2018 was a great year for duck nests and raising chickens. The drought took a toll on the terrain, most of the grass hasn’t been able to regrow. I will need to make sure there are less animals to put pressure on the terrain. I have been slowly but surely butchering ducks and chickens since summer and I won’t add many animals back next year.
The chicken flock will have to shrink. Unproductive animals will have to be taken out of the flock. Sadly, this meant stopping my gold-laced Orpington project. I’ve had these gorgeous birds for three years. They’re great moms, lovely to look at, but very inconsistent in terms of egg production and not very healthy.
My aunt came and brought over two older Ayam Cemani hens. These were a nightmare when they arrived! One flew right out of my aunts’ hands, over the fence and out of the coop, the other hid in the back of the enclosure for three weeks. When I finally got the escapee into the coop, she found her old buddy and after another month they were finally comfortable eating with the rest of the chickens.
They’ve taken a liking to the Australorps, I guess that’s because they’re so similar in their coloring. I won’t add more Ayam Cemani hens to the flock and I’m not sure about butchering these two. They’re so skinny they’re hardly worth it.
If I find more Welsumer hens for sale, I might be tempted to get them. I have a gorgeous Welsumer rooster and had two hens for him. One of them got taken out by a predator, so I’m down to one provider of gorgeous brown speckled eggs.
My ducks were very productive in 2018, which means I have a lot of animals to butcher. I always find a few ducks that are just too nice to butcher. I’ve luckily found these another home. Ducks are such funny, friendly creatures towards humans. I really need to find another variety that isn’t as much fun so I’ll have an easier time putting them on the table.
I will increase the amount of rabbits I keep. Sadly, I lost my best doe and two of her daughters to a sudden illness, so I will need to find more does. I won’t be picky when it comes down to color. I’d like to get a white doe and a black-and-tan doe, that would give me the full color-spectrum for Belgian Hares in my possession, but white hares aren’t that easy to find. I’ll probably be able to get tan does, which will be fine with me.
I’ll also need to build new hutches. Some spaces that I normally use for baby chickens will stay open to rabbits this year, but I’ll need to work on some nice, comfortable hutches for large rabbits.