Wow. I can’t believe June went by so fast! This time of month is always crazy busy in the garden…and this garden was crazier than usual because I had so many new animals. Mom counted all the animals on the farm and asked me to guess how many we had. I think I guessed something like forty. The correct answer? SIXTY-TWO.
Sixty-two critters: chickens, ducks, quail, pigeons, rabbits, guinea pigs, plus one cat and one dog! Of course some of these are not going to be staying here forever. Some are being raised specially for meat (seven chickens have already gone into the freezer), and some are going elsewhere. Two of the black copper marans chicks, for example, have already gone to live with a friend of mine. And I have a few young roosters that will have to leave pretty soon. Anyone want some mottled cochin roos? They are super cute! Or how about a silkie roo?
I LOVE these mottled cochins. They are so adorable, and they are turning into sweeties. They will jump into my lap for a cuddle.
The Muscovy ducks are also proving to be a win for the farm. They are getting HUGE. Especially the drakes. They were always skittish as babies, but now they are realizing that I am the one with the food, and they are taming down enough to let me pet them. I will be keeping three: two hens and a drake. Since I only have two girls, there’s no difficult decision there. As for the drake, I’m pretty sure I’ll be keeping the black one. It’s funny, because that is specifically the one color I said I did not want. I wanted ones with lots of white on them, but either they are super hard to tell from ducklings what color they will be, or the breeder I got them from didn’t know how to tell. She gave me black ones, and chocolate ones, and solid blue ones…and one solitary chocolate and white. Oh well. I love them anyway! And they are already devoted bindweed eaters!
Mom and I roasted marshmellows and hotdogs in the garden Sunday.
Dexter approved wholeheartedly. Especially once we pulled out the hotdogs.
This time of year is crazy-busy-fun on the backyard farm. The garden is growing so fast it’s hard to keep up with everything, and nearly every spare pen/coop I have has babies in it. I love it.
In the bunny barn, I have three different ages of rabbits, all co-existing happily together. I have my original two breeding does, plus babies from two different litters – born about a month apart.
My favorite one from the most recent litter is this blue otter kit.
I was hoping to keep it, if it was a doe, but sadly…I’m nearly 100% sure it’s a buck. Maybe in the next litter I’ll get a keeper.
Ophelia’s foster chicks, the four black copper marans, are growing up. They still sit on her back like she’s a massive pillow…and who can blame them, really? She’s so soft and fluffy! I’ve gotten lucky here, because out of the four, only one is a rooster. I’ll be keeping one of the hens, and the other two girls will be going together to a friend of mine.
Sansa’s foster chicks have been cast out of the nest. They are Red Rangers, a meat breed I’m testing out, and they are already as large as she is. In the below picture, they are the two closest to the camera.
The bigger darker red hen is Charlotte, one of my layers. Beyond her, on the other side of fence are the four Freedom Rangers I’m also trying out as a meat bird. The Freedom Rangers are definitely proving the best. They are larger, easy to handle, and just really plumping out well.
The other chicks are the bantam Mottled Cochins, and the two Silkies.
I’m really falling hard for the cochins. They are so adorable. I have two roosters that will have to be re-homed, plus three hens: Milly, Maisie, and Molly. In the back of the photo, you can see the two silkies. Lucie is the partridge one, in front. I love her coloring, and I hope she is an actual hen. It’s super hard to tell for sure with silkies.
The other silkie, Lola, is a buff color.
In the below picture, you can see how easy it is to sex the cochins, even at this young age. The two on the right are the roos…see how much larger and redder their combs and wattles are?
And then there are the Muscovy ducklings. Taking the advice of the Fit Farmer, I made a screened box for underneath the water, to keep the shavings dry and clean(er). Ducklings are horrifically messy, and wet shavings stink. This helps so very much!
Here’s a video of the ducklings:
That video was taken a week or so ago. They are now MUCH larger, and have outgrown both my indoor brooder, AND the two intermediate secure pens. Their ultimate duck house is not yet finished and predator-proof, so they are currently spending their days in the unfinished duck house, but I’m locking them up in the extra coop at night.
I can’t believe how fast ducklings grow.
