Memorial Day happenings on Thiry Farm

The rest of my family flew to Chicago this weekend to see the musical Hamilton. I had to stay home because…

Well, hop on over to Thiry Farm and see what’s happening around our place today!

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Ducklings and goslings update

We have plenty of baby poultry in progress around here.

I hatched out some mutt ducks  at school for the kiddos to observe:

 

Today an incubator full of Pilgrim goslings is working on hatching:

Scrambles, our Buff Orpington hen, and Violet, one of our Australorps, both went broody and are sitting on Indian Runner duck eggs and Pilgrim goose eggs:

Abigail, our Pilgrim goose, went broody a while ago but then left her nest. I put those eggs in the incubator to finish hatching; however, she laid a new clutch in a nest she built under the duck house and now is sitting quite seriously.  I think she may actually finish the job this time!

In a few weeks when work winds down for the year I will resume posting here more regularly. I also have started a new blog related solely to our farm:

Thiry Farm

 

 

The goslings have hatched!

We have successfully incubated Uncle Waldo and Abigail’s first set of eggs!  Four goslings were set to hatch today, and they all made it out of the shell, although one needed a little help. One more will hatch in two days, we hope.

Two days ago I noticed when I candled their eggs that they had internally pipped into the air cell. Yesterday evening when I got home from work they had all started to externally pip through the shell:

The penciled-in cross shows where the air cell dipped down to:

This morning they had enlarged their pip holes quite a bit.

First one out!

It’s lonely being the first one out, so she cuddled around her sibling’s egg to take a nap while waiting:

They slowly worked their egg tooth around in a circle to create a hinge at the top of the blunt end of the egg:

One little head poking out of an egg:

The empty egg shell:

This little guy just wasn’t making much progress so we gingerly began to crack away little bits of the eggshell.  I put him back in the incubator like this and he made the rest of the trip out by himself:

We made a video of one popping out of the shell:

Everyone is now snug in the brooder:

The two girls have the dark grey bills; the boys have pink bills.

ABIGAIL WENT BROODY!!

Abigail, our 11-month-old Pilgrim goose

I just cannot believe our good fortune!  God certainly is blessing us in the poultry area at the moment.

She’d built her nest awhile ago and had been laying an egg in it every other day.  I collected some for the incubator and had been storing the rest in the basement because the nights have still been dropping below freezing and she wasn’t sitting yet.

But today I put those eight eggs back in her nest because it isn’t supposed to freeze again, and shortly thereafter she commenced sitting!

I was surprised that Uncle Waldo wasn’t with her and is instead spending this lovely sunny spring day out on the pond.

He kept close tabs on me while I was busy planting a new Stanley plum tree and a Red Haven peach tree, but he didn’t try to attack me.

I put food and a bucket of water in the duck-n-goose house with Abigail and quietly closed the door to keep the chickens from pestering her, as they seemed determined to do.

Here is some helpful information about broody geese from Domestic Geese by Dr. Chris Ashton:

“More females are lost in spring through lack of care than at any other time. It is essential to make a note of the date when the goose first sat seriously, both for the sake of her health and that of the goslings. Females that have been left to sit for more than 32 days off and find it very difficult to revive their appetite, and sometimes die.

First of all, the goose and gander should be wormed when she is definitely broody. The gander also tends to lose his appetite when the goose is sitting. The advantage of worming for the goose is that she does not lose so much condition while she is sitting and, if she becomes ill, one possible cause of disease is eliminated. Also, both birds will be free of worms when they lead the goslings out.

 The goose must be fed and watered once a day. This should not be too hurried an affair, as she will want to carefully cover her eggs with down, so that they remain warm in the nest for some time and are camouflaged. Wheat in a bucket of water is suitable, and the goose should be encouraged to swim if the weather is hot and dry, as this will give the eggs the correct amount of moisture.

If the birds are tame, the feeding and watering procedure is not a problem, as a tame goose will allow you to look at the eggs and left her off the nest, and a tame gander will not attack. In these circumstances, a goose can be fed twice a day if she is losing too much condition. With fierce birds it is much more problematical, and it is best to drive the gander to a place out of the way when you want to drive the goose off the nest, otherwise smashed eggs will result. Geese that are accustomed to sitting will probably look after themselves, but you must check. Young birds need more attention because they have not been through this process before, and can become very run down by sitting too tightly.” (Ashton, pp 131-133).

