It has been a seasonal "roller coaster" here at K&S Waterfowl Farm. With some days including sunshine, rain and snow all in the same day. We aren't sure how the birds can tell what season they are in? Up until today (Feb. 28) we have had all of the Muscovy & Welsh Harlequins in the same large pen together and the Calls & East Indies have been together simply because it means hauling fewer buckets when the water hoses are frozen. Thankfully we were blessed with temperatures in the 60's today so while we were outside, we cleaned out dog houses and added fresh shavings to them and separated the Muscovy ducks back into the breeding pen they were in last year and the Welsh Harlequins and the single Tufted Roman female now have the run of the bigger pen again. We still haven't seen any eggs from the ducks as of yet, but there has been a lot of breeding activity going on when we turn them loose to free-range or whenever you give them fresh water in the their water pans. :) Hopefully this is a sign that we can expect eggs soon!
The d'Uccles have been laying on and off for the past few weeks but we haven't tried to set any of their eggs yet because we haven't been able to collect more than and couple at a time yet. We will probably set a batch of them in the next couple of weeks if they ducks decide to give us a few too.
Yesterday we drove to the out-skirts of Danville and picked up a pair of White Silkies to add to the Showgirl breeding program. I wasn't convinced any of our young Showgirls from last year were males and we only had the females from the year before. After bringing home a new white Male, I through them out in one of our "puppy play yards" so they could enjoy some sunshine only to immediately have a cock-fight take place between one of the black Showgirls and the new white male. (WELL!!! turns out, we have a black Showgirl male...I don't know why I didn't notice him before since it looks pretty obvious now!) We don't like to breed Showgirl x Showgirl anyway, so it turns out to be a good thing. We put the new pair with the Showgirls so hopefully we should have some of those eggs soon, and now hopefully we will have fertility!
There is a "side duck" project going on this year, it involves breeding for a color pattern. I don't have any great plans to show these birds, I am mainly looking to increase the number of broody ducks we keep around here because we seem to have the best results hatching Calls & East Indies under duck broodies. I just happened to be in the right place to find birds of this variety and plan to make a couple of crosses to my old line of Snowy Mallards to hopefully make "prettier yard ducks".
I am down to two breeder pairs of Roller pigeons in the breeder box. (An un-named son :) might have been responsible for opening the door one day and letting several of the breeders go...) But two pairs are together and sitting on eggs. I've so far, managed to band on bird for 2016. He's a really pretty Lavendar, but I haven't had the chance to turn any birds loose to fly because the minute I do, three different hawks show up and enjoy the "buffet". Hopefully with warmer weather and longer days soon, we will be able to fly them while the hawks are off in another part of the neighborhood.
Our County's Ag-Day is fast approaching here in March and as always we already have plans to set-up our usual "Poultry Petting Zoo" where we will be able to have children and adults of all ages visit with us and the birds and be able to actually touch them, hold them and ask questions. ITS A GREAT OPPURTUNITY for us as breeders and even more fun to see how people react to ducks, chickens and the other birds we take each year. We too often take for granted, that not everyone has poultry in their back yard!
In the flower beds, we are starting to show signs of new life popping out of the soil. Today we discovered the tips of the tulips starting to push their way through, and the daffodils and what few crocus we still have are putting out leaves. The Lenten Roses beside the porch are just about ready to bloom...which is right on time for them considering Easter is early this year. I need to get out side and spend some time cleaning the rest of the leaves and debris away from the Iris beds...I can see green shoots coming up but I am skeptical they will get frozen off again like they did last year. The children are making plans about what they want to plant in their raised bed gardens here soon, and we have some plans to do something special this season. We hope to be able to participate in our local Farmer's Market, but we are still working on those details. If it happens, we will be thrilled, if not there's always next year.