Quail Chicks Have Hatched

DSC_0042It’s day 18 of incubation and so far 33 chicks have hatched out of 72 eggs. This isn’t too bad considering my adult birds are getting a little on the old side. I’ll be choosing my new breeding flock from these chicks and retiring the older birds.

It was a good hatch this time, no issues, but I did get another chick with bulging eyes, like last time. This chick uses a scanning motion to look around which is very unusual. I don’t expect him to make it. There is also another chick who took three days to come out of his shell and who I finally helped break free. He can’t stand up and will likely not survive either. Other than that, it’s a great healthy clutch. Lots of whites as well as quite a few silvers and tuxedos. Mushrooms is very proud.


Perfect Rare Roast Beef

DSC_0037When I think of roast beef, I imagine rare, juicy, perfectly seasoned slices. Too often the commercially available reality is a dry, overcooked, under-seasoned disappointment.

Making the perfect roast beef isn’t difficult, but requires a few important steps. First, select a small, long thin roast, 2-3kg. Rub your roast with a generous amount of kosher salt and spices the night before and allow it to sit uncovered in the refrigerator for 24 hours. This will help dry out the roast a bit to ensure a good sear and allows the seasonings to penetrate the roast properly. If you season immediately before cooking you’ll end up with a bland hunk of meat and an over-seasoned exterior. The salt will also help draw the flavorings into the meat.

Let your roast come up to room temperature by allowing it to sit out for 1 to 2 hours before cooking. This is very important for getting it to roast evenly. Sear each side well in a heavy skillet over high heat and then finish in a 425F oven. Finally, allow to rest before carving to allow the juices to redistribute.

The earthy seasonings used in this recipe are in my opinion, absolutely perfect. They are minimal but effective, allowing the flavor and texture of the meat to shine through.

Perfect Rare Roast Beef Rub

1 small roast, 2-3kg
2 T kosher salt
2 t fresh black pepper
2 T mustard powder
1 t celery seed
1 t ground rosemary
1 t ground thyme
1/4 cup olive oil

Mix all ingredients and rub into roast. Allow to sit uncovered in fridge for 24 hours. Allow to come to room temperature for 1-2 hours. Sear each side in hot oil over high heat until well browned. About 4 minutes per side. Warning – this step will smoke up your kitchen if you’re doing it right. Transfer to a 425F oven and roast for 4 minutes per 500g. Remove, cover with a foil tent and allow to rest for minimum 20 minutes to 1 hour. Slice and serve, hot or cold.

White Squabs Move In


You can see the bruising on her beak, she’s the one on the left

Sometimes I get a sixth sense when it comes to the farm. This morning I woke up at 8am after just a few hours of sleep. Very unlike me.

I went outside to put out the trash and noticed a little white body in a puddle at the bottom of the chicken coop. Assuming it was an escaped quail, which does happen sometimes, I brought the trash to the curb and entered the coop to put the quail back where he belonged. Once inside I realized it wasn’t a quail, it was one of the white squabs. She was cold, muddy and had been pecked by the chickens. She had bloody bruises on her beak and the tip of the beak appeared to be fractured. I put her back in the nest beside her sibling and was going to go back to bed, when I decided she was just a little too cold and could probably use a little more help. I didn’t want to risk losing her. I brought her inside, washed her under warm water and wrapped her in a little towel. Then I put her in a plastic dishpan lined with newspapers in the bathroom with a hot water bottle beside her. Then it was back to bed.

Later once I woke up again, she had come out of her towel and was clean, warm and dry. Her beak was damaged, but not too badly. I checked my calendar and found that they were now three weeks old, which is pretty close to weaning age. I decided that this must be the sign that I should take them in for a little hand-taming. I went and retrieved the other squab and set them up both together in an unused rabbit cage in my kitchen. I made sure that the healthy squab got one good last feeding from his mom, and fed the injured squab some whole corn and wheat as they are used to eating in the coop. I also gave her a few syringes of water, which she drank slowly. I’m hoping that these two will help each other to learn to eat and drink on their own quickly and I will still hand feed them a few times a day if I don’t see them eating and drinking much on their own. It’s not too difficult or time consuming to hand feed baby pigeons.

