Katie's Journal

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I’m Insane

by @ 10:10 am on June 15, 2014.

Definitely, totally, certifiably insane. I have freedom rangers underfoot everywhere. There are 3 layer chicks left in the house, 11 in the coup, and I’m still due to pick up another few layer chicks from a friend. I swore I was done for the year. And then the ducks happened.

Khaki duck hatched 3 eggs. I think Khaki drake killed 2. We saw him picking on the last one remaining, so we grabbed him and planned on dinner. We didn’t get to him for a couple days, and then got to talking with a lady who came to buy a couple bull calves. She said ducks are really hard to pluck. We got to looking at mine, and he just didn’t seem very big. It was late, we were tired after a long hay day, and we decided to let him go. That was a mistake. The next morning, the remaining duckling was gone. I don’t believe that was coincidence. Khaki duck was caught again, butchered that morning, and eaten for dinner. Ernie ended up skinning him so as not to deal with the feathers, and then roasting him like a chicken. The meat came out tasty. He was lean for what I’ve heard about duck, but that was ok. Some of the meat really tasted like chicken (the bits down the back), but the breast had its own flavor I can only assume tasted like duck. We decided if it was going to be worth the effort to eat ducks, I needed to find a bigger, meatier type duck.

During this time, Welsh duck hatched a single egg from her nest of I think 10

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That was on a Friday. I waited and wait for more to hatch. She just kept sitting. By Monday, the shell had come off one more egg. There was a formed duckling there, but it didn’t look like it had ever tried to break out. I left her alone one more day thinking she’d take care of it. But the next day the dead duckling was still in the nest, overcome with maggots, and the duckling she’d managed to hatch was missing. Sigh. So out of 2 nests set to completion, I netted no ducklings. That was a bummer. Before we ate Khaki drake, I’d already decided if I wanted more ducklings I’d have to get an incubator and try to hatch them myself. But I was thinking about maybe ordering or still trying to find locally some Pekin or Muscovy ducks to try.

I’d read in one of the hatchery catalogs that Pekins are the best meat duck. They grow big and quickly and are the easiest duck to pluck (although easy is relative, and we may still end up just skinning them). And I’ve ready excellent things about Muscovy. Supposedly they are a very lean meat that actually tastes like steak. So we may end up just preferring steak, but I’m curious to try.

During this time, I saw an ad in Morgantown for Pekin hatching eggs. Except I didn’t have an incubator. I’d long wanted one, but the good ones are expensive so I just kept putting it off. I got in my head it was time to get one. I’d originally thought to maybe wait and request one for my birthday. But that’s not till October. And I’m not good at waiting. I started researching again. It always comes down to 2: a Hovabator 1588 with auto turner or a Brinsea Octogon 20.

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I debated for a long time. One minute I had the Hovabator in my cart, the next I had the Brinsea. The Hovabator holds almost twice as many eggs. With the auto turner I was coming in about $190. It had a digital display of temperature and humidity. People that have them love them. The biggest negative is the housing is styrofoam. The cheapest Brinsea is $170 without the auto turner. It doesn’t have a digital display. The housing is plastic, and the design is to turn the entire incubator to turn the eggs, so at least you don’t have to touch each individual egg. Many people who have the auto turners say they don’t even end up using them. Even this simple model people love. I was very, very close to going with the Hovabator. I signed up at a site and made it to the checkout. Then I made one last read of reviews, and say comments the hovabator was hard to clean being styrofoam. I thought some more, and in the end I just couldn’t pay that much money for styrofoam, and ordered the Brinsea before I could chicken out (ha ha!).

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Now it’s here, and I’m after eggs to put in it. If my rooster hadn’t died, I’d have been running out and finding some chicken eggs. I tried contacting the local person that had the pekin eggs, but never got a response. So I went to ebay, and found someone selling duck eggs from a mixed flock – muscovy, pekin, and blue swedish. Pure or mutt of any of the 3 would serve my purpose of a larger meat duck. The eggs are relatively cheap – I just won the auction of 12+ eggs for $4.04, plus $11.30 shipping. I can’t drive off the farm to go get eggs in town for $11 (isn’t that horrible??), and the $4 for the eggs themselves is nothing. I imagine they’ll ship Monday, and are coming from NY so should be here Wednesday. The ad text from my eggs:

here is 1 dozen + ? I will be adding extra eggs I don’t know how many ? duck eggs for hatching there are Muscovy or pekin / Muscovy pekin mix ? also may be Pekin or Muscovy & blue swedish mix ? they are in the same pen they are not washed and are this weeks eggs

Now I just need to figure out how to use this incubator before they get here. I’ll get it set up this afternoon so I have a few days to figure out humidity before the eggs get here. I’m hoping I don’t waste my money having bought eggs, but I don’t have any of my own to trial with first (no rooster for chickens, and the ducks either aren’t laying again yet or are hiding their eggs).

Why aren’t my eggs here already???

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