Up until Monday, we were referring to Izzy and her brood as “Izzy and the kids.” On Monday evening, after making what was for us a very difficult decision, Don took Izzy’s two boys (drakes) to a new home. I never figured it would be so hard and that I’d feel so bad seeing them leave Morning Bray Farm.

Izzy wasn’t happy about seeing the boys go either, but she still has her girls.

They’ll be nine weeks old on Sunday and they’re still growing like weeds.

♥ ♥ ♥

Izzy’s ducklings will be five weeks old on Sunday.

I swear they grow bigger with every breath they take.

Their feetsies are getting ginormous and they’re already sprouting feathers.

We haven’t named any of them yet, but one still looks like Izzy Junior.

Izzy loves her babies.

♥ ♥ ♥

Izzy became a mother for the first time on Sunday.

She’s a very protective mom and is doing a great job with her five babies. One duckling in particular is a carbon copy of Izzy as a wee babe. Recognize the Izzy smile?

Izzy as a wee duckling:

Everyone hatched out just fine, but Don thought it best to give duckling #4 a bit of help since it was taking an extremely long time to break out:

Interestingly, Izzy was completely okay with the help.

Everyone is doing just fine now:

Eating and drinking and frolicking… even if never far from Izzy:

Meanwhile, Emmy is sitting on 13 eggs, which we expect to hatch next week. 

It’s a good thing we love little baby ducks.

♥ ♥ ♥

I haven’t done Saturday Parts or Saturday Stuff in a long time, so I figure now’s as good a time as any to share pictures that I don’t know what to do with or don’t fit in a post of their own.

The ducklings. Back when innocence ruled and they all sought each other out for comfort. I think this photo was probably taken sometime in June of last year:

This jack used to live on the other side of the alfalfa pasture behind Morning Bray Farm:

Sadly, he was alone and brayed a lot, especially after Gracie came to live with us. We called him the “donkey in the distance” or DITD (Diddy). Later, because we believe that all donkeys deserve dignified names, we named him Eugene and called him E. Diddy. We walked to visit with him and give him scritches every weekend. He’s gone now; we don’t know what happened to him.

And last for this week, a nest in our barn. I’ve never seen a “sideways nest” and am wondering what kind of bird this might belong to. Sparrows, maybe?

Every now and then, I look out the front door to see something like this:

Oliver loves to nuzzle his bill into the crook of Izzy’s neck:

Beautiful Izzy still looks like she’s always smiling:

They make a very cute couple:

They’re our Morning Bray Farm lovebirds:

Love, love, love.

♥ ♥ ♥

Confession time.

If you’re one of the minority out there who actually checks the Morning Bray Farm egg counter, you might have noticed a recent drop in the number of eggs that Emmy and Izzy have been laying.

Up until a couple of weeks ago, the girls were laying eggs for us like gangbusters. But so far in March? Only four eggs. And three of the four eggs didn’t have a shell, only a rubbery membrane.

While Emmy and Izzy otherwise seem fine, the sudden change was very worrisome. I scoured the Internet for possible reasons, but wasn’t able to find any good answers.

Earlier this week, I took a trip to the feed store to see if Junior; our local expert, had any ideas. When I explained that our girls had laid like crazy over the winter and had suddenly stopped, a puzzled look came over his face. “Your girls should just now be starting to lay. They shouldn’t have laid eggs over the winter,” Junior said. Uh-oh.

Our duck expert’s first question to me related to *light*. It was then I had to tell him (shamefully) that our ducks were kept in lighted conditions 24/7 the entire winter. “Yes, we keep heat lamps on in the barn when it’s cold – for both our goats and the ducks,” I said.

Junior explained to me the significance light has on egg production, and we figured that Emmy’s and Izzy’s sudden decline in laying coincided with when I stopped leaving the heat lamps on overnight a couple of weeks ago. Crap.

An increasing day length (January – June) brings sexually mature ducks into egg production and a decreasing day length (July – December) slows or stops their egg production. When I started leaving the heat lamps on, I increased day length for our girls and they ramped up their egg laying. When I stopped leaving the heat lamps on, I decreased their day length and they stopped laying eggs.  

If only we knew what we don’t know. Junior said it’ll be a little while before they start laying again. Uh-oh.

When it comes to being cold, I’m a pansy.

I know they’re ducks…

…but I still worry about them. It’s their first winter, after all.

Izzy, honey. You’re so dirty.

Look at how brown you are, sweetheart.

You need a bath.

Alfie loves taking a bath:

No matter how cold it is:

Because Muscovies aren’t known for being cold-hardy, I fill their pool at lunchtime only on days when it’s warm and sunny. This gives them ample opportunity to dry off before it gets dark.

Jake gets so excited that he starts bathing even before he gets in the pool:

It’s just the cutest thing ever:

But it’s still cold:

And I still worry about them being completely dry before the sun goes down:

Izzy! You’re finally getting in the pool:

And look at how beautiful and clean you are after your bath!

An interesting article, for those who are interested: http://www.muscovyduckcentral.com/marvelousmuscovies.html

Although these waterfowl relish swimming when given the opportunity, they tend to be more terrestrial than other domestic ducks and their feathers seem to have less waterproofing.  As a consequence, a pond isn’t necessary for Muscovies and can even pose a hazard during icy winters, when these ducks of tropical origin may become chilled or suffer frostbite.

We hope you’re enjoying our favorite blog photos/moments from 2011. Remember if you click on any of the photos, you’ll be taken to the original blog posts.

June 2011

The expression on Bernard’s face the day we discovered the donkeys love watermelon:

And the drooling delight of Patrick:

The day Enzi got her very own beach in our backyard:

Ellsworth’s very first trail ride with his trainer, Ryan (I was beaming with pride for both of them):

Watching the ducklings thrive and grow over the summer was awesome:

July 2001

An Independence Day celebration with wonderful family and friends (and Maryland blue crabs!):

My first trail ride with Ellsworth, a.k.a. Big Red:

The afternoon the ducklings sat out in the yard enjoying a summer rain shower:

There’s a new duck at Morning Bray Farm. We’ve named her Emily – or Emmy – for the emerald color of her feathers.

She looks like the female version of Jake the drake. Here’s Jake:

Here you can see the size difference between Jake and Emmy:

We think Emmy is slightly younger than the rest of the flock because she’s a tad bit smaller than Izzy and Hillary. She’s settling in quite nicely though.

Don and I decided to get another duck because our four drakes (boys) were constantly “bothering” our two ducks (girls). Poor Izzy and Hillary couldn’t catch a break from Alfie, Oliver, Jake and Gussie.

Here’s Izzy and Hillary now. They’re getting into their pool for a leisurely bath:

Of course Izzy couldn’t wait one second more to get into her bath:

They’re all growing up so fast. As I was taking pictures yesterday afternoon, I couldn’t help but notice how handsome Oliver has become.

More than any of the others, Oliver loves to show off his crest.

In Muscovies, both sexes can raise the feathers on top of their heads into a crest when they’re excited, flirting or angry. The male’s crest feathers are longer and stylishly waved.

Welcome to Morning Bray, Emmy! You already look cleaner, happier and healthier! ♥