End of September

Here’s where we’re at…

2 turkeys went to Freezer Camp…Dingus and an auburn Narragansett.
Still have the rest of the whites to do, and another tom.
2 muscovy drakes joined them.
They were dicks and needed to be culled from the flock…leaving us 3 drakes to over winter with the hens and younglings.
1 pekin drake has been done.
We ordered 10 pekin ducklings and in a very odd twist, it seems like we got 2 drakes and 8 hens. That’s wild, because normally you get more boys than girls.
So we have to narrow down the last of the pekin hens we’re keeping and butcher the rest.
3 geese are in the freezer too.
Leaving us our breeding pair.

Garden is starting to clear out.
All but 4 tomato plants are stripped and pulled.
Beans are done (except for my blue lake pole beans and my rattlesnake beans, which I’m leaving as long as possible for seeds).
I’m working on pulling carrots, beets and onions.
Then I’ll mow the entire thing and cover with straw.
I moved a few rhubarb plants to new spaces, and I’m working on an asparagus bed.

I have the chance to get some horseradish plants later on this fall, so I have to get my 1/2 whiskey barrel planters situated where I want that.
I love horseradish and love the idea of growing it, but it can take over fast, so it must be contained.
The barrels moved out here with us from the city house and have sat empty of plants since.
It’s time for them to be filled.

Our load of duck eggs in the incubator produced 4 ducklings.
2 strong ones (so far, knock on wood), 2 that needed help to emerge and ended up passing.
The incubator has a difficult time keeping humidity levels high enough for ducks (I really hate styrofoam incubators…like really, really hate them), so sadly, it ends up shrink wrapping the poor little dudes into the membrane within the shell and suffocating them.
So eff that crap.
I’m on the hunt for a better incubator for doing ducks.
Something that can hold humidity better.
I fear I may have to make a bigger investment than I want too…
But
As far as sustainability goes, it would be a good investment, because of course, there are other birds here to incubate as well as ducks, so it’s not like it won’t get used. Often.

We moved the little chickens (10 each lavender orpingtons and jersey giants) into the main chicken coop.
It’s only been 1 night, and they’re confused af about not being able to get back into their former house (that’s where the 2 ducklings are), but after a night or two of being carried back to the right coop, they’ll get it.
We have at least 7 roosters between the 2 breeds, so I have good pick for who gets to stay and who gets to be fajitas.
Then next spring we’ll be able to hatch chickens out again.
EmmaBird the turkey and her 8 kids got a yard added to their brooder…with a lid so she can’t screw off on them and the chickens can’t get in to steal the kids’ foods.
Littles get a high protein feed that the regular chickens just don’t need…but everyone loves like it’s candy. And I ain’t payin’ $30/55lbs to feed it to laying hens when they have their own feed to eat!

And of course, we’re still cleaning up the yard and getting ready for the next season.
I’ll tell ya, that spring flooding kicked the crap out of our back yard.
It’s so overgrown with horrible weeds that I can’t use the regular lawn mower on, Hubby has to use the tractor mower, but with all the stupid little chickens hiding in there, it hasn’t happened yet (and because we have other things that have taken precedence over mowing…). Hopefully soon.
I really would love to see *grass* growing next year, but I fear I’ll have to sow some seed for that to happen.
*sigh*
I guess I’ll worry about it next spring, after we see what this winter has planned for us.
:/

Babies

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.

And well…
So far, so good.
🙂

Happy Fall y’all.

So This is Happening…

Remember I said we’re building a new coop for the ducks?
Lies.
All lies.
😂😂😂

What we’re doing is *better*.
Check this out:

That’s my greenhouse going up…and it’s gonna do double duty.
See, we needed something with a bigger floorplan for the ducks, and I need a greenhouse for 3 seasons of the year…do why let it sit empty in winter when…we can shove ducks in there!!

