It’s April 15th…

…and have you all finished your taxes?  We filed ours in February so I don’t have to worry about this.  But also a big thing happening on today is my husband’s great grandma’s 100th Birthday!  (Not many people can say they have grown up with their great grandma (I had mine until I was about 10) or their great, great grandma!)  What an accomplishment!  We celebrated her birthday on Saturday with many family and friends!  It was so nice.  I have been married to my husband for almost 18 years and there were people there that I have never met.  They came from far and wide!!  Not everybody could come so there were lots of missing people too, but it was still nice.

So Happy 100th Birthday Nanny!!




So on to our little farm news.  We have had two more ducklings hatch as of today.  One the night before last and one this morning.  The one from this morning is still in the incubator drying off and getting all nice and warm.

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So the duck on the left was hatched on Friday.  The duck on the right was hatched on Sunday night or very early Monday morning.  Look at the size difference already.  I may not be able to put the new duck with these guys.  Ugh.  I have one more in the hatching incubator that is pipping and two more in the other incubator that are not going to be ready for several more days I think.  I will have to go back to my notes and check to make sure.  Turkeys should start pipping on Thursday if there are going to be any.  Keep your fingers crossed.

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Do you guys know what this is?  Ugh.  This is the nest of duck eggs that I finally found today.  I have only been getting one duck egg for several days from my two ducks.  This is the first time I haven’t gotten one from each so I was pretty sure something was going on.  I have been all over the area that the ducks roam in looking for the nest.  I finally found it today.  Want to know what it is under?  The lawn mower.  Ugh.  It is going to have to be moved probably this weekend.  I kind of want to leave them for the duck to sit on when she decides she has enough, but with this yesterday

photo (15) (yeah, that’s snow) I’m not sure if any of these will hatch or not.  And I’m not entirely sure that she is going broody.  But normally the eggs are just laid willy nilly around the yard.  So maybe she is. I just am not sure how to handle moving them or taking some out so there is room for ones that might actually hatch.  So I just left them this morning.  One reason I left them is because I set my hand in a big pile of duck poop while trying to take a picture of them.  I always have some sort of poop on me.

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Can you tell I have a hole in my water hose?  The ducks can.  They love to play in the water that puddles up while I’m trying to get everything watered as fast as I can so I don’t waste water running out.  Have to buy a new hose this week.  I was happy that I was still able to use the hose this morning even though it was still below freezing when I went outside.  I am so over carrying buckets of water around.

Well, that is all the updates for now.  I’m going to leave you with an example of what I find on my phone every time Gabby gets done playing with it.  Have a great day everyone!

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It’s been a busy spring and I’m not kidding…

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But, my goats have been.  4 out of 5 does have kidded and we have 5 babies hop, skipping around.  The first two that kidded are first fresheners (means that they have never had babies before).  Penelope had a baby girl that was 7 pounds.  Princess followed exactly a week later with a boy that weighed 9 pounds.  Cotton (who has had babies before) followed 2 weeks later with twins, a boy and a girl.  The girl weighed 7 pounds, the boy 8 pounds.  Della (who I bought last year as a first freshener) had a single boy who weighed 8 pounds.  So we are waiting for one more to kid.  Her udder is just starting to grow a little so I am predicting the middle of May. But what do I know?

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Out of our 5 ducks that made it from the 7 we hatched out last year, we have 3 ducks (female duck) and 1 drake (male duck).  We had 4 females until one day last week when I got home and 2 were dead.  Don’t know what happened to them, but that is what happens when you have livestock.  It makes it hard sometimes. Especially with the little kids.  We have been getting duck eggs for over a month now.  And had been getting almost 4 eggs every single day.  So now we are down to 2 duck eggs a day.  The ducks are free range and they don’t necessarily lay in a nest so every day is an egg hunt.  Which makes Gabby happy.  March was still pretty cold this year so most days by the time I would go outside around 8:00 a.m. the eggs were frozen.  We put some (the non frozen ones) in the incubator and out of around 32 early eggs we had 10 eggs that have begun developing.  Yesterday the first of the duck eggs hatched.  One other was trying to hatch but didn’t make it all the way.  Ducks seem to have a hard time hatching.  I’m assuming that’s why they are $5 a piece at the farm store.  photo (2)  So right now we have one duckling.  The other two that should have hatched by tomorrow aren’t looking too promising but we will see.  Then some more should be hatching out this coming week.

