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!

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...


Winter Duck Nest

Posted by Fluffy on November 5, 2012 at 11:00 PM Comments comments (0)

I am guessing the nest is the two laying Khaki Campbell's, but why they made it in the Saxony house, I am not sure. It could be quite possible that the Saxony hens have started to lay. The Saxony drake has certainly been busy trying to be a daddy. The Khaki Campbells have laid all summer though. There are 3 hens and all three were laying regularly until Duck decided to set on her nest. She had 18 eggs. Khaki Campbells are small ducks though, and try as she might, she could only successfully hatch 8. The others just got cold. She abandoned the nest 2 days after the 8 hatched and with good reason....one egg was about to explode. The pigs seemed to relish the rotten eggs though and were grateful for the tasty delicacies. 

So, although I have found the odd egg laid on the frozen ground in the duck pen, I discovered the hidden nest in the Saxony and Buff Goose pen next door. They have access to each other's pens through a deliberate hole in the fence to encourage them to intermingle. I was hoping the ducks would stay together and the geese would become friendly enough to stay with the Embden geese next door. I was very pleased to find the eggs. For some reason, they were not frozen, despite the frigid temperatures over the week and the nest only being in a makeshift shelter open on one side. I did collect the eggs. There is no point in trying to raise ducklings in the winter without a proper barn for them. Next spring...Mrs. Duck and thank you for the eggs. 

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. 

Who Eats What?

Posted by Fluffy on July 20, 2012 at 9:10 PM Comments comments (1)

Aaaarrrrrrgh!

I have the goats, ducks, geese and chickens, well at least some of each, free ranging in the yard, plus one sheep and lamb. Sarah, the baby Alpine is such a pain. I cannot keep her out of anywhere. She finds a way to get over the fences and suddenly she is causing trouble. She has toppled a good deal of my carefully stacked wood pile playing on it, only some logs nearly fell on the baby Pygmies and could have killed them. She goes into the chicken pen and eats their food and she goes in what is left of the grain bin and eats what she wants. She nibbles my raspberry patch, but has not as of yet discovered the tomatos. 

Then there is the issue of the dogs eating the turkey/duck food and the ducks eating the dog food. What is up with that? The dogs scarf down ny turkey/duck food they find. The ducks frequent the dogs' dishes and eat the kibbles. I need to look at the ingredients and prices and maybe just buy dog food. It seems hot on the menu anyhow. 

Evenings are quite the rendezvous too. I try to round up the goats, catch the babies and lure the mothers back to goat city, protected by an electric net fence. Sarah jumped onto a house and over it though, so there was no keeping her there. Then I round up the Saxony ducks and 3 geese, plus the Rouens, all who share a night pen with netting over the top. The Saxony ducks have just started to lay eggs and Rouens are just stopping, but if the ravens see them, they are gone. The netting prevents the raven from getting to them before I do. The sheep and lamb go to a different pen and do not like to cooperate. Then the Khaki Campbells go to their hut but they avoid going in the door and I end up chasing them around and around the hut. OY!. Finally I get the chickens in, but have to chase a few every night. Last night I tried letting the turkey poults and young Australorps free range. The turkeys decided they would roost in the trees and not bother coming in...perfect raven breakfast. I could not get them down so I sprayed them with the hose a bit, not to get them wet, but to make them think it was raining. Then I chased them in but they just left again because the door was open so I could chase the Australorps in. I decided not to let them out for another 3 weeks and hope they will do better then. They did NOT want to go home!

The Australorps decided the dirt at my front door was the best and stayed around there most of the day, leaving little reminders of their presence. Boy, those fencers better get back soon so I do not have to deal with that, plus they ate the dog food and dirtied the dogs' water. 

The theory is that free ranging different species is a good way to utilize the whole pasture. What they forget to say is that everyone eats everything they are not supposed to and the instructions for easily getting the critters home for the  night are ommitted. Sheesh!


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