October was a busy month here on the homestead although not all of it was due to the farm! I expect that November and December will be much the same but that’s the holiday season for you. I have to say that moving a bit farther north has made these fall months feel a lot more seasonal. Some of our leaves are actually changing colors! We never got that at the old house – mostly because we were surrounded by nothing but pine trees. Homesteading in October has been a mix of adjusting to the cooler temperatures and lack of daylight hours and enjoying it all with some family fun! That said we did get some actual work projects done too!
Homesteading In October – What We’ve Done
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Ordered Quail Eggs
One of last month’s goals was to expand the quail flock. With that in mind, I ordered 20 hatching eggs off Ebay and they sent us extra for a total of 24. Half of them are Celadon blue egg layers and I’m really crossing my fingers for some luck! Of course, as we know after Shannon and Shelly the Guinea’s, shipped eggs are a bit of a gamble.
So I added 11 eggs from our current flock to the mix. We had two active layers at the time and I have personally witnessed Buttercup performing his manly duties several times so I’m pretty sure they are fertile. Yes, our male Quail is named Buttercup thanks to my eight year old.
Unfortunately, we suffered a power outage during this incubation period and I know the temperatures in the incubator dropped for several hours. There is nothing I can do about a power outage (except start saving for a generator) but hope that some of them survived. At the time of this writing, we are about 2 days away from the expected hatch date so we’ll see what happens!
Dealt With Some Troublemakers
So while I have been anxiously trying to expand the quail flock we actually ended up reducing it by two. We started the month with six quail and ended it with four!
I went out one morning to find that our white A&M roo, Two-Spot (A&M Quail are mostly white so they got names describing the different spots on their heads) had beaten up one of the others – poor No-Spot pretty badly. I separated the victim (who I thought was a female as I had never seen it crow and it didn’t produce any foam during vent checks) and doctored it up with some poultry aid. The next morning I walk out and the darn thing is crowing – which explained the fight. Two boys and one girl living together are bound to cause problems. But at least it seemed to be recovering from its injury.
Checking the other quail cage I find that Mr. Naughty Roo had struck again, the other quail in his cage, Big-Spot had a terribly bloody beak and looked absolutely miserable. So I separated that one too and double-checked her vent though I was almost positive this one was female.
Once both birds had recovered from their injuries I tried putting Big-Spot with No-Spot but he pecked her in the eye and nearly blinded her and she spent the entire time trying to get through the wire separating her from Buttercup and his girls (Bee & Brownie).
At this point, both of the white males had proven to be more aggressive than I liked but Buttercup’s family lived in peace….so Buttercup got a new girlfriend and No-Spot and Two-Spot now reside in the freezer.
I’m happy to say that Big-Spot fully recovered and even started laying. I now get three quail eggs a day and King Buttercup and his girls all live in peace. I often find them all cuddled up to one another and there has been no more fighting.
Moved The Ducks Outside
Thankfully we also managed to accomplish another of last month’s goals and moved the ducks outside! We put together and modified a little coop for them alongside the pasture fence. There is a good chance that we will have to expand it in the future but it’s fine for now.
The ducks are especially happy to be free-ranging all day every day and return to their new home every night with the help of a generous bribe of peas. Unfortunately, it seems that we have more Drakes than we have hens so some will have to go. Meg will be spared because he’s pretty much a pet now but some decisions will have to be made before they are fully mature and start fighting over the females.
At the moment I’m leaning towards keeping the Buff drakes. The Pekins are larger but as Meg proves, tend to suffer from leg issues. Perhaps I can breed that out of our flock for future generations by using the healthier and smaller Buff drakes over the Pekin Ducks.
Built an Introduction Pen and Moved the Chicks into the Larger Coop
The ducks weren’t the only critters who go kicked out of he garage his month. The last batch of chicks are more then old enough to meet the bigger chickens at this point. Since Introducing new chickens to an established flock can be tricky and the new coop with its pre-designed introduction pen is still on the back burner I went ahead and built a simple mobile one for now!
Everyone can safely get to know one another without fighting and hopefully in a couple of weeks I will be able to release the new chickens with minimal problems.
The new introduction pen will be pretty busy for quite a while because as soon as the chicks vacate, Shannon and Shelly will move in!
Started Researching Growing Our Own Chicken and Duck Fodder.
The birds eat a lot haha! The answer to reducing some of the homesteads feed cost might be in supplementing the birds with some homegrown feed. I have started to research duckweed which is easy to grow and provides a lot of nutrients as a possible candidate to start with!
Had an At Home Halloween!
Trick or Treating was out this year thanks to Covid but we still managed to have a lot of fun! The kids dressed up, we did some face painting, some crafts, and baking then had a really fun game of spider ring toss followed by a candy scavenger hunt around the farm!
It might not have been the Halloween that we are used to but the kids had a lot of fun. The holidays are more about spending time together as a family and we certainly did a lot of that with our Halloween at Home!