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.



  1. Hmmm...I am a little confused about the cow having the baby. You said it was due around May 1st or April...well, it is now May 27th so wouldn't that mean the baby has already been born? Do they really carry for more than a year??

  2. What a wonderful farm! I love the ducks, great pictures! :D x

  3. Alex has a really neat place. Love his fencing and shelters. Nice little bull calf.
    Depending on he hatch,I am planning on purchasing between 2 and 4 Welsh Harlequin ducklings in June. Will Alex be selling Appleyard ducklings in the future? Would be interested.

  4. What a great tour and glad to see the update and pictures of Thomas! I like how you guys are all "related" through your animals. The ducks are gorgeous and obviously well loved and cared for! :)

  5. Those piglets are so cute! And I like ducks! They are such a unique bird. Thanks for linking-up at A Humble Bumble, Janis. :)

  6. Loved your post and will be looking in from time to time to see how things are going.

    We live in S. Oregon and it has always been my dream to have a small hobby farm like my grandparents had while I was growing up.
    We lived on the same three acre parcel as my grandparents and cousins. They had rabbits, chickens, ducks, geese, goats and a donkey. Neighbors boarded their horses on the place.
    My fondest memories are of life with the animals as a child.

    Janet W.

  7. Thanks for sharing on Tuesdays With a Twist those piglets are just too cute, and Thomas looks like he will be a heart breaker.

    We do not currently have any type of farm animals, but are seriously considering chickens. I am interested in how the pigs help clear the land, maybe a future blog?

  8. This was a great post, full of cute babies too, but none as cute as the little guy at the end. Thomas is a good name he gave to the sweet baby calf too. :)

    I'm already a follower. Swinging by to say hello today from Thursday's Favorite Things.

  9. Hopping over from Crafty Spices. =)
    I would love for you to share and link up at my weekly TGIF Link Party if you haven't already this week. The party is open every Thursday night and closes Wednesday's at midnight. AND starting Wednesday June 4th I will be hosting a Wordless Wednesday link party. Hope you will join us! Have a wonderful week!
    Hugs, Cathy

    1. Alex's place looks really nice and his ducks are very pretty, but I love Bella and her little calf.

  10. well....I forgot to even mention that I love the little piglets too. It's so nice to see them running free - almost a foreign site these days!

  11. Awwww so sweet. Thanks for sharing on Natural Living Monday!

  12. Good morning! I love this post. One of my grandmothers had a farm when we were growing up and it was so much fun to "tour" the farm.

    YOU have been featured at Tuesdays with a Twist! Looking forward to seeing what you share this week.