A Gaggle of Geese and One Lonely Rooster

I’m starting to think that I might have a problem with hoarding.  Not your typical too many shoes, clothes, toys for the kids type stuff (although I suspect I may have tendencies toward this too) but animal hoarding.  Yikes!!  Okay.  It’s really not that bad.  I also have a tendency to be dramatic.  The drama queen in high school?  Yep.  That was me.  Is me…. whatever!  We went on a wee bit of a spree and added 10 (TEN!) new geese to our gaggle of six.  It started out all innocent and actually for a good cause.  But I start to wonder if I can justify everything with my reasoning.  We don’t really need ten more geese.

I’m leaning toward blaming my daughter for this one.  Ever since the county fair and birth of our Toulouse goslings, she has been on this “Saving the Heritage Geese” kick.  I support her all the way.  This girl has set up a website/blog (www.weheartpoultry.wordpress.com) dedicated to saving the geese, passed out flyers, given speeches, made presentations, done an interview with a big magazine (Ducks by Hobby Farms coming out in February), and sent her work in to the local newspaper.  She is passionate about it.  All she wants for her birthday is a Buff Pomeranian Saddleback gosling female that she can name Pumpkin.  Anyway, Todd spotted an ad on Craigslist for heritage geese for sale.  Two days later we were taking a two hour drive to go get them.  Lexie came along, but we didn’t tell her what we were up to.  She thought we were going to pick up duck and chicken feed so she grabbed some of her flyers and joined us for the ride.  She spotted the goose farm right away and off she went!

American Buff, Embden, and Sebastopol geese

New geese on ride home

We put 10 geese in the back of our Ford Expedition.  Todd hung bird netting across the back in case any of the geese had any ideas about trying to escape.  That was a lovely ride home!  Okay, it wasn’t that bad.  A tad smelly but the geese were quiet. They weren’t quite sure what to think.  At all times there was one goose standing watch.           Just in case.

Embden Goose

Embden goose on ride home

  We had to go over a lot of hills and winding roads.  It was cute to hear the pitter patter of goose feet trying to keep their balance in the back!  Occasionally you’d get a single Honk! just to let us know they were still there.

Toulouse, Embden, Sebastopol, African, and American Buff Geese

Toulouse, Embden, Sebastopol, African, and American Buff geese

We released the geese into the pasture and introduced them to the group.  The first thing they did was jump into the baby pool and clean themselves up.  We had one goose that was so excited to have a pool that he didn’t even wait for the water – he saw the other geese splashing around and he copied them – in the dirt!  It was one of those moments when you wish you had a video camera because it was just that funny.  I’m getting the giggles just remembering it!!!  Hhmmm… guess you had to have been there.

Anyway… we now have two Sebastopol geese. A male and female pair that we named Ivan and Olga.  They originate from Russia and are considered rare, which means there are less than 1,000 breeding pairs surviving.  They are still fairly young (born this past summer) and are suffering from angel wing.  Angel wing is pretty common in Sebastopol geese from what I have read.  It can result from a diet that is too high in protein when the feathers are developing and coming in.  It will pull or twist the wings out from their natural placement under the weight of the new feathers.  I’m sure it’s more involved than how I stated it, but you get the gist of the problem.  It looks gnarly.  Hopefully we can correct it so that it doesn’t cause any lasting problems.

Todd and Olga the Sebastopol goose

Todd and Olga the Sebastopol goose

We tried to wrap the wings in the correct position.  We watched videos and read articles to figure out the best way to wrap them.  This is Todd with Olga.  Her wings are worse than Ivan’s.  She wasn’t too happy with the tape on her wings and it wasn’t long before they were out of place again.  So, back to the drawing board (or internet).  We also changed their diet to a lower protein diet with pastures for foraging.

Amy and Ivan the Sebastopol gander

Amy and Ivan the Sebastopol gander

Hopefully they will grow up to be the beautiful birds that they should be.  Adults look like they are wearing feather skirts or suits.  Long twisty feathers that flutter in the breeze.  Like they belong in a Russian ballet doing a swan dance.  I’m holding Ivan – he is actually the smaller of the two.  We vent-sexed them to be sure.  Not quite as gross as it sounds, but unpleasant none the less.  See, the vent is used for multiple purposes – including where they dispose of the unused food products.  Yep.  It’s also the poop hole.  (shudder)

We have 3 American Buff geese (one male and two females).  American Buffs are on the critically endangered list with less than 500 breeding pairs.