In the garden, everything is growing and flowering, including my favorite kitchen flower, the calendula. These self-seed throughout the garden is such a charming way.
A few weeks back, I made a bed in the front yard for more raspberries.
I intended to get the traditional canes to plant, but when I went searching for the variety I wanted, I discovered you can also buy rootstock, which is how the commercial berry producers do it. For a fraction of the cost of bareroot canes, they send you a literal envelope with some thin, cobwebby raspberry roots. You stretch them out in a line, bury with 1/2″ to 1″ of soil, then keep them well-watered, never allowing them to dry out. Unbelievably, they are supposed to grow faster and produce berries sooner than if you’d planted canes!
Mine are starting to sprout little raspberry plants!
Will I really get raspberries this summer? It’s hard to believe, but they are doing very well, and for $10 I got enough rootstock to make a 5 foot row.
One thing already fruiting is the berry I wait for every year: strawberries!
Berries shipped in from CA taste like cardboard to me, and even locally-grown strawberries, while vastly better, still don’t have the full taste they should. Most commercial varieties aren’t grown for taste, but how well they last on the market shelves. These are Shuksan, one of the varieties that is considered one of the BEST tasting berries ever grown. I can personally attest that they taste fantastic!
Yesterday was the perfect weather to be outside. Notice how happy my mom is to finally be out there building the coop!
This coop needs to get built, because the chicks are being mailed from My Pet Chicken the week of June 28th. I already have a couple of ‘play dates’ lined up, because everyone wants to come and cuddle the babies!
We decided upon 11 chickens, 9 of which are all different breeds. Besides the Cuckoo Maran and the Easter Egger I’d previously blogged about, we are getting THREE bantam silkies, two white ones and a buff. They may not lay as many eggs as the other breeds, but they make up for it with sheer gorgeousness.
My Pet Chicken has this to say about Silkies:
Of all the ornamental chicken breeds, the Silkie Bantam is one of the most popular and beloved, and certainly one of the most entertaining to watch. Can’t you tell why? They’re the lap kitty of the chicken world, complete with hair-like plumage and an incredibly sweet temperament. We have heard it said that Silkies are like a “flock” of kittens… but unlike your other pets, your chickens can actually provide your breakfast! Silkies originated in the Far East, where they are still kept (and eaten) today. They have black skin and bones and 5 toes instead of the normal 4. In addition, Silkie hens make wonderful brooders and mothers, and are even known to adopt baby ducks if given the chance!
Here’s a video, so you can appreciate just how gorgeous they are:
I think they look like gryphons!
I’ve always wanted a bantam chicken just for the eggs. I like miniature things! Here’s a comparison, standard to bantam:
It comes as little surprise to me that, precisely as I predicted, Obama’s reaction to our crashing economy is to add another trillion+ in national debt by giving us another “stimulus package”. In fact, so eager is he to further sink our economy that he can’t even wait until he’s sworn in. How any sane person can believe these packages are a good idea is beyond me. It’s like giving a drowning person a brick – it gives him something to hold onto, but it sends him to the bottom that much faster. Click on the link below for real, genuine ideas to save the economy:
But until we get a president with a clue, I’ll take my check, and I’ll let Obama buy me a chicken coop. We’re designing it right now, and planning the breeds of chickens to buy through www.mypetchicken.com Besides the standard-sized egglayers, we’re getting a few Silkie Bantams. These chickens are an amazingly bizarre breed with a history – they were brought over from China by Marco Polo.
And they are so cute. I think they look like miniature gryphons.
Real eggs, as opposed to those sickly and tasteless store-bought imitations, bug and slug control, free manure for my garden, and affectionate new pets that love to lap-sit and snuggle – you can’t deny that chickens are awesome.
So good luck to you, Mr. Obama. Thanks for the hen house, and it’ll be interesting to see what happens once everyone realizes you’re already begun breaking your campaign promises, before you’re even in office. That has to be some kind of record.
Change. Remember that word, Mr. Obama? Change means doing something different, not just to just keeping repeating the previous administration’s mistakes. At least in my back yard, though, the results of your “stimulus” will be crap that’s actually beneficial to my garden.