The turkeys started laying on the 20th of March.  The first day of spring.  I told them they needed to wait a bit longer, but they didn’t listen to me.  We have two hens and one tom left.  We were going to butcher the extra tom that we had, but we gave it to a friend of ours (who we got the initial turkey eggs from in the first place) so she could replace her tom of unknown age who suffered an injury last year.  So hopefully, between the two of us, we will have plenty of eggs to hatch out.  We have 22 turkey eggs in our incubator right now.  And the turkeys have gotten so big and the tom turkey is starting to get pretty aggressive when you go up to their pen and try to get in to get the eggs.  So my hubby rigged up this little gem.  photo (6)  It is a piece of PVC pipe with some wire in a loop taped to the end of it.  Then the net part was made out of some bird netting that we had.  We can use this to get to almost any egg in their enclosure.  And hubby put a back door on their little house area so we can sneak in that way now too.

We have wanted turkeys for a long time but I wasn’t sure if we would ever get to have turkeys.  The cost of the day old poults are pretty cost prohibitive.  ($8 at our local farm store this year)  (And they are usually straight run so you don’t know if you are getting a girl or a boy turkey at that point)  And turkey poults are hard to keep alive.  But luckily we have good friends.  The plan is to raise the poults we get this year to butcher probably next spring.  Heritage breeds grow slower than the hybrid ones.  But that is ok.  Hopefully their meat tastes much better.  And we may end up keeping another breeding set, but we will see what our set up is by that time.  If anyone has any old trampolines they want to get rid of for free, let me know.  We built a pretty neat pen for the turkeys out of our old one last year.

The chickens have decided to start laying eggs now that I have decided to make chicken and noodles out of all of them.  photo (5)  Ugh.  The ones we hatched out last spring that never gave us one egg last year when they should have started to lay.  We will see what they are up to while I use them to help scratch up parts of the garden before we plant to get all the weed seeds out of it.  And I had kind of decided not to do chicks this year.  Just to butcher everything we had and concentrate on the ducks and the turkeys.  But Gabby and I went to the farm store 2 weeks ago and somehow these things just jumped right into our cart.  photo (12)

I’m not entirely sure how it happened.  But we got 8 Rhode Island Reds and 8 Barred Rocks. I got 16 because I eventually want to have 12 laying hens and something usually happens to some of them.  We have had Barred Rocks for the past 3 to 4 years.  They do pretty good in the egg laying department.  Until they get older.  We have had Rhode Island Reds in the past and have had experience with the roosters getting pretty mean and sometimes the hens too.  But we are planning on all these to be in chicken tractors or something so hopefully we won’t have to worry about any chicken attacks.  AND, I didn’t buy any roosters.  Hopefully.  Then last week I got a call from our local county Extension gentleman and he asked me if I wanted any chicks that a preschool had gotten for their class.  So I took those 6.  I was thinking at first that they might all be roosters (and we know what happens to roosters) or 4 of them were the Cornish Cross chicks.  But I’m leaning more towards these guys being pullets (girls) and that makes me happier.  But that also means that my no chicks this year has turned into 22 chicks this year.  LOL.  AND then the old ones that I thought weren’t going to lay or were eating their eggs have started laying!  Yikes.  We have to figure something out.  photo (3) This chick was laying on top of the feeder today just hanging out.  He would just hang his head down over the sides like he just couldn’t stay awake any longer.  photo (4)  Then this one the other day fell asleep in the feeder.  You can’t really tell from the picture but his beak was actually in the food.  Just like a little kid falling asleep in their dinner plate.  But these guys are getting big and we are needing the room in the house for ducks and turkeys so guess what.  They got moved outside today!  Yay!  We redid our chicken brooder that we had last year for them (that used to house rabbits) (we reuse and recycle and repurpose everything around here) and we had the Cat-tastrophe of 2013 last year with the brooder until I rigged it up to be Fort Knox.  Well Kevin took all the old chicken wire off it and put solid sides and back and put new 1/2″ x 1″ wire on the front and now it should be all ready to protect those babies.  photo  This is what it looks like without the chicks in it.  I have weighed down the top with 6 really heavy landscaping bricks so the cats can’t lift up the lid.  They seem to like the bigger space and this should hold them another few weeks until they are big enough to go in the chicken tractors.  I feel like all we do is move animals around all the time.

