Eight Muscovy ducklings hatched a week ago, some 20-odd quail chicks of various ages, and 2 red junglefowl chicks apparently weren’t enough to quell the baby fever! Another Muscovy mama hatched 6 Muscovy ducklings 2 days ago.

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Aren’t they adorable? The yellow fluff should translate to white in the adult, whereas the dark fluff will be black.

What is a Muscovy duck, you may be wondering…well, let me enlighten you! Muscovies are the only domesticated duck that is not derived from the Mallard. They are native to South America, but can now be found all over the world, thanks to exploration and colonization of the New World. Technically, they aren’t really a duck. Genetically speaking, Muscovies are between a duck and a goose. Therefore, they don’t quack. The drakes hiss and the females trill or coo, so they are much quieter than ducks! Since they aren’t genetically similar to ducks, if they breed with a duck, the offspring is a hybrid and is sterile…and, of course, it has a special name, Mulard…as in mallard mule…or Henny…as in hen jenny!

If you read my post a couple of days ago, you saw a picture of one of the hens. In it you can see that Muscovies have red caruncles around their eyes and above the beak, so they may not be the most attractive species, but their personalities make up for it! They are very easy going and chill, non-aggressive, and are excellent mothers…no incubator required! Three of my 5 hens have hatched broods this year, one of which was not even Muscovy eggs!

Another great reason to keep Muscovies is their propensity to dine on pests, if you let them free-range. They love to eat flies, mosquitos, spiders, grubs, etc., pretty much any kind of bug or bug larvae. Then, of course, there is the food they provide. Muscovies are not the most prolific egg layers, but they do a pretty decent job…about 180/year. However, they are one of the most delicious birds! Muscovy meat is less greasy than duck (about 98% fat free) and darker, with a taste similar to veal.

Now that you’ve been enlightened, you understand why we have chosen this particular bird to farm…because it’s an odd duck! And those of you who know us well, know that we don’t do anything “normal”…raise chickens like everyone else, no! We are going to raise ducks…and rabbits…and quail…and red junglefowl…and Muscovies! We get asked all the time, “you eat duck eggs? What do they taste like?” People think we are so weird, so why shouldn’t our farm reflect that!

These six babies bring our duck total up to 49 now…for a few weeks (again, can’t have too many drakes running around!). This should be the last of the babies for a short while…no more expectant mothers right now (just a few eggs in the incubator due in about 2 1/2 weeks). So now we feed them and watch them grow…and look up recipes to use in the near future!


Just so we’re clear, I’m not the only one around here who volunteers to take animals who need a home. Yesterday, Darren brought home a bunch of young birds, some just a couple of days old, who would’ve died otherwise (the family’s electricity was off due to construction so they couldn’t be kept warm enough)…he’s such a big softy! Taterbug has already figured this out…if J.C. or I don’t give him what he wants, he goes to Papa D (that’s why I’ve been coaching him since birth to say, “Papa, horse”…then maybe Darren will let me have one…for the baby, of course)! Back to the birds…

…these two are red junglefowl, the supposed ancestors of domesticated chickens. They are too young to determine gender by their feathers, but based on the emerging tail feathers, it looks like the one on the left is female and the one on the right is male…but I’m just guessing…definitely not a poultry sexing expert (keep your lame jokes to yourself)! If you didn’t check out the link to find out more about this species, you should. The roosters are beautiful! And the hens aren’t too shabby either! The roosters strongly resemble gamecocks (again, keep your lame jokes to yourself!), so it’s easy to see the family resemblance. Now, funny story…I have a picture of my great-grandfather that was taken around 1913 of him holding his prize-winning gamecock…not with his wife and children, with his rooster! So, I guess I’m returning to my roots? Again, back to the birds…

Those 2 are just the beginning…

…a whole covey of quail (a couple dozen)! Some of them are so tiny! And some of them still didn’t survive due to the trauma of moving 😦  …but most of them did, so now we are quail farmers too!?! To almost quote Prissy in Gone with the Wind, “I don’t know nothin’ ’bout raisin’ quail!” Thank God for Google! They are apparently mature at about 6 weeks, so I guess I’ll be posting quail recipes in a couple of months!


Ok, there are really 3 of them. Remember that bit about being the crazy duck lady…yeah, well, I don’t just take ducks. These are some more recent additions to Hollydew Farm. They came from another graduating senior who needed to rehome animals before moving off to college.

The one on the right is Bob…you know, one job Bob. The two on the left are his girls. We’ve had one unsuccessful breeding attempt so far…Bob didn’t do his one job! Hopefully the next attempt will be more successful. Now, we didn’t originally plan on being in the rabbit business, but I sometimes have a hard time saying no and Darren has a hard time saying no to me when I want something, so here we are…rabbit farmers!

I’ve mentioned before that Darren doesn’t do anything halfway. True to character, now that we have rabbits, we are all in! Since these pictures were taken, we have constructed new cages with room for 6 rabbits (we still have only 3 at the moment) with plans to construct a second set of cages for 6 more…and…plans to expand the duck pen/house to include space for our increasing flock plus the rabbits! J.C. calls it the Small Animal Compound, or SAC…he thinks he’s hilarious!

We will try again soon to get Bob to do his job. If he’s successful, I will post pictures when the kits are born. If he’s unsuccessful, I will post a recipe for rabbit stew!


Well, once again, life got crazy and I haven’t had time to write. We once again have a full house…J.C. moved back in, this time with his precious baby boy. Then things went crazy at work, which culminated in my resignation so that I can stay at home and be a full time grandma while the men-folk work.

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Since I have more time at home now, I’m expanding our little farm…God’s provision for food and extra income! First up, our newest additions…8 Muscovy ducklings.

