Thursday, 16 May 2013

Mama Duck

For the past three and a half to four weeks, we have been patiently waiting to see what happens with the clutch of eggs that one of our female Khaki Campbell ducks has decided to brood upon. Based on rough dates, I expected (or hoped) to have some hatches this weekend; the same time that our second incubator group is due to hatch.

We have never hatched eggs "naturally" before (in fact, Nemo was our first ever hatch three weeks ago) and we have been really excited to see nature takes its course. Mama duck has been very attentive to her eggs, coming out only briefly in the evening to eat, drink, swim, and socialize (boy, is she ever vocal when she comes out!).

Here's Mama Duck sitting on her brood

Yesterday, when Mama Duck went out for her break, I couldn't help but get a closer look at what was in the nest. There were 14 eggs in total. I decided to candle some to check progress. Many seemed to show good growth and progression, a few were dark-shelled and I couldn't really tell. I covered her nest up nicely and as I did, I heard a cheep from one of the eggs. I told Pete that we were probably see something in a day or two.

Returning from work this afternoon, I immediately opened the gates for all to free range and went to check on Mama Duck. She hissed at me (like she should!) and was very protective of her nest. I continued to hear cheeping and saw some movement behind her. Could it be? I decided to grab the camera with the telephoto lens so I could get a closer look without disturbing her too much and agitating her.

I think I see something under there!

Out emerges a little fuzzy butt

Rut roh, Mama Duck, I think Solo (our Campbell Drake) is going to need an explanation! Call the Maury Povich show!

Motherly love knows no species barriers.

Have a delightful evening!
:o) jenn

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Ducks and Daffodils (and a couple of chicks, too!)

We moved the four oldest chicks and the six ducklings out to the Taj Mah Coop over the weekend. I let them out for a little "exploration free ranging" yesterday afternoon. The older chickens and ducks really aren't at all interested in them, other than to raid the feeder. We have a small tub for them to bathe in, and one chick jumped right in with the ducks (identity crisis?). Here's some photos from their adventures.

Taking a drink out of the tub (this is after they jumped in it, of course!)

Exploring and checking out the area

Trying to get organized for their photo shoot

Leaving the shoot...

Being so cute makes us thirsty again!

Have a ducky day!
:o) jenn

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Photos of the Farm

Adam took awesome photos at our homestead while "farm sitting" last year when we were in Montreal. He keeps telling us that we need to go out of town so he can come stay again.

Photos of the Farm


Spring Fresh Sheets

One of my absolutely favourite indulgences is freshly line-dried sheets. I love the cool crispness that you feel when you crawl into bed. This morning I hung my first sheets of the season out on the clothes line. I am giddy with excitement for going to bed tomorrow night (sheets are changed on Mondays and Fridays here).

Sometimes it really is the little things that can give us the most pleasure!

Have a delightful day!
:o) jenn

Hatch Two - Day Four Egg Candling

Last night, after I finished with my canning, I candled the seven new eggs in the incubator to check for fertilization and/or progress. This would be the first candling of this batch. At this point, you are looking for a "spider" appearance of blood vessels within the egg. This is sometimes hard to see with darker eggs at this early stage. I put the first egg in the Brinsea Ovascope Egg Viewer. YES! I could see the spidering effect:

(You may have to enlarge the picture to see it.)

This is a medium-sized white egg so visualization is a bit easier.

Egg #2 is a blue-green egg laid by one of our "Easter Eggers". This breed of chicken is really cute with its muffs and beards. I am curious to know which rooster's characteristics will go along with this chick. Anyway, I put egg #2 under the viewer and it looked like this:

Not to bore you with photos of all seven eggs, I will give you the run down thus far:

Egg 1: Fertile and developing
Egg 2: Fertile and developing
Egg 3: Fertile and developing
Egg 4: Unsure. This is "big bird's" (a Rhode Island Red) egg and due to the shell colour, I can't say for sure. I will recheck on day 7 as it will be more apparent. Ironically enough, I was unsure about #4 in our last batch as well and that ended up being Nemo!
Egg 5: Fertile and developing
Egg 6: Fertile and developing
Egg 7: Unsure. This is a Copper Maran's egg with a dark brown shell. Like egg #4, I will try to make a better determination on day 7.

