Look what came in the Mail

Chicks and Ducklings. In the mail!children-014

John and the Matriarch want duck for Christmas dinner.  But I bought a few extra so I could breed them too. Sadly two of the extra were dead on arrival. So we have four Orpington ducks.  The chickens are a selection of cold-hardy layers.  Next week the meat chickens come. By then the glass house will be empty and the chicks will be raised in there.  These ones are on the verandah, in the meantime,  in an enormous horse trough with a heating lamp, so they can take advantage of the lovely warm sunny days.

My friend and I shifted the old chooks and their ark over to the the Barn Across the Way. The lady who rents the house close to the barn is keeping an eye on them for me. She had a number of visiting children and they streamed out of the house like bright giggling ribbons caught in a summer breeze and proceeded to name all the chooks.  children-004

When children become involved with the process of their food I feel a deep sense of rightness. One little girl looked at the chooks and then looked back up. Can I have Spoiled eggs for lunch? She said.

I put the feeder pigs together yesterday, perfumed and coiffed and initially they were just fine, but later it all fell apart. The fighting was terrible.  Blood was shed.  Just between the Red and Number Three.  (see! even when they have No names they have names). This big red fella would not give up, so after a number of hours, I gave up and shut the gates again.  They were heaving, ill, exhausted.  Hanging on each other like old boxers.  So now Number Three has company. And The Big Red bad tempered one, who is growing at an astronomical rate, is on the other side of the gate by himself in his room thinking about how he could have Done Better.

children-051 So all is quiet again. I have room enough to raise them side by side.  If they do not settle down that is what I will do.  No problem really.

It was hot yesterday, in the high 80’s. And we basked in it. Sheila and Poppy were basking a little too much so I put the hose in the wallow so they could get out the suntan lotion.  Mud. So clever.  Sheila was straight in there, oh she was so relieved to find the mud again. Poppy is still in the discovery stage.



Good morning. Look at these little ducklings. Sitting at the bar.


Life is good. I am worn out already. But good. I have also successfully integrated Mama and her flock with Queenie’s flerd. So now all the stock is in the good paddock and will stay out of the barn from now on.  Deeply satisfying!


Have a lovely day.



59 Comments on “Look what came in the Mail

  1. What a hectic time you are having. That big red pig seems a nasty piece of work, but I bet he’d taste good roasted with lovely crisp crackling! I hope you’re able to keep all those little birds safe from murderous minks!

  2. I love ducklings – they can be very entertaining. It’s a great same about the Plonkers. I feel sorry for Red – I’m sure he’s only acting on his instincts and can’t help being territorial 😦

    • He is actually more than happy to get the bowl to himself, he is not alone, but has a divider between him and the others. They really are only here a short time so we may as well have a peaceful time. And our Number Three is such a delicate flower!.. Not! c

      • Ha ha – I was just reading Jeffrey Steingarten on judging the Tennessee Barbecue competition – don’t show it to the plonkers 😉

  3. I feel like taking a breath of relief with you after all the happenings on the farmy. Your description of the visiting children like “bright giggling ribbons” was precious. Such a poet you are, Miss Celi!

  4. Good old warm sun, ther’s nothing like a bit o sun to cheer everything up..Good to see all is going well , piggies are happy again, even after a falling out. Ducklings are chirruping, and all is right with the world…well sort of!

  5. Your spring time table is very close to ours Kris showed me the swallows were back on Friday! I just love Tima. And I think she looks better than a puff fish. Not nearly so prickly looking. Lol.

  6. Red (aka Brutus) (google images of brutus from popeye) is a bully it seems……

  7. Uh oh, sorry the fragrance thing did not work out for you, I have not tried it myself but I read about it after I had two lots of two pigs who were separated but who tried to kill each other through the pig panels. There was still a lot of blood shed despite there being a substantial deviding fence. They wore each other out eventuallly but it was very tense to be around. Glad to see the problem child to his room. Perhaps he will learn to play nice after a long hard think about it. Or send scary Auntie Sheila over in her warpaint to scare the bejeezus out of him.

    • Osca de la Renta too! It might have worked for a while, i think, but once they were all muddy I guess it wore off. As Mad said it is just instinct. And really they don’t HAVE to live together. They will fatten up better without the friction. They can take turns outside.. c

  8. Red heads are notorious for having bad tempers. I remember, but thankfully I mellowed with the grey. I want to come over and be like a bright giggling ribbon, with spoiled eggs for lunch!

  9. Sheila in her beauty mask! She’s charming! I love the last photo. All as it should be!

  10. Hard to imagine cute piggies fighting, until you remember the ferocity of wild boars. It sounds like hormones and instinct taking over, so probably separating them is for the best. And ducklings are very gorgeous, and unlike many other birds, they stay pretty cute and endearing when they grow up!

  11. I just cannot believe that with freezing weather but days ago I am now looking at a bunch of gorgeous kids in lollipop colours and short sleeves learning sustainable farming! [Love the ‘spoiled eggs’ request! ] And knowing I am about to learn about Orpington ducks who look so precious [you lost two chickens last year too: sad!] and new layers . . . . and am so glad Sheila can have mudbaths again! Big bad Red . . . well, feel sorry for #3 barely over his chesty problems . . . . is there ever a quiet day on the Farmy . . . nah . . .

