Ohiofarmgirl's Adventures in The Good Land is largely a fish out of water tale about how I eventually found my footing on a small farm in an Amish town. We are a mostly organic, somewhat self sufficient, sustainable farm in Ohio. There's action and adventure and I'll always tell you the truth about farming.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Public Service Annoucement #42

A word to the new chicken owners out there. If you find one or more of your hens like THIS:

Neither of these hens are harmed. They are just silly.

There is no need to run at her waving your arms and shrieking "HEN DOWN! HEN DOWN! MEDIC!!!!"

She's just fine... she's goosin' around in the sun trying to get the maximum sun exposure. They all do it. And if she is violently twitching all around... probably just a dust bath. Just go on about your business.. no need for alarm.

That is all.

This has been a Public Service Announcement by the Hysterical Hen Owners Association.

Friday, June 25, 2010

It's HOT - do you know where your sprinkler is?

Baby, its hot!  Do you know where your sprinkler is?  I do... 6:24am and its on the job.

The Meeps know how to cool off.... with a little swimmin' and a little divin'...
All Meeps in the water!
But wait.. didn't I just say not to put ducklings in the water?? Ah yes... but these are Meeps - goslings in the common tongue.. and for some reason they seem to be much more precocious...and they are bigger so they have more body mass to keep them warm.  And it was hot hot hot so no danger of getting chilled when the water is warm and the sun is hot. We took them back inside and put them under their lamp. They were thoroughly meeped out....and fell into a deep meep-sleep.

Stay cool! And get out there and get your sprinkler goin'!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Beans, Beez, Blueberries....and Meeps

Ah... summertime.... a few fun things from today....

Blueberries are ready...

Got our first basket of greenbeans...

The beez are doing great....

And I can't stop talkin' about the Meeps.

These are the 'captive' goslings we took from OD and his crew. The goslings were hatched very late and couldn't keep up with their earlier hatched brothers and sisters.... the last two almost died. So we sccooped them up, brought them in... and we are completely enchanted.

There is just something about geese. When I walk in and say "hey Meeps" they erupt into a heapin,' meepin,' squeakin,' mess of goofin' about. They might think I'm their mommy. Yikes! We took them out for barefootin' in the grass this afternoon. They loved it.

Happy summer everyone!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Meep Army advances!

Honestly this has been the most ridiculous day and I'm TTTT (short hand my pal and I use to say we are Too Tired To Talk/Type) to explain it all. I"ll let the pictures tell most of the story.

In short, I started the day by digging a hole to China...and ended it with a baby goose rescue.

The Meep Army continued its invasion brandishing its weapons of cuteness and snuggle-ality. They slew us on every front. Seriously - look at this little face:

See how big they are! The baby turkeys were little puff balls but these guys are ginormous!

The little Roman tuft is killing me - how cute is that?

After the initial barrage of cuteness the other day, the Meep Army sent in its rear guard - those held back for the final crushing battle of adorableness.  This is their leader:
I refer to this noble foe as "Little Black Beak"

His cute vortex was the worst to repel.... resistance is futile! This late arrival showed up unexpectedly. Hidden like a Trojan Horse, he hatched out of an egg we thought had been cast out. Fearing he would be chilled as the rest of the enemy forces were out performing training maneuvers, we created an extraction strategy and went in under cover.

We were foiled as the adult geese saw thru our flimsy plot. They didn't buy our story that we were there to inspect the roof for a second. They attacked. We reformed the ranks, immediately creating the "testudo" or tortoise formation and... huh? What? You mean I'm the only Roman legion battle strategy nerd out there? For heavens sakes. 

We used a snow shovel as a shield and we crashed into the enemy lines. While they were distracted by the shield I reached under it and snatched up and took this little one prisoner to be interrogated later. 

He must have been a counter intell agent as he didn't reveal a word about the next wave of invaders...but I ended up giving away all of our plans. It was the little squeaky toy noises... I folded like a lawn chair.

The last assault was executed badly. This final troop arrived on the scene really late and had a hard time escaping his war pod (egg). Infra red revealed he was cool and weak. He must have been "black ops" as his own army disavowed all knowledge. We demanded the prisoner and found him in bad shape when we took him into custody. So I did what any decent farmer would do....

