It’s always a sure sign that Spring is finally here when the chickens and ducks get back to regular laying. It’s been building as the days have been getting longer and now production is pretty darn good! The colours and shapes and sizes are always cool to see, especially the green eggs from the Ameraucanas (green eggs and ham anyone?) and the giant Muscovy duck eggs (three by the handle on the right). The duck eggs are very rich with huge yolks and are excellent for baking. Eggs are always available at the farm gate and we are open ‘by chance or by appointment’!
If you are anywhere in the east today, don’t look out the window any more than you have to! Think happy thoughts of Spring and the bounty that is to sure to come from the garden! (Fingers crossed). Better still, if you haven’t already ordered them, today is a good day to pull out the seed catalogs and start working on seed orders!
An excellent seed sources is William Dam Seeds as they have a great selection and all untreated. The Cottage Gardener has a great selection of hard to find heirloom seed and if you want the best choice for tomatoes, look no further than Terra Edibles. And if seeds are just too darn slow, you can find a lot of herbs, vegetables ad flowers in plug packs at Richters.
After that’s done, next item is ordering the day old chicks and ducks and turkeys from Performance Poultry. This is a small hatchery in eastern Ontario that specializes in heritage and unusual breeds that are hard to find anywhere else. If you live in the area, you can pick them up at their farm in Prince Edward County. They do air shipping outside of Ontario too. Even if you aren’t ready for chickens this year, the photos are fun to look at have fun just trying to pronounce some of the names, like Silver Spangled Spitzhauben, Egyptian Fayoumi, Narragansett, and Gray Saddleback Pomeranian.
I always like to take a few photos the morning that we get the first snow of the season. The animals that were born in the Spring have never seen snow so it’s always fun to see their reactions. Normally I open the doors and all the chickens and ducks come charging out. When there is snow from the night before, the brakes come on and they are very, very cautious and curious. ‘What is this white stuff and why is it so cold on my feet…?’ For the goats and especially the pigs, it’s just another day to find something to eat! Here the new ducklings are just coming out of the coop. More photos…
We’ve had requests for more information about the breeds of goats, chickens, ducks and pigs recently so we’ve decided to put together a page on each. At this point it’s more of a ‘work in process’ and we’ll add more detail as we can. More on this….
We also get questions on what other farms are worth a visit while we’re in the area. There are many of our farming neighbours doing amazing things and we’ll be working on this too. Some are featured on Local Flavours, which covers the Frontenac Arch Biospere area, others are on Lanark Local Flavours which focuses on Lanark County and some are on both. We have a list of several nearby with some information on what they do and links to their own websites. More on this…
Today is the day that the chicks arrive! It started this morning with a frantic call from the feed store: ‘Come and pick up your chicks! They’re here!’. Actually not so frantic but the store was filled with the ‘peep peep peep’ of baby chicks so they wanted to get them out of there as soon as they can. Miss Piggie wondered what was in the box and the chicks were just happy to get out of the box after their shoulder to shoulder ride from the hatchery. The other animals are curious too but I haven’t let the goats too close to them yet. For now they’ll stay inside the playpen and then they’ll take over the building. Next job, build a little fence or chick tractor to keep them contained and safe.
It’s a blustery afternoon here in eastern Ontario and at this time it helps to focus on Spring and all the good things to come. For me, Spring is all about new life: hatching chickens and ducks, sprouting seeds and my favourite: baby goats! The baby goats should start arriving at the end of March and soon after we’ll have hens and ducks sitting on eggs too.
We have a lot planned for 2012. Our big project is (knock wood) our production of cold-pressed Sunflower Oil. There are a lot of things to sort out but we have a field ready to go in May with oil to follow in the Fall. We are sourcing an oil press and looking into all the other aspects beginning with planting and ending with ‘tastes like sunshine’ oil in a bottle.
We’re also planning to set up a couple of beehives for honey and wax production. This will be a joint effort with some friends of ours from town. We’re thinking to expand our workshop program too to include goat and chicken keeping 101. And of course we’re always thinking of new varieties of goat milk soap and new flavours of goat milk fudge. So, check back often to see what we’re up to or sign up for our email newsletter to get regular updates from Kricklewood Farm. All the best for 2012 from us to you!
We woke up this morning to more than a light dusting of snow. They had predicted rainfall mixed with snow so I guess it was on the negative side of zero. It’s always fun to watch the reaction of the animals. For the chickens and ducks hatched out earlier this year it’s a whole new experience. Pitou prefers to stay inside and it takes a little while for the goats to step out and realize that they won’t melt. Buddy is not too pleased either. Only 5 months until Spring…
We’ve had an interesting development in the chick rearing department this season. There is a nest box near the house that has been occupied by two hens for the past several weeks. They had been continually jostling for space and there were never any times that they were both off the nest. That meant we never had a chance to check what might be going on: How many eggs were they sitting on? Chicken or duck or both? Any peeping to be heard from inside any eggs? A hatching would be imminent?
Late last week we had the answer when one, then another chick made their debut. The big question was, who would take care of them. Well, it turns out both. We’re not sure if we have little Heathers or Heaths but for now they definitely have two Mommies taking care of them. BTW, hats off to Leslea Newman who wrote the book Heather has two Mommies way back in 1989.
The first snow day of the season is always an interesting one, especially for the animals born this past Spring and Summer. They get to experience snow for the first time, with mixed results. The Muscovy ducks don’t seem to mind…
The chickens on the other hand aren’t happy to have their feet touch snow. They spend the first while up on anything to get off the ground.
The Nubian goats, the breed with origins in Africa increase the volume on their bleating, begging me to make the bad weather go away.
After a while, when I put some grain outside, a few brave chickens venture out.
And then a few more, especially if I put down some hay over the snow.
The hay is incentive enough for the goats too. Silver the young Nubian Buck is slowly getting used to it.
There are always hold outs who prefer to spend the day in the barn hanging out..
…or chowing down.
Hope they get used to this, winter has yet to offficially
arrive and we have a long way to go until Spring!
We thought our Barred Rock Hen was a bad mother when she abandoned her first clutch of 10 when they were pretty small. It turns out she was back to work on her second nest. It’s in the same spot as the previous nest right next to the house and they should be hatching within the next week. The plan will be to scoop her and the eggs up one night before they hatch. Her new home will be a dog crate inside the coop so she’ll have her own private quarters within the coop.
In the meantime, she stays on the nest 24/7 and only gets off of it once every couple of days to get some food and water. When that happens, she lets out some very distinctive clucking: ”I’m off the nest, can’t leave the eggs very long but I need food and water and I need it NOW!”. That’s my cue to run outside and make sure there is some food put out so she doesn’t have to jump over the fence to get back into the chicken yard. I usually make an effort to give her some treats and extra rations too so she goes back to the nest full until the next time.
Luckily, the chicks from her first clutch have grown like weeds and are getting along fine. At this point they are almost as big as some of the smaller hens. I’m glad they made it this far, as they seemed too small to be on the own without Mom to protect them and show them food. We’re looking forward to the new chicks and of course more of those big beautiful brown eggs!