Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Poultry Praise and Problems

Slaughterfest VI went off without a hitch. All is great. And we remain very impressed with the Dixie Rainbow breed from S and G Poultry. They are a bit smaller than the cornish rocks, but the healthfulness of the bird is worth the small decrease in size. We'll still probably be able to get 2 main meals and a soup out of each bird... though maybe not once the Boy is eating more. Between the two of us, we were able to slaughter 6 birds per hour. We had a lengthy break for lunch and child-tending which meant it took all day, but one day's work to put up 6 months of food is a pretty good rate.

Now for the poultry problem... previously we had 3 muscovy ducks- Donald and Pretty Duck and Pretty Duck (the females were named by the Girl). Last week around Thursday, I noticed a pretty duck wasn't around. I hoped she had found a safe place to lay eggs and had gone broody. Previously if I didn't find eggs, crows, coons or anything else did... quickly. Then Monday morning I noticed Donald didn't come running for his bit of grain. I haven't seen him since either. We've had these ducks for about a year now with no problems with predators so we don't know if they've been eaten or have run off to greener pastures. There's a pond down the street, but I've checked there twice and found nothing. The other Pretty Duck is still here and we have 3 hopefully fertilized eggs sitting in the incubator... but at what point do you have mercy on the single remaining duck? Do we wait until after August 9th (the hatch date) and see if we have anything hatch and keep what does? Should we wait the 35 days from last Thursday to see if the missing ducks really are setting on some eggs (with Donald being the protector?) Or should we cut our losses and take Pretty Duck down to the muscovy haven pond a mile or so away where she'll have lots of friends and plenty of breeding opportunities? We got them for bug control... and they did wipe out the ant piles in our yard. But they aren't helping our fly problem... nor mosquitoes for that matter. I think we just don't have enough of them and I'm not sure we're willing to keep the size flock we'd need for that kind of insect control. I think we'd be better off with a bat box or two. But I don't want to leave a lone female muscovy vulnerable to an unseen, unknown predator either... Any suggestions?

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