I keep asking myself that question: will there always be this much change, or is it just because we’re new to this and need to make adjustments as we go? We keep reworking things and shift gears so often that sometimes it feels like it’s time to sit down and take a Dramamine. Change is good – heck, it’s necessary – especially when first starting out. Hopefully once we get our bearings the necessary change won’t have to be quite so often. I don’t know if there’s such a thing as mental whiplash, but if there is I think I’ve got it.
The first change:
New ducks. Yes, I’ve mentioned on more than one occasion about how frustrated I am with ducks. Stay with me, because it really was a reasonable decision. Somebody with 5 Appleyard duck hens came around the same time as somebody else who wanted some Cayugas. It was a no brainer for us: we sold 5 of our 10 Cayuga ducks to get the Appleyards. We still have 10 ducks, only now it’s an assortment of ducks.
I originally wanted Appleyards, but settled for Cayugas because they were readily available. Even though I’m still predisposed to disliking barnyard fowl, the Appleyards are far better at laying eggs than Cayugas (in fact, these birds are already laying) and they’re a rare breed in need of conservation. No, we are not saving the world, but the erosion of genetic diversity amongst livestock is troubling and I’m proud to know that our family is doing our part for future betterment. The Livestock Conservancy is a great resource for information on why heritage breeds are important to backyard farms like ours.
While Gabe and I were picking up the Appleyards we had an interesting conversation with their previous owner. The topic of showing animals competitively came up when I mentioned how small these ducks were compared to other Appleyards I’d seen. She explained that she raised her Appleyards to be smaller because the smaller hens produce more eggs. It makes sense; if the animal isn’t using energy to maintain bone and muscle mass it can focus that energy on laying. However, their small stature would make them poor contenders before a judge. Oftentimes one has choose whether you want your animals to show well or produce well, because there comes a point where you must sacrifice in one area if your end goal is the other. We’ve wanted to show our animals, but now I’m reconsidering what I want our goals for our livestock to be.
The next change:
We finally have white French Angoras! We’ve been trying to get some for awhile, as their wool is better for dyeing. Fortunately, there are three of them in Hester’s litter for us to choose from. That segues into what the real change is: we’re going to be expanding our rabbitry – slightly. Rachel came in contact with a woman who sends out ‘fiber boxes’ to people who hand spin. These people receive a monthly sampler package of various types of fiber ranging from sheep to silkworm to alpaca. Each sample comes attached with a business card, which in turn benefits those individuals providing the fiber. We’re considering taking this opportunity since these fiber boxes have never featured angora wool before. We would need a few more rabbits to have the supply necessary, but it could help us to get our wool on the market. We won’t get rich off of it, but it would be nice if it would perhaps pay for feed.
I’m really bad at creating endings, so rather than try to come up with one I’ll end with a thought: winter is going by way too fast around here. Most would be aghast to hear anyone say that, but I haven’t had nearly enough time to get my ducks in a row (I’m probably not as funny as I think I am) before spring kicks into gear with all the projects come with it. Yes, I could drop some of those projects for next year, but where would the fun be in that?