Saturday, January 15, 2011

Duck!

So many people, when they think of ducks, think of several things:
1.  That "duck" dish that some Chinese takeout places sell, the one with pieces of duck crowned with tops of fatty skin
2.  Those nice ducks quacking in ponds, with the brownish females and the colorful males.  Nice to throw bread to and watch them dive for it
3.  And, if they have been to a zoo, maybe those really beautiful mandarin ducks (not related to the ducks in item #1).  Long ago, when I lived in Wichita, Kansas, I lived near a park that had a small (free!) zoo, and they had a pair of these ducks, if my memory is correct. They were so colorful and regal.
4.  Ducks for hunting, duck decoys, duck and cover...

Many of us don't know it, but ducks are so much more.  How about eggs?  Years ago, when spouse and I lived in rural Arkansas, we raised ducks for eggs. We mail ordered a breed called the Campbell, which, sad to say, is now on a "watch" list of rare, endangered livestock.  The Campbell duck is a bit on the thin side, with an upright posture.  Their eggs are a tiny bit bigger than chicken eggs, white in color.  They make excellent baked goods - I would gladly buy duck eggs from someone for that purpose.  So moist, and like goods baked with honey, containing natural preservatives. They also make excellent hard boiled eggs.  (sorry, vegan friends.) Scrambled or omelet- not so good-their whites have a consistency, if cooked in that way, that reminded me of (sorry), mucus.

Need a good, lean duck for meat?  The muscovy is your choice.  We personally did not keep them as we leaned more towards birds for eggs and companionship (can you tell I love birds?) but many small farmsteads in Northwest Arkansas kept them.  They are large, and they don't quack. They have very warty heads but, as people like to say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

  The game FarmVille (no, please don't run away, this isn't about my obsession with FarmVille) is finally recognizing the world of ducks, too. (Hurray, they are finally listening to me!)  They are having us build duck ponds (using construction items donated by our farming neighbors) and when we are done, rumor is that we will be given the opportunity to obtain these ducks:
-Pekin (these are your white supermarket meat ducks, btw)
-Golden Eye (these are a sea duck, to my knowledge not domesticated)
-Cayuga (for some strange reason I can't remember for sure if we ever owned a pair-well, it's been almost 30 years), domestic meat/egg ducks that originated in NY State
-Muscovy (there are many colors/types, I hope they pick a colorful one)
-Scoter (another sea duck)
-Red bill (an African duck)

The nice thing is, we will have opportunities to learn more about ducks of the world.  (the probably not so nice thing will be that most if not all of these will be expensive, and I refuse to spend "real money" on this game.)  Still....it did bring back nice memories of a time when ducks were in my life every day.

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