Wednesday, May 22, 2013


Does anyone else have this issue with knitting...that when you finish one *big* project, you get all scatter-brained and start about a dozen small projects because you can't get it together mentally for a big one?

It's been a month or two since finishing both Blessed Days shawls, and I can't seem to focus knitting wise for more than an hour or so.  Nothing has captured my attention long enough to keep at it. I've got two throws, one baby sweater, two hats and a sock on the needles. None of which is close to being done and I'll bet at least 1/2 of them will be frogged.  I do that, when I notice that I am too scattered, I will frog the projects that I come across.

Of course, I should give myself a break; school has just gotten done, I've hatched out 18 ducks in the last 2 weeks and have played goose mama to 6 new girls.

That's a lot on my plate!

OH! I should tell you that Molly, our mail-order bride has started laying eggs.  Buddy's not her mate, but one of the twins has found her shag-worthy.  These babies will be Chinese-Toulouse mix babies. I've seen pictures of that and it's kinda cute. They have the dark stripe down their necks with the floufy tufted feathers....and orange beaks.

We had a clutch of 5 duck eggs dated 4/25.  When you put eggs in the incubator, you date them and put an 'X' on one side and an "O" on the opposite side.  The date is so that you can extrapolate when to put them in lockdown and when you expect them to hatch.  The other markings are for daily use: You must rotate the eggs at least 3 times a day to make sure that the baby is free-floating within the egg.  It's always an odd # of rotations, because if you do it on an even #, the eggs will spend over 1/2 their time in one position.

You can see in this photo taken through the window of the incubator the X's and O's.  It's ALWAYS done in pencil. Once they get closer to their hatch date, I usually draw an outline around the air cell in the fat end of the egg.  A daily check of the progression of the size of that air cell will tell you how close hatch time is.

Of course, that means telling all I know about candling eggs: Using a LED flash light to see inside the egg.  No candles are involved.  That's another time. I've got bedding to change on 14 ducks and 6 Rhode Island Red chickens.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Remember when this used to be a Knitting Blog?

Yeah, me too.  Then I said to my husband, "We should get chickens and raise them."

Famous last words.

Yes, there are birds in that incubator, but you have to look REAL close. Our hatching survival rate for ducks this year has been dismal: 20%. So I threw out the rule book and decided to assist the buggers in hatching.  We had 20 eggs with 4/19 written in pencil  on them.  Of that 20: 3 were infertile, 2 died in the egg, one died after 2 days of life (aspirated yolk, he was looking good for a while) and that one top left - who is still amazingly alive.

I thought he was dead. I'm not kidding, I SWEAR TO GOD I thought he was dead. I massaged him, poked him a bit in the shell to see any movement: None. Of course, I was poking and massaging the wrong end of him. You see, 3 of my eggs were presenting backwards; a sort of breech birth.  It's nerve-wracking not seeing that cute beak where it should be.  And the fact that it's turned 180 degrees means you're working blind.  The landmarks to show you where to tweeze, cut and pull back are totally gone.

Incidentally, All I've learned from hatching eggs can be found here:

It's not for the faint of heart, nor for anyone with unsteady hands.  These 14 I've been working on have taken me since Sunday to get this far.  Five are in the nursery, and the rest are in the incubator.
So I figured since the duckie was expired, AND that I had another 2 breech births to attend, maybe there's some sort of rhyme or reason to their position. Maybe it's the same for breech births (It is, btw).  So I decided to practice extracting a breech on the dead duck.

I chipped away at the shell til I got to the membrane. The membrane in fertile eggs contains many veins, and if you attempt to help a chick out too fast, it will bleed out.  You have to patiently wait for those veins to dry up and for the blood to be reabsorbed into the duck/chicken/goose/bird. IF you know what you're doing, you can sloooowwwwly ( I mean glacially slow) ascertain the progression of blood out of the veins and into the bird and clip around the big ones slowly drawing the membrane back from the chick until it can wiggle it's way out of there.

In the dead duck's egg,  I clamped some veins, cut through the membranes a bit and found his neck.  Sliding the rest of the head out, I looked at the bugger and saw..."Sorry you didn't make it, dude." To which he peeped at me.

I damned near fell off my chair.  I massaged his chest, with his body still 1/2 in the shell.  He peeped again! Oh hey! "Hi little dude! Shall I call you Lazarus?"

He's lounging in the incubator now.  His umbilical + Yolk have some time left to reabsorb and I don't know if he'll make it but he's got a shot.

Knitting? Yeah, I knit at night when I get a chance.  Mostly hats. One baby blanket and one baby sweater on the needles.  The rest can wait.

Oh, and did I mention it's finals week? 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

It's a scratchy picture due to low lighting but it is a family picture of Ron and Sissy. Sissy is brooding her clutch of 12 eggs and Ron is nervously pacing and keeping others away.  Geese mate for life, and Ganders protect their ladies and their babies from any perceived threat.  They stretch their necks, lower them to the ground and hiss.  If you get too close, they will peck at you.  It's their way, and to get mad at them for doing what comes naturally is really stupid.

So when Ron starts hissing at me, I tell him he's being a good Daddy and mate.

Dave and I go round and round about the look of Ron.  He's got a muddied-feather look that is not as defined as the others. Well, it's easier to see in comparison:

Here are the twins: Ginger and Sweet Pea.  Both male, both will never go anywhere without the other.  Notice the smooth breasts and defined side feathers on both.  Ron doesn't have that. My theory is that Ron is a mix of an African and a Chinese goose, both have the same markings and coloration, but Chinese -brown Chinese - are more a Milk Chocolate coloration instead of Dark Chocolate.

And who knows? There might be a bit of Sebastopol in that Gander as well.  His offspring will be interesting to see.

Our girls are growing rapidly: a month old and sprouting feathers. The ducklings are being raised with them and it seems to be a good idea.  They don't really notice that there is a difference in them except when trying to swim. To them, they are all one flock. This was taken last weekend and you'll see them all with their heads tilted up to the sky. They cannot see bilaterally like we can, so to really look at something, they tilt their heads and look with one eye.  In the sky above, were two turkey vultures.

More ducklings are on the way. I also pick up 6 new chickens next week.  Real sized chickens, not these bantam things that are pretty much useless.  Their eggs are small and they barely feed two adults off of one rooster. I remember the lady that sold me Molly was looking for Bantams.  Maybe she'd want the ones we've got.