This is Suzy. Her companions are Zoro and Flappy Bird.
I will be the first to admit that they are still around as Flappy bird was the constant companion of Suzy last summer, until puberty hit. There is something about Suzy that makes her very likeable and because of that we decided to keep her, flappy and a mate also got to stick around to see if we can hatch out some baby ducklings in the Spring time.
Flappy and Zoro had hit it off right from the very beginning and I think that is why Suzy got close to us humans. It was sad over time though to see the other two ducks off as a happy couple and Suzy off by oneself. It is still that way but I think things are changing. My husband happily announced on valentines day that We may see ducklings from Suzy yet. This is quite exciting to us as farmers as we were trying to figure out how to separate the eggs so we were not trying to hatch out unfertilized ones. Does not sound like much of an issue anymore and now we face a bigger challenge of how to get Suzy to stop eating her eggs.
Late last fall she and Flappy had begun to lay eggs but we have unsuccessfully been able to retrieve them at all. Although they are free range ducks, we may have to pen them up for at least a couple of weeks so we can try to get their eggs.
If any one has any suggestions on how to to get the ducks to stop eating their eggs, I would appreciate the advice. Spring is just around the corner and I cannot wait to update this blog with pictures of our success.
Einstein & Suzy
Einstein was our very first farm animal. I seen this funky rooster on the Internet and decided if we were going to have chickens, then we may as well have funky chickens. We drove an hour and a half to retrieve him and his two hens. Chicken life was a lot of fun when there was only the three of them. it amazed me how they would go back to the same stick every night and roost. Once they has settled in for the night we could go up to them, pat them, handle them. Our meat chickens arrived a few months later and then they still would go back to the same place to roost every single night. The following summer we had lost one of the funky hens in the Spring and unfortunately lost the last one a month later. It was sad as they had just started to lay their teeny tiny eggs and we were hoping that their natural instinct would kick in and we could breed some of our own. Endless searches later we have still not found some more hens for poor Einstein and the other Roosters on the property will not allow him to have their hens.
Suzy arrived at our farm as a day old. I was petrified of birds and had very little to do with the ducks other than watch them play and grow and have fun on the yard. Suzy is a Muskovey duck and her flock was scheduled to be culled the Thanksgiving weekend. Prior to the cull, I was having second thoughts about the ducks. They had begun to follow me around and beg for ripe tomatoes. Suzy in particular had gotten very smart and had begun to tap on the patio door for fresh bread and water. We had a predator attack just before the weekend and fortunately for Suzy she was spared. Her and two others, a male and a female. The other two ducks decided to pair up immediately after the attack. There was a definitive mating pair and Suzy was alone.
Einstein had taken to calling and calling and calling for his hens. Fortunately his cock a doodle doo was not painful to the ears, it was just sad to watch him look for his beloved hens. I am not 100 percent sure when exactly it was that I noticed that Einstein and Suzy had located each other but I did notice one day that he did not cock a doodle doo for endless hours. I started to notice that whenever I seen one, then the other was not too far behind. I called them the odd couple but for some reason they found comfort in each others company. It went on like that for the rest of the summer and into the winter.
Winter brought some new challenges as EInstein had moved into the coop last winter and continues to retreat there every night. We moved Suzy into the garage as the other pair is still not accepting. It will be interesting to see if this unlikely pair reunite this Spring. Although we are still hoping to find Einstein some hens and I am pretty sure we will look for a mate for Suzy as well.
Let’s talk about my new passion.. turkey..
This was our first year raising turkeys.
I just liked the taste of turkey and wanted something other than rabbit and chicken so we decided to add some turkeys to our little sustainable farm. I have to admit when we first embarked on this journey I was not 100 percent sure how I would feel raising the animals and then culling them for the freezer. I guess by starting our journey with cute little rabbits, it made everything else fall comfortably into place. Turkeys and ducks seemed like the logical next move for our one acre sustainable farm.
We bought the turkeys as three week olds. They cost us $12 a piece and were a cross between a wild turkey and a tame turkey. My husband was sure we were going to lose some so we ordered 10. The supplier must have thought we were going to lose some as well because they sent us a couple of extra. All 12 survived and turned into Hundreds of pounds of meat. In five months we were able to fill our freezer with more turkey than an average family eats.
I think the thing that surprised me the most is the diversified meat of the turkey.
Before we grew our own, I would buy the odd supermarket turkey and try to get creatative with it. I would make hotsandwiches, cold sandwiches, pasta and soup. A supermarket turkey with the right Planning could give us about 5 meals.
We had our first homegrown turkey at Thanksgiving. I remember it was a fair size. I think he was about 27 pounds. I was shocked about how easily I was able to bring the turkey in from the outside and place him into the oven. We had possibly the best tasting turkey dinner in our lives and I sat there looking at all the meat that was left over. I cannot remember exactly how many meals we were able to get off him but I think it was about 12.
We culled a turkey the other day. We had the full intention of just cutting him up into parts but my husband carefully dressed him. Had he been actually able to fit into the oven we probably would have kept him to roast. However at 40lbs, he had no chance of fitting in the oven.
We are just settling into winter and have decided to take some of our turkeys into the winter with us. Our hopes being that the two hens and the two toms will successfully breed and make our farm a little more sustainable with regards to our animals.
I have to say I really enjoyed raising the turkeys, aside from the huge amounts of feed they would ingest each and every day. They interacted with us enough to entertain us but kept a certain amount of distance as well. My husband could handle them but for the most part they had a you can look but you cant touch policy. They were friendly enough to co-exist with but kept enough distance we didn’t make pets out of them. I am beginning to find that a very important factor in the “raise our own food” adventure that we are on.