So that’s the plan.
Duck house in winter, by the time it’s time to put plants in there to prep them for the garden, out go the ducks to their normal spring/summer/fall coop.
And because our fat butted ducks don’t like to fly to perch, I might be able to get away with starting a few seeds in there…we’ll see.
It’ll be worth playing with and testing.
It night work, it might not.
I won’t know ’til I try it.
Either way, greenhouse is up, and finishing work continues…

Almost September

I’m not ready for Fall.
Not even remotely.
😂😂😂

There’s still so much to do before that nasty “w” season hits.
This weekend we’re working on a duck coop…part of our problem last year was the coop we have just didn’t keep everyone warm enough. Even with heat.
And, if you remember, it got buried after we were hammered repeatedly by blizzard after blizzard after blizzard.
So we’re building something else. Bigger foot print, taller for ease of entry for humans, better insulated for ducky health. Not that I really want to build something, but, in order to keep the flock healthy, we need to.
So we will.

Meanwhile, the garden is rolling along.
Huge, growing like crazy, starting to produce…at least, that which the grass hoppers haven’t eaten.
I’ll have enough tomatoes to make a batch of wine.
There’s a ton of carrots and beets…
Well here’s pictures:

There is so much food in there…I just have to wade in and bring it out.
And put as much as I can into jars for winter.
Also in the pictures, where I’ve been cutting the grass short to work on the ever expanding garden.
I need to prep a bed for raspberry canes, to put a couple rhubarb plants, an area for asparagus, and figure out where to put a half barrel for horseradish.
I also have 4 grape cutting growing like mad that I want to plant this weekend.
And, if I have a chance to harvest any grapes (there’s tons of bunches, but will the grasshoppers get them? We’ll have to see…) that’ll be awesome. I’m also going to grab a couple dozen more cuttings to get rooted and growing over winter.

And then there’s the meat birds to get into the freezer.
Coops to clean (which goes hand in hand with that garden expansion very nicely…) and after coops are cleaned out and the bedding piled into the spots, I’ll get Hubby to spend a day or so bringing me bucket after bucket of rotten horse crap to top the chicken bedding/crap. Then that can all cook down over winter to become plantable in the spring.

On top of all that, we’re on our 3rd day in a row of Loop pickup.
That’s the food waste from grocery stores reduction program we’re a part of.
Feeding food waste to farm animals.
Welp, we were offered a coverage pickup Sunday.
We said yes.
We were offered another coverage pickup Monday.
We said yes.
Today is our regular bi-weekly pickup.
So 3 days in a row…
I am not complaining.
Not even a little bit!
It’s a lot of work to sort and process and feed out, but damn, it’s a huuuuuuge help on the feed bill.
Especially with the pekins, white turkeys, and geese.
These birds…I tell ya, they could eat a farmer out of house and home!
😂😂😂
But they love the produce, the bakery stuff, the dairy…every one is growing beautifully and is super healthy.
And, we’ve been offered a weekly pickup at one of the stores we typically do random coverage pickups on…so YAY for that!

Going into winter, we’re looking at 5 pekins staying (for breeding next year), a pair of geese (for the same reason) and the muscovies. We have 2 drakes that are leaving the breeding program. Neither one have desirable traits to continue in the program, so they’re gonna go camping. Freezer camping. 😉
Of the 3 ducklings we had hatch (another reason to have a 2nd duck coop, to have a bachelor pen come broody season…hard for hens to successfully hatch when the boys are being pains int he butt), we know we have 1 hen and 1 drake for sure. The 3rd, little Potato (yep, a duckling named Potato), we’re not sure yet…leaning towards drake, but it’ll be a few weeks before we know for sure.
Then come spring we’ll do some cross fencing in the duck yard so we can pair off certain hens with the best drakes and so we can extend the lives of our current drakes…by that I mean, some of the boys, once they have fathered too many ducklings, go onto freezer camp. But if we rotate them though hens, tracking which keeper hens are parented by whom, we can cycle them through the drakes with very little inbreeding.