I put him in my bra. 

Ladies, I'm here to tell you that your bra is the best place for little creatures who need a warm up. Fellas, go and find your woman. You can explain a lot of things but not a goose in your briefs. I say no more about this. 

Back to our prisoner - we got him warmed up and he's drying under a warm light in the basement. The adults didn't want anything to do with him - probably because he was so late to hatch and the other babies are already up and around. We'll see if they will take him tomorrow. In the meantime, I'm swooning over the little lumpkins. 

And for some reason, I had a hard time doing the dishes today.....
I don't think any explanation would be adequate for this. 

More from the cuteness battle front tomorrow....

Monday, June 21, 2010

So many cute things....

 The Meeps on the move - so much toddlin' around today!

Today was sweltering. I was glad for this longest day just so I could get up and out early to get a few things done before the heat was too bad.  I finally packed it in at 3pm when I realized I hadn't eaten my second lunch. So I went in and had pie. And ice cream.  

I try to get the 'hard stuff' done in the early morning. Mostly I've been weeding and getting this and that done while I have a bit of a lull...which won't last but a day or two. But I couldn't hardly get much done today with all this cuteness going on! 
So little! What an adorable bit of fluff!

The Meep Attack has continued and we have 6 little fluffy goslings out there. To my admiration all four of the adults are taking care of the babies as a team. Several of the  little ones went and snuggled under Penny (who's eggs have not hatched) while Cindy Lou tended to the last of her eggs. Then OD and Junior (the ganders) took four of the six out to splash around in the upside down lid filled with water and to show them where to get some yums. They pecked at the chick feed and struggled with pulling up blades of grass - mostly they pulled themselves down. I could watch them all day. They had a lot of fun and nothing is cuter than a little gosling when she yawns.

We'll have to take up the rest of Cindy's eggs either tonite or tomorrow. Penny didn't sit down until about 4 days after Cindy so we will give her a few more days. Eventually the mommas will know the eggs won't make it.. or they just have to concentrate on the live, hatched chicks..and they will get off the nests. Cindy was up for most of the day - so we think she is done with the eggs. And she needs a clean nest for her babies.

Jungle poults - so much to see in the world

On top of that, I let Turkey Momma take the poults on walkabout in the front garden. They loved it and could enjoy the cool of the grass. The Whole Wide World was like a jungle to the little ones...and Turkey Momma was glad to get outside. Letting the poults out while they are this young is a risk - they don't have their immune systems built up...but it was so hot they needed a break.

But wait - there's more... the ducklings crammed into a tub and splashed around. They loved the splishin' and the splashin.'  They are almost all feathered out but they are still cute.

Rub-a-dub-dub, four ducks in a tub

When I finally quit for the day, one of our inside cats, Peeper, told me to relax.... so I followed her lead and we watched some shows online at hulu.

 Peep beats the heat by reclining her in favorite chair all day

The only one who wasn't cute..... was OD. This daddy gander wants to kill me now more than ever.... but I still love him. Very much.
I ain't gettin' near that.. but one day.. maybe one day....

OD, why can't you just accept my love and snuggle me!?!  He's so protective of the little ones that he actually attacked, with malice, a bale of straw. For heavens sakes.

Ready for the heat tomorrow?  Keep cool everyone!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

What to do with all those thistles....

What's more fun that a barrel of monkeys?

A buncha goats and a wheelbarrow full of thistles!

Hey Vita! How's them thistles?

Everyone went hog wild when I rolled my trolley full of thistles into the goat yard. I just yanked the thistles out of the garden and it was pure pandemonium. While you shouldn't let them run wild, thistles are actually pretty good for your soil as the roots can go pretty deep...which loosens my bad soil and allows water to get deeper into the subsoil. 

And the best thing about this kind of "weed-n-feed"... its free, baby! Even if you don't have goats, your clucks will love just about anything you pull out of your garden. What they don't eat will get scratched up.. then just rake everything up and throw in the compost pile. Easy peasy!

Happy weeding everyone!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Meeps Are Here!

They are here! They are here! The Meeps are arriving this very second!

Actually they have been hatching all day - I knew something was afoot when the ganders (OD and Jr) didn't go too far this morning. They have been guarding the ladies (Cindy Lou and Penny) all day, even more vigorously then normal.

