Farm Stories. Chapter 17. Ducks

  • We have about fifty ducks on our farm; both adult ducks and ducklings.
  • We have had ducks since summer 2017!
  • In general, ducks live between 5 and 10 years. How old are our ducks? On our farm we have a few generations of ducks. The oldest ducks we have now were 1 year old when we received them in summer 2017. (This is a good opportunity to practice your math skills 😉 )
  • Every summer, we hatch duck eggs. These ducks become part of our larger group of ducks. Did you know that a group of ducks can be called a raft, team, or paddling?
  • Ducks are omnivorous, like chickens and humans. During the summer, ducks eat water worms, slugs, snails, frogs, and some grains. During the winter, their main food is a mixture of grains, the same grains we feed to the chickens.
  • Ducks form two flocks: the parents flock and the children flock. Each flock lives in their own big coop. The flocks don’t mix simply because they like to stay with other ducks they know. Ducks are shy.
  • Ducks lay eggs from February until June, and then they stop until the next year.
  • Ducks are cold-hardy and like swimming, even during cold days ❄️.

Swimming in the very cold pond during winter. Brrrrrr

Swimming in the very cold pond during winter. Brrrrrr

  • We have four main breeds of ducks and many mixes: Cayuga (black), Pekin (white), Khaki Campbell (greyish-brownish), and Muscovy (white with red around the eyes).

Black Cayuga duck and a mixed duck

Black Cayuga duck and a mixed duck

White Pekin duck

White Pekin duck

Greyish-Brownish Khaki Campbell duck

Greyish-Brownish Khaki Campbell duck

Muscovy

Muscovy

  • Ducks can learn new things! For example, how to climb stairs and how to recognize their coop.

Ducks going to their coop. In a straight line, one after the other.

Ducks going to their coop. In a straight line, one after the other.

  • How to tell a male duck (drake) from a female duck? By their tail. A few feathers of the male duck’s tail are curled up.
  • So far only one of our ducks has a name – the female duck Princess. We call her Princess because she has a little crown. Maybe she’ll become Queen one day?

Farm Stories. Chapter 16. Our dog Ava

Ava is a beautiful and very calm female dog. She just turned four years old. Ava is Labernese, which means she is a mix of Labrador and Bernese Mountain breeds. She inherited more Labrador features: being friendly and curious.
Ava eats a variety of raw meat and dry food, sometimes cooked fish or eggs or yogurt, different types of porridge, and … apples! She also loves cheese! 🧀

Ava on the farm

Ava on the farm

Ava at home

Ava at home

We adopted her when she was only eight weeks old. She was a tiny, gentle, adorable, and funny puppy. We fell in love with her at first sight. 💖

Ava_puppy

Ava’s first days with us

Ava as a puppy

Ava as a puppy

Ava grew up to be a very gentle, affectionate, intelligent, and eager-to-please dog. She loves being around her family members. She is a patient, good natured dog who adores people, especially children.

Ava with kids

Ava with kids

During winter farm tours

During winter farm tours

Ava is also friendly with the farm animals. She is good friends with Cappucina-the-doe. Ava is OK with other dogs, but she prefers being with humans. Ava cannot control her emotions when she sees or smells a rabbit 😉
 
Ava works on the farm! Ava helps Edward-the-farmer to herd sheep and goats. A good herding dog can keep herd animals together and make them follow the shepherd. Ava is not of herding breed; she is a retriever by nature. But she took some herding classes. Hence, sometimes Ava can do herding jobs, but not always.
 
One of her farm duties is to protect little ducklings from predators. Ava also helps to find missing chickens and ducks. She is trained not to harm them, and she brings them back home.

Ava with the herd

Ava with the herd

Ava with chickens

Ava with chickens

Ava doesn’t live on the farm, she lives in our home. We love Ava, and we wish her a long and a healthy life!