Lexie and the American Buff goose

Lexie and the American Buff goose

And a Buff/Sebastopol mix.  Lexie is excited because she wanted a Buff Sebastopol.  Not sure how that works, but I’ll leave the breeding up to her.  She knows her goose business.

American Buff Sebastopol mix goose

American Buff Sebastopol mix goose

And… four Embden geese.  Two of them are younger.  We are pretty sure that we have 3 females and one male.

Embden Geese

Embden Geese

Embden geese are a large heavy breed and they lay the largest eggs of all the goose breeds.

So, now we have a gaggle of 16 heritage breed geese.  Hope you’re happy Lexie!  Such good parents, supporting their daughter’s endeavors! *cough*  Next we need to get Nik his turkeys.  He wants to raise rare breed heritage turkeys.  You should see his heirloom seed collection.  We’ve got totally awesome kids.

Gaggle of Toulouse, Embden, American Buff, Sebastopol, and African Geese

Gaggle of Geese

Just try to come into our poultry yard!  We have a gargantuan gaggle of gawking geese (check out my use of alliteration – my kids will be impressed) that will run after you in the hopes that you will feed them some scratch!!

We met a lady this weekend who came to buy our chicken plucker that informed us about Lucy.  She is our mix breed goose that we rescued and we weren’t really sure what she was a mix of.  Now we know!  She is a Touloose/African mix.  We got her at the same time that we got Desi and we thought they might be a breeding pair since they always stuck close to each other.  Hence, Lucy and Desi (we were on an I love Lucy kick).  Now we also know that Desi is a she.  Yep, checked the vent.  So maybe they are sisters.  All I know is Desi is the peacemaker of the group.  She tries to get everybody to get along.  She’ll be the first to go up and introduce herself and will stand in the middle of the group making peace.  She is really true to the breed – very talkative and calm.  Maybe we’ll have to add a few Africans to our group for her.  See – I’m telling you, I’ve got that hoarder thing going on!

Desi and Lucy the African Geese

Desi, the African goose with Lucy, the African Toulouse mix goose

In other surprising news – it turns out our sweet little Peep is a rooster!!!  Say it isn’t so!  Sigh.  Oh well.  We were going to thin down our flock for the winter and start with a fresh flock of Australorps next year.  We hand-raised Peep so he’s part of the family now.  Unless he attacks the geese again!  He doesn’t seem to like Ivan.  Not sure if it’s because Ivan is a smaller male or new to the group (that stupid pecking order business) or what.  But he put up his hackles and scared the doo-doo out of us when we were trying to wrap angel wings!  He sat right next to Todd and turned into that little dinosaur on Jurassic Park (the one that spits in your face before eating you!).  Creepy chicken!  We try to keep him on his toes and let him know that we are the bosses of the barnyard.  He is a confused chicken.  He was raised mainly by Lexie and sleeps with the ducks.  He tried mating Lexie’s hand and seems to think he’s a duck.  Last chicken in at night, first one out, playing in mud puddles and in the rain.  I might have to get him in to chicken counseling.  Hopefully sooner or later he’ll show an interest in the hens and not hands!

Barred Rock and Black Copper Maran mix rooster

Peep, our Barred Rock and Black Copper Maran mix rooster

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Ducks and Noodles

Whenever Todd introduces himself to someone  he refers to himself as a “duck farmer”.  Sometimes we get curious looks as to how you can actually “farm” ducks.  I believe it’s an accurate description and one that I’ve taken to using also.  We love ducks.  We’ve grown our flock to over 100.  See, we “grow” our ducks to use for food.  Either by eating eggs from the ducks or the duck itself.  I wish I could say it is an economical alternative, but I’m not sure yet.  We put a lot of our time into the ducks.  And depending on which breed of duck we’re talking about, lots of feed.  Pekin ducks are dependent on you for finding the majority of their food.  Muscovy ducks, on the other hand, are great foragers and they supplement their diet with feed.  All of the ducks look forward to their treats of whole corn and scratch.

