Wednesday, February 18, 2015

a breath of fog

A drive to La Crosse to deliver CSA shares yielded some pretty spectacular scenery today.

I could have driven on I90 to La Crosse but I always prefer to take the back way along scenic highway 14 which yields much more interesting scenery, even if not perhaps the fastest route to the city. 

horses on a cold winter's day

What you can't see in this photo:  The snow all up and down my backside, a result of sliding down into a ditch between the road and the pasture to get this shot. The horses only sniggered a little.

blustery wind whipped snow on a cold winter's day

The wind up on the ridge was pretty ferocious.  I was thankful that I had my warm vehicle and did not have to make the trek in a horse-drawn carriage, like many of our Amish neighbors do, no matter how cold it is outside. 

the lookout from Grandad Bluff overlooking La Crosse, WI

After my stops in La Crosse, I stopped at Grandad Bluff for a few more photos. 

overlooking La Crosse, WI from Grandad Bluff

Breathtaking, in more than one way!

Grandad Bluff, La Crosse, WI

Cheers - 
Gypsy Farmgirl enjoys the views on a cold winter's day

Sunday, February 15, 2015

"What's up, peep?"

The peeps are about 5 days old now, and as always I am enjoying them immensely.

Despite their diminutive size, they are full of personality and curiosity. 

A riot of colors as peeps mingle in the brooder

They bring the spirit of new life, and hope, to a part of winter that I often struggle with, the part that seems to drag on forever, spring a distant memory. 

Buffs discuss peep news with a Wellsummer pullet

My daily dose of cheer, these babies. 

nothing like peeps in the hand to brighten up a day

In case you're curious about what breeds we got this time, in Papa's hands are a Wellsummer (brown), a Black Sex Link, and an Ameraucana.

from left: Wellsummer, Black Sex Link, Ameraucana

Wellsummers are a breed from Welsum, Holland, best known as the rooster on the Kellog's box. She will lay dark brown eggs.

Black Sex Links are a cross between a Rhode Island Red rooster and a Barred Rock hen. Differences in color of the newly hatched chicks are gender related, allowing for easy sorting of pullets and cockerels. She will lay light brown eggs.

Ameraucanas come in many colors, from light to dark. They lay light blue or green eggs. 

Buff, Wellsummer, Ameraucana and Black Sex Links mingle in the brooder

In the top photo on the page, two Buff Orpingtons exchange peep news. One of our all-time favorites, buffs are sweet tempered and curious. They also lay light brown eggs.

Ameraucana peep sleeps standing up

This is the earliest we've ever started pullets (young female chickens). It is our hope that they will be laying well before our older girls molt in the fall, a natural process that takes so much energy from the hen that she stops laying eggs for up to 3 months.

These little sweeties are our guarantee for non-stop eggs throughout that period. 

a Buff Orpington chick poses for the camera

And non-stop entertainment for the next 9 months as they grow in feathers, size and individual personalities.

Gypsy Farmgirl loves little peeps!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

breeding like, well, rabbits

I've become a bit of an expert on the "birds and the bees" in the barnyard.

{B&B. &B}

earn it, b*tch
Tom turkeys work pretty hard to win the favor of the hens, not only through strutting and a "spit and drum" vocalization, but they also are gentlemen who wait to be invited for more advanced maneuvers (unlike chicken roosters who just "grab and go" with any hen, any time they can catch one).

In addition, once a hen accepts tom's favor, there is an elaborate dance on her back, the tom using his claws up and down the sides of her back to trigger her pleasure receptors.

Alpaca males "orgle" while mating, their vocalizations a key part of the process for female receptivity.

how about a little bunny romance

But nothing is as  funny as rabbits coupling.

the birds and the bees and the bunnies

If the doe is receptive, the male will not waste any time getting things done, grabbing the hair on the back of her neck in his mouth to hold on has he vibrates like a jackhammer then siezes up as if having a heart attack, then falling over on his side.

if you blinked, you missed the show

If you blink, you'll likely miss it.


So don't blink.

And have a Happy Valentine's Day!!

Gypsy Farmgirl writes about the birds and the bees and the bunnies

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

new little peep at LitengÄrd

The newest batch of peeps has arrived from Cackle Hatchery!

One of my very favorite days of the year on this farm, right up there with hatching turkeys, new lambs and new crias

Hard to believe these tiny little fluffs traveled for two days inside this cardboard box.

mail order peeps!

Mother Nature has given them the gift of being able to absorb nutrition from their yolk right before they hatch, giving them 2-3 days worth of sustenance before they need to eat and drink.  

your chickens are in!

In nature, mama hen would stay on her nest with her hatched and unhatched babies for a couple of days, waiting for the rest to hatch, before bringing the chicks out of the nest for food and water. Absorbing the yolk allowed the babies who hatched first to wait around with mama until her siblings hatched out and they could all go out for a bite. 

Buff Orptington, Black Sex Link, Ameraucana and Wellsummer pullets

Hatcheries have learned to take advantage of this little window of time in order to mail the birds to new homes.  

At about 8:00am this  morning I got the call from the local post office saying they had my chickens, and off I ran to pick them up and bring them home. 

And then the fun begins. 

such a variety of colors in these new peeps!

After opening up the box and making sure they look OK, I take them out one-by-one, say a little "welcome to our farm" and dip their beaks in the water and food dishes. 

And then I sit and watch and sit and watch and occasionally think about all the other things I should be doing,... then sit and watch some more. 

a friend enjoys saying hello to a new peep

All of these little cuties "should" be pullets, a term for a young female chicken before she starts to lay eggs.  Occasionally we do get a rooster in the mix.  The sorting method is not 100% accurate. 

I purchase new pullets every spring, because in the fall, all of my chickens will molt their feathers, a process that takes a lot of energy from the hens, during which they stop laying eggs for up to 3 months as they focus on regrowing their feathers again. 

peep peep! says the little peep

If I can time things correctly, these new babies will be laying eggs by then, filling in the gap while my older hens molt. 

At least that's the plan.  I'm still tweaking the number of birds I need to buy each spring to get the right number of eggs for what we need and what people would like to get from us. 

sleepy little peep

I think we got it right this time with twenty new chicks.  

Then again, can you ever have too many peeps?

Gypsy Farmgirl loves new peeps!

Cheers - 
Gypsy Farmgirl writes about new peeps!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

melting over this sweet face!

I am in love. 
chin whiskers!

Certifiable, head-over-heels in love with my friend's newest calves.

Look at the heart on this guy's forehead!

I just melt over their beautiful brown eyes and long eyelashes. 

Close up of Valentino's heart

Several of the bull calves have white hearts on their foreheads, and a follower on my Instagram feed named them Valentino and Valentine. 

And then there is Johanna, a little white heifer that I got to name!

She's a little bit shy and a whole lot sweet. 

There are also two very sweet and silly older calves that make the funniest faces and love to suck on my entire fist. 

Gypsy Farmgirl falls in love with Holstein calves

another bull calf with a large heart on his forehead

But Johanna and the Valentino boys are my very favorite sweeties. 

I hope you like them too. 

Gypsy Farmgirl loves Holstein calves

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