Friday, March 30, 2007

Spring Arrives......

Spring is here. The weather has warmed. And no one is happier than the ducks (except for maybe the horses, and the people, and the chickens.....)

It was a tough winter for all of the farm animals. The first unfortunate occurence came early in the winter when one of the horses stepped on the foot of one of the Campbell females. It was obvious that she had sustained a broken leg. Mike desperately tried to help her...splinting her leg with (you guessed it) Duck tape and a stick; until Becky got home from the Vet clinic and could examine her leg. It was apparent that this was a very bad injury that would limit the poor duck, so Becky took her to work with her and under anesthesia amputated her leg. A few days of recuperation in the barn allowed for suficient healing and Eileen (she was given that name at the clinic..."I lean"....for those of you not following) was up and hopping around on one leg. Amazingly, she was the first of the Campbells to learn to fly. It must have occurred to her that flying was much more efficient. Well, Eileen seemed to do pretty well until months later when the winter weather turned bitter cold. It was on one of those particularly chilly days that she did not return to the barn (as is customary every evening). Mike found her body curled up under a pine tree...no suffering, just too much effort for her little body to fight the winter winds. During those cold days another female Campbell disappeared completely. We surmise she was prey for one of the red tailed hawks that we had seen circling overhead with increasing frequency.

The chickens suffered losses over the winter. Their henhouse was kept warm enough with warmer lights and heated water, but there was no keeping the hawks away. Luckily, one of our girls survived an attack. She got away with her life, but lost her scalp in the process. "Scalpy" found her way back to the henhouse that day only to be subsequently attacked by the rest of her flock. This ruthless ostrasizing necessitated the entrance of Scalpy into the chicken relocation program. She spent the rest of her winter with the ducks and soon became queen of the barn. No one messes with Scalpy.....just ask the Barn kitties.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

With the arrival of Mike and Becky, we launched into a series of projects. The first of which came with a trip to the local feed store. Since it was Eastertime, there was a display of ducklings and chicks at the feedstore. I left with 6 chicks....guaranteed to be females and "good layers".

We set up a chicken nursery in the greenhouse and our little black hens grew and grew. We playfully named them Diana Ross and the Supremes until one fateful day when Diana Ross jumped to her demise on the greenhouse floor where she was quickly gobbled up by Monty, the dog. Now there was no head cluck. The remainder of the "flock" continued to thrive and by summer the chickens were re-located to the henhouse. By August we were harvesting eggs on a daily basis....and searching for egg recipes.




The next creature to make it's way to our farm was "Pat"...after androgenous Pat on Saturday Night Live. "Pat" was a tiny mallard duckling that our daughter Amanda had rescued. Apparently abandoned by it's mother, the duckling had imprinted on Amanda and now followed her all around. Amanda brought Pat to the farm and it also imprinted on Mike. Unfortunately, a tiny duckling wandering around in the barn is at risk for getting stepped on by accident. Sadly, "Pat" became "Mat". Distraught over the passing of Pat, Mike decided to order replacements and we soon had 8 ducklings in the greenhouse nursery. Six of these ducks were mallards and 2 were Pekin mixes. After a couple of months of growth it looked as though we had 8 female mallards and 2 female Pekins. Worried over the obvious lack of males, a local Amish farmer donated "Tyrone", a muscovy duck, to our flock. We teasingly called him Tyrone the pimp. He would pompously strut around the females hissing in his most alluring manner. The females were unimpressed.....afterall, Tyrone was rather ugly (what was that nastry red growth on his face anyways?) What we did not know until much later was that it is impossible to tell the sex of a Mallard until after its second molting. As it turned out, we actually had 2 females and 4 males.....now the scales were tipped in the opposite direction. With this discovery, Mike sprang into action.....8 more ducks (this time of the Campbell variety) were added to the flock.

What we eventually came to understand about ducks is....they are the happiest animal on the farm.

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