We've arrived! We received our very first ducklings and goslings this Wednesday. They are so cute and so independent compared to the cornish cross chicks. The chicks seem to need so much care, or they die. Even when you think you have covered every contingency, some die. They need heat, they need water, they need grit, they need a surface to walk on that is not too slippery or they'll develop leg problems, they need their butts wiped or else they'll "paste up". At times, it's a little much. However, with the arrival of the ducklings and goslings,
we have realized how cool heritage breed animals can be. They simply know what to do, how to live, and they are oh so charming while doing it! Our rare breed chickens last year also made us realize how much more sturdy they can be. After growing out cornish cross chickens, the rare breed guys are just so much more chickeny! They scratch, they look for bugs, they hassle each other and they make dust baths. The cornish cross chickens are little couch potatoes - they sit, they eat, they poop. Rinse and repeat for 8 weeks. They sure are efficient food-meat machines, though; they make meat in only 8 weeks. By comparison, the rare breeds aren't ready for 14+ weeks! The feed gets expensive, but they certainly work harder on the farm - they scratch up ground and clear weeds far more efficiently than the cornish cross birds. At any rate, it is fun experimenting, and we are having fun watching the ducklings and goslings! There is no doubt that they are water-oriented animals! They need tons of water to drink, because they play in it, too! They need enough water access to drink, but not swim in quite yet - their down doesn't have their mother's oil on it so they'd chill really quickly. We need to wait until they feather out before we install a kiddie pool for them, but meanwhile they make bubbles in their water font! Especially these little black ducklings - they spend their entire day running between the water (blowing bubbles in the water while drinking), the duck chow and the little bit of grass they
get at this stage, their feet smacking on the ground all the while. So cute! I can't wait until we can get them outside rooting around in the dirt and in the sunshine - probably a couple more weeks under the heat lamps, until our weather regulates a bit more. We got these birds from the hatchery in Iowa called Murray McMurray which has a great catalog (you should have one around just for reading material!). The folks at Murray have a sense of humor, too - they offer lots of bird combinations based on use of the bird: Barbecue Special, Frying Pan Special, Homesteader's Delight, etc. The bird package we got was the the Barnyard Combination #3, 6 ducklings and 6
goslings. They send an assortment of varieties - and we've had fun trying to figure out what types of birds we got sent. We think we have 2 blue swedish ducklings (the black ones), 2 fawn runners (upright ducks), and 2 pekin ducks (all yellow). In the goose department, we think we have 2 chinese white OR white embden, 2 toulouse OR african (they look identical at this stage), 1 Sebastapool (it will be frilly and white) and 2 buff goslings. We got sent one extra goose - thank you, Murray McMurray!
In other farm news, we have officially completed all of the construction of the Haygrove with the completion of the simple doors! Feels good to
finally be done, and start using the Haygrove to its fullest potential! We would have finished the doors last week, but we actually ran out of plastic that Haygrove sent us. When we called to let them know we thought we had been very conservative with the plastic, but still ran out, they made good with us and sent us the perfect amount to complete the doors! This is just another reason we love this company! They have been amazing in the customer service department! Thank you, Haygrove!
So now that that is done, we are well on our way with our growing season at the farm! We have transplanted our first round of head lettuces, baby bok choy, red, chioggia, and golden beets, and seeded the first rounds of arugula, broccoli raab, radishes, salad mixes & fava beans. Below, some pictures of that process - including a time lapse of transplanting. Because it's fun to watch! Enjoy!
Doors open and secured.
Irrigation set up and flowing!
Covered the brassicas - to protect from flea beetles. I think that we could probably just have secured them with tacks instead of using a shovel and soil to secure the edges since we are under cover already and wind inside isn't too much of an issue. Such creatures of habit are we.
Looking so industrious!
More gosling and duckling pictures... can't resist! This is one of the African OR Toulouse geese.
One of the blue swedish ducklings looking curious!
Closing the new Haygrove doors.
Laying Driptape in the Haygrove
Transplanting Beets. Note very tired dogs not doing much - end of the day.