So I grabbed my beatin' stick and peeped in and..... MEEPS!

There were a tumble of meeps under Cindy, who was not amused by me at all. If you can, zoom in to see the one who is still wet.. just behind Cindy's ankle.

Goslings are so cute - larger than ducklings and more lively - they are a hoot to have around. We call them "Meeps" after the funny little noises they make. They sound like squeaky toys and they love to get into trouble. We really don't worry about the Meeps, geese are wonderful parents and take excellent care of their little ones.

Penny didn't like the intrusion a bit.. Thats Jr. to the left - see the tuft on his head? Proof of her "dangerous liaison" with The Roman... we don't usually talk about that.

And I pity the fool who tries to mess with them.. say... this could be a way to get rid of Foxy Brown.... she wouldn't stand a chance against the ganders.

In other news...

Farm Notes
* Planted the rest of the peppers in the upper garden, as well as the rest of the green maters. Waiting on the rest of the compost before I finish up there.
* Watermelons are in - the last row of the square garden. They are strategically planted on a berm just before the fence - I'm hoping to capture all the water as the square garden is situated on a slight hill... either this will work really well or make a big soupy mess.
* Raked up the goat/hen yard and used the litter as "side dressing" and as walkways in the square garden.
* Dahlias are coming up! As are sunflowers started in flats - starting in the ground just isn't working as well as I'd hoped.

* Found a place for more cantaloupe and took down some dried out peas. Not a loss tho as legumes are so good for the soil. I just ripped them out by their roots and am using them stems as mulch. 
* The rest of the Oxheart maters are in - by the sugar pie pumpkins
* Stupid Japanese beetles are here and eating my roses. Hey you guineas! Get out there and eat those stupid bugs!
* Spent most of today weedin,' weedin, weedin'.. golly what a chore.  Here is some free advice for all: don't plant invasive species!
* Miss Duck is done with her babies - she's tired of being a mommy and wants to go and hang out with the boys. The little ones will become slug eaters for a pal of mine. Yesterday they played in a big puddle I made by  mistake. They are getting their feathers but are still cute as bugs:
What could be more fun that ducklings in a mud puddle?

Happy Gardening! More Meep pix tomorrow as I'm sure they will make an appearance in The Whole Wide World.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Now for something entirely different....

Apparently my abbreviated notes to myself got published... ha! Thanks for the catch javamama! 

Here is what I was trying to say.. but in my defense.. I was so tired from getting up early and working so much this last week.... that last nite I went in to change my shirt to go and milk the goats (I like to have a longer sleeved shirt on since they walk around in the pasture and get into who knows what)...but instead I took off my shorts and headed out in my underpants. Good thing The Big Man stopped me before the neighbors (good and bad) got an eye full.

In other news .... we think both guinea hens are setting. We are naming one Flower because she's in the flower bed. The other is named "Good Luck" cuz thats what she needs. She's over in the bramble on the (good) neighbor's side in Fox Central. We can't find her and hopefully Foxy Brown won't either... It takes 28 days for the eggs to hatch so we'll have keets July 5th or so.

I got the following seeds going in  flats:
butternut squash
bad 'sgetti squash seeds from last year - maybe they will work

I found another flat of 'maters so I got them in as well as the watermelons (from the square box). The beefsteak maters were only about an inch tall and have been for a while. That potting mix may have been bad...

And I moved some peppers and eggplant in the new pot.  And weeded. And cleaned out two coops... and saw my pals S and M. They had some bad luck with raccoons so we loaded up some of the Kindergarten and some mature hens to get them back in business. Hopefully the two dozen hatching eggs will get them up to speed.  M is quite the poultryman and a heck of a duck raiser. he picked out an all black hen (comb, legs, and feathers) who is going to be a great friend to him. I believe he named her "Princess Leah."  And I received a beautiful picture from him. Thanks guys!

Still no Meeps.....

Its about 1:30pm and the dogs haven't abandoned me yet.. but its gonna be a scorcher tomorrow. Happy gardening!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Upper beez new home and Farm Notes

The new hive of beez has a new home! Well, really an addition... in the buzz biz they call it a "deep"...its the new second story:

This is the hive The Big Man captured from the old farm a couple weeks ago. They are doing great. We are leaving the white clover grow out in the grass so they can have lots of food. And its less mowing!

