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. 🙂
A week or so ago, we had a clutch of ducklings hatch. Right in the midst of the last ridiculous heatwave. Most of the ducklings did awesome. One however, was having troubles right out of the shell, and MamaDuck was busy with the other 6 ducklings. Since I’m a firm believer in giving life a chance before culling, I scooped bebe duck up and handed him/her off to The Kid. She’s a talent when it comes to nursing duck bebes to health…
It was touch and go for a day or two. We weren’t sure the duckling was gonna make it. And then, that dang baby decided their main goal in life was to shit on the couch. Every. Damn. Time. It got onto the couch.
And so the duckling has earned itself the name: Poop Machine.
Yes, we’ve named the fuzzy ball of duck fluff…Poop Machine. And they answer to it.
Today Poop Machine got to play in some water and learn a bit about swimming…
And that was the capper to a Sunday morning of hot, sweaty farm work…watching the duck learn about playing in water. Life is good. 🙂
Yeah, today is thankful Thursday. I’m not feeling extremely thankful today though…
It’s cold. It’s day I-don’t-even-know-any-more of extreme cold warnings. Which means it’s much colder than typical for this time of year. I guess Mother Nature is catching us up for the nice weather we had back in December and January. There’s always a cost, right?
So that hay we’ve been doing so well on? Blowing through a bale every 3ish days. But mares gotta eat, or they don’t stay warm. A cold horse in this weather dies. Not on my fucking watch, if I can help it. So eating my Merry Mares have been. And then there’s the waterer…*sigh* I feel like it’s always something, know what I mean? The winds were savage for a while, and the damn thing kept freezing over. And then it froze at the spigot. That means standing there in the freezing cold, with a hair dryer to thaw it…with 3 toddlers dying of thirst, even though I just brought them buckets of warm water from the house to drink, but they be dyin’ and I be cryin’ because my hands are cold and I’m hopin’ I can get the water running before the hair dryer conks out… *sigh* Get horses, she thought… It’ll be fun, she thought… Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. 😂😂😂
Egg production is waaaaaaay down too. Where I was getting 50-60 eggs a day, now I’m getting 8. If I’m lucky. People want eggs. I don’t have much eggs. I’m just barely making regulars and that’s because I had some stocked up from last week…but now we’re low because 8 effing eggs a day. 60ish hens. But they’re eating and drinking and trying to stay warm. Ain’t so easy even with a heat lamp and deep straw.
Today we found we’d lost a duck baby. Again it’s the cold. We can feed ’em, we can make sure there’s fresh water, and draft free coops and heat lamps and damn if some aren’t gonna just die on us anyways. But ya sure feel like shit when it happens.
And then, just to cap off the craptastic shitstorm that is February, I have to go to the dentist. While to some that’s not a big deal, for some of us it is. I have a tooth that has to come out, but need a dentist that won’t make me wear a mask (got that) and will let my Hubby in the room too (can’t do that yet…fuck the govt, because it’s their shit restrictions) because y’all….this woman does not do well without her support person… So I get to stay living with this fucking thing until the shitty restrictions open up enough that I can have my person in the room while having the dental work done. Looking at the way the hand wringing from the “experts” is going, that oughta be sometime in 2037. Think I’ll just tie a string to the tooth, tie the other end to Ruby’s halter and give my girl a big ol’ smack on the bum…that oughta yob that fucker right out of my mouth. 😂😂😂 And if I die, they can list me as a covid death.
I guess I should still be thankful… My Hubby is still working and is able to get his teeth fixed (thank goodness! he’s had problems with his mouth since I’ve known him). We have plenty of food in the house. The house is warm. We’re still able to share our bounty with those who need it. All in all, as frustrated and cold and tired as we are, we’re still grateful for all that we have.
The ducks are well. They’re now in the same yard as the turkeys and the 2 species seem to be getting along pretty darn good. *knock on wood* The other day when I sat down to take pictues of the turkeys, our drake (whom I’ve simply been calling Drake) took exception to my being there…
He was hissing and wagging his tail and side eying me the whole time. 😂😂😂
The girls, however, weren’t terribly worried. They were more interested in seeing if I had some food for them…
The 2 hens we bought in the spring have blue eyes…it’s kinda cool. And it makes it easier for me to know who they are. The whites look so similar.
Remember back in August I bought those 14 ducks off the local buy and sell page? Well, 6 went to freezer camp. I have 3 more drakes to go, and we have 4 lovely young hens to add to the flock. (and yes, if you math that out, we’re short one…we lost a bebe in the beginning 😥 ) 2 whites…because I guess I needed more white ducks to get confused by…a black and white pied…
And a chocolate pied…
Now don’t yell at me if I have those colour names wrong. I *think* that’s what the colours are called, but I’m very open to my being wrong. We’re not a breed for colour Farm, so I haven’t researched it beyond the simple basics. 🙂
That gives us 10 hens to 1 Drake. Plus the 18 ducklings and Cricket.