Sorry this post has been so long but I wanted to get these updates in here for my records.  Hopefully it doesn’t rain too much tomorrow and we can get lots more work done on the gardens and everything else that needs done.

We all survived the winter…barely.

Wow.  It has been a while since I have posted anything.  But gosh, this winter just about did us all in.  It was CRAZY as most of you all know.  All the animals survived the winter with us.  Yay!  Lots of times with livestock any extreme in weather is just a recipe for disaster.  But with going out multiple times a day and breaking ice in their water buckets and blocking drafts and such, everything made it through.  Well, except one thing.  ALL of our bee hives died.  (observes a moment of silence for the thousands of bees lost)

We started the winter with 3 hives.  We made it through to the first of the year.  We added food stores for them, then we had some pretty brutal temps for a very long time.  And they just did not make it.  So now we are wondering what to do for this year.  I have my name on a list to purchase some nucs from a gentleman in our bee club.  A nuc is different from a package in that a package is only about 3 pounds of bees and you put those in an empty hive and they have to go to work making all the comb and everything so the queen can start laying her eggs.  Well,  a nuc is either a 5 frame or 10 frame set up.  You have your brood box with either 5 frames or all 10 frames pulled out and the queen is already laying eggs and there is already brood hatching and everything.  The price is not that much more expensive so I think we are going to go that route this year.  I’m not sure if we are buying one or two.  But I need to start saving my pennies so I’m ready when they are.  Our honey was so good last year that I will miss it if we don’t get any this year.  We are also planning on trying to catch a few swarms if we can this year too.  So if anyone sees one, give me a holler.

That is it for now.  Will be updating on everything that has been going on lately here in a day or so.



Fall updates

Are you guys ready to hear about all the stuff that has been going on?  I don’t even know if I will be able to remember it all.  We had our pumpkin carving party the weekend before Halloween.  I thought this was our 9th party but after looking at my Facebook pics from last year I guess it’s our 10th. 995863_10200160255643773_1156446631_n 1385636_10200160264683999_1075925246_n I don’t even remember what made me decide to have this party to begin with.  I know we always carved pumpkins for the kids and we would use those kits that have the patterns with them.  I guess it just kind of evolved into trying to get others in the family to do it.  Or something.  But I think we have a good time.

This year I pulled a friend and her family into the festivities. She has a hard time cutting up perfectly good pumpkins just to carve, but the kids carved some really nice pumpkins.  We had a lot of yummy food like usual.  My mother-in-law always makes something in the theme of the party and her Frankenstein brownies were a big hit.

1384253_10200160261523920_1649108652_nThe kids loved them.  I don’t think very many adults got to try any.

On Sunday we went to the trunk or treat that my church hosts every year.  The kids got a lot of candy and goodies and had a good time.  It seems to be getting bigger and bigger every year as more members participate in it.  Gabby had her first Halloween party in Pre-school this year and Daniel had his last Halloween party in Elementary School.  They don’t have parties in the middle school so this is kind of a bitter sweet year for me.  He’s growing up so fast and I don’t know if I’m ready for it or not.  But I guess it doesn’t matter, it’s happening.

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Thursday we went Trick or treating around town.  It was rainy and cold and Daniel wanted to quit early but Gabby wanted to keep going.  We went around town for about 2 hours or so.  That seems like a lot but most of it was going to family to see them and then driving around trying to find neighborhoods that had a lot of lights on so we didn’t have to keep getting in and out of the car.  It used to be a lot easier when more people would hand candy out.  Gabby was a honey bee this year.  Daniel was a lumberjack for the trunk or treat and then a duck hunter for Halloween and his school party.  Gabby is already planning out her costume for next year.  After we had went to a few houses she told me “Mom, this is so much fun!”  She finally was old enough to enjoy it.  And then it had to rain.

I have been trying to get some more stuff put up for the winter.  I have gotten 10 quart bags total of sweet peppers put up.  The first five bags I don’t know what I was thinking but I diced the peppers.  All of them.  We don’t used diced peppers in a lot of stuff, but I guess we will be this winter.  The last five bags I sliced up for stuff like fajitas and stir fry.  I was going to put onions in with them but I was lazy and didn’t.

