I have a very special part time job. One weekend a month and two weeks a year, I put on my uniform and serve in the Army National Guard. Well amidst all the budget battles in Washington, we received orders to ship out and once again lend our services to the war on terror. What other part time job would afford you the ability to not only see a foreign country but to experience it so up close and personal for a whole year? (100% sarcasm here) Honestly, I love serving my country and just can't see myself not being a soldier. This was not just out of the blue as we were warned of the call up a few months ago. Deja Vu, would be a great way to describe the emotions I am feeling. I will miss my son's 16th birthday and sophomore year just like I missed my daughter's 16th birthday and sophomore year the last time we went. I am so thankful for my family and their understanding. It will be hard on them to keep up with the current workload on the farm so all this years plans have been put on hold until I return in 2012. I'm planning on mid tour leave to coincide with my daughters college graduation. It seems, everyone is so high on the military members service that sometimes the families get overlooked. Next time you thank a soldier, sailor, or marine, be sure to give a big ole at a boy to there family too! Y'all Come Back!
Can you envision a freshly mowed spring lawn covered in the white, soft seed heads of dandelions? I’m not talking about one or two just ushering the new warmth of spring, but so many it just ruins the look of yesterday’s effort.
Well now keep that same image in your mind, except substitute the fluffy balls of the dandelions with over 60 fluffy white Texas A&M quail! Yeah that was kinda what it was like around here this morning. When we decided last Saturday to move the breeders from their winter sanctuary in our garage to their new summer home I broke one of the doors on the colony cage. Due to pending darkness, I didn’t really take the time to fix it. Instead, I just used some wire to keep it closed until Wednesday when I was going to construct permanent summer housing; after all, what were the chances they would even find the vulnerability let alone exploit it? Come on! They have all they could ever want and need: fresh food and water twice a day, lots of room, a deep wide dusting tub refilled with sand once a day and nice tin roof to keep them dry. They just don’t appreciate all the effort we go through for them. LOL
The only bright side to the whole adventure was ……….. (sorry I had to look over my shoulder to make sure I wasn’t going to get slapped in the back of the head) ….. I was in the house while Malita and Archie chased, caught and put the escapees back in their pen! Before everybody starts booing me, I did catch two of them and put them back up. After I got home this afternoon I spotted the sole hold-out and Archie quickly cornered her and returned her to the pen. Now if this same event would have happened in the winter with snow on the ground, they would have had a better chance of staying undetected and actually had a real chance of getting to NASA.
How do I know that is where they were headed? Because they must have seen it written in the stars last night that their eggs I sent to Mars were going to hatch today and they wanted to be there!
Congratulations to The Martian Chick and her newly hatched babies from all of us here at Rich Heritage Farm!
Here's our little flock of ducks, 8 Khaki Campbells and one Silver Appleyard. Well Lucy, Lunch (both Campbells) and Oscar (Appleyard) have been giving us an egg a day each almost everyday since Feb.
Oscar was the only duckling we had to hatch from our fist attempt at hatching. We just figured Oscar would be a boy because of all the aggravating things it did, but we were wrong and she is named Oscar. The Campbells came from Ideal and two of the males have crest. I guess the crest look can kinda grow you; however, I don't think I would ever order them on purpose. If you order only crested they will only send crested, if you just order ducklings they won't guarantee you won't get crested ones mixed in the order.
Having more drakes than hens is a bad thing as they chase poor Lucy and Lunch all over the place. We are not exactly sure the males have ever had their way with Oscar. We haven't ever even see them try. She's too busy being the boss and also quite a bit bigger then even the males. Her eggs may not be fertile, but we put a couple of them in just to see.
Hopefully in 28 days we will be back in the duckling business.
The quail egg business boomed yesterday. I made delivery of 18 dozen eggs to a fellow guardsman Sunday at Guard Drill, plus another guardsman picked up another 8 dozen Sunday afternoon. It was great to see them all go, and the best part was I didn’t have to ship them although they are going to homes in Middle Tennessee and Central Kentucky.
