Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Meet the New Ducks

     We lost our three India Runner ducks this past fall.  One of the primary reasons we keep ducks is for them to control the local population of slugs and snails.  In order for them to fulfill that purpose they need to roam free at times in order to hunt said slugs and snails. The plan is that these are somewhat supervised outings where either Linda or I are working outside. It is also intended that their slug hunts are of limited duration.   Sometime this past fall I forgot to put the ducks back into the pen.  The following morning we had no ducks. I'm assuming they were probably eaten by coyotes. So goes the sad fate of Popeye, Olive Oyle, and Sweet Pea.

    I was planning to buy replacement ducks sometime in the spring. However, a good bee store friend who was moving to Idaho and asked me if I knew anyone who might want some ducks.  I jumped on that like the proverbial "duck on a june bug" and we are now the proud owners of a trio of magpie ducks.   Although the new ducks already had names we are giving them new ones. One of the hens shared a name with one of our grand daughters. We have a strict rule against naming anything we might want to eat after one of the grand children.  I named the drake Jean Luc Canard (duck in French) and the hens Mon Cheri Canard and Sidonie Canard.

The drake, Jean Luc Canard, is on the right with the orange feet.

    The India Runner ducks were excellent layers and easily outproduced our Americauna and Dominique hens. However, they had a very nervous temperament that made it hard for them to successfully hatch out ducklings. They are possibly the inspiration behind the Beatrix Potter story about Jemima Puddleduck. Also Popeye, our previous drake, was somewhat of a slacker. I tried to hatch out duck eggs in an incubator last summer and they all turned out to be infertile.  These Magpie ducks seem to be much calmer. I was assured that Magpie hens are quite capable of setting on eggs. They seem more inclined to lay their eggs in a proper nest than the previous ducks.  Maybe we will have some baby ducks this spring or summer.

      I stopped by Cash and Carry the other day to buy rolled oats for me and sugar for the bees. My 12 beehives go through a lot of sugar syrup in the spring so it is much more convenient and cheaper to buy sugar in larger containers.  A fifty pound bags of sugar costs just $19.50 at Cash and Carry.  While I was there I thought I'd pick up one of the larger containers of cinnamon. Spices are generally so much cheaper when purchased in larger containers. I found what I was looking for, our usual 18.3 ounce container of cinnamon priced at $7.97.  In the grocery store they sell 3 or 4 ounce containers of cinnamon for about $3.00.  Then I spotted an even larger container of cinnamon on the bottom shelf. A 70 ounce container which sold for $12.97. I felt like Pippen at the Prancing Pony in the movie "Fellowship of the Ring" when he first learned they served ale in pints. I managed to restrain myself and didn't cry out, "It comes in 70 ounce containers?"   The price comparison is as follows:  It costs about $1.00 per ounce to buy cinnamon in small containers at the grocery store. It costs about 44 cents per ounce to buy cinnamon in the 18.3 ounce containers they sell at Walmart, Costco, and Cash and Carry. It costs about 18.5 cents per ounce to buy cinnamon in the 70 ounce container at Cash and Carry. We may not have a year supply of everything we eat but we certainly have a year supply of cinnamon.

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