Ava at home

Ava waiting patiently for cheese

Ava at home

Ava at home

Guided Meditation

One of our friends Eric does a Sunday morning meditation at the farm at 9am. The idea behind this meditation is to find balance and harmony between the Sun and the Earth. The meditation is conducted in French.
If you would like to join these meditations, please contact Eric – all details in the attached flyer.

Guided meditation

Guided meditation

Farm Stories. Chapter 15. Goats Next Generation: Vanilla and Milkshake.

Cappuccina-the-doe kidded at the beginning of March 2019, just a few days after Giselle. It happened all by itself When Edward-the-farmer came to the farm in the morning, he’s discovered two new baby-goats: a girl and a boy .

Cappuccina-the-doe and her newborns.

Cappuccina-the-doe and her newborns.

Edward-the-farmer was so happy – there was a girl finally!

"It's a girl!"

“It’s a girl!”

We named Cappuccina’s kids Vanilla and Milkshake. The coffee family! They were so beautiful and sweet! ❤️
They both inherited the white coloring from Yonkel-the-buck. But the shape of their bodies and the type of their horns were similar to Cappuccina’s.

Yonkel with Cappuccina and Milkshake

Yonkel-the-buck, Milkshake-the-kid and Cappuccina-the-doe.

Vanilla and Milkshake have developed very well. They were very gentle and friendly, and started to play with other two kids Castor & Pollux quite soon.
Vanilla and Milkshake became very shy young goats. They liked being pet and were not afraid of people at all. At some moment they even asked to be taken on hands. And when we wouldn’t do that, they would stand on their hind legs, and start nibbling our cloths.
When Castor and Pollux seemed to inherit the leadership skills from their mom Giselle, Milkshake and Vanilla most likely inherited their shyness from Cappuccina.

Milkshake. Such a funny face!

Milkshake. Such a funny face!

At the end of July 2019, when all goat-kids grew up, all three boys left to another farm. Goodbye Milkshake, Castor and Pollux!
And Vanilla stayed on our farm ❣️

Grown-up Vanilla

Grown-up Vanilla

Farm Stories. Chapter 14. Goats Next Generation: Castor and Pollux.

As you know already, last winter our both ewes lambed. And … also … our both does kidded (no kidding ☺️)!
Giselle-the-doe kidded at the end of February 2019, at the same night as Roza-the-ewe.
Edward-the-farmer and Faya-the-guide were lucky to see it. It happened very fast, just a few minutes after Roza-the-ewe and Cheburashka-the-lamb were taken care of. Giselle kidded with two male kids, somewhat 10 mins apart.

New-born babies Castor and Pollux

New-born babies Castor and Pollux

Padric-the-ram has calmed down by that time. But what about Yonkel-the-buck, Yonkel-the-father? He was the most innocent creature when all of this was happening, indifferently chewing hay in his pen as if those two little baby-goats had no connection to him at all! Oh, these new fathers! But no worries – he became a very good and caring father just in a couple of days.

Yonkel with his favorite wife Giselle and two kids.

Yonkel with his favorite wife Giselle and two kids.

The baby-goats were adorable! They were exact copies of Yonkel-the-buck! We named them Castor and Pollux as was suggested by one of our customers. Castor and Pollux were very active from their first days. They drank very well Giselle’s milk and seemed to be very strong.

Play time in the barn

Play time in the barn

They developed very fast, and we started to take them to walks during our Winter Farm Tours for kids (here the word “kids” means human kids).
Children liked to carry the little goat-kids while being on a walk. And the goat-kids liked being carried by human-kids as well!

On the walk during the Winter Farm Tours

On the walk during the Winter Farm Tours

On the walk during the Winter Farm Tours

On the walk during the Winter Farm Tours

Castor and Pollux moved to another farm in summer 2019.

Farm Stories. Chapter 13. Goats. Introduction.

We have three adult goats on the farm: two does and one buck. They all are three years old, like the sheep and Ava-the-dog. We got the does two years ago and the buck a year ago. Each one of them has a very distinct temper.