After just one day, they are both already much more comfortable inside and the interested kittens aren’t stressing them out too much. Since I kind of wanted to hand raise them at about this age anyway, I’m pleased to have an excuse to do so. My goal is to have hand-tamed birds that I can handle without stressing them for when I train them for release. Since my flock of pigeons are all loose inside my chicken coop right now, it’s tough to catch any of them without causing a freak-out.

If I had put the trash out the night before as I usually do, I don’t think this baby would have survived. She was probably about an hour away from death when I found her. It occurred to me that if she had been a wild pigeon, simply falling out of the nest at that age is pretty much a death sentence.

Fred Has to Go

DSC_0031In many ways, Fred is the perfect cat. He’s playful, funny, gorgeous, well-behaved and so friendly and loving. However there is one problem. He thinks it’s fun to scare my girl cats. For the past while, I’ve been keeping Fred and the two kitten boys upstairs and my three girl cats downstairs. This was initially due to my girls beginning to spray and not feeling comfortable when Momma cat and all her kittens were here. This worked well for quite awhile as Fred gets along wonderfully with the two little boys and is their “Uncle Fred”.

However lately anytime Fred has been able to sneak downstairs or outside he is dead set on terrorizing my girls. Today after doing some laundry I heard cats screaming from the basement and realized Fred was down there. I opened the door and Mushrooms came streaking out and immediately climbed to the top of the cat tree in my spare room, growling like crazy. She had urinated all over herself from fear. I grabbed Fred and tossed him outside. When I went back to pick up Mushrooms and put her back downstairs, she was so afraid that she grabbed my hand and sliced three big holes in, right on the veins. Immediately I screamed and ran for the bathroom with blood pouring out in a trail behind me. I grabbed a towel and pressed it to my hand to stem the blood. Poor Mushrooms was beyond terrified now and I carefully herded her back downstairs to relax. It’s probably the worst cat attack that I’ve ever experienced save for one time as a very young kid. It’s also not like Mushrooms at all.

DSC_0043 DSC_0045

It’s hard for me to make the decision to let Fred go. He came here as a very thin, neglected, abused and dirty stray months back, and I nursed him back to health. He’s in great shape now and unfortunately with health came attitude. I love Fred very much and he is my loyal buddy when I do the farm chores, always inspecting everything I’m doing and waiting patiently at the coop door when I feed the chickens. He often gets called “Friend” instead of Fred. I love how well he plays with the boy kittens and I love his predominantly low maintenance attitude. However, my three girl cats were here first. They are already unhappy enough that two of the kittens still live here, and I am unwilling to put them through being constantly chased and attacked by Fred. Fred needs a new home.

Bluefin’s First Litter, and I Got to Watch


Minutes before kindling

I had some excellent luck today and was able to witness the birth of Bluefin’s very first litter. I had checked on her a couple of times earlier this morning and afternoon, since that’s when my does usually kindle. No fur, nothing. Was she going to be a day late? Not kindle at all maybe?


Here she is in the middle of giving birth

As I went into the barn at about 7pm to do my chores before it got dark, I noticed she had scattered some random fur around and had some bedding in her mouth. She was looking frantic. I straightened up her nest a bit for her and about five minutes later, in she went and began whining and having contractions. I was very pleased that since this was her first time kindling, I could be there to take care of any problems that might arise.

Turns out she didn’t need my help at all and about ten minutes of unhappy twitching and squeaking later, she had delivered seven healthy and clean kits. Fantastic!

I’m always amazed at how chill my rabbits are even with two big dogs and a bunch of cats perpetually wandering around their cages. We were all there watching and she didn’t care at all, just got down to business. When I gave her a big dandelion plant as a treat after she was done she pounced on it like a lion.

DSC_0047So here are some rare shots of Standard Rex kits only minutes after being born. It looks like we have three black otter, three blue/blue otter and one self white! I’m not sure if the white kit will turn out to be albino or what, but I am super excited to have a new color turn up in a litter. Hopefully Bluefin takes good care of them… I know I’ll be monitoring their progress closely.

DSC_0044Thanks for reading!

Hybrid Kit Update

DSC_0080I couldn’t leave these little guys out. Although they are the same age as the Californian kits, these little buns have decided to hang out in the nestbox longer. They also appear to be a bit bigger than their purebred half-siblings, but that’s no longer a surprise.

