Saturday, July 2, 2011

Miracle Duckling

I heard a duckling peeping from the incubator room. But I looked in the incubator and none had hatched.

I heard the peeping again. It came from the back of discarded incubator eggs that I took out of the incubator when they failed to hatch.

The egg was getting cool and the duckling had only made a little hole in the egg. I put him in the incubator.

This morning I see that he hatched. If he survives ducklinghood, I'm going to keep him.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Hatching season 2011

Just hatched out 4 baby chicks--- their sire is a rumpless Araucana-type chicken. They are available for sale at $3 each.

We also will be having a few Brahma and perhaps one or two Black Copper Maran chicks hatching out in the next few days, same price.

There will also be ducklings hatching at about the same time: Khaki Campbell and rare Ancona ducks. The ducklings will be $3.50 each. My Ancona stock came from Cackle Hatchery. My Khaki Campbells were purchased at a fur and feather swap. I hatched out a lot of ducklings of both breeds and have kept for breeding the nicer ones--- Khaki Campbells without white spots on their neck, and well-marked Anconas. I did retain one Ancona duck that has too much color instead of the ideal marking, because she seems to be a lavender color. But I had her separated at the start of the season and so her eggs won't be among those hatching anytime soon.

I will have eggs hatching for about 1 month to produce poultry for sale. I'm hoping to sell all the young ones as day-olds or thereabouts in order to avoid having to buy lots of feed.

Duckling/Chick buying tip:
Day-old ducklings or chicks need to be brooded--- kept in a warm, sheltered area. It's best to set this up in advance.

Baby chicks and ducklings don't make ideal pets for young children. Young children must be closely supervised around the chicks/ducklings or they may accidentally kill one.

It's often best, if you only want one or two ducks/chickens, to buy three or four ducklings/chicks. They keep each other warm when it's too cool, and there is always the possibility, when raising baby poultry, of having unexpected death losses. If you end the season with more than you need, you can use the spares for meat (or sell them to a neighbor for that purpose) or sell them at a fall fur and feather swap.

Next Year: My Ancona breeders will, I hope, have been replenished with some stock from a breeder who obtained her first stock from Holderreads, since I bought some hatching eggs from this breeder and most of said eggs proved to be fertile. I haven't been able to add new Campbell stock--- we're on an ultra-tight budget--- but will save some nicely marked ducklings to add to the flock, and hope to obtain some quality stock/hatching eggs in the course of next year.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Stir-Fried Asparagus and Weeds

I had this for breakfast yesterday morning.

Take some asparagus and cut it up into 1/2 inch pieces. Add a bit of shredded cabbage if you have it. To this, add some fresh dandelion greens or some stinging nettle greens.

Heat up your wok or fry pan a bit. Put in some cooking oil, such as peanut oil. I use extra-virgin olive oil.

Stir-fry the lot until the dandelion greens or nettles look more like cooked spinach and less like weeds. If desired, season with a little soy sauce--- I like Kikkoman's low sodium soy sauce.

For a variation, you can add whatever meat you've been able to buy or hunt down for yourself. If you are a Vegan (welcome to Earth) maybe you can shoot you some tofu to throw in.

How do the weeds taste? When I made it with dandelion greens, I added a bunch of the cabbage to tone down the bitterness. I was suprised at how edible it tasted. The stinging nettle is a bit of a tamer taste but I added cabbage to it as well.

NOTE: when picking your stinging nettle, be warned: it stings! Also of course be sure you can tell dandelions/nettles from things like Instant Death Weed or whatever.

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Sunday, May 15, 2011

Reg. Shetland Ram for Sale: $100

Our former herd sire Robert Emery needs a new home! He's a proven breeder, but we don't need him any more. He's five years old this year so we've lowered the price for him to $100.

He was very cute as a lamb--- tan all over--- but faded to pure white as an adult.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

NPPRC: Feather and Fur Spring Swap Schedule

I missed out on selling at the swap in Stephenson, MI, though I did stop by when I saw all the cars, and bought a nice male turkey as a mate for my female turkey, Imelda.

In case anyone else wants the schedule for the rest of the spring swaps, here it is (all are 8am-12 noon local time):

May 14--- Tammy's Tack & Feed, Ashwaubenon, WI
May 21--- Tractor Supply Company, Iron Mountain, MI
May 28--- Tractor Supply Company, Marinette, WI
June 4--- Peshtigo Feed Mill, Peshtigo, WI

(I might be going out to the Marinette swap, maybe even the Peshtigo one, and try to sell a few lambs.)

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Plowing with Ducks

Forget plowing with horses. My current garden plot was plowed by duck power.

Last year I had my duck and chicken pens all in a row in the front yard. I had some small plastic 'pools' for the ducks to swim in. The ducks did what ducks do to the ground. In fall I moved the pens to fresh ground for the winter.