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I bought a few extra pumpkins to cook this year.  I went ahead and got the bigger ones because you get more out of them.  I know everyone says they are not as good, but it’s worth a try.  So I baked one pumpkin on Sunday.  I put the whole pumpkin in the oven.  It almost didn’t fit.  After it baked (I put slits in it for steam to escape) I let it cool (I was actually cleaning out the goat shed) and ended up not having time to mess with it Sunday evening.  So I put it in the fridge and went to work on it Monday morning.  Out of this one pumpkin I got about 16 cups of puree.  I ran it through the food processor but think on the next one I’m going to run it through my food mill on my kitchen aid mixer.

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I put about two cups of puree on each tray of my dehydrator that I had lined with parchment paper.  I put it kind of thin, but I think next time I will make it a bit thicker to make it easier to get off the paper.  I only have 7 trays so had to put two cups in a baggie in the freezer.  I used an old mayo type jar that I got from my aunt.  She gave me a lot of canning jars this summer and I am using the mayo type jars for dry storage and for water bath canning.  And they will definitely come in handy for milk storage this spring.  So after dehydrating the pumpkin the 14 cups that was in the dehydrator fit in one jar.  Amazing.  I can save on jars and space.  And I don’t have a ton of extra room in the freezer.  To use the pumpkin I read that you grind it up to a powder and then use 1/4 cup of powder to 1 cup of boiling water and let it sit for 20 minutes to reconstitute and use as you would any other puree.

So I put a post on Facebook to ask friends and family if they had any pumpkins that they had carved or not that they had used for decorating that I would take for my chickens and goats.  I got several responses and have been picking up pumpkins around town.  Then I got a call from a friend and she said she had a trailer load of pumpkins for me.  So we went and got them.  Oh my.

2013-11-06 07.49.04  So these are the pumpkins that we got from Kelly.  Thanks Kelly!  Our chickens and goats are going to be happy.  I’m also going to be happy as there are several nice smaller pumpkins that I am going to cook.  I bet the neighbors are wondering what is going on now when they drive by.  We always have something strange going on here.


And I’m not just talking turkey

Well, I guess I am.  We FINALLY got the turkeys moved into an enclosure where they can be on the grass and get out of their little house and move around.  Yay!  It seems like we just can’t get caught up lately.

2013-10-12 12.25.57 Here are the turkeys deciding if they want to come out or not. We had to load up that wooden house thing on a little trailer and pull it down here and figure out how to enclose the end in where it was.  It’s a conglomeration of all kinds of materials.  Beginning with the old trampoline frame.  Then there are some hog panels across the top and some fencing around the bottoms.  But it works.

2013-10-12 12.47.04 Here they are finally out and going to their food.  I think they are much happier here.

2013-10-13 16.02.24  They like their roost.  It is higher off the ground.

2013-10-13 16.05.18  This is a close up of one of the turkeys.  I wish I could get a good picture of the boys strutting their stuff.  They haven’t done it in awhile but today they were strutting around and showing off for a friend that dropped by but I didn’t have my camera.

So we were going to butcher one of the jakes (young boy turkey) this fall.  But I got to thinking about what if something happened to the other one before spring time and then we wouldn’t have anyone to fertilize the eggs.  So now we are going to be keeping both toms and see how things go.  Once we start getting some poults hatching in the spring we will probably pick one to make into a yummy turkey dinner.  I’m already drooling thinking about it.  I hope we have as much good luck with turkeys next year as we did this year.

I wonder how everyone else houses their turkeys.  I have tried to read up on it but I am not having much luck with finding information that fits the type of set up we have here.  We don’t have hundreds of them and right now we don’t want to free range them.  (They can fly.  Um, I want them to stay here.)  But next year we may have to find something different if we raise up several for butchering.  If we get several.

Hey Honey!

Well I started this blog post on September 28th.  It was my hubby’s birthday.  I’m just going to leave most of it and add some more to the bottom.

September 28th:  It has turned out to be a very busy day so far.  First off today is my hubby’s 42nd Birthday!  Happy Birthday Honey!

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This picture was taken when we were on vacation on our last day on our way home.  We drove the long way home and went through Hermann, Missouri.  I have been to Hermann a few times with my hubby, but this was the first time I’ve been since I was old enough to drink.  🙂  Yay!  I got to taste the wine this time!  We only went to Stone Hill Winery because we were needing to get home and unload the van and stuff before dark.  We did the tour and had a good time.

