THE OFFICIAL BLOG
Adventures in Quail
When someone you just met offers you a bunch of fertile Jumbo Coturnix quail eggs, two things inevitably happen: you make a new friend and you end up hatching a bunch of quail eggs before you have a solid plan as to what to do with them. (Or maybe that's just me?) That's how our adventures in quail began just a couple of months ago.
The eggs hatched pretty well for a first attempt, though I am a perfectionist and can never be happy with mediocre hatch rates. However, we started out with so many eggs that we were sure to end up with plenty of quail even if every egg did not hatch. The little buggers grew so fast that we scrambled to come up with facilities to house them.
Always loving a good experiment and knowing absolutely nothing about quail, we did a little research and decided to try three different methods of quail-rearing to find out which would work best for us and the new birds. First, we purchased a battery breeding cage from GQF to raise breeding quads and make egg collection easier. Second, we built our own long and low quail pen out of wood and wire for birds mostly kept for meat. And, finally, we decided to dedicate one of our chicken grow-out pens to some of the overflow birds to test the aviary approach to quail.
So far we are happy with the battery cages. Although it seems like such cramped space, the little quail seem perfectly content. I have begun providing them with an occasional plate of dust and grit for dust-bathing - which they seem to really like. And they get the occasional handful of grass or garden plants as well. The number of eggs these birds are producing just a few short weeks after they hatched is astounding.
The meat pen quail, as we call them, are doing just as well. There are no eggs from the meat pen though, but that would be because it is currently inhabited by all roosters. We have not yet gotten around to causing any of these guys to live up to their name. However, we are looking forward to that portion of the experiment. In the meantime, it is good to have some back up roosters in case something goes awry in the breeding cages and we need to replace a breeding male.
That brings us to the aviary experiment. Now, being a fan of free-range chickens and free-range everything... This particular experiment was my favorite. When we released a batch of about 30 little quail into the big, open pen, I was pleased as punch to see them darting here and there -- hiding under plants and exploring the rocks. Sunshine, fresh air, plenty of bugs to chase, and tons of room to stretch and relax seemed ideal.
As it turns out, the aviary has been the least successful pen so far. Every day for the first several days outside, we lost at least one quail to some completely unknown something. The casualties showed no signs of injury or distress. Most of them seemed to have just bedded down somewhere comfy and neglected to ever wake up again. Perhaps they had trouble finding the food. Or the water. Perhaps they spent too long in the sunshine. Who knows? But, in the meantime, we had not lost a single quail in either of the other pens. As the days went on it seemed that the number of quail in the aviary was decreasing even without continued daily discoveries. We had our suspicions... But they were not confirmed until we actually found the rat snake swallowing a rooster whole one late night.
We knew that snakes happened, but this was a huge surprise to us considering the number of chicken chicks we have grown out in exactly the same pen without losing a single one to being swallowed whole. Besides, the adjoining pen is full of young chickens, too. (Who were watching the entire spectacle with morbid fascination, by the way.)
Moving forward, we will probably abandon the large aviary idea. We plan on retaining the smallest of our grow-out pens that we usually use for very young chicks to serve as a temporary hospital for female quail recovering from mating-related head injuries. So far, the resident rat snake has not made his way into that particular enclosure.
Two months into this new adventure, it is decided that we will continue with quail here at LeChat Noir Farm. They are fairly easy to care for, even though they stink to high heaven. They don't take up much room, which is great even though that tends to amplify the stink. They hatch easily and grow quickly. They produce tons of beautiful little eggs every day which are a joy to collect. And we think the birds themselves are rather pretty.
We will officially be adding Jumbo Coturnix Quail eggs, chicks, and grow-outs to our offerings within the next few weeks, so stay tuned. And look out for our hints and tips for raising them which we will be adding to the website based on what we have learned.
Coming Up Again This weekend!
One of the reasons you haven't been hearing from us here at the blog is that we have been busy traveling back and forth from here to Broken Arrow, OK for something really fun: Our oldest daughter has a part in a theatrical production of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe as presented by the Classical Catholic Drama Club of Eastern Oklahoma.
There have already been three performances, and they did not disappoint. If you missed them and you will be in the area this upcoming weekend - we highly recommend you bring your family and enjoy the show!
