Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Venice, Duck Style

My two very hormonal ducks have been walking miles every day on the farm trying to find mates.

They do not care what species they find.  They went after several morning doves the other day.

In their travels they have discovered some interesting places to hide and explore.

Today I followed them.

Rudy was guarding the field while Agnew went on a little scouting expedition.

Rudy discovered me hiding behind a tree and gave me"the look" and quacked to Agnew to warn him that their hiding place was not a secret anymore.

Agnew popped his head up and found my surveilance location immediately.

They teamed up and headed for the end of the field, waddling like 2 of the 7 dwarfs.

They slid down the embankment

and splashed around in their favorite drainage ditch.

This nice little duck-sized canal goes about 1/8th of a mile.  

They do the length of it several times per day.

While they are distracted with their mud playing, it gives the hens and the morning doves some time to rest.

I will be sooo glad when the female ducklings arrive!!

Have you got hormonal males at your place ?

Monday, April 29, 2013

More Hay Adventures

We are still experiencing hay issues, but at least today we are not feeding the labor intensive square bales.

Today we got a nice load of wrapped bales. Hopefully these will last at least 2 weeks.

They were unloaded way out in the field by a secondary road.

So a different method would be used to feed them to the herd.

Without the use of the tractor......

Step 1 --go to the barn and SHUT OFF the electric fence.

Did I mention that sometimes I forgets to do this ?

Step 2- drive out to the secondary road where the bales are. .

Step 3-- jump over the electric fence (this is where I always am zapped into remembering that I forgot to shut the fence off..)

Step 4--cut off white plastic wrap with sharp knife or box cutters.

By now the herd has walked up to the side road and is watching me prepare their breakfast.

 Step 5 - pull off the white plastic.

This roll of hay was DRY and smelled delicious.

Step 6-- cut off the green plastic netting that holds the entire bale together.

Step 7-  Roll the bale closer to the electric fence.

Step 8- drop the electric fence to the ground and proceed to roll the bale over the line and into the field and KEEP UNROLLING IT in a straight line.

As I unrolled the hay I glimpsed behind me to make sure the roll was leaving a nice carpet of hay for the herd to eat.

 I was slow rolling the hay over the crevices and small potholes in the field.

Good ole Red Sox Faith decided I was going TOO slow and decided to jump on the bale and show me how to unroll it......cow style:

She put her head to it and pushed, while her rear legs dug in and moved that roll about 5 miles per hour!

She took it down the field like a pro and unrolled it in a very unique "S" shape.

S for Simmental, S for AnguS!  Who says cows can't spell ??

 With Faith's help I was able to get the hay unrolled in half the time.   Good helper Cow!!

The herd really liked the way it was spread out over the entire field.

I did too.

Plenty of room for everyone to graze.

Gouda came over to see what I was doing.

She will be a year old next month.

All that was left for me to do was:

Step 9- pick up green netting and wrap it up tight.

Step 10- pick up the white plastic and wrap it carefully and tightly into a submarine shape to be recycled later.

Step 11 - jump over fence, get into truck and head back to the barn.

Step 12- Plug the electric fence back in.

Step 13 - put white plastic in the pile near the steps to be recycled and throw the green net wrap in the dumpster.

Step 14- go buy some more mineral salt blocks.

Its a sunny, cool day here.    

How has your day been  ?

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Glennie's Hay Day

These are some photos of last month before we moved the herd to a mud-less field.

For those of you who email me cute comments and concerns about Glennie, here is what she had been up to:

She is growing, gaining 2 lbs a day. Still she manages to cram herself into the hay ring on a daily basis.

One of these days I will need the jaws of life to get her out.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Fowl Friends

One of the first signs of spring is that the wildlife start pairing up.

In all the neighboring fields there are large flocks of ducks and geese playing the Matchmaker game.

Most of the fields are along the river, which is a prime spot to marry, mate, hatch eggs and raise young'uns.

A little further inland there are huge groups of turkeys gathering on manure piles and looking for any tidbit left behind.  No mating rituals going on yet, at least from what I could see.  of course I think the majority of these turkeys are male.

