Ruffled Feathers and Spilled Milk

Farming with ducks and dairy goats, chickens and children.

Testing, 1, 2, 3….

Posted on | February 11, 2013 | 5 Comments

It’s hard to maintain the status quo on a farm.  We’re always trying something.  Changing something.  Testing something.  And that’s just us.  The animals have their own agendas, too.

This week we decided to start milking Charlotte.  I usually wait 3 weeks after kidding before milking a doe.  But Cassie was only nursing off one teat so I was having to express milk out of the unused side each night anyway.  Figured I might as well put Charlotte on the stand and get her used to the process.  Her first milking test went well.  Oh, there were some rookie mistakes.  Like poor head placement in the stanchion.

But after the first few kicks she settled down and proved she has the makings of a great dairy goat.  Nice work, Charlotte.  And while I was testing Charlotte, Cassie was testing me.  She tried to see how badly I would panic and how desperately I would search if the first kid of the season went missing.  Can you find her?

Not funny, punk.  Not funny at all.

Yesterday we got a chance to test our Silkies’ magical powers of broodiness.  One of our Silkie hens was setting in the nest box each night when we collected eggs.  So we decided to give her a nest box of her own with some of the Silkie eggs we collected when the temperatures were in the 20’s.  We figured those eggs may not even be viable so we could afford to give them to her to see if Silkies are as broody as people claim.


In other nesting news, the Muscovy ducks that were born here but migrated to our neighbor’s pond have returned home for breeding season.  Freddy, our stationary male, has been happy with the presence of the new females.

But he is not enjoying the visiting male.  Who, figuring turnabout was fair play,  arrived to scope out the females that have remained here.  He’s really testing poor Freddy’s nerves.  And they engage in a fierce tail-waggling competition each morning.

While the males are otherwise occupied, one of the females has tested the chicken nest boxes and found them perfectly suited for her needs.

Setting us up for another season of trying to keep the chickens out of what is now the duck’s nest box.  And failing that, finding lonely chicks wandering around the barn yard, having hatched out under the duck after 21 days, and been left to their own devices as she waits for her ducklings to hatch at 35 days.  Good thing day old chicks are easy to pawn off on visiting children.  Oh, it’s soooo cute!  Don’t you want to hold it?  Don’t you want to take it home??????  Hang on, I bet I’ve got a box around here somewhere….

Not everything has proven to be aggravating, though.  The bucks have put The Other Half’s new goat trough to quite a test.  We used to feed the bucks with individual hanging troughs to keep the pushing and shoving to a minimum.  But the troughs always got knocked down and someone was forced to walk through the buck stench to rehang them, while the bucks excitedly danced around on toes and brushed their extreme stinkiness against barn coats.  But the trough has held firmly to the fence, withstood the daily butting, and even drains perfectly on rainy days thanks to holes he made on the bottom.  Excellent work, The Other Half.

Although the new feeder has not resolved one old problem.  The way TS immediately puts his face in the trough and refuses to move it.  Just the way he did with his old trough.  So that he ends up with as much feed on his head as in his trough.  Some problems (and some bucks) are just too tough to fix.

We’re down to the last hay roll.  Which passed its initial taste testing.  So far no signs of the mold, dirt, or unappetizing stemminess we found in the first hay roll.  It has also been chicken-approved by those ladies who refuse to use nest boxes.  Poultry handbooks will say that chickens require private, quiet, and darkened areas for laying their eggs.  Guess that means Stellaluna is a bit of a showboat.

Speaking of showboating,  someone in the brooder room has been testing his crow.  Apparently not all those Silkie chicks were pullets.  Look out, Thunder.  This little guy might be putting you to the test in the future!


5 Responses to “Testing, 1, 2, 3….”

  1. Courtney and Nils
    February 11th, 2013 @ 5:14 pm

    A new baby goat!! How exciting!!!!

  2. Kim
    February 14th, 2013 @ 10:55 am

    I love the way your chickens lay exactly where they feel like it – regardless of if its their nest or someone else’s! That is also a very cute Silkie…..

  3. Jocelyn
    February 14th, 2013 @ 10:22 pm

    Okay, have you ever written up your Origin Story with regards to farming? Did you grow up on a farm? If not, how did you come to this life of great competency whilst appreciating the vagaries of All Creatures Great and Small?

  4. admin
    February 15th, 2013 @ 4:36 am

    Competency is a strong word. Here we are just willing to try anything at least once. Maybe twice as long as no one died the first time.

  5. Practical Parsimony
    February 15th, 2013 @ 9:12 pm

    My hens are willing to try anything once, then they make it a habit. They decided they would sleep on top of their Rubbermaid box that serves as home, nest box, and bedroom. But, they are both sweet and lay delicious eggs.

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