Sunday, October 20, 2013

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Processing Farm Chicken **GRAPHIC**

We finished processing our chickens in September. Hubby Jim, made the cones, scalder and feather plucker - which helps the process a lot. I wish we had these years ago, it saves so much time and effort.
I have to admit... all the years we have lived here, this is the FIRST year I processed chicken - whole. The kids have done it, Jim does it, but I always wait until the chicken is in the fridge, and I get to prepare it!
This year, because Jim is having problems with his legs due to his disability, he needed me to help (The kids are all grown and out of the house).

The first thing you need to do is to take away all food sources from the chicken for 24 hours. This cleans them out, so you don't have a mess on your hands. Put them in a cage of some sort, so they will settle down. When chickens get excited, adrenalin gets in their muscles and can make the meat tough.

Handy tools to have
1. Killing cones and sharp knife
2. Scalder with water temp up to 
3. Plucker (doing this by hand for one or two is certainly feasible.) 
4. Evisceration table
5. Water to rinse the chicken cavity
6. Ice filled cooler
7. Bags

1. Place the chickens head down in a cone and quickly sever the artery on both sides of the neck. There is a small bare spot near the top of the neck which is the easiest and best place to cut. The chicken bleeds out, and the messaging from the brain to the body is disconnected. This process is quick and humane. Leave  the chicken for about 3 - 4 minutes to thoroughly bleed out.

2. The chicken is dipped into hot water to loosen the feathers from the skin. This is called'scalding' (150 degrees). Jim swishes them around and up and down until the feathers on the back, next to the tail, release. Those are the toughest feathers to get off. This takes about 40 seconds - depending on the temperature - the lower the temp, the longer you have to swish.

3. The chicken is placed in the drum of the plucker. The machine is turned on, and the "fingers" strip the feathers from the skin.

4. Cut off the feet. These can be saved and used in making a good old fashioned chicken soup. Next,  the neck is slit and the gullet and windpipe loosened. On the opposite end,things need to be taken care of. Slice off the oil gland on the top of the tail. This is yellow, and easily slice off.
Secondly, a slice is made in the skin above the vent. Pull the skin apart large enough to get your hand up inside.

5. Grab on the windpipe and the gullet and slowly pull out. Don't worry about being gentle... you will really have to pull hard to get the guts to come out.

6. The gallbladder is attached to the liver. It is a dark green. When disconnecting, do not let it break and spill that acid out (if it does, throw away the liver). Set the liver aside for delicious recipes.

7. The heart is also delicious in recipes

8. Reach back in and scrape the lungs off of the sides of the back bone.

9. Finally, slice off the vent area.

Rinse the chicken inside and out, and place in a cooler full of ice. The chicken needs to be kept cool for at least 24 hours, then bagged and put in the freezer.  We use special shrink bags called Heat Shrink Bags

1. Place the chicken into the bag. We use zip ties to close the bag. Squeeze out as much air as you can before tightening the zip ties.

2. Slit a tiny hole (1/4")  in the bag. We do this right on the backbone where there is a slight divot in the bird.

3. Swish the bagged chicken in hot water (190 degrees) until the air has bubbled out of the bag.

4. The heat shrinks the bag. Place your freezer label over the slit to seal it. (If you buy the shrink bags, labels come with them.)

5. Place in the freezer.

Free Range chicken is not the same as grocery chicken. They are more muscular, so cooking these chickens do best when brined (marinated) cooked "slow and low."

***I will post some recipes later this week***

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Store -bought chicken vs. Free-range chicken

A chicken allowed to consume a natural chicken diet has a more balanced ratio of omega-6 fat to omega-3 fat and the chickens themselves are leaner because they get to exercise.  Homegrown chicken has a much firmer flesh than CAFO chicken...

What about Organic? It doesn't matter whether the chicken ate organic food or not, if the organic chicken lived indoors and did not have access to pasture then it will never ever be as healthy as a non-organic pastured chicken

Is free-range chicken just as good as pastured chicken? It depends. Some larger poultry houses claim the chickens are "free-range" because they are on the dirt floor of a barn, and can wander around.
We "free-range" our chickens - this means we let them out every day to forage as they wish. They have no pen confining them. I prefer to call them "Homegrown Chicken".

Pastured poultry are chickens in small 10x20 sized pens that are moved several times a day and are able to eat the grass.

