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. 🤢🤮
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:
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…
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.
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! 😍😍😍
Yesterday we fixed the garage door. Well, I say “we” but Hubby did the hard work on the ladder, while The Kid and I held said ladder and passed tools as needed. So the driveway is now clear, those fat, fat mares got another bale of hay (they had to eat every single scrap of the last one…poor fat, fat mares 😂😂😂) and while the tractor was out of the garage, I cleaned the turkey hut. The turkeys were not amused. But I’m tired of shit covered eggs, and their straw pack was getting ridiculously high, so I pushed them into the corner with a board, dug out the gross stuff, then let them back into the rest of the hut while we gathered fresh straw. Kid threw the fresh straw in, and the turkeys were convinced she was trying to murder them. Turkeys is dumb. But next thing y’know, the hens were spreading bedding and doing the come hither squat at Oscar, so clearly clean sheets works to help a guy get lucky. As if we human women didn’t already know that. 😉
Last week The Kid and I got the duck coop dug out…again. Hopefully this is the last time this year we have to do this dig. Then we flipped open the lid (hooray for lids on coops that open!!), kicked aaaaaaallllll da leetle birdies out, and I cleaned the coop down to the floor. Whew. Stinky, stinky, stinky. We love our ducks, but damn, they are gross little birbs. But now they’re clean, and they’ve been spending days hanging out on top the drifts. My only sad face was that there’s too much snow to move the stinky, duck poo laden, wet, juicy straw to a garden bed. There are some super awesome nutrients in that grossness that plants just love! Ah well…there will be more later.
Yes, that one duck is a bit weird looking. 😉 That’s “T.D”…also known as “Tall Duck”. She’s a sweetgrass turkey who Cricket (the main drake) decided was his pet turkey. She’s a bit stunted, and not terribly smart, but she’s kinda sweet and the ducks like her. She’s way too small to be in with the turkeys, so she lives with the ducks. Come randy, horny duck spring, she’ll go with the younger hens who are not ready for breeding, so that the drakes don’t decide she’s attractive. Turkey and duck parts are not compatible for breeding, so we can’t let that happen.
Tonight we’re staying above 0*c weather wise, and the melt is on. So the next few weeks will see us shoveling more paths, as our drifts melt, and trenches for water to run off. But it’s finally melting, and we’re happy. Tired, but happy. 🙂
We don’t know who her parents were. We found her one night, abandoned in the duck yard. We didn’t think she would survive. She had a wonky, twisted leg, and she was cold as ice.
But dead ain’t dead with poultry until you can’t warm them up. If you can get them warm, there’s a (fairly decent) chance of survival.
And so when we found her (not knowing if she was boy or girl at the time) in the mud, we scooped her up and brought her in to get warm.
With the deck stacked against her, this little duck went on to thrive. Stealing macaroni every damn chance she got. And stealing my heart.
She grew into a beauty, who we all thought was going to make beautiful bebes with The Kid’s sweet drake Oreo…
But as always, the Gods laugh as us mortals make our plans…and yesterday my HomerJ crossed over Bifrost to join her love, Oreo (whom we lost in the same storm that we moved my stupid turkeys into the garage), and my Cookie. She died in my arms, and I am heartbroken. To some she was just a duck. To me, she was the bestest, goodest duck. And I loved her. And so now there is a black and white Painted mare with her two muscovy ducks of Doom wreaking havoc on The Other Side.
Our morning duck meetings just won’t be the same without her. 😥
Well, that’s in the books for another year. We don’t actually celebrate it, so for us it was just another weekend of trying to get things done before winter. More roosters need doing, but we were getting hammered by rain so that got put off. We did get some yard clean up done between rains. Plus we got the roosters separated so that we can just get up and go on the next not-rainy day.
That was supposed to be Saturday, because the next 3 days after today is rain, and today is a Loop pickup day so we need the 2nd fridge for some of that stuff… Oh, but then this morning? I get the text that our pig is ready to pick up. Awesome, right? Absolutely! But now Saturday is pick up the pig and process it day…because we pick up the pig live, bring it home and do all the work here. Saves us a couple hundred dollars doing it that way, and we are very happy with the family that raises the pig for us. They have the same #HappyFoodTastesBetter values that we do. And they have a better porcine set up. So I am happy af to buy a finished pig to put down in the Fall while focusing on poultry on my Farm.
But the work… O.M.G. Like I said, I’ll sleep come winter.
