Monday, December 5, 2011

Blue Scale Quail, Bored Horses and Freezing Temperatures

Ducks and Geese around the watering hole
Well, it was going to happen.  We got our first real cold snap of the season and all the water froze with the birds except those under heat lamps and on top of the heat mat.  Sid the llama's water is fine as is the duck's water because those are heated buckets.  The horses' water is fine too because we have a heater.

Well, not fine exactly.  The horses decided to break the water trough.  (Second broken one).  We had one more spare and then, if they bust that we've got to buy a steel one.  Someone told us to use the plastic troughs and that has been a huge mistake.  A friend of mine told me I had bored horses, and given the size of the pen, not a huge surprise.  We're going to have to figure out how to expand in the spring.  How, I don't know. 

My friend recommended a horse ball and hanging plastic bottles so the horses can nudge them.  I got them a Jolly Ball and they seem indifferent.  Today, I hung two plastic bottle so they can nudge them.  I may have to put out a treat ball so they can whack those around too.

Lastly, I've been playing with the idea of getting quail.  There are a number of good reasons for this: 1.  Quail takes a short time to mature and within less than 2 months, you have a bird that lays eggs.  2.  Their eggs are expensive and quite a delicacy.  3.  They taste good.  And 4.  They don't need a lot of room.

The problem with purchasing quail is that you either have to order them by the dozens and pay a lot for the birds and shipping, or you get eggs mailorder and hope they hatch.  I don't mind hatching eggs, but my little incubator can only do about 12 or so at a time.  When someone is offering more than 50 eggs, it gets silly.  So, when I saw someone in Missoula selling pheasants that might have blue scale quail, I decided to check them out.

Blue Scale Quail
Blue scale quail are native to the American Southwest, going north as far as Colorado and as south as Mexico.  The fellow who had them had exotic pheasants that were amazing and impressive.  But the quail-- oh my.  I bought a breeding pair for a lot less than I would to buy one online and have them shipped. 

They're skittish little things.  Right now, I'm keeping them in a crate, but I will probably figure out a nice pen for them.

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