Are vegetarian chickens healthy? No.Chickens are not supposed to be vegetarians. This simply means that the grain given to the chickens did not contain any "chicken parts". Chickens naturally go after bugs, slugs, worms, flies, maggots and all palatable bugs. This is what chickens were meant to do. Any deviant diet from the natural chicken diet is not going result in the healthiest chicken.

The chicken that you buy in the store come from CAFO's (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation). The chicken is in tight confinement, fed copious amounts of feed with antibiotics to ward off the disease which is common, and hormones for rapid growth. This also keeps YOUR cost down, but they aren't healthy birds to eat...Here is a link to a good explanation of CAFO chicken farms

Homegrown chicken is somewhat time expensive to raise. And any farmer raising chicken for the health benefits, deserve the price they ask for.

Here are some recipes:

Free-Range Chicken in Vinegar Lyon-style
Recipe courtesy Emeril Lagasse, 2003

1 free-range chicken or fryer, 3 1/2 to 4 pounds, cut into 8 pieces, rinsed and patted dry
2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
6 cloves garlic, unpeeled
1 cup good-quality white wine vinegar
2 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped, about 1 cup
2 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons creme fraiche or heavy cream
Chopped parsley, garnish
Season the chicken evenly on both sides with the salt and pepper.

In a large Dutch oven, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter with the oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and garlic cloves and cook until the chicken is well browned, turning once, about 8 to 10 minutes per side. Add the vinegar and stir to loosen any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Add the tomatoes, cover the pot and reduce the heat to medium. Cook until the chicken is tender, about 25 minutes. Transfer the chicken pieces to a warmed platter and cover to keep warm.

Add the chicken stock to the pot and bring to a boil, scraping any browned bits that cling to the sides or bottom of the pan. Cook until the sauce is reduced by 1/3 in volume, about 10 minutes. Strain the sauce through a fine sieve and return to the pan, discarding the solids. Reduce the heat to low. Add the remaining butter, a piece at a time, whisking constantly until all the butter has been added and the sauce is smooth and thick. Do not allow the sauce to boil and remove from the heat as necessary to prevent from breaking. Add the creme fraiche and whisk to combine. Adjust the seasoning to taste.

Ladle the sauce over the chicken and garnish with the parsley.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Baby Bunny Saga

4 weeks ago, as Jim and I were busy with visitors, and  trying to get things ready to take a "down & back" trip, I happened to notice a new born bunny on the ground near a couple of our outside hutches. I checked all the nest boxes, but there was no fur pulled in any of them. I had no idea which doe had given birth as they were all due at the same time.
I usually try to breed my does close together, so if I do have an orphan it will be adopted by another doe. But I haven't had an orphan born before any other litters!
I held it in my hand as Jim and I gave a quick tour to the visitors. When they left, I stood there trying to figure out what to do. I checked the other does in the back bunny barn/chicken coop to see if one had a litter back there. No such luck.
The bunny in my hand had gotten wet and damp, but not really chilled.I wasn't sure if I should start bottle feeding it, as that is a tough job to take on... especially if we were traveling.
 I made a quick nest out of sawdust and some left over bunny fur, and left it alone on our kitchen counter for the night.
Early the next morning I went to the hutches again to check to see which rabbit was having her kits. i had a flashlight (it was about 4 am) and checked the nest boxes. Success! I found the momma that had a litter. Unfortunately, it had rained the night before and somehow the box was wet inside. The last 4 bunnies to be born were chilled. This is not good, as a chilled kit doesn't usually make it. i brought them into the house, threw some wash clothes in the dryer to heat up. I turned my hairdryer on low and set it blowing into the box where they bunnies were, and ran outside to do chores.
I came back in and wrapped each kit in a wash cloth that was warm from the dryer. Then I changed the bedding in the nest box for the mother and the litter to be dry. Jim found the leak in the roof of the hutch and fixed it. I placed all 5 bunnies into the box. The chilled ones had warmed up a bit, and the one I had found the day before all snuggled down in the sawdust. That was all I could do at the moment.
We arrived home late the next night - about 36 hours had passed and I sort of dreaded looking into the nest box... But, much to my surprise, all the bunnies were doing well, full bellies and warm bodies.

