A couple of days ago, the girlfriend of Spouse’s cousin gave us six duck eggs. They have three Indian runner ducks loping through their garden, two hens, one drake, and the hens, like chickens, each lay an egg a day.
“Gosh! I’ve never eaten duck eggs!” I said with enthusiasm that must have sounded pretty dopey because Spouse’s cousin’s girlfriend’s face crumpled apologetically and she said she only used them for baking.
When we got home, I offered half to our iconoclast neighbor, who is normally up for anything odd, including ostrich eggs, but she didn’t want to have anything to do with them. “You can use them for baking,” she said in an if you haven’t anything nice to say sort of way, and that turned the lightbulb on. Duck eggs must taste terrible.
So this morning, because we had three way overripe bananas stinking up the kitchen, I made banana pancakes, which consisted of me, too lazy to retrieve the recipe from the interwebs, mixing up two mashed bananas (I donate the third to the chickens, who sometimes like them) with one beaten duck egg and a handful of porridge oats into something that has the consistency of pancake batter and then cooking it as you would real pancakes.
I’m not a banana fan, so under ordinary circumstances, I find banana pancakes at the limit of tolerable. But this was just no, No, NOPE. I managed a minuscule bite then donate the rest to the chickens who were also unimpressed. Super sickly sweetly overripe bananas + slightly algae tasting duck eggs = NOT EVEN IF IT WAS THE LAST THING STANDING BETWEEN ME AND STARVING TO DEATH.
The duck eggs themsevles, btw, are slightly blueish white, a tiny touch larger than large chicken eggs, and have a super smooth, super strong shell and a larger than normal but normal colored yolk but correspondingly less egg white that is much waterier than a chicken egg white. I suppose at some point I’ll drum up the courage to boil or fry one, because curiosity, but, hmm. I don’t even see how you’d get decent cookies or any other baked good out of these things. Maybe if you dumped enormous volumes of cocoa powder in to totally camouflage the taste?
Oh well, one down, five to go. A potential egg a day from each one of these birds is definitely the nail in the coffin of Spouse’s dream of having a couple of runner ducks running through our garden, stripping it of slugs (also they’d do in Fred #1 and #2 and possibly now #3 who have moved into my front garden… the enormous escargot snails that are a protected species here and can, if they manage to avoid hedgehogs, car tires, shoe soles, and French people, make it to the ripe old age of 35).
Meanwhile, our two surviving chicken chicks are still surviving. They have tiny tails now and miniature sets of wing feathers that are nicely patterned and I think both of them will turn out to be hens, although I’m not prepared to bet the ranch on it.
But meanwhile, meanwhile, the goshawk has been hanging around again. I’ve been trying to spend as much time doing garden work out back with the chickens to discourage it from attacking. But I also need to spend time inside writing, cooking, and doing various chores. Every day this week so far, the chickens have been lucky enough that I’ve looked up from my writing exactly at the right moment to see the big flap of wings that is the goshawk landing in one of the trees bordering the chicken run. The chickens also always see this, but they just stand there staring and growling rather than doing something sensible like running for the safety of their coops. So I always have to come dashing out to scare the bird off and then stand sentry for a bit. It really has its eyes on the two little chicks. It’s always the smallest, most inexperienced bird that the goshawk takes when it attacks (although the last two times, it only managed to get feathers from my Miss Chickie, who is my iconoclast neighbor in chicken form, because she was too crazy and chaotic for the bird to do damage to in the time it took for me to hear the ruckus and race out there in my socks).
I’ve found it usually takes two weeks of attempts for a goshawk to give up and go look for food somewhere else. So until them I’m stuck here, staring out the window of my impromptu office/chicken observation deck/exercise bike and misc junk room as I work. I wanted to go for a walk first thing this morning, which I thought might be safe, but at 6:30, the goshawk was already here, having a dogfight in the sky over the chicken run with two sparrowhawks. At least the chickens were still safely in their coops at that point.
I suppose the sparrowhawks have also spotted the chicks, who are still not yet significantly larger than the big, fat sparrows we have around here (I always feel sorry for the scrawny, scrappy sparrows you see in cities. Poor things!). Hmm. That’s a bummer. The sparrowhawks are harder to spot and less easily scared away than the goshawks.