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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The foodies vs. the junk food eaters.

When it comes to sheep, some like to eat the tastiest and highest-nutrition delights, rich green leaves full of protein and chlorophyll.  Other sheep like to stand in a few specific places and eat down everything within easy reach, no matter what its quality is.  The foodie sheep in our flock are the yearling ewes Dottie and Lisa.  They are fearless in tearing through bramble and vines to get to the most delicious browse.

Our chubby-wubb mature ewe Grey and our petite prize Goldie are junk fooders.  They just stand around eating whatever is handy and try to avoid moving around too much.  And genetics really shows up here.  Grey is usually overconditioned while Goldie is usually just about right on the five point scale for body condition.  But Grey is our biggest ewe and she grows the lambs that grow superfast.  Little Dingus, her runt lamb, is now a yearling that will be quite worth the wait in slaughter because he’s caught up surprisingly well.  And her ewelamb Ripley is almost two weeks younger than Goldie’s lambs, but already as big.

Goldie, meanwhile, is small and produces small lambs, but is very well formed and efficient as a breeding ewe.  She doesn’t eat much, her ewelamb Azula never had any trouble making weight alongside the other ewelambs and right now her boy/girl twins Zuko II and Katara are giant and mighty.

And yet they eat the same ways, but have very different results in terms of their condition. Both worth breeding though.

Rams just won’t stop until they reach the top of the neighbor’s hillside

I am finally starting to feel rested after racing uphill to chase the silly stupid rams.  They have decided the electronet isn’t serious enough and just jump over it or barrel through, as the whim takes them.  So in less than an hour they tore across three different property lines and quite a bit of bramble in pursuit of whatever it is little rams are after when they go roaming.

I spent a good twenty minutes running around in the weeds and blackberries trying to find them and then I get back to the barn to see if some alfalfa will lure them and there they are right next to the barn looking at me like they’d been there the whole time.

So electronet and smart fencing will have to be for ewes only (they never wander, so it can be temporary or permanent for them), and we’ll have to rely on cattle panels for the rams.  Cattle panels are a little too high for them to jump easily, and they seem to actually respect them in general, so they don’t test them in the first place.

I thought I’d be saving my uphill runs for the third trimester, not the start of the second one.

Another day, another bramble rescue

Little Shaft, against all sheep sense, got tangled up this morning in a blackberry bush.  I had morning treat out and he wasn’t there with all the others, he was up the hill quietly getting rained on and struggling with the stupid bush.  I had to cut yet more branches out of his fleece, and I thought he was knotted up, but he was actually just stuck to the root of the bush.  I was able to cut that out with the trimming shears pretty easily and then he ran away, shaking himself out and joining the rest of the flock.

I am going back out in an hour or two to see how he is doing, if he can run on both back legs, he was blessedly not stuck very long, maybe an hour or so.  He is so silly, this weekend we have to make yet another pass at his fleece to get the little bits out.  Shearing is not an option because he needs the length to keep the bramble from cutting him.  The crazy part is that there isn’t much bramble!  He just gets tangled in the very few bits that are in that pasture.  We may need to take the brush mower out anyway, though.  We’ll see after we catch up on hoof trimming and fleece trimming.  Again, this very stupid little lamb has an excellent, soft, water-resistant fleece.  I marvel endlessly as I cut little bits out because they’re attached to blackberry branches.  Better the bramble’s in the fleece than his skin, of course.

Sheep!