Some recent goings-on at 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!
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:
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:
We like to let the geese free range around the fruit trees because they eat bugs and graze on weeds, but our gander, Uncle Waldo, just loves to eat the bark off our orchard saplings. Since this kills the trees, we put some chicken wire around the saplings. This turned out to be a mistake which we have since rectified; however, we didn’t fix it before Uncle Waldo stuffed his big bill through the chickenwire in an attempt to get at that tempting bark, freaked out when he got stuck, and yanked his head up and back:
Geese’s bills are actually rather soft and the chickenwire sliced right to the bone:
Off to Dexter Animal Clinic we went, with Uncle Waldo in a dog crate honking dejectedly for his mate, Abigail, who was running about the yard in a tizzy, calling for Waldo, while the quacking ducks ran along behind her.
Protip: a wire dog crate is NOT the ideal way to transport a goose, as they spray poo out of their vent like a fire hose when they are scared. Luckily we had put a plastic tarp around him.
We weren’t sure if the vets would be familiar with treating geese, but Dr. Anna, a charming young British veterinarian, put us at ease right away with the knowledgeable way she handled Uncle Waldo. This clearly wasn’t her first goose rodeo.
She had Phil hold him in a towel to prevent poo spraying:
And then proceeded to clean his bill thoroughly with a cotton ball and iodine, soothing our worried nerves by distracting us with commentary about the kind of “gayce” they have in England:
She used a cotton swab to clean inside the sliced portion of his beak while chatting with him softly in her charming English accent, “Alright then, old man, here we go…”
She showed us that the slice had gone down to the bone but wasn’t as bad as other damaged bills she’s seen. She trimmed away the dead tissue with a little scalpel and then used surgical glue to fix him up:
An injection of antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, and pain reliever was next; good old Uncle Waldo was such a trooper!
Dr. Anna said the bill will not regrow but that granulation tissue will form and fill in pretty well around the injury. Until then, Uncle Waldo must remain quarantined in the duck yard, which means the whole flock must remain there as they won’t willingly leave Uncle Waldo.
We had hoped to enter Uncle Waldo and Abigail in the Chelsea Community Fair; we thought they were a shoo-in for a ribbon given how rare Pilgrim geese are (the Livestock Conservancy lists them as critically endangered). Alas, his days as a show goose are over before they began:
However, he’ll still make excellent breeding stock. We plan to breed and sell Pilgrim geese so as to do our part in saving the breed from extinction.
Uncle Waldo has a ten-day course of oral antibiotics now. Dr. Anna explained to us how to crush the pill, dissolve it in warm water, and inject the antibiotic solution down his throat with a syringe; a goose’s windpipe is right at the back of their tongue in the center, so to give an oral medication, you must open their bill and insert the syringe down the side of their mouth a few inches into the esophagus. I haven’t been able to get any pictures of us doing this yet, but I will try to and will add them when I can.
After we got home and Uncle Waldo had reunited with the frantic Abigail and resumed his place as Head of the Flock, I treated everyone to a big bowl of blueberries and cantaloupe, which I dumped into their little swimming pool for them to enjoy rooting out:
It was a harrowing day but all in all Uncle Waldo is one lucky gander!
Permaculturists, stop this! Stop recommending that people actually plant Autumn Olive on land where this evil, invasive, non-native, destructive, allelopathic plant has not yet taken hold!
I don’t know why, but environmentalists always seem to want to import plants and insects from Asia to solve some problem here “naturally.” Now, I’m all about doing things naturally and avoiding chemicals, but have you ever noticed that the plants and insects that are imported from Asia always end up wreaking havoc? From the aggressive, biting Asian Lady Beetle (imported by environmentalists to kill aphids without the use of chemicals) that ended up killing all our own cute, non-aggressive lady bugs, to the Tree of Heaven that sprouts like foul-smelling weeds in every untended suburban or urban area, to the vile Autumn Olive planted by the Forest Service to control erosion – these plants and insects are adapted to the ecosystems in Asia, not North America.
Here they destroy everything in their path, reducing diversity to nil. Perhaps environmentalists do not care about eco-diversity, but one of the tenets of permaculture is supposed to be about encouraging ecological diversity!
Anyway, this is why I am a gardener and small-hold homesteader who uses permaculture practices but am not actually a permaculturist. When your attachment to dogma overrides good common sense, you might want to stop and reevaluate your goals and the reasons you are putting your hands to the soil in the first place.
I believe the people who are encouraging young, naive gardeners to just give Autumn Olive a try once, what can it hurt to try it once, go on, kid, all the cool permies plant it…fall into two camps.
Let’s say you, the permaculture virgin, have just decided to avail yourself of Autumn Olive-positive planting. You’ve done the deed, you’ve planted one, harmless little bush.
Next year, it’s grown. A lot.
But it has berries on it in the late summer/early fall, nice red berries that actually don’t taste very good. You decide to let the birds and wild creatures have the berries. They eat them with gusto and poop out the seeds all over your land.
Next summer you notice it’s getting difficult to walk through your forested areas because of all the thorny Autumn Olive shoots popping up EVERYWHERE.
A pasture you’d let lie fallow has shoots coming up too.
Well, you think, I’ll use them as chop-and-drop for soil improvement.
You try to chop and drop, but it’s hard to get near the shrubs now that they’ve quickly grown to ten feet tall, with multiple, thorny branches tangled together and arching over, making it difficult to get at the thick shoots, which by now can only be cut with a saw.
You get stabbed in the arm with one of the thorns…
…which is when you learn that many people have a strong reaction to Autumn Olive scratches. The scratch swells and is hot like fire for several weeks after that.
You run the branches through your mulcher and spread the wood chips around some new saplings you planted to take the place of the Autumn Olive. All the saplings die. That is when you learn a new word: allelopathic.
Oh man, I’m done with this stuff, you think. I’m cutting it all down come spring and burning it. And you feel satisfied with this eradication plan.
You manage to get it mostly all cut down, but it sends up suckers faster and faster the more you cut on it. Horrified, you sneak to Lowe’s wearing big sunglasses and a hat to conceal your identity before engaging in this most shameful act…you are going to buy some…some…oh you hate to confess it but you are going to buy some Round Up to spray all over the Autumn Olives. You cannot believe you have been reduced to spraying chemicals all over your organic land. You feel great shame but also great relief.
You spray and spray and it all dies.
Ha ha ha!
When the next spring comes, you cannot believe your eyes. From the dead Autumn Olives are springing…new shoots! This plant…it is literally an unkillable zombie eating everything in its path!
And at that moment the realization suddenly dawns on you…just like the herpes your hairy-legged, sex-positive feminist college roommate has for life, just like the zombies from an apocalypse…
Bitch, you are never, ever getting rid of it.
Over my years as an employee at various places, I have on occasion heard one colleague or another (male AND female) make the odd inappropriate comment or off-color joke. I even had (a long time ago) a supervisor make a very clumsy attempt at flirting which included a wildly inappropriate sexual innuendo, which I laughed off. Because humans are sexual creatures, once in a while that subject is going to come up, perhaps as a joke, in the work place. Of course, it’s better if you don’t joke about sex at work, but it happens and as long as it’s not too egregious or a regular habit, I think we can probably all just let it slide, don’t you?