To duck or not to duck–that is the question?

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Many of you know that we once had two beautiful ducks–a Pecking duck and a Blue Swedish duck. They came into our life suddenly when a friend offered them up to us and left us just as suddenly when a gang of raccoon’s attacked them.

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Now before everyone starts hating on the raccoons, it is only fair to say that the demise of our dear duckies is our fault and no one elses. As mentioned above, we were not prepared for ducks and the housing we provided for them was not sufficient.  There were gaps in their enclosure and raccoons are apparently like rodents, they can squeeze their bodies through a tiny hole.

We heard the ducks crying during the night, Paul ran out there and saw the bloody gore.  Both ducks were still alive but one was severely hurt, half of it’s neck was missing and it was staring at us with this hurt look (I can still see it,  not sure I will ever unsee it).  The other one, had a huge gap in it’s neck but seemed ok.  At this point, we were not equipped or educated to cull the birds but we owed it to our girl to end her misery.  Paul took the badly hurt duck to the emergency vet, confirmed that euthanasia was the only option, said his goodbye and came home.  We tried to nurse the other duck to health but by 8am, we realized that she was hurt more than we thought, so once more to the vet Paul went.  We hoped that the vet would clean out the wound and she would come home.  Our thoughts were wrong, the damage was a lot more extensive and required surgery.  We thought long and hard about it and decided that the most humane thing was to let this one go.  No duck needs to be tortured with needles and anesthesia effects.  The emergency vet agreed.

I still feel very guilty to this day.  The ducks were attacked and did not have a fighting chance to run or fly away since they were locked up–that is an awful way to go.  I also feel bad about euthanizing the second ducky since besides the humanity, the financial aspect of it also contributed to her death.  It would have cost close to a grand to get her back on her feet, maybe. We just could not afford that. It wasn’t cheap to euthanize them either ($270 for two birds) but it was our responsibility.  So with that said, Paul and I vowed that if we ever got more ducks, the were getting 5 star housing.

A week ago, our friends at The Van Erem Farms posted a message that they had a dozen of duck eggs for sale.  I was talking with Paul when we both realized that neither of us have yet to try a duck egg.  After two weeks of our duckies death, we found their nest full of eggs.  We did not know how old they were so we composted them, talk about adding insult to injury.   I messaged our friends and asked them to reserve that dozen for us.  We figured better try the eggs first before bring new ducklings home.

We LOVED them!  So the answer is–To Duck!! They did not taste much differently than our chicken eggs, but they were much bigger.  The yolks were huge but not as yellow as I imagined (not sure if that is duck specific).  Here are some duck egg facts that I found on GOOGLE

  • Duck eggs have twice the nutritional value of a chicken egg and due to their much thicker shell, stay fresh longer.
  • Duck eggs have more albumen (whites), making baking with duck eggs better (fluffier pastries).
  • Duck eggs have more Omega 3 and currently, that is where all the nutritional hype is.
  • Duck eggs have more cholesterol (but it’s the good kind, again, depending on who you believe, this maybe good or bad). 100 gm of duck eggs will contain 884 mg of cholesterol, compared to 425 mg in chicken eggs. Perhaps people with heart disease should limit the amount of duck eggs they consume but again, that is up to a great debate.
  • 6x the Vitamin D, 2x the Vitamin A, and 2x the cholesterol in duck eggs vs chicken eggs. Duck contains about 75% of the Vitamin E in chicken eggs. Duck eggs reportedly also have more Vitamin K2, Duck eggs also are higher in calories for the same weight quantity, probably due to it’s slightly higher fat concentration.
  • The mineral content of duck eggs is very similar to that of a chicken. Both contain selenium, manganese, zinc, copper, potassium, sodium, phosphorus, calcium and iron. The duck eggs contain slightly higher amounts of all these.
  • The vitamin content is also similar, but duck eggs have a higher amount of each one of them, which includes thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, folate, vitamin B6, vitamin D, vitamin E, vitamin A, vitamin B12 and retinol.
  • The amino acid content profile is also similar for both eggs, but again duck eggs contain more of them. The amino acids included are threonine, isoleucine, trytophan, leucine, methionine, lysine, cystine, tyrosine, phenylalanine, valine, serine, glycine, proline, aspartic acid, histidine, alanine, and arginine.
  • The water content in duck eggs is lesser than chicken eggs, you need to be careful not to overcook them, which has a tendency to make them rubbery. The larger water content also makes the duck egg white harder to whip but they are worth the effort. Salted ducks eggs are a popular Chinese recipe that you might want to try out.

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Which ducks to get, we are in a pickle, we want to get the most prolific layers: Golden 300 seem like a good option, but we don’t know how noisy they are, and since we have neighbors that could be an issue.  Our other choice would be Muscovy, which are not known for their laying abilities, but are supposed to be very quiet. We hope to have some ducks by next spring. It’s good that we have lots of time to ponder our possibilities.

If anyone has any advise, please chime in on the comments.

Thanks for reading!

 

 

It’s Spring…wait it’s February

It has been a mild winter…our plants are confused. I see buds and flowers out already along with an incredible amount of bugs. It is going to be a crazy year for insects, so start thinking on how to protect yourself from pesky bugs (mosquitoes) and garden munchers.

This is our garden on February 4th. I hope a good frost is not around the corner, it will be sad to see these freeze.

spring6  Volunteer onion leftover from last year

spring4 Sorrel is coming back to life…can’t wait to harvest enough greens to make green borscht

spring5 This believe it or not, is our asparagus patch–there is lots of work ahead of us.

spring7 spring our rhubarb and strawberry patch–mmmmm,pie!

spring2 Mint!  We add mint to our tea, excellent on a cold day or as part of “aqua fresca” be it with lemon, peaches or strawberries

spring8 Our early girl blueberry bush–too early, hopefully the bugs that are out will have a chance to pollinate but I am not holding my breath.

So excited to see all of these, except the poor blueberry plant.  Spring is near–time to get the tools and the gardening galoshes out!