Category Archives: Eggs

Duck Dramas (or Quack-Operas)

Prasad held one of the ducks...

...while the other two sat in the back seat of our truck.

the light blue and black girls..

..enjoying what ducks enjoy most, a morning swim.

Part I, Three new ducks: Three. That was not planned. I’d contacted Jenn at her local Revolutionmama Ranch where we’d gotten our first Indian Runners to see if she had any females available. We wanted just one to replace the incorrectly sexed fawn & white females we ordered several weeks ago- one is female, but one is actually male. Big *ugh*, considering when you don’t buy them local, the shipping costs are high. Jenn informed me she had three Runner girls left from her baby stock for the year. They’re on the verge of laying age, probably by September.

During the drive out to her property, I told myself we’d take just two home. Nice try. By the time Prasad and I arrived and saw the three very bonded and attached ducks, I gladly took all three. They’re gorgeous in person- the pictures don’t even come close to showing the richness of their colors. One is shiny black with white speckles on the chest and iridescent green feathers in the sunlight. Another is a darker grey with bluish and black flecks, while the smaller girl is a brilliant, rich light blue. I’d been hoping for a blue Runner, and there she was. That seems to be how it goes before an animal joins us- I imagine the color or type I’d like, and they just happen to be exactly what we find. Now, onto the Mortimer/drake ordeal…

Mortimer (right) living in harmony with the new girls

Part II, Aggressive Drake: Before bringing home these beauties, Mortimer was in the slammer (the pen pictured at left). He was harassing the fawn & white babies constantly… just super rude and aggressive. He had to be quarantined both day and night, and I placed an on Craigslist ad to sell him. Last evening we brought our new girls home, and he went after them, too. So, we quarantined him another night. This morning I went out to clean up his pen and let him loose in the run. That time he left the new girls alone. He did an occasional nip or two if they came too close, but no aggressive chasing or pinning down. He went after the new fawn & white babies again, but today it’s been way less than before. He’s pinned them down a few times, but then walks away and gives them their freedom to swim and eat (unlike before). We’re hoping this is a trend, and that he’s merely asserting his dominance in the pecking order. Maybe there’s hope for Mort after all. That’s our hope, considering he’s such a gorgeous boy and we’ve had him almost a year.

Chameli & Adelaide, our fawn & white babies are free to roam the run now and seem to be our most avid swimmers.

These two cuties are the ones Mortimer has been targeting. We’ve seen a 75% reduction today, and hope that continues for all their sakes. Adelaide is on the right, and Adelaide is a male/drake. He doesn’t quack like Chameli… drakes squeak. His markings are more distinctive, too. He’s going to be another gorgeous drake to have around, and yes, we’re planning to come up with a new name.

We’re hoping that we’ve simply learned something about drake behavior; flock behavior. Introducing new members can be stressful, but it’s natural and inevitable. If Morty adjusts and is able to maintain his standing as the Supreme King of the flock, I think things will calm down.

Ermengard saying "hello" from the duck house

Last, but not least, is Ermengard. She’s our very calm and sweet Buff Orpington, and the first of our Spring chicks to start laying eggs last month. She never lays eggs where the other chickens like to lay. Instead, she seeks out new and exciting places (a really cool non-comformist). What I love most about her, is that she doesn’t mind being picked up. After this picture was taken, Phoebe, our duck came along and sat down beside her and they laid eggs together. I ended up eating Ermengard’s egg for breakfast.. thanks Ermie!

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Backyard Pullet Eggs

4 1/2 month old pullet's egg on the left, adult duck egg on the right

I couldn’t resist sharing a picture of the first egg laid by a hand raised chicken. Hens are not called “hens” until they are one year old. Until then, they’re known as “pullets.” We weren’t expecting pullet eggs for another month, so Ermengard is an early bird!

The scale isn’t apparent in the photo, but her little egg yolk was the size of a quarter. Pullets start out laying small eggs, and become larger as the pullet grows. As adults, the bigger hens lay larger eggs. From Prasad’s review, this tiny delicacy was “very nice, supreeemely delicious.” Not bad for Ermengard’s first egg. Sorin wants the next tiny egg, so I guess we’ll have to create a waiting list.