The bunny that I had found on the ground was the only one with a white belt around it, the rest were totally gray. So I have been watching it's progress as it has grown: (I do refer to it as a "he" but we have not checked to be certain)

One week of age and the fur has grown

What a difference  10 days makes. His eyes are open and he is very alert. The bunnies stay in the nest box still.

He is now 4 weeks old. Eating with the rest, in and out of the nest box and doing well. His ears have grown so much.


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Bald faced Hornets

We have a nest of Bald-faced (sometimes called White-faced) hornets that we leave undisturbed. They have built a nest in the crook of our old farm wagon. It is made up of chewed wood and looks like paper, most
nests are shaped like a football - especially if hanging from a tree. Each nest contains one queen and anywhere from 100 to 700 male workers who are responsible for building and expanding the nest.

 They are an aggressive insect when disturbed - but to me, they are beneficial.

Hornets do not hover near and pollinate flowers as bees do, although the white-faced hornet are attracted to fall flowers such as the golden rod. They are not attracted to sugars in food and drink, as the yellow jackets are. They feed on insects and caterpillars.

When we first moved her, we had a screened room with a picnic table. Every day the hornets would zoom in, grab a fly and zoom out. I was amazed watching them take care of the pesky flies. And now, w
ith all of our animals around, these busy wasps eat a lot of flies.  They will fly into the barn, grab a fly and out they go...

I have been stung by them... one time on the top of my head as I walked under a nest that I hadn't seen. A good remedy for the sting is a paste of water and baking soda - less water, more baking soda. Within moments, the sting will feel better. (Unless you are allergic, which of course means you will need an  epinephrine injector kit - such as an Epi-Pen and go to the hospital as quickly as possible after being stung) 

For more information: Bald Faced Hornets

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Solar Cooking

Solar Cooking

Solar cooking is simply harnessing the sun's energy to cook food. This is an excellent way to keep the house cool in the summer, costs nothing to use, and is a great alternative to conventional cooking.
There are two things needed to solar cook.
1. Solar cooker
2. Dark pot to cook in - this can be either a granite ware, cast iron, or an aluminum pot painted black on the outside. The thin walls of the granite ware is actually a good heat conductor
If you are not able to find black or darkened pots and pans for use in your solar cooker, you can cook your food in jars. Canning jars are preferable because they are designed for high pressure and heat. Regular clear jars can be used if you do not seal them too tightly in order to diminish the possibility of exploding. You can paint them black for better heat absorption.

The golden rule of solar cooking is: GET THE FOOD ON EARLY, AND DON’T WORRY ABOUT OVERCOOKING.

The simplest design of a solar collector is an old tire tube. Place the inflated tube on a board on the ground. Place the cooking vessel inside the tube. Cover the tube with a piece of plain glass. The place in the well of the tube is like a closed cavity. Air neither go out nor come in. The rays of the sun enter the glass and get trapped. Slowly, the temperature of the cooking vessel rises, and the food is cooked.
You can add a mirror on top of the board, which would add more reflection of the suns rays on the pot.

Other simple ways to harness the sun into a solar cooker is using a bucket,
Take a 5 gallon bucket, put a heavy rock in it to keep it stable. Take your shiny car window shade and fold it into a cone shape. It will be an awkward cone. Then place the cone tip into the 5 gallon bucket. Get a black pot/lid and fill it with your food. Put pot on a cheap-shiny pizza pan (wal-mart). Slide both pizza pan and pot into a turkey cooking bag. Close and tie off bag. Place bag, pot and food over the center of your shade cone and leave it facing the sun.

23 years ago, we started with 2 cardboard boxes, one inside the other with the gap between filled with insulation, covered with none other than duct tape.
Flashing, found at a builder's store, made up the sides and bottom. A piece of mirror was taped to the box flap. We used a stand-up dressing mirror for the sun reflecting into the box, and used a piece of glass to cover the top ... voilĂ , we had a solar cooker! It worked great!

We have since built a newer model... a black wooden box, with fold out lids that can be closed up when not in use. the inside of the box is painted black. After the food is placed inside, a piece of glass is placed on top. Two flaps were hinged to the top, and mirrors attached. These flaps can be positioned to the suns rays, reflect them into the box, where the sun's heat is trapped.

