Test Yourself: What Kind Of Bird Is Hatching Here?

We have some unusual eggs hatching right now at the farm. They’ve been in the incubator for 27 days, and several have pipped externally. Hatching is extremely hard work, especially for birds that have shells as hard as these do.

Here are your hints:

  • The eggs are speckled, light tan, and about 2/3 the size of a chicken egg
  • They’re native to Africa
  • While the hatchlings look similar to chicks, they’re smaller, and when they grow up, they look nothing like a chicken
  • These birds are called “tick assassins” and will decimate populations of ticks, ants, and other bugs…and are also known to eat snakes and small rodents
  • They have a reputation for being good “guard” animals because they’ll create a racket when alarmed

So do you know what kind of bird this is? Bonus question: what are the young of this species called?

Farm Babies: Ducklings Enjoying Good Weather

Farm Babies

The farm babies are growing quickly around here…as they always do. Sunshine, breezes, clean water, probiotic feed, and lush pastures seem to be just the right combination for healthy animals. In addition, the weather has been particularly pleasant lately, mainly due to the low humidity – a welcome respite from the oppressive humidity we’d been experiencing! Continue reading “Farm Babies: Ducklings Enjoying Good Weather”

Cast Iron Chronicles: Field Skillet Update

Field Skillet Update

Since we’ve had the new skillets for a couple of weeks now, we wanted to share some initial impressions. While the skillets are definitely lighter than the “standard” cast iron we’ve been using, we’ve noticed that the seasoning (these come pre-seasoned) seems to be wearing off prematurely. Continue reading “Cast Iron Chronicles: Field Skillet Update”

Backyard Bounty: Elderflower Syrup

Elderberry Syrup

It’s that time of year: the delicate and unique fragrance of elderflowers wafts through the air. The creamy yellow-white clusters are now in bloom, heralding the coming purple berries. Having previously tried a remarkable imported elderflower soda, I thought I’d try my hand at making an infused elderflower syrup that could be used to flavor water kefir or create delicious summer cocktails.

First step: pick many elderflowers. The recipe I used calls for a quart jar full of the blossoms. If you’ve seen elderflowers, you know they’re tiny, so that’s a lot of flowers. Fortunately, the bushes have grown large and big clusters of the flowers were within easy reach. The chickens came around when they saw that I had a container in my hand, but all they got were a few unlucky beetles that flew off the flowers. Continue reading “Backyard Bounty: Elderflower Syrup”

Farm Projects: Cooling Off The Coop

Coop Cooling

It’s hot out today. With the heat index, it’s 97 degrees. Sounds like a good day for sitting in an air-conditioned room and taking it easy, right? Yeah, right – it’s the perfect day to add some insulation to the chicken coop to help keep the ladies cool. Happy chickens lay more eggs!

As you know from reading earlier posts, we retrofitted a lofted shed as a chicken coop when we acquired our first chickens. We’ve learned a lot since then and would definitely build our own, rather than try to make a shed work, in the future; that said, the shed wasn’t built with the special features a really good chicken coop incorporates, like excellent ventilation. In addition, the metal roof combined with the very tall loft traps heat. We’ve tried to ameliorate the worst of the heat in past years by employing shade cloth, installing a fan, building a sturdy screen door, cutting in a lot of ventilation, and making sure the ladies have cool water available to them after they’re secured for the night. Continue reading “Farm Projects: Cooling Off The Coop”