Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Eggs



We've been getting around a dozen eggs a day from our chickens and ducks this spring. Mason's new job is to go collect the eggs in the coop at some point in the day. He loves the responsibility and the fact he gets to do it by himself makes him so proud.
Our hens have done a much better job at laying in the coop instead of having secret nests all over like last year, but there have been a few incidents. They were laying in a bucket right outside the coop, which was convenient. However, they decided to up their game and make things more difficult.


This is the burn pile. It is a bunch of sticks, boards, etc. awaiting a calm day to be set to fire.  Wynona, our young silver laced wyandotte made a nice nest in here. To get to the eggs you have to somewhat climb into the middle of the of the pile while the sticks poke you in the head and get stuck in your hair. She hasn't laid there this week so hopefully I don't have to do that anymore.



This is an old grinding room, a small room on the side of the barn that obviously doesn't get used. There were a handful of hens laying in here, to the left of the spiral-y thing under the pvc pipe in the photo. It was a bit treacherous to walk into the room, but the part I hated most was I always collected the eggs at dusk and just knew there would be a raccoon or skunk waiting for me in there at some point. Luckily that was not the case and there haven't been eggs in there now recently either. Phew. 


Here's a popular nest, under the coop. One night I found a clutch of 18 eggs under here. After I finally got the feisty Iowa Blue hen off, I reached under to grab them and of course they are just out of reach. The nest is like a hole in the ground so it took me what seemed like twenty minutes laying on the ground with a stick carefully sliding the eggs out of the hole and close enough for me to reach. I was covered in straw and probably bits of poo by the time I was done. We don't eat eggs we aren't sure how long were in nests, so I popped them all in the incubator and some of them are developing nicely. I've also found a cat on this nest. She sat on one egg for two days, I got a chuckle out of that.


Our incubator is maxed out. End of the month we should have some of our own barnyard raised chicks and ducklings. Each time we candle them we get a bit giddy about how well they are doing. We're trying the dry incubation this time as opposed to messing with humidity levels and it is really working much better for us.

Friday, March 27, 2015

A Duck Duh Moment


We have four ducks (all to the right in the photo). Two females, the white ones, Whitey and Quackers. Two males, grey one with awkwardly short legs is Jeffery and the black one is Patronus. We used to have 2 more, but we think our previous dog Jax chased off the male which was also black named Shawn and a grey female, Jessie, that was eaten by a hawk. We got them last year around this time and they've been good little duckies. That's their pond in the background, the turtle sandbox. They love it and always wait for it to be filled with fresh water in the morning.
We learned last year how to figure out the sexes of our ducks via the internet because we had no idea otherwise. The quacks of males are completely different than the females plus a male's tale feathers curl up as you can kind of see in the photo on Patronus (the black one). If you want to listen to the differences in the quacks, go HERE.
Our males, especially Jeffery, are very feisty when it comes to the ladies. At some point during the morning you usually see a male on top of a male on top of a female. It's silly. Jeffery is smitten with the chickens, too. He'll bite them on the neck and climb aboard with his short legs, which is normal duck mating practices, just not sure he realizes he has the wrong species. Eh, he doesn't care.
So, to the duh moment. Tyler and I were recently discussing how it sucks we haven't got any duck eggs yet. We were beginning to wonder if we'd sexed our birds wrong and we actually got all males. That wouldn't be cool. We've never seen any of our ducks lay an egg. They are never sitting on a nest when we come into the chicken house. There have been days at a time when we have had the coop on lockdown so they couldn't be keeping a secret nest somewhere successfully. What is wrong with our ducks, are they duds?!
Fast forward to this morning, Tyer says, "You know, I think the white eggs we've been getting are duck eggs." Hmmm. We went through the breeds of chickens we have and realized none of them lay white eggs, so... turns out we've had duck eggs for quite some time now. Fertilized, obviously, nonetheless! Do you know how many ducklings we could have hatched by now? A lot.


See the front two eggs all the way to the right? Duck eggs. They are always a bit odd, kind of like you can scratch the bloom off the outside and their shells seem much thicker. I always assumed one of our chickens just laid weird eggs. It is quite funny we didn't put two and two together sooner. Guess we'll be eating the last of our duck eggs for a while because the next ones from the coop are headed to the incubator!

In case you curious how duck eggs and chicken eggs compare...


Friday, March 20, 2015

Life Lately

Helping me plant some seedlings.

Discovering olive fingers.

Watching Mason ride the tractor up and down the lane with Grandpa.

Covering his ears the entire ride.

"My turn my turn my turn, Brampa." --Finnley

Lots of beauties each day, so long as Maggie doesn't beat me to the coop.

