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Saturday, February 12, 2011

February


February
The first year I had Dora over winter, I thought for sure he would be like a chicken when I opened the barn door to a fresh foot of snow. (Chickens hate the snow and typically will not step outside of their coop). To my surprise Dora waddled right into it and through it and proceeded to play with Simon as he normally would.

Last year I added Dudley to the winter fun and she too seemed to not mind the cold white ground. And this winter? Well now I have 8 "pet" ducks and they all can't wait for me to open the barn door and head out into the wonderland of snow.

I should take a video of them outside. They "swim" through the snow and sometimes slide on their bellies like penguins. One day I looked out and thought that someone had been snowshoeing down by the new barn. It had been the ducks! They had cruised all throughout the snow, hills and valleys. They're hilarious, they even "bathe" themselves in the snow like they would in a pool of water.

Their favorite place to hang out is in our compost pile near the house. I don't know if they are eating frozen bits of vegetables or bugs, but they work through it and add their own manure to the pile as well. On really cold days I don't let them out of the and I have to refill their water jug 3 times and give them a whole pile of grain. When they are outside, they totally forage for all their food and water, they don't eat a speck of grain and I think they must be eating the snow.
I have 3 females right now and they are all laying. I can consistently find 3 eggs a day; they are neatly laid in a soft little straw and feather nest in the corner of their pen. If I am lucky, I can find the other 2 eggs. Ducks do a very good job of hiding their eggs in the straw bedding. One day when I let them out, an egg was just lying on top of the straw. I must have come in right when she was starting to hide her egg because when I moved the straw below it, I found a pile of ten eggs buried 4 down inches into the straw. (Don't worry those eggs went in to the freezer for the pigs.)
Although they are a bit "freakish", meaning they totally freak out anytime you get near them, I really enjoy the ducks. They are quite entertaining, easy to care for and so far they make great parents to their babies. Right now I am thinking we will sell or eat half of them and then maybe let Dudley have another round this spring....we'll see. I need to retrofit the Duck Inn a little bit for this upcoming season so I can get into it a little easier, otherwise I may have ducklings hatching out from all the females!
What is the difference between a Duck Egg and a Chicken Egg?
Size: duck eggs are noticeably bigger
Shell: duck egg shells are noticeable tougher to crack and provide a longer shelf life
Nutrition: If you were to compare the same size eggs, duck eggs have more energy, protein, minerals and vitamins
Taste: duck eggs are a bit richer and more flavorful
Cooking: you can use them exactly the same, although I think duck eggs are better than regular eggs for cooking
Don't be a chicken--try a duck egg!!!!
Try a potato soup this month!
Potato Soup Recipe
Famous Restaurant Soup Recipe

Preparation Time: 40 minutes. Serves: 6.
Ingredients:
· 3 cups cooked potatoes
· 6 tablespoon butter
· 1 1/2 peeled and sliced carrots
· 1 1/2 celery stalks, chopped
· 1/2 large onion, chopped
· 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
· 1 teaspoon salt
· 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
· 6 tablespoon flour
· 2 cups canned chicken stock
· 6 tablespoon hot milk or cream, or to taste
· 3-6 drops Tabasco
· Garnishes: chopped green onions, diced cooked bacon, grated cheese, sour cream
Instructions:
· Cook potatoes
· Drain water and reserve the water
· Transfer potatoes to a mixing bowl
· In the same soup pot over medium low heat, melt the butter, and add the carrot, celery, onion, thyme, salt, pepper and saute over medium heat, stirring frequently for about 10 minutes
· Add the flour to the vegetable mixture and make the roux; cook about 5 minutes
· Add the chicken stock and 1 cup of the reserved potato cooking liquid, stirring until slightly thickened (Reserve the remaining liquid for reheating the soup if any is left over)
· Gently add the potatoes and simmer for 10 minutes
· Remove from the heat, and add cream or milk to the correct consistency (thick is good)
· Add Tabasco sauce a drop at a time, being careful it doesn't get too spicy
· Taste and adjust seasonings
· Top with any of the listed garnishes

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