Yes, it’s a terrible time of year, going into Fall. If you follow the Farm on FB, you would already have heard this, but we have ducklings hatching in the incubator.
We figured this was the perfect time of year to attempt hatching ducklings. Muscovies are notoriously finicky for hatching artificially. That’s why most people (us included) like to let the Mamas do the job. The Mamas are excellent at it. But, in the early spring, when they start laying, is too early to let the hens go broody. It is *not*, however, too early to toss a bunch of eggs in the incubator. So we needed to know we could get them to hatch.
It’s true. You can’t please everyone. Lately, I have posted more foraging/herbalism and Farm life stuff on my personal FB. I’m happy and excited about the things I’m learning and making and harvesting…and want to share that excitement and happiness. Previously (and likely again in the future) I have posted ranty, anti-govt stuff. Because I hate the govt. All govt. Not just 1 party, but all of them, because they’re all the same, just with different coloured candy coatings. And no matter what I post, I get “why aren’t you posting about _____ anymore?” *shrug* Because I don’t want to. Post anti-govt stuff and people lose their minds. Post herbalism/Farm stuff and people assume things. Either way, no one is completely happy with my posts. And for the record, I will, always and forever, use the hashtag #fuckthegovt because, welp, fuck the govt. 😉
Today I felt like posting a cute picture of a duckling cuddled up to our Daisy Mae:
Tomorrow I’m sure I’ll post something anti govt. Or not. Whatever. But whatever I do post is up to me…and anyone who doesn’t like what I do post is welcome to not read it. Because y’know what? You can’t please everyone. And I’m not out to please anyone but myself. 🙂
Monty didn’t make it. If you follow me on Instagram, or we’re friends on FB, you already knew that. Sadly, chicks that need help to hatch have a low chance of survival. But, I always try. I always want to give life a chance. Sometimes, oft times, I lose to Death. Sometimes tho…sometimes, I win. Like with 13 the Turkey (who is one of my best layers and broodies). And Lefty the chicken, who brought me her clutch of 5 chicks last Fall. So I always try…
Anyways… I said I’d keep y’all updated, and there, now y’all know. Yesterday I just took the day to putter in the garden and sit with the grief of it. I know he was just a 2 day old duck, who likely was gonna end up in Freezer Camp, but still… We have a connection to our food animals here. When you raise them, and love them, and give them the best life they can have, there is a connection that makes you hurt when you lose one prematurely. And it’s not because of the loss of food, it’s the loss of the life that leads up to that… There was no chance to swim and splash. No chance to chase bugs. Or play with other ducks. Or waddle about to and fro like ducks like to do. That’s what I was…am…mourning. The life that leads up to the moment, that one bad moment, where the food animals fulfill their destiny. I might be a bit soft for Farm Life.
And, I know I can avoid that grief by not helping chicks out of shells, but, as I said… I always want to give Life a chance. Always. That’s just me.
Last night we sat on the deck, with music and wobbly pops and bbq. And in one quiet moment, The Kid says “I hear chirping…and it’s not Bart!” We looked at the cat house where the broody hens were… I reached in under those hens and found a wee surprise:
And so now we’re back at 2. Life. She’ll always find Her way. ❤
We have some chickens who insist, and I mean *insist*, that they need to be broody. Big problem is, we don’t currently have a working rooster. We lost all our boys over the winter, and none of the oprpingtons or jersey giant boys are ready for working with full sized hens. Them boys is just too young. But, one should never let a broody hen go to waste if they can help it. Last year we had a broody hatch out a dozen ducklings. So we gave these bitches, who had taken over the cat house from the cats on the deck, duck eggs.
Now, every couple of days I go in and look for chicken eggs and take those away. Because…egg bombs are gross. I had found a duck egg with a huge peck/crack in it, so I took it away…only to crack it and find a baby (still breathing) in it. I can’t convey how awful I felt because there was no way at all to save that baby. So I did the kindest thing. And had a good cry afterwards. 😥
Since that egg, I candled the others under the brody chickens, and found 2 that I was pretty sure were rotting, but I left them just in case I was wrong. Figured if they went past 45 days under the hens (muscovy take 35 days and sometimes longer to hatch) then I’d toss ’em into the fire. Welp, good thing I didn’t. This little numpkin was found wandering on the deck:
After finding this one, I checked the eggs underneath the hens… Another on had pipped. Typically after pipping, the chick will “unzip” the egg shell, making it into 2 halves, then kick it’s way out. Sometimes, that doesn’t happen. But, we always give the babies the chance to do it on their own. They’re always stronger if they can get themselves out.
So we waited for the day. But the 2nd baby didn’t get past the pipping stage. So I intervened.