Muscovy Duck

Muscovy Duck

Pekin Duck

Pekin Duck

We’ve been busy “harvesting” ducks for the past month or two.  On my last count we were down to 8 Pekins and … okay, I don’t actually know how many Muscovies are left!  We’re trying to decide how many we want to keep over the winter.  I’m pretty sure we will reduce the Pekins down to 2.  I love the temperament of them, but they eat a lot.  The only reason I want to keep 2 is because the one hen is the “sister” of our hand hatched goose baby (I don’t want him/her to be lonely) and the other is Lexie’s favorite 4H hen, Elizabeth.  We have quite a few Muscovy ducks that we have named and want to keep to breed.  We know we will keep only one drake.

Our harvesting window is slowly closing.  Nobody wants to be slaughtering ducks in the freezing cold.  Heck, nobody wants to slaughter ducks at all!  We’ve been culling around 6 ducks each week.  It’s a family affair.  We all know what our jobs are and we work in a production line.  Warning:  some content may not be suitable for children or those with weak stomachs.  Read at your own discretion.  Lexie and I choose the ducks that are to be slaughtered and deliver them to the boys.  The boys get the awesome job of axing heads.  Okay, I know it’s not awesome – it’s gory, bloody, messy, and downright sucks.  But you suck it up and do what you have to do.  I don’t even cry anymore – I’m a big girl now!  The ducks are hung in a tree to bleed out.  We all start plucking down.  There’s a 55 gallon drum that is full of down and someday we’ll find a use for it.  Lexie and I also choose feathers that are pretty and interesting to save for making earrings with.  The boys finish off plucking feathers and gutting the ducks.  Everything is done by hand.  After the ducks are cleaned and prepped, they are put into the refrigerator for 3 days to “relax”.  When ducks are slaughtered they get stressed and the muscles all tense up.  Letting them set allows the muscles to relax and the meat to be more tender.  At the end of 3 days I do a final cleaning of the ducks and vacuum pack them for the freezer.  We are fortunate, this winter our freezer will be full!  OH, a farmers weather prediction:  the ducks have been packing on insane amounts of fat this year.  And it’s still early.  More fat means colder temps.  Ugh.

Muscovy Ducks

Muscovy Dinner, I mean ducks.

Around here, we eat duck 3 or 4 times a week.  We eat duck like most people eat McDonald’s.  One of our favorite ways to eat it is Duck with Noodles.  Reminds me of those Bertolli frozen meals that I used to eat way back when.  When we weren’t gluten free and worried about what was in the food we were eating.

Duck with Noodles

  • 1 duck
  • spaghetti or fettucini noodles (I use Tinkyada brand gluten-free spaghetti noodles – made with brown rice only!)
  • olive or sunflower oil
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, diced
  • 4 oz sliced mushrooms
  • garlic powder
  • salt and pepper
  • Bragg’s nutritional yeast
  • basil or oregano, to taste

Place duck in turkey roaster.  Sprinkle with choice of herbs, salt, and pepper.  Roast at 400 degrees for about 1 hour.  Remove and let cool.  Prepare noodles according to package directions.  While noodles are cooking, saute onions, garlic, and mushrooms in large frying pan until browned.  Place onion mixture in large bowl.  Drain noodles and place in frying pan with a little bit of oil, spices, and nutritional yeast.  Slightly brown or “fry”.  Remove from skillet and add to onion mixture.  When duck has cooled, remove meat from  bones and shred into the noodles and onions.  Sprinkle with spices and additional nutritional yeast.  Mix well. Our family of 4 can get 2 meals out of this.

Duck with noodles

Duck with noodles

The whole meal, hands on, doesn’t take long.  Once the duck is roasted, everything else comes together within 30 minutes.  Which is why it’s one of our favorite go-to meals.  Serve with a side of veggies, some homemade applesauce, and you’re good to go!

Duck with noodles and broccoli

Duck with noodles and broccoli

Farmers do eat well!  We feel really good when we sit down to eat, knowing that we put work into what’s on our plate and that we are capable of providing for ourselves.  It makes you appreciate your food, and a side of appreciation makes anything taste even better!

A Fairly Good Week

HOORAY!!!!

We actually made it through fair week!  Let me just say to all the parents out there with kids in 4H and jobs to work and homes to keep in order… you amaze me!  Todd took the week off of work so we could both support the kids at the fair for their first year of 4H.  We weren’t sure that we would make it – I had no idea how much work goes into the whole production.  WHEW!  Now that I think that I’ve finally recovered, I’ll fill you in on the highlights.  What a week!

