Tuesday, August 25, 2009
The pigeons I mean when I say "pigeons" are the kind that you see everywhere... parks, the city, basically everywhere you usually see pigeons. So as I mentioned in the previous post about fancy pigeons, my only regular pet pigeon was found by my neighbor. I named him mottle because with his yellow baby fluff, and grey-green feathers he looked (hem) kind of bad. Mottle grew to be almost full sized before he vanished. As you may have noticed on your own, pigeons are really tame. They make great pets if you like birds.
Monday, August 17, 2009
A couple years ago, I got 2 fancy pigeons from my neighbor. One was brown and one was white. They are the most beautiful birds I've ever owned! They have big feathers on their feet a crest-like thing, and a swirl coming off their beak! I named the brown one Gregory and the white one never really got a name... sadly my Rouen duck (Bryce) pecked her in the neck so she died. Gregory lasted for a while but he was lonely, so my neighbor managed to find an orphaned pigeon on a road, so Gregory adopted him. Gregory couldn't really fly so well... we think that the pretty fluffy feet somewhat slowed him down. He loved to fly up and sit on our roof even though he had to really work to get up there! We aren't sure where he went... our best guess is that he got carried off by a hawk and the other pigeon (his "child") followed him. I really loved the pigeons and I think they make great pets!!
Saturday, August 15, 2009
I once had 2 Guinea pigs... this is their sad story. I got them at a pet cetera. At first they lived in my room, but that didn't go so well. Then they moved into the bathroom. That also didn't work so well. They then got moved into the basement and into an old huge fish tank. We don't really go into the basement that often, so we were starting to forget about them. We moved them outside in the summer. They got out once, but then they didn't run away so we started letting them out every day. Then one day, Angus didn't come back. A while later, Gylbert didn't come back either. We think that it was probably hawks, as we've seen them take chickens before. I didn't really like Guinea pigs, but that might just be because I didn't spend the time to tame them very well.
Button quails are miniature versions of quails. They come in a variety of colours such as light blue, dark blue, and brown like a regular quail. They are very skittish, and will drop some feathers if you pick them up. I got 2 of mine at the fur and feathers show 2 years ago, and then another this year. They lay brown eggs with brilliant green insides. The only way to tell the males from the females, is that males have a bigger white "bib" than the females. They are very small, and don't eat or drink much. I recommend them to anyone who is interested in very small birds, or very small eggs.
I purchased 4 quails this spring at the fur and feathers show. At first they lived in the basement, but when it got a bit warmer, they went outside. Sadly, our dogs got into the cage and all the quails scattered. We only found one immediately and later that week, we found another one! They lived in the basement again for a while, then went outside again. They lay eggs crazily, and now we sometimes add a complimentary quail egg or two in a dozen eggs! I would recommend them to anyone who has something to do with small eggs, or if you're just looking for a really cute small bird that gets tame!
This year we decided that we wanted to try out pigs. We contemplated a couple kinds, but decided on Tamworth pigs when the only place to get the other ones we wanted was in the United States. Tamworth pigs range in colours from orangish, to slightly purpleish. They have big ears that look a bit like a dogs ear. We got 2 of them, both girls and called them Bacon and DaLoiney. We picked them up in the back of our pickup truck, which was fairly simple. Getting them out was the problem. We had a ramp, but it was short, so it was really steep and the pigs didn't want to get out of their comfy straw in the truck. We got DaLoiney out by pushing at her, but Bacon didn't want to get out. We eventually managed to get her out of the truck, and she ran down the ramp squealing. They live in a semi-forested area where they root around in the dirt and lie in the shade. They also have a little house that they go into when it rains. Since I haven't tried their meat yet, I can't recommend them based on that, but they are very nice pigs; we can go in and pat them if we want to!
White Rock Chickens are the commercial chickens you can buy at most grocery stores. They have the "perfect" yellow chicks that look like they just walked away from the Easter Bunny. They are bread for quick growth and lots of white meat. They actually grow so fast that they are subject to heart attacks, and never get enough feathers to cover their entire pink body. They waddle around and have very thick legs to support their mass. We get them because lots of people prefer them to other chickens simply because that is what they're used to. I don't really like them because they are so boring, but they do grow quickly and have lots of meat on them.
Barred Plymouth rock chickens are another one of those breeds where the person who named them had no creativity... they have "barred" or stripey black and white feathers so they look like the perfect jail-bird! They are dual purpose birds, although their meat is somewhat tough. They lay big brown eggs almost every day in their first couple years of life. After that they make really good dog food. The chicks are black with a little white cap. I recommend them to people who want good egg-laying chickens.
Aurucana chickens are very variable. They come in a variety of colours, and lay brown, blue, or green eggs. We've had pretty good luck with them; the chickens are pretty hardy and their eggs are pretty. We have some old brown hens that lay one huge, misshapen egg once a week, and some younger ones that lay blue-ish green eggs. The younger ones are pretty, with multi-coloured feathers with a combination of black, brown, and white streaks. I recommend them to anyone interested in them.
This picture is an Aurucana (or Americana?) rooster.
Monday, August 10, 2009
Black Jersey Giants are a heritage breed of chickens. We first saw them at a pioneer village. They are very big (as the name implies) and have black feathers (which the name also implies). An -wonder of all wonders- they originated in the Jersey area! What a surprise! They are a dual purpose bird with great tasting meat, and nice brown eggs. They look very pretty roaming around the barnyard, especially the roosters with their big red combs and shiny black feathers! We have had great luck with them, so I recommend them to anyone in search of a dual purpose bird that really is dual purpose!