I’ve helped many chickens, a few turkeys, but never a duckling. I don’t know if the blood was normal. But, if I didn’t get baby out, they were going to die either way. I figured if they made it through the night, they earned a name.
So, meet Monty…
My brain says Monty ain’t gonna make it…but my heart says it won’t be a for a lack of trying.
In 3 weeks I’m going to traumatize the turkeys. Again. In 3 weeks they’ll get a deep cleaning of their hut (with weekly spot cleanings in between now and then) and deep, fresh straw added. Then, in 3 weeks, I’ll start collecting eggs for the incubators. Right now the eggs are being washed and eaten (because yummmmmmmmy!!).
Right now, my brooders that Hubby built me last year are all under snow. So we’re not ready for itty bitty birbs. Yet. But in 3 weeks… We’ll be closer to getting them ready. So I’ll set eggs, and in the 4 week time it takes for turkey eggs to hatch, we’ll have those brooders ready for bebes. Which is good, because at the end of May I have: 10 pekin ducklings 10 lavender orpingtons 10 black giants (regional variant of Jersey Giants) 5 white geese and 25 white turkeys to pick up from the feed store. So yeah…Ima need those brooders.
And by the end of May the muscovies will be laying and hopefully some of the hens will be already sitting nests. If not, then soon. I can’t wait for aaaaalllll the leetle bebe birbies to be here! 😍😍😍
There’s been a bit of a baby explosion here this week.
I have repeatedly been told that muscovy duck hens left alone will hatch tons and tons and tons of chicks… Well we’ve had a few clutches hatch out, but nothing like the “you’re gonna be over run with that many hens!!” like I’ve been told… Truth be told, because we eat our extra drakes, I *want* to be over run with ducklings. I’m still waiting for that…
In the meantime, there’s kijiji. It’s a Canadian buy/sell site where most farm folk list their extra animals for sale. Welp, after a couple of beers I decided, the other night, to scan the livestock section…we’re coming into fall and lots of folks try to sell off extra animals so they don’t have to winter them. Often, those animals go much cheaper than they would in the spring.
And so when I saw week old muscovy ducklings for $5 each, 21 of them, I contacted the seller…who said if I took them all, she’d charge me $80. So we met up and made the duck deal in a Walmart parking lot. 😂😂😂
When we met up with the seller, she did say she could only catch 19…that’s okay though, because $80 was still a great deal for 19 ducklings.
Away we went, with our bounty. And when we pulled into our driveway, we though “huh, we’re almost out of shavings” so Hubby and I planned on a quick trip to the feed store for another bundle of them, so that we could clean the empty brooder (we finally got the cornish meat birds butchered last week) and put these 19 babies in there… As we’re transfering them to the bigger crate with shaving in it for a temp. holding pen ’til the brooder was cleaned, The Kid yells “duck baby!!” and runs off…I’m thinking “what the hell??” And it turns out one had hatched while we were gone and had escaped from Mama. Huh.
So she catches him, and puts him in the house with another one that she had found earlier in the week. That made our 21 ducklings. 😉
Then this morning, I step out to feed the cats (always before the chickens get out, because otherwise the chickesn steal the outdoor cats’ food) and I see the duck Mama in the puddle (from our leaking well line that has yet to be fixed even though I have been all over every damn company within a 30 mile radius to come help us…fingers crossed this last guy, a local plumber who has been right on top of all my questions adn is booking his excavator guy to come do it, can make it out and get it done…) with 2 little yellow balls of fluff. Huh. So there’s more of ’em.
My brother gets here to check on his old car stored here, and as I come out to talk to him, I see 5 little balls of fluff following Mama Duck and an angry chicken clucking at the extra bebes to come back to her…and when Hubby comes out he says there’s 6 balls of yellow fluff in total. So it turns out that this duck and chicken co-sat the nest and so far have hatched out 8 ducklings. It’s really late in the year for ducklings. And chickens can’t be trusted. So we’ve cleaned out the brooder in the Little Red Shed and duck babies will go there…
But wait!! There’s more!!
This is Lefty…
Lefty listened to all my yelling about if chickens are going to hide eggs here, there and everywhere, then they should at least come back with some damn chicks! So she did. 😂😂😂
In 24 hours, we’re up 32 babies, bringing our grand total for poultry this year to…
That’s it, that’s all. We only have 10 birds. That my friends, is how poultry math works…and why I’m the head and founding mother of Poultry Anonymous. To think, I don’t even really like birds. 😂😂😂
Turkey babies (who are not so much babies anymore, but teens) needed their brooder cleaned. So I set up a yard within the big turkey yard, put out food and water and opened them up…and they proceeded to panic and fly here, there, and everywhere whilst screaming angst filled teenaged turkey anthems of woe and abuse because the whole wide world is scary and The Food Lady was murdering them. *sigh*
So they ran the big turkey yard (the big turkeys were still in their coop because they are too big to run with the teen turkeys who are still mid-sized and no match for a full sized hen, let alone Dingus or Oscar) while I scooped their mass of straw/feed/shit out… With this being the stenchiest part of the job, my Kiddo went off to feed the ducks and chicks in the Little Red Shed, only to come back to tell me 10 (58) chicks had popped their door and were now wandering around the building here, there and everywhere. *sigh*
With that, we rounded up the teenaged angst filled turkeys and put them back into the brooder…and let the big adults out because they were convinced that they were gonna starve to death.