After months of preparation (okay, taking care of little ducks and chickens – we pretty much do that here everyday!) it was time to load up the truck with Lexie’s 2 ducks and Nik’s 4 chickens along with food, bowls, tubs, soap, bedding, and all the other little things that they would need for the week.  Ducks and chickens in truck We delivered the animals on Saturday.  It was a whole day of work.  The kids had to help decorate their 4H group booth, weigh their animals in, get them tagged, and prepare the animal pens.

Sunday was a fairly (hee! hee!) easy day. We checked on the animals in the morning, afternoon, and evening and helped out in the poultry barn by sweeping.  Everyone was getting nervous/excited for the showmanship and poultry judging the next morning.  We bathed the chickens (Chickens do not like baths!) and the ducks so that they would be clean and pretty for the judging.

                 Washing a chicken 

On Monday, we arrived at the fair by 8 in the morning.  Pens needed to be cleaned out and waters filled.  The kids had removed the food from the animals the night before to reduce any chances of “accidents” on the judging tables.  Showmanship was first.  They were called up and quizzed on their knowledge and handling of their animals.  Lexie came in 3rd place and Nik received a ribbon for participation.

Judging was held after showmanship.  This is when the animals are judged for their quality, appearance, and amount of meat on the bird.  The kids were able to help each other out since they had to show all of their animals.  Lexie was up first with her ducks.  She was definitely in her element.  The girl loves ducks.  She ended up winning first place in her class!  Which meant she had to go back in for judging at the end to compete against the other first place winners for the Championship.       

4H poultry judging for ducks

She won Reserve Champion!! Second place out of all the ducks! 

Reserve Champion for 4H Poultry judging

 

4H Reserve Champion duck pen   

 

Which also meant that she got to     move her duck pen into Champion Row!

 

 

 

Nik was up for judging of his chickens and it was Lexie’s turn to help out. 

4H Poultry judging for chickens

Nik won 5th place in his chicken class.  Not bad at all!  Proud Momma Moment!!!

To celebrate, the kids took a ride on “Top Gun”.  It’s one of those rides that spins you upside down and back and forth and has a hose handy for “spills”.  I almost “spilled” watching them!

Richland County Fair ride

Judging/Showmanship Day was an all day affair.  We didn’t get home till almost 10 and then we had to rush to put all our ducks at home away. 

Typical fair days on Tuesday and Wednesday – early morning pen check and feeding, early evening pen check and feeding.  We probably spent a lot of unnecessary time there but we had fun meeting all kinds of new people and checking out all the other exhibits at the fair.

Thursday was Barnyard Olympics and Auction day.  Lexie teamed up with our neighbor and 4H group member to compete against other kids doing things like jumping hay bales, tire rolling, sack races, and an egg toss.  The Olympics started at 1 and we were warned that she would get dirty.  Oh no!  Judging starts at 5 and she has to be presentable!  We brought extra clothes and shower supplies just in case.   

Richland County Fair 2013 Barnyard Olympics

  The auction started at 5 in the evening and we finally finished up around 9.  The kids handled it all very well and will get a nice check each come September.

Richland County Fair 2013 Poultry Auction Richland County Fair 2013Poultry Auction

 

 

 

 

 

   Making big bucks for all their hard work!

 

Friday turned out to be the last day for us.  The animals were sold at auction and the meat processor came to pick them up early on Friday morning.  We slept in (ha ha) and arrived at the fair in the afternoon.  The kids were scheduled to work at the fair Dairy Bar with their 4H group.  They spent 3 hours serving up ice cream (and eating a bit too) while Todd and I went and cleaned up the empty pens in the Poultry Barn.  After their shift was over we stopped in at Family Fun night and socialized with the other 4H families.  Our fair week was over and it was a little sad to see it go.  Just a little, I was overdue for a nap!

We had a fun, busy week and the kids are already making plans for next year.  I wish we had gotten them into 4H a couple of years ago.  They really do learn a lot and meet lots of other kids with similar interests.  By next spring I will be all rested up and ready to do it all over again!  Fairs do kind of make you feel like a kid again… until you get home and chores are waiting, work piling up, and everyone wants to be fed.  Yep.  Counting down until the next one.

Don’t even get me started on fair food.  Maybe somebody should think about starting a smoothie vendor.  Or salad bar.  Or… okay, I give.  A lot of people go to the fair just for the food.  Greasy fries, corn dogs, deep-fried Twinkies and Oreos.  No kidding.  Unfortunately there’s not much food there for someone who is intolerant to corn, soy, sugar, gluten, and artificial colors and flavors.

