Today I made contact with the processing folks about an hour away. We have a date with the butcher to process Big Red and some of our extra roosters and drakes at the end of the month. I will not have a bird that is a danger to myself, my children, or my other animals. Once is a misunderstanding, twice and breaking skin is an aggressive bird. #5 is sad about it. Big Red has been his favorite since he came here last fall. He has asked if we can have another rooster just like Big Red. I told him no. We will be keeping Phil (white cochin), Rockadoodle (Golden Spangled Appenzeller Spitzhauben), Doodle (French Black Copper Marans), and Sherlock (gorgeous black and silver mixed breed hatched from a local egg). I think four roosters will be more than enough for our flock. Doodle looks a little like a prettier version of Big Red (who is a Rhode Island Red). Perhaps he will accept him as a reasonable replacement.
As for the ducks, we will be keeping Helvegan and Omelet, our original drakes and fathers of all this year's babies. We will also be keeping Nicey, because he was #5's favorite baby. I may keep one or two others that I especially like (good golly why do all the super gorgeous birds have to be male?). All the other drakes will be heading to the processor at the end of the month to feed us over winter and reduce our animal feed bill.
This will be our first time working with a processing facility. We got their contact information from a friend of my husband who had good things to say about them. They're priced reasonably for chickens, though I think the price for ducks is high considering our ducks are the same size as our chickens. But then again, this is our first year doing this, so who knows, maybe those prices are really good. If it means not having to kill them, pluck them by hand, and gut them myself... I'm happy to pay. I have to get a headcount here in the next day or two so the processor (which really sounds so much nicer than "slaughter house" doesn't it?) can mark us down.
Tomorrow we're going to have to pull Lapis, the last male baby in the colony, out and put him in a cage. I can't risk fighting when he gets bigger, and sales have pretty much dropped off now. I don't want him to stay in there. The girls I don't mind. I could potentially end up with a *lot* of rabbits this spring, but spring sales are pretty good, and Skittles is unrelated to any of the other rabbits.
The breeder that has been borrowing MooMoo (our black and white Holland Lop doe) has finally called it quits. She's been trying to get MooMoo to breed for two months now and MooMoo just won't have any part of it. She will be coming home, probably Thursday. As of the 13th the new Holland Lop buck will have completed his 30 day quarantine and we can start trying for a Holland Lop litter here at home.
I'm sending Sushi, our beloved stud buck, to live with the other breeder. She fell in love with him a couple years ago when we first got him, and since so many of ours are related to him now, I can't use him anymore. He throws gorgeous babies, rex coats, torts, blue eyes. He has some awesome recessive genetics in there. We have three of his daughters and a son, plus five of his grand-bunnies as well. That's about 1/3 of our rabbits all tracing back to Sushi. He's left a legacy here. I'll miss him, but he has many more good years of breeding ahead of him, and I'm sure he will enjoy a change of scenery and getting more "action" than he's gotten here this year (none).
It's been snowing all day. The forecast for the next week doesn't show a single day over freezing. Welcome to winter.
As the snow fell down, I took advantage of the last day above freezing to pull back some mulch in the side garden and plant one clove of Musik garlic. Maybe it will grow, maybe it won't, but I had to give it a chance. The other two will be planted into a bucket in the basement under grow lights in hopes of getting at least one usable harvest.