A little mud and water never hurt anyone, right? That’s Right!
Northern Wisconsin seemed to jump directly from winter to summer over the span of two or three weeks and let me tell you it was a little rough. A foot of snow on the ground at the end of April turned into 90 degree days in the middle of May. I did not adjust to the heat very well and neither did the goats. Halfway through the day I had to put them in the barn for a few hours so they could cool off. The grass was dry, crusty, and wilty and I was concerned I would not have any pasture for the animals, but it finally rained.
It rained for about a week and we needed every drop of it. So with big mud puddles in the yard and driveway the kids took advantage of it.
They played in this mud puddle for a long time and we as happy as little ducks in a new pond.
It sure was bath time when they were done though!
We have new additions to our little funny farm. The ducklings have hatched!
My sister brought me three dozen duck eggs a little over a month ago for me to try hatching duck eggs in our incubator. I did a little research and Lucian and I loaded them into the egg turner.
A few fun facts about duck eggs:
- Duck eggs require a little more time to hatch then chicken eggs. Chicken eggs hatch at 21 days whereas duck eggs hatch at 28 days with the exception of Muscovy ducks which take 35 days.
- They require extra moisture. Starting at about day 10 until day 25 the eggs either need to be sprayed with water or dunked to keep them moist enough. Think wet duck feathers setting on eggs in the wild.
- Duck eggs need to be cooled off a bit each day starting at day 10 until day 25. I let them cool a bit at the same time I wetted them. Two birds with one stone.
- Ducklings take longer to hatch then chicken eggs. I was concerned about this. I had about 7 eggs with cracked shells for DAYS! Chicks usually hatch within a day after the shell starts cracking. Apparently duck egg shells are much harder than chicken egg shells.
I started out with three dozen eggs at day 10 Lucian and Fiona helped me candle the eggs. There were 7 that were not developing so we tossed them. I candled them again at day 25 when I needed to take them out of the egg turner. Several were questionable but two were mostly blank so I left the two out. Exactly on day 28 I had a massive hatch-out of 6 ducklings almost together. After one hatches I believe the others here it cheering them on and the rest really start pushing. Two more hatched later that night and another two, with a little help, the next day. I only had one that started to hatch and didn’t make it. Ten healthy ducklings!
Lucian loved watching the ducklings hatch. We watched the first one together and he was cheering it on.
“I can see it’s feathers.”
“You can do it! Come on push!”
Fiona wanted to watch them all the time with her little nose pressed against the plexiglass of the incubator. We all love our little flock of ducklings.
We had been watching the goats very closely for the last week and finally the kids are here!
We have two mama goats on our little farm: Nora and Fauna. Nora always has her kids first and that has not changed this year. I went to the bank and when I came back she had one baby on the ground. I sat on a little wagon a ways away and waited to see if anymore would appear. Before too long she pushed out another one and much to my surprise a short bit later one more popped out feet first. Triplets! This is the second time Nora has delivered triplets but last year one of them died soon after birth. All three are healthy bouncy kids.
Two days later I had to work for a few hours in the morning. Trenton and the kids came into town and we had lunch together before heading home. After settling Lucian and Fiona down for a nap we went outside to get a few boards to start building the duck coop. I could hear the goat kids making noises like they were lost so I went to see who was stuck. Goat kids do not stay in fences until they are at least a month old and don’t fit through tiny spaces you think only a cat can fit through anymore. I looked into their shelter and behold Fauna had triplets also! All I have to do is leave for a few hours and that’s when the goats will kid.
We have never had so many healthy kids before!
The kids, my kids, love to play with the babies and the babies love to play with them. It is always fun to have spring babies. This picture is of Lucian, Fiona and Natalie (Nora’s kid from last spring.)
. Chicks, kids, and soon ducklings. Spring has finally sprung.
Spring in Wisconsin has finally arrived (I hope) and that means it’s chick season.
I’m going to step away from my own children for a moment and move on to a few others.