But that’s a story for a different day!

Beeten by Ducks

It seems that every post lately has been about baby ducks.  Well…. here’s another one.  We found Molly sitting in the barn with a clutch of 19 little ones.  I’m not even keeping count anymore.Muscovy duck with babies

There’s one more (ugh.) momma sitting on her eggs and that is it.  No more Muscovy babies.  None.  Nada.  Zilch.  We’ve been snagging any eggs we find before they can decide to sit again.  We’ve got babies coming out of our ears.  Some are dinky and some are almost fully feathered.  Enough baby excitement for one year!  I’ve learned that Muscovy ducks are prolific layers and hatchers.  They make excellent mothers.  They are comical to watch, quiet, and come in all kinds of beautiful colors and patterns. Muscovy ducks And they’re friendly.  Molly and Jade (with all of her offspring) come up to us every morning and chirp once for a handful of corn.  We will be sticking with Muscovy ducks for a while.  They forage well and don’t like playing in mud puddles.  Pekins on the other hand, love water and mud.  The messier the better for them.  Not great at foraging.  Not broody.  Quite mouthy at times.  Only come in white (or brown if they’ve found dirt and water).  They are cute and have expressive eyes.  And if they know you have dog food they are your best friend!  Unfortunately the Pekins aren’t going to be sticking around for long.  For us it is more cost effective to raise Muscovy ducks than it is to have Pekin ducks.  Sorry guys!  One thing about Pekins though, they love storms!  These guys hang through the yuckiest weather.  Except for heat.  It gets warm and they start panting.  Muscovy ducks tolerate heat well and are pretty tolerant of the cold too.  Enough said.

Pekin ducks in garden

We finally caught a break from all of the rain that we’ve been getting around here.  It rained for days on end.  Then came the heat.  I don’t do heat.  Nope.  I wither.  I started my search for the perfect place to live again.  No temps over 80.  No temps under 35.  Not too much rain, clouds, or wind.  I like to enjoy all 4 seasons a little each year.  Anybody know of a place like that?  Anyway… with all of the rain it got a little mushy around the pond.  Big tractor, mushy grass, muddy banks and you get…

Wheelhorse tractor in pond

Yep.  The tractor took a dunk.  Luckily no one was hurt.  I know, you’re probably thinking that this was my doing.  Usually you’d be correct in that assumption.  But HAH!  Not this time!!!  This was my honey’s boo-boo.  (Okay, right now I’m giggling to myself because I just made what’s known around here as a “Mommy joke”.  Honey Boo Boo.  Get it?  Not that I’ve ever watched the show.  Mommy jokes are my weird sense of humor which sometimes I’m the only that gets it at all.)  Poor guy had just spent days servicing the motor, changing the oil, washing and waxing the tractor, and changing the air filter.  Then this happens.  Mind you, this wasn’t such a big deal because Todd did it.  Nope.  It happened, done and over.  HHhhhmmmm… wonder what would have been said if it was actually me that did this?  Just saying.  Like that time I hit the fence and broke the fence panel down?  Okay, I feel vindicated now!

Our garden has loved the rain.  I can’t believe how big all the weeds have grown!  I mean, plants have grown.  This is one battle that we may not win.  There’s always next year.  We got a large harvest of beets last week.  So I started canning.  Not a bright idea in 100+ heat and humidity with no air conditioning.  But that’s me.  Have beets, must preserve and persevere!

fresh garden beets

We gathered all the beets.

garden beets prepped for canning

Cut the tops off (used some for juicing – YUM!) and scrubbed all the dirt off.

garden beets prepped for canning

Boiled the beets for 10 to 15 minutes until the skin came easily off.  Saved the beet water to use for hot packing the jars.  Quartered the beets, put them into quart jars, added the hot water leaving 1” of headspace in the jar, cleaned off the rim, put on lids and…

pressure cooker

Processed the jars in a pressure cooker for 35 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure.

canned garden beets

We now have 21 quarts of beets saved up for winter.  There’s still a whole row of beets left in the garden for eating fresh.  But that’s for another day.  Right now, I’m beet.  (tee hee!  Mommy humor!)

This Really Stinks.

