Friday, August 12, 2016

Look What Came Wandering Out Of The Edge Of The Yard

Yesterday, while I was doing my morning chores, this came wandering out of the brushy edge of the yard.  

Look at the two little balls of fluff beside this mama duck.  They're a cross between a peking male and this muscovy female.  I think it's hard for them to produce fertilized eggs, so this may explain why there are only two ducklings.  

We thought that one of our ducks had been taken by a predator or, hoped, that is was hiding and sitting on eggs.  It looks like the second choice occurred!  

It's kind of cruel, but I would like to take the babies and put them under a heat lamp because sometimes predation doesn't give them a chance to grow up.  However, this mama duck is staying well away from me and I'm hoping her instinct to keep these ducklings hidden and away from everyone will keep them safe. 

Turkey update:  It appears that I have three toms and two hens.  The other day, one more started gobbling and fanning at me.

Friday, August 5, 2016

We Have Bourbon Red Turkeys...Again

Do you remember the winter before last when my beautiful bourbon red turkeys were killed by a bobcat?  It killed all five - just for fun.  

We've had the turkey enclosure and never did anything with it.  So I contacted my friend in Altoona and asked him if he had any young turkeys available.  Then a couple of months ago I drove down to pick up five pullets.  When I asked him what sexes he had he said, "your guess is as good as mine".  So we wait for them to mature a bit and even the very young toms start to gobble.  It looks like I have one tom and four hens.  I swear I've heard one other "hen" gobble, but I can't be entirely sure!    

We really beefed up the enclosure and made it, we hope, predator proof and now my young turkeys are growing up and looking really great!  I love, love, love the soft cooing sounds they make!  

Bourbon Red turkeys are different than your regular Thanksgiving Broad Breasted white turkey as they can mate naturally.  Your Thanksgiving turkey has been bred to have such a large breast that this has become impossible for them.  When my turkeys start laying I plan to put the eggs in an incubator (I've been told they don't make very good mothers and will only sit on the nest for about two weeks).  I may, as an experiment, even put a few eggs under some broody chickens.  I hope that I'll have young turkeys for sale next spring!

Aren't they gorgeous?

Did you know?  Here are some turkey facts from

The modern domesticated turkey descends from the wild turkey.

Turkeys are known to exhibit over 20 distinct vocalisations. Including a distinctive gobble, produced by males, which can be heard a mile away.

Individual turkeys have unique voices. This is how turkeys recognise each other.

Turkeys are intelligent and sensitive animals that are highly social. They create lasting social bonds with each other and are very affectionate; rather similar to dogs.

Turkeys have outstanding geography skills. They have the ability to learn the precise details of an area over 1,000 acres in size.

Like peacocks, male turkeys puff up their bodies and spread their elaborate feathers to attract a mate.

Baby turkeys (poults) flock with their mother all year. Although wild turkeys roost in the trees, as poults are unable to fly for the first couple of weeks of their lives, the mother stays with them at ground level to keep them safe and warm until they are strong enough to all roost up in the safety of the trees.

Wild turkeys are able to fly at up to 55 mph, however only for relatively short distances. Most domestic turkeys however are unable to fly due to being selectively bred to be larger than would be suitable in wild circumstances.

The area of bare skin on a turkey’s throat and head vary in colour depending on its level of excitement and stress.When excited, a male turkey's head turns blue, when ready to fight it turns red.

The long fleshy object over a male's beak is called a snood.

Turkeys have 5000 to 6000 feathers.

Benjamin Franklin wished to have wild turkeys as the national bird of the USA, rather than the bald eagle. 

The turkey is believed to have been sacred in ancient Mexican cultures. The Mayans, Aztecs and Toltecs referred to the turkey as the ‘Great Xolotl’, viewing them as ‘jewelled birds’.

The meat from domesticated turkeys is widely eaten by people across the world.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Revenge ON Japanese Beetles

The blueberry bushes were beautiful.  They were loaded with quickly ripening fruit and juuust about ready to pick.  Then one day, the Japanese beetles arrived.  They immediately attacked my blueberries!  And this is what happened....

The attacked the berries (and the leaves a little bit) and bit into them and ate a little bit from each one.    Those bites, combined with the very dry weather we've been having, caused the berries to dehydrate on the bush.  And I don't know about you, but I think that chewed up blueberries are not appetizing at all!

I don't like to use pesticides at all and I put out my trusty Japanese beetle traps. 

You can see that the bag is getting a nice load of beetles, and this is where my revenge begins.  

I take the bag off the hangar and pour a couple of cups of water down the bag.  There are small holes at the bottom so that the water will drain out and still keep in the beetles. 


...I dump the bag in the poultry yard and feed them to the chickens and ducks.  They go nuts for them!

The water poured into the bag part is VERY important.  It keeps the beetles from flying away and accessible to the birds.  I learned (from experience) that you'll find yourself standing in a disgusting virtual whirlwind of flying Japanese beetles if you decide not to add the water!  

Next year, I'll plan to put row covers over the berries when they're green.  That way I can get away without using chemicals and still have a decent blueberry crop. 

Here is an idea of the Japanese Beetle lifecycle:


When I saw the beetles, I was able to cover my grapes before the beetles got to them and so far they look good!

You can see the ripening grapes under the cover and now I just hope that powdery mildew doesn't rear it's ugly head.  

By the way, I've noticed, and I don't know if it's a byproduct of the increased amount of protein that the chickens are getting, that I'm getting much larger eggs lately!

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Naschmarkt: Vienna, Austria

Our wonderful friend and tour guide, Dany (a resident of Austria and dear friend from the time we lived in Washington, DC), took me and my daughter to the very famous and beautiful Naschmarkt during our stay in Vienna, Austria.  I think the pictures speak for themselves.  You can find just about anything you want, and then some, at this incredibly diverse market!

The Naschmarkt is Vienna's most popular market. Located at the Wienzeile over the Wien River, it is about 1.5 kilometres (0.93 mi) long.

The Naschmarkt has existed since the 16th century when mainly milk bottles were sold (as milk bottles were made out of ash (wood from an ash tree), "Asch" (German for "ash") led to the name "Aschenmarkt"). From 1793 onwards, all fruits and vegetables brought to Vienna with carts had to be sold there, while goods arriving on the Danube were sold elsewhere. Nowadays, one can buy fresh fruit and vegetables from around the world, exotic herbs, cheese, baked goods such as bread, kaiser rolls, and torte, meats, and seafood. There are also many small restaurants which offer e.g. sushi, kebab, seafood, traditional Viennese food such as Kaiserschmarrn or Palatschinken (compares to rolled up crepes) and stalls which offer clothes and accessories. Since 1977, the market extends further along the Wienzeile to an adjacent area every Saturday, when a flea market takes place there. (Source: Wikipedia)

I do believe, that if I lived near here, I would never again find it necessary to shop in an enclosed store!