And then…
Just for even more fun.
Our local mega mart has gotten in their cases of roma tomatoes.
Look, I *want* to say that I’ve 1000% figured out our micro climate and am rolling in the tomatoes so much so that I have more than I can put up…but I’d be lying.
So I watch the local canning groups for reports of the 1/2 bushels arriving, and when that happens, I send the Hubby off to get me some.
If I wait beyond the first week craziness, the prices tend to drop and I can get 3-400lbs of tomatoes for a really good price.
Then comes the canning.
And the crying.
And the reminding myself that there’s no crying in canning!!
Oh yeah, and the insane loopiness.
Which is alleviated with a nice cold drink at the end of the day.

Ah well, soon enough the summer/fall work will be done, and we’ll transition seasons.
As always, the wheel continues to turn…

Growing the Food Forest

A while back I got it into my head that I needed to try propagating the grape vine.
Right around the time I spotted clusters of grapes growing on her.
Y’see, this vine came from a friend’s place, where they decided that they no longer wanted it, and I was looking for a good cold hardy grape to add to our food forest.
So when she asked if I wanted it, I said “absolutely!!”
Then it took a bit to get the vine here, and it’s been 3 years (this is her 3rd summer in our garden) and this year she took off like crazy.
So I cut a short piece, made some smaller pieces, used some rooting hormone and started some cuttings.
4 have taken and have massive roots.
2 softwood, 2 hard wood.
This fall when she gets pruned, I’ll start a whole bunch more.
Because growing food is always a good thing.
🙂

The other day tho…
My brain said “Hey!! The grapes are expanding, why not try the black currants?”
So I did:

I’ll just start with the 2 cuttings (right now, after fall leaf drop I may cut a few more) and see how it goes.

Also…
Since we cleaned out the muscovy hens mass of sat upon but only 4 hatched eggs, they’ve begun laying again.
And I know the eggs are fertile.
Muscovy drakes are whores.
😂😂😂
We’re getting 10 or so eggs a day.
And normally, at this time of year, we’d sell them for people who like eating duck eggs, or feed them back to the hens. I personally don’t care for muscovy eggs, I find they have a fishy taste to them, no matter what we’re feeding.
So, I thought I should put a bunch in the incubator.
Why?
Well, chicken and turkey eggs are easy as pie to hatch in an incubator.
I’ve never had a successful duckling hatch.
So, with eggs that are extras, this is the perfect time for me to see if I can get them to hatch.
Then, once I get that perfected, in spring I can run an incubator load while the hens get ready to sit their nests. And I can take whatever pekin eggs we have to incubate too…
That way, in the fall, when we go to cull back to our breeding flock, (the theory is) we should have ample freezer birds.
So that’s where we’re at.
Always planning on growing more food as much as we can.
Some days, it’s all my poor little brain can think about.
😂😂😂
Oh and since I last posted, I turned 50 (on Sunday) and the Farm turned 9 (on Tuesday)
So, woohoo for that.

Monty

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:

Bart standing, new baby sitting.

And so now we’re back at 2.
Life.
She’ll always find Her way.

Babies

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:

Hatching and running away from your chicken moms and then being scooped up by a giant and being held is hard work!

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.

🖤
🖤
🖤

I’ll keep y’all posted…

Muscovy Duck Meetings

Muscovies have meetings.
I don’t know about other ducks, having only ever had 1 non-muscovy duck, and a whole bunch of muscovies…
Muscovy meetings are awesome.
There’s a lot of chatter and head bobbing and tail wagging and some clicking and hissing…
Here’s a short video of this morning’s meeting:

Turn your sound up and hit play.
This went on for a good 2 minutes before I decided to make the video…and of course once thye noticed me watching, the meeting ended.
But this is a sign of a flock that’s doing well.
We’ve had some big challenges keeping these guys healthy over the winter from hell, so that they’re feeling good enough to have meetings again is wonderful.
And as the caption on Instagram says, this discussion was seemingly over which girl was choosing which drake she wanted for the bebe making.
No one is laying yet, and that’s okay.
I’m in no hurry, with all the damn snow yet, for the hens to be going broody.
Plus, in the last blizzard, I lost my pitchfork in a drift, so until I find that *no one* is allowed to go broody…I am not cleaning up broody duck shit with a shovel.
Just.
Not.
🤢🤮
If you’ve had ducks, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
🤢🤮

