Monday, April 29, 2013

Ahhhhhhhhhhhh Spring!

I can smell grass! It smells lovely.

So here's the count of animals  here:
7 adult geese
4 adult ducks
3 roosters, 4 hens
6 female goslings
3 ducklings of indeterminate gender
6 bantam chicks of indeterminate gender
28 duck eggs incubating
3 bantam eggs incubating
18 eggs on Sissy the goose's nest.

3 human adults
3 cats who do absolutely nothing but eat food.

A duckling explaining life to Dave. Isn't he/she adorable???? They've lost much of their yellow fuzz and are replacing it with white down.  After that come the feathers.  They are liking it outside and have been introduced to the flock.  The boys are very interested in the girls. As Mama Goose, I must remind them to keep their distance.

In order to help keep the two flocks apart, I made a partition of sorts from a sheet torn into strips with narrow strips of fabric sewn at the corners with enough room to stick bamboo garden stakes through. You'll see it the background of the top photo.  It makes it easy to move and gives a physical barrier that works most of the time.  The little ones seem more at ease when they can't see the adults staring at them.

Molly is the newest Adult Goose. She's the big goose to the right of the pink pool.  She's doing better with the flock. though still ostracized a bit more than I'd like.  We bought her for Buddy, who charges her with neck out when she gets near.  Yeah, he's an idiot.  Hopefully when mating season is over the flock will be more accepting of her.

This photo also shows 2 of the 4 pools of water out for the enjoyment of the ducks and geese. The problem with our land is there is no where level except where we park the cars.  I've learned to make level pads for the pools out of mulch.

Knitting is being done.  Another Rikke hat to match the blue scarf I've knitted.  A red throw out of wool, and a baby sweater for our Cantor and his wife at church. We're so excited, it's their first child. I envision another 2 or so baby items off my needles in the next few months as a good friend of ours is expecting an addition to their family in October.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

April is a harsh month, y'all

That duckling who ate the box elder bugs? Died. We think that eating the bugs without grit in his/her crop must have clogged the system.  We didn't even *think* of adding grit to the feed.  Now we know better.

The other 3 ducklings that have survived are in with the goose girls.  Yes, we have 6 female African geese now, in the laundry room eating and crapping.  The photo is very wonky due to the color of the heat lamp.  This photo was taken about 3 days ago and they've already doubled in size.

We had 5 eggs due to hatch this week.  One hatched, but the duckling died within hours.  One other was pipped but died last night in the egg.  The other 3 didn't even make it out of the egg.  It's been a rough week - here and in the US, with all the explosions, deaths and injuries.

Dave ordered up the 4th thermometer. Yes, 4th.  We cannot get an accurate reading on any of them.  For the proper incubation, you need 99.5 degrees Fahrenheit. Comparing 2 thermometers, we get readings off by as much as 10%.  That's unacceptable! The last one we *thought* was reading correctly was off by 5 degrees.  That could be the reason we have so little survival in the hatchings.

There. There's a better pic of the girls.  They were out and about while waiting for their area to be cleaned out. They are timid if you stand up around them, and more friendly when you get to their height.  Chatty ladies, and showing some definite personality traits.
School-wise: I talked to an adviser and it looks like I'll be transferring to University proper Spring semester of 2014.  That is when I start my true training in the Electrical Engineering field.  I've got math courses to catch up first.

Knitting-Wise: I'm just messing around with a blanket from  handspun for me. 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Busy, Busy Busy!

Note: Ducklings will eat box elder bugs.  Apparently they do not know better..

We are over run with box elder bugs but not so much with ducks.  Out of the 5 expected, we have 2 living that hatched.  And wow, one of them had a journey!
Duckling #2 pipped wrong.  Ok; Pipping: Using their beak to make a hole in their shell to let in air.  Once that is done, then they rotate in their shell and start 'zipping' or opening the top of the shell counter-clockwise.   This little one pipped upside down and way too early.  So on Friday I started to help out but it was entirely too early to even try.  The membranes of eggs are lined with blood vessels.  As they mature out of their egg, these vessels dry up and the blood enters the ducklings through their yolk attached to their umbilical.

Now normally, the pipping is done close to hatching.  This ducky spent 3 days with his foot sticking out over his head in this opening of his shell.  It was tragically slow to watch. Finally, yesterday afternoon he showed that at least 90% of the blood vessels had reabsorbed and his umbilical/yolk area was decreasing. So I popped out his head and left the rest for this morning.  Now he's in the hatching recovery area working on gaining strength.  

A good tip for those hatching eggs: Cotton Swabs (Q-Tips) soaked in water held to their beaks for the first day is a good way to hydrate them.  They soak up enough water to get a move on.  

The 1st duck was fine, but pipped wrong also.  I don't know what it was with the first 5 and I do hope this does not go for the next oh....30 to be hatched.  The first duck has had time with me since there is no flock for him/her to hang with.  He's a speedy critter, and zips around the dining and front room scooping up dead box elder bugs and eating them. 
I have spent some time knitting, but not much. Right before the big hatch was settin' to start, I got a hideous cold.  For the last week, I've horked up a lung, wheezed around the yard, blown my nose about a trillion times and slept a lot.  Slowly, I am getting better, but it does not make this easy. 

Monday, April 1, 2013


Lockdown is a term used to indicate the last 2-3 days of incubation on a poultry egg.  The eggs are not rotated any more but left in the position ideal for hatching.  The humidity is raised to help thin the shell and the warmth stays the same.  This week, we have 10 duck eggs due to hatch.  The first 4 are seen here.  I see internal pipping with the top left one.  That means that the duck has started making a hole to the outside.

They all rock back and forth from time to time. It's getting crowded in those shells, and they want out!  We stand there watching for movement, excited when we see them rock back and forth even a little bit.

BUT, onto Knitting and Spinning. This is the start of the Tree Roots Scarf by Kristi Holaas.  The yarn is the real story on this scarf so far. In search of yarn/fiber to become my Easter present, I happened on these skeins of Martha Stewart Wool Roving at JoAnn fabrics on clearance for a buck.  Now, I took a look at it, and thought, "Hmmm pencil roving. Almost 2 ounces of wool for a buck.  I can spin that." So I did. I don't know how much yarn I've gotten, but I've spun up one skein and plied it on itself.

It's very soft yarn.  I'll probably have to get some more for this scarf, as I think maybe 2 or 3 skeins would make the best scarf. I find that I get into spinning moods and just want to sit and spin w/my drop spindle while watching TV.