If you own a bunch of ducks, it might help to actually be smarter than the ducks.

Now I tell me!!!

Okay, it sounds pretty easy. Humans have bigger brains and lots of years on Wikipedia so, of course, we should be able to out-think/out-maneuver four pounds of feathered feisty, right?

Hmmm, mebbe.

Take the homo sapiens penning this post, for example. Most days I can probably outscore my flock in Geography, History and Intermediate French. Some mornings, though–especially when I’m one or two cups short on java–it’s pretty clear the ducks just leave me in the academic dust. (Or mud, as it were.)

To illustrate, I’ve decided to share with you a case study that highlights my critical thinking skills vs. those of six modestly equipped ducks. I leave it to you, Gentle Readers, to dole out final marks.

All right, as you know, ducks do this funny thing called “egg-laying”.  Any given day a mature hen can lay an egg, depending on her breed and her age.  That means when you have six youngish ducks (give or take*), you’re sure to end up with more than enough eggs to scramble daily.

Egg production, however, has its seasonal aspects, especially in areas with real winter.  Cold weather generally puts paid to laying but all bets have been off this year thanks to the disrupting effects of the current El Niño. And what an El Niño it’s turning out to be.  We’ve certainly endured some unseasonable Christmases but nothing compared to this relentless balminess. Really, who wants to worry about mosquito bites in New York in January??!

Let me paint a clearer picture.  By this time last year our girls had already stopped laying and we didn’t expect to regain those daily cholesterol packets until March.  In 2015, we appear to be witnessing a whole ‘nother story. What with the hardy young Buffs, age-defying Lucy and probably either Puff or Bonnie, I’ve been picking the occasional egg off the pen floor well into December. And, since juvenile ducks take a while to get the “nest” concept (it’s more like, oops, there goes that heavy shelled thing and, boy, does that feel better!), I’m also pretty sick of crawling around for eggs hither and under yon rhododendron.

Last week, though, I finally noticed a slowdown in the laying department. The new gals had done me the favor of producing greenish eggs, so as I grumbled through the collection chore, I could attribute blame, I mean, authorship: the colorful eggs–Buffs, or basic white ones–Lucy or Puff.  Then, on Saturday morning, suddenly there were none at all.  It did reach a ridiculous 60 degrees that day but, heck, it was also almost winter so I chalked up the long-awaited egg stoppage to length-of-day rather than height-of-mercury. Gotta tell you, though, regardless of the reason, I heartily welcomed this overdue sign that Santa might soon be here and, hey, maybe even bringing that new omelet pan I’d been craving!

Then I decided to deep-clean the duck pen.

I skipped getting down on my hands and knees but otherwise did a decent job tackling the water bowls, inspecting the connectors and refilling the coop bedding. The wood chips under said coop had been building up over the long summer and since the ducks couldn’t really fit under it anymore, I hosed around the edges but didn’t bother going any further.

Until a little bit of out-of-place greenish white caught my eye. You guessed it: The Stash.

Not only had the ducks not stopped laying, they must have continued laying and started hiding the eggs weeks ago. And, not only had at least one of the Bufflings finally learned how to use a nest, they might even have been leaving a couple eggs outside just to keep me going that much longer.

I did say smart, didn’t I?

But how did they manage to squeeze under the coop? How did they conceal so many eggs? Did they lay them elsewhere then laboriously roll them underneath? How could I not notice all this feverish maternal activity?

The answers to these and other duck-related questions may never be resolved but I can say one thing for sure. I don’t care if he rides a surfboard, a hoverboard or a sleigh, Santa better get here and bring me that omelet pan–pronto!!!




Green eggs, no ham.


*We acquired the above-photographed adult hen Lucy but, lacking the duck equivalent of tree rings, no one really knows exactly how many sunrises she’s seen.


Copyright 2015, Lori Fontanes