Farm Notes:
* Yesterday I got a few things planted in between the rain rain rain including the cabbages behind the kale, the gladiolas (coral), another row of pumpkins, more sunflowers, and a new patch of dahlias.
* Don't let me forget that the crazy blue pumpkins are beyond the fence toward the road, and in the bee garden..and that one that wont work at all in the hillside garden. 
* A few flats: scarlet runner beans and a 2-section flat of jalapenos and lovage (herb).
* Today I got another load of gravel to help with the mud mud mud  in the front and square gardens, a new path within the front garden, and I'll use more to make a gravel patio in front of the house.
* One flat of spaghetti squash and sweet bell peppers - I got each pack of seeds for $0.30 each! I love end of season sales - around here all the planting ends in June, but what a laugh... you can plant all season and so I do. I also scored some eggplant plants (because my seeds were a bust) for cheap cheap cheap.
* The only loss was my huge sunflower... it flomped over in the storm last nite..the roots were ripped out. 
* Everything is booming! The corn is flying out of the ground, the squash is screaming along, and the onions just might make it this year. I am an onion menace but this year.. its going to work.

Here is something cute..and I wish I had pictures. Yesterday Miss Duck took her ducklings to the front yard. Normally OD and Junior (the junior gander) just hang around waiting to see if Penny and Cindy Lou get up from their nests for a few minutes each day. OD raced over to the ducklings.. and the dogs and I started charging down the hill... and OD just stood guard over them! He took care of them all day and they just toddled around having a good time. It was amazing. You might recall that I had considered giving OD and Penny a duckling to raise - as it didn't look like they were going to hatch their own goslings this year...but then Penny sat down and we are hoping for the best. In goose years, Penny and OD are pretty old.. and Penny is so wonky I'm amazed she is pulling this one off.

For all their faults, geese are incredible parents. They are completely devoted to their little ones. We should have "Meeps" -- which is what we call the goslings -- this week! Come on Cindy and Penny!

Look out for the rain! But get out there between showers and get your planting done.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Early Morning Runner and Farm Notes (Planting)

This morning the sun was up and so was I. It starts early these days, the cats start bopping me on the head about 5am. I can hold them off for about 45 minutes but then I gotta shake the cats off and just get up.

Shine was already out there and ready for action. He was eager to get out there and help me start planting. At least.. he was digging in my garden...I thought he was helping me... hum...
Our Shine, King of Barncats - A fireball of energy

This is how the day really starts....
Hey you chickens! Get up! 

That crazy hen in front is Henrietta, my favorite hen of all time.  But see Runner, the Bourbon Red turkey hen, on the roost in the background? She's screaming at me to hurry up and let her and The Kindergarten out.  She's the turkey hen who hatched a clutch of chicken eggs...and then I added 4 more chicks I got at the feed store. She's a great momma.

On to business... so yesterday was a big soaking rain so no work for me to do outside.

But today tons or progress:
- Upper garden: planted another row and a half of blue and red corn; really this is the final row. Unlike that other final row of corn. It starts at the big sunflower
- Pumpkins (sugar pie) planted just below corn and just above standing row of buckwheat which I'm leaving for the new upper hive of bees and to improve the soil. Planted radishes to (hopefully) keep the stupid squash bugs away.
- Cantaloupe sprouts were planted at the far end of the upper garden - I used seeds from the best melon I ever had - purchased from an old timer's farm stand last year. I hope it works! And that the bunnies stay away from them until they are big enough. Planted giant grey stripe sunflowers with them and covered with buckets and wire baskets.
- Need to plant turnips between the rows of corn - not sure if this will work but might as well try. Have knocked down most of the weeds between rows. The corn is planted closely, but really - I didn't expect them to all make it. So far most of them have come up. All corn has been planted in groups several days apart.
- Planted the new dwarf pear tree "Moonglow" in upper garden at extreme end near fence.  The existing standard pear is booming with fruit. Should be a good year. Not sure what is happening with the apricot/nectarine tree. Most of the fruit is missing and I'm wondering if the deer are getting them. Hum.
- I found the green maters! Planted behind the tomatillos in the upper garden in the pepper section.
- Watermelon will be planted just above the potatoes - also booming.
- Started 3 new flats: golden Hubbard squash, lettuce, and eggplant and kohlrabi. My eggplant sucks so far and I may have missed the opportunity to start from seeds. Need to get some nursery starts of eggplant.
- Planted dahlias in front of peonies and prepped area behind for more peonies when they go on sale.

