The Fat Ewe Farm 
    and B & B permaculture farmin' 
  for the lazy you's and
 Bed, Breakfast 'n Bale


Bird Brains

Posted by Fluffy on November 29, 2012 at 7:05 PM Comments comments (1)

Oh boy, when the term 'bird brain' was coined, it was not simply out of the blue. I fail to understand how people believe chickens are smart. As you can see in the photos, when the snow covered their food, they thought it was gone! Then when I brushed the snow away, voila! the food returned magically, though it had been there all the time. One would think the birds could smell the food, or remember that is where it is located, since it is always there for them, but no, as soon as a little soft, white, fluffy snow covered the food, they did not 'see' it. Oy!

Chickens at the Milk Bar

Posted by Fluffy on November 12, 2012 at 1:50 AM Comments comments (0)

In the old days, chickens got milk. Some milk was always spilled when milking the family cow and the free ranging chickens were sure to be there to clean it up, fighting the cats and dogs for it. Milk does provide some protein and fat, and being omnivorous, chickens do need both in their diets. It was not until the recent (in the time of the world history) cultivation of agricultural grain crops that birds were fed grain. In winter they got scraps from the kitchen along with some milk and even bones to pick. They ate a bit of the leaves from hay for their vegetables and hoped they could get through the cold winter. There were no such things as heat lamps, just a barn that could get quite below zero. 

Then as man began the grain madness, the birds' diets slowly switched to be grain dependent, much as man has forced ruminants to eat grain. It is not good for animals, humans included. Anyhow, chickens will and do eat milk so when there was some whipping cream that was off and outdated buttermilk, the chickens got some and so did the turkeys. The grateful birds quickly gobbled it up at the milk bar!

Eggs From The Fat Ewe Farm

Posted by Fluffy on September 3, 2012 at 5:20 PM Comments comments (0)

I am blessed on the farm to have such wonderful animals, including the chickens, which just might be my least favourite. I really like the Japanese Bantams though, and even the Polish/Ameracauna Bantams. The Japanese Bantams are very sweet, quiet, friendly and so pretty. The Ameracuna cross Bantams are wild, crazy, exotic and excellent foragers. I have not let the Japanese Bantams out yet since they are young and also new to the farm. They are purported to be great foragers as well. The rooster flew up in the trees when he arrived. I have seen him since, and tried to catch him, but he is clever and will not let me close. Even three of us with a net could not manage to get a hold of that little critter!

So, the Khaki Campbell ducks have been laying since early spring. They lay an egg a day , except for Duck, who just hatched 8 of her own babies, though 2 drowned I am sad to say. One of the Rouen hens is not laying and has not been for some time. She is very small compared to the other hen, though their babies hatched early this year should be laying soon. The Japanese Bantam laid her first egg the same day as one of the Bantam crosses did. We think this is an easy task for a chicken, but that first egg, though it is smaller than subsequent eggs will be, is akin to a human having a baby. Things must stretch, move, tear and give way for this new rite of passage. I understand that the first baby is hard and the second is easier. I met a lady who was on her tenth and she said she would be home within in an hour of birthing. For chickens, laying is this way too. After ten eggs, the process is very natural and not painful any more. 

A hen can hold her eggs back for a long period of time. Red, my little Buckeye, will wait all day to go to the duck pen, the place she has deemed her laying spot. I am keeping the chickens in their house until noon these days to encourage them to lay in the house rather than all over the yard. This morning, The Jersey Giant was in the nesting box and produced a lovely large brown egg. Nesting boxes keep the eggs clean and also fresh, since the box is gleaned daily. Eggs laid outside can be questionable as to freshness and are best left for the animals, in my opinion, unless I have collected the eggs daily, as I do in the case of Red. The two broody hens with chicks will not lay again until the chicks are of substantial size and fully feathered. It will be winter here then and this year I plan on insulating a shed for the chickens so they stay warm and the eggs do not freeze. 

A pullet is a young hen who is just starting to lay eggs. The eggs are usually quite small and some may not have a yolk or may have two yolks. Until the chicken's body is used to the process, the eggs are subject to change. As the hen grows, so does the size of her eggs. Some hens will lay every day, even though winter, while others will lay 5 days a week or even less. The bantams will not lay many in a year, maybe 100 to 150, but there is an exception to every rule too, so until a year has passed, I won't be sure exactly who lays what and how often. 

Duck eggs are fantastic in baking producing a moist tender product. They are excellent for devilled eggs and egg salad sandwiches too, but just fried on in an omelet, I find them too heavy, since they are more than half yolk, while chickens' eggs are more than half white. The white is what gives a fluffiness to the omelet or pancake, but they are not as tender and moist as when made with duck eggs. Excess eggs are given to the animals, even the chickens, but I boil them first then mash them for two reasons. I do not want any egg eaters on the premises since everyone free ranges together and more available protein is obtained from cooked eggs rather than raw. I now have a customre to take 2 dozen duck eggs per week. This will leave me 3-4 for my own use, which is plenty, plus lots of chicken eggs, now that the pullets are starting to lay. Thanks birdies. You are wonderful!

A New Wildflower, Porcupine Quills, Ducklings, Dogs and Chickens

Posted by Fluffy on June 12, 2012 at 12:15 AM Comments comments (1)

It was an interesting day today. The chickens were allowed out to free range for the first time. They have been outside their hoop house in a pen, but not running free. There are three that are still quite small and young, so with the presence of that raven, I have been careful to not let them out. The dogs also concerned me. Last year, Joseph chased and ate chickens. Penny and Brewster have been free ranging since spring, so I was hoping he had learned and outgrown his penchance for the birds. I was supervising the dogs, just in case. It is only Robbie, the border collie and Joseph, the rough collie, I was really concerned about. Ofcharka remains tied during the day as long as the ducks are out. He has killed 3 and I value my ducks, so he must be tied until he is older. I am confident, he too will outgrow the chase. After an hour the chickens were herded back home and we went for our evening stroll. 

I found a new wildflower on a different trail. It is reminiscent of a Columbine. The dogs found a porcupine, and yes, Joseph and Robbie got quills. Robbie only got 2, but Joseph had about a dozen. I putlled them out easily. Last month when Peter got quilled, he got maybe 40 and they were in his mouth and nose, so he went to the vet's. 

It is the first day for the ducklings and I am so pleased to say they are beautiful and doing extremely well in their livestock trough brooder. Just a little stronger and a little bolder today, they are venturing to the other side of the trough now. I gave them dirt and grass with some roots along with their food and water. They ate the grass roots and pecked at the dirt. Ducks are amazing. and I found Charlotte's web on the walk. Nature leaves me in awe.

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