Our last Momma Muscovy final hatched her eggs a couple of days ago during the storms.  She is now officially known as “Super Mom” because she hatched 23 ducklings.  I think our official count is now standing at 13 adult Pekins, 3 baby Pekins, a Khaki Campbell drake, 4 adult Toulouse geese, 2 goslings, an African goose, a Toulouse-Canadian(?) goose mix, 7 adult Muscovy ducks, 40 Muscovy ducklings, 22 laying hens, 1 rooster, and Lexie’s 8 Pekin ducklings for 4-H.  That’s around 103 feathered friends in our pasture.  Let’s not forget the 20 broiler chicks that will be arriving in 2 days.  Some of the chicks will be sold, some will be bred, and some will be dinner this winter.  This is for the birds. I won’t even talk about the zoo inside!

We spent all day Saturday weeding the garden.  I’m not even posting a picture.  I’m mortified.  We just got it all planted three weeks ago and soo many weeds.  Nik reminds me that they are edible weeds so technically we’re still growing food.  Whatever.  I want my cucumbers and lettuce and snap peas.  Needless to say, we were all sore and tired by the end of the day.  Sad thing is, we didn’t even get it finished.  OOooh, the shame!

We’ve got a couple of houseguests this week.  Jaxson and Jaylee, my parent’s slightly spoiled dogs (with slightly being used very loosely).  dogs Poor little puppies won’t eat unless you hand feed them.  And they totally hog the bed.   Poor Todd is moving to the guest room to try and get some sleep tonight!  Only 6 more days.  Love you dearly guys but these pups are a handful!!!    And do you want to know how to get your parents to call and chat with you on a daily basis – take their dogs!!! *wink*  We’re dog watching while they’re on a family vacation with my aunt at a beach house in Florida.  Wait a minute.  Family vacation.  Aren’t we family??!  Well.  I see where I rank.  It’s totally beside the point that I would have had to graciously decline the invitation due to all the commotion around here.  Never even crossed their minds to ask us.  This really stinks.  Just kidding guys!  Take it all lightly, we love both you and your dogs!  I’m feeling all that love from the deep south!  But really, does Jaylee have to sleep on my desk while I do my work?  Tsk, tsk.

puppy

Father’s Day here was rainy, cloudy, and cool.  Not at all like that sunshine and 90 degree temps in Florida.  Sorry, couldn’t help myself!  We had a “lazy day” and I roasted a chicken with rice stuffing for dinner.  I tried out a new recipe from Simply Living Healthy for some carrot cake bars.  I loved this recipe because it’s one of the few baked goods I can actually enjoy these days.  No corn, soy, canola, eggs, white flour, gluten, sugar… yep, I know, sad, isn’t it?  We all thought it tasted good and I’ll definitely be making it again.

Carrot Cake Bars

  • 1 1/2 cups blanched almond flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 3 eggs (I used flax meal)
  • 2 Tbsp butter (I used coconut oil), melted
  • 1/4 cup real maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 cups grated carrots
  • 1/2 cups chopped nuts
  • 1/2 cup raisins

Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees.  Grease and 8×8 baking pan for bars or a 9×13 pan for cake and line with parchment paper.

In large bowl, combine flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  In separate bowl, mix together eggs, oil, and maple syrup.

carrot cake bars batter

Stir wet ingredients into the dry.

carrot cake bars batter

Spread batter into prepared pan.  Bake for 22 to 25 minutes.  Cool to room temperature.  You can top with frosting and sprinkle on more nuts, but they were yummy as is.  I forgot to take a picture of the end result.  In too much of a hurry to eat a slice!  One of these days I’ll figure out how to make these recipes printable for you.  That would be nice, huh?!

Oh, to  put the cherry on top of our stinky weekend, I’d like for you to meet Daisy.  Our little stinker!  She just finished eating some yogurt so she has a little white nose.

baby skunk

At least Todd got to kick back and catch a little nap on Father’s Day.

napping  baby skunk

Awww.  So cute!  I think I’m liking these stinky days!

A Baby Boom in the Laundry Room

Whew!!  The baby boom seems to be over… for now.  Our first Muscovy hatched 4 babies (all were Muscovy, one will be white), Jade (another Muscovy) hatched 13 little ones.  Muscovy duck and ducklings The same day, Jill hatched her eggs.  We saw 2 goslings.  Jill left the nest with only one of them.  The remaining little baby couldn’t use its legs.  We brought it into the house with a heat lamp and Lexie spent the evening trying to get the baby stronger and eating.  Around midnight Lexie woke me up and told me the gosling wasn’t raising its head anymore.  We had to make the decision to let it die.  It was a hard night for Lexie, she had grown attached to that little baby.  But she pulled up her “big girl britches” and did what had to be done.   

