We had eight of twelve duck eggs hatch. The eighth I’m hoping will make it, he’s been looking better but I’m still cautious to say we are in the clear with him yet. All animals have a “best outcome method” (my own official term) of birth. Cows it’s best to see the two front hooves and nose coming out first, goats too. Egg hatching birds (all that I am aware of) are supposed to peck around the top of the egg which is the more round end, the bottom being the pointed end. These don’t guarantee a healthy baby but the odds are much better.
Duck8 started pecking at the point of the egg. With a very small hole pecked he made no progress what so ever for about 24 hours. There was still a little wiggling in the shell so Mike decided to help the little guy out. This is not recommended by the way, but we can only watching something struggle for so long before we have to step in and help in hopes of saving the little life. Mike pealed back some of the shell leaving the inner lining intact. It reminded me of a beating heart, the motion of the lining (it was white though, not red and bloody). Then he left to go disc the hay field.
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!
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.
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.
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.