Thursday, October 9, 2008

Ducks vs. Chickens

An interesting, friendly competition has arisen at the farm, between our chickens and our ducks.

Of course, the birds themselves are oblivious to the race -- so perhaps I should say it is a competition between Steven and his grandmother :)

Although the farm animals and workings all belong to Steven, his grandmother (my mother, who is 70) thinks of the chickens as her birds, since she's had a long history of raising chickens. (She raised and showed champion 4-H birds in her youth, showing them in local and state shows, and traveled around giving educational talks on chicken judging). Our chickens do seem to think they belong to her, and follow her everywhere she goes when she is outside -- sometime that is quite a comical thing to watch.

She loves her multiple-times-a-day outing to the chicken house to check for new eggs. Grandma will always come back in announcing how many she finds, and dutifully writes down a new slash mark on the calendar to keep track of laying rates.

Then the ducks started laying. Now, the ducks know they belong to Steven. Their laying habits are much more random -- and can make for some interesting mornings. Since they seem to lay mostly during the night/early morning hours when they are bedded down for the night, that means we sometimes find eggs in the most unusual places. We don't lock the ducks up at night - they bed down in the grass near the south side of the house. Some mornings, as I go out first thing (and it might be still dark), I have to watch my footing, as I might step on a duck egg! We have found them in the center of the driveway, near the garage, in the walking path, and other random places.

Anyway, back to the competition. Most days we were getting 5 or 6 eggs from our chickens, and one or two from the ducks. But suddenly the ducks increased their laying, and it was a tie game for awhile! A few times the ducks offered more eggs a day than our chickens! So now it is an interesting competition between Steven and his grandmother -- who won this day? Did the chickens lay more, or the ducks? I usually hear about it each evening. There are some days Steven thinks the ducks probably would have won, if he could only find where they hid their eggs! :)

Our this-season pullets in the chicken house should stay bearing soon, and that will make the chicken numbers increase again, I'm sure, as we have many more chickens than we do ducks.

But in the meantime, the competition has been great fun!

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