10.27.2010

DIY: Big Dog Feeder Stands

Emma is a bit arthritic, and so the thought was to build a feed stand* for her. Having the dog food bowl a bit higher would be easier on her shoulder joints. Then, of course, we'd need to have feed stands for all the dogs, as we wouldn't want any jealousy going on during the morning chow-down. Happy discovery: the dogs' current food bowls fit perfectly atop five-gallon plastic plant pots.

The bowls, with lip, measure about 11 inches across, and the plastic pots slightly less (so as to support the lip of the bowl, natch). The pots stand about a foot tall.

While these pots were left over from recent plantings, you could probably pick some up for free or spare change at any garden nursery center that recycles their plant containers. Throw some rocks in the bottom of the pot for stability (or bricks, or whatever heavy refuse you have laying about) and voila! Feeder stand!

[* Please note: there is some controversy over feeder stands, as some believe it contributes to bloating. See article on GDV here.]

10.16.2010

Mystery Revealed, or The Yolk's on Us

Not that we have problems with gender indeterminate species around our place - see Miss Cecily - but we were curious as to what Mo might turn out to be. Neither Spouse or I had experience with ducks, and we didn't know squat about Mo when we rescued her. Not her breed, nor her age. Research on the web gave us an idea about her breed (a crested Khaki Campbell), but her coloring at the time we first got her looked as if she could go either way. Fast forward to now...

I started finding eggs in the night pen a few days ago. They were big hard eggs, left in the middle of a soft green weed patch. First thought was perhaps the dogs had poached the ceramic "dummy" eggs out of the hen boxes, and upon discovering the ruse, dropped them in disgust. (Ha! Rotten dogs). After picking up a total of three eggs over the course of a week, I started getting curious, as most of our dummy eggs are now marked with blue dashes (so as to easily see the difference when gathering from the laying boxes). I finally cracked open one of the mystery eggs tonight. Spouse suggested cracking open one of the largest hen eggs on hand, and compare the yolks side-by-side. I think it's safe to say that yep, the mystery egg is a duck egg! Woo-hoo!!

Now the next mystery: why haven't the dogs snarfed down these eggs yet? Talk about easy pickin's, right there in the open and all. Hmmm...

[Top photo: Moe. Photo lower right: the eggs. The duck egg is on the far right, if you're not sure.]

10.14.2010

Ducklings!

Little brown fuzzballs of attitude and cuteness. They arrived the day after Miss Cecily was euthanized, as if Miss Cecily and the Universe knew what was about to happen, and conspired to keep me busy. The ducklings have moved from house pen, to porch pen, to yard pen in two short weeks. They are messy, messy, messy. I love them to pieces.

Day old duckling.

One week old, and first day in the Big Blue Room.
@virgotex remarked "What are you doing, feeding them MiracleGro?" Nah, just organic duckling chow. Thank you McMurray Hatchery!

And then Michelle asked in the comments section "You don't mention what kind of ducks they are... inquiring minds want to know these things :)" Well, that's just the mind-bending power of cuteness overload, Michelle - one forgets to mention these things! These little squeezlings are Khaki Campbell ducks. They're to keep Moe, our recently rescued (and lone duck) company.

Almost two weeks old.

10.08.2010

Avian Leukosis

This is what Miss Cecily, and one other animal on the Big Softie Ranch - Hoppy the Chicken - had contracted: Avian Leukosis. It is a vertically transmitted virus, from infected mother to embryo chick. Miss Cecily's body was riddled with these tumors. All her major organs were affected (especially her liver), and her skeletal muscles as well. There is no cure. It was a minor miracle we kept her alive for this long.


With two separate birds/breeds post-mortem diagnosed with Avian Leukosis, this means the poultry breeder from whom we bought these girls has some problems. To be fair, however, no breeder is completely free from this issue. There's no way to tell if a young bird is infected other than biopsy. Regardless, because of other problems we have encountered with birds from these folks, we have already started buying from another breeder.

Photo: a retrovirus, courtesy of The Full Wiki.