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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Muscovy Duck breeding

I am putting in pictures of my Muscovy ducklings to show how they grow.  I want to note that most of what I have read about raising ducks is not really necessary and makes a lot of work for the owners.  Bleaching bowls, changing bedding if it's wet, etc all made no sense to me.  Ducks live in ponds and no one changes the bedding when it rains.  My Muscovies would roost in trees if I didn't clip their wings.  I wash out the bowls when they look nasty.  I add bedding when it looks nasty.  My ducklings (Pekins, Rouans) when I purchased them were put in enclosures at 60 to 70 degrees.  I did not have the facilities for warmer.  They all did just fine.  The ducklings my hen hatched this year have been cared for her.  I figure the duck knows more than I do about baby ducks.  In the winter, my ducks had a freezer for shelter during the day and heat only when the temperature dropped below zero.  

The one thing I did have to deal with is predators.  Since I clipped the wings on my birds, they depend on me to protect them.  In the past, the single most cause of duck loss for me was the neighbor's dog.  They now have covered pens that they go in at night and the losses have gone down dramatically.

We did butcher four this AM and will do four more tomorrow.  We don't have the facilities for keeping 16 ducks.  The babies that hatched were always destined for the freezer.  I wanted to know what the ducklings looked like as they got older. We started with adults, so I had no idea about the color changes as the Muscovies grew up.  We ended up keeping one of the new males and getting rid of the older one.  He was getting mean and beating up some of the females.  Perhaps a younger male will not be so inclined.  We hope not anyway.

Next year, if we let the hens brood, we will have to modify how they are caged and dealt with.  We need more free-ranging during the day, for one thing.  Otherwise, the growing ducks eat and eat.  We went through 40 lbs of duck food in no time feeding them.

Here are the photos I promised—a day late!

May 17, 2015  one day old

May 23, 2015

May 27, 2015

June 6, 2015

June 12, 2015

June 16, 2015

June 22, 2015

June 27, 2015
Mother duck and largest drake from the hatch July 2, 2015

July 10, 2015

July 23, 2105

July 23  Late hatch I took into the house originally

Tuesday, May 19, 2015


I see it's been quite some time since I last posted.  In the time passed, my pomeranian, Dusty died.  I was in the hospital four times with three surgeries.  That did not leave much time for blogging.

Things are better now.  I just got a new puppy—a female Yorkie that we named Shasa.  She's quite small—maybe a pound or so.  Her parents were small.  We had agreed that when Dusty died, our next dog would be a female Yorkie.  We were not having much luck finding Yorkies for sale in Wyoming and then an ad showed up in the paper.  It was a Wyoming breeder, which was good.  She's quite smart and socialized.  She knows what a pee pad is for, thought she may not always avail herself of the knowledge!  Also, in typical Yorkie fashion, she is clever enough to climb up on furniture and other no-no's!  We are actively puppy—proofing the house as much as possible.


One of our muscovies also hatched 11 babies.  Nine are still alive—one got through the fence and died.  Our duck pen is not baby-proofed either, it seems.  One is in the house.  I found him face-first in the dirt and felt sorry for him.  I never thought I'd bring a duckling in the house, but I felt sorry for him.  It's very, very cold here.  Today's it's 37 degrees with snow.  When I brought in the baby duck, it was barely above 40 degrees.  I didn't think it would survive, but after I got it warmed up it started eating and drinking.  This is the third day and it's still alive.  (I use "it" because I have no idea what sex it is.)

Muscovy babies

As noted, it is snowing today.  I had gotten all my cold weather crops planted and since then it has been really cold and wet.  Our highs are often only in the fifties.  I doubt anything has come up and it's too wet to walk in.  I can't mow and the grass is a foot tall.  We can't even use the dog yard because it's overgrown and it's too cold and wet to work in.  For now, Sasha uses her papers.  She's usually too busy sniffing around outside to bother to do her business.  Typical puppy!

We also had hail a couple of days ago, enough that it looked like snow.  There was a tornado that hit Torrington and very large hail in several places.  This was typical when I moved out here 32 years ago. It is possible that weather does run in cycles.  If so, winter will be long and harsh.


Right now, she's untying my shoes for the third or fourth time.