Garden is still producing. With the rains over the next few days, we shouldn’t frost, though we’re hovering awful close to it. I am hoping that it holds off a wee bit longer, since my peppers are not ripe yet. I really, really don’t want to buy poblano or paprika seeds next year, so I need those dang peppers to ripen! The beans are being left now to grow seed for next year. What ever is out there will get harvested after the frost and further dried to seed for the yellow, Painted pony and Royal Burgandy varieties. The pintos will just be left and tarped over. I have a *lot* of pinto seeds. lol
And carrots and beets can be left for a couple weeks yet, since they’re underground. Thank goodness, since I am not ready to pull them yet. So as soon as I see a frost warning, I’ll pick the peppers, tomatoes and ground cherrys, then let the plants die off. Once the bean seeds are harvested and the beets/carrots too, we can tarp the entire space and let her go to sleep for winter. It’s coming fast.
In the meantime, we’re just going along, trying to get as much done as possible. Butchering, building, and trying to stay sane. 😂😂😂 That last one in the toughest one.
Here’s Homer J…who, it has been determined, is a hen. YAY!! So next year we’ll have Homer J bebes. I’m very happy she’s a hen. She’s growing into a beauty of a duck (not that you can tell with all the mud on her), and she’s my pal. 😉 Today we’re working on the winter duck coop so Homer J and everyone else can have a nice warm space to snuggle on those c-c-c-old winter nights. 🙂
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. 🙂
It’s been blazing hot here the past few days, with gale force winds. So I’m a little slow. We’re all a little slow. The heat weighs you down, and then the wind strips all moisture out of your body almost instantly. Lots and lots of liquids going in the past few days, I tell ya!
Working on getting seeds into the garden before the rains come. Always chasing the waterers for the animals, making sure they have enough to drink. And trying to stay on top of the “what’s for dinner?” moments. I’m tired. 😂😂😂
But, it’s a good tired and I’m not complaining. Much.
Last week I had chance to connect with a friend who’s working on her own family’s food security. This is something that comes up a lot around here (in case no one’s noticed) because I’m pretty darn passionate about good foods, well raised foods, and not being beholden to any govt for getting access to that food. So in this conversation, we talked about the space they have for growing food animals, compared to ours. We’re not doing pigs this year. Might be a year or 2 more before we consider it. She and her partner have access to low cost culls, and have space to grow them out. We have many, many, many birds. 😂😂😂 So. Many. Fucking. Birds. And so we thought that bartering pork for birds was something to consider. As always, I worry about making sure that all parties are happy. I never, ever want to be in a barter situation where someone feels shorted…especially not with a friend. But I think if we can come to a mutually beneficial agreement (and I do believe we will 🙂 )then I love the idea of bartering. It builds community (and Lady Bless us all, we so need that in society right now!) and it gets more well raised foods into more homes. Done well it’s an excellent thing!
And then she says to me…I have 12 heritage sweetgrass turkey hatching eggs…are you interested? Um… YES!
Last night another friend dropped them off here…and her and I discussed how her daughter’s new home had so many rhubarb plants that could become wine to share amongst us all. Yup, bartering for food/wine is a damn fine thing. 😉
Tonight the eggs will go into the incubator. And whatever comes out in after 28 days will be split between two Farms. I, uh, might be a little bit addicted to hatching turkeys. 😂😂😂
Oooooh, and just because it’s amazing, and finally happened:
That my friends, is our very first laid right here on Midnight Calico Farm Narragansett turkey egg!! And yup, it’s going into the incubator with the sweetgrass turkey eggs. 🙂 My excitement was (still is) over the moon last night.
We were putting birds to bed, and when I got to the turkey yard, my Kid says “I have a present for you” and puts this egg in my hand… Oh there is no mistaking turkey eggs. None whatsoever. They are unique (among my birds at least) and so very beautiful. I may have cooed over it like Gollum cooed over the One Ring. 😉 It should be fertile…I’ve been watching the boys do their jobs for the past few weeks…hell, when we were working on the plastic around the garden, I was cheering Oscar on as he made the rounds with every hen in the yard. 😂😂😂 Horny teenager turkey. If these birds start producing a lot of eggs, I’ll be looking at a 3rd incubator just for turkeys…and another brooder. But y’know, we’ll eat really well.
And in duck news… There are many, many duck eggs lying around. Many of ’em. And I’m willing to bet even more we cannot see. Muscovies are notorious for hiding eggs and coming out just about a month later with a whole bunch of littles behind them. Based on the chirruping and berating we’re getting from some hens, there’s quite a few of our 21 girls thinking about hatching eggs. So we’ll cross our fingers to start seeing bebes in the next couple of months. For the record, I’ve tried incubating duck eggs and have had no luck at all. Followed all the directions and still had quitters. So I’d rather let the hens to the job. Means 1 less incubator I have to buy, because muscovies are a 35(ish) day hatch, where chickens are 21 and turkeys are 28. 35 days is a long time to tie up an incubator for no return. 😦
But if we have an abundance of hens hatching, that will give us some ducks to barter as well. And steak birds is good eating. 😉