Monday, December 9, 2013


As usual, I'm putting together a blog post when I have a rare moment of downtime.  This one brought to you by the two hour weather delay and the baking bread in the oven that I have to wait to finish up.  

I planted a lot of new things this fall- more trees, shrubs, etc.  It's all of the edible sort in an effort to gain parent plants that will eventually make up our food forest.  I had thought when I ordered them that I would simply put these plants in the designated food forest area but was glad I didn't when I saw that my neighbor's small apple trees were eaten by deer.  We have too much invested to have that happen.  I have a number of plum, cherry, nectarine seeds that I'll stratify and plant in the spring.  We already moved a bunch of wild blackberries into the area where the goats had cleared out space.  I thought those had died off but scratching the canes reveals a different story.

There's a little bit of winter pruning to do.  I started with the pre-existing trees, still need to do all of the others though.  

The baby goat, Dawn, has grown really fast.  We plan to breed her as soon as she hits 90lbs.  I think that even with her extra teat she could be a good milker, but we have to find out sooner than later since feeding extra goats cost money.  As much fun as pet goats sound, around here they need to earn their feed.  

New mama drama.

The farm has a lot of new, first time mamas.  It's been interesting.  I'm just going to split this by type for clarity.

Chickens: Most of my chickens are naturals.....not all though.  I have an old hen who usually does great, this year though she managed to get the eggs so dirty they suffocated....that was a first.  I don't know that we even had a good hen hatch this year on chicken eggs....most of them were incubator babies adopted back out the the hens to raise....and the adoptions went all.  Except one.  Of course it was the mama with the suffocated eggs.  Oh well.

Ducks: I had lots of ducks eggs this year, ALL very fertile, but only one broody duck.  The broody duck was a Rouen and I'd read when we bought the Rouens that they were decent mothers.  Yeah, right!  So this mama duck hides her nest and we didn't even find it until hatching time.  Where would be the best possible place for a nest????  Our burn pile of course! (We had an inkling she might be in there so we didn't start a fire) She had a lot of eggs in there too.  The problem with uncontrolled nesting (this applies to the goose and turkey I'll tell you about further down too) is that they lay eggs daily and by the time they get the nest they want, they have a lot of older eggs that get buried or they might have some that will hatch days before the rest.  So with mama duck, her eggs hatched over a couple of days.  We saw the first duckling strayed from the nest and was hiding in the grass, so we tried to put it with the incubator hatched ducklings.  The problem is that it was imprinted to mama duck, so it kept getting away.  It died by drowning in the duck pool.  The next duckling died by chilling, as did the one after that.  So by that time we found the nest and she'd left it because she had one duckling.  I debating a good deal to take that duckling from her but they really wanted to be together, so I let them.  It disappeared.  She lost it the very next day.  All the while since she'd abandoned her nest, she had several babies in shell that were hatchable that died in the shell.  Needless to say, we aren't letting ducks hatch their own duckling again.  The only ducklings we have are the incubator ones....which are doing great!  I just set up a broody chicken with 4 ducks eggs so we'll have more ducklings coming (not that we need more ducklings, but she was a really stubborn broody- may as well put her to work).

Turkeys: Both turkey hens were broody and apparently 8-10 eggs each.  Turkey mama #1 had a similar problem to duck mama, in that she had too many eggs of different ages.  So first baby hatched too soon, wandered off and chilled.  Second baby, didn't make it out of the shell.  Third and Fourth were healthy.  The three remaining eggs I put in the incubator since they were so far behind, they would have died in the shell.  They hatched in the incubator 1-2 weeks later- yes, the last was about 2 weeks after the first one.  Crazy!  Turkey hen #2 had a much better hatch.  10 eggs, all but 2 hatched with healthy babies.  So the tally is Turkey #1 with 2 babies, Turkey #2 with 8 babies, incubator 5 babies + 3 delayed hatchlings from mama #1.  18 babies.  Now we are down to 12.  Mama 1 still has her two.  Mama 2 has 5 babies now.  We have 5 former incubator babies, 1 from turkey 1's hatch, 4 from the original incubator batch.

Geese:  Geese.  You know how it's widely known you shouldn't mess with a goose on a nest, well thats exactly what I had to do tonight.  So similar problem- nest full of eggs, hatching on different days and babies try to explore, only this mama put her nest in the hay shed.  So 4 babies hatch and were trapped between the wall and  the hay.  I ran Lucy out of the shed, rescued babies, put them in a brooder.  Two days later Lucy reclaimed them.  Strong mama instinct there, even if she didn't have any common sense.