Mama Gone Green is a blog dedicated to raising happy children and reducing our impact on the Earth. My name is Taryn and I am the mother of 2 young kids and an environmental studies instructor at a community college in Portland, Oregon. Please join me as I journey through life as a mama, teacher, knitter, photographer, gardener, and environmentalist!
Friday, May 24, 2013
As some of you may know, we have 3 pet ducks in our backyard. When we originally bought them, as teeny-weeny cute-as-a-storybook ducklings (seriously, they were so cute), we were told we were purchasing 3 females. Well, ducks are typically quite hard to sex as babies... so after a few months we figured out that our 3 females were really 2 males and 1 female. So, our potential egg laying ratio went down dramatically, but since we had already grown fond of all 3, we just decided to keep the males on as her entourage.
And an entourage they are. They have always followed her every move, and she is clearly the leader of the flock. However, when it comes to mating season, both males mate with her (and duck mating is far from pleasant, let me tell you) and actually fight with her and with each other about the whole mating thing. It gets bad enough that last year we talked about trying to re-home one of the males, and it is something we have been considering this year as well. But, the important thing to note here is that our ducks mate and at least some of her eggs are fertile. They taste the same as unfertilized, they just have the potential to turn into babies. Which would never happen because this breed of domesticated duck (ancona) are not egg sitters. They have had their broodiness bred right out of them, and the only way to get them to hatch ducklings is to incubate the eggs yourself. Or so we were told.
Anyways, back to the important news at hand... our female has lain an egg just about every day of her life, until last October when we had a close call. She was egg-bound and we thought we were going to lose her. She stopped laying all winter but then this spring she started back up again, one a day, never missing a beat.
Over the years with our ducks, we have had plenty of times where we have gone out of town and had someone else watching the ducks and the eggs didn't get collected for a few days, or even longer. And plenty of times where we couldn't find the eggs she had lain. Or mornings where we were in a rush and didn't collect the eggs for a couple of days. It has never been a big deal- the eggs will stay OK outside for at least a few days, and if it is questionable, we just throw them in the city compost.
So, several weeks ago we had a busy weekend with out of town guests and hectic schedules, and ducks and eggs were not our main priority. So while we still fed and watered the ducks, and made sure to put them in their coop before dark so they would be safe, we did not prioritize looking for eggs. A few days later, when we were settled back in at home, I realized that our female was spending a lot of time inside her coop. So, I crawled closer and stuck my head in to get a peak at her to make sure she was OK. And.... she was sitting on a nest.
As of last weekend she has 12 eggs stashed up in there. I am not sure if she is done laying, or if since she normally lays an egg per day, if she is still adding to her collection. I need a duck mentor. Regardless, she is sitting on eggs, which are presumably fertilized, which means that in a couple weeks we may have some baby duckling around here.
We can't really fit more ducks in our backyard, and part of me wanted to just remove the eggs and not let this happen. But she is so fiercely protective of these eggs-- who am I to take away a mama's right to babies? I think we will easily find folks who will take the ducks and I think the kids will have a blast watching the whole thing happen. I think we are all pretty excited about the prospect of baby ducks now.
Duck eggs take about 4 weeks to hatch. We aren't sure if that time starts from when she laid the first egg or the last, so we weren't really sure of a time frame here. But probably in about 1-3 weeks. I guess we had better get prepared so we are ready if and when they do get here.
All I know is that she spends all day and night on that nest and only comes out about 3-4 times a day for a quick bite and bit of water. The boys stay outside, but lay in front of the coop like they are protecting her. And when she does come out she acts crazy, scaring the boys in the other direction so that they can't go inside and mess with the eggs while she is off the nest. I tried to bring her some greens one day, while she was sitting, and she did a duck version of hissing at me. I got the picture.
So here we are, on our tiny urban lot, expecting potentially 12 (or more) baby ducks. I think its time for me to do some research! Pin It Now!