Roo, our lone rooster for now.

Did somebody say treats???

Lego maniac.

Not quite tall enough.

Chased her down the lane twice. Workout complete.

Meatball (Mason's name choice).

 Thankfully she stopped chasing the chickens with a stick to sit down with me, even if for a short minute.



Sunday, March 15, 2015

Spring






We've had such nice weather, it makes me so happy. Spring is my favorite season and seeing the green blades of grass slowly showing up, the geese returning north, and mud galore (even if a good amount of that ends up in my house) makes me smile. I'm glad the weather is being so kind, it was hard to get motivated after the sickness passed through the house (Tyler is getting his turn now). I really need to get my seeds started in the next couple days and I'm still working on finding the house after being sick. Now that the kids can spend some time outside, that makes for more time for me to do tasks uninterrupted.. even if it is just five minutes of peace before Elliot's sock needs fixed because it is on slightly crooked. Yes, that happens. Often.
I know it isn't technically spring yet, but it is at my house. I'm calling it.


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Recovery


The first super nice day of the year and we're all drooped over various furniture in the living watching PBS kids all day, recovering from the previous night's puke fest. The Finnley isolated sickness wasn't so isolated, we were all effected.. except Tyler. I guess there are perks to rarely being home.
Three days later and we have recovered for the most part. We aren't one hundred percent, but getting closer. The house hasn't recovered, there are still laundry mountains, dirty counter tops, toys everywhere, and did I mention laundry? Perhaps tomorrow I will have the energy needed to tackle the daunting task.



Fortunately the weather continues to be nice to us. Open windows are a welcome sight/smell/feeling after winter. Tomorrow it is supposed to get up to 70 degrees! Hard to believe there is still some snow on the ground after all these gorgeous days.


Saturday, March 7, 2015

Tom Troubles




It is muddy, spring is coming! Not all the snow has melted yet but soon it shall. It was a long night last night, Finnley wasn't feeling well and threw up a few times. She threw up one last time at 5:30 this morning (great way to start the day...) and acted very normal the rest of the day. Not sure if we're all going to get our turn at this like we did just not too long ago or if it was just some weird Finnley only occurrence. I know what I'm hoping for!
Tom attacked me a couple days ago. I was even being very nice to him and had just offered him a banana (his favorite). My sister was here dropping some stuff off and I had carried a box out to her car and lingered to make sure Tom didn't get run over as she left. He was really irritated I guess, as I started walking back into the house, I noticed (too late) that he was running after me and just as I was stepping up on the deck he jumped at me on my side. His nails scratched and bruised the back of my leg. I kicked back but think I missed and then ran into the house, I knew he would just keep attacking me because that's what turkeys do.
The next day it was super nice outside and the kids played out on the deck for majority of the day and the whole time Tom just paced on the other side of the fence gobbling constantly. I was a little on edge, afraid he'd fly over and go for the kids but he never did. Each time I've been outside doing chores I've carried my Louisville slugger just in case and don't dare turn my back on him. Just getting eggs out of the nesting box made me paranoid as he watched. So today I herded him and Sasha (the much sweeter, although a bit hissy gal turkey) into the original turkey house that they hate. It has a run, but I know Tom is going to be irritated he can't roam.
We aren't sure what his future holds. He was supposed to be a more permanent resident of our farm, being our breeding tom. He's so far failed at that. We incubated 17 turkey eggs and not one turned out to be fertilized. I'm leaning towards freezer camp for him, but it would be really nice to get some fertilized eggs first! Tyler hasn't been around much in the last few days so we really haven't had a chance to discuss. The fate of Tom remains undecided.


Monday, March 2, 2015

The Last Month In Bullets


















  • We played hard. Jumping off the stairs, building pillow piles, having road rallies (laps around the house with a "vehicle" of choice), making art.. sometimes on our bodies.., played in the snow, and lots of legos.
  • Made yummy things (kitchen post coming soon).
  • Collected a good amount of eggs from our gals including a couple adorably small ones from a new layer the last couple days.
  • Had a stomach bug trickle through the family. Elliot and Finnley first, then Tyler, then Mason, and to round it out I got it last and worst of course. Seems to always be the case.
  • I took the kids to the city for a day. We went out to eat and ran a few errands. We also hit up the Children's Museum for what turned into a few hours. It was a lot of fun, except the leaving of the museum. That part wasn't fun... Note to self, take the stroller in next time. Do not let all three children walk.
  • We (minus Tyler) all got a bad cold. Probably from said trip to the city.
  • Watched it snow a few times, always so pretty. Beauty aside, I think we are all ready for spring to arrive. We need more time outside!