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The Fowl Miracle.

Remember our devoted pair of Egyptian Geese, Ra and Cleo? (If you don’t, visit the original post about them here)

Ra and his lovely lady, Cleo, joined the farm a couple of years ago and I’m not going to lie, I had visions of cute little Egyptian goslings running around. 

Ra, being the  devoted and dashing rogue that he is, tried his best to make that happen.

He romanced Cleo. He whispered sweet nothings in her ear. He even showered her with bouquet after bouquet of flowers. . . . Okay, so maybe, he didn’t go that far, but I’m sure he did do the Egyptian Goose equivalent to that. 

But I digress. 

Cleo, being the blushing bride of Ra, naturally led him on a merry chase and played hard to get. But it was no luck. 

Month after month, year after year, Cleo didn’t lay eggs. And as we all know, you can’t have super adorable, bouncing baby birds without eggs!

So, I wrote them off, and decided that Ra and Cleo, no matter how sprightly they acted, were a lot older than I’d been told.

Then, a miracle of the fowl-ish sort. Eggs!!!! Cleo laid eggs this year!! And a few weeks later, yep, you guessed it! Those much longed for Egyptian Geese babies. 

20160226_154037Which leaves me with an important lesson. .  . Egyptian Geese are really good parents. Loving. Nurturing. And very, very territorial. Do not even think about picking up one of the babies. Nope. You’ll find yourself facing Kung Fu Goose. 

And photographing them? Well, the ‘rents aren’t too crazy about that either – perfect example: that dirty look Cleo is shooting me in the above photo. 

P.S.

I’m actually a little late posting this, so those babies are in reality a little bigger than that now. 

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More On That.

As promised, a little info about what’s going on with our other birds. . . and there’s a lot going on.

You see, when breeding season begins, it really begins. We’re talking springtime in Paris, Valentine’s Day, and lovers’ lane all rolled into one. For the birds, that is. Me, not so much.

Back to the birds.

The turkeys have started laying for the season. A lot.

The Red Golden Pheasant girl has laid two eggs so far. One on Thursday (pictured below) and one today.

Pheasants are something that is completely new to me (we have one pair, Eustace and Esther) and I honestly wasn’t exactly sure what her eggs would look like. Would they be speckled like turkey eggs, tinted like Indian Runners’, pointy, or what have you? And now I know. I learn something new every day 🙂

Of course, here’s proud boy pheasant, Eustace (with Esther in the background – she was patiently waiting for me to quit snapping pictures and leave them in peace so she could sneak back in their house; she’s definitely a bit of a home body).

Anyways, I have a feeling Mr. Boy Pheasant is probably thinking to himself, “Couldn’t she have named me something besides Eustace? I mean, come on, woman!” My reply, “Sorry, boy, but I like it and I’m the resident name-giver.”

The peafowl are not laying, but they are flirting. A lot. And screeching.

The Egyptian Geese, also not laying. They’re a fairly new addition, too, and I’m not sure if I’ve shared a picture of them. So, here they are, Ra and Cleo.

They are also flirting. A lot. In fact, I think Cleo’s giving Ra that over the shoulder come-hither look in the picture above. Huh, maybe she could give me some lessons on that.

No matter, I think this calls for an egg line-up photo op and soon!

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First Time For Everything.

I’m so happy to say that my new gray Indian Runner girls have laid their first eggs! Woohoo!!!

Below is a little back story for you, so you’ll understand just how proud I am of these eggs:

Previously, I only had male Indian Runners, and well, they were getting a little lonely seeing all the other animals pairing up during breeding season. Naturally, I decided to play matchmaker and find the guys some mates.

So, I did an internet search for Runner eggs (actually, first I checked to see if famed waterfowl breeder Holderread still had gray Indian Runners, which also happens to be the stock my guys are from – they don’t), brushed off my trusty Brinsea incubator, and waited for said eggs to arrive (Indian Runners are probably one of the least common duck breeds in our area, especially good quality ones that stand straight and tall, so finding eggs locally did not happen). And when they failed to hatch, I tried again. And again. I mentioned in the post about hatching shipped eggs, that they’re a complete gamble and this story illustrates that point to a tee. Which brings us to this past Fall.