Every year I work with a local school to set up my incubator and fertilized eggs in their classroom as part of a science/agriculture unit. Every year for a few weeks the 4th grade classroom is the most popular classroom to visit but this year was amazing.
Not only was there an amazing hatch-out but it turned into an inter-grade cooperative unit. The 4th grade set up stations, presentations, and reading centers for the rest of the elementary school to visit and learn about the incubation process.
They read books about chickens, ducks, and geese to the younger grades and presented videos on chick development. When the chicks started to hatch each group came in to see the new chicks and watch the rest try to hatch.
Not only did the students learn a great deal about development but a few life lessons were thrown in there as well. They learned that unfortunately not all the chicks hatch and even some that do may not make it. It can be hard for them but I believe this unit is a great enrichment tool for them and I am glad each year that I have the resources to add a little of my farm life to theirs.
In the end I brought home a box full of 26 chicks for my kiddos to enjoy.
We currently have duck eggs simmering in the incubator and I hope to have a great post about them in 18 days.
I know we’re past the new year but I don’t start thinking about farm goals until a south wind blows with a hint of spring in the air. Spring is at least a month off but our little warm up has me thinking about this upcoming growing and kidding season.
We bought this old farm in May of 2012 and have been working to fix it up a bit ever since. Money, unfortunately, does not rain from the sky so it is a slow process. Each year we have a big project and lots of little ones. Over the years our big projects have been: new siding, new roof for the machine shed, new roofs for the garage and lean-to off the barn, a few new windows, and steel for the barn roof.
This year our big goals for the property are:
Remodel the bathroom
Put the new steel on the barn roof
Smaller goals are:
Cut trees out of the orchard, fence, and plant apple trees
Purchase supplies for beekeeping
Fence the creek pasture for the goats
Build a movable coop for ducks (Getting ducks this year)
Repair chicken coop
Mulch vegetable garden, herb garden and flower beds
When we were discussing our goals for this year Lucian helped and he is very excited about adding ducks to the farm this year. I’ve been told that ducks will eat slugs and caterpillars and I hope they will eliminate the green worms that go after my kale every year. Some of these goals are carry overs of last year but Fiona will not be a tiny infant this summer so they will get done. She will be able to play outside with us while we accomplish these goals and I do look forward to spring!
There are chores you can do when everything is frozen rock hard and certain chores that will have to wait till warmer days.
Barn cleaning is a chore that has to wait until the weather is above freezing for more than one day otherwise you would have to use a pick axe to get the job done. The good thing about it being that cold is the animals stay mostly dry because everything is solid. The bad thing is that if you wait until warm spring days you will be shoveling 2 ft. worth of crap out of one stall.
So what do you do?
Take advantage of itty bitty warm spells. We had three days where it was almost above freezing. It was warm enough that the barn started to smell and the animal pens started to get gooey. We picked the worst one to clean on our day off and hoped the weather held so we could go the other two. It didn’t but at least the piglets have a nice clean run now. The goats and chickens will have to wait until the next warm spell. Hopefully it’s before April.
Cleaning the barn in the winter has it’s own challenges. For instance, how to transfer manure from the barn to the compost pile. Today it was by sled!
Even though we were working to clean out the barn we had the kids with us so they could take advantage of the nicer weather. My kids love being outside and I hope that stays with them their entire lives. My goal is to try to teach my children that working on the farm can be fun.
Winter can be hard on kids, adults, and animals and there are days we act like bears and try to hibernate but other days are great for snowy fun.
Living in an area where the weather fluctuates 50 degrees from one day to the next can really mess with a person’s system. Last week we had a few days where the temp at 7am was -25 and then it was 25 above 0. How can mother nature swing like that?
When it’s -25 nothing can be done but keep the fire burning, the animals in the barn out of the wind, and hope nothing breaks. At -25 THINGS BREAK! I spent an hour outside trying to thaw out our well pump before the pipes burst and the housing cracked on the pump. Luckily we were able to thaw it without anything actually breaking.