  12. I’m trying to find Runner ducks and just loved your new baby ducks sitting at the bar…too cute! This entire post was marvelously written and made me laugh several times.

  13. Spoiled eggs. Now that’s just the sweetest darned thing I’ve heard in ages. Bless her little heart. Good morning to you, c, and to the farmy!

  14. I just met the COO of Hoover Hatchery yesterday which is a hatchery real close to us. I wonder if your sweet chicks came from him! They ship all over the place and he is a really nice guy. hope yours grow up to be big and strong!!!

    • Mine came from the Sandhill people, they preserve old varieties of fowl and seeds. They are on a mission. c

  15. I had to laugh when I went out to Reader this morning and saw a photo of muddy Sheila and the title, “Look What Came in the Mail.”

    Chances are, after my youngest meets #3, he’ll have a name. She feels it is important for every animal, real or stuffed, to have a name.

    Of course my oldest also likes to give animals names. On our last trip to Texas, we went fishing. She caught a fish and named him Flopper. Flopper was going with us for dinner that evening and I explained that you shouldn’t name your food, but he was Flopper and she was not removing his name.

    Shortly after we arrived back to my BIL and SIL’s home, the filleting began. She wanted to learn how to fillet and fortunately she has an uncle that is a master at filleting fish and a patient teacher. Without hesitation, she let her uncle work hand-over-hand with her while she filleted Flopper and later she claimed, “Flopper was delicious.”

    So, in my attempts to teach them to not name their food, they name their food and there hasn’t been a problem – yet!

    The girls have also seen the picture of the ducklings and chicks. Lots of smiles, squeals of delight, ah’s and pure excitement over the possibility of petting some babies this weekend.

    • She sounds like she knows what she is doing though, naming her food. That is good. Chicks and Children! Perfect mix. Looking forward to it.c

  16. Pesky plonkers (love that name). Is Red a Duroc? I can remember being told to stay away from them as a kid as they were mean. Could have been just that particular farmer’s line of pigs though. I always liked Duroc cross pigs because sometimes you would get calico colored pigs. I love calico cats, so calico pigs were great too. Has Sheila lost some weight or are you photographing her at flattering angles? lol It was nice to see the sheep again yesterday. The calves are so stinking cute. I would spend too much time playing with them and watching them if they were mine. It is lovely to see barefoot kids interested in the chickens. Sounds like we may need to hang onto our hats with the weather headed our way today and tonight.

    • Thank you Jeanne, i had not even looked at the weather .. I might shift those chicks into the glass house earlier than planned. SW is straight up onto my verandah.. with rain, ah well.. it will work out one way or the other. Now, coffee for me then i better get busy rearranging things to deal with storms. c

  17. Oh, yes, chicks in the mail…I have whispers of memories of those delivered by the mailman to our farm. Will two new ones be shipped to replace the dead ones?

    I, too, love that kids are learning from whence comes their food. Well done, C.

  18. When I was a child at our farm in Germany watching the baby chicks was my favorite thing to do. I remember their warm, fluffy bodies. Such a wonderful feeling.
    One of my favorite things to eat is duck confit, duck legs preserved in their own fat. The French farmers used this method to preserve their meat.

  19. Aah, nothing says summer like Sheila applying her mud pack sunscreen! 🙂 Cute little peeps, love the ducklings. Laura

  20. Even pigs need to have a think !! I will be smiling all day recalling today’s post . Thank you for letting us join you on the farmy.

  21. Oh, I want ducks so badly! We have a pond, and it’s just begging for some domesticated ducks (right now there are a couple pairs of wood ducks, the occasional mallard, and a pair of Canada geese, so it’s not exactly empty). Life is hectic enough with a baby, though, so I’m forcing myself to be sensible and wait. Ducklings will be cuter when little M is big enough to hold them gently, anyway!

    • That is true, I would love to have a pond, not enough room though. If she spends enough time with them later on they will just follow her about.. that would be deeply cute.. c

  22. The farmy is in full Summer mode now, with chickies and duckies and kiddies about. Good that you’ve enough room to deal with the plonkers. You couldn’t possibly keep an eye on them all Summer. With separation, both you and the plonkers will rest easy. The wind finally shifted today and it’s warm out. So much better than yesterday. There’ll be no jacket today! I’ve errands to run. Have a great day, Celi!

    • It has been a calm hot day. Everyone is being good and sleeping quietly in their own spaces..c

  23. So lovely, c! I’ve got one of my extra babies on my lap, and she’s just giggling at your animals. Especially, the big red pig because all of the piggies in my board books are pinkish-white or cow-patched. Presently, all birds are owls to this wee one, so she is very happy to see your ‘beebee owls’. Thank you so much for the smile, sweet lady, and for this early introduction to summer. We had snow here just two days ago. I’ve got my fingers crossed that it will be warm enough to play in the dirt this weekend.