So there you have it - the latest on the 7 eggs in the incubator. I checked on Mama Duck yesterday and she is still sitting strong on the 12 or so eggs in the duckhouse. I also have 4 muscovy eggs from another farm that are due to hatch around the same time, so it will be "out of the brooder" with the present chicks and "into the brooder" with up to 23 new chicks/ducklings in about 17 days.

Have a fantabulous day!
:o) jenn

Pickle my fancy....

Last weekend, we went to Frog Pond which is a local produce stand (although much bigger than a side-of-the-road stand). We like to go there on the weekend to get fruits and veggies, and it is also the place where we get our turkey chicks. We bought kirby cucumbers, Roma tomatoes, green beans, kiwi, plums, honey stix, and green peppers. Last night, I got to the kirby cukes with my plans to make homemade pickles.

I washed up the cukes and then quartered them into spears. I made the pickling brine (a double batch before it was over), let it boil as per the directions, and then poured it over the cukes and covered with wax paper for 30 minutes. (It was at this point that I realized I needed to make more brine to cover the cukes, so I quickly made another batch and poured it over them. I sterilized some pint-sized canning jars and lids, cut up garlic and added spices to all of the jars. I then put in the cukes and poured the brine over with enough headspace to allow for expansion. Next, it was into the hot water bath for 15 minutes. Allison, who loves pickles, started asking me how long it would be until we could eat them. Patience, dear grasshopper, patience... After a nice hot bath, I removed the jars and placed them on a cooling rack to sit overnight.

I can't wait to try them in a few days. I am really enjoying this canning experience. I asked Pete last night if we would be going back to Frog Pond this weekend so I can look through my canning recipe books to see what I can make next. Tonight: Finish the green beans (I didn't have fresh dill) and the second batch of pineapple salsa. I need to buy more jars! :o)

Have a dilly-licious day!
:o) jenn

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Chicken Hatch - take two!

After our "Herbie incident" with our previous hatch, we have now set seven new eggs in our incubator.

Most, if not all, of these will be mixed-breed birds as our roosters are silver-laced polish (although we do have two females of the same), a black jersey giant, and a white jersey giant (I think - he was in the "tetra tint pullets" bin but obviously he is not a female, so I question his breed as well). It will be interesting to see what combinations come out of this hatch. We will *not* be moving this hatch out of the laundry room - keeping it safe from Herbie. I think the peeping from the eggs in the previous hatch was just too much for his curiosity.

I am going to try to post photos of the candling throughout the process. I will be candling for the first time tonight with this batch. Stay tuned!

Welcome to the world, Nemo!

We had set our first ever batch of eggs in the Brinsea MiniAdvance Incubator on the evening of April 5th with an anticipated hatch date of April 27th. During that time, we candled the eggs at regular intervals, marveled at their development, refilled the water pot for the proper humidity, and kept them in a nice quiet location away from drafts, sunlight, etc; everything I read one is supposed to do when hatching eggs. As this was our first hatch and our friends are excited about our farming activities as we are, we had planned a small "coming out" party for the chicks so that our friends could watch them hatch throughout the day with us. As such, I decided to move the incubator before we went into "lockdown mode" from our laundry room to our sitting/living room on a large dining room-style table. All was well through Thursday and into Friday afternoon.

On Friday afternoon, we went to the Broome County Farm Bureau auction held at the Whitney Point Fairgrounds. This auction includes both livestock and equipment. A friend of our had told us the inflated prices that some of the poultry had gone for the year before, so we decided to check it out to try to gauge the situation and if it would be feasible for us to raise some additional animals for the sole purpose of auctioning. I also had been wanting to add some muscovy ducks to our flock and had hoped that I could find some at a reasonable price. I drove to the auction after work. Allison met me there with our friend. Pete was going to meet us after his job; however, the livestock auction began at 4 and he doesn't get out of work until 5, so I was to get there immediately after work at 3 so that I could investigate what was going on and provide him feedback via text or telephone.