Now little Mr Cricket…he gets to stay on as a breeding drake. It’s become obvious that Cricket is male. And, we have 4 unrelated hens, with goodness knows how many hens who are half siblings in the brooder with him. The standard seems to be 5 hens/drake. So, even with just the 10 we have now, having a 2nd boy to work come spring is needed. By the time spring rolls around, Mr Cricket will be quite interested in young hens… And to be fair, he is a favorite of The Kid’s. He’s become her pet, and I try not to chop the heads off of pets. 😂😂😂 But, like every other animal here, he’ll have a job. Only horses get to be pretty and eat money. 😉
Today we got 4 round bales of wheat straw home for The Merry Mares.
It was…interesting. lol Those are big bales, but thankfully, we didn’t have far to go. Also, thankfully, the folks we bought them from have more available. Like 800 more available!! So, later on if I need more I can get it any time. Yay! I suspect that we might need a few more to tide The Merry Mares over for winter. Fingers crossed not, but knowing I can get more means I can give ’em to them to enjoy without worry. 🙂
So today we did that. Then we set one out for the horses and peeled off some for the ducks, the chickens and the turkeys.
We stole all the duck babies from their Mamas and put them in the coop I showed you last post. It’s getting colder and it’s time to get the ducks into one pen. And it’s too cold for the babies to learn pecking order with the big ducks. So, since we have the coop, and we already had Cricket (the once house duck) and his friend Disco (a once duckling from our white hen) in there (Disco was added because Cricket needed a friend…animals *always* do better in pairs), we figured we’d put *all* the ducklings in there. At least until they feather out enough to go into another house near the bigger ducks.
*sigh* Animal husbandry can be frustrating. It is, no matter what, a lot of work. Especially if you’re doing it properly.
We also brought home another 400lbs of feed for the poultry and 100 lbs of oats for the horses. Our horses don’t get a lot of grain. We prefer to give quality hay, alfalfa cubes as extras and beet pulp. But on those bitterly cold nights, the grain is handy to stoke the equine furnace and get it running hot so that when the ample amount of hay (and now straw too) goes in, they stay warm. Horses stay warm best by eating. Not to say we don’t blanket. We have one for everyone, but Sable gets to wear hers more than the others. She is my Palomino Princess. ❤ And to be fair, she’s getting up there in age, and sometimes us oldsters need a little help to stay fat and sassy in the colder months. 😉
Tomorrow I butcher the last handfuls of roosters that are ready to be done, while Hubby and The Kid work on the fencing for the adult ducks and turkeys. Then we can move the turkeys to their coop and the ducks into the brooder the turkeys are in. It’s been a looooong summer/fall of poultry butchering and after tomorrow I’ll just have 5 or so ducks to do. Of the 14 we bought, we did 6 last week. There’s 7 left (we lost one small duckling shortly after we got them) and I think a couple of ’em are hens. Hens stay on, drakes go to freezer camp.
Come spring we’ll look at the 18 babies that hatched (19 technically, but Cricket has become The Kid’s pet, so Cricket is off the table, food wise), figure out who’s a hen, who’s a drake and set breeding groups from there. Hopefully come spring, the eine kliene bang bang music amongst the ducks will give us a massive amount of ducklings to waddle the pasture and eat bugs, whilst shitting out ducky fertilizer here, there and everywhere. I am hoping to have whole ducks for sale come next fall. Ducks can be processed on Farm, and sold Farm gate. They just have to be whole and labeled as “uninspected”…meaning they haven’t been done in a provincially inspected abattoir. And, with no overseeing board (like the Manitoba Chicken Producers, or the Egg Board) there’s no limit on the number of ducks I can butcher and sell, so long as I follow the already in place guidelines. Turkeys is 99 per year. Meat chickens is 999 per year. I would love to become a supplier of well bred, well raised, humanely slaughtered muscovy ducks. So that’s what we’re working on.
So that’s where we’re at. Making progress, and trying our best. Today I turned on the heat for the very first time this winter. And I need to get hay home. But so far, so good. Things are going well…would be better if there were 6 of us, instead of 3 but…whatrya gonna do? We’re gonna do the best we can and hope for the best. 🙂
Just think, in 4 1/2 months, I’ll fire the incubators for the first hatch of 2021. Feels like forever away, but it’s only 4 1/2 months.