Thursday, January 31, 2013

Enough already!

 Enough already with this cold stuff...

I realize that it's still January... but barely.
The last week, I have been enjoying 70 degree temperatures, a handful of daffodils in a vase and those ever so cheery crocus to brighten walking the dog in the wee hours.

Actually, when it's nippy cool but still warm enough for you to wear your gown and flip flops to walk the dog in the wee hours, it's just about perfect... sets my heart to spring... and I order up some garden seed]

and drool over the seed catalogs.

I grab that last bag of garden veggies from the freezer and turn them into dinner.

Then, it happens... the dreaded 'cold snap'... which isn't actually a cold snap... it's a return to what is normal for January.

(except for those daffodils... and the crocus.... and the frisky bird behavior...)

Anyway, enough about the unseasonal warm and the daffodils.

I've promised a tale about quail... 

Late last fall, while at work, a coworker who also has 'birds' and I were talking about quail.
I expressed that I'd been very curious about quail, and several times had gone on exhaustive searches to find some that were local enough that I could drive to get them and that wouldn't cost me an arm and a leg to experiment with.

Small and fairly tidy, they are easily kept for meat and eggs.  The Coturnix quail are fast to mature, being ready for egg production and the table in about 8 weeks. 

So the friend says "I can get you some of those!"  Turns out that he goes to farm auctions on a regular basis that have them come up for auction occasionally.  I gave him a price range, which based on my previous research would have netted me a little roo and a couple of hens.  Ten days later, I get a call.  He has me a dozen quail.  Wow! 

I bring them home and we acclimate.  Which means that I had to get used to being fussed at when I went out the back door.  They make sweet little noises but they're insistent boogers.  They like fresh sand to dust in and my particular quail do not like treats.  They instantly started to lay eggs.  One even laid an egg in the box on the way home.

 Pretty, pretty, speckled little eggs.  Little eggs that if proven to be from fertile birds can be quite expensive.

Little eggs that,if put into incubators, turn into a few more birds, so you have a breeding plan.

And little eggs that in 19 days can be the cutest little birds you've ever seen.
Little chipmunky sort of birds, except for that little yellow one...

For size comparison, this little dude is sitting beside a quarter.

...and I guess, by size comparison, yes... that is a tiny, wee little poop.

I raised enough to overwinter.

And as soon as this whole winter weather lets up, and the days get a bit longer, they'll go back to laying and we'll repeat the process.

So, as I spent part of the afternoon wrapping their pens with a tarp to try to keep down the wind factor, I thought I'd share.  They're really very sturdy, but after yesterday's wind and storms, I thought it would be a good idea to offer them a bit more shelter.

I'll let you know when we start to get some eggs... then we'll know it's really spring!

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