The selection of small livestock was smaller than I had anticipated; however, there were a couple of muscovy pairs and a breeding pair of Mille Fleur d'Uccles that I was interested in. As the larger livestock was up first for auction, Allison and I sat through the cattle auction and the goats and alpacas. Pete was able to arrive before we got to the poultry. I told him of the items I was interested. Pete, knowing me as he does, was a bit hesitant and I know he was thinking that I was going to bid too high and for too many items. (Can you really ever have too many ducks?) I was very proud of myself in that I didn't allow emotion to dictate my savvy farmer ways and I stopped bidding at my pre-determined maximum. I walked away empty but I was happy for the experience.

We went out to dinner at an Italian restaurant in town. As we had driven separately to the auction, I left before Pete and Allison (while he was taking care of the check) so that I could get home and let Herbie out.

I walked into our house to an unfamiliar high-pitched sound. I saw eggshells strewn about and some streaks of blood on the floor. The incubator bottom was on the floor and the top of the incubator was upside down on a chair. I realized then that the sound I was hearing was the alarm from the incubator. I picked up the incubator, still in a state of shock. There was one egg that was not broken and I could hear cheeping coming from inside. I placed the egg inside the incubator, not sure if it would hatch. By then, Allison and Pete had arrived home. We cleaned up the mess. Some not-so-pleasant words were said about Herbie by the two of them.

The following morning, I woke up around 6 a.m. and checked on the sole egg in the incubator. We had a pip! I excitedly went into the bedroom where Pete was still sleeping and told him that the egg was pipping.

He told me he would be up in a little bit. I went and made myself a cup of coffee and sat down at the table, cheeping and talking to the chick inside the egg. (Sorry for the poor quality of the photos - I used my phone.) As I cheeped to the chick, it pecked at the egg more.

By this time, I had gone back into the bedroom to get Pete stating, "it's happening right now!" and went upstairs to tell Allison the same. We all got coffee and sat at the table to watch the hatch.

Later in the day, Allison couldn't help herself but to hold that cuteness.

Nemo stayed in the incubator overnight. We set up the into our existing brooder so that Nemo would have a safe haven away from the other growing chicks we already had. He (although I really don't know the sex of Nemo) didn't seem at all phased by the larger chicks and just goes under one of the bigger ones to warm up. I will continue to post updates on Nemo.

Have a delightfully pleasant day!
:o) jenn


As I have started to "follow" other blogs here, I decided that I should probably have an introductory blog on my page. I have many "blogs to do" but have to upload the accompanying photos to this computer. I guess this will be my big job for next week. My name is Jenn. I live in upstate NY (Windsor, NY) on a small hobby farm with my partner, Pete, and our 15-year-old daughter, Allison. We have a pointer/lab mix dog who is 5 and named "Herbie Herbalicious" and a beta fish named "Charles". We moved here 18 months ago. We are relatively "newbie" farmers, although I had backyard chickens at my previous house. Our home is literally located on top of a mountain in the middle of the woods and we have have a small barn, part of which has been converted into our chicken coop. Through an access door, our chickens are able to get into their "yard" which is an 1800 ft^2 penned area that they share with our ducks and turkeys. When we are home, we give them full free-range access to our gardens and woods.

At present, we have 15 ducks and 25 chickens and 2 rabbits out in the barn. In our brooders, we have 19 chicks (ranging from 3 days old to 3 weeks old), 4 turkeys (about 2 weeks old), and 6 pekin ducklings (about 3 weeks old). We have 7 chicken eggs in our Brinsea MiniAdvance Incubator(anticipated hatch day May 19), a clutch of 12 eggs under a broody duck (due to hatch approximately the same time), and I have "on order" 4 muscovy ducks that are due to hatch about the same time.

We are undertaking many new adventures that I will be blogging about this year including canning (I have already done two batches), cheesemaking (we have done one feta but will be doing more this week), beer brewing and wine making (first brew scheduled to take place this Sunday).

I hope that you will enjoy reading about our adventures. This year is going to be a great year of "firsts" for us as we hone our skills.