The old pen area looked like a garden plot this spring, so I took out my Magic Hoe and hoed up a bit. It was just like fine garden soil! So I got busy planting!

In addition to a few garden plants and flowers--- plus a row of Mangel-wurzel beets for stock feed---- I'm starting a small fruit garden. I've bought some yellow raspberries and some blackberries. I also will have some goumi berries--- an Asian berry which has medicinal properties. (Don't confuse goumi/gomi berries with goji berries, another medicinal Asian berry. Goumi berries are self-fertile, while with goji one needs two different varieties to make a crop.)

I've also ordered some strawberry plants (King Kong giant strawberries). So I hope to have some berries for sale this year--- they will be raised 'organic-style'--- no chemical fertilizers or pesticides, but no government 'organic' red tape either.

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Monday, March 14, 2011

Tagventory Day: Figuring out This Year's Perfect Ear-Tagging System

Every year I do this, sort through the old ear tags that I have remaining, count them, and figure out how many more I need.

This is done each year in conjunction with my current Perfect Ear-Tagging System.

My perfect system depends on each animal having 2 tags-- one numbered tag, and one tag, purchased blank, which has the animal's name written on it with a tag pen.

I've been buying Premier One Easy-Tags, size two, in a wide variety of colors to indicate things like birth year, single/twin status, breeding group.... And every couple years I scrap the system and start a new one.

It's the same this year, but now I'm going for simplification. My major problem with the tags is that they are hard to read from a distance--- and boy, do my girls know how to keep their distance when I'm looking at their ear tags!

I've decided to go with a baby tag system this year--- lambs will be tagged with a size 1, pink or blue numbered tag. When they get to weaning age, (or some point afterward) the baby tag will be replaced by a size 5 adult tag--- the next size larger than the size 2 tags I have been using.

In place of the many colors I've used, I'm down to 2--- yellow for purebred Shetlands, and blue for Shetland-Dorper crosses. No, wait, the government owns the color blue (on scrapie-numbered eartags, anyway) and so I've had to order lime-green instead.

The hand-written name tags and the number tags will be the same color. (I'll also be writing the name and number on the underside of the hand-written tags, in case one of the girls loses her numbered tag and her name tag is faded.)

I do have a lot of spare numbered tags, and I do plan to use them up. Single (non-twin) lambs will be getting the old tags until they are gone. This will remind me to not get so attached to the singles that I keep them for breeders instead of the twins.

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Sunday, March 13, 2011

Moonshine, our new herd sire

I got Moonshine last fall from a breeder in lower Michigan, and am quite pleased with him, adds a little diversity to the herd since I usually use my sires I bred myself since I am trying to preserve the good shedding genetics I have in my herd (I have some purebred Shetlands that shed their fleece just as well as the ones that are 1/2 to 3/4 Dorper).

It was an eventful trip down to pick Moonshine up. Some guy in the parking lot of a Tractor Supply store wanted to sell me some sheep thinking I was a professional livestock dealer, and then there was the fun of trying to smuggle my new sheep back into the UP. The inspector guy says, whaddaya got? and I say, Moonshine....

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Robert Emery pictures--- last year's herd sire

Robert Emery, 2007
 Robert Emery was all golden when he was born. I was very surprised. But last year I had quite a few lambs sired by Robert Emery who were born that exact color.  They turn white as they become adults.

Robert Emery, Claudius

When I took Robert Emery in the house to take some lamb pictures, my neurologically disabled cat Claudius came over to be in the picture. Yes, the cat is wearing a dog sweater.

This is a picture of Robert Emery taken today, Mar. 13, 2011. Boy, does he ever need a haircut! He's penned with Rhys, Rei, Moonshine and Sharkey. Used to have my Dorper ram and 2 Dorper cross rams lambs in there with them, but had to move the Dorpers out to keep 'em from getting murdered by the little guys--- Shetland rams are WAY tougher than Dorpers even though Dorpers are bigger.

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Friday, February 18, 2011

Quiche's Lambs 2011

Majun (male) and Misun (female)

Quiche and Misun

Quiche had twin lambs, a boy and a girl, on Feb. 16, 2011. This is her second year in a row of having the first lamb of the year. It's also the second year in a row of her getting unintentionally bred.

Last year it was a broken fence issue. This year it was a quick-maturing ram lamb that wasn't moved out in time. I think it was probably Takgu, who was the biggest and handsomest of the White Dorper cross ram lambs. I used him to breed to some of my ram Harry's offspring, but Takgu died in the bad weather. That happens sometimes when a ram lamb is used for breeding which is why I usually don't do it.

The female lamb is named Misun and the male is named Majun. Both are Korean names. I took them in the house for the past two days to nap for an hour in my lap so they will bond to me as well as to their mamma. So far Majun is friendlier and Misun is fussier.