No Duck Egg Omelets for Me for a While…We Have Ducklings!!
So…Pekins. Yes, Pekins are the problem, I’ve decided. After years of eating big, fat, fluffy duck egg omelets because my female ducks won’t set long enough to hatch a nest of eggs, I’ve learned this past month that “domestic” ducks are not the problem, as I’d suspected. A lack of soft, moist ground beside a pond is also not the problem. Pekins are the problem. Big, fat, fluffy, ducks with loud mouths and bossy temperaments are definitely the reason behind “my” constant failure at raising ducks. I’ve just had the wrong ducks all along. My Pekins just give up after a while and go back to bossing everyone around.
But tonight, I found THIS…
…hatchlings from our sweet, shy duck, KFC, so named because the day our Mennonite neighbor brought her to us, he’d put her in a square bucket with a lid. When I opened the front door he said, “I broughtcha a duck in a bucket.” We released her from her cramped position and into the backyard to be a replacement mate for Mr. Bickerson, after his soul mate disappeared, but not before we snapped a picture.
KFC was actually the second replacement mate for the mallard we’d had for 8 years, after the Mennonites had brought a Pekin to keep him company. Mr. Bickerson liked both girls. The three of them were together all the time until a Khaki Campbell duckling, and a Mallard duckling, came to the farm last spring, via Tractor Supply.
The boys named the Khaki “Carl” because they said they wanted to be able to yell “CA-A-A-RL” all over the farm, Rick Grimes style, and Amelia, the little Mallard, wasn’t named until she took off flying one day. Amelia. Get it? She was our first flying duck. The other domestic ducks we’d had were too fat and heavy to fly.
When Mr. Bickerson also disappeared, after Carl and Amelia had matured and joined the flock, Carl became the stud of the group.
In the spring I started finding clutches of eggs at the base of tree trunks, in one of the front flower beds, and various other places. I stayed on top of them, collecting eggs for us to eat, until they got better at hiding them.
Well, one day, little Miss Amelia disappeared. I thought she’d been eaten by one of the snapping turtles that infest the pond, or carried off by a possum or an owl, both of which hang around the dairy, but when she reappeared one day and then stayed absent again for a while, I knew she’d been sitting on some eggs somewhere. I’d call her and call her, but she’d never come running (or flying) like she used to do. I was so proud of her for taking nesting so seriously. At the same time, KFC decided to park it under the rabbit hutch on her own nest of eggs. I figured they’d both give up after a while and the eggs would have to be tossed into the compost pile. I’ve been here many times with my Pekins, hoping and hoping for baby ducks when all I get are old, smelly eggs. But then my husband came home from work one day last week and told me that he’d seen a duck that looked just like Amelia on the pond with four ducklings swimming behind her! I’ve been looking and looking for her and those ducklings, but haven’t seen any of sign of them. I figured the babies were long gone, maybe even Amelia, too, since there are just too many predators around.
But this evening, when I was getting dinner finished up, I heard her calling in the yard. I ran to the side porch door and called her. I could hear her answering on the other side of the house so went to find her, expecting to see a line of ducklings running to keep up with her. She was with Carl and Bossy Dozer, our Pekin, but there were no ducklings with her. She was hyper and frantic and seemed desperate. I didn’t know what was going on, but I went to the house to get her some treats. She ate them like she hadn’t eaten in weeks. I was really sure, at this point, that the BIG, ornery rat snake who coiled up all “s-curvy” at me like he was a big, bad viper when I almost stepped on him the other day had eaten them. But then I saw something small and fuzzy move next to KFC under the rabbit hutch. There they were, seven little ducklings! SEVEN! And she was still faithfully sitting on at least a dozen. But there were only 3 broken eggs in her nest. So now I am wondering if four of them are Amelia’s and if mother ducks share childcare duties. I saw Amelia over with the babies a little while later, chasing off Carl and Bossy Dozer when they tried to sneak some of the food we put out for KFC and the babies. So I guess it is possible. And if some are Amelia’s, KFC is doing a great job mothering them for her, so it looks like they will be just fine…as long as the barn cats, rat snakes, owls, turtles, coyotes, possums don’t get them! Ugh. I’m so nervous! And I miss my duck egg omelets. But ducklings beat omelets any day.