FINALLY!! After weeks of checking the nesting boxes, we have our first eggs! We’re lucky that either Macrina or Petra (they don’t sign their work, so who knows) used the boxes so carefully made for this purpose. After all, every night it’s a not-very-friendly race between Bernie and Basil to see who gets which nesting box to sleep in. The girls wait out the war; eventually one or the other takes the third box. I don’t see this part, so I assume the odd duck out just snuggles down somewhere nearer the warm light bulb. Smart duck.
Sadly, Simon dispatched our smallest (and clearly female) duck from this life a few weeks ago. Slave to those old murderous genes, he caught her in the open field, and she was too small to fly away. She came down with a nasty cold early in her life, and spent several days in the cat carrier in my bathroom. I hoped that filling the room with warm steam would help her breath more easily. Miraculously she made it, though she was clearly way behind in her development. Nature — hard at work maintaining sturdy stock.
That left Teresa, whom we’ve been calling Terry, thinking s/he might be a drake. It’s still up for grabs, but we got two more females, half-sisters to her/him, and they are the same size — a major gender-determining factor. All three of them are white, like Bernie. Maybe we’re going to luck out after all and the Triplets of Belleville will join Macrina and Petra on the egg production line when they mature.
We’re lucky to have found these eggs for another reason. Muscovy ducks are famous (or infamous) for depositing eggs anywhere but a nesting box: a pile of leaves, any grassy area, under the bushes … so these may not actually be their first eggs. But we’re going to hang on to that belief anyway.
It’s so amazing. Years of buying eggs at the grocery store, and I never marveled at what I was doing or what I was getting. Now I pick up a “free” egg in the back yard, rather nasty-looking until cleaned up, and am just blown away by the miracle of it. How sad that with the onslaught (an apt choice of word) of factory farming, we consumers lost all sense of the mystery that drives energy exchange. Eggs are good, but when we eat what is produced by “our” ducks — after watching them grow up, traipsing (or flying) around the property, learning their routines and watching them establish relationship with each other — well, that makes a difference in my consciousness. I’m deeply aware that eggs, though plentiful, are still miraculous.
Only humans could (and did) dream up the idea to start charging money for the natural gifts of creation. Only humans could (and did) set up factories that had to squelch their workers’ ability to see birth, life and death as miraculous in order to treat the animals and plants in ways that would enable huge profit-centered production. Oh, I know we can’t all set up mini-farms in our back yards; we know how very, very fortunate we are to have access to the land that allows us to do that. But we consumers have lots of power; we could stop supporting factory farming, and start encouraging local farmers again.
We’ve been lulled into believing that factory farming provides cheap food. That couldn’t be more wrong, especially when we consider the cost to the Earth and all her living systems. Big business marketing also purports to provide healthy food from its mega-system, but that is wrong, too. Mass production demands a whole array of drugs and chemicals to keep its “products” going, and our bodies don’t need, nor can they handle, that kind of assault.
So, yes, when we pick up fresh, organic eggs just out back, it is a miracle — and a precious gift.