Two days later, another Muscovy mom hatched a Pekin baby on her own and then Nik and I helped hatch another 2 Pekin babies for her.  She had the Pekin eggs (which hatch in 28 days) and Muscovy eggs (which hatch in 35 days) in her nest in the Pekin duck box.  We didn’t see a problem with the set-up until the eggs started hatching.  We have 14 ducks that spend their nights in the Pekin box.  Momma started hatching her eggs in there and we started to get worried that the babies would get trampled.  Not to mention that Momma wouldn’t let any of the Pekins in to lay eggs so getting them all in there at night would be a problem.  So early in the evening we moved Momma and her 3 babies into a stall in the barn.  We took as much of her original nest as we could along with her remaining eggs.  No such luck.  She refused to sit on her nest.  At that point we were just relieved that she looked after her new babies.  We lost quite a few babies, but definitely learned from our mistake.  This same day we finally cleaned out Jill’s nest.  We found another egg that hadn’t hatched yet.  We hatched that baby and put it in with Momma Muscovy’s newly hatched little ones.  So now we have 2 goslings!  It’s just that one thinks it’s a duck.  Should be interesting to see how that works out!

Other than that, Lexie got her 8 Pekin ducklings for 4-H, we have yet another Muscovy that will be hatching soon, Nik gets his 20 broiler chicks next week, the garden needs some serious weeding, but on a good note we finally got all the mulching of the flower beds done!

I took about 20 minutes and squeezed in some time to make a batch of laundry detergent.  I’ve been making my own laundry detergent for about a year now. LOVE it.  No more stinky armpit smelling shirts.  I hated it when you put on a shirt and it smelled like flowers, then when you started working and heating up, it ranked like last nights garlic dinner.  It was a smell that went away temporarily but always came back with lousy timing.  No more yellow stains under the pits either.  Our clothes are clean.  Not just perfumed and enhanced with optical brighteners.  Really clean.  I started with a very basic simple recipe that I found online and enhanced it after doing some research.  I read a great article from one of my favorite blogs, Little House in the Suburbs that goes into the science behind the makings of laundry detergent.  And tadaa!  Cheap, very effective laundry detergent!

Homemade Laundry Detergent

  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 2 cups Arm & Hammer washing soda
  • 2 bars finely grated bar soap
  • 1/4 cup Rid-X Septic System treatment
  • 1/2 cup OxyClean
  • 1 1/2 tsp tea tree essential oil

Homemade laundry detergent supplies

 

I know, who puts septic system treatment into their laundry?  Well, I do.  It’s made with 100% B.Subtilis protein enzyme cleaner that removes protein stains from your laundry.  Safe for your water systems and safe on your clothes.  What’s really cool is that while you are washing your laundry, you’re also treating your septic system!  Bonus use!  Like I said, I’ve been using this over a year with no problems. 

I use a little bit of salt since we have hard (very hard) water.  The salt helps to set and revive colors that the hard water leaves dingy.  It also helps to stop the “bleeding” of colors. 

grated bar soap for homemade laundry detergent

I used a 3-pack of Jergens Pure & Natural soap from the dollar store.  I try to look for the soap with the least harmful ingredients.  One of these days I’ll make my own to use!  Let the bars sit and “dry out” for a day or two.  It makes it much easier to grate.

The tea tree oil is antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, antiparasitic, antiseptic, and antimicrobial.  And it has a clean fresh scent.

Powdered homemade laundry detergent

Mix all the ingredients up and whirl it for a minute in a food processor until you get a fine powdery concoction.

I like to make a triple batch at a time.  That way I have enough to last me at least 6 months.  And that’s doing 6 or 7 loads of laundry a week!

I broke down the cost of making my own compared to a cheap store bought box.  Homemade detergent costs about 10 cents per ounce and the store bought costs 11 cents per ounce.  I only use 1 1/2 Tbsp per load.  So I can get much more out of my box than a store bought box.  Not to mention that I know exactly what chemicals and ingredients are in my detergent.  I’m bombarded with enough chemicals in my food, I don’t want to wear them too.