This was the scene at mid day. We had a spectacular blue sky day.. tons of sunshine, low humidity...it was so beautiful I didn't even mind heat. I could practically hear the garden growing.
I love sunflowers... especially these sky high giant ones.

And then we went to town. When we got back and settled I realized it was almost 12 hours later than when I started this morning.  And there was Runner and The Kindergarten.

We don't call them The Kindergarten because they are a joyful group of little ones.. but because they are as wild and unpredictable as a "kindergarten full of flying monkeys." The little black and white one on the right is a pip. We have to chase her down every darn night. She's always surprised she has to go in and roost with everyone else. For heavens sakes.

As I was making the final rounds I spotted the first green beans! Nothing is fresher and more green than a raw green bean right from the garden. Ahhh.. tastes like summer. Got more canning jars yesterday so I'm ready for canning action!

An aside.. wow!  The butter I shook up yesterday is fabulous. Spread thickly on bread with a shake of sea salt.... just heaven. Oh, and check out these loaves.. they were a vision and just as delicious. Still not convinced to make your own bread... behold:

Get out there and get bakin' folks! But get your planting done first (early)!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Do's and Don'ts for Ducks

I love ducks!

Honestly, nothing makes my heart pitter patter more than a sweet little white duck with a clutch of adorable babies. Miss Dash is my favorite gal - she's one heck of a setter, a great momma, and is so darn likable. I love her little peeping and funny looks. She knows she can trust me to take care of her and we really seem to work together when she's got a clutch going. This was her with a very late season brood last fall.
 Miss Dash and Iris

You can read more about how I came into ducks here.... now I'm totally sold.

And don't get me going on duck eggs used in baking and... sigh.. making silky, rich, custards. Ducks are also a great way to keep down bugs and such..and since they are omnivores they eat just about anything that "bugs" you. Some folks keep ducks with their sheep... to keep the flies and such down. I can tell you that nothing clears out a hen house full of bugs like a marauding horde of baby ducks... not to mention what they can do to a hapless snake who was ill-fated enough to get tangled in the fence while 23 little quackers are on the loose. (ahem) Lets just say it was ugly. And gross. Ick.


If you are interested in ducks, run right out and get the Storey's Guide to ducks. Those in the duck world fall at the feet of the "great Holderread" -- with good reason. The only thing I don't like about the book is that he tends to WRITE IN ALL CAPS like he's yelling. Otherwise, its your best bet for great info.

Here's a quick overview of some duck "how to's" but as an overarching rule... don't put diapers on your ducks and keep them inside. Its just weird. Just keep them outside. But call before you show up.. just in case Miss Dash isn't sitting beside me watching TV. Just sayin'

Ducklings are a cuteness vortex... you may never look away from them. Hands down, the best job on the farm is "duckling lifeguard" -- that is, watching the ducklings splishin' and splashin' around in a kiddie pool. They are a hoot.
That's one happy peep!

Unlike chickens, ducks lay only in the morning - so you can capture all the eggs by keeping them penned up until about 10am. This will force your gal to make her nest where you can keep an eye on her. Really the only drawback to ducks is they are... well.. sitting ducks for predators.

We make all our ducks come in at night and lock them up. Most of the losses we've had are from when the ducks roost on the frozen pond. In the morning we find the sad feathers and the tell tale fox tracks across the pond. The best way to train the ducks to go in at night is to keep a routine -- and feed them only in their house. Once they are used to it ducks are pretty easy to drive. I use my long shepherd's hook and have the dogs behind me to keep 'em waddlin' in the right direction.

Like most of our barnyard crew, we make the ducks get out there and free range. They do just fine until we get the cold weather, then we feed a mix of corn (in very cold weather it helps keep them warm), and bagged food with a waterfowl appropriate level of protein. Bagged layer mix for hens just isn't enough. During the summer we feed them (lightly) only at night.  They tend to hang around the hen yard and show up for scratch from time to time.