Our 3 almost 4 year old son does not appreciate the cold weather either. He loves to go out and play but when it’s that cold going outside to play is not an option. He does not hibernate well, he wants to play in the cold air and snow. After a few days of being cooped up he turns into an angry bear rather than a sleepy one.
Today was one of the first days where it was about 10 degrees outside and the boys took advantage of it. They went sledding down our hill behind the barn and enjoyed every minute of it. After they were done sledding Lucian did not want to come in the house yet. He took the snow shovel papa gave him for Christmas and started shoveling the driveway. When he came in a bit later he said “I was working hard. I shoveled the driveway so Fiona can walk outside now.” Fiona is his 1 year old baby sister and she just started walking right before the holidays.
I am glad he was able to get outside today and I hope the weather will stay above 0 for a while.
I thought I’d add a tiny story.
My son is three and he has been riding, with help, our Appaloosa for the last two years. This spring he started riding him without a supporting hand to hold him steady while I led Jack around between pastures. I never put a saddle on him during these little excursions, it takes too much time.
The first time I put Lucian on his back this spring without his dad to support him I was a bit nervous. I was afraid he would slide right off the side if Jack turned a bit or stopped a little abruptly but he rode like a champ. He hung on to a fistful of mane and held on with his legs like he should and he had a blast. He likes to do things by himself.
One night while his cousins were over my husband and I decided to saddle Jack and take the kids for a little walk about in the yard. The were each very excited and a bit nervous because they had not had many opportunities to ride a horse before. I’m not sure how they felt about it but I think overall they had fun. Lucian was excited too because he had never rode Jack by himself with a saddle on before but he swung his leg over him without any hesitation and was ready to go.
He didn’t care that it was dark out he was ready to go! I’m so glad I can raise him on our little farm and give him experiences many children don’t get to have.
How does a three year old work?
There is a fine line between teaching my child how to have a good work ethic and child labor. I try to make work fun so my son does not know he is actually doing work.
Work can be fun!
I find that praising my son and getting excited over little things makes a big difference in his perception. He doesn’t see work as a punishment or a job to be got through, it’s fun for him. In his mind work is what the grown-ups do so it will make him big and strong.
He enjoys digging potatoes out of the dirt. He gets to find weird edible objects in the ground and he gets to be dirty. Feeding chickens is fun because he gets to collect the eggs when he’s done. He doesn’t even mind helping to clean out the pig pen because that’s what mom and dad are doing. He even gets his own wheel barrow!
A few things that help make it fun are:
- Having his own set of tools or equipment, such as a child sized wheel barrow.
- Praise for being a good helper or so strong.
- High fives when the job is done.
- Not getting upset when he has had enough.
After all he is a small child and I want work to be fun which means giving him jobs he can handle, praising his work, and letting him be done when he’s tired or bored.
I’m moving away from my little “life lessons” to share a brief moment where I was proud of my little guy.
On our farm we have a variety of chickens, a pig, a horse, and some milking goats. Right now I am only milking one goat twice a day until I wean the kids off the other goat then I milk two. I have a two goat limit.
Today Lucian decided he wanted to help me milk Nora, the goat. Until today whenever I asked him if he wanted to try milking her he would say, “No, she’ll kick me.”
Today he decided to give it a try. He sat next to me on the milking stand and watched as I squeezed out milk then he gave it a try. I helped him a bit and he tried again by himself. He did a great job for his first time. He was able to get milk out for a while until he lost interest but for a 3 year old he did amazingly well.
I am proud of him for trying something that had previously scared him. This morning he was an independent little man and wanted to help his mom do chores. He learned something new without having to be pushed into it and I’m proud of him for that.
I was also proud of him a few weeks ago when he wanted to help his dad clean the pig pen. He has his own mini wheel barrow and Trenton loaded it up for him before they both hauled out their loads. It’s amazing that my 3 year old enjoys a little work.