If Oscar doesn’t eat 65.3 times a day, he will die. He is happy to regale you with tales of how I starve him and how he has died so many times for lack of food. *sigh*
As I cleaned out the next brooder (which is a half full combo of cornish and first hatchers), Kiddo let out and fed the ducks, geeses and big chickens. Geeses are mad that I haven’t dropped every single goddamed thing to get them some weeds right fucking now…and they are happy to tell me that in no uncertain terms.
I have not listened to them, other than to laugh and say “You’re on the list, I’ll get to you soon”. The next brooder got lined with shavings (because I’m out of straw and I don’t have the energy to chase anyone for any quite yet) and we set out to capture 10 (58) chicks and move them to it. 1 Wheelbarrow, a dog crate, 2 women, a dog and 3 horses… This is what it takes to move 10 (58) chicks out of the Little Red Shed to the brooder. Well, the dog and the horses are more a hindrance than help, but that is no surprise. And then there were 10 (58) chicks in the brooder. *sigh*
Finally, we got to the point of making sure all the feeders and waterer were topped up, collecting eggs (my turkey hens are trying to nest again and are rather put out that I keep stealing their smooth egg babies), the pools for the smaller ducks filled to warm in the sunshine for afternoon swimming and now? Now it is finally coffee time. While I play with money to pay the bills, buy some groceries and if all gets paid just right, maybe even a case of beer for Hubby. *sigh*
My helper at editing earlier this week… This is Homer J, our latest house duckling. He was abandoned by the hen who hatched him, left for dead at night in the duck yard. We found him and brought him inside. Honestly, didn’t think he was going to make it. But it’s been a week now, and he’s doing just fine. Singing up a storm and pooping everywhere but on my desk. 😉
This weekend we’re running our first Rooster Rehab of the year. 😂😂😂
Exhausting is the correct word for it. But my first and second hatches have resulted in 28 roos currently in the bachelor pen, with a few extra wandering with the cornish meat birds…oh, it’s time for the 28 to go Camping.
Somehow, after a huge Loop pickup last week that has stuffed our 2nd fridge to bursting while the birbs, cats and Daphne have been eating like Kings and Queens all week, I have to find space to let the roosters we process rest for a day or two before parting for the freezer. Lady Bless, I think I need a 3rd fridge for birb feed!
But, I’m sure not complaining! The animals are loving this extra feed, and I’m loving keeping the food out of the landfill.
The funniest thing though, has been the turkeys with their watermelon. 😂😂😂 So after they nearly killed me for strawberries and raspberries, I really thought watermelon would be just as exciting. I mean, how could it not be, right? Well…as it turns out, watermelons are terrifying. The turkey are beyond sure that it wants to kill them. They circled it for a few days and decided “Nope, not eating that” 😂😂😂
Scroll through ^^^ so you can see how wary the turkeys were of that killer melon. OMG. I’ve never seen anything like it. I ended up shoveling it up and giving it to the chickens…who demolished it in seconds. 😂😂😂
Anyways, I still have a bunch of produce and breads to dole out to the birds, and because it’s been sooooo hot, I have it stuffed into the spare fridge…where birds need to rest after butchering. It’s a good problem to have, having more food than space. Just means that the birds will be eating more produce this weekend, so I can fit Freezer Campers in for a bit.
One of the other things we were given last pickup is honey. Honey doesn’t go bad, but, in order to sell it in stores, it does get an expiry date, and stores can’t sell it past that date. I, however, can still use the amazing containers of raw unpasteurized manuka honey we were given for our Palomino Princess. Y’see, honey is what I use for any cuts, scrapes, and booboos on our mare. See the link below for why:
It’s perfect for healing those wounds without any scarring. Thank goodness, or our Girl would be one big walking scar! 😂😂😂
The other type of honey we were given is golden paste honey, with tumeric in it. Now this…this is valuable stuff for a horse with arthritis…especially that Girl who has an arthritic tmj which makes eating difficult in some weather conditions. Golden paste is touted as excellent for treating arthritis in horses, dogs and humans. Welp, we shall see how our Blonde Girl does on it. All this honey and it’s perfect for her! Plus, it’s not in the landfill. I call that a win-win situation.
