Ducks love alfalfa too!

We decided to give a tub of alfalfa for our flock of Indian Runner Ducks to try. Wow! they really, really love it, they eat it throughout the day. They come to the yard and eat alfalfa for a while, then they take a run up to the pond and look for worms, and swim. Then they come back and it's more alfalfa and they go running off to the meadow to eat some fresh grass , and then they return to the house again and have more alfalfa. Then they take a nap in the yard, and they wake up, nibble more alfalfa, go running to browse, return again. . .  over and over 

We weren't sure how well they would handle the tough alfalfa stems, and had been cutting up alfalfa. for them by hand, with goat hoof trimming shears, ( The stems of that to hard cut) to add to their mash. but now we find that they seem to have a little scissor edges on their bills and can cut thru the stems just fine. And with so many of duck bills snipping away, they can cut more than we can cut for them. So we've decided that there's enough protein in the alfalfa, and now we know they can cut and eat enough of it, so we don't really need to give them any waterfowl pellets, or mash to supplement their diet, and we can put away the goat hoof trimming shears. This is going to save so much time.

The alfalfa's protein, and all the good browse they find from the woods, and pond will keep them healthy, and strong.   

The ducks actually seem a lot more contented now, they are even quieter. Alfalfa  is going to be a permanent addition to our ducks diet.  




Three bouncing baby doelings

 Born on July 29, 2013
Rue Dee and her kids!


Son of a Gunner!


 July 14, 2013


Gunner the Buck

Gunner is a young buck who is staying here to freshen Rue Dee and Happee. 

Rue Dee and Happee both think he is cute. 

They have been taking him to all their favorite places.

Happee showed him the Goat Hut on the first night:


The next day they visited the meadow to browse on the grasses and tangy blackberry leaves.

Happee took Gunner to the woods to nibble on Oregon Grape, but Gunner and Rue Dee nibbled on each other instead.( see background)

Goats know how to find food in the woods, today, they found a whole car load of Hay!

They all seemed to enjoy the car hood buffet, there were three kinds of hay.

The three of them all enjoy a rest on the trampoline.

Rue dee and Gunner actually found that the trampoline allowed them to overcome a height and weight difference that was making their union difficult. (Rue Dee is heavier than Gunner so she sinks lower in to the canvas, and the bounce gave Gunner the extra lift he was needing)

Rue Dee and Gunner are really quite taken with each other.


Winter Garden

The first picture was taken in September, it was our second summer planting.
Mostly "Dinosaur Kale" which was new to us, and turned out to be a mild flavored. dark green. tender yet hardy Kale, that is good both as a salad green and for steaming. We also mixed some Swiss Chard into the garden.
In December we decided to erect a tent around the garden to keep it warm, temperatures in the 20's  were expected. 

For awhile after the really cold weather hit, we were afraid to go down to look at the garden.
We imagined wilted, and rotting vegetable goo would be waiting to greet us,
But we were really pleased when finally we did go down to visit the plants.

They were doing quite well, and have saved us many trips to the grocery store, which is a 10 mile drive.
So we saved on both Bio-Diesel, and on our grocery bill.

The Green Onion and Leek patch survived, without a cover.
The best part is we are getting to eat super fresh vegetables all year round now.
and we don't need to go any farther then the meadow to get them.


Flying Chickens !

They fly through the air with the greatest of effort!


Kelp Meal is good for chickens and goats

By FASTILY (I created this work entirely by myself.) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons
Kelp contains as many as 72 Trace Minerals. Sea water is full of minerals, because the Ocean covers around two thirds of the earths surface and rubs against a lot of rocks.  That being the case it would seem reasonable that kelp would contain a nice mix of many the minerals available on the planet.  Our chickens and goats will get their trace minerals from the kelp we feed them, and we will get our trace minerals from their eggs and milk, also, our garden will benefit from kelp enhanced chicken and Goat manures in the compost that we use to augment our soil.
We noticed a 50 lb. bag of Kelp Meal at our local feed store and thought it might be good to add a little seaweed to our diets.  We got the bag home and opened it, seaweed meal is dark rich green with little light green specks and is about the consistency of course ground pepper.

If you look really close at the grains of kelp, you can still tell that it is kelp by the surface texture of the granules.  (click the image to see it bigger)

We decided to prepare the kelp meal as a broth for the chickens. Our chickens like to drink soup, and they all get their share when food comes in liquid form.  We put a cup of the Kelp Meal in to a pot of water, and boil it until the Kelp expands and a thick broth forms.  We strain out the kelp solids to add to the Seed Mix, and put out bowls of Kelp Broth for the chickens. 
For the goats we just fasten a small bucket kelp meal granules to the wall, for them to eat free choice, as a mineral suppliment.
Every so often the goats eat a little, they seem to find it tasty.

I looked on the web and found some interesting information about Kelp as a food source.

Forest Feeding Chickens

In our quest for a leaner and healthier yolk, we have decided that just feeding the chickens good food wasn't enough, they need to exercise to aid their digestion, and to pump all the nutrients in their blood around their bodies. When a chicken feeds from a feeder, they feed until their gullet is full and then they just hang out, digest some, and poop a lot.  But when they eat in the wild, they peck once and scratch twice, repeatedly, all day long. Eating this way causes the chicken to eat more slowly and the constant exercise provided by all that scratching means that the chicken is better able to better utilize the food they eat. 
We decided to stop feeding the chickens in bowls, or even simply scattering grains on the bare ground. What we are doing now is taking a bag of mixed grains and seeds into the forest to scatter among the fallen leaves, moss and grasses. The chickens seem to get almost all the grains. (what they don't find should sprout, the grains are even better when they sprout.)
We have been throwing the seeds out in the woods for the chickens. We feed them in a random rotation to keep them from over scratching any one area of our property.

The chickens are actually requiring less seed overall, because they are getting more moss and other forest goodies along with the grains we throw, there has been a rise in egg numbers, the shells are firmer, and the yolks are darker and more translucent, and therefore less fatty.

Egg Shooters
We also noticed that the chickens seem to be having an easier time laying, because they are all spending less time sitting in the nests, they just hop up lay, and move on. Perhaps all the work spent scratching in the woods is toning up their egg shoving muscles.