Had to put up a tarp to help protect the duck with the babies.  It is really cold and windy out there.

First May snow

Daffodils in snow

Deer are back!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Here we go again!

It has been a roller coaster season.  It jumps up into the 50's for a while, then back down to the 30's and below.  It's predicted now that it will be cold and snow.  Yesterday, I was out in a t-shirt and no jacket checking on where my ducks were.  I left them free-ranging, which I have not done lately.  Most days they go in the garden, where they are relatively safe from predators and wind.  However, since it was warm and not windy, I left them out.  They were showing great interest in something on the ground and in the sagebrush.  Later, when I came to check, they were in the freezer shelter in the garden.  When my hubby came home, the ducks had returned to the wind break and were foraging again.  At night, they have to stay in the greenhouse when it's cold because that's where their heated water dish is.  Most days I do let them out for a while, but if it's below 10 degrees, it's just too cold.

There's not much else going on here.  Winter is just not the exciting season it can be.  Hopefully, things will pick up, more snow will occur and things will pick up!  This is Dusty "plowing" about 3 inches of snow on her ramp to get to her yard!  She loves snow!

This is Dusty with her tail hair removed.  She was sick for nearly two weeks and her tail hair was always messy, so I removed it.  Now she really doesn't look like a pomeranian anymore.  

My small Christmas cactus bloomed again this year.  The larger one is not doing well, so I am going to repot it.  

So long for now!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year from Wyoming!

The weather has turned cold—way below zero last night and wind chills to −30F.  The ducks are now living in the greenhouse until it warms back up into the 20's.  Their feet get so cold and the wind is brutal on them.  When it warms back up, they will return to the garden in the daytime.

(Yes, that's our old, dead freezer repurposed as a duck shelter!)

The ducks make interesting tracks in the snow.  Webbed feet and wing prints:

In addition to the ducks, we have for the past two days had a flock of horned larks in our yard.

They are cute little birds and they tend to band together in huge flocks in the winter.

We are also having fun with "roof-effect snow".  The dog ramp is on the south side of the house and the north wind really piles the snow up on the ramp.  Pushing the door open far enough to get out was a challenge. (The ramp is no longer "people friendly".  We changed the ramp to make it longer and narrower so Dusty could go up and down it.  She got old enough the other one had too much slope.)

In addition to the birds and ducks, we have had "fun" with deer.  One learned to jump through a one foot opening (one foot high, very wide) between the top five feet of the garden fence and the bottom three feet.  I filled it in with whatever I could find.  Unfortunately, the deer then decided to jump into the melon patch and nibble trees, something they have not done in the past due to its small size.  So we put a whole bunch of tomato cages and other stuff in so if the deer goes to jump, it will look uninviting.

Must sign off for now.  Back next year.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Winter arrives with a vengeance!

November 16
The garden is all in now—see the garden page on this blog for an update.

The weather went from 60 degrees to 15 degrees in less than two hours last Sunday.  It snowed, and then got to −22F later in the week.  The ducks are in the greenhouse because there was no time to get them acclimated.  Hubby had to take vacation from work Monday thereafter to help me move them from their pen to the greenhouse—they would not be herded.  It probably had something to do with that rude wing-clipping we did Sunday when one of the ducks demonstrated her new found ability to fly!  I had considered leaving them unclipped for the winter, but after the very skillful flight the duck demonstrated, I had visions of them flying off into the wind, the cold hitting and they would die because they were not able to take the cold.  Thus, wing clipping party!

We had little luck hunting.  I did get a buck deer but Jim did not.  We also did not get any antelope.  Every trip to the ranch seemed to included 50 mph wind, making finding and then getting close enough, impossible.  We came home opening weekend and found our 21 cubic foot freezer had died.  Fortunately, it was still at 21 F and the food still frozen or at least cold.  We stuffed everything into the other freezer and coolers.  I went in search of a new freezer, only to discover hunting season is the wrong time of the year to look for a freezer.  Finally found a 21 cu ft replacement, which was bigger than I thought I needed, but turns out I was wrong.  With all the garden produce to freeze, it's working on getting full already!

It has now warmed up to mid-twenties, with wind.  If it stays that warm, the ducks can go back out to their pen.  They'd be happy!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

I'm Back!