Silkies are very funny looking birds. First of all, their skin, bones and organs are black, but their "feathers" are white. Their "feathers" aren't really even feathers... they stay fluffy and soft. They have little pom-poms on their heads so they look like poodles. Silkies are a delicacy to some, but we've never eaten them because they are about the size of a Jungle Fowl. We bring them to the fur and feathers show, where we can get a decent price for them. When they are crossed with other types of chickens, they have interesting results... very soft feathers and half pom-poms! Silkies are great if you have a hobby farm, and they come in a variety of colours, although we've only had white. This isn't a great picture, and I'll put a better one on as soon as I find my picture uploader thing...
Our Jungle Fowl were a present (well... not really) from a relative who was done observing their behaviour. More likely, he decided that he just didn't like them as we have. Jungle Fowl are a old type of chicken; one of the first so at first we tried to keep them separate but that didn't work to well because they are really good at getting out of fences. Now they are just sort of there, and not much use at all because their eggs are about the size of a golf ball. You also can't eat them because they are much to small. We haven't really found any good use for them except to look like pretty little lawn ornaments... when they stay still that is!
Sunday, August 9, 2009
Rouen ducks to Pekins are what domestic turkeys are to wild turkeys; fatter yet still pretty. Rouen ducks have the colouring of a mallard duck, but have the shape of a Pekin. We had 2 called Sue and Bryce. Sadly, Bryce died last year. We got them to see if we liked their meat but got to attached to them so we never tried. They are very likable ducks so I definitely recommend them.
Muscovy ducks have white feathers and puffy red skin around their eyes, which makes them look rather ugly. They also have beady little red eyes which they use to stare at you until you freak out and run away. They are really cute ducklings; fuzzy and yellow with a little black cap, but as they grow older, the red around their eyes come out and they go from being cute and cuddly, to somewhat evil looking. They have good meat and we do a batch of them every year. We sell lots of them before they're (hem) done in, but we usually have a couple in the freezer that you can buy on whim.
African geese are expensive. We however managed to obtain one for free! Every spring and fall there is the fur and feathers show, which we go to at least once every year to buy and sell birds. African geese go for 100 dollars each at this show. By the time we got there, they were also all sold, so we thought that we were out of luck and would have to wait another year to get one. However, we found someone who had bought an African goose, which had laid an egg. We offered to buy the egg, but they gave it to us for free! We brought it home with us and put it into our incubator in the basement. Surprisingly, it hatched! I named the goose Titus and he now roams around with all the other fowl. African geese are very pretty, and if you spend time with them, they get pretty tame. As with other geese, I don't suggest getting one if you have children there often. Titus is the dark one, and all the others are Muscovy ducks.
Pekin ducks are your typical white, fat ducks. We had a Pekin duck (called Sir Ducks-a-lot) who unfortunately got smushed by a door this year. They are a very pretty snowy white duck with bright orange feet. They have great meat and love to swim.
Like Canadian geese, Emden geese are territorial and vicious. In 2007 we decided to try out some geese. We bought and raised the goslings to see if we liked having geese, and to see if we liked the meat. To say the least, we like the meat, but not the geese. We kept a breeding pair and called them Carter and Lucy. When they were younger, the geese were pretty tame to our family. This changed as they got older. At one point, if you got near Carter, he would hiss at you and if you didn't go away, he would grab onto your leg with his serrated bill and beat you with his wings. Lucy laid an egg... once. Last year we got Carter and Lucy to hatch and take care of some goslings. They grew to be even more fierce than their parents but we kept an additional one to keep our breeding program going. Or so we thought. We accidentally managed to keep 3 males! So now they run rampant in the barnyard terrifying anybody that comes their way... I don't suggest that anyone who has to get near them should get them. Especially if they have other animals or children.
Broad Breasted bronze turkeys look like wild turkeys, but as the name implies, they are really more like domestic turkeys (broader breast) with pretty feathers. We've had good luck with them so far, and this year we bought 10 to sell. So far none of them have died from stupid reasons... except for the one that got eaten by a hawk!
We've raised our share of domestic turkeys, and we've decided that they just aren't the thing for us. First of all, they are very stupid and they will stand outside in the rain if you don't herd them back into their house. They also get very big, and on one occasion we've had one get so big that it couldn't get through the door of the house. His name was Mr. Fluffy. Domestic turkeys just aren't as interesting as wild turkeys, or broad breasted bronze turkeys, so we have just about given up on them.
George is our very first turkey. We've had him from the very beginning! Wild turkeys aren't as big as the commercial turkeys, but they have beautiful feathers, and are quite comical. We usually get them as polts (babies), but we've also hatched some of the eggs from our breeding pair (George and a hen). As they grow up, the turkeys have to learn to display and to gobble. It is actually really funny to watch these little turkeys (a bit less than a foot tall) following George and trying to copy what he does. Their gobble is high-pitched and fully puffed up they're only about the size of a soccer ball. You can only eat a wild turkey in the first year or two of their life; after that they get really tough and you get attached to them. Wild turkeys make very good pets, especially if you have them from a young age and spend time with them. We had one wild turkey called Mr.DodoHead, and he was so tame that you could walk up to him and pet him!