Provided she stays on the nest and the eggs are viable, the goslings should hatch on May 8th!

Candling goose eggs with intact and detached air cells.

Here is a video I made to show what goose eggs with intact and detached air cells look like:

This is my first time hatching goslings with detached air cells, so I did quite a bit of research on how to manage this. Here is what I believe is the best process for trying to repair a damaged air cell:

First, wash the eggs with warm (not hot) water if they have been contaminated with a broken egg in the box. Otherwise, don’t wash them if possible.

Second, candle the eggs to inspect for hairline cracks. You can rub a little bit of wax over hairline cracks to seal them.

Third, store eggs upright with the large, blunt end facing up and the narrow end facing down in a cool room for 24 hours. This allows scattered air bubbles to move back up where they belong.

Fourth, put the eggs in the incubator upright, in a vertical position, as opposed to laying them horizontally as one normally does with goose eggs. Do not touch them for 48 hours. No turning!

Fifth, after 48 hours in the incubator, begin turning the eggs from side to side but keep them at a 45° angle upright. You want that air cell to reform at the top of the blunt end as the chorioallantoic membrane forms around the inside of the shell.

By day 15, the air cell may be resealed at the top. If so, you can move the egg into a more horizontal position, keeping the blunt end slightly elevated.

 

 

Fighting Big Ag and Globo-Feed-Corp, Part I: plant Catalpa trees

One of my kids needed to grow something from seed for a science assignment, and she could earn extra credit if she planted a tree.  My husband’s second-favorite tree is the Catalpa; we had one growing behind our old house, but we don’t have any growing here on our 10 acres, so I suggested to her that we buy some Catalpa seeds. I was able to purchase a packet of 25 Catalpa seeds from TreeSeeds.com for just one dollar.

Catalpa speciosa (northern catalpa)

She planted them in peat pots that can go right in the ground when the weather is warm; germination has been over 80%!

Catalpa (or Catawba) trees are fast-growing and easy to grow from seed, but the Catalpa tree does not produce fruit or seeds that people or animals can eat, so how would it be fighting Big Ag to plant catalpa trees? Here is how:

First, honey bees will forage on the nectar from Catalpa tree leaves:

In his most recent post at Hawaiian Libertarian, Keoni writes about the smarmy marketing ploys of General Mills and other Big Ag/Big “Feed” companies, noting that:

“…genetically modifying crop plants to withstand inundation with pesticides and weed killing herbicides IS the primary purpose for GMO in the first place… and pesticide-herbicide laden GM corn is the primary source for most Feed ingredients in the processed food industry.

..,Much of the product portfolio of (General Mills) relies on the GM crops that require massive use of pesticides and herbicides that are undoubtedly playing a major role in killing off bee colonies nationwide.”

Planting Catalpas helps bees, but you can also fight Big Ag by eschewing their sugary breakfast cereals, replacing them with eggs, which leads me to the second important use for Catalpas.,,

Catalpa trees have historically become infested with Catalpa worms, which are really the Sphinx moth caterpillar, which ONLY eat Catalpa leaves but do not kill the trees:

Recent reports indicate a precipitous decline in Catalpa worm populations. Pesticides are one suspected cause of this decline.

Catalpa worms have always been prized as one of the best kinds of fishing bait. You can sell them to fisherman or use them yourself!

But not only that: chickens love Catalpa worms! And you can freeze them so that you’ll have Catalpa worms even after their season is done for the year. I am constantly trying to come up with alternative sources of feed for my chickens in order to reduce my need to purchase bags of feed. Though they can’t live on Catalpa worms alone, it’s still one more source of protein that I can harvest from my own land, which our free-ranging hens will turn into eggs with superior nutritional value.

I am fortunate to live near Dexter Mill, a small local feed mill that blends their own feed from locally-produced non-GMO ingredients. However, many people don’t and must rely upon Purina chicken feed.  And friends, Purina is now owned by Nestlé, and Nestlé has a global partnership with General Mills to use the Nestlé brand to market GM breakfast cereals in countries where people don’t tend to eat cereal for breakfast.  And so we are right back where we began, aren’t we.

There is literally no way to escape Big Ag/Big Food’s poisonous tentacles unless you produce every step of the chain right on your own land.  And who among us can do that?

But anyone can grow a Catalpa tree and feed the honey bees.  Anyone can use Catalpa worms to catch a fish or (if you keep poultry) supplement their chickens’ diet.

And everyone can do something to resist the Global Goliaths.