Posted by: Jill

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Firsts on the Farm

check out our very first cucumber, hand-picked today. Isn't it gorgeous?

First egg from one our first baby chicks was laid today (pictured on the Left)! It was most likely from 18 week old Ermengard, a Buff Orpington. Isn't it cute?! The egg on the right is from our adult Rhode Island Red, Marge.

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The Compassionate Intelligence of Animals

This morning I was so awe struck by our pair of ducks that I was in tears. We watch our ducks and chickens every day from the large sunroom windows, and it’s a perfect view. We can entertain ourselves for hours there. We’ve learned a lot about animal behavior, their intuitive connection to the earth, as well as their caring and compassion for one another.

In a recent study, chickens have been found to have empathy for one another, and after today I’ve no doubt that’s also true for ducks. Phoebe lays eggs every single morning, but she was let out of the duck house very early this morning. Daniel rose earlier than usual, and let the whole flock out. After the ducks are released they never ever return to their house unless it’s sunset. Phoebe hadn’t laid her egg yet, but by 7:30 I could hear her honking loudly. I rushed to the window to see what might be wrong. She was inside the duck house honking and quacking away in a more distressed tone than usual, and pacing around nervously. Mortimer, our drake was inside the house with her. He began caressing and entwining his neck with hers. They do this affectionately while sitting quietly together, but I’ve never seen it done during times of frantic activity before. Phoebe kept honking, and Mortimer kept going to the door to make sure she was safe, and that no one else came in. After a few minutes, Phoebe sat down and got comfortable, and Mortimer went back to the doorway. He used his body lengthwise to block anyone from coming inside.

Mortimer’s behavior was so touching, so intelligent, supportive and caring. That alone had me awe struck, but the chickens amazed me, too. While Phoebe sat down, releasing her egg quietly (which can take 10-15 minutes in some cases), all 9 chickens were huddled outside the duck house, looking in. They were curious, staring, all 9 of them. After a while, the younger chickens moved away, and the three eldest hens were left standing there, studying Phoebe while Mortimer guarded her sacred duty. It was as if they all knew what she was doing and had a curious concern for her. They kept tilting their heads toward her, and were standing unusually close to Mortimer. Phoebe is new to egg laying- she laid her 12th egg today. Maybe the older hens, being experienced layers themselves, felt some kind of empathy and understanding. Whatever the case, it was one of the most beautiful scenes I have ever witnessed in my life.

Posted by: Jill

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Expecting Ducklings… Again

After releasing our two Khaki Campbells to another farm, we’ve been looking forward to adding more Indian Runner hens to our flock. They’re extremely docile, plus super amusing to watch. I have personally fallen madly in love with the breed. Phoebe, our Runner hen has consistently laid one egg a day since she began laying eleven days ago. She’s outperforming all our chickens, and the eggs are delicious!

We sought local farms for adult Runner hens or even ducklings, but didn’t have any luck this time around. We could have incubated eggs, but instead we decided to order two females through a site online. They’ll arrive within the next 1-3 weeks, at just a few days old. It will be ideal to have a couple more girls for our Mallard drake, and they’ll both be fawn & white like the Runner pictured below. The baby ducklings stand upright just like the adults. Adorable! We recently went through raising the two Khakis indoors for over a month when the weather was still too cold. With the current Summer heat they’ll spend just one or two weeks indoors; ideal for ducklings, considering they become quite a mess when confined in tight quarters as they get older.

When word got out about June ducklings coming again, Sky was thrilled beyond words. Despite the difficult departure of Ellie Mae and Jethro, he appears to be recovering well. Sorin and Prasad are excited, too. There is nothing like baby ducklings when it comes to melting child (and adult) hearts.