The sky is the limit to what type of solar cooker you want to make. People have made them using pizza box, or shoe box – which would be a great kids project:
The main point is to get the sun's reflection in the cooker and on the pot
A simple model on how to make your own :

The best times for cooking with a solar cooker is between 10 am and 4 pm - that is usually when the sun is at it's hottest.

OK. Now that you have figured out the solar cooker, it is time to cook something.

If you just want to experiment with an easy recipe, try cooking RICE:
1 cup rice,
2 cup water

Place the dark pot into the solar cooker, orient it so the sun is shining directly into the cooker and let the sun do the rest. Rice takes about an hour. Condensation on your window is a sign that the rice is cooking. You can check it then. (Be VERY careful lifting the lid of the pot off because the steam WILL burn)

Soak about 1/2 pound of pinto beans in water overnight. Drain the beans and add fresh water to cover the beans by about 1/2 inch. Add a pinch of salt- some chopped onion, a little garlic, and a slice of bacon if you like. This all goes into a covered dark pot and is cooked ALL day in the solar oven. If you notice the water has boiled away, just add more hot water. They are done when they are tender.

Slice a couple of those SOLAR BAKED POTATOES and place them into a dark pot. Drizzle the potatoes with olive oil, add a 1/2 cup of milk, sprinkle with salt and pepper, You can add some Parmesan cheese. Mix briefly, then cover and place into a preheated solar oven and bake until hot- about an hour or so.

For a total meal:

Cut up vegetables - potatoes, carrots, onions, green beans, turnips - any favorite vegetable.
Place it on the bottom of your dark pot.
Cover this with your chicken pieces, skin side up, seasoned with your favorite herbs. (I like to add paprika, salt and pepper)
Cover the pot with the lid, and cook for 1 1/2 - 2 hours.
*If you don't want the skin on, add a cup or so of chicken broth/water.

Use caution when removing the pot and the lid - it is HOT - just as hot as if it had been in the oven.

Head on over to my website for more information:
And more recipes:

Thursday, July 11, 2013

So you want to raise a bunny

I am by no means an expert on raising rabbits. When someone asks my husband what breed we raise - he tells them "whatever colors look good"... I love the diversity of colors you can get, I love having lop eared bunnies, straight eared bunnies. I like the "assorted" bunny, and I love finding homes for my bunnies. Our daughter, Bethany had her first bunny by the time she was 4 and she took serious care of it. Unfortunately, it was a single Large New Zealand female -which doesn't always make the best pet. We found an adorable black and white dutch bunny for her, and she had Jasmine for quite a few years.

Bunnies for pets are a lot of fun, a great pet to teach children responsibility, compassion, and empathy.
 ~ Rabbits can be raised anywhere ~ they fit easily into most family setting
~ Raising bunnies gives kids lots of options from a beginner's pet project to a breeding project and perhaps in to a small business venture.
~Rabbits are a good sized animal for young children to work with. Young people are very capable of learning the skills necessary for a successful bunny project.
~ It doesn't take a lot of money to get started with bunnies ~ This project fits in to most family budgets 

*Being handled is a scary feeling for a bunny. If your bunny is frightened it will try to run away. Sometimes when you lift your bunny it will try to use it's nails to grip the only surface it can feel: YOU. 
This often results in being scratched.

 REMEMBER to tell the kids that the bunny isn't mad at you it is just scared. Start off by having the kids wear a long sleeved shirt.

*The bunnies here at LillyWhite Farm are used to being held and are less likely to scratch, but if you drop your bunny one time, it will be frightened to be picked up after that.

*The best way to pick up a bunny is to place one hand under it, just behind the front legs. Place your other hand under the animal's rump. Hold the bunny next to your body with it's head toward your elbow. If your bunny starts to struggle, drop to one knee. This lessons the distance the bunny will fall. Remember: even a quiet bunny can have a bad day. Be patient, and always let the bunny feel safe and secure in your arms.

Rabbits like to chew - itis natural and healthy for them to do so. Provide your bunny with something to chew:  Hay, apple tree branch (not peach or apricot - they can be toxic), cotton cloth (as long as the bunny isn't eating it)

Many people like to have their bunnies free-roam in their house with them. The bunny becomes part of the family. You need to bunny-proof the house - any cords within bunny reach WILL be chewed.

A simple puppy-pen that you can get at your local pet store is a great option. They are large enough to hold all of the essentials for a rabbit and give them room to roam. pens are easy to move when needed.

