The duck adventure begins again

Now that we have two kids old enough to do the feeding and watering when they hit laying age, we’ve decided to do ducks again.  We are doing ducklings again for the pure cuteness factor and also because it turns out to be nearly impossible to get 20-30 dollar a bird laying ducks.  Cheaper isn’t cheaper if you can’t get it readily.

We didn’t get any cool colors, just went down to the feed store on Friday for a straight run of Khaki Campbells and Indian Runners, three of each.  Straight run means no sexing was done, so we’ll see how many drake feathers we get.  Last time we had 0 drakes on straight run, perhaps it will happen again.

In sheep news, Shaft is trying to get jiggy with all his daughters and may have succeeded with Ripley.  But she weighs enough to handle a birth, so if it happens, well, that’s sheep for you.  The other three lambs don’t weigh enough to conceive, and have speedy little legs.

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Homesteading Diary Thursday, September 5

We’re heading into what will likely be a high-octane time of homestead stuff for us, so I’m going to try to do overview updates a couple times a week to get in the habit. Here’s hoping!

Husband and me and sheep, yippie!: we checked out some super sheep and plan to bring them home this weekend.  We also took delivery of some hay, just a little bit (about 1/2 ton).  That should be adequate to get half a dozen small ruminants through the soggy/snowy winter.  We also are making some revisions to our fencing arrangements during this month and should have a very different (better) setup in October.

Goats: The goats are fine.  They hate the rain we’ve been having and noted their disapproval earlier this week by busting out of the fencing and busting into the hay because the barn was left open.  We rounded them up and put them back in their current paddock where they bleated angrily and ate uprooted potatoes.  Interesting side note.  Kinders LOVELOVELOVE juniper.  There is a bunch of research about using goats to clear junipers, but nothing that indicates a breed might prefer it to other forage.  Ours certainly do!  The literature expressed concerns about the oils upsetting their stomachs or promoting miscarriage but we haven’t noticed any signs of bloat and we have wethers with our doe, so breeding concerns are very improbable.  They just plain love juniper and seek it out preferentially.

Ducks: The ducks are fine, sleek girls at close to or their total adult growth.  I was cautiously happy they weren’t eating much feed, but since Tibby’s demise, it’s been the case that some other animals are eating some of that feed.  Mice and rabbits are the likely culprits, we’ve got holes everywhere the duck run has been since she stopped patrolling.  We are on a quest for a new barn cat or hopefully cats, maybe as early as this weekend.  The ducks haven’t started laying yet, but personal-use duck keepers on the old internets report laying about 17-18 weeks as a norm for Khaki Campbells, so we should see some eggs this month.  We started them on layer ration this week, a few days early, but they are capable of laying, so it should be fine.

Non-goat kids: Oldest kind of under the weather, youngest waiting for that first tooth to pop up.  Our oldest is likely to be able to gather eggs in spring, which is early for that kind of task, but she is physically gifted and can already carry a 3 gallon bucket of feed without spillage.  Based on past minor bugs, she should be ok by the weekend too.

Our youngest is exploring strange new worlds of somnambulism, crawling edition.  Did you know infants can crawl and sit up and walk along a wall in their sleep?  Now you do!  Thankfully cribs have been invented, so our youngest sometimes can be seen crawling in circles inside the crib like a puppy, eyes open and totally not awake and then FLOP to sleep.  It’s trippy.

Gardening: We dug most of our potatoes.  Yields were poor because we didn’t get all the plastic lining up before planting as I thought we had and that blocked the roots.  Not all roots can be bamboo-mighty, I guess.  The potatoes planted up by the house will not have this problem, they were planted where trees used to be.  Probably going to dig them up this weekend.  We ate the other ones, they have been a hit.

I think that’s it for now.  I’m pretty exhausted, we just came off a major period of both physical work and big illness in our household, and getting up to speed is also tiring.

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.