Sunday, March 17, 2013

Poultry- with varying degrees of fertilization

 While the weather was less than spring-y, the poultry still did their thing.  January 8 we found 10 healthy ducklings.  The younger breeding stock are all fully matured now so I can't tell if it was Big Mama who hatched the first successful batch of the year or not.  Whoever it was, she did well.

 Then February 13, we welcomed another batch of 12.  We gave 1 to a friend, one mysteriously died after a few days but the remaining 10 were moved to a dilapidated chicken pen outside once they outgrew the rabbit pen in the porch.
 I secured the pen's sides from escapees, but it had to reliable roof.  I put the top portion of Angel's dog house (that she refuses to use) inside which gave them good shelter and protection.

Once the batch from Jan 8 were big enough to not be trampled by goats, I moved them into the pasture.  They kept slipping through the fence and getting chased by Angel so I left the pen the had vacated empty for a few days so that midnight escapees could be sheltered from the perpetual-herder until she had appropriately trained them to stay in the pasture.

One day I came home to find that a roving goat had eaten the last of our collard greens, baby duck carcasses littering the yard and a completely vacant pen.  It took a while to piece together the events that must have transpired.  What is now assumed is that the ducks discovered  a small hole in the pen.  That hole may have been created by a curious puppy nose as it does dent inward.  The ducks, never missing an opportunity to play follow-the-leader, ALL squeezed through the hole into the wide world they were unprepared for.  Angel then herded them into the pasture... and some over the rainbow bridge.  In the end, 5 babies were dead and 5 were retrieved alive and well from the pasture.

I had high hopes for a nest of 15 that another duck was sitting on.  Then a cold snap came through at the beginning of March.  The next time I checked the nest it was down to 6 eggs.  Mama ducks know if the baby within has died and they remove it from the nest.  A few days later 3 of those eggs were partially hatched, all dead and the mother had moved on.  I think the cold was too much for them, despite their mother's vigilance all the way to the end.  I have found no other nests at this time, but there are ample hiding places out there and they usually do a fabulous job of hiding them from me.

Back in the first week of September a shipment of chicks arrived. Remember the snake attack?  Well those that survived the rat snake all reached maturity and we were anxiously waiting for our first eggs.  Early in the morning of January 18, I was awoken by the most distressing sound- Cock-A-Doodle-DOOOOOO!!!  Out of nowhere.  No pubescent crackles to indicate a rooster had found its way into our pen of carefully sexed pullets.  It was very surprising!  It would not be so distressing if not for the fact that our neighbors are quite close to us.  And we'd like to think that we are NOT the reason that it just so happens that every single house that borders our property line is for sale.  So we had to deal with the rooster promptly.  Now I see that when they give you a "free rare breed chick" with every order, you can most certainly guarantee that bird is a rooster.  Next time I'll say, no thanks to the "free offer".

January 30th the first eggs started coming.  We have 14 Red Stars and 3 Americaunas along with 11 Golden Nuggets that are still cranking enough to keep feeding them.

We have an abundance of eggs right now, but I'm freezing our excess for the lean times of winter.  I beat together about 8 eggs as if they were to be scrambled and pour them into an ice cube tray.  For our size ice cubes, 2 cubes = 1 egg.  The thawed consistency is not quite the same so we don't use them for scrambled eggs, but they work in smoothies, baking or quiche.

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