An excellent site to find out information on house bunnies is My House Rabbit

*Feeding COMMERCIAL PELLETS is the easiest way to feed bunnies ~ there is no guessing.
*If you want to try feeding your bunny less expensively you can try the HAY & GRAIN DIET: 2nd cutting alfalfa hay (70lbs) and a combination of rolled or ground oats, ground wheat, cracked corn, grain sorghum to equal 30 lbs. Feed 1 lb hay and 1/2 lb grain daily.

*These foods can be fed to bunnies: apples, barley, beets, blackberry bush, grass, carrots, corn, crabgrass, dandelion, dogwood, all grains, lettuce, milk, millet, oats, oranges, orchard grass, parsnips, peas, poplar, red top, root vegetables, sumac, sunflowers, sweet potato, timothy, turnip, vetch, wheat, willow.

DO NOT FEED: amaranth, arrow grass, bracken fern, buckeye, burdock, chinaberry, chokecherry leaves or pits, comfrey, foxglove, goldenrod, hemlock, horehound, jimson weed, johnson grass, larkspur, laurel, lima beans. lupine, milkweed, moldy bread, oak, pigweed, poppy, potato, swiss chard, tomato

*Bunnies can be litter box trained. They have an instinct to use the same place over and over.
  * Be sure to give your bunnies some toys to play with - an old phone book to rip up is a lot of fun, plastic rattles and keys are also a good choice.  

Here is an excellent article on the Basics of Litter Training 

This is our  bunny George (as in "Curious George").

The Rabbit House Society has an abundance of information on house bunnies and pets - from rabbit care, health, behavior,  to grooming and traveling. They cover everything you need to know for raising a bunny

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Sexing chicks

We hatch our own chicken eggs from our Ameraucana/Easter Egger chickens and many people want to know the sex of the chicks. I don't blame them ... if you want hens and end up with a lot of roosters... well there is just so many roosters to have!

To be honest, as hubby Jim says - "I've got a 50-50 chance of getting it right.

So, regardless of what you have been told - it is NOT as reliable as you think, unless you've been doing it for 60 years like Hugh Grove (see The Joy of Sexing link below)

FEATHER SEXING: Feather sexing is based on feather characteristics that differ between male and female chicks. The method is very easy to learn by the poultryman, but the feather appearances are determined by specially selected genetic traits that must be present in the chick strain. Most strains (breeds) of chickens do not have these feather sexing characteristics and feathering of both sexes appear identical.

VENT SEXING: Vent sexing of chicks at hatching has complications that make it more difficult than sex determination of most other animals. The reason is that the sexual organs of birds are located within the body and are not easily distinguishable. The copulatory organ of chickens can be identified as male or female by shape, but there are over fifteen different different shapes to consider. Therefore, few people have experience with determining the sex of birds because of the difficult nature of the process. Most of these highly trained individuals are employed by large commercial hatcheries. The training to be a chick sexer is so difficult and lengthy that the average poultry owner finds it unjustifiable.
You can't wait more than a day or two in order to vent sex.

- Mississippi State University 

EGG SHAPE: Although J. Mulder and O. Wollan swear that they raised 23 pullets from 23 eggs by comparing the shape of their hen fruit (according to them, eggs that eventually hatch into pullets are more oval than the pointy eggs that eventually hatch out as cockerels) . . . other chicken raisers disagree — sometimes most emphatically — with this bit of barnyard wisdom. 

"The fact is," says Veronica Waters (of Wellton, Arizona), "that one hen will lay an egg of almost identical shape every day. This shape also differs from one breed to another. Therefore, the egg's form cannot indicate the sex of the chick it will produce. If it did, all the layings of a particular fowl—or of a particular breed or strain—would be of one sex. Common sense, or any familiarity with chickens, will tell you that this is not so." 

- Mother Earth News

Of course, if you can wait, after a few weeks you can sex you chicks by their comb (roosters are generally a teeny bit larger)

Here is  a chart to help you with some clues from Sage Hen Farm - " It is absolutely, positively guaranteed not to be 100 percent accurate. Please don't use this chart to compare chicks of different breeds, since they will not develop the same way or at the same rate. I have purposefully omitted reference to days or weeks when to expect to be able to observe difference since they will vary so widely by both breed and individual."

