Tag Archives: homesteading
26 Feb

I didn’t sleep good last night, I’m pretty sure I wasn’t alone. Earlier in the day, at my Master Gardner’s class we sat outside learning how to propagate plants, laughing occasionally at how the wind was blowing our supplies all over creation.  We had canceled that particular class a week or so ago due to bad weather and needed to get it done and over with as propagation time is here.  Who wants to take a class “after” they need it, ya know.

We all got cuttings from Homestead Purple Verbena, Purple Trailing Lantana, Honeysuckle Bush,  Belinda’s Dream, Monsieur Tillier, Souvenir de St. Anne, Mrs. Dudley Cross, and a rose we all tagged “Gone With the Wind” (official name to come later).  Apparently that particular rose cutting came from an actual rose-bush on the estate the movie was filmed at, tagging it as such became even funnier as we chased down our cuttings blowing off the table.

Okay, one more thing for me to look up, take care of and figure out where to plant.  (sigh)

We’ve had company for the last week so when I got home I had to run around and get chores done so I would be finished before supper.  As I ran about filling waterers and throwing out the girls afternoon treat the wind continued.  I decided to leave the ducklings in their separate pen as I was afraid the increasingly chilly winds would be too much for them and their downy little selves.  Then of course, I felt guilty they would be missing their afternoon swim.

I walked into the new greenhouse to check the temp and see if anything needed to be watered and the wind continued.  I surveyed the growing number of vegetables starts and (sigh) made plans to begin their transition to the outside world.  Having just learned in MG class that I would need to “gently” get them accustomed to being outdoors or I would “burn the crap outta them if I just plopped them out in the field.”

Back in the house with 30 minutes to spare I thought I would lay down on the couch for a little “shut my eyes for just a minute” kind of rest.  Flipped the TV on my favorite news station for a little background mumbling, grabbed a light throw to keep the chill off, got myself settled and shut my eyes.  and the wind continued….

and it blew….

and it gusted…

My eyes kept popping open as the wind whipped around the house.  Just listening to it was wearing me out.  Our dinner company blew it right on time and I was somewhat distracted for several hours.  The whole time they were here the back of my mind was picturing chickens flying through the wind whipped air and flats of vegetable starts crashing into the windows.  As they were saying their good-byes I grabbed my coat and a flashlight, I couldn’t get outside fast enough.  I had to check on things one more time just to be sure everything was still intact.  I shut and locked the pop door for good measure, then as I passed the greenhouse I said a silent prayer it would all be there come morning.

I sat down in front of the tube to watch a few of my recorded shows and hopefully get sleepy before going to bed.  Three shows and three hours later my eyes felt like they had been open for an eternity and I was dog ass tired.  Unfortunately the wind was still whipping around out there and my mind with it.  I forced myself to get up and go to bed knowing there was a ton of work waiting for me in the morning, hoping the never-ending wind would not add to my list.

Okay, that wild cucumber vine growing up our window screen has got to GO!

 

Sick Duckling

11 Feb

photo (33)

Two new baby ducklings (female) we ordered from McMurray Hatchery, arrived on Jan 31, now 13 days old.

When they arrived I put them in a plastic bin brooder, in our house, for the first 10 days to make sure all was well.  I normally keep all baby birds in the “house brooder” for a full 4 weeks and then transfer them to a brooder inside the chicken coop for at least another 4 weeks before incorporating them in with the rest of the flock.  For some unknown reason I changed the norm and put them in the brooder in the chicken coop this past Friday. Everything was fine Friday and Saturday.

Sunday morning I went out to do chicken chores and check on our new girls and was shocked to find one of the ducklings turned over on her back paddling her feet in the air!  I have no idea how long she had been like this.  I quickly turned her over, whereby she took a very wobbly step and went right back over on her back.   I righted her once again, but this time I cupped my hands around her to hold her in place, give her some added warmth and try to calm her down.  We stayed this way for several minutes.  Thinking she was probably exhausted from this little ordeal I placed her in front of the water to allow her to drink, which she did.  With one hand cupped around her for support I offered her some feed with the other, which she ate.  After about 15 or 20 minutes she seemed to be feeling better and on shaky legs walked over to the feed dish to get more.   So I figured perhaps I walked in right about the time she ended up on her back and I am probably making a mountain out of a mole hill.

