Thursday, October 4, 2012

Peafowl for the Whole Family!

Raising peafowl is really a family affair around here!  With four children, ages 9, 6, 4 and 9 months, there are always eager hands willing to help and curious minds asking questions.  They especially love hatching season because it means lots of cute peachicks to hold. :)  We try to teach them lessons along the way; no matter the season there is always something fun to learn. 

A Blue Black Shoulder male, awaiting his summer home.
We keep eight different breeding pens (and one project pen) in seven colors  and various patterns so there is no shortage of topics to cover from what color is this bird to what is it's pattern and what chicks may be produced from them.  All of our older kids can tell you the color/pattern of any bird on our farm which considering we keep over 80 total is pretty impressive!

One of our combined winter pens.  This was taken just before we separated them into breeding pens.

Our Opal White Eye, just before moving. 
In the spring, we talk about the upcoming breeding season, how we are going to separate out each pen by color and/or pattern, identifying different colors and patterns and what peachicks they most hope we hatch out this year.  We let them ‘help’ move the birds into their respective breeding pens and make sure everyone is settling in well. 
Just after moving, he was displaying for Sydney taking his video. 

Purple Pied boy, trying to evade capture for moving to his pen of ladies.

In the summer, we talk about why we separated each bird into which pen.  The summer brings math lessons on counting eggs, marking them by color/pen and all kinds of information on incubation.  Because the kids are still young, we keep topics on their level, ranging from how long it takes to incubate an egg, how to tell if they are fertile, what possible chicks can hatch from specific eggs and how to take care of the chicks as they grow.  The one thing we do stress with each of them (and OFTEN) is that they are not to enter any pens or collect any eggs without at least one of us there.  Because we keep so many pens, it is imperative we mark each and every egg BEFORE we even leave the pen.  
Hubby and our eldest, looking for eggs.
The littlest Louden, Savannah, posing with a chick.

The biggest Louden, Sydney, has quite the affinity for white, pied and silver pied patterned chicks.

Jackson loves to let them perch on his fingers, careful...they fly quickly!

Anderson is always asking us to take a picture of him with the peachicks.  

In the fall, we talk about the molting process, how the males re-grow their beautiful trains, ways we can use the feathers and we work together to condense the birds down into a few pens.  Everyone helps collect and sort feathers for various projects and sales.  We also talk about any chicks we decide to keep, how they will feather out and what breeding pen they will eventually go into. 
An evening's bounty of feathers, awaiting sorting.

One of Jackson's favorite jobs is to collect and sort feathers!

An Opal White Eye feather.

In the winter, which in Northeast Ohio feels like the LONGEST part of the year, we discuss nutrition and how adaptable the birds are to our different seasons.  We watch as the trains grow back, let them try to guess how long each train is and talk about the upcoming breeding season. 
A group of peahens, enjoying a lovely winter day.

More peafowl, enjoying a NOT so lovely winter day!

This Pied boy's tail is about 5 feet in length, so he still has a lot more growth to go!
Same Pied boy, different angle of his tail, you can see it's about 2 feet long here.

A Bronze male (and silver pied hen) in December.  This boy has tail feathers well over 5 feet long during breeding season.

Here is my pride and joy, taken in late January.  When displaying, his tail is taller than my 5 foot 4 inch self, it's probably about 3 feet long in this picture.

No matter the season, our kids are always eager to help!  Each of them has their favorite bird and they have named some of them.   Andy even has his own peacock.  He loves to help take care of him and tries his hardest to keep his boy happy.  He is super excited for next spring because HIS boy will get his own breeding pen and he will get to assist with everything. :) #howtomakeafarmkidhappy!

We feel so blessed to be able to share our passion with our children and hopefully raising the next generation of peafowl enthusiasts! We have found that each of our children enjoy different aspects of raising peafowl and like to help in different ways.  Our 9 year old, Sydney, likes to help collect and label the eggs and can often be found snapping pictures of the birds too.  The boys, Jackson and Anderson, are 6 and 4 and love to help feed and water the birds as well as help care for the peachicks.  Our youngest, Savannah, at just 9 months, really only looks at this point but spends lots of time down at the pens with mom and dad. I'm sure she'll have a favorite thing soon enough.
This was Andy's peachick last year, he named her Bronzee and still can tell you exactly which one she is.  He is hoping we'll let her stay with his boy next spring...we'll see. ;)

Each year we let them pick out a peachick that they name which seems to give them move of an interest in their care and well being. We’ve noticed they each seem to have a favorite color and pattern too, sometimes not the same as mom or dad either! 

The Chicken Chick

1 comment:

  1. I am in awe of your birds! They are absolutely gorgeous. I think it is so great that you get your kids involved in the whole process :)