Sokka slaughter and ducklings outside

On Saturday we had to slaughter Sokka.  He’d recovered well from his flystrike, but it made his horn grow back wrong and during the last week or so before his slaughter, he had a ton of new growth…right into his jaw.  We caught it before it could kill him, but he was starting to experience discomfort.  He hung around 90, not unusual for Icelandics and ok for a ram who’d been through what he had.  His carcass was in great shape and he was in fighting trim.

The ducklings are outside in the old run, we lined it against weasels, we’ll see how that goes.  They are very happy and enjoying a diet of greens and bugs to add to their feed.  Looks like only one drake, so we may get a broody girl and some natural ducklings in a year or so.

We have to slaughter all the males Shaft produced.  They favor fleece more than we’d like and aren’t making weight like their sisters.  At least we’ll finally have that freezer of lamb/hoggett.

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Duck Tales: Two Weeks Old

(From last Saturday)

So the ducks are two weeks old and pretty massive.  One of the Cayugas got a sprain and we call that one “Limpy”.  The other Cayuga, who’s the biggest of all the ducks, my husband calls “Mother”.  And I just call the three Khaki Campbells collectively “The girls”.  So that’s as far as we’ve done on giving them names.  Ducklings have kinda weak legs, being waterfowl, and the occasional sprain for brooder ducklings is not uncommon.  Limpy’s barely got a limp at this point and will probably stop limping entirely around three weeks.

The limp was basically from running away because we came to visit too frequently.  We reduced the visits down to watering 4x/day and checking/adding feed to the feeder and they’ve all become noticeably more mellow and Limpy’s had time to sit around with the flock relaxing and recovering.  We’ve also stepped up the deep litter, raising the walls of the brooder pen and adding a couple inches of woodchips.  The deep litter is ultra soggy on the bottom, but dry on top.  Physics, what a wonder!

Photos probably later in the week, we humans have been battling a viral infection.

Duck Tales: Day Two

Well, our five ducklings made it through one night successfully.  They are a in bigger 4×4 brooding pen and there’s no straggler getting denied food or water.  They’ve all got good energy and nice down.  They are only a couple days old, though.  Most of the big changes start to happen around the one week mark.

We are initiating what I have to term the New Agrarian protocol with watering, as I’ve not seen anyone else on the internet follow such a process with new ducklings.  Other folks make their own waterers to prevent frequent fouling or swear up and down that their ducklings never hop in the water to play and poop in it.  Right now, for us, it’s easier to follow this system of 4x a day waterings with storebought waterer than to make something special to reduce watering frequency.  Thanks, random fellow agrarian on the internet!

Here’s their current brooding pen, it’s made from what used to be raised beds when we lived in suburbia and what will return to being raised beds when these little (mostly) gals grow out of it.

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Brooding pen. Feeder on the left, obscured, and waterer on the right, also obscured. Such are the perils of cameraphoning your setup after the nighttime watering.

And here’s another blurry picture of the little flock.  Still learning how to use my fancy smrtfone.

WP_20130512_002And now it’s time to try to get myself to bed.  My own little girls are very circadian and keep long hours as the days lengthen and spring becomes summer.

A Trip to the Feed Store is just Ducky

So today we went down to one of the local feed stores to get ducklings.  It’s family run, less than five miles down the road, and it’s kind of like a PowerPuff Girls live action movie. Very chipper, confident young ladies running the place.  A knowledgeable and very professional girl who looked about ten or twelve was manning the chick zone.  She certainly knew her poultry breeds and how to handle the babies just fine.

If you live rural, you know that the feed stores generally put out baby poultry around this time of year.  The feed store had baby chicks, ducks, turkeys and geese.  All were in nice setups with plenty of light, starter, water and room to scamper around.  There was even a very sleepy duckling who had just hatched earlier this morning.  Anyway that was the chick zone.  Other times of the year other stuff is in there, but right now it’s all chicks, all the time.

First we got all the duck supplies– heat lamp, feeder/waterer, starter ration– and then we got the ducks.  Three Khaki Campbells and two Cayugas.  WP_20130511_005

And here they are!  The Cayugas are the black ones.

Probably once I find the receipt I will do a boring post about costs, but that’s for another day.  Time to go party with baby ducks!