Looks like I have been gone for along time from this blog.  Needless to say, the Pekins are grown and actually three have gone to freezer heaven because there were to many males.  However, remaining male and female are too noisy and badly behaved for me to continue my Pekin adoration.  They will be going to freezer heaven in the fall.  The female is not yet laying eggs and I am waiting to see if she does soon.  Otherwise, they will both be gone.

The Muscovies are doing well.  Unfortunately they like to sit on eggs frequently and I have one in a separate pen right down sitting on eggs and some ceramic eggs (she doesn't seem to care what she's sitting on).  Another hid under our shed all summer and managed to hatch exactly zero ducklings.  I did have to fence around the shed to avoid another such incident.  Then one built a nest under a car (not one we drive).  We pulled the eggs out and moved the nest, but that was not to her liking so she went back in with the others.  Now, the Muscovy male has decided to show he is boss and runs the Pekin male out of the Muscovy pen, or just blocks the door and keeps the male prisoner.  Ducks are such sooo cute.

Pekin pen taken over by Muscovies

"Lone Ranger" nesting under the shed

My garden has done really well.  I have peas, beans, and carrots galore, chards and lettuce and the tomatoes have set on but are not yet ripe.  I even managed to keep it more or less clear of weeds!  This is what gardening used to be like before the grass took over.

Lettuce over 12 inches in diameter

We were going out to the cabin for the Labor Day weekend, but going in the road was quite wet with numerous puddles.  We decided if it rained as predicted, we'd still be there mid-week.  We left after about 2 1/2 hours when the clouds started building up.  It rained on us about the time we got to pavement, which is good since the gravel road was still very wet.  It rained here overnight and it appears to have rained in the area of the cabin repeatedly (judging from radar).  If it clears, we are going to cut down a dead tree and some branches off others.  I did cut some down the other day but the remaining ones require two people to safely cut them out.  For some reason, the tops of the trees were not as filled out as in previous years.  Considering the amount of rain, I would have thought they would have done better.

This is a peacock that was wondering about for some time.  He had an annoyingly loud cry, usually early in the morning.  Seems to have disappeared for now.

We took pictures of wet road, wildflowers, birds, etc at the ranch this year.

Swallow nest on the Hut


Interesting prairie "art"

Horned lizard

Very wet roads

The road to our cabin was completely overgrown

The butterfly is a mourning cloak that hatched from a caterpillar I found.  The wings never dried properly so I put it outside in the cage I have for such things and it lived about a month.

More evidence the drought is over!  Heavy rain has been very common this summer.

Time to sign off for now.!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Ducks, snow, flowers and critters

April 18, 2014

It's duck season here!  First, we fetched six muscovy ducks, full-grown, because we thought we would not get Pekins this year.  Their was on female laying, but after a foot injury, she stopped.  There are five females, so in a while we should get more eggs.  These are very, very mellow ducks.  I have to chase them out of the pen or they just lay in there all day long.  I stopped with the daytime feeding so they have incentive to go look for food!
A week ago, the farm store called and said they had our ducklings.  I was like "What?"  We had cancelled the order because they seemed uncertain about getting the ducklings.  Since we really like the Pekins, we went ahead and got the ducklings.  They are in the garage right now so they stay warm and dry.  They should be big enough to go outside in about three to four weeks, depending on weather.  We won't house them together.  I'm making a new pen for the muscovies that includes two trees inside and a lot of sagebrush for cover.  It won't have a "top" on it, but the muscovies can climb (as seen by the "injured" duck that climbed out of the infirmary and was atop the regular pen) and should be better able to avoid predators.

Muscovies in their pen

Week old Pekins

Look, I can climb!

There have been a couple of snow storms in March and April.   Today, it was 71 degrees with 35 mph winds!  Of course, it could snow several more times before actual "spring" arrives, assuming we don't just skip to summer!

Frost along the ramp treads


Because it got down to 10 degrees last weekend, I had to cover the daffodils and tulips and picked the buds that had formed.  They all did fine and will hopefully keep blooming in the warmer weather.

We have a tiny bunny living under the ramp again--he hides under the porch.

Lastly, this is a yearling deer in snow.  She looked so sweet.