There’s a fine set of twin ram lambs in the pasture today. I have been expecting them all week. Yesterday evening, momma ewe was moving a bit slowly. I checked the barn a couple times at night; both times, she was out with her flock. I checked again this morning as soon as it was light to find that she had fooled me; she had given birth out in the alleyway between pastures amongst her friends. She was splayed out in total exhaustion alongside her lambs, but they were clean and fed. What a good momma!
That brings the lamb total so far to seven, and puts the ram count ahead again at 4 to 3.
I’ll plug in the incubator today to start warming, then I’ll load it up with eggs tomorrow. While I’m up to eyeballs and armpits with little bantams and game chicken crossbreeds, the large hens aren’t at all broody. I need to produce more large hens for large eggs.
I have 11 ducklings in a pen with their momma, and several more ducks are on nests. As soon as those eggs hatch, I’ll need to move them into pens, too, or the babies will be eaten by the various nesting raptors.
The momma duck with her eleven ducklings is a first-time momma. She shared a nest with her friend, a lil’ bantam cross hen about a third her size, in a big plastic tub that I had put under shelter to protect it from the sun since I wasn’t using it for a waterer. Some hay had fallen into it from stacked hay bales, and they jointly decided that it was a GREAT place to raise a family. Hen eggs hatch out a week before duck eggs, so there were four little fluffy chicks nestled underneath duck and hen a week before the other eggs were due to hatch.
I attempted to remove a chick from underneath duck. Duck took great offense to me “stealing” her chick. Well, the chicks had to be moved because either the hen and duck would stay with the eggs until they hatched, at which point the chicks would have succumbed to starvation/thirst, or they would take off with the chicks and leave the unhatched duck eggs which would die from the cold.
I ignored the duck pinching me with her beak and flogging me with her wings as I gathered up the chicks and put them into my hoodie pocket. The bantam hen, meantime, was making outraged squawking noises and picking me with her beak. I had scratches and welts all over my hands. Then I tucked the very angry and vocal hen under my arm, not as easy as it sounds, and took the chicks out of my pocket and held them in my hands under her so that she would calm down. That was the final straw for momma duck.
I’m glad that I was the only one home so that nobody witnessed what came next. I was walking along with a pissed off chicken under my arm, chicks in hands, while a duck was chasing me, flying up and whopping me in the head, flogging me with her wings, scratching me with her very sharp nails, and pinching me with her beak while hissing at me. Step. WHOP! “Hissssssss!” “DAMNIT!” “Aaaaaaawaaaaaaaawk…..!” “Peepeeeeepeeeepeeeeep.” Step. “Aaaaaaaaaaaawaaaaaaaak…..!” “Hissssssss!” WHOP! “Peeepeeeeepeeeeep!” Flog! Scratch! “DAMNIT!!” “Hisssssssssssss!” Step. “Aaaaaaaaaawaaaaaaaaaaawk!” WHOP! Biteflogscratch. “SHIT!” The duck finally abandoned her attack and retreated back to her nest to hiss at me over her eggs, and I was able to put the chicks down in their new pen, along with the momma hen who promptly renewed hostilities against my hands.
I had planned on selling @ 50 ducks for $5 each next week, but noooooooo. Coyotes, foxes, possums, and raccoons have made many meals off of my ducks, and I’m down to about 20 from @ 100. Must get population up ASAP so I have something to sell!
When I was working, the poultry got fed and moved at night which is pretty much bass ackwards from their point of view. They get fed when it is time to go to bed and poop on their clean grass overnight. Starting today, they get moved to clean grass in the morning and again in the afternoon, and are fed and watered once per day (in the morning). The feed bill should go down further, and I won’t be leaving (as much) food out overnight for rodents.
Hopefully I’ll be able to find the charger for my camera and have pictures soon.