On farm critters

2008 has definitely become the Year of the New Barnyard Animals, whether we intended it to be or not.

I am certain other farmstead types know of this: you buy a farm, you buy animals (or otherwise acquire them) at an alarming rate. Well, this is our fourth season here and we have fortunately only had a slow acquisition of animal life here. Some animals, though, have just showed up. Like Pigeon, our favorite thief. And now meet our new barn kitty, Little Edie.

She is a dead ringer for our own (indoor) black cat, Echo. Echo is also not at all thrilled she has arrived, but then again Echo has always had issues. She scares the heck out of our dog, too, but the chickens/ducks and chicks/poults/goslings seem unintetresting to her. And of course we think she is pregnant. Tom wants to let her have her kittens, but that is beyond irresponsible, not only for the kittens themselves but for the wild birds that come through our land. I am just fine with having one spayed barn cat, as long as she likes to catch mice and voles. Luckily, she’s a fine hunter, having caught four mice and one vole to our count, after a week of farm life.

The slow-growing meat chicks are just that: slow! I am happy about that. They seem to like to run around and scratch and even jump on a perch, so they are definitely not the same as our last batch of meat blobs. The poults are still quite adorable, and still quite tiny. They still live with the goslings (who are of course getting huge). The goslings groom them, and the poults love to sleep on their backs, so it’s a decent relationship. I swear the poults look like miniature ostriches. They still have their googly eyes and bordering on ridiculous skinny little legs. I adore them. The goslings are also beyond cute: they chirp so readily, and follow you around the lawn. They cannot get enough grass, it would seem. Once they get their feathers they will have their own patch of grass to eat but for now they’re in the tractor during the day. They eat down the whole patch of grass under it. Mowing AND fertilizing!

The ducklings are ducks now. Whew! That didn’t take long: how about a month? They are now bigger than our biggest chicken, Maggie, who’s a quite gigantic seven-pound Black Australorps. They are a cream color, and they are so soft. If you can catch them, that is.

That’s all for now; quite enough critters, if you ask me. Next year will be the year we actually breed poultry on the farm. Step by step, not all at once…let’s just say we like things to progress at a manageable pace around here.

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8 responses to “On farm critters

  1. Great post El, I’m enjoying hearing your experiences with the animals. Your ducks are adorable. Do you know their sex yet? Glad you’re enjoying the poults. They’ll get larger soon, but they’ll still be really friendly. It’s a bit strange having these giant birds all over you!! 🙂

  2. Hi Angie!

    Sex, with the ducks? I don’t know, I just call them all “Dinner!” Really, sexing waterfowl is something I am going to have to learn how to do. I would guess you could tell the difference by their heads: geese and ducks (as opposed to ganders and drakes) have slender, pretty, girly heads. These three obviously look very much alike. Oh but I will need to post more about the geese and the turkeys. They are so cute, so friendly. The geese will follow you absolutely everywhere. And I am also hoping numbers are with me: I got three of each. The chances of getting all three the same sex is fairly slim, so the odd girl or boy out will be dinner, the other two hopefully will become breeding pairs. At least that’s my hope, knock wood!

  3. Wow. Good luck with that.
    The turkey-sex part of Animal, Vegetable, Miracle was the most moving segment of the book for me. Yeah, I’m a perv.

  4. I totally understand the aquiring of animals. I am in my 5th year here and up until now we have only had birds and cats…but this year we added 8 sheep and 3 llamas from a sactuary (the llamas, not the sheep). All of our cats (3) are fixed because if you let them have babies you start to have a problem with feral cats. I was bit by one and I had to have the whole round of rabies shots, not fun, and my hand balooned up to twice it’s size and the cat did not even draw blood! However, getting them fixed can be a huge financial letdown if they are killed. We have lost 3 cats to eagles and owls. Finally our cats have matured and we think they will survive.

  5. Ha! We’re on our 6th season here, and still haven’t expanded beyond the ducks and an annual batch of meatblobs. We operate on Snail Time here. 😉

    The only way I know to sex ducks before the males get that little tail curl is to listen to their voice… a deeper quack says female, and a weaker one says male.

    We are totally going to raise some of those Pekins for meat. One of these days!

  6. CC: Follow me and say, “clow-AH-kah”

    Amber, yeah, I am sensitive to that whole issue (pet neutering). Poor you though with the rabies shots! As a kid I always thought the whole big-shot thing was just my mom trying to scare me from picking up whatever wild creature I was trying to catch at the time. Congrats on the sheep and llamas! You must have great fences 🙂

    Liz, yeah, well you guys are the exception to most rules! But yes look at the size of those Pekins. I figure I have another two weeks, even though I know they will continue to increase in size for a while after that. They are a bit more interesting than the meatblob chickies, too…and readily available. I have Tom convinced (thanks to you) to try the Anconas next year. Eggs! Meat! Wacky-looking duckies!

  7. A female will quack, the way you expect a duck to quack. A male, at this age will just make a barely audible “whoop, whoop” sound. As they get older, a female will get louder and more gregarious with her quack and a male will make a really low, gravelly “braaa, braaa” sound. You can tell the difference quicker by voice, but Liz is right (of course!) that the telltale curl on the guy will give it away too eventually. As will size. A male will start getting larger in size, neck length and leg width.

  8. If I were to guess, I’d say you got 2 males and a female….but that’s purely an intuitive guess at this point! 🙂

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