Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Many Flocks of Gale Oaks Farm

Yes, I named the place Gale Oaks farm.  We've got 3 old oaks in the back yard.  Each morning at about 10am, the wind comes up out of the west and over the hill to our house. Hence the name: Gale Oaks.

You'd think with 50 animals that are all poultry of some sort it would be one big, happy flock. Oh no....too much jockeying for leadership for that! So let's all go through the flocks:

First flock is what I call "Sissy's Posse."  It consists, of Sissy who is in back in the middle, her 5 babies, her mate, Ron (2nd big goose to the left) and the Uncles, Buddy, Ginger, and Sweet Pea.  Sissy is hands-down the leader of this flock.

I'm impressed by the amount of parenting that the boys do.  For much of the day, Daddy and the Uncles take care of the babies. Sissy just walks along with them.  Oh she keeps an eye on her babies and they stay close by her, but She'll leave discipline to the boys.  They nudge the babies around with their beaks. Now that the babies are well versed in what is their home, not much nudging going on anymore.

The 2nd Flock is the "Girls" headed by Percy. Percy never did fit into Sissy's Posse, so he's taken up with the flock of younger goose girls.  Oh, and I've named them: Lily, Luna, Ellie, Mary, Cary and Grace. Lily is definitely the most vocal, and the only one with a dewlap under her chin.  Luna is the smallest, and gets a crescent-shaped wet spot in front of her left eye. Hence, Luna.  The others are more difficult to tell apart. Now that their personalities are shining through, it's getting easier. Mary likes to hang with Percy. Carrie and Gracie are always together and Ellie sometimes gets into trouble by not staying with the flock.

The 3rd flock is 22 ducks.  The eldest 9 share leadership and dictate where they go. They are all our hatched ducklings -with the except of the last 5 who were hatched week before last.  They get their own pen until their down grows. Twenty-two ducks who follow each other all over the land, eat a ton of food and drink a ton of water every day.  Their favorite hiding spot when it gets real hot is under the hedge or in the lilac bush. It's funny to see almost 2 dozen little white butts sticking out of the yew hedge!

We'll need to get another mate for Tony, our mating duck because his mate did not make it through her infected foot fiasco.  The antibiotics did not work and she kept getting more pus in her foot. We tried lancing the foot to expel the pus, which only helped for a few days.  Duck feet are notoriously hard to cure of an infection. Finally, we had to decide to end her suffering. She could not walk on the foot, nor put weight on it.  Tony needs another mate.

 Which will probably be the gal in the back next to one of the goose gals.  I call her Daisy.  There were 3 ducks that hatched about the same time we got the 6 goslings, so we just put them in with them. Dave says that he thinks the ducks think they are geese. Two males one female. That curl you see in the front duck? That indicates male, along with a raspy, very quiet voice.  Female ducks are loud and the ones with the distinct "QUACK QUACK QUACK" call.
Six Rhode Island Red chickens.  There's also a flock of Bantys around but eh...they're chickens! I must post an ad to either Craigslist or FB to see if I can find a home for the flock of Bantams.  We are looking to raise 'real' chickens instead of midget chickens.   The Rhode Islands are around the same age as our eldest ducklings; about 5 weeks old.
Molly.  Well, Molly fits in somewhere, but until she gets those babies of hers hatched, we will never know.  I made the mistake of allowing Buddy to sleep in the garage last night near her.  He's the other Toulouse and he does not like her.  We can only speculate on who is Molly's mate.  Neither Molly nor Daddy is fessing up.  We'll see who comes to the protection of her babies.

Here we see her hissing at me.  It's a defensive gesture on her part. She's being a good Mommy. 

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