Their Mama (in the second picture) had a hard time in the heat keeping the eggs at the right temperature, but she managed to get 8 of them to hatch…you go, girl!

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Around these parts, I’ve become known as the crazy duck lady. These little babies bring our total back up to 43. We harvest their eggs and we eat a few of them…don’t need too many drakes running around!

 

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But back to the crazy duck lady…folks know that I will take their orphaned or unwanted ducks or ducklings…like Easter animals that get big and people realize they actually need care. That being said, these two (the white one and the dark one in front) were brought to me by a recent graduate who can’t take them with her to college! The white one is a juvenile Pekin hen, the dark one is a juvenile Rouen drake, and the lighter ones are Khaki Campbells…our best egg producers.

 

 


Welcome to the south, y’all! ‘Round here, it’s not a football game if you can’t get a sausage wrap at the concession stand…& a sausage wrap in this part of Texas means a hot link. For you non-Suthuh-nuhs, a hot link is a spicy, bun-sized sausage…we eat more of these than we do hot dogs!

Because of Texas’s unique location, it is the confluence of Southern, Cajun, Mexican, & Soul cuisine, with a dash of German, Czech, & Asian. We owe these little links of happiness to African-American & Cajun influences…thank you!

Here, there are no rules! Enjoy these links on a tortilla with or without cheese, on a bun with sauerkraut & mustard, on a bun with chili, or just sliced with bread, cheese, onion, & dill pickle. This particular recipe is quite hot…back off on the cayenne &/or red pepper flakes if you can’t handle it!

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5 pounds ground pork

5 pounds ground venison

6 tablespoons salt

¼ cup garlic, minced

3 tablespoons pepper

3 tablespoons red pepper flakes

3 tablespoons cayenne

3 tablespoons paprika

3 tablespoons mustard seeds, crushed

2 tablespoons garlic powder

1 tablespoon ground coriander

1 ½ teaspoons ground bay leaves

1 cup dry milk

1 bottle beer

10 ounces celery juice

Method

Combine all ingredients; mix well. Refrigerate overnight.

Stuff into casings. Allow to dry under a fan for about an hour.

Smoke to an internal temperature of 165ºF for about an hour, then cold smoke for desired length.


For those who don’t know, Texas has a rich German heritage, dating back to the 1830’s. Thousands of Germans settled across southern Texas from Houston to Kerrville in what is known as the German belt. They started towns that were distinctively German…keeping their culture & language intact. Today, there are an estimated 3,000,000 Texans who claim German descent. Even though they have assimilated into American culture, they have maintained their heritage. Many towns in the German belt host festivals, like Oktoberfest, every year. You can find traditional German clothing, a German Christmas market, take German classes, wind down at a biergarten with a polka band after work, or enjoy sausage & sauerkraut at a variety of restaurants…there’s even German radio!

If you’re interested…

Texas State Historical Association

German Texans

Texas German Society

The recipe we used for smoked sausage is based on some advice an old German man gave my father-in-law years ago…keep it simple; you don’t need much more than just salt & pepper to make a good sausage…who knew? The Germans, that’s who!img_3379

Smoked Sausage

5 pounds ground venison

5 pounds ground pork

3 tablespoons salt

6 tablespoons pepper

1 teaspoon cayenne

10 ounces celery juice

1 cup dry milk

Method

1. Combine all ingredients; mix well. Stuff into casings.

2. Smoke for at least 3 hours, until meat has an internal temperature of 165ºF.

3. Cool the sausage in ice.

 


Disclaimer:  Written in Aggie-ese. You might need an interpreter!

First a little back story…I mentioned previously that our son, J.C., moved back home for a little while. Well, he brought his beautiful wife, Cheyenne, with him & they had a little taterbug named Levi 3 months later…that’s been fun!

Back to the story…One day, Cheyenne & Raquel, the good Ag, made a batch of chorizo (not the most recent batch with venison…this batch was just pork). Well, what’s the best use for chorizo? Breakfast tacos! We whipped up 1992(WHOOP!) potato, egg, & chorizo tacos with homemade salsa & cheese…mmm mmm! J.C. took some to work in his lunch. As he was enjoying his tacos, he noticed his fellow employees, the Hispanic ones, were eyeballing him. They asked him if there was chorizo on his tacos & where he bought it. He told them his mom & wife made it. They were so jealous…they said it smelled like something their abuelita would make! So, there you go…chorizo so good it smells like grandma’s…& won a white boy some street cred! Now that’s some good bull…or good pig!

chorizoAs for the most recent batch of chorizo, just like with the breakfast sausage, I used a 60/40 blend, meaning 60% ground pork & 40% ground venison, portioned the chorizo in one pound packages & wrapped them in plastic wrap. I also mixed the chorizo by hand…ok, I don’t really touch raw meat with my bare hands…it’s a thing…I wear latex gloves.

When I make breakfast tacos, I like to use 1 pound chorizo, 2 pounds of potatoes, & 2 dozenimg_3392 eggs. I cook each & mix them together in a really big bowl. Usually, I do this on a weekend & then it gives us a quick, delicious, breakfast for a few days…especially handy on mornings when I have to go to work!

Chorizo Sausage

5 pounds pork roast, coarsely ground

10 cloves garlic, minced*

½ cup ground ancho chili pepper

5 teaspoons ground cumin

5 teaspoons salt

1 tablespoon cayenne

1 tablespoon dried Mexican oregano

2 teaspoons ground coriander

1 ½ teaspoons pepper

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground cloves

1 cup apple cider vinegar

Method

Combine all, mix well

*or use 1 1/4 tsp garlic powder