Monday, October 31, 2016

Back on Track

Fall brings with it a busy family time for everyone and we are no exception.  We have been busy sharing the East Texas Yamboree and Halloween festivals with our youngest (19 months) old grand baby.  It is wonderful to experience these things through her eyes.  We also have an upcoming "Backwoods Marketplace" vintage style Christmas show that we take part in each year.  Needless to say we have been very busy lately and I apologize for being a little lax in my blogging as a result.

We are now getting back on track.  We made the painful decision not to raise ducks any longer.  All our ducks found new homes.  We are reducing the price of our pen raised Eastern Wild Turkeys to $60.00 a pair (really good price) to bring the numbers down for the winter months.  Having a small farm (a farm of any size) is hard work.  We like to be sure that all of our birds have warm dry places to get when our weather turns cold and wet, as it occasionally does.  When the temperatures begin to consistently drop into the lower 40's, we will cover the pens and coops with plastic and add heaters and lamps as necessary for the birds, such as Serama, that do not handle the cold well.  We slow our hatching down considerably for the winter.  We are unable to ship when the temperatures are the hottest and coldest here.  As a "hatchaholic", this is one of the harder things to do but necessary in order to have the space to keep them all warm and healthy.

My husband and son have been very busy building extra pens and an aviary for our Peafowl so that they can get out on warmer days and exercise those wings.  It will be finished this week hopefully when the aviary cloth arrives.  We are very anxious to see the birds in their new area.  We also want to be able to watch them strut and allow the neighbors to see them as well.  We have three Peahens and one Peacock.  We will hopefully have eggs in the spring!  Just in time for the hatching to ramp back up.

We love to go down and walk among the various birds that are allowed to free range on our property.  They are all very docile and sweet.  Most of them will eat from our hands and come when we whistle to collect their treats.  Raising these birds is very therapeutic and calming.  All of the kiddos in our life, grandchildren and friends kiddos, LOVE the birds.  They love coming over and feeding the birds meal worms. We love sharing them with everyone.

Happy Halloween!  Hope you all have an amazing week! For those interested and nearby, I will include the times for the Backwoods Marketplace coming up in November.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

East Texas Yamboree

Being from Upshur County, my family has attended the East Texas Yamboree each and every year of my life (that's been quite a few years).  This year will be no exception.  This year we will be enjoying the Yamboree through the eyes of our youngest grandchild, Emmylou.  This will be her first year to really understand and enjoy the lights, sounds and happenings of the Yamboree.  She is nineteen months old and has become quite animated lately.  After their home burned last January, they lived with us here for about three months until they could buy a home and get readjusted.  Emmylou became quite the little farm girl.  She loves the chickens, ducks and turkeys that were part of her everyday life for those three months.  When we feed the chickens meal worms, she is right in there with us handing out worms.  We also have Peafowl and she really has taken an interest in them lately.  I mention all this to point out that I cannot wait to go with her to the Livestock Pavillion to see all the rabbits, goats, chickens, cows, and pigs.  She will be "Emmylou in Wonderland"!  I am not sure how many of you attend or even know of the Yamboree, but I assure you that if you are unfamiliar, you need to experience it at least once.

In addition to the Livestock Pavillion, there is an art contest, craft contest, canning contest, and I'm sure pie contests involving the famous Yams.  Downtown is where the carnival part of the Yamboree is held, as well as the School Parade on Friday and the Queen's Parade on Saturday.  These are also very enjoyable.  Many girls from local schools are included as duchesses, and Ladies in Waiting in the Coronation of the Queen.  The Queen is then presented on Saturday on her beautiful float in the parade.

If you are a fan of yams, then the Yamboree is the place to be to get all the yams you need.   You can purchase jellies, jams, and other canned goods as well.  There is also a craft show out at the Fairgrounds outside the exhibit building where the contests are held.  This craft show has grown in size annually.  We must not forget to mention the bandstand downtown where you can find all sorts of local talent playing all kinds of music.  Normally there is a street dance in that area on Friday night. The famous Barn Dance is on Saturday night just off of the downtown area.  Each year they have a great band.