    • Miserable for you to have snow, hope you are able to take a break from the books this summer, just for a little while anyway, c

  24. LOVE the pictures of the children checking out the chickens, took me a bit to figure out spoiled eggs. 🙂 Also love the picture of the cattle grazing on that beautiful green grass. We still can’t put our animals out to pasture because it’s still very cool, so grass hasn’t even totally greened up. We have also been getting tons of rain here, very wet, farmers are not able to get into the fields. I must say I’ll take the rain over drought any day.

    Yesterday I butchered a couple extra roosters and two laying hens that were egg eaters. Somebody commented on the eggs inside of a hen when you butcher them. Since I have only butchered younger chickens I would never have thought of this, so it was great fun to find eggs inside one hen. Celi, if you would like to see a picture of the eggs that were in my hen, I have it posted on my facebook page. Thank you Celi for your wonderful blog!!!!

    • Did you make pasta with those eggs. John said that the older women in his family used them for pasta.. c

    • This is our hottest day for a while again, but not too cold again i hope.. I definitely have enough grass now, it is growing very fast in these high hot winds, we need rain though.. c

  25. Did you get some Dominiques in that batch of cold weather layers? A couple of my friends keep them in South Dakota and the mountains of Colorado, and they do very well. They’re rosecombed birds, so they don’t get frostbite.

    • No I don;t think so. They are a bit of a mix as the ones I wanted were late due to the cold. They will my next flock of layers so it will be interesting to see!.. c

  26. Sheila with a beauty mud pack. Too bad about the plonkers, but many porkers are mean tempered when around others of their kind. Just the nature of the beast. Our pond is too far away from the house for ducks, darn. Coyotes would be only too happy to take care of them from that far away. Last year’s chicks have become very nice laying hens now, but I had to get chicken saddles to protect them from the affections of the young rooster. Luckily they can fly over the low fence into the yard and the rooster has not figured that out yet.

    • We have no pond .. I will have to find an old paddling pool for them, I am thinking of making them a pen like Tima’s – I could just make a pond with the hose maybe.c.

      • Ducks without water to swim are sad. How about a kids plastic wading pool? If you want to raise and breed ducks you must have water. Mother ducks swim and get their down wet and then sit on their eggs, providing the correct humidity for them to hatch.

        • oh yes, they will have water.. I have another paddling pool, plus ducks actually need to submerge their bills a part of their feeding..

  27. I love Sheila. She just owns it 🙂 And the ducklings… no matter how old you get ducklings never cease to appeal. Relaxed colorful country kids… I feel like a kid today seeing all these pics. And like the plonkers, a good lesson for us all to remember – sometimes people are mean, and when they are keep away from them.

  28. We used to each receive a baby chick for an Easter gift. We could coddle them for a few days and then they went to Grandma’s farm to live and we visited them all the time. But receiving them in the mail!! Now that is amazing. Loved your comment about the red pig ‘thinking about how he could have Done Better’ I’m sure that is exactly what he was thinking. XX

  29. I hope one of the duckies is male. More duck chicks would be great. My mother kept two ducks, Tuffie (he had a duck/cow lick misbehaving feather) and Quackers..lol Silly names, but they were fun animals. I have good memories of my mom and the ducks. 🙂

  30. At least most of yesterdays activities & behaviors were positive with the exception of the ploinkers fighting. Shelia must have loved a good roll & soak in the warm mud. After such a long hard winter, she must have enjoyed it as if she was being papered at 4 star spa. The chicks all look good & feisty. Sad to lose a couple. but I’m surprised so many make the rough trip through the post unscathed. My favorite new word “Flerd”. At least a couple of species are getting along & now Marcel can fancy himself a sheep, a cow or a little of both depending on what strikes his fancy that day.

  31. I have two rouen duck hens (Ramon, the male had to go to the great duck pond in the sky, he was attacking my laying hens), and I have a plastic wading pool for them. It’s about 6′ across and deep enough for them to swim. I did cut a drain hole in and put a rubber gasket and a pvc fitting with a plug so it was easier to empty and refill. The old saying ‘give a duck a pint of water and it’ll turn the Sahara into a swamp’ is really true. The pool needs to be cleaned out often but the perfect picture of happiness is a duck with fresh water in its pool. I got these girls by default, my stepson’s goofy friend gave them to him for his 30th birthday. I don’t know if he thought he’d keep them in his bathtub or what. They do, however, lay beautiful huge eggs. My kunekune, Percy has also learned to sit up. He and Mac the dog do it together but Mac can hold it longer.

  32. Love it the way you are so sensitive to your piggies that as soon as they needed it, you had a mud bath ready for them… May for us is still so hot we’re still all in summer clothes…

  33. Oh, how I love that early morning call from the excited postmistress: “The baby chicks have arrived!” We haven’t done it in a few years, but we definitely will again. Worth all the trouble.

  34. Warmth! and stock grazing outside on the lush green grass. Just the way it should be. Chickens and ducklings in the mail as well – the farm is full of life. I’m so glad for you.

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