The Fat Ewe Farm 
    and B & B

...organic permaculture farmin' 
  for the lazy you's and
 Bed, Breakfast 'n Bale

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Duck Hot Tub

Posted by Fluffy on December 21, 2012 at 11:50 PM Comments comments (0)

Brrr, it is cccccold outside. This winter seems colder than most, so I am told. I figure that is because the humidity is so high for this area and the moist cold gets right into the bones. The animals seem to feel it too. The wussy chickens stay in their coop except for a brief meal and then zip right back inside. The ducks and geese are much more hardy and tuck their heads under their wings with their feet up in the feathers on thteir sides, floating on their downy breasts. This keeps them from freezing and they will stay that way outside with the snow coming down on them. When I give them water, they love to bathe in it. Because the air is so cold, the water, which is not warm by our standard of warmth, feels warm to the birds. They cover their feathers and then spend hours preening, spreading the oils over their feather to further waterproof and insulate against the damp cold. I stand and watch them for as long as I think is a good idea, though in the summer, I can stay watching for long periods. They never cease to amaze me with their animated conversations and whacky quacky ways. I have come to quite love the waterfowl, almost as much they love their 'hot' tub. 

The New Duck and Goose Pool

Posted by Fluffy on December 3, 2012 at 11:45 PM Comments comments (0)

I bring water to the animals and birds with buckets on the toboggan. The ducks, being water loving critters, come to the toboggan with the buckets and drink some cold fresh water. I thought perhaps if there was more than a drink and if the buckets were not there, they might quite like it. They sure did. 

The geese each bathed and the ducks took turns spashing and washing themselves until pretty much everyone was icy. Then they went back to their pen and preened. This process spreads their oils and keeps their feathers waterproof and their bodies warm. Today, they came to the toboggan again and so the procedure was repeated. I think we have a new duck and goose pool!

On a Cold and Frosty Morn

Posted by Fluffy on November 19, 2012 at 9:40 PM Comments comments (0)

The hoar frost was beautiful this  morning. When there is a lot of moisture in the air, it is drawn into beautiful crystals that attach to surfaces, particularly delicate ones, creating exquisite ice patterns. This morning the Embden geese were surrounded by silver white crystals that had grown on their netting. The pine trees were marvellously adorned with garments of white crystal patterns as well. The netting around the chicken coop, normally not very visible because it is fine and black, was clearly seen with the thick hoar frosting. 

The ducks did not seem to mind. They still came out to play in the water. Every day they climb in the tubs and have baths, even when the water freezes on them as they are in it. What a beautiful morning. What a wondrous creation, hoar frost. 

Goose and the Toy

Posted by Fluffy on November 14, 2012 at 12:05 AM Comments comments (1)

The goose found something. Oh, oh, what is it? It is green. Goose likes green. Green tastes good. It does not taste good. It is bright. It catches goose's eye. Oh, oh, goose likes this. Goose wants it for her own. Goose takes the puppy's toy. Bad goose! Give it back!

The Duck Bath

Posted by Fluffy on November 10, 2012 at 8:55 PM Comments comments (0)

The ducks do not seem to pay much attention to the cold weather. They still like to take a bath, but the water immediately freezes to their feathers. Apparently this causes them to preen, which increases the water proof oils on their feathers and makes them even more impervious to the cold. Their poor feet though...one must think that they are freezing walking on the frozen ground. I try to provide them with a covering of straw in their pen, but outside, as soon as there is snow, the straw becomes packed ice once again. Even when they cannot bathe, they stick their entire heads in the buckets of water to clean their eyes and nostrils. This is the way they maintain themselves and it is necessary for good waterfowl health. Poor frozen ducksicles...


Snow Ducks

Posted by Fluffy on November 2, 2012 at 10:20 PM Comments comments (1)

The ducks like the snow, or rather, they do no seem to mind it. They even sleep outside in the open instead of their shelter, with one foot on the ground and their heads under their wings. One would think they would prefer the straw under their feet instead of the snow. Surely their feet must get cold. 

They toddle around for a while looking for interesting things to eat, particularly dog food, which seems to be the favourite of all the birds, cats and dogs, plus a few wild Stellar Jays who have discovered where the food dish is. The ducks must have enough fresh water daily to stick their heads in so their eyes remain cleaned. They also like to bathe daily, even in the frigid weather. Their feather ice up as soon as they are out of the water and they spend some time then, preening, which spreads the waterproofing oils through the feathers to keep them warm and dry. Apparently, the water does not reach their skin. It is a good thing too, because they would be so cold. They are amusing to watch and quite entertaining, these snow birds. Robbie climbed on the shed roof to observe better. 

Some Days are Very Frustrating

Posted by Fluffy on August 20, 2012 at 12:30 AM Comments comments (0)

I cannot feed the dogs until the chickens are in for the night or they come screaming across the yard and feast on the dog food. The ducks, turkeys and geese also love it, so in the morning, I have to take any food inside and the dogs don't eat until evening. They are all old enough to be fed once a day now. Harley, who came to me at 66 pounds is beginning to look more like a Maremma instead of a scarecrow. I don't know his current weight , but I cannot see is ribs and tail bones sticking through his fur anymore and he is playing with the dogs and wagging his tail, all good signs. 

The geese did not want to go to their pen tonight either. I do not let the goats and geese free range as much because they are huge trouble. The goats have topped and eaten the raspberries, the canes and the leaves. They turned over a planter to eat the petunias and they find any morsels of grain and eat it all. Sarah got into the duck pen today and ate herself silly before I caught her. She would have been dead by now if that was not whole grain. Grain is not good for ruminents at all. It took a good half hour to get those geese in the pen. The dogs were not helpful. Robbie wants to head the animals off at the pass which is the opposite of what he needs to do. I am not sure how to get him not to do that. 

I find that if I leave the doors open to the Australorp, Rare breeds and bantam's pens, they go in by themselves, but it is almost dark. I cannot take the dogs walking in the dark, but I am so frustrated trying to get the birds in when they do not want to go in. I guess I could resort to going for a walk in the early afternoon instead. The only thing is, that with all the dogs and me gone, there is no one here to watch the free ranging animals. Maybe I should take the dogs for a walk in the morning before letting everyone out, but my energy level in the morning is zero. I am much better at night. Tonight, I mowed the grass then took the dogs out just before dark after all the animals were safely stowed away. I physically have to half carry the Alpine goat or she will not go with the herd. She is always in trouble and frustrates me to no end. I should not be angry with the animals, but I only have so much patience and when the dogs are undoing what I am trying to do, it only worsens the situation. Gads!

I didn't do it, honest!

The Goose Pool

Posted by Fluffy on June 5, 2012 at 12:00 AM Comments comments (1)

The goslings have most of their feathers now, so I think it is safe to allow them to swim. I fixed a log ramp as a step up to the straw bale on which they can stand to launch into the pool. This works fine and at first they had no trouble getting out. I am not sure it is a water level problem, as they have splashed and drank a few inches of water, lowering the level, or a confidence problem, but the gander, the largest of the bunch, could not get out of the pool today. I leaned over the fence and grabbed his wing and basically lifted him out to the straw bale, amidst much protest and sqwaking. I am sure he was grateful for the end to his prolonged swim, though and he thumped himself to the ground and shook heartily before spreading his wings wide and waddling to meet the rest of the gaggle. I guess I will have to drain the pool until they are a little older. Oh well. 


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