Category Archives: Organic Food

Duck Dramas (or Quack-Operas)

Prasad held one of the ducks...

...while the other two sat in the back seat