Mini-farm in the making

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Goats will eat anything.

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But don’t eat the baby!!

Here is what we have on our little one-acre lot:

1 dog, 2 goats, 2 geese, 4 ducks, about 80,000 bees, countless wildlife (fox, deer, frogs, snakes, gophers, squirrels, owls, etc.).

This morning, the four children (Monty, Eli, Everett, and Haley) and I got to watch a duckling actually hatch out of an egg. I wish I’d had the presence of mind to photograph it while it was occurring, but I was frankly quite flabbergasted that we got to see it. The egg had pipped (that is, chipped a tiny dent into the shell, which looks basically like a little bump) Friday afternoon. It made some slight progress (as in, the dent got slightly larger) Saturday. I was beginning to worry. Then Sunday morning, I looked in and saw that it had chipped a line nearly all the way around the wide end of the egg. I called the kids over to look, and–amidst much cheering and cheeping of encouragement from the children and (I admit) myself–over the next five minutes a wet, floppy sopping, silly little black thing pushed its way out of the egg. It was rather like a human birth–push, retract, push, retract, push, POP! flop. Five minutes after “birth,” the hatchling, wet and exhausted, rests against the side of the incubator (having enthusiastically rearranged the other eggs by frantically scooting around while simultaneously trying to lift a too-heavy head and stand on completely unprepared legs):

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An hour later, drier and stronger after several invigorating games of field hockey with the remaining eggs:

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This duckling is black, which is an interesting phenomenon. I don’t completely understand the genetics involved, but basically this means that the egg was fertilized by my blue drake (my only drake, as a matter of fact) and laid by a blue hen. So why is she black? In my expert opinion, I haven’t a clue–but apparently, when you cross blue with blue, you get about 50% blues, 25% chocolates, and 25% blacks. Go figure. I will have to re-read my genetics manuals. Some of the ducklings may be fawn & white crossed with blue, but it’s hard to tell, and I have no idea what they will turn out to look like.

And then, less cute but more profitable, there’s the gallon and a half of honey we harvested this weekend. It took all day and was exhausting and hot work. My back still hurts. Here are some cool pictures:

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The cappings. Before you can extract the honey from the comb, you have to remove the caps the bees have put over it, using an “uncapping knife.” The cappings go on a big strainer to let extra honey flow down into a bin for later reclamation. It’s also very tasty. Eight children can demolish quite a few cappings in a short time, followed by vigorous games of “Who can run around the house fastest and loudest?”

Okay… more pics to follow, kids cranking the extractor and other cuteness… but I gotta go fix lunch for a hungry crew. Mmmm honey and peanut butter on toast…

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