It is a time of anticipation at Cockatrice Farm.
Domino the brood mare has a foal due some time in the next month. She’s over it, and not interacting with us very much.
Rufina the silkie bantam is very young, but she has gone clucky and has been fiercely dedicated to her eggs. We’re expecting chickens in the next week. Silkies are great mums, but not usually clucky when we want them to be.
One of the muscovy ducks has a large clutch, also due in about a week.
Nellie the brown mallard duck was missing for a couple of days, and turned up yesterday afternoon ravenously hungry. We’re sure she has a nest somewhere, no idea where. We suspect her ducklings are due soon too.
The wwoofers found a couple of goose eggs in the oats paddock — not in an organised nest, more like practice eggs. Pat the wwoofer played some games with Allison by putting the goose eggs in with the silkies and the white sussex chooks. Goose eggs are huge.
We’re pretty sure that Maelmuire the peacock is laying too — in with the muscovies, which lay eggs of about the same size. Some of the eggs from there seem to have quite a different surface texture.
In general, we are overwhelmed with eggs right now, as all the birds that are not sitting are laying profusely, including the light sussex hens. So we’re eating quiches, and rich eggy bakes. Duck eggs are amazing for baking, rich and golden.
Of course, at Cockatrice Farm we regularly dine on peacock eggs …. (Doesn’t that sound luxurious?)
We’re giving away lots of eggs to friends.
We have bought a little incubator. It’s quite high-tech, and you basically put in the eggs, click and forget. We’re going to use this to get a better handle on our poultry production, and to help the peacock numbers along. We’ll then put a brooder unit in the guest house laundry, with a heat lamp to warm the babies.
The big hole in this is that we are still buying food for all these animals. In a permaculture system, you would ideally like to have perennial shrubs and trees producing most of your animal food. We do have young tagasaste bushes in the greenhouse, which will be a good start, and some kurrajong trees already underway, but we need a lot more. We did do sunflowers last year; perhaps more this coming year. But we do need to source some more forage plants.