  • Giselle is an Alpine female goat. She has a bit of attitude and she is the leader of our herd.
  • Giselle-the-boss

    Giselle-the-boss

  • Cappuccina is a beautiful and very friendly brown Nubian doe. She loves people and people love her too !
  • Cappuccina with hay

    Cappuccina with hay

  • Yonkel is the last addition to the herd. He was very shy, calm and fearful at the beginning, but now he started to show his real character of a friendly, active and curious Saanen buck.
  • Yonkel-the-funny-buck

    Yonkel-the-funny-buck

 

We also have a few baby-goats.

A baby goat

A baby goat

 

What do they eat? The goats eat weeds, bushes and leaves in summer. In winter they eat hay. They also like grains, veggies, apples and roots.

Where do they stay? In summer they stay outside during the day, and go to sleep in their summer barn at night. In winter they have morning and evening walks with Edward-the-farmer, the sheep and Ava-the-dog, and stay inside the barn for the rest of the time, together with sheep and chickens.

How do they behave? The goats are very curious and inquisitive, sometimes they fight with each other and with sheep to establish or reconfirm their position in the herd. They all like to be petted.

Giselle and Cappuccina in summer

Giselle and Cappuccina in summer

Farm Stories. Chapter 12. Sheep. Next Generation – Becca and Bublik

Yvushka-the-ewe lambed at the middle of March 2019 with a girl Becca and a boy Bublik.

Bublik and Becca with Yvushka

Bublik and Becca on a walk in March. a few days after their birth.

During her first days, Becca was very slow, she didn’t follow her mother Yvushka and didn’t eat well. Edward-the-farmer thought that Becca is sick , and was helping her to find her mother’s udder and drink Yvushka’s milk. It took Becca a few days to heal. And then she became a very sweet, funny and gentle female lamb. Becca enjoyed being carried when she was a little baby. But then she became heavy and we could not carry her anymore.

Becca with Ava

Becca with Ava

Now Becca likes people, likes being pet, she knows her name and comes when you call her. She inherited the black spots on her nose from her father Padric-the-ram. Edward-the-farmer loves Becca so much ❤️, she is his favorite animal on the farm, and it looks like Becca knows that!

Becca nowadays

Becca nowadays

 

Bublik is a very cute and gentle little male lamb, with a curly tail, shy character and good behavior. All three lambs – Cheburashka, Becca and Bublik – would spend a lot of time together, playing and jumping all over the place.

Bublik-the-lamb

Bublik-the-lamb

On that day when Cheburashka ran away, Bublik actually ran together with him , but he returned just a few minutes later – such a good boy!

Bublik nowadays

Bublik nowadays

Both – Becca and Bublik – are very attached to their mom Yvushka, but they would spend some time with their dad Padric as well.

Farm Stories. Chapter 11. Sheep. Next Generation – Cheburashka.

Last winter our both ewes lambed. Roza lambed at the end of February with a baby-boy.
It was one of the coldest days in February . Edward-the-farmer ‍ came back home after his evening routine on the farm, and told Faya-the-guide that Roza-the-ewe is in pain, and it looks like she is delivering. We grabbed a blanket, hot water, paper towels and flashlights (as it was already dark) and rushed to the farm.
When we entered the barn, a little lamb was standing there at the common area, he somehow got out of the isolated Roza’s pen. We still don’t know how he did it.
 
Roza was screaming, calling her baby, but couldn’t reach him. Chickens were clucking, ducks were walking from one corner to another. Padric-the-ram was walking around, nervous and confused. It seemed he was asking a question: “what is going on here?” Faya-the-guide placed three hens on his back, and Padric calmed down a bit.
The little lamb was numb, he didn’t move and didn’t know where to go. Edward-the-farmer grabbed the little lamb, gave him to Roza, covered him with a blanket, helped him to find Roza’s udder and waited patiently till the little lamb started to warm-up.

Roza with her son

Roza with her son

 
He was so beautiful ❤️, our first baby on this farm! We named him Cheburashka. Why did we name him this way? Cheburashka is a character from a Russian cartoon who has very big ears . When our Cheburashka-the-lamb was born, he had such big ears too!

