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The chicks came today. I was going to order 25, but since I was ordering 2 different breeds, I decided to make it 30—I guess I got a little OCD, and just couldn’t decide which breed I would get one more of! Pesky odd numbers. So anyway, the hatchery called to tell us they had shipped the chicks, and said they had some extra in the hatch, so they threw in an extra 5 of each breed. So now, instead of 25-ish, we’ve got 40, which feels a little more like 50-ish!

It was spring all winter; now it’s definitely summer. I’m dealing with the odd seasons oddly—I’m confused and rushed. I haven’t done a thing in the garden, in part due to the tennis elbow I’ve developed working at the dairy. Tennis elbow isn’t a joke, as it turns out—it’s seriously debilitating! I may have to give up my remaining shift at the dairy to let it heal.

We sold the two Dexter cross calves—Hester from last year, and Maeby’s new calf. We just don’t like the Dexters, and there’s always the issue of breeding when you have a breed that’s smaller than any of the other breeds in your area. We would have to find Dexters to breed to, or Dexter crosses, and they’re not very common here.

I’ve also sold the Khaki Campbells. They are just too much of a pain to deal with; a pond or stream would help, but it also turns out I don’t really digest duck eggs all that well. Chickens and chicken eggs are more my thing. We’re keeping our little flock of Anconas and one Muscovy—they’re so much calmer than the Khakis, and then we’ll have a few duck eggs for DH.

I’m spending a lot of days in the kitchen making cheese right now. The girls are bringing in 6-7 gallons of milk a day, and we’re about to have a goat and a few sheep in milk. The relentless tide has begun! ED and I (and DH and Bernard to a lesser degree) are revisiting the idea of a small licensed cheesemaking facility—a micro-creamery. I’ll keep you all posted on those plans! Meanwhile, I’m pleasantly lost in the world of acid titration, butterfat, and flocculation.

The duckies sleep in the greenhouse at night, and lately, on rainy days they stay in there, too. This is not because they wouldn’t love to be outside in the rain—they would—but because they make a disgusting mucky mess of the front yard when it’s wet. And this makes me very grouchy. So, until we have some way to keep them out of the yard, these funky, cool days are indoor days for duckies.

DH and I worked outside for most of today, mainly cleaning up flower beds, doing a little rock work, and planting pansies (me), and firewood (him). It was reasonably warm and reasonably sunny, especially for early December, and it was so nice to be outside all day.

 

I bought some new solar lights for the ducks, and I also moved the chickens closer to the ducks and now they have a light, too. It remains to be seen if this will cause more eggs to be laid. These are much brighter lights, so here’s hoping!

The chickens are molting right now, which is pretty late–seems like ours usually molt in August or September—so we’re getting no eggs at all from them. The ducks also had completely stopped laying, though they weren’t molting.  On our trip to Florida in September, my mom gave me a bunch of those little solar garden lights, the kind you push into the ground along paths and walkways. A couple of weeks ago I put them in the greenhouse where the ducks spend the night, and two days later we got three eggs. We’ve averaged two eggs a day ever since! I’m going to look around for a brighter light—but it still has to be solar, since there’s no power up there at the greenhouse—and one for the chickens, too. I would really like eggs this winter!

I added a couple of hens to my four in the chicken tractor yesterday evening. My friend down the road seems to have become the chicken equivalent of a horse trader, and she kindly hooked me up with a lovely Black Giant hen, and a White Leghorn, which for some reason has become one of my very favorite breeds. We added them to the tractor last night at dusk, and so far there has been no squabbling at all: six mellow hens and one bantam rooster who thinks he’s died and gone to heaven.