|Posted by Fluffy on December 3, 2012 at 11:45 PM||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!
|Posted by Fluffy on November 19, 2012 at 9:40 PM||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.
|Posted by Fluffy on September 3, 2012 at 5:20 PM||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!