Friday, May 31, 2013

The View Today

All the rain from last week caused flooding in many parts of Vermont, but it also made the grass grow high very fast.

This morning the farmers are across the road at one of the big fields mowing it down with their field green John Deere tractors.

They can mow this 50 acre field down in 90 minutes where it use to take a team of horses in 1940 an entire day.

The air is full of all the delicious smells of spring.

Last night I sat on the porch and watched the fireflys while also listening to the whippoorwills, tree frogs and peepers. It was a full symphony.

Have you been experiencing the sights and sounds of spring ?

Monday, May 27, 2013

A Day With Ducks

A friend of mine took me to meet a new farmer in the neighborhood.

Alex is raising an assortment of livestock and plants.

He is an aspiring wine maker and has started a vineyard.  I will return for that tour in the future, but today was about meeting him and checking to see if his bovine was pregnant.

When we arrived he was in the process of taking down a shed and moving it to a larger area for his heifer.

Alex purchased Bella as an Open, unbred, heifer last fall. She is an Irish Dexter/Jersey.

 When the artificial inseminator came to synchronize her, he discovered that she might already be pregnant. 

The purpose of this farm cow is to produce fresh milk for cheese, yogurt and ice cream as well as have a calf every year.
Bella watched me as I neared the fence.

She looks pregnant to me.

Alex gladly went and got her so I could take a closer look at her "working end."

She is bagging up a bit and getting some vaginal floppyness, so I was guessing she will have a calf by May 1st, and my official guess was April 20th.

What do you think ?

The average gestation for a cow is 280 very long days.

Some go longer, some shorter.

I think Bella is going to be a little longer.

 After we made our predictions about Bella's future we headed over to see the new 8 week old Yorkshire piglets.

Full of comical energy, they ran over to great us.

These natural rototillers are being used to help clear the land.

Last years pigs did a great job and this group will continue to root and dig so Eric can expand his pastures.

They have a wonderful pig house with a beautiful view of the mountains plus a 1 acre playpen to run around in.

As we bid the hogs adieu, we ambled over to the duck house.

There are 15, 1month old Silver Appleyard ducklings here.

They were all taking a nap in the corner of their large pen.

How I love looking at beautiful ducks, especially these.

They were hatched by the same wonderful woman who hatched my 2 notorious drakes.

We seem to all be related through our cows, or our ducks, up here.

The next stop on our tour was the chicken coop.

Alex builds really good animal shelters. BIG and heavy duty.

Every coop should have coop signs and this one was no exception.

Including a handmade one.

The nest box doors pop out so egg collection is very simple.

This Americana hen was in the process of laying a colored egg. Alex found her and another hen running down his rural road one day. They had no feathers and were in poor shape. He captured both and brought them home to join his pampered flock.

Inside the coop was a brooder with 2, 5 day old Silver Appleyard ducklings. 

Alex is also preserving the breed, and is going to use the excess drakes for meat.

We left the coop and went over to the official Duck Yard to greet the vocal flock of adult Silver Appleyards and Khaki Campbells.

They had lots to say.

The darker brown ducks in the back are the Khaki Campbells.

The female Appleyards are Squirty, Gertie, Cinnamon and Hermione.

They gave me a full inspection.

Plus a lot of bowing.

The females did all the chattering while the males stayed silently in the background.

A few posed for photos.

These are really gentle, kind ducks.

Eventually the males, Duke and Ebony, came over to get some acknowledgment.

When you talk, they listen.

If you bend down, they bend down.

The color on their wings usually changes, depending on the weather.

Blue means a cloudy day, with chance of precipitation.

It rained that night.

The Khaki Campbells are a medium sized, calm, quiet, heavy egg laying breed. They lay around 340 eggs per year, which is more than most chickens!  
I had never seen one before.  Here are the 3 he has. I really like their size and brown feather pattern.
Laying all those delicious duck eggs is a BONUS!!

Chickens are nice, but ducks are sooo much better. They do not scratch the dirt up and they eat many more bugs and garden pests than chickens do.

Ducks are cold hardy and will come out of the coop and explore when it is raining, sleeting, hailing and snowing. Hens will not.

I love the look of this particular duck.  I do hope that my 4 Silver Appleyard ducklings that will arrive in the very near future, will grow up to look like this female.

The other great benefit of ducks, is that they are always watching you.

 Giving me "eye" approval.

While I was looking for info about the egg laying capabilities of the Khake Campbells I found some

These ducks do have a reputation.

What kind of ducks do you have and how many eggs do you get a year ?
Do you hatch out ducklings ?

Do you plan on getting ducks ?

UPDATE:Bella had a nice solid male calf on May 6th.

Here are 2 Alex photos

Bella the happy mom and Thomas the bull calf

Alex's 4 year old son named the calf "Thomas" after his favorite book--Thomas the Train.

Barnyard happiness....priceless.


Monday, May 20, 2013

Barnyard Babes

A nice crisp day here and perfect for a drive to go see some cows in the neighborhood.

I came upon this heifer barn at a local dairy and stopped to admire the girls as they ate their breakfast out of their feed bunk.

Cows are always curious.  She was checking me out.

She called her 2 friends over..

Mavis, the cow dog, was getting nervous.  She dislikes being in close proximity to bovines.

I love cows of a different color....

And in almost every crowd there is a .......


I was going to say red head, but the first cow by the fence checking me out was a dark red and this one is a dark golden blonde.

Got a favorite cow color?