We started the weekend out by going out and getting the honey supers off of the bee hives.  Honey supers are boxes that are about 9 inches tall or so and have frames in them that the bees store their honey.  We had 2 supers on each of our hives that we bought this spring.  Earlier in the summer the supers were pretty full of honey.  We waited until now to give the bees a chance to take any of the honey from the supers and put down in their brood boxes if they needed it for winter.  During the winter the queen doesn’t lay eggs so they fill those areas up with honey and they cluster there to keep warm.

One of the hives that had had pretty full honey supers had taken quite a bit of honey down and they really only had about a super and maybe a half full.  These guys were real calm and us knocking them off the frames and brushing them off didn’t seem to phase them a bit.  So we got all the bees off these and brought them in the house.  We went back out to work on the second hive.  These guys were NOT happy with us at all.  We tried to work fast to leave them alone but they were hitting our veils and hats and everything.  Telling us to get away.  I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with them.  This was usually our calm hive.

After we got both supers off Kevin looked into the top brood box.  We found out why they were so mad at us.  They had not brought any of the honey down to their brood box.  It was empty.  Duh!  We were robbing them and they were protecting their winter stores.  But silly bees need their winter stores down in the other boxes.  So we are feeding these guys to help them build up some stores for winter now.

So we got the supers in the house and got the extractor set up.  It is my sister’s extractor and she let us borrow it.  Thanks Cinner!

2013-09-28 14.14.24This is Kevin cutting the caps off the frames of honey.  The bees fill up the cells and then when the honey is at the right moisture level they put a cap of wax on top of it to seal it up.

2013-09-28 14.15.01 This is Kevin spinning the extractor.  It is a manual extractor.  You have to spin it by hand.

2013-09-28 14.35.23 This is Kevin redneckifying the extractor to be able to spin it with the drill instead of us doing it.  We done it by hand for about 10 minutes and had not hardly gotten any honey out of the frames.  We are worthless sometimes.  See the heat gun in the lower left corner of the pic?  I started using it (it is supposed to be used to melt embossing powder in rubber stamping) to warm up the honey a bit.  I would run it a few inches away from the frames up and down to warm the honey a bit to make it flow easier.  We also turned off the air conditioner.  Honey definitely flows better when it is warm.

2013-09-28 15.49.50 Yay!  Success!  It took a few times of finagling to get it to work right but now we are cooking!  I mean extracting.  We got about half of it done when we decided to take a break and go out for supper for Kevin’s birthday.

2013-09-28 16.31.23 The extractor has a spout at the bottom but once it gets so low it is just easier to lift it up and pour it.  I’m going to share a little tip with everyone.  Don’t go and take a shower and then help your husband by scraping the honey from the bottom and sides of the barrel.  You will get honey in your hair and on your clothes that did not have honey on them.  Also, extracting honey in a kitchen with carpeting was interesting.  (We didn’t put it there, it’s just still there.)

We got about 56 pounds of honey off of our two hives.  We were told we probably would not get any or at least very much.  We would not have gotten as much if the silly bees in the one hive would have moved it to their brood box.  But we have figured we can sell the honey and buy some sugar and feed them and still come out ahead.

2013-10-14 18.01.07 So here’s three jars of our honey.  See how dark it is?  I have heard that everyone is saying that their honey is dark.  I don’t know if it is because of the drought or what.  But it is delicious.  I have a little secret to share with you.  I’m not a huge honey fan.  I mean I can eat it and it is good and all, but I don’t go seeking it out for my biscuits.  Until now  I don’t even know if the honey that my dad got when we used to have bees was this good.  It might have been and I was a kid and I didn’t really care one way or the other.  But man, this stuff is yummy.  It is not overly sickeningly sweet like store bought honey.  It’s just good.  Now I’m not sure if I want to sell it.  Just kidding.  I have a few people that have talked to me about it and we will sell some but I am keeping a good amount of it too.

I’m just hoping that our bees make it through the winter and we get more honey next year.  We will hopefully have four hives to start the year out with.  Wish us luck!

Stay tuned for the next installment from my Funny Farm.  We have been really busy lately and I have actually remembered to take pictures of some of the stuff we are doing so I will be posting again in the next few days.  Hopefully I will get caught up with the updates.