Duck Shit

Yup, that’s what I’ve been up to…
Shoveling duck shit/bedding.
Last week we flipped the top of the duck coop open (it’s on hinges), kicked every birb out, and I shoveled it out.
Twice.
I did that twice.
Then, everyone got a dose of ivermectin on their backs, right on the skin (I hate trying to get through those downy feathers to find skin, but the ivermectin has to go right on the skin to be effective) and they also got a 3 day course of penpro (antibiotic).
They had a respiratory infection that just wasn’t clearing up, so after a quick discussion with our vet, I dosed every damn duck (and T.D, a sweetgrass turkey who is convinced she’s a duck…so her name is TallDuck) in the coop.
Today, I am optimistic that everyone who is left will pull through just fine.
Today was their 2nd round of the ivermectin, and they’ll get one more in 7 days.
I’ve also had my second round of the ivermectin, because it is inevitable that I wear some while dosing ducks.
Muscovy hens are bitches when they don’t want to be handled.
Damn, them girls got some *fight* in ’em this week…and that’s a helluva good sign.
Means they’re feeling much, much better.
And everyone’s feathers are looking better, and they’re eating us out of house and home again…
And they’re running The Kid over when she opens their coop.
So, all good stuff.

I just feel like a shitty duck owner because it took this long to get them dewormed again and far too long to get them antibiotics….my Kid lost her foundation drake, Cricket:

Cricket the Duck. He’s a handsome fella!

And let me tell you…there’s nothing worse than listening to your kid’s sobs of heartbreak because an animal she loved died…
Problem was, the weather beat the shit out of us mercilessly and there really was no way (besides ivomec in water pails) to deworm them, and I didn’t put 2+2 together on the resp. infection until the sneezing didn’t clear up with clean bedding.

So now we’re just doing everything we can to keep the last 17 ducks going…
Fingers crossed, and a whole lotta ducks shit shoveling, and so far, everyone is good.
They’re having meetings and trilling and cooing and wagging tails (which are growing back in) and the drakes are starting to get *that look* and the hens are giving them the okay wags…

And for the record, Poop Machine (yep, that’s his name) thinks this hands on health care is complete duckshit. He ain’t liking it one little bit.
😂😂😂

In other news, the snow is finally melting.
About damn time.
The chickens and turkeys are doing well.
Oscar is dancing and prancing and the hens are squatting.
Next week begins the collection of eggs for the incubator(s).
Hopefully we’ll have a bunch of little Narragansetts running about come May!
Then any hens can be put with Dingus when they’re older.
Right now he only has 1 girl and she keeps calling for Oscar.
Fucking turkeys.
😂😂😂
But Oscar is the dominant tom, so all the hens who have been in with him (and Dingus’s girl was before the great garage move) want to stay with him.
Problem is I can’t keep the 2 toms together, or Oscar kills any hen who shows interest in Dingus.
Turkeys are misogynistic bastards.
Tasty bastards tho…

Down to my last 4 bales of hay.
The Merry Mares are going through roughly 1 a week…yup, still doing the put a whole bale out thing…just because the snow hasn’t melted enough that I can portion feed again.
But as the snow recedes and more ground is showing, they’re finding tasty bits to nibble.
Once the frost is out of the ground and all the melt soaks in, it’s take a day or two of warmth and the grass will explode into growth that they won’t be able to keep up with.
I am so hoping for an excellent hay season.
We need one after the last few years.

But, Mother Nature is gonna do whatever it is that She’s gonna do and we humans are just going to have to deal with whatever She throws our way.
Again.
I just hoping for good growing and harvesting weather.
It’s all I can do.

3 Weeks

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!
😍😍😍