Cheburashka-the-lamb

Cheburashka-the-lamb

 

Roza-the-mom and Cheburashka-the-son got attached very strongly to each other. When Roza couldn’t see him for a split second, she would call him right away. He learnt to walk a big distance very soon, and we started to take him on a walk during our Winter Farm Tours for kids.
Our Cheburashka ran away when he was just 4 months old.
We had a hope that one day he will return home, similar to a legendary New Zealand sheep Shrek who ran away and came back home 6 years later covered by 30 kg of fleece!
And indeed. One month later our big boy came back. Everyone was so happy!

Cheburashka on the way home

Cheburashka on the way home

Back with his herd


Back with his herd

First day after being away

First day after being away

 

Farm Stories. Chapter 10. Sheep. Introduction.

Most of our sheep are Polled Dorset breed. We have three adult sheep: two ewes and one ram. And we have a couple of baby-sheep.
Each one of them has a very distinct character.

  • Roza is a very shy and fearful ewe. Sometimes she behaves very independently that is not common for sheep.
  • Our ewe Roza

    Our ewe Roza

  • Yvushka is a friendly and calm ewe. She knows her name and likes kissing Edward-the-farmer.
  • Yvushka-the-ewe

    Yvushka-the-ewe

  • Timbit is the last addition to the farm. He is a different breed, very small and shy. It took him some time to establish his position in the herd.

Our ram Timbit

Our ram Timbit

 
What do they eat?

  • In summer the sheep eat grass, herbs , bushes and leaves.
  • In winter they eat hay. They also like special grains, veggies and roots.

Where do they stay?

  • In summer ☀️ they stay outside during the day, and go to sleep in the barn at night.
  • In winter ☃️ they have morning and evening walks with Edward-the-farmer, the goats and Ava-the-dog, and stay inside the barn for the rest of the time, together with goats and chickens.

Sheep on a walk

Sheep on a walk

 
How do they behave?

  • The sheep are calm and shy but stubborn.
  • They are followers in their nature but they can run away during the walks and this is where we need the help of Ava-the-dog to bring them back home.
  • Ewes are very good mothers.

Farm Stories. Chapter 9. Family Formation and Relationship between Chickens.

When in the winter all our chickens live together in a barn, they form families.

Chickens in the barn

Chickens in the barn

Roosters sing their songs, and hens get attracted by the sound. Hens choose the cock that they like. This is how a chicken family starts to get formed – one rooster and several hens. They stay close to each other during the day. At night, chickens from the same family sleep on perches next to each other.

Chickens on perches

Chickens on perches

We noticed that on our farm the hens of one breed usually stick together, and they choose a rooster from another breed.
Sometimes it happens that a rooster can chase a hen from another family, and even mate with her against her will. But this does not mean that this hen goes into that rooster family. The hen herself decides which family she belongs to.
By the spring the families are completely formed. When Edward-the-farmer moves chickens into summer coops, he ensures to keep the chickens from one family together at the same coop. Usually, it’s one rooster and 4-6 hens.

We try not to introduce a new hen into already formed family. Why so? Because hens do not like strangers, and will attack the new hen. Sometimes the rooster really likes ❤️ the new hen and he will protect her. But he cannot always protect her. Some hens are very persistent in their rejection of other hens, and continue to attack the new hen endlessly. Hostility and attacks in the family cause stress in all chickens living in the same coop. Just like people, right? ☺️ Under stress, hens cannot lay eggs.

Hens, as a rule, do not like stranger chicks . But some, especially old hens, who no longer lay eggs, accept foreign chicks and take care of them quite like their own mother-broody-hen. These hens can adopt even very small, 2-3 day old chicks. We call such hens “aunties” or “grandmothers” or even “golden” hens. Those are very-very rare.

"Golden" hamburg hen with her chicks

“Golden” hamburg hen with her chicks