DSC_0073We have two agouti kits and the rest are black with varying degrees of lighter brown ticking. So far this has been the standard for these crossbreeds. I just love the agouti-colored rabbits with their little black ear tips and black eyelashes. I think I’ve always liked brown birds and animals, not sure why.

Help a Local Homeless Cat with Ear Cancer

$_27There are a lot of stray cats struggling to get by in the town I live in, and I recently found a post by a local family who are doing their best to support their friendly neighborhood stray, Teddy.

Teddy is a sweet little girl who has developed skin cancer and needs to have her ears amputated. This kind family has decided to take her in and take care of her surgery which will cost upwards of $2000. They’ve started up a fund for Teddy and are grateful for any help.

Please consider making a small donation, as I have, to help this very lucky kitty who is now receiving treatment instead of slowly wasting away on the street like so many. You can follow Teddy’s progress by visiting the link at the bottom. Here is Teddy’s story:

We met Teddy almost 5 years ago. She was a lively neighborhood cat, always friendly and rubbing against you as you were walking by.
She was living in a house but didn’t seem to get along with the other indoors cats so she preferred to stay outdoors where she could have peace and quiet time for herself.

Very independent and yet very loving with humans she was a leader in her area. All the other cats were following her as she was projecting a certain confidence.

But last year, for some reason, she started to lose weight. We did not worry much as we knew she had owners. Then, as winter started to set in, she was hanging more and more by our house to finally ask to come in as she was obviously cold.

Since last winter, we noticed Teddy was losing energy and was also increasingly scratching her ears. Her ears were so red and itchy that one started to bleed and get infected.

A visit at the veterinarian informed us that Teddy had skin cancer and that both her ears had to be surgically removed. Unfortunately the price was excessively high for our budget.

We already have a family and two cats. But we sincerely love that shy yet loving cat. We are ready to give her a home but we would need your help to finance her surgery. It’s the only way to stop the cancer progression and save Teddy’s life.

We thank you in advance for your generosity. Your donation will definitely make a difference.

Nathalie, Teddy and Family


Californian Kits are so Cute


Of course while I was shooting the Rexes, I had to get some shots of the fluffy white puffball, three week old Cal kits. These bunnies are just so tiny and sweet. I’m going back on the barley fodder system now, and I think that will make for even healthier and happier rabbits. I’d say the new nesting material is a big winner, based on how fat, healthy and issue-free both these litters of kits turned out.

DSC_0066For at least the past week, these kits have refused to go into the nestbox at all, instead mom uses it to escape from them when required. I’ll be taking it out soon.


The Trick to Easy-Peel Quail Eggs

DSC_0025Anybody who has ever tried peeling a hard-boiled quail egg knows that it’s a tedious chore, at best. Anybody who raises their own quail knows that fresh quail eggs are next to impossible to peel cleanly.

The solution? Never boil another quail egg. Steam them.

Simply use a vegetable steamer in a pot with about an inch of water and a tight fitting lid. Turn the heat up to maximum and when the steam starts coming, set a timer for six minutes.

After that, rinse your eggs well in cold water and let them sit in the water for a few minutes.


This egg is so fresh it was actually laid today, not bad huh?

Then peel. Quail eggs have a thin shell and a thick membrane, so pinch through the membrane at the fat end of the egg, where there is an air pocket, to make sure you get a clean removal.

Of course, this method also works for fresh chicken eggs. Steam them for about 12-15 minutes. You’ll be amazed!

Squab Update

DSC_0033Well, here is the first squab born here looking all grown up at 38 days old. Isn’t he handsome? It’ll be awhile yet before I actually know if it’s a hen or a cock. I’ve been using colored zip ties for banding thus far, but I’ll be ordering proper bands soon. At the rate everyone is reproducing I’ll need them.

DSC_0029And here are the first two pure white squabs born here at about two weeks old. They like to stand up and look menacing and click their beaks when I get too close, to scare me away. Too bad it doesn’t work! I banded both of them today and luckily didn’t have anybody die on me like last time. Phew! These two birds will be the first ones trained for release since they were born here, unlike their parents. I’m very excited for that.