Sunday Homestead Update – Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.  I love the warmth, the smells, the food, and most of all the time with people focusing on our blessings.  With our son’s health issues over the past 5 years we have learned to focus on our blessings every single day.  But it is still fun to have a day where we celebrate them specifically.  It has been a hard year – for everyone.  So it is even MORE important that we find things to be thankful for and see the blessings amid the mess this year.  Happy Thanksgiving!

“Auntie” Willow?

Our silkie hen, Eve, is our ultimate broody mama hen.  She is almost 8 years old now, and has raised anywhere from 1-3 broods of chicks for us every single year.  She is  a great mama hen.

We also have a bantam cochin hen, named Willow, that we got in hopes that she would potentially be a broody mama as well.  She is coming up on 3 years old now, and that has not been the case.  Despite the fact that she doesn’t brood, she is a very good layer and has over the years become more of a pet than livestock.  Willow is the black hen in this photo.

When Eve’s chicks are big enough to handle it, we always move her and them down into the lower coop with the bantam hens.  They finish growing up there, and then go on to wherever they are going as adults.  So Willow has been around for several of these integrations of Eve and her babies into the bantam flock.  Nothing remarkable has ever happened, until this latest batch.

About a week before we had to evacuate for the wildfire, we integrated Eve and her 9 chicks, who were about 5 weeks old at the time, in with the bantam group.  Within a few days we started noticing some interesting things going on between Willow, the chicks, and Eve.  But then we were evacuated and they lived with someone else for two weeks.  Now that they have been home for a couple weeks we have been able to see it all more clearly.  For some reason, Willow has adopted the babies from Eve.  Willow is cuddling them when they are cold.  Willow is calling them over when she finds food and sharing it with them.  Willow is totally mothering them.  Eve is not being mean to them or ignoring them or anything.  But she isn’t calling them over for food like she usually does, nor is she cuddling them anymore now that Willow is.

We have never had this happen before and aren’t sure exactly why it did or what happened.  Homesteading is always an adventure and we are always seeing new things and learning new things!

ALL Males!?

I mentioned recently that when the ducks came home we found out that all 4 ducklings were males.

Violet and her 4 drakelings

Well, this week we caught the 4 chicks that our hen Dahlia hatched and raised and….it seems impossible, but it is true, all 4 of them are males too!

Dahlia and her 4 cockerels

These two hatches happened just under a month apart.  Each hatch had 4 surviving babies.  And in each one all 4 were males.  Strange.

Growing Fleece

When we first added Freya, our Wensleydale ewe, to the flock she had just been shorn.  It has been a few months now, and we are getting to see her fleece more clearly now that it is longer.  And we LOVE it!

She has beautiful, lustrous silver curls and locks along her barrel.  We are going to really enjoy making this amazing fleece into yarn next year!

Breeding season continues with the sheep.  We figured Blue had been bred during the evacuation, but then we saw her bred yesterday.  So either she wasn’t bred, or she didn’t take because of the stress.  So now it looks like Freya, Daisy, and Blue are all bred, and we are just waiting on our new ewe, Matilda, and the ewe lamb, Nora.  We don’t expect Nora to be mature enough until December or early January – if at all.  So we will see how that goes.

Goats

We got a call that the goats both were bred this week.  So we wait 3 weeks to see if they come back into heat, and as long as they don’t we know they are pregnant and will bring them back home.  It will be so nice to have fresh milk again!

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