The ducks are past 18 weeks and now laying 1-2 eggs a day, so we don’t have to buy eggs right now and may not have to through winter. We are ok with moderating our intake to what they lay and next year storing any excess when we get our first full laying year.
The big lesson for us was that at this little homestead level, there is no point in buying ducklings. It was great to learn how to raise them and go through the basic process, but the cost of starter for just a few ducks is more expensive than buying someone else’s grown ducks who specializes in selling adults. Freshly hatched from the feed store, each duckling ran us 9-10$. We could have bought three or four guaranteed laying adult females for 15-25$ each in late spring and already had eggs for months. And the cash value of a dozen duck eggs is pretty high, so it would have penciled out within a few weeks.
I am not sure it will pencil out this year, it depends on if we start getting 3-4 eggs a day and if the ducks will lay through late fall and early winter. It is no loss, though, the ducks will have paid for their costs of purchase and feed by spring.
I think it’s just surprising sometimes that there is a justification for letting others specialize even at relatively low levels. But then again, specialization has always been a part of homesteading, farmsteading and farming. It’s just hard to remember with the media promotion of mixed-use farming as if it doesn’t also require some specializing.