It goes without saying that ducks need lots of fresh water. For drinking they need water deep enough so they can rinse out their nostrils..so we just use buckets of water for the older ducks. As for swimming around, you technically don't need a pond or stream.. but I think its great to watch them glide across the water.

 Our original drake, Mr. Duck, whom we miss very much

Otherwise just get a cheap-y kiddie pool from Target and fill it up for them. Or even a big plastic tub... but they need to bathe regularly so make sure they have something they can get into. Consider, tho, that you'll need to dump that water. Everyday. Sometimes a couple times a day. It can be a lot of water. One great way to use that nitrogen-rich, poop-filled water is to use it to fertilize your garden or lawn. Obviously you don't want to pour it over vegetables (food safety and all)... but its one way to use it. Check out my pal's site, Blue Feather Farm, for ideas about how she "micro farms" with ducks....and just so you know.. and she uses water gardening in great ways.

For ducklings water needs we use shallow pie plates that gradually get deeper as they grow. After several weeks, those $3.99 "hog pans" at TSC are great for this - just put a rock in the pan close to the edge so the little ones can get out...and another rock next to the pan so they can get into it. Ducklings are curious so they will figure it out.

An important note about ducklings and water -- not only can the babies drown...but they won't really be ready for water fun until they start feathering out. They really aren't "float-y" enough and they can't regulate their body temperatures until they are a bit older. Resist temptation to put them in the water. They will eventually take to it like.. like.. well, a duck to water. Make sure they have a momma to warm up under or somewhere dry to snuggle into after a swim while they are getting dry. Mine are at the point where they are seeking out mud puddles and preening. Very soon they will get "The Pool".. but we won't let Miss Duck take them down to the pond until they are feathered in.  Little ones are also easy prey for a crow, the neighbor's bad barn cats, or even adult male ducks.. so be on the lookout.

While our ducklings free range with Miss Duck , we make sure they have non-medicated feed several times a day. Initially we make sure the ducklings constantly have feed but as they are out more and more we cut back on the number of times we provide bagged food. There are good "duck starters" out there but we use TSC's Dumor Chick feed..which is just fine as they supplement their feed with the bug eating and such.

People are always asking about what kinds of snacks we give the ducks and the answer is... none. Sometimes the ducks belly up to the chickens "corn + milk" bowl.. but other than that... the best snacks for them are bugs, grass, and whatever they dig in the dirt for... so no snacks for them. The closest we come to snacks is when we provide fresh hay during winter months.

Mollee didn't mind the snow at all. In fact, she thought the falling snow flakes were bugs and tried to catch them.

Speaking of winter, for our Northern friends, ducks are very winter hardy. Really all they need is protection from predators, to be out of the wind, plenty of food (including, but not exclusively, corn), fresh non-frozen water at least twice a day, and somewhere dry to roost. Dry is the key. Its kind of a challenge to keep them dry, especially when they are inside because they are always splashing around in the water bucket. Then when they bathe they are all wet so everything gets soggy. We just keep piling in the straw and also provide a whole straw bale as a roost. It might seem like a waste but its terrific mulch by the time spring rolls around. Our ducks don't seem to mind the snow and I think we kept them inside only on the coldest (below 0* windchills) days. We have never had to provide heat lamps for the ducks. As long as you have several ducks they will fluff out their down and snuggle together. Keep an eye on their feet for frost bite, but we've never had a problem with this.

We keep the ducks in a separate housing structure -- its an attachment to the hen house, hence its the duck 'garage.' The best feature in the duck garage is that we dug out a 6 inch deep foundation of gravel. Trying to keep a structure with a wood floor from rotting is a loosing proposition. Some people keep their ducks with their hens, but it just does not work out at all for us. At one point we had the ducks in the turkey house - but in a separate coop. Unfortunately this was a disaster for the turkey babies and we lost several. I found out later that ducks bring out cocci in the soil because they are so wet..and since they are immune to it.. it never bothers them. Now the ducks are on the other side of the yard and this is working out better for everyone.

During the day the ducks roam around the yard, the goat yard, and then head down to the pond. Mostly the males hang out with the ladies. We think Foxy Brown got one of my favorite gals, Mollee a couple weeks ago. Mollee loved to be in the woods, which is never a good thing but we couldn't stop her. I'm still holding out hope that she'll show up a clutch of cuteness.. but I don't think so. Miss Dash just had a failed clutch this spring, but Iris and Daisy are laying now. We won't let them set nests tho. The only problem with ducks is that they multiply like rabbits.

So that's my primer on ducks. Easy peasy, useful, interactive, fun, entertaining..so just go and get some ducks and see what the fun is all about. Unless of course...your kids suckered you into buying a couple of ducklings already.. Chai Chai.....

What questions do you have? Anybody have anything to add?

Happy Ducking everyone!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Early moring, herdin' ducks, and Farm Notes (Planting)

This is what it looked like this morning while I was working.. stunning sunrise!
If the sun is up... I'm out there

Farm Notes: (ps thanks to everyone who said this was interesting!)
Quick! Before I forget what I planted... I started the new garden space beside the turkey house today. Its where we started the pigs last year, had it mulched all winter and I tilled it yesterday. Technically I should have waited a couple days to let the weeds die off... but the weather is coming in and I can't stand around anymore. This will mean more weeding as it grows, but what else do I have to do all day? HA!

Starting in the north/west corner..
* Sunflowers, greystripe and whatever that purple one is..it stains your hands.
- First row: Sweet 100's cherry tomatoes
- Cherokee purple 'maters (I can't help but love the tie in with the purple sunflowers)
- tripod of half runners with a sugar pie pumpkin tucked in the back
- rows running north south: tomatillos, peppers including Big Jim but I'm not convinced that this area will drain well enough so I just put a few out
- along walkway - started sprouts of kale, kohlrabi, and collard greens
- one last mound of sugar pie pumpkins

Also started more sunflower seeds (same mix as above) behind the existing ones along pathway. Hopefully the netting will keep the stupid cardinals from eating them. Hey you birds! Get away from my seeds and put down that worm (*me running after them shaking my beatin' stick*).
- That next row has more peppers (same as above) and tomatillos, but this area has been drainage so should do better. Added some purple beans to the sunflowers.

Now over to the East side of the square garden...
- Planted and covered sugar pie pumpkins.. saw the dreaded squash bugs so I need to get those guineas on the job. They helped me yesterday and it was kinda cute - all the peepin' and whistlin' and such. OK fine I like them. When they aren't screaming like howler monkeys. The female has a funny song when she is on her nest.
- Prepped the area for watermelons as soon as they sprout
- Set up "teepee" for a big handful of mixed beans, then a square of turnips, walkway, then started rows for tomatoes:  Oxhart (from seeds from last year!), mix of lettuce and carrots, then another row of Mountain Gold maters -- two of my favorites. Say does anyone know where I put those darned green maters?

This should do well if I can keep my darn hens out. One henny wants to lay her nest in the planter where my precious Bleeding Heart is.. for heavens sakes, ladies.. I want ONE area that doens't look like a barnyard! Sheesh.

Gate to upper garden..the grapes really made a come back

Yesterday worked on tilling the upper garden. No real planting but did three more rows of dahlias:
- Huli's Circus, purple cactus, and whatever that red stripey one is... darn. Now I have to go and find the tags. Then I finished that row with lettuce I started from seeds in a tray. I used to think this was stupid but really, its a breeze to just pop out the 3 leaved, baby lettuces and put them in the ground.
- Today I finished planting in the area formerly known as 'turnip space.'  I kept the turnips in the ground over winter, took some up to eat until it froze too hard, then let them go to seed. I should have gotten to the greens sooner - but they already started flowering. Yesterday I took them all up and put them in the compost as they were too woody. If I had pigs now I'd give the turnips to the hogs. Good to know they kept all winter.
- This area is now home to rows of peppers - jalapenos and giant, sweet green peppers. One empty row (waiting for other peppers in trays), then a last row of tomatillos. Then it started raining and I had to get my tools and go in.

And just in case you want to know what it looks like to herd baby ducks...
Seriously, what is cuter than little duck butts?

What a day! On top of all of that, I did laundry, made butter (yay!), and started another cheese. The rain is rolling in so tomorrow will definitely be an inside day. Whew!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Sage, Coneflower, Tarragon & Meat & Farm Notes

I'm sitting here trying to decide if the storm up north of us is doing to build or swing down this way.. so here are quick farm notes and you just gotta see this picture of the meat:

Frying creepy meat up in a pan

The other day I took what I thought was a one half of a frozen turkey breast out of the freezer to thaw. What I discovered was that it was really JUST THREE breasts from our creepy meat chickens! I could only fit two in a standard 12 inch frying pan. WOW!

And I gotta say - they were tender and delicious. I pan fried the breasts then finished them in the oven on top of homemade savory bread pudding/dressing... Incredible. Just three breasts made 2 full meals for us (and we can eat!).  They might be creepy but I dunno.. I might be sold on the food value.  As farm-o-nomics goes.. this was an amazing value. I think the cost of goods was about a dollar (not including spices) for the entire meal.

Farm Notes: (Reminder these are my planting and journal  notes on activities - sorry if they are boring)
* Planted the last possible row of sweetcorn in hillside garden. Sunflowers are at the east end from last year's grey stripe.
* Also planted last 2 row of sweetcorn in square garden by compost pile. Cukes are starting to spread out but the BOSS seeds did not sprout... or the birds got them. 
* Added several hills of peppers (all varieties) as well as Ruetgers tomatoes, and one row of Cherokee Purple maters (love those).
* Since I'll never remember... the little square seed box is watermellon, Sugar baby
* The tri-box has Sage, Coneflower, and Tarragon seeds.
* Medium round green planter has lavender seeds. Last year's lavender was planted in flower spot in square garden.
* Started several cheeses...and got my supplies from Hoegger.
* Need to go and look for bodies.. we couldn't get all the ducks off the pond last nite as the storm was rolling in (we had to run for it). I don't love our storm season...
* Dang those little ducks are cute... I think we have a micro-duck!

Look out for all the storms, folks!  And remember that cloud to ground lightening strikes are good for your garden!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Debbie being a goat & Farm (Planting) Notes

Look! Its a goat doing what goats should do - get out there and free range because its FREE!
Debbie being a goat...and hey! There is Nibble's in the background

So here's here:

rain rain rain  mud mud mud  plant plant plant  storm storm storm

*The dang ducks have been giving me a run for my money and have decided they don't want to roost in the duck garage at nite. I even sent the dog in to chase them out of the pond the other night...it didn't work at all. Thankfully everyone was there the next morning. Whew!
 * Puddles the duck has turned into a tiger and has decided that's her nest and everyone had better stay away. She comes off the nest to eat, show the boys her tail feathers, then screams when they chase after her. There is a lesson there somewhere...
* ... then we found a heap of turkey feathers at the gate. Fortunately Bramble came out of the brambles... she was still scared and missing a big bunch of feathers but it looks like she was able to get away from Foxy Brown. We scooped her up and moved her, and her newly found nest, into the front brooder.  She is totally ticked off but will have to sit down eventually. As our best turkey hen, she'd better!
* We lost a turkey poult to Public Enemy #1... that's a water bucket, friends. The most dangerous thing in the barnyard. A sad find indeed.

But I have managed to get a few things in the ground.
* The hillside (west) garden is planted in entirely! And fenced. I need to remember to plant some radish seeds with the squash to scare off the squash bugs.
* Two sections of tomatoes - Tula Blacks and regular old Romas.... with carrots and onions planted nearby.
* Dahlias:
East side of tomatoes in square garden: Jean Marie
West side of tomatoes in square garden: LeBaron
By Lemon Balm: Blue Beard
South side of tomatoes: Purple Gem and Lace White
* And nothing like tilling like a demon...as I have. More planting tomorrow, folks!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

TZ giving me the stink eye

TurkZilla is our big Bourbon Red tom turkey he's the 'herd sire' and boss tom.

He hates me. See that look in his eye? Pure hatred. Go ahead TZ just keep givin' me that look.

On an unrelated note, we are dressing turkeys later this week! Those who snuggle get a free pass. TZ, wanna change that attitude? 

Hope everyone had a great weekend!
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