Is that a fourth egg I see before me, or just an omelet of the mind?
Math, it’s true, is not my favorite pre-dawn activity (that would be Sleeping In, people) but even when I shake my foggy head, I see one-two-three-yup-four eggs on the pen floor. Now if we have three ducks and two drakes and each duck lays one egg a day that would be three eggs per day max, sometimes one or two, depending whether or not there’s enough daylight, they’ve eaten enough calcium and have not been freaked by a random hawk…
But that day there were four.
Hmm, am I sure sure about the two drakes? Did I imagine the connubial activity between Fannie and Peep? I’m almost 100% sure about Puff* but Fannie, without the swimming pool to provide the perfect dating environment, shows less of his inner Don Juan than previously. His bill coloration, however, and his overall demeanor still seem more aligned to Team Testosterone.** Hmm, hmm, hmm.
All righty then, can a duck lay two eggs in one day? A quick spin on the web browser brings up tales here and there of Two-A-Day poultry but, for heaven’s sake, it’s the Internet, you can’t believe everything you read there!
I decide to coddle this egg conundrum for a week or so while carefully counting eggs each day and recording their number in my ersatz Jeffersonian manner. Over time, I conclude I might have missed an egg in the bedding and, as the total follows a familiar rhythm of 2, 2, 2, 3, I convince myself this must have been the case.
Then the next day I find only one. Feeling improbably deflated by this discovery—I still don’t even know whether I can eat the egg!—I thank the duck who gifted it nonetheless.
The following day there are none.
At least, I think it’s zippo, until I realize the ducks have figured me out. They’ve very craftily devised a scheme for hiding their eggs from Yours Truly, the Reverse Easter Bunny, by burrowing into the wood shavings, laying the eggs and then covering them up again! Wow, you go girls!
But I took the eggs anyway. All seven. Have no idea how many days’ worth and by how many ducks.
The following day, they abandon the pilfered nest (sorry!) and lay three eggs on top of the bedding. Then it’s the (thwarted) hawk attack morning and no eggs laid in the pen at all (one Cayuga egg left near a water bowl outside.) The day after that, back to one egg. The day after that, ZERO.
Oops, I guess the ducksperts are right. Predators can unsettle laying birds. (Or duck owners.) I had come to let the group out around 7 and find no visible eggs only Peep still sitting on a pile of shavings. Her sisters and brothers launch themselves out the open door, leaving her stranded for a minute or two. On a nest-like structure. A nest-like…ah ha! Finally, I put it together— I was looking in the wrong place— they’ve moved the nest to the complete opposite end of the pen! I start digging as soon as Peep blithely rejoins her kin.
On a side note, you may be amused to know that Peep and Gladys are Welsh Harlequins, those notably prolific egg layers with DNA from a family of prolific egg layers, the Khaki Campbells. Welshies themselves have been known to lay up to 200 eggs a year; Khakis even more. With this heritage in mind, you will not be surprised then when I reveal that I discovered seven eggs in the new (?) nest as well as two, partially-formed eggs laid outside later that day.
How many total ducks are we talking here???
Of course, they may have been running a con game all along, covering their bets with two (or more?) nests and maybe I just never caught on. (Shocking, I know.) To try and find out, once and for all, how many eggs we can get in one day, I thoroughly scour the pen for errant bundles of cholesterol then put the birds to bed. I tell myself that with Gladys still a less-likely candidate*** and none of the bonus eggs with a tell-tale Cayuga gray tint, in all likelihood, it’s Peep the Bountiful who’s doing extra duty on the days when we get four. Case closed.
In the morning I find five eggs.
*He never ever stops to ask for directions.
**Do ducks have testosterone? Okay, well, whatever male hormones ducks have then.
***See Gladys’ tale.
Copyright 2012, Lori Fontanes