Clues for Sexing Chicks After a Few Weeks,
based on secondary sex characteristics

ait or Characteristic
Heavy Breeds
(Asian, American, English)
Mediterranean & Other Light Breeds
Comb & Wattles
Comb early to turn pink. Later comb and wattles noticably larger & redder
Comb early to turn pink. Later comb and wattles noticably larger & redder
Comb and wattles usually remains yellowmuch longer
Still mostly fluffy & downy
Fairly quick feather development
Quick feather development
Development slow and in patches. Some barenessat shoulders, back & wing bows
Development only slightly slower than pullets
Even development on back, chest, & thighs. Reaches complete feathering sooner
Development of long, pointed & shiny hackle and saddle feathers
Development of long, pointed & shiny hackle and saddle feathers
Feathers in hackle and saddle areas are oval & rounded
Stumpy, curved; slow to develop
Curved, but only slightly shorter and slower to develop than pullets
Long, straight; quick to develop
Long, sturdy; spurs developing
Long, sturdy; spurs developing
Short, delicate
Larger & more angular
Larger & more angular
Small & round
May be larger (perhaps shorter in length but stouter, more thickset) or becomes noticably larger
Becomes noticably larger eventually
Small, although may be longer
Upright & erect
Upright & erect
Lower set
May be more alert, aggressive, & noisy; will emit pre-crowing chirps before crowing
May be more alert, aggressive, & noisy; will emit pre-crowing chirps before crowing
May be more docile, but can also be aggressive & noisy

For more information, read: The Joy of Sexing 
                    Sixty years spent telling one newly hatched bird from the next

Tuesday, July 2, 2013


Thinking about homeschooling? Think Un-schooling - or the "self-learning" philosophy.  
Describing unschooling is difficult. As the wonderful Unschooling website  describes it - it is like describing red to a blind person. Many have different ideas of unschooling.

Here is Brandon, 7 years old, working with his Dad on the chainsaw.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Ducks for Eggs, Meat or Both?

Ducks are one of the easiest of all poultry to raise. Ducklings are a great animal to start with. Whereas chicks grow into chickens quite quickly, ducklings take their time to mature. Which gives the kids a longer time to play and handle them. They greet you when you come by  and will follow behind you.  Ducks are great at foraging and getting rid of bugs, slugs and other creepy things. Some ducks have been know to eat a snake, mice and small vermin.

Many people feel duck eggs are unbeatable for baking and pastries. And some people that have allergies to chicken eggs can eat duck eggs (or quail eggs)

Some ducks are very prolific at laying eggs - Khaki-Campbell are strictly an egg-laying duck. They will lay 300 - 325 eggs a year! They continue through the winter. They will be good layers for 3 to 4 years. The females are seal-brown and the males are the same with touches of darker brown. They are excellent forages and withstand cool climates very well. They weigh about 4 1/2 pounds 

The Welsh Harlequin is a fairly new breed, developed by Leslie Bonnett in Wales from two off-colored Khaki Campbell ducklings in 1949.
They are excellent egg layers, and will still set on a nest - a trait that has diminished in some breeds.
They can also be sexed just after they hatch by the color of their bill: darker is a male and lighter are females. This disappears after a few days. They also have a pretty feather color and are just a nice duck to have around..

Indian Runner ducks are raised for eggs. Because of their size, they are not used for meat.
Under refrigeration (34 to 40 degrees) eggs can be kept safely for up to six weeks. By sealing freshly laid eggs in a plastic bag their refrigeration life can be lengthened to two months, as the bags help prevent moisture loss from the egg. Duck eggs also have a longer shelf life than chicken eggs.

White Pekin:  The most popular breed for meat is the Pekin (also called the Long Island duck) and is the major breed raised commercially. They are large white ducks, with the males reaching 9 pounds and females about 8 pounds. They are a bit high strung and are not good setters.
The Pekin dress out nicely because their white skin looks good roasted.