I decided to give up for the time being, and vowed to instead search for someone with ducklings or juveniles or an adult pair or anything remotely gray-Indian-Runnerish for sale in the Spring. And I took a much-needed break from hatching.

Then, a few months ago, I walked into the barn at the Paxton livestock auction and from across the room my eyes latched on to the prettiest sight I’ve ever seen. . . .Well, that may be taking it a little too far. Besides, I’m sure Bryony would beg to differ. Heck, even I would beg to differ (Humble, much? Not at all 😉 ) But it was a very welcome sight.

My jaw dropped, I let out an audible gasp, and I practically skipped over to stand in front of three tall, straight, bowling pin-like ducks. There in all their glory were three gray Indian Runners. Exactly what I had been trying in vain to hatch out for months, and it was that easy.

Actually, it wasn’t. After overhearing someone else in the crowd refer to my gorgeous, much-longed for birds as “The ugliest looking Mallards I’ve ever seen in my life,” I was sure we’d get them for a song. Not so. Someone else in the crowd must’ve known that they weren’t Mallards nor ugly, and well, a slight bidding war broke out. Don’t you just hate when that happens? *shakes head* But they came home with me 😉

Which brings us to the present. Eggs = Ducklings. And soon. . . . or just as soon as one of the incubators is empty (it is breeding season after all, and everything, or so it seems, is breeding – more on that later).

You may be wondering what will make their ducklings so special. After all, we hatch out ducklings every year. We even have some right now:

Aren’t they cute? 🙂 But I digress.

Indian Runners are special because there aren’t that many anymore, at least not good quality ones. They’re a breed that’s known for their upright stature; in fact, they sort of resemble a bowling pin. They lay boatloads (and I do mean that almost literally) of extra large green tinted rich eggs. Runners’ personalities tend to be a little goofy, although they can also be a little on the skittish side (as evidenced by my new ducks who head for the corner any time I come near). Altogether, they’re truly special birds.

See, there they are in the corner. Oh well, it’ll take time, but they’ll come around.

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Sad News.

Sad news to report. . . . Grandma (one of our Pekin ducks and one of our oldest ducks) passed on to Rainbow Bridge on Thursday.

Grandma in the front and Grandpa in the background 
during one of their many jaunts to the pond.

It was something that I’ve been expecting for a while – when Grandma came to live with us a few years ago, she was already a waterfowl senior citizen.

We’re all going to miss her, but no one more so than her companion, Grandpa.

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Icepocalypse

I changed my mind. Winter is NOT my favorite season anymore. The ice, the cold, as of last week, I’m over it.

But when the bout of wintry weather that we had last week was first forecast, I was excited. I mean, snow! How often do we get any snow in Alabama? It’s about as rare here as a heat wave in Siberia. Those, we’re much more familiar with.

By the time it actually arrived and I had landed flat on my backside for the umpteenth time in what ended up being a light dusting of snow covering a thick layer of ice (Ice is slippery, who would’ve guessed it?). . . Well, that’s when I learned a very valuable lesson. Winter weather is not all it’s cracked up to be, and I’m in total and complete awe of those of you in more northerly climes who deal with it all the time. How do you do it?

But I did manage to stay upright long enough to get a few pictures to share.

This is what we woke up to on Wednesday morning.

The ducks didn’t know what to think, at first, but they quickly warmed up to it.

The dogs had varying reactions. . . Bryony loved it from the start (She would have been happy to stay outside all day long). Hunter, not so much. Potty trips were a nightmare for him.

While the goats and Mose the donkey were like me. They took one look at all the white stuff on the ground and went back to their houses to wait on breakfast and warm water. Which proves, they’re a lot smarter than me.

And a few more pictures:

Icicles on Tuesday. I’m a tiny bit of a Spelling Nazi (and completely annoying, too), but I had to use spell check on that word. I mean, it’s not very often that I’ve had to type the word icicles.

From the bottom of our hill on Wednesday.

The courthouse downtown on Thursday.

The birds lazing about on Thursday.

Our frozen pond also on Thursday.

By the weekend, temps were back in the 60s-70s. Yep, that’s our crazy Alabama weather.