Monday, April 25, 2011

It's a boy! And a girl....and another girl.... and....

I sold some hatching eggs to a woman in Louisiana about a month ago. The other day I recently received this nice little picture from her so I guess I am a ducky grandma.

Some of these ducklings are from my shipped eggs and some are from her eggs. That's quite a lot of cuteness!

Hatching shipped eggs can be tricky, but it can also be worth the risk to get a breed of duckling you really want. Plus if a batch of hatching eggs gets lost in the mail, no biggie. If a shipment of live ducklings gets lost in the mail.....YIKES!

I will be taking a chance on some shipping eggs once I finally get my incubator issues figured out. By buying hatching eggs, I can get a drake from a different bloodline and ensure genetic diversity in my little flock. With patience and luck, I should end up with my own box of cuteness!

Congratulations on the ducklings Kerath!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Broody Mama

Our duck hen Abby Cadabby, succumbed to maternal instincts a few weeks ago. We think she has about 2 more weeks to go before we should see some ducklings. Being a first time mom, hatching out a clutch is not a sure thing, but she seems determined and we are hopeful.
Abby Cadabby on her nest.

The other ducks have been busy doing ducky things and enjoying the short bouts of nice weather. Last time the sun was out, I herded them to the front yard for some landscaping duties.
Unfortunately they were more interested in playing in the sprinkler than working. They did manage to get some aerating done as well as bug munching, but the sprinkler was definitely the big draw.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Spring 2011 Update

Just a few updates about what is going on down on the microfarm. Even though my space is small, there seems to be no end of work!
  • New tank for the pond: Pat in Manitou, mom to a few of the ducks from last year's flock, has gifted us with a 250 gallon stock tank (top). This has been added to our food pond system where we grow rosy minnows and duckweed for feeding the flock and also use people food plants as part of the filtration. Last year we grew strawberries, peppers, melons and basil. This year we will be doing the same as well as increasing our pepper growing efforts. Along with sweet red peppers we are going to grow chiltepin peppers, habanero peppers, serrano peppers and cayenne peppers. Starters are in pots right now.
  • Broody duck: Abby Cadabby, a Welsh Harlequin hen hatched here last year, has succumbed to maternal instincts and is sitting on a nest of around 1 dozen eggs. We have put some movable fencing around her nest located inside a plastic doghouse. This way the drakes wont pester her and the other ducks wont try to push her out so they can lay their eggs in that spot. She tried to get out the first day, but when she realized she would still get her morning peas and instead of competing with the rest of the flock they would be had delivered, she settled right down.
  • New nest: With no access to the dog house/nesting box, the other duck hens have decided that they like laying behind the dog house in a quiet corner. Of course I have to climb over stuff to get to the eggs and it took me a few days to find where they were hiding their eggs, but I am on to them now!
  • New pumpkin patch: Next to the new stock tank we are taking an area prone to weeds and turning it to a pumpkin patch. We are using the "lasagna garden" method of creating the bed. First lay down a thick layer of newspaper, add a layer of compost, then add some top soil. This method worked great last year in the tomato bed. It is a no-till way to get excellent, relatively weed-free growing areas instantly.
  • Cold Frame: The two cold frames we put up last month are doing great. In one we planted directly in the soil and have radishes, spinach and lettuce growing. The other we just placed nursery pots inside and put seeds in the pots. We have beans, melons, tomatoes and corn growing well out there right now. With our wacky Spring weather these cold frames really help get a jump on the season while protecting the plants.
  • Seedlings: While we do have some seedlings started indoors, we also put a rack of seed flats outside. It is technically too early to start many things outside in this region, but the shelving unit the pots are on is wrapped in a frost blanket. This gives protection down to about 20º but still allows 95% of the light in. We shouldn't go much below 30º at this point so we are hoping the simple frost blanket wrap lets us start plants without further crowding our tiny house.
  • Perennials: Our chives, rhubarb, horse radish, thyme, mint, clover, day lilies, rue, and Japanese spireas are back. The chives are going crazy. Other plants are starting to put out little shoots and the apples and pear trees are about to flower. Not sure if our tarragon made it though. We grew it for the first time last year and we are not sure when it is supposed to reemerge.
  • Potatoes: We are growing potatoes for the first time this year. The selected method is growing them in garbage cans. The bottoms of the plastic cans are cut out and replaced with wire mesh. A small layer of compost is added and then add potatoes and cover with more compost. As the vines grow, you add more compost, leaves, straw, etc... leaving just a few inches of plant at the top. By the end of the growing season the can is full to the top and the can is full of least in theory. To harvest, you dump out the can. We are trying organic Yukon Gold and organic Purple Potatoes.
  • Grow bags: Having plenty of sturdy plastic woven feed bags leftover from buying duck food, we are going to put those bags to use and use them for growing zucchini, patty pan squash, sweet potatoes and melons. To prep the bags, you only need to poke a few holes along the sides at the bottom, fill with compost and top with some garden soil. There are areas in the yard where surface tree roots have proven to be an issue and that is where the grow bags will be used.
  • Straw bale garden: Another way to get quick gardening space without back-breaking digging and soil amendments is to grow your plants in straw bales. In a rocky spot with hard soil we placed 3 straw bales and topped it with garden soil. Peas were planted and we already have sprouts. To learn more about straw bale gardening click here.
More updates to come!