15. July 2015 · Comments Off on Ducks on the Pond · Categories: banjo, birds, music

Every year, when the spring’s ducklings are old enough to go out on the pond, we observe the ritual of going out in the canoe to herd them onto the shore and back to the pen when it starts to get dark. Eventually they learn to put themselves to bed, but they need some encouragement early on.

I finally decided to document this peculiar ceremony for posterity, and when it came time to consider music the choice was obvious: a solo clawhammer style rendition of an old-time instrumental called ‘Ducks on the Pond’.

Every time I put eggs into the incubator, I scribble a progress sheet so I can keep track of the hatching schedule. Rather than continue drawing it new each time, I’ve decided to make and share a downloadable printout. You’re welcome to use it and share it as long as you keep the attribution intact and keep it free.

The temperature settings are particular to forced-air incubators. Make alterations on your own sheet if you’ve got a still-air incubator. Everything’s a guideline, I’m not an expert, and you ought not rely solely on this sheet as your source of information.


Duck Egg Hatching Calendar

Happy hatching!

23. April 2014 · Comments Off on Turkey Drama · Categories: birds

The turkeys on the Art Farm are Narragansetts – a heritage breed built for strolling around a farmyard, a little sleeker and more old-fashioned than the broad-breasted birds produced by the industrial facilities for our supermarkets.

They’re pretty.

The legit turkeys

The legit turkeys

Right now we’ve got Tompkins, Cameo, and Honey. (And two of the three American Buff geese – looks like Murphy and O’Hara.)

Resplendent Tompkins

Resplendent Tompkins

Tommy will be a year old in June. But he’s already quite certain that he’s a very big deal. Before I had turkeys, I thought that people always took photos of the toms displaying because it was a picturesque opportunity. Actually he spends most of the day strutting.

Not to diminish the ladies – they tend to be a little more clever and agile.

They’ve all been enjoying the newly-bare earth cleared of snow. Throughout the entire winter, they didn’t get to enjoy a dust bath. Now they’re mad for it. So it was no surprise to see the girls rolling and fluffing in the dirt. But oddly, one looked a funny color through the kitchen window. Wait – there’s an extra hen.

Hey, what?

Hey, what?

A wild visitor had dropped in. She hung out all day.


…and appeared again, the next day.

Made friends with the goats. And Kateri duck, of course.

Made friends with the goats. And Kateri duck, of course.

That evening, there was a loud commotion. A lot more gobbling than usual. That’s saying something. A leaf falls, Tommy gobbles. I tune it out. But this was ongoing. Only the males gobble. The hens talk, but the gobble is a boy thing. And I was hearing quite a bit of it.

Wouldn’t you know it? Her ex came looking for her.

I think he was drunk

I think he was drunk

A wild tom! A mature guy – see the hairy ponytail sticking out of his chest? His beard. It’s a trophy thing that turkey hunters keep. Like an antler growing out of his chest. Very masculine. It’s Steven Seagal’s ponytail. made of chest hair, growing out of the chest of a creature that isn’t even a mammal.

Nevertheless… Miss Wild Thing wanted to hang with her domesticated buddies. She was roosting in a nearby tree overnight, and hanging out all day.

Turkeybro didn’t like it.



He and Tommy have been kicking it up. Yesterday both wild turks were inside the fence, and the boys took it up again in the afternoon. I didn’t see it, but there were a lot of bronze feathers on the ground. Turkey guy ran from me, but couldn’t figure out why he couldn’t walk through the fence. Turkeys don’t get fences. They can fly to roost on stuff, but the complexity of flying over a 48″ fence for the purpose of getting to the other side is apparently beyond their capacity.

The wild tom paced the fence on the far side of the pond, but the hen was living it up hanging out with her girlfriends.


It’s odd to me that she’s been so persistent in hanging around. She’s not getting fed. The birds have to squeeze through a (goat and horse-excluding) gate to enter their overnight pen, and that’s the only place where they have access to feed. I’m quite certain she’s not going into the pen, it’s very enclosed and very near to the house.

It’s not legal to raise wild turkeys in captivity, in MA. They’re as common as whitetail deer, and seem to acclimate to human proximity quite readily. I imagine she’ll move on when she feels like nesting, or when a new band of wild birds comes through.

diggin 1

But in the meantime… they’re playing. Digging holes.


Really fascinating, if you’re a turkey, apparently!


If we didn’t enjoy the neighbors, we’d have picked somewhere else to live.

18. June 2013 · Comments Off on New art. New ducks. · Categories: art, birds
French Bulldog Renaissance style cherub, available as an 8x10 or 11x14 print.

French Bulldog Renaissance style cherub, available as an 8×10 or 11×14 print.

Etsy shop

And a batch of new ducklings!

Ancona ducklings in chocolate, black, and one (under mama) with weird markings and color.

Ancona ducklings in chocolate and black.

newborn Narragansett poult

newborn Narragansett poult

Baby turkeys have grown…

Tompkins and Ginger

Tompkins and Ginger




13. May 2013 · Comments Off on Goslings · Categories: birds

2013 goslings


Now to put some weight back on my sweet girl – they lose a lot of condition brooding on the nest.

27. April 2013 · Comments Off on Broody girls · Categories: birds
Narragansett Turkey and American Buff Goose, sitting on eggs.

Narragansett Turkey and American Buff Goose, sitting on eggs.

A couple of my ‘big girls’ are nesting. The ducks are too busy playing on the water, they’ll get broody later. I didn’t really expect a turkey to take up right beside the goose, but if they’re happy I’m happy. Oddly enough, the gander was a lot more high strung about chasing others away before the turkey settled in. Now he seems much more relaxed – someone can help keep an eye on his girl? I don’t know.

nesting goose peek

A mixed batch under each of them – goose, turkey, and duck. Guinness is really tolerant about me getting all up in her business.


nesting turkey peek


Gentle girls let me peek. Cameo is a sweetie too. A bit of hissing, but no pecks. Quite a nice surprise – the turkeys have not been cuddly pets. I was expecting to get my hand shredded!

29. March 2013 · Comments Off on Narragansett Turkeys · Categories: birds
two toms, two hens.

two toms, two hens.

26. February 2013 · Comments Off on First duck egg of the season · Categories: birds

And it’s a good thing, because I’ve been missing them.

Ancona flock.

the Ancona flock. I don’t breed from Kateri the crested black hen, but she’s an awesome broody. And she knows her name.

21. November 2012 · Comments Off on Into the Winter · Categories: birds

I culled several ducks from the flock this past month, taking the total down to 11 hens and 3 drakes. Extra hens got sold, extra drakes went to freezer. I selected my keeper males this year for size – as a dual purpose breed, I am pleased with my birds as layers, but I’d like them meatier. There were some birds in the last generation who were growing up to be smaller than I liked, and I wanted to arrest the trend. It wasn’t easy – I was very fond of some birds who weren’t the best breeders for what I wanted.. and the best-marked weren’t necessarily the body type I was after… and so on. Work in progress.

Here’s the flock today (along with Guinness and Murphy, the American Buff geese)

20. August 2012 · Comments Off on Ancona drakelets available · Categories: birds

8 week old boys, very calm sweet temperaments. Available for pickup in north-central MA. Contact kim at toadbriar dot com. $20 ea.

2 black and white, 1 blue and white, 1 lilac and white. Lilac is silver (double blue) plus chocolate. Nicely marked and from a line of good layers.

black and white 8 week old Ancona drakes

the black drakes have mallard patches on opposite eyes. This demonstrates they each carry 1 extended black gene, for better random spotting.

Lilac and blue Ancona drakes, 8 weeks old