No fabric softener.  I fill my fabric softener compartment with white vinegar.  The real stuff, not the petroleum-based vinegar.  As long as your vinegar states that it is made from grain, you’re okay.  I used to buy the cheap stuff until I found out that it was made from petroleum.  I’ve got enough gas, thank you very much, don’t fill my food up with it too.  The vinegar rinses any residue off of your clothes and leaves them naturally soft with no static cling.  You won’t have that flowery smell though.  But you could add lavender essential oil to the vinegar.  Don’t worry about smelling like vinegar either.  The vinegar odor dissipates as it dries.  No smelling like vinegar-dipped garlic and onions here!!!

Sorry Nik!  Not trying to discriminate against garlic and onions!  Personally I love them both.  I just don’t want to smell like them!

Let me know if you’ve tried your own homemade laundry detergent or if you have any suggestions for improving mine.

It’s a good thing ducks don’t wear diapers.

Yippee!!!  The babies started hatching this morning!  Yesterday we were discussing whether we needed to scoot Momma off her nest to check on the eggs and wahlah! the babies were peaking out of the nest this morning!  I was getting worried that Momma was sitting on a nest of duds and would starve herself to death waiting for them to hatch.  Such a dedicated duck.  Not sure if I would starve myself for my kids, luckily I haven’t had that challenge presented to me.  “Oh yeah, that Mom ate the last chocolate bar while her kids starved to death.” Okay, okay… I’m just kidding!  I would break that chocolate bar into 3 pieces and share!  Of course I would have the biggest piece. 

I have learned to ALWAYS mark the calendar when a duck (or goose for that matter) starts incubating her eggs.  You think that you’ll remember (how could you forget your first nesting duck?) but trust me, you won’t.  So, I wrote down the babies birth date first thing. I won’t make that mistake again!Muscovy ducklings We have three babies that we know of.  We’re waiting to see if more happen to hatch.  Momma has 2 Muscovy babies and a Pekin baby.  When she started getting all broody we decided to put a couple of Pekin eggs in with her to try and hatch some of our other ducks.  At that time we didn’t have any broody Pekins.  Now we have a couple of broody hens and another Muscovy that has planted herself in the Pekin box with a big clutch of eggs.  I’ll try not to worry about having too many babies.  Out of a clutch of 18, only 3 have hatched so far.  Remind me that I said that after the next 4 nests start hatching.  Oh, and let’s not forget the goose nest.  She started incubating her eggs shortly after Momma Muscovy did.  Any day now on her babies!

Our farm has expanded on the chicken front too.  We just added 9 hens and a rooster.  Now we have a total of 23 chickens.    They’re an eclectiRooster and Chickensc bunch – some Barred Rocks, Golden Comets, New Hampshire Reds, Easter Eggers, and Rhode Island Reds.  They are all good girls (and a boy) and produce a lot of eggs for us.  Nothing says you are living on a farm like having a rooster crow at 5:30 in the morning!  His name is Buck.  Not at all mean and nasty like I’ve heard that some roosters (boys) can be.  So far so good!  Aaawww!  Maybe we’ll have little baby chickens!  Great.  You’ll read about the crazy lady in the newspaper that has been hoarding duck, goose, and chicken babies.  That’ll be me. Hand-feeding Chickens Can’t help it – they’re too cute!  And I never knew how friendly chickens can be.   Just ask Lexie.  She goes out to the pasture and all the chickens come running like they are so happy to see her!  Of course she spends all her free time sitting out there and hand feeding them. I think that I’ll start bribing the animals too.  I’ll exert my pecking order.  Yep.  Just kidding!  Our poultry is friendly and happy to see all of us. 

                                                                                                                                                     Except for when you take eggs out of their nests.  Muscovy Duck Poor Molly about had a fit when I emptied her nest.  Sorry girl, but we already have too many Muscovy nests for now!  Maybe we’ll let her hatch a brood later this year.  See?  Here I go again with the babies!  I seem to forget that the kids both have babies coming for 4H next month!

Speaking of babies… our wild Canadian goose babies are all hatched and growing up just fine.  Like we really had anything to do with it!  There are 2 families and 6 babies.  They spend their time in the pond and sometimes wander up into the back yard.  They go right up to the pasture and you have to wonder if they are talking to our geese.Canadian Geese and Babies  

Like “Hey, come on out and play with us!”

“Sorry, I can’t today.  I’m on baby watch.”

And so am I.  Let the baby circus begin.