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Urban Farm & Garden Update: Late Spring 2011

Potato barrels

Our potatoes are taking off like crazy. We have two experimental barrels this year. Prasad & Sky chose to grow some in their own little garden plots, and those are doing great, too. We’ll get to experience ground versus barrel potatoes, and decide what to repeat for next year. When the plants are towering above the barrels like this, it’s time to add more soil, burying almost half the existing plants. We’ll wait for blossoms to appear, and do a partial harvest of baby potatoes.

Green Beans & Snap Peas

Remember when we first planted these? You can see them here in an older post. The green beans and snap peas have entwined, creating large, happy vines. The peas are already flowering.

Snow Peas

Our snow peas were started much later than the snap peas, which is why they’re so small. We started them directly in the ground with seed from a generous neighbor friend, Kristen. We thought we wouldn’t be able to find snow peas this year, and were thrilled when she contacted me. Thanks so much, Kristen! They took off pretty fast, but we noticed something started nibbling on them. They must be pretty tasty leaves, because nothing else in the garden was being nibbled. Daniel put a little rabbit wire fence around them, and they’ve been doing much better ever since. These are my favorite peas for salads, so we’re hoping they continue to do well.

Tomatoes

The tomatoes have gone insane! If you look back at our Early Spring post you can see how much they’ve grown. We’ve had a lot of rain, followed by sun and heat so they’re very happy so far. We’ve had no problems with staking, but when they’re taller we plan to add wood poles for extra support. Our tomatillo plants don’t have any cages, just poles, and they’re doing great, so far. They’ve got blooms, and so do all our peppers!

Zucchini

We thought this little guy was history a few weeks ago. It was tiny when we planted it on a small hill, and it got trampled a few times before the fence was up. I think it was down to two small, very sad look leaves. Now it’s thriving and blooming. I am a zucchini fanatic, so cannot wait!

Our front yard was tilled, and we planted a large strawberry patch, watermelon, and Russian Giant sunflowers. All three are taking off like crazy. Despite living in the Sunflower State, we’ve never been able to grow Sunflowers from seed. Our front yard plants are taking off, and we’ll have to post pics soon!

Summer heat is coming. We’ve had several humid days in the 90’s. The challenge in our climate comes during the intense heat & drought periods of Summer. We’re hoping the loamy soil helps significantly, and that we don’t have to irrigate excessively. It’s something we have to pay close attention to, or we could lose all our yummy crops. If all goes well, I’m pretty sure we’ll have enough food to feed several families!

Complete List of what we’re growing this year:

Potatoes (barrel & ground), 14 Tomatoes, 9 multi-colored Cherry tomatoes, 2 types of peas (snow & snap), Green Beans, 2 Blueberry bushes, 50 Strawberry plants, 1 Zucchini, 2 Cucumber, 1 Bush Cucumber, 4 Jalapeno peppers, 6 mixed pepper plants (red, yellow & green), Garlic, Onion, 9 Eggplant, 8 Tomatillos, Kale, Broccoli, Sunflower, Watermelon, 2 Peach trees, 1 self-pollinating Apple tree, Cilantro

Plus, don’t forget we have a duck & 3 hens laying eggs every day. By August we’ll have 6 more starting to lay. It’s a wonderful feeling when your food comes from right outside your back door.

Posted by: Jill

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Farmy Foto Friday, Part II

These pictures were meant to be included in the last post, but I accidentally hit “post” before they were added.

Sorin's Black Australorp, Broom Hilda on the right (14 weeks). She's super sweet, friendly, and enjoys a gentle petting

I love this boy! Our male Indian Runner, Mortimer, is such a gentleman and always looks out for the flock's safety

Mortimer bowing to his sweetheart, Phoebe. She's been an egg machine this week- 7 eggs the last 7 days, mmmm!

Mirabel & Sky's Buff Orpington, Maria (11 weeks)

Mirabel & Sky's Buff Orpington, Maria (11 weeks)

 

free-ranging, handsome Forest, our growing Flemish Giant baby. He enjoys hopping all over the grass while we follow him. His doe companion, Meadow, will be home in two weeks. He's 11 weeks old

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