For more information or to purchase tickets, visit the website at: Classical Catholic Drama Club of Eastern Oklahoma
Fun. Family. Fur. Feathers.
A while back I made this banner for a social media page. I was following one of those guided design templates which offered inspiration for a company slogan by way of asking the question: "What does your organization have to offer?" I answered honestly.
This week we finally opened our online store and have added a few items to get things started. You may not have known that we were ever planning on starting an online store. You may have suspected that, if we ever did, we would be selling goat milk soap and homemade bath bombs like other respectable small farms online. And that's okay. Because all of this is pretty surprising to us, too. It started with that inspirational question from the guided design template - and snowballed from there.
I have always spent a good portion of my time.. or at least a good portion of the time when I am not wrangling animals or being a homeschool mom or repairing fences or building chicken coops... Okay. I said 'a good portion of my time' which is completely relative. Where was I? Oh yes... I have always spent a good portion of my time being creative. Making art. Whatever you want to call it. Ninety-nine point nine nine percent of my artwork has never been seen by another living soul outside of my family and closest friends. And much of it hasn't even enjoyed that much publicity. I suppose it was never the point. Or I'm just a cowardly ninny. Regardless, it's pretty much been a lifelong secret.
My absolute favorite medium for nearly a decade now has been oil pastel on paper. I have drawn cute pets and farm animals, but my main inspiration comes from highly stylized ancient religious art - stained glass, icons, et cetera. I am drawn to the patterns of stylized hair and clothing which contrast with the super simple lines of the faces. There is something so very peaceful about drawing in this way... Sometimes I binge-draw and produce dozens of these (which are promptly secreted away into the back of my sketch book) in just a couple of weeks. Sometimes the pastels gather dust.
A couple of years ago, I woke up in the middle of the night with the crazy idea (I think that's how these things happen.) of combining my religious art drawing with pyrography. I bought some little wooden plaques and a wood burning kit and created several pieces. I was pleased with the texture and with the rustic and aged touch the unfinished wood added to my work. I even gave two of these away as gifts -- which is real progress for me... although I still feel silly every day for having shared them. It's a curse. The rest are hidden in the barn office. The wood burning pen is gathering dust at the moment, but sometimes it calls to me. Someday.
The one thing that I have always openly shared with people would be the rosaries that I make, although it is a rule of mine that they always only be given away. I figure that my design or skill do not matter in the crafting of a rosary -- as it is the prayers offered that are beautiful.
Also, and this is not much of a secret: I am a huge geek and have absolutely no fear of technology. I had to throw this in there... and if it does not make any sense that I have mentioned this at this point - don't worry.. it will all be made clear momentarily.
And all of these revelations bring me back to today and the opening of our online store and the prospect of offering something of my creativity to the general public for the first time ever. We will be offering funny t-shirts and coffee mugs and the like because we can be pretty funny, we wear t-shirts, and we drink a lot of coffee... and who doesn't need those things? Really. But we will also be offering some pieces from my latest artistic endeavor. Which makes me really nervous.
Combining my love for the bold and stylized lines of the artwork that has always inspired me and a nearly limitless amount of subject matter here on the farm - I have taken up the digital pen (actually it is just a mouse at this point) to create fun little pieces that are both easy to share and affordable. But mostly we are having a lot of fun as a family coming up with subjects or titles and snapping tons of great photographs to work with. Fun. Family. Fur. Feathers. It's all in there.
We hope to someday be able to set up a booth full of our t-shirts, prints, and canvases right next to the goat milk soap lady at the swap or trade or fair. For now we are working on finding the perfect print medium for our art and navigating the complexities of e-commerce.
We are nervous and excited. I think that is a good sign. Wish us luck. Buy a coffee mug. Let us know what you would like to see in our store. And please do send us a message if you have any kind of problem with an order.
Posted by Anita
Understands why most artists become famous after they are dead. Needs a faster computer.
A tale of two peacocks
If you have only found us through our website and this blog, then you may not be aware that we have a pair of Indian Blue peafowl. They are not listed under 'Critters' on our page. They do not even get an honorable mention. There is a very good reason for that. You see, when we were putting our website together, we were not completely sure that we even had peafowl. There's a story here....