. Pretty sure I didn’t do much for nesting with the other two. I didn’t really have time, nor did I slow down as much as I have this time. I washed the baby clothes the last time I had everything dug out of the kid’s closet to put away the out grown and get the next box of hand-me-downs. The house is picked up… I wouldn’t say clean, but picked up. Wash the floors during nap and by the next snack time they’re sticky.

Nesting it is. It was worth a try anyways.

The ducks really only need enough water to dunk their heads but they make such a mess splashing and end up wasting all their drinking water doing so. I had put a rubber feed dish in the run to give them something a little more to splash in. It worked… kinda. They emptied that and the drinking water. The days are warming up considerably and if I want this year’s chicks (who live with the ducks right now) to have water the ducks needed something more again. I think.

When they were in the house we had them in a small kiddie pool. The kids loved it. It was fun but it didn’t take long for them to outgrow the space and make the house smell like a chicken coop. It was time for them to move out. After the flock was in the coop the pool went outside to be stored until the next batch of chicks would grace the kitchen.

Well, my “nesting mother duck” came out and those ducks needed a pond of sorts. I dug out the pool, hauled it to the outside run and scrubbed it out quite nicely… I’m not sure why. It stayed clean about as long as a freshly washed kitchen floor. A short piece of fence post scrap was set by the edge in case someone needed a step in and I began filling the “pond”. While I was watching my handy work fill, Mike brought over the four-wheeler and wagon so I could get the coop cleaned too. I’m not sure what he thought when he saw my project but he didn’t object at least.

Happy Ducks
Happy Ducks

“I’m going to go up to Erica Lane and meet Uncle Greg in a bit. I’ll be back in after while.” Mike headed out of the run. By that time I had just about finished cleaning the mud out of the waterer. As I went to leave the pen and shut off the water I had a little bit of an issue… He locked me in.

Yep.

Stuck.

The hook and eye lock on the outside was too low for me to reach over and unhook. I’d like to think I could still fit through the turkey door in the other pen but once again that wouldn’t do much good because their door was closed with a hook and eye inside the feed room. The idea of trying to climb over the fence…well even I knew that wasn’t going to happen today. The landing might have knocked the baby loose which would’ve been helpful I guess. Luck was on my side this time. I remembered I had my phone with me because I didn’t want to miss my Uncle’s call.

“Hello?”

“Hi. I promise I won’t leave the yard if you let me out of the duck pen!”

“What?”

“Please? You locked me in when you left.”

(Short silence. Then laughter.) “I’ll be right over.”

Only on our farm would mama get locked in the duck pen on the 4th of July.

Once allowed out, I got the whole coop cleaned quite nicely. The ducks were swimming in the new pond. The Ladies were happy with their fresh bedding and watermelon rinds. The nesting boxes are all cleaned and ready for fresh eggs. Baby’s still not here… So much for the “nesting” theory.

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