Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Keeping Mandarin Ducks

Well since nothing is really going on over here today I figure I'll do a little preaching,

The mandarin duck one of the most beautiful ducks in my opinion, I'm so glad to have them here. I love the maroon color and the little sails that stick out of their back. They almost look like some kind of paper duck that some oriental store would sell. Since they are tree ducks there is no need to have a hugItalice pond like you have to have for mallards and teals. They are actually closely related to the american wood duck, another one of my favorites. So anyways with that being said they are pretty clean and easy to care for. I feed mine game bird feed of the highest quality. Many people who have these wonderful little birds say they are not rare, true they are not. But neither was the passenger pigeon, or the health hen, I bet those hungry colonists though the happy little health hen which is a grouse by the way would never be extinct, well guess what?! sadly for them it did, needless to say no more health hens. I think it is important to keep and breed the mandarin duck since, like the wood duck are going extinct in the wild. That means it's only a matter of time before restrictions are put to prevent the export of birds, and that mean that our captive stock is all we'll have left. The numbers in captivity are healthy but there is a lot of inbreeding going on with this species. Now don't get me started with this whole inbreeding thing! I'll write about that another day, but for now it is important that we practice responsible breeding and keeping. I strongly encourage anyone who likes little water birds to keep the species, they are such a joy to have. They have two qualities I like in a bird, they are inexpensive and beautiful. They are also great for urban dwellers as they can really add color to any fish pond. So be sure to get some.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Today it rained, and rained and rained some more. The ground is wet but not enough to give the plants a drink so it looks like i'll be watering the yard in the cold later today. I also decided to move over all of my gamebirds and put them in more secure housing. I was thinking dog kennels instead of chicken coop like aviaries, that way it would look a little more appealing to a nosy city inspector. It's a little depressing outside too, not much in the vegetable garden is growing and all the trees are leafless and the grass brown, at least up north the ugliness is covered in snow. Then again I wouldn't want to shovel it just to walk out the door. Through this winter none of our birds have been laying, not even the quail which are supposed to be laying year around, or so I was told. I think it may have to do with the sun or the polar axis changing as it is mid December. Not even our hens are laying right now which is quiet unfortunate. That's winter for you!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Angora Story

Today we received a new member for our farm, an angora rabbit. Yes an angora, supposedly this little thing is going to make my mom her angora sweater that she's been wanting for years. With this rabbit, as with all of our animals comes a story, so here it goes. We went to our local fruit market where I know there is a 'animal dealer' there who has just about everything out of the ordinary for sale. This character pulls his trailer made-shift animal carrier with just about everything you can think of. It's always a surprise to see what he brings as he never has the same stuff twice. I've seen goats, guineas, peafowl and everything in between. I often just make up the excuse to support our local economy but truly i just want to see what's new. So anyways as Florida is, this is no ordinary animal 'merchant' if you will, I never have seen someone with so much character before. One instance was where I was interested in some quail for sale, he said, "Do you know how to clean them"? I said , "Sorry?" He said, "You got's to clean them before you eat em," I said, "No I won't be eating these quail," he said, "Well what in god's green earth do you want them for then"? I said, "I want them as a pet". He shook his head and muttered, "City folk". I was not offended at all but I rather found the situation humorous. I saw a pet, he saw food, so strange right? Well anyways so I went up to see what they had this time and to my surprise they had a white angora rabbit! And it just so happens that I've been looking for one. He explained that it was 12pm and it was time for him to go since he came at 5am (I never could go downtown so early) and that he needed to sell the rabbit or else he'll have it for dinner, yes I said dinner, a fifty dollar rabbit as a meal. To my luck he sold it to me for a measly eight dollars, not bad considering what it's worth, and that's how I got my rabbit. Now the little muskrat of a thing is happily chewing on it's hay. I awoke this morning realizing that the reason I don't like rabbits is because of the MESS they make, I never seen such destruction in my life! There was mess in the bowl, the paper was torn to shreds, and there was urine EVERYWHERE. I'll post pictures as soon as possible. So yes this is the very same thing that will make that sweater.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Well it finally has come... the hard freeze we've all been dreading. For our Florida climate freezes are not unusual at all, but we are expecting a hard freeze for the next five nights. I can hear my tomatoes crying already, and I have to say in my defense I was told by some joker at a certain plant store that I still had time to harvest a few tomatoes, poor things they never stood a chance.I suppose it was delusional of me to think you can harvest a few extra tomatoes and eggplants in fall. Oh well, they were nice while they lasted.

I figured I should take this as an opportunity to remind those how properly cover your cold sensitive plants. Some people just cover the plant, that's it, well I have news for all of you, you have to cover the plant to the ground! The ground is the only source of heat so it would only make sense to take advantage of that. I have seen some folks put Christmas lights to keep the plants warm but I have always felt dubious about the idea of putting light bulbs under sheets. The best way to keep plants safe from the cold is by covering them with a thick blanket, better yet a tarp in a tepee like formation, creating a small greenhouse environment. With that being said, I have to say, use caution not to flatten the plants, the last thing you want to do is crush them. It has just occurred to me that most of you, if anyone cares to read this, that most of the country has experienced freezes already. Well I hope maybe you can put some of this information to use next year.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Welcome to Quail's Hollar Farm, Our mission statement is to promote the conservancy of rare and endangered species from around the world. We at the farm keep several varieties of waterfowl as well as land fowl, some of the varieties kept are californian crested quail, golden pheasant, silver pheasant, and the american wood duck, to name a few.

Not only do we keep livestock but we also practice urban farming. Growing your own food is an accomplishment every human can feel proud about.

I plan to post pictures and information within the next upcoming post on how to urban farm and how to maintain exotic species of land fowl.