Thursday, July 13, 2006

Ramble, Mumble, Pontificate

I'll start with the obligatory farm stuff.

It seems that our two pekin ducks are broody. Yep, both Walter and Wilma Waddleduck have a nest. Wilma is sitting on it, and Walter is guarding her.

Unfortunately, the only thing under her is a rock. The dog kept eating her eggs before we could collect them. We had a bunch before, but they were all too old and the yolk was stuck to one side. I put the one relatively fresh one that we had managed to collect under her, but it disappeared. I'm tempted to stick some chicken or guinea eggs under her.

But they really are a cute couple. They have always been inseparable, but they have taken it to ridiculous lengths.

Before, if you caught one, the other may or may not hang around. Once they were reunited, they would act so happy to see each other.

Now, if someone approaches the nest, Walter gets between the potential marauder and his hunny. If someone picks Wilma up, Walter will follow him wherever he goes; or rather, he will follow Wilma.

In my previous entry, I had mentioned that it's time to process the broiler chickens. The fact that they are eating like horses is just one reason. The other is that they do very badly in the hot weather. Even in cool weather, if you pick one up, it feels hot. Those birds have unbelievable metabolisms -- and appetites. They were, after all, bred to grow fast and put on lots of breast muscle. Their legs and thighs also get big, but that's probably as much for support as for anything else.

So, rather than let them suffer in the heat, they are going to be processed this weekend. That'll cut our feed bill, too.

If you process them at the right time, you get nice, lean meat. If you let them get too big, you end up with a really thick layer of fat over most of the body. That happened to the broiler rooster and hen that were part of the original four chickens that we had. We were going to keep them as breeding stock and pets, but the hen got injured by the overly randy rooster, and the rooster ended up killing at least one other pullet by trying to mate with her. We ended up mercy-killing the hen. Once we started to process her, we found that she was injured a whole lot more than we had thought. We felt bad about what she had gone through. Never again will we let a broiler bird get too old.

A few people have tried to keep them as pets. With care, you might be able to get them to live for a year or more. You have to practically starve the poor thing, though. They really love to eat. In fact, they aren't interest in much else. Some people think that they are really sweet birds, but it's my impression that they have the brains of a head of cabbage. They aren't too bright, so they sit around and let you pick them up or do whatever you want. In fact, once they get bigger, running away may just take more effort than it's worth. I might be wrong in my assessment, but that's definitely my impression of those birds.

Mary just came in and told me that we have another broody hen in the garage. She left her with the half dozen or so eggs that she has managed to collect. I guess I need to install her into the broody pen that I had set up for the broody that's raising the youngest meat birds.

I was going to pontificate more than this, but I think I have rambled almost enough. I have a couple of photos, though.

This is one of those magic mushrooms that some people use to catch flies, and others use to get high. I don't recall the name, but I remember enough to know that I shouldn't eat it.

OK... just looked it up in google. I typed in "fly mushroom" and found that it is a Fly Agaric Mushroom (Amanita Muscaria). There, now I get to sound smart by quoting the genus and species.

It actually has two alkaloids that provide the various effects observed. The one will get you high and short-circuit your fear mechanism. You become fearless, and therefore prone to do stupid things. Some people (like the Vikings) used to use this effect when going to war. Nothing like turning all your soldiers into berserkers!

The other alkaloid makes you sick. Different samples of the mushrooms have differing amounts of the two toxins... I mean alkaloids. If you find one with lots of the high-making juice, but little of the sick-making juice, you have a valuable find (to some people, anyhow)

Another interesting fact is that the sick-making alkaloid is detoxified by the liver, while the kidneys remove the high-making alkaloid. That means that you can get high without getting sick if you feed some of the mushrooms to your best friend or your horse or dog, then drink the urine.

OK, so it would make me sick, but you get my drift.

By the way, I got all of the above information from the web when I was doing some research on this fungus. That means that you can take it with a grain of salt (or two).

But anyhow, the stuff grows all over our property in the fall. I wish there was some practical use for the stuff (besides catching flies). And no, I don't consider getting high to be a practical use.

heh. I just read on wikipedia that it can be detoxified by parboiling it. Then, it can be used as food.

I don't think I'll bet on it.

On the southern end of Raymond Road (250th ave) is a landmark (according to the DeLorme Map and Gazetteer) called "Raymond's Corner". I thought it would be amusing to lean against the sign.

OK, so it wasn't all that amusing.


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