birdie update part 2

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Lately I have been contemplating condo life and a courtyard koi pond. It would just be so much easier. 

The ducks… The little brown duck hasn’t sent a postcard. We still don’t know for certain what his fate was/is. 

The lone white duck pulled through the trauma of being “fetched” by a greyhound. He is now happily hanging out with 3 new additions. The two beige and white are Saxony immature drakes. I really wanted ducks but this is what impatience got me. The black duck is a Cayuga. He or she (we don’t know yet) was my husbands selection. HIs name is Barry. 

 

 

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birdie update part 1

Why is it that every Wednesday, the only day I have an evening class, the weather is gorgeous and all I want to do is be home and working in my garden? It’s been too long since updating and no, it’s not lost on me it’s a bad move for blogging. I think things have just been so frustrating I have not wanted to whine online. So here’s what been happening…

Chickens living full time in tractor was going well until…. I left it up on the wheels and they got out from under. I returned home from class late in the evening and it was pitch black when I tucked my girls in for the night. I THINK I counted eight. In fact I am pretty darn sure I counted eight birdies sleeping in a pile right outside the coop. I scooped them up and locked them up tight. The next morning I opened up the coop and watched the girls hop out into the run and then I left for work.

I returned after a bad day at work only to find my girls had a worse day. I noticed a tuft of feathers out of place in the lawn. I looked further… my hounds were focused on something in the distance. I called them off what ever they were investing their attention and put them back in the house. I counted heads. Seven.

One of my barred rock girls was gone. I am pretty certain that she slipped out from under the run again.. but this time I am not sure what got her. I don’t think it was the hounds. I let them out and went out with them. They did not chase anything or catch a bird in front of me. I pulled the wheels off the tractor and began making revision plans.

My new kitchen garden is making slow progress. I have established a little strawberry patch and an asparagus bed. The potato barrels are still unexciting as the potatoes are  only rooting and not doing much else. Patience is not a virtue of mine. That evening while tooling around craigslist for useful items under farm and garden I found a posting for flock reduction. Curious, I clicked it and found an ad for many different types of feathered friends. I made a call and made a visit after my Wednesday night class. I have wanted ducks in the garden for awhile and the lady said she had 3 call ducks living as a happy unit that she needed to find a new home for. They were all drakes. No eggs but she assured me that they were getting along swimmingly. I ended up bringing the three little ducks home that night. “they’ll just hunker down and be quiet” the lady said about my expected one hour drive home. The ducks did not. And they smelled bad. The two white call ducks were so dirty they looked as though they had been living under a car and been greased. The other “call duck” looked a little out of place by a couple of pounds and much larger beak. Hmmm.

When I got home I settled them into a secure pen inside the garage with food and water for the night. The next day they took baths in the bathtub with dish soap. The water turned black. They loved it. What they did not like was being handled. “they are real friendly and like taking food out of my hand” is what the lady said. They sounded as if I was going to through them in a boiling pot when I picked them up. Which by the way, was not easy. My bathroom needed to be cleaned anyway. They spent another few nights in the garage as I prepared their new home. I was worried about co-mingling with the chickens due to too tight of quarters and possible diseases the ducks may have.

My in laws had an old doghouse their dog ignored and donated it to the duck cause. I put it up on cinder blocks and a pallet. I prepared a pool for them, I fenced off my strawberry patch and asparagus bed giving the ducks the run of the garden, with the safety of being fenced in away from the dogs. “they can’t fly” is what the lady had said. The now identified welsh harlequin flew out of the garden and across my backyard. Really, can’t fly huh? I retrieved the bird put him back in the garden. They seems content enough with the space and patrolled the grounds in a tight trio. I welcomed the addition of the ducks. Chickens and ducks. Even if the ducks are not producing eggs they are good slug and bug guards in the garden without the digging issues of the chickens. I locked them up every night and opened the doors every morning. For five nights.

On the morning of the sixth day with the ducks I received a text from my husband. “Bad news honey. I let the dogs out like I do every morning.” Zoli came back to the door with one white duck. It’s in shock. Lucy came back with one white duck, its in shock too.  The brown duck is no where to be found.” His fate remains unknown….

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Where are we?

Things are moving along at the homestead. Exactly where they are moving is questionable. The coop has no wheels yet. The girls are now outside in their coop n’ run. Before everyone panics about the chicken wire; please know that the flock is put to bed every night in the very secure coop. My hypothesis being that if I have built this thing as racoon and possum proof as I believe, then the girls will be okay even if/when a furred feather plucking unwelcome dinner guest gets into the run. In the photo you can see one Barred Rock(on the right), one Easter Egger (in the front), and rock star. I am still uncertain if rock star is a he or a she. They appear to be enjoying the grass under their feet and are fun to watch as they figure things out.

They are 5 and a half weeks old. 

I have a this lovely blue flower popping up in patches all around the yard.. in the lawn, in the naturalized (aka previous property owner never ventured back there) area, and in what is going to be my kitchen garden. It’s Birdseye Speedwell.

I think I am going to gather some and get them pressed…

Oh! Here is a close up of one of the girls. Maybe not so much in this shot, but when she is standing among the flock she looks like a hawk.

On the agenda for the next week: get those wheels on, prepare the new raised beds, mix up some deer repellent.

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The Coop

Construction underway! This will be my third coop, the first with an actual plan. I had outgrown my first coop which had moved with us from our previous home. Due to our postage stamp sized yard it had been a small coop, good enough for 3 hens.  Upon moving to our current location I ran out and purchased supplies to create a larger coop. While admiring the expensive coops available online; I was equally inspired by the do-it-yourselfers posted on backyardchicken. My second attempt came out looking like the Frankenstein’s monster of all coops. It ended just as poorly. My girls, I was up to 5 at the time died horrible deaths at the mouth of a still unmet terror. The coop was torn down, partially redesigned( on the fly) resurrected briefly and then torn down once again. The scrap pile has been out behind the garage all winter. I found what I think are actual plans that will meet our needs. I might make a few changes…

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Prep Work

Last Sunday was too gorgeous to not stay outside all day! Our littlest helper (3.5) assisted   Dad with the installation of the new kitchen garden fencing. We had purchased post and rail fencing for a do-it-yourself perimeter fence of the yard. Needless to say, our best estimate of how much we actually needed was a bit off the mark. So, not wanting the leftovers to go to waste I have relocated my first attempt at a kitchen garden to the safety of the backyard. What makes the backyard a safety zone for plants are the two greyhounds that patrol and love to chase deer. Haven’t seen any sign of a deer setting foot in the backyard all winter. The fence will serve to keep the kids and dogs from trampling the food and also provide the flock a place to roam.

The tall tree stump in the background is what is left of a silver maple. I am going to transplant a climbing hydrangea over there later this spring. My 3 year old hydrangea is more like a ground cover in it’s current location (along the garage clad in vinyl siding) and my thought is it may be happier climbing up something organic.

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Highland Heights Hounds

Homesteading in the shadow of a big box store.

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