My fondness for backyard ducks began when I was young. At that time, live ducklings were a popular Easter gift and many stores stocked these adorable fuzzballs the week preceding this egg-centric holiday. Once my Easter duckling would imprint on me, it would dutifully follow me wherever I went. As a child, I mistook this natural instinct for love.
Vegetable Gardening with Ducks
Nowadays, gardeners are rediscovering the benefits of having poultry in their vegetable gardens. Domestic birds, like chickens, geese and ducks, eat a variety of plant pests and do relatively little harm to the vegetable plants. The labor-free dispersal of manure is another perk of having a vegetable garden with ducks.
Ducks produce twice the manure of chickens. Duck waste is watery, so it soaks into the soil better. Plus, one can use the water from their ducky pool to irrigate the garden. But back in the day, we didn’t have the internet to learn these things. So we didn’t understand the benefits of vegetable garden ducks.
What my family did have was a duck who had developed a taste for hot peppers. We always knew when this duck had indulged. As soon as he heard the backdoor open, he would exit the garden and creep up the hill with his head low to the ground. The short green grass did little to hide his white feathered body, but there was another telltale sign which always gave him away.
Every time this duck consumed hot peppers, he’d get the hiccups. When this happened, my parents would check the garden and, to their dismay, find several hot banana peppers severed and chewed. Of course, this led to complaints about having a vegetable garden with ducks in the yard.
Raising Ducks in the Garden for Eggs
So much has changed since those days of yesteryear. The information highway now helps us understand the benefits ducks bring to the garden and I no longer believe my backyard ducks love me quite like I did when I was young. Most importantly, I discovered raising ducks for eggs is an additional reason to keep a flock of these happy-go-lucky creatures in the backyard.
I’m often asked, “what do duck eggs taste like?” A simple question with a not-so-simple answer. Duck eggs taste like chicken eggs – except duck eggs taste how we think store-bought chicken eggs should taste. What does that mean? Simply put, duck eggs have a richer egg flavor than chicken eggs, but without the nasty aftertaste.
Of course, one doesn’t realize this until they’ve actually eaten a duck egg. Unfortunately, it’s an enlightenment from which one doesn’t return. So, yes, raising ducks in the garden for eggs has spoiled me. Store-bought chicken eggs have the same culinary appeal as canned asparagus and supermarket tomatoes.