Thursday, February 4, 2010

More raccoon devastation.

This is just a brief update on the homestead:

The loss of our roosters has resulted in the end of egg production here on the farm. We were down to only one egg per day from our six remaining chickens, but we haven't had an egg now in a little over two weeks. It is possible that this is part of the natural cycle, and that longer days will soon bring a return of eggs. However, roosters encourage the eggs, so we are working with our friend Paul (from Barnyard Gardens, of course) to locate a new king for the flock.

We have had a Muscovy duck-hen for a few years. Muscovies are unusual looking ducks that can fly, and are not related to other species of domestic ducks. We did have a flock at one time, but all were killed years ago during a cold spell (the coons are especially resourceful when temps drop), except for Mrs. Duck. Last Feb., she became very broody, laying eggs in the coop, refusing to leave them for many days, and defending them aggressively from me. Of course, I had to remove them because I knew they were not fertile, and didn't want a nest of rotting eggs in the coop. So, when friends let us know they had extra Muscovy drakes available, we took one. He was introduced to Mrs. Duck on Valentines Day last year, and they bonded quickly. Mr. and Mrs. Duck have been inseparable for nearly a year.

Poor Mr. Duck has one bad wing, so he cannot fly. Most of the time, Mrs. Duck would sleep with him in the coop, but sometimes, she flew away when I closed the coop, refusing to be confined. She would perch on the barn roof overnight, and I hoped she knew how to evade the blood-thirsty raccoons. I would find her every morning, at the coop door, eagerly waiting for me to let Mr. Duck out.

Sadly, last week, I found her body, ripped apart in the chicken yard. You would think I would be accustomed to this, and I am probably much less sensitive than when we started, but it is very depressing. The worst is seeing poor, gimpy Mr. Duck waddling around all by himself. He looks lost and lonely.

Muscovies have a reputation for being delicious. Apparently, the meat is not greasy and gamey like other ducks. So, Mike has plans to execute Mr. Duck sometime soon. I have a very hard time with the idea of eating him, but I am torn. I do not want to get a new duck hen. We have tried to keep ducks too many times, without success. And keeping unproductive animals on our farm is making less and less sense. (I am even thinking about the wisdom of keeping our goats.) I may adjust to the idea. Mr. Duck has always viewed me as the enemy. He hisses at me and tries to peck my head when I enter the coop. And a part of me is curious about that tasty Muscovy meat, I must admit. We'll see.

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