Duck Eggs

This is the time of year that the farmers markets really take off.  I participate in 2 year-round markets that are online, and they have many items all year (soap, baked goods, eggs, some greenhouse produce, etc) but the customer numbers still fluctuate dramatically from winter to summer.  Even though my and other growers' non-produce items are available all year, the customer base is so much smaller in the off season, and it only returns when vegetables traditionally do.  Frustratingly, not when they actually do on the market - we have a number of growers down in the valley, with greenhouses and/or hydroponics, who have fresh produce much earlier than conventional gardeners, often April or so (and I have small amounts of hardy produce right through the winter), but the buyers really don't arrive in force until late June.  So even though the extent of my produce for sale right now is carrots (for months now, about done at this point) and basil, my sales of everything are increasing.  

The last few weeks the egg sales in particular are coming up nicely - people are oddly nervous about unfamiliar things, and even though everyone who tries them loves the duck eggs, most people default to chicken eggs.  I have given away 1/2 dozens to people who are just too leery to buy them, but are tempted because I can tell that deep down, they realize eggs are eggs :)  But usually, about this time of year, my sales go from 2-4 dozen a week to 8-12 pretty rapidly.

Ironically, this increase in duck egg sales is usually later in the summer, when the ducks' production is starting to drop a bit and my market supply starts slowing down.  One of the reasons I love the ducks, though - this decrease is still much slower than that of (non-commercial) chicken layers.  I think a lot of the yearly July upswing is because the chicken egg farmers have declining supplies, right when the  customers are swarming back for the summer.  We switched over to entirely ducks after watching our heritage-breed laying chickens' production routinely drop to 50% or worse by June (often May) because of the heat, and so many of them going broody.  The ducks don't go broody (well, maybe one a year, halfheartedly) and take the heat better, so they stay at 60-70% of them laying daily through the summer, better if they're younger (ours are all at least 3 years old).    

A new twist this year, is that I added pasta to the mix.  I started that as a way to use up eggs that weren't selling (while I waited for the July demand), but it's quite popular.  I'm not selling large amounts, just 4-8 orders or so each week, between the 2 markets, but I'm getting really good reviews and consistent sales.  I've had 2 and 3 people stop at my table most every market day to say wonderful things about it - "my son is a foodie in Chicago and he was really impressed."  "We could just smell the difference while it was cooking!"  People are even giving it as gifts!  So, I would like to continue making at as long as I have enough eggs to do so - and the patience for it!  The sticky point is going to come when my egg numbers drop to the point that I have to choose between selling eggs, and selling pasta.  One is certainly easier, the other much more work, but the pasta has a better return for the ingredients - although not for the effort/time.  A dozen eggs brings $4 - or it makes $25-$30 worth of pasta (minus the cost of flour, small but present).  Hmmm, the recurring dilemma, what is my time really worth?


Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
To help us prevent spam, please prove you're human by typing the words you see here.