If you haven't been to the East Texas Yamboree in Gilmer, Texas, it began yesterday and runs through this coming Saturday evening.  Come on out and enjoy yourself.  There is absolutely something for everyone at the Yamboree.  You might even run into some folks you know!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Heckle, Jeckle and the Peafowl Crew

I have always been in awe of Peacocks.  They are simply some of the most gorgeous birds on the planet.  From the start, I wanted to have Peafowl here at the Singleton Roost.  Early in our "chicken" adventure, I was gifted three Peafowl eggs.  We incubated them immediately and managed to hatch two of the three eggs.  I was thrilled beyond words to be the proud owner of peachicks.  They do not look anything like they do when they mature.  They are homely looking little critters at first.  I grew very fond of these two chicks and spent time with them daily feeding them meal worms from my hand to be sure they'd be tame.  They reminded me very much of Heckle & Jeckle.  I realize some of you are too young to know who that is, but if you Google them you'll see what my peachicks looked like.

Heckle & Jeckle
I knew we would need more peafowl so there would be varying bloodlines.  We soon found two that were a little older than Heckle & Jeckle.  One of them was a pied Spalding.  The four range in age now from 14 month to 18 months.  As they grew I waited on eggs only to find that Peahens do not mature until around 2 years of age.  There would be no eggs until then.  I shared pictures of my four beauties in a Peacock group to see if they thought I had Peahens and Peacocks.  Unanimously they said I have four Peahens.  What are the odds that I would hatch and buy only Peahens.  In my chicken world I hatch a large percentage of roosters and expected such from my Peafowl.  I now needed a Peacock for the flock.  We found our Peacock.  He now has four lovely ladies!  The more I research the Peafowl, the more I realize that a large amount of patience is required to raise these birds.

The Peacock does not mature until he is around 3 years old.  This is when his train (tail) becomes long and full. The train or tail can reach 6 feet in length and make up about 60% of it's body length, and is made of more than 200 feathers.  His wings will be a streaked brown and white design.  He will use his train in an effort to impress the girls!  However, they remain mostly uninterested with the exception of a short period of time in which they are ready to breed.  This happens at around 2 years of age for the girls.  It's best to only have around four Peahens to each Peacock.  The breeding season typically lasts from around April until late summer (August -September), at which time the male will molt and lose his tail and the fertility rate drops.  This ends the breeding for that season.  He then slowly begins to grow a new train and by the next March - April it is full and pretty again.  Each year the tail grows longer and fuller.

After breeding, the hens will lay an egg a day for around a week to ten days and then they will sit on the eggs to hatch them.  If the eggs are gathered daily, hens may continue to lay for up to a month.  Peafowl eggs are much too scarce and valuable to be eaten.  Incubation is an option for the gathered eggs.  They need to be kept at a temperature of 99.9 degrees for 28 days.  The chicks must then be kept in a brooder at a temperature of 95 degrees for the first week and dropped by 5 degrees per week until they are at room temperature. Most peachicks can fly within days of birth.  If bred in captivity and allowed to raise the chicks, peahens might raise three clutches per year.  Clutches vary in size and range from four to 10 eggs with 8 being the average.  It is said that chicks raised naturally by the hen are smarter and healthier, but chicks incubated and handled a lot are much tamer and friendlier.

Peafowl are long lived with wild peafowl living up to 20 years and domesticated peafowl having been known to live for 40 to 50 years.  There are two popular species of Peafowl, the India Blue, and the Greens.  There are 15 known colors of peafowl.  As a side note, I thought one of my early ones might be a peacock because at a young age it would fan it's tail.  In researching, I found that the females also fan their tails.  Their tails are just not a pretty as the males.

Heckle will still come to me to eat meal worms from my hands.  She will jump in my lap if I allow it.  Jeckle will come to me but wants her worms on the ground.  She is a bit more shy.  My other two girls still prefer that I throw them their worms a little distance from my feet.  Of course non of them can reach me for Heckle.  I still go in daily to feed them meal worms and work on keeping them tame.  We are currently planning a large aviary outside their pen for them to be able to get out and enjoy the sun and for others to be able to enjoy their beauty when they pass our farm.