Muscovy (Mus-coh-vee): These ducks have the best tasting meat - some compare the meat to veal, with less fatty taste compared to other ducks.
 The drake weighs about 10 pounds, and the duck about 7. They reach market weight at about 8 - 10 weeks. (Although, if they are kept for breeding, they do get larger)They are great setters, but do not lay a lot of eggs - about 40 - 45 eggs a year).
Some people consider them ugly because of the large red warty caruncles above the beak and around the eyes. 
They are one of the only ducks of the larger breeds that fly very well. Many states require breeders to clip their wings to prevent them from flying away. They do like to roost in trees.
Although the Muscovy is a tropical bird (originally from South America) it adapts well to cooler climates and can thrive in a climate as cold as 10 degrees F

Rouen ducks look very similar to the ancestor of most modern duck breeds - the Mallard duck, and, as such, the male has a beautiful green head. Because of this, Rouen ducks are popular for various ornamental reasons, and the fact that they are pretty docile ducks.
 The Rouen is a popular farm flock breed, and is a very good meat breed.  It is slower growing than the Pekin, but it reaches the same weight over the 5 to 6 month period of feeding and foraging under farm flock conditions. 
 They are poor layers, producing only 35-125 eggs yearly. 

Swedish is a medium sized duck that weighs between 6 1/2 to 8 pounds; the male usually weighs more than the female. Blue Swedish ducks are very calm and make good ducks for beginners and will go broody. The Swedish is considered a dual-purpose duck for both meat and eggs.

 Blue is the standard, but there is Black, Silver, Yellows and Splash color patterns.

A good layer, the Swedish will lay about 130 -180 eggs per year, and reaches table weight by about 16 weeks.

The Swedish may also be crested.

So which duck do you choose? For eggs production we prefer the Welsh Harlequin. The ducks lay a lot of eggs, and are a pretty duck that seem relatively calm. The Khaki Campbell is too flighty a bird for me.
For meat, the Muscovy is the best tasting with a less greasy taste (which turns off a lot of people)

My all time favorite duck is the Rouen. I like their calm personality (they come when you call them). They do like the schedule and want to go into the barn at night... which makes it easy for us to keep them safe. Every night they will walk single file from where they were foraging to the barn and patiently wait by the door.
And the males are pretty ducks with the green Mallard colored head..

Why Raise Ducks?

Why would you want ducks?

Ducks are a very hardy bird. They seem to do well in all kinds of weather. They require less attention than a chicken. They don't forage as well as most geese, they do augment their diet by foraging, and lowering your feed bill.
Ducks need very little housing and do not require a pond or creek, but if you have one, they will be very happy birds!

They will rid your garden, yard or orchard of snails, earwigs, slugs or any other bug they can find. They will fertilize your soil and you can collect their flowers to make earrings, feather dream catchers, etc.

Ducks have personalities! They frolic on a pond, waddle mechanically in a line to some distant object. They make very good pets.
As an 8th grader, a friend and I did a science project involving 8 ducks. When the project was over, we found homes for 7... haha. It was my way of keeping the duck. I named him Dandelion for his yellow duckling down, but he turned out to be a very large white Pekin. I would fill a baby pool full of water, and sit outside with him as he splashed and cavorted around. He would follow behind me where ever I walked.

Some ducks are great for egg production, and some are good for meat production. There isn't a dual purpose duck. Duck eggs are wonderful for baking... a little larger than a chicken egg. They can also lay almost as many as a chicken!

Ducklings 101 - Feeding

If you buy your babies from a hatchery, you will need to dip their beaks in water to give them a drink first thing. A good way to to this is as you take them out of the box, and you count them to see if they are all there and healthy, simply dip their beak, and set them in the brooder you have set up waiting.

If you are going to feed a commercial feel, be sure you do not get a feed that has any medication in it. The medication is for coccidia  a common parasite that chicks could get. Ducks are not able to have that medication as it can be deadly.  The protein content may be too high for them also. 20% is all that is needed.
A good duck or turkey starter would be a good choice.

The duckling will eat a little, swish their beaks in water and eat a little more. Water is very important as they can choke on feed without water.

If you would like to feed your ducklings a homemade feed, here is a tried and true formula:
Feed 3x a day:
BREAKFAST: cooked oatmeal, covered with a little water.
LUNCH: scrambled
eggs covered with a little water
DINNER: homemade whole wheat bread covered with a little water, or milk.
Tender young green leaves should be offered at each meal.
They also like chopped green onion,s and dandelion greens. Watercress is also a favorite.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The secret to online safety: Lies, random characters, and a password manager

A password manager helps you create long, complicated passwords for websites and integrates into your browser, automatically filling in your usernames and passwords. Instead of typing a different password into each site you visit, you only have to remember one master password.:
This site will give you more information