It is funny that I started my blog at the very moment that I
decided to increase the animals on the farm. Little did I know how much time they would occupy. It is not the time that it takes to care for them..but the time that I enjoy them. The small moments like the one captured by the pumpkins. Such beautiful happy ducks. I find that I cannot wait to finish supper so that I can rush out and watch them take their bath in the pool before they look to me to put them back in the pen for the night. How smart they were when the night that the coyotes were howling that they broke into my tomatoe patch to hide. I am going to miss the ducks and the turkeys. There time on this earth was well spent. They got to eat, relax, play and rest.
They like many of our animals are meant to be raised for food. We had to really work through the process. We had to come to terms with the reality that they all would face at the end of the summer. We made their time here though as happy and comfortable as we could. We had a big butcher day last Sunday. I am not really sure why we chose Sunday..but we did. Each Sunday marked off in our calendar as a day we process our meat. I am not sure why it has made the process easier but it has. We have a plan and we are sticking with it. Following through on the decisions to raise our own food, process our own food and enjoy the bounty of of journey.
I really wish I had been able to capture more moments on film and video. This journey that we are on is enlightening. One we never consciously chose when we picked our home out. (Otherwise I am sure a barn would have been on the list of must haves.) Our journey with the ducks is coming to an end..next up…
We are having a wet summer. It means that our garden is growing very quickly. We are already into harvesting peas, spinach, rhubarb, Swiss chard and radishes. Each day we are eating directly from our garden and each day I am able to preserve some for the winter. I am already a fan of the grocery bill reduction. I am a fan of the less amount of trips we have to take to the grocery store because “there is nothing to eat in the house.” We are looking forward to more peas though. Perhaps in a few weeks I will be singing a different tune when I am having to shell the peas for the winter. I am thrilled by the amount of food we have been able to harvest with such little effort on our part. I thank each and every one of our rabbits for making this organic farm a possibility.
On the very last day of school my “farm boy” son was taken to the skatepark. We had a skateboard. They had been to the skatepark before. They were a lot younger then and since we moved to the county, there are many more exciting things to do. Like ride his four wheel bike and bicycle.
Pre-teen fearlessness was not his friend as he stood on the top of the skate ramp. The skate board slipped out from under his feet and down he went. Unfortunately my son now has to spend the summer on crutches. I have lost my farmhand for the summer. It pains me to have my young son in such pain and agony as he gets used to his new reality for the summer. We have found that the animals who have comforted us so much over the years are still providing the comfort where desired. The first night home we allowed the dogs to come up and sleep in the living room. They obligingly lay at his side to keep him company. We are grateful to every single one of our animals. More so as each day passes.
The Pokey puppy was my absolute favourite book when I was a child. I wanted a speckled puppy my whole entire life. While we were raising the six children there was not a whole lot of room for dogs. In 2008 I suffered a tremendous loss of my brother through suicide. I ached so completely I could not ever imagine how I would be able to continue. On the day after his funeral a friend asked me to take Brandy as she was working full time and had no time for her. I looked at the beautiful dog. Placed her at my feet in the car and came home with her. I honestly was looking for a distraction. I knew she was high energy. I got more distraction than I could have ever imagined. Two weeks after we got home she gave birth to 11 pups. I needed her in my life. I needed her to help me find a little relief in the tremendous sadness I was feeling. I found homes for all the puppies by placing them on our front porch. People would hear of the porch puppies and come and ask if they could have one.
We had Brandy exclusively for the next year. Without my conscious knowledge, I yearned for a companion for Brandy. Around the anniversary of my brothers death. Off to the pound we went and Libby we seen. Crouched into the corner of her pen. She had lived the first two years of her life inside a cage. It was hard to leave her there as they had to spay her before we could take her home. She was a challenge though. The exact distraction I was looking for. I did the same the next year and then the year after that. Sadie and Bently were my last two distractions. I finally caught on what I had been doing. I was trying so hard to fill the very void that was left in my heart. I now have four of the Pokey puppies. My daughter tells me that I need one more to finish the book. Maybe someday but for now I have all the pokey puppies I can handle.
My husband is a young man of 46. He has had grey hair the entire time I have known him. He recently decided to let it grow and grow and grow. A sharp contrast to the clean shaved face and head he sported last year. My husband loves his animals. There are some who try to bond with us and there are some we try to bond with regardless of their protests. We have a flemmish giant nest at the moment. They color is Chinchillia grey. We have been trying to get this color dominant on our farm as it was the original color of our first buck. The other day he was playing with the bunny as we were trying to get a picture of it and he placed it beside his head. He said, “I think he likes me, he’s got the same color hair” We laughed and enjoyed the moment of joy that the bunnies bring us. There are more and more moments of just joy in our lives.
The ducks have officially moved outside. They live with the little rabbits now and are loving the companionship and fresh greens that they are getting daily. We have a little splash pad in the pen so they can be ducks.
We are Christmas tree farmers so we used one of our stands that display the Christmas trees on our lot as a roost for the turkeys. They immediately caught on what to do. This picture was taken on the second night that they stayed outside. I wish I would have gotten a picture on the first night as they were all in a row and facing the same way. The turkeys are really growing on me. Their pen is located right beside my driveway and they run the length of the driveway as we are driving out. It really is funny to watch.
We are eating quite a bit from our garden and farm right now. Last night I calculated and found that our entire meal may have cost us $2.00. I did purchase a $0.77 cucumber as they are not in season right now and the rest went towards the cost of the ingredients. My kids are complaining less about eating a salad.
Rhubarb crisp..devilled eggs and rabbit chef salad.