In other news, we had found 2 abandoned, don’t know where they hatched, can’t find any sign of their hatching anywhere, ducklings in the duck yard one night this week. So we brought them inside. One has since succumbed to injuries (because hens are assholes, and will happily kill baby ducks) but the 2nd is strong and loud. And kinda dumb, because he/she keeps getting their head stuck in the sides of the cage they are in. So we’ve named him/her Homer. 😂😂😂
This weekend is also “clear out all the old eggs from all the nests we know of” weekend. It’s late in the season now, and I don’t want any more surprise hatchlings. Did I tell y’all about the hen who hatched out a clutch of ducklings?? Yeah so there’s 9 week old duckling in the brooder int he Little Red Shed. *sigh* So many birbs. So much potential tastiness. And 12 the Turkey is sitting on another nest. I’m taking those away from her too… No more turkeys this year! I’ve got a brooder full that hasn’t gotten outdoor time yet because of the damn smoke from the wildfires. No. More. Poults! (she said with a quiet longing to scoop up the eggs and put them in the incubator) 😂😂😂
So there we have it…busy af, as usual. And taking eggs away from birds who want to have babies. That’s my life right now.
How are the rest of y’all doing?
Oh, plus here’s a picture for Feline Friday:
Catch more Feline Friday posts over at Sandee’s place, Comedy Plus.
Once upon a time I saw a picture of a duck in a cupcake paper liner dress. Ever since then, I have had this urge to do a photoshoot with a chick or duck or turkey in a dress. Finally, we had a chance to make it happen with Oreo.
And then we tried the Yule cupcake paper on her…
And finally, Daisy Mae had to get into the shot…because cats are a bit jealous that The Kid has these 2 ducks she’s raising, and Daisy Mae feels like she’s being replaced. 😂😂😂 The joys of “first child” syndrome.
She’s quite the little ducky fashion model, that Oreo is! 😂😂😂
We’re back into a heat wave, with no rain in sight. I think this is the driest I’ve ever seen it. We need rain. Bad.
The heat makes getting things done a little more difficult. I feel like I’m melting. lol So the birds get let out at the hint of dawn, while it’s still (relatively) cool. I’ve been working on weeding the garden early too…which doesn’t happen some days because the sprinkler needs to run to keep the food plants alive and that has to happen early too. Truthfully, I’ve been feeling a bit defeated by our garden this year. At least…until this morning. When I saw that some tomato plants have rebounded from what I thought was certain death in our June 21st frost. The irony, right? First day of real summer and we get hit with a killing frost?
So I was excited to see a handful of tomatoes in the mulch, with several having blooms on them! *swoons* I might get a tomato sandwich yet this year! And this morning, while I was weeding the thistles, I discovered a fair bit of our corn was up…and quite tall already. Just hidden in the thistles. So there’s hope for that too. I planted mostly feed corn (for homemade libations, if y’know what I mean 😉 ) and for the silk. Corn silk is dried for tea for a handful of things, including inflammation and urinary health. I’m happy to find a few stalks coming up amidst my thistles…which I have also been harvesting and drying for teas. Thistle is excellent for your liver (I’m hard on mine 😂😂😂 I admit it). Plus the goose bebes love it! I had hoped to harvest flowers for a mead, but I haven’t gotten there yet.
Stinging nettles will be collected this weekend for stinging nettle beer. I was supposed to do it earlier in the week, but by the time I got the basic chores done, I just wanted to melt…so tomorrow morning I’ll don my gloves and pick a whole bunch of them.
Oh, and we have another house duck…temporarily, of course…
I hadn’t planned on this one coming in, but the hen was in a poor spot when she hatched them, and chickens killed the rest of the clutch off…so we snagged this little and brought her in. She’s been named Oreo. I am hoping this is a hen, because she’s just so darn pretty! And we don’t need anymore drakes…extra boys are Freezer Campers.
And, our final round of incubation is finishing up. Pipping and peeping started in the incubators yesterday. By the end of the weekend, everyone who was going to hatch, will have hatched. And we’ll be done ’til next February. All that’ll be left is the butchering. Which should start in a couple of weeks, as some of our first hatcher roosters are close to size now. Then my weeks will be filled with butcher, process, can, sleep, repeat. Until the end of November or so. 😂😂😂
This weekend will be a fiery hot one, but we still have the final wall of the greenhouse to build, then we put it up… And I have hay to cut. And more weeds in the garden. And a fence line to move. And boxes to flatten and lay out over the next garden area (to kill the grass). And somewhere in there, some sleep… 😂😂😂
We’ll get done what we can, and keep picking at the rest. That’s just how it is. 🙂