There were about 80 turkeys in this group and they were very intent on snacking and scratching.

Click on the photos to make them bigger and really feel the manure pile.

Back at my own field I had a bunch of crocus come up and bloom since I had left the house several hours earlier.  Really amazes me how fast these little flowers appear.

And dissapear....   Once the flock finds something, they shred it, eat it or destroy it.

The ducks stampeded through the crocus and squashed them flat.

So I did get to enjoy them for about 9 minutes.

I presently have one hen who seems a bit phobic about being on the ground.
She will only stand on rocks, the nest box roof, the coop steps or stay in the coop for the day.
Very strange.

Any suggestions ?

A very dear friend made this stained glass for a coworker.

This photo does not do it justice.

I hope someday she will do one of the Silver Appleyard ducks.

Whats your favorite fowl ?

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Carhartt Support Group

The day I became an official member of my local church, my friends came to witness the big event.

As they walked through the church door they proclaimed themselves to be my "Carhartt Support Group."

Since I practically live in my Carhartts, including at church that day, I was pleasantly pleased and put at ease with the wonderful friendship my farm friends provided on that special day.

My dear neighbor also came and wore a very special tie for the event.

Appropriate and greatly appreciated.

It is times like these that I realize how fortunate I am to live in this village, in this rural county and in this state.   I do hope that all of you get to experience genuine kindness in your lifetime.


Wednesday, April 24, 2013


The sun is out, the cows are out of the mud and in a new field.

Google and her 2012 heifer calf, Gouda, are enjoying some quiet time and some solar heat.

I love how this old cow always watches over her calves, no matter how old they are.
One of her daughters is 10 years old and she still bathes her and fusses with her.

Simmentals have GREAT maternal instincts.

My cows are also gentle and very approachable (especially with cinnamon graham crackers).

They let me lean on them and clean out their ears.   I guess I fuss around with them too.

Sometimes the cows lick my arms and face when I am trying to fix fence or am just sitting in the field admiring them. 

I wonder if they think I am one of their calves.

 I am the herdmate with thumbs...

A nice family portrait.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Daffy Ducks

Its been raining at night and sunny during the day.

"April showers bring May flowers.."

The grass is greening up and the hens are all enjoying the lazy sunshine.

The 2 Silver Appleyard Drakes have been also enjoying the sunshine.

Spring time has made them so hormonal.

They have been mounting the hens and chasing morning doves.

Mavis is also looking good to them....

They are desperate for mates.

It got so bad here last week I went looking for a concubine for them.

When their little legs are all tuckered out from doing their springtime mating dances, they lay down among the growing daffodils.

These 2 brother ducks are a riot to watch and they are well trained to come when I call them.

I just point to the coop and they go in with no qualms, no matter what time it is.

When they aren't harassing hens or sunning themselves, they are swimming in the water filled ditches by the coop.

They keep themselves very very busy all day.  Once the garden springs to life and the millions of bugs, slugs, snails, hornworms, beetles, snakes, mice and other pests migrate here, the boys will turn into Weapons of Mass Destruction and eliminate everything that crawls from all my gardens. They earn their keep, even if they don't lay eggs.

Right now, before the onslaught of bugs arrive, they are ruled by their raging hormones.

I can hardly wait for the 4 "guaranteed female" Silver Appleyard ducklings to arrive in a few weeks.

They will go right into the brooder in my bathroom for 3 weeks, then the laundry room pen for 2 more and them out to the Chicken Cabana until they are large enough to follow the flock.

This time next year we will be hatching eggs and properly propagating these rare Silver Appleyard ducks.

I can hardly wait.

And judging from the hormonal mis-adventures of the 2 bad boys, they can hardly wait either.

If you have too many garden pests to ignore, consider getting just 3 ducks. They do a lot of work and will eliminate 90% of all the bad bugs and will not scratch up your soil. They are much more hardy than hens and their eggs are bigger, denser and have much more flavor.  Ducks come in assorted sizes, colors and quacking tones.   Cheap entertainment and hard workers.

What kind do you have
Or what kind would you get if you could ?