As I type these numbers it seems like such an impressive amount of eggs, but it’s not even a full five days worth. My hens are laying an incredible amount of eggs, my 84 hens are laying at least 70 eggs a day with the highest single day lay of 79 eggs. It is absolutely amazing how they lay so many eggs for such a relatively low cost. If the many urban homesteaders who cannot raise chickens could learn about the quail, they could have a cheap very nice alternative for amazing numbers of eggs and an absolutely delicate meat source. The greatest advantage of the coturnix quail is they start laying eggs at six weeks and reach their maximum size by ten weeks. If your looking for the perfect livestock for your homesteading give the quail a long look, you won’t regret it!
Outside of the fact I missed everything today because of Guard Drill. Rich Heritage has continued to produce. The strawberry plants from my FIL's patch started blooming today. The Tristars we ordered are putting on some leaves and actually look like plants now. I believe two of them are goners but we'll just have to wait and see.
On the quail front, we have 33 new additions so far. They are in a small Rubbermaid tub right now awaiting more hatch mates. I was lazy and didn't' set up the brooder cage last night and get everything prepared like I should have. So Malita and Archie set up the tub while I was gone today and it will do until tomorrow after I get back from Drill.
I have a weakness for green apples. I honestly start scavenging the trees when the apples are no bigger than a golf ball. The more sour they are the better I like them.
We received the beginnings to our little orchard today from Stark Bro's. nursery.
1 Stark Lodi Apple 1 Starkspur UltraMac Apple 1 Starkrimson Sweet Cherry
The Lodi and the UltraMac are supposed to be good pollinators for each other and the Sweet Cherry is self-pollinating.
I know we want be able to go into the fruit stand business with this few trees, but is being just a tad bit selfish in just this one area so bad? LOL!
They sent six lilium asiatic mix bulbs as a free gift. I couldn't find them on their web site, but on a google search, I found them and they are very colorful flowers. I'm sure we will be able to find a place for them.
I would like to be able to blame the economy on my reluctance to expand my quail business, but I can't lay the blame there. You see, I really want to provide the best product that can be produced by anyone. I'm sure my adult birds are outstanding products, because a customer can see them and knows exactly what he/she is buying. However, by focusing strictly on the grown birds, I am not reaching a broad enough customer range.
Money is tight these days for the American public in general, and I would offer a guess, that those interested in the same things as Rich Heritage, expect the utmost value for their dollar. So, I limit my businesses potential by not selling hatching eggs or shipping day old chicks. Our first order of day old chickens from a hatchery included a club footed chick. My wife brought her into the house in her own little brooder, named her Patty and nursed her along for a couple weeks, but the little chick still didn't make it. Our first order of ducklings had a spraddle legged duckling in the bunch which didn't make it. I've sorted groups of 80 plus quail chicks and understand how things can be missed, but if it is a beginners first time ordering, will they understand?
My one and only order of eggs came from Missouri and my hatch rate was awful. I did everything just like the guy I ordered them from told me to do. The eggs were viable, we were excited , but alas only one duckling hatched, two died after pipping out of 12 eggs. One bourbon red poult hatched with them out of six eggs. The little duckling drown the poult in the brooder the first day. (I should have known)
We've lost chickens and ducks that were healthy the day before and dead the next. Nature is the ultimate equalizer and no person can compete against her. I was lucky enough to have grown up with livestock and have suffered the loses and know that sometimes things just weren't intended to be. It would have been real easy to quit after these setbacks and blame the suppliers. Thankfully we persevered through those first trials and have what I imagine/hope will be a lifetime of joy with all our birds.
The learning curve swings and some are definitely better than others and some just are lucky. We have been extremely lucky with our quail. We have really had only one bad hatch and it was due to a humidity problem during a very cold dry spell last winter. By that hatch, we had some successful hatches already and were able to diagnose the problem. I will not set eggs in the same conditions again, but at that time I just didn't know any better.
In case I haven't bored you to tears yet, I'll get to the post I intended today.
A really great gentleman came here today from a couple hours away and picked up 120 A&M eggs. He wants to teach his grandson there is more to life than video games. (I think all kids including my own need that lesson) They are going to get chickens and garden as well this summer, and I wish them the best times of their lives. We had a great visit and I think he was impressed with the Texas A&M quail. He will be able to buy the same feed I use so his results should be similar in the finished bird. He could not get over how friendly my birds were and the size of the eggs. I hope this is a good start to lifelong love for his grandson. Oh and what the top of the post had to do with this "I hope they hatch"!