It’s Been A Busy Summer Part 2

Okay, Part 2.  Man I just can’t seem to catch up anywhere.  We have fence that still needs fixing so the goats can go out in the pasture.  I’m trying to figure out why when they have acres and acres of pasture they want to come up to the house and eat dead grass.

So this year Gabby started pre-school.  She just turned 4 at the beginning of September (I didn’t get a post put up about that.  My bad.)

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Here she is on the first day of pre-school.  She is in the 3 year old class because of when her birthday falls so she is older than most of the ones in there.  She never cried or anything.  She was SO ready to go.  Everyday I have to let her know if she has school or not and on the days she does she is so anxious for the time to go. She’s a hoot.

Gabby was our surprise baby!  We were not planning on having any more kids and along she comes.  But she really finishes the family.  It is a totally different dynamic with three kids.  TOTALLY DIFFERENT!  I really didn’t think it would be.  I feel like I am always in such a rush to get somewhere or to get something done, but Gabby always makes me stop and smell the roses.  She is fascinated by the stars.  When we come home at night if it is not cloudy and she can see the stars it takes me forever to get her into the house because she just wants to look at them.  We all love our Gabriella very much.  Don’t know what we would do without her.

So I’m working on a fodder system for all the animals.  Fodder is a food that you grow without dirt in trays from grain (barley or wheat) and you water it a few times a day and let it drain and in six days your first tray has grown enough for you to give the animals.  I know all the stuff in my head about it, but I am not good at going into all the details.  If you are interested in this just Google fodder and you will get all the information you could ever want.

So we have been experimenting with it all summer off and on.  I really need to finish getting it going.  Kevin set it up outside for a few days to see how the automatic watering set up would work so if it made a big mess it didn’t make it in the house on the floor.

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As you can tell from this picture the chickens approve.  I kept having to chase this rooster out of it.  He was really enjoying the sprouts.  We are working on getting the watering and draining worked out so it doesn’t mold.  I don’t know if we are going to grow the chicken’s fodder out the full six or seven days or if I am just going to grow it until it sprouts and maybe has  a little bit of green on it.  I just don’t know. I’m still working on it.

So my aunt called me up one day and asked if I wanted some canning jars.  I said sure.  Here is a picture of our pump house with the jars.  Granted I had about 100 or so jars to begin with.  But this is what it looks like now.  And I didn’t even take a picture of the other side with another shelf of jars.  Now I am just trying to work on getting them filled up with stores for the winter.

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2013-08-16 11.03.01

The ducks are getting so big.  We had 7 but we are down to 6.  Our dog got in the fence and got one.  So now she has to be in a pen.  I hate that, but we can’t have her killing all the animals.  Ugh.  So I have been trying to figure out if I have drakes or ducks.  I have read many conflicting things saying when you can tell if your duck is a duck (girl) or drake (boy).  The drakes get a little feather on their back that curls up.  Some websites say it can show up in about 4 to 5 months.  Others said it waits until they are about 9 months old.  So I was anxiously waiting to see.  And tonight I noticed on one of them there is a little curled up feather!  Yay!

You can also tell by their voices.  Ducks can actually quack and drakes have a raspy voice and don’t really quack.  I have been trying to listen to them to see if I could tell what was what, but I am usually rushing around and can’t sort them out.  So tonight I stood out in the middle of them and listened to them.  I really think this one drake is going to be our only drake out of all of them.  So that is my prediction.  One drake.  The ducks are not all the same age.  There are three of them that are about a month younger than the first batch.  So if any of those are drakes they will show up in about a month or so I hope.  But I still really think I only have the one because of how they quack.  But we will see.

2013-08-21 07.44.04


So here’s a picture of the two oldest kids on their first day of school.  Elizabeth is a sophomore in high school and Daniel is in 4th grade.  They are doing great this year.  Elizabeth is taking 2 math and 2 science classes and is getting A’s in everything.  I’m so proud of her.  Daniel is doing great in school too!  His progress report was awesome.  Just like his shirt in this picture says.

Okay so I think I have you all caught up.  I know there are things I was wanting to share but forgot, but I will try to do better at getting the updates sooner.

Hope everyone had a great summer and is having a great start to their fall!