I checked on her several times as I went about my usual chicken chores for the morning.  By the time I finished feeding, watering and gathering eggs both ducklings were settled down together so I figured everything was okay.  Throughout the day I checked on them several times as I could not get this ridiculous picture out of my head of her laying on her back paddling her little feet.  All I could think about was that commercial of the elderly woman on the floor saying, “Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.”

This morning I went out to do my chicken chores and AGAIN, find this poor baby duckling on her back paddling her feet.  This is not normal people!  What is going on?  A million thoughts are running through my mind:  I put them outside too soon.  There is too much pine shavings on the brooder floor making it an unstable ground to walk on.  Am I putting enough Vitamins in the water?  Is there something wrong with my feed?  This poor duckling is so unstable on her feet it is not funny.

Okay so here are the details of the last 13 days:

Feed:  I started them out on Certified Organic Chick Starter from Coyote Creek Mills for the first 10 days.  Then I switched them over to Purina Start & Grow, for the last 3 days.  I did this mainly because I noticed our meat chicks that are on this same feed  (in a totally separate area/never been anywhere near the ducklings) all have soft-ish poop and I am having issues with pasty butt.  Since I have never had this problem on Purina I am questioning the organic stuff.  Additionally the “sick” duckling had pasty butt for the last 4 days she was given the organic.  Three days on the Purina and I have not had to clean her butt off once.

Water:  Fresh water given twice daily with added Vitamins and Electrolytes for the added niacin supplement.

Brooder Housing:  First 3 days was an XL plastic tub with newspaper in the bottom, changed twice daily.  Day 4-10, same tub with about 1/2 inch of pine shaving in the bottom, cleaned out as necessary.  Last 3 days in 2 X 4 brooder pen inside chicken coop with about 2 inches of pineshaving, water, feed and a brooder light on one end for warmth.  As of this writing have moved them back into the house into a makeshift 3 X 3 foot pen with doggie pads on the floor, those I have covered with that rubber drawer lining stuff so they can have secure footing.  I also have a box with pine shavings if they choose to get in there and sleep.  The pen is 1 1/2 feet up off of the floor and sits about 3 feet from a space heater (no central here) so it is nice and toasty warm (but not too hot).

Weather:  The last 3 days the outside weather has been cold and rainy with day time temps averaging about 65 and nightime lows about 45.  Although the ducklings have been inside a brooder pen, inside the chicken coop (which is a 15 X 17 converted horse stall), with a brooder light for warmth, yes it probably got drafty at night and yes I am kicking myself right about now.

I caved this morning and took both ducklings to the Vet.  Since I have no idea what is wrong with the “sick” duckling I have no idea how to treat.  Here are their stats from the Vet:

Duckling to the left of the picture holding her head up:  This is the duckling that “I thought” was well/okay.      temp was 105.4,  weight 540 grams, Vet said he could hear scratchy sounds in her upper air sacks, which he also said was where her lungs were located, lower air sacks sound clear.

Duckling to the right of the photo with her head down:  This is the duckling that keeps ending up on her back and has really wobbly legs.     temp was 105.2, weight 342 grams, air sacks sounded clear, poop sample showed no intestinal worms.

Since he really can’t find anything wrong other than the scratchy sounding air sacks in the larger duckling he felt we were dealing with an upper respiratory thing so he prescribed .25 oral Baytril to be given twice daily for 1 week.  Come back if they don’t get better or if anything else happens.

