The Life of a Duck at the Stonehaven Farm

I love ducks.  They are sweet and friendly birds, and they lead a very good life here.

Ducks can come to the farm one of two ways:  they can fly in from the Sand Hill Preservation Center in Iowa – they catch the plane in the afternoon and are delivered express mail to the farm the next day around noon;

or they can be hatched in an incubator I set up here in the house. Hatching is a messy business as you can see.

The ducklings dry off in the incubator.

“Wow, I made it!”

The following two days are spent in a  box in the house so I can watch to make sure they’re all eating and drinking and doing well.

Next they go out to a 50 gallon watering trough in the shed.

Pretty soon they can go outside during the day to eat grass and get fresh air returning to the shed at night.
One of the most exciting events of a duckling’s life is the first bath.  I put the pan full of water out, and they all crowd around wondering what it is.  First they drink, a brave one jumps in, then they all jump in.

Finally, at around 15 weeks the ducks are fully grown and move out to the red house which is their permanent home.  The ducks lay eggs, the drakes laze about, and they all keep playing in the water.

Posted: August 19th, 2012 1 Comment

Spring at Stonehaven Farm — Shearing

Shearing is the big event of the Spring at the Stonehaven Farm.  By early May the sheep look like big balls of fluff their wool is so long.  Max can barely see around his horns and through his bangs.

(Picture: Stonehaven Max – Before Shearing)

Kevin Ford, the premier blade shearer in the country, shears for us.  Blade shearing is pretty much a dying art – most people use electric clippers.  But blade shearing is quieter and more peaceful.

(Ewe – Before Shearing)

This is how it works, and you have to move fast to keep up with Kevin.  He gets a   sheep from the holding pen and twirls it on the shearing platform (a piece of plywood) till it lands on its rump.  A good shearer like Kevin knows exactly how to hold the sheep so they are as comfortable as possible and don’t struggle.

(Kevin shearing.)

Once it’s sheared, Kevin lets it go, the sheep runs outside clean and white as can be and much much smaller.

(Ewe- After shearing.)

One of us grabs the fleece and spreads it out on a tarp to clean and then bag.


The other person sweeps the platform.  By this time Kevin has another sheep to be twirled.
This year I had three helpers: my friend Angie who took all these pictures while Genaro and I cleaned fleeces and swept.  Marvin, Genaro’s son, busied himself carrying the week old triplets  around and around the pen.

(Marvin helping out.)

(Triplets resting.)

After shearing we all go up to the house and have a meal of, you guessed it, lamb.


Posted: May 26th, 2012 No Comments

New Lambs January 18, 2012

Welcome to the Stonehaven Farm blog. Many of our Farm Stay guests have asked to keep up to date with what’s happening on the farm. This blog is intended to do that and also to reach our Facebook friends and their friends. I’ll post lots of pictures too so you can see what’s happening.

Jenifer with the twinsWinter time is always busy here because we lamb starting at the end of December. Our first lambs, twins, came on December 22nd followed by triplets on December 27th.   By now we have 8, and there are still 3 ewes to lamb. Some friends were here when the triplets were born. They were amazed at how the mother licks the lamb clean, then paws it to get it up to nurse. Most often a lamb will nurse within 30 minutes of birth.

They’re a bit shaky on their legs at first:

20 minute old lamb

Still Shaky

but in no time they’re confidently following their mother and hanging out with other lambs.  Only 3 days later.


Hanging out with buddies

Sleeping n the susn

Triplets are sometimes difficult for a ewe. She has only two teats so one lamb can get pushed aside. If this happens, he needs supplemental milk. I’m feeding Sunny a bottle 3 times a day. He is so tame, he comes running when called and follows me around so much he trips me constantly.

Feeding Sunny


Also, the ewe has to learn to count to 3, difficult because she usually checks everyone is ok when 2 are nursing. This mother is so good, she knows to count. None of the bablies ever gets left behind.

Cody isn’t interested in the lambs. 


She loves ducks. Our ducks have gotten so fat they give new meaning to the word waddle.

Fat and happy ducks

Last summer’s baby chicks have just started to lay. The eggs are small because the chickens are young, but they’ll get bigger quickly. Last summer the hatchery couldn’t sennd me any Delaware chickens because a racoon got into their house and did them in. So they sent me Welsummers which lay cinnamon brown eggs and originally come from Holland, and Ameraucanas, originally from South America, which lay blue/green eggs. The combination is just beautiful.

That’s all the excitement for now. I added a picture taken from the living room and deck. Would you believe how green the grass is? It’s been the most wonderfully mild autumn and winter. Let’s hope it lasts!

View from the deck


Posted: January 18th, 2012 No Comments