Okay so we have an antibiotic and I’m all good with that.  The only reason I brought the “well” duckling with me was I was afraid the “sick” duckling had something that might be contagious and wanted to make sure they both got treated.  I wasn’t expecting such a big difference in weight either, I mean the “well” duckling weighs a whopping 540 grams and the “sick” duckling weighs 342 grams.  That’s a difference of  202 grams and these two ducks were born on the same exact day.

Anybody out there have an opinion, thoughts, suggestions, advice, ever have this same thing happen?

When your fingers go walking………..

8 Dec

Way, way, way back in July, my fingers were doing some shopping without consulting “the man” and ordered fruit trees online. My reasoning was simple;  In order to make jam I need fruit, why buy fruit at the market when we can just as easily grow it ourselves.  If we have our own fruit trees not only can we sell the fruit, we can make jam too.  I mean come on, it was just a couple of trees, three actually: 1 apple, 1 peach and 1 plum.  What could it hurt, these three little trees, and they’re dwarf so they won’t take up much room.  Due to arrive after wedding #3 (Oct 6), I had plenty of time to inform his highness and make preparations.

A few weeks later I received a nice little pre-printed note from the nursery informing me that since my trees could not be shipped for several months they were “giving me” 4 free trees as a way of thanking me for my early order.  I looked at the list of potential freebies and selected 4 free Raspberry bushes, what the heck it’s free right.

3 fruit trees + 4 Raspberry bushes = 7 living plants needing site preparation (not too bad, I can handle this)

A few more weeks go by and I am needing a break from pre-wedding planning so I figure it’s time to do a little research on my recent purchase.  Yeah, well, shoulda done that first.  What I discover is that my apple and plum trees will benefit from a pollinator, which also means I need more trees.  Pollinator research completed, my fingers go back to the nursery to order companions for the aforementioned apple and plum trees.

I’m not real sure what happened after that, the poor things must have been tired after all that research or maybe just a little frustrated.  It could have been a spasm of some kind or side effect from ordering all those invitations, truffles and sparklers for 200 people.  I printed out my receipt and stared at the paper.  What on earth have I done?

2 apple, 2 plum and 2 peach (I mean really why not make it 3 of each?)

and then the freebies I somehow got to order at the end of checkout:

2 raspberry, 3 blackberry, 5 grape and 3 sweet bay magnolia for show (and how is this company  making any money?)

FOR A GRAND TOTAL OF:

3 apple + 3 peach + 3 plum + 6 raspberry + 3 blackberry + 5 grape + 3 sweet bay magnolia =  26 living plants needing site preparation, followed by planting, watering and TLC over winter!

I take a deep breath and find a way to gently let the man know we have an orchard on the way.  At the time he was working on his “Father of the Bride” speech so he may not have actually heard the numbers, on account of he took the news so well.  I wasn’t going to rock that boat so I just eased on out of that conversation.

The wedding comes and goes without a hitch on October 6.  Two weeks later daughter #4 gets engaged.  Two weeks and two days after that the phone rings and all hell breaks loose with Maw.  (and) Two weeks and two days after THAT the orchard arrives.

Was I ready? %@&&, NO!

By the time the orchard arrived, Maw was recovering from her surgery, and Uncle J had arrived for an extended stay to look after Maw;  going back and forth from the big hospital and then back and forth from “the hospital” every day.  I was taking a much-needed break from tending to Maw to clean house and get ready for the kids to come home for the weekend, and to prepare Thanksgiving dinner for 27 people.  Just as the mirliton sat in their box for a while before I found time to get them in the ground, the orchard wound up in a bucket to chill out over Thanksgiving weekend.

We managed to get the apple, plum and peach trees in the ground the Saturday after Thanksgiving.  The raspberry and sweet bay magnolia followed a few days later, although I’m thinking about relocating the raspberry as I’m not completely convinced we chose the right location.  The blackberry and grape are now in a smaller bucket on the kitchen counter, placed there on purpose to stare me in the face.  You would know the best spot for them will require several hours/days of ground work to remove overgrowth, weeds, grass and work the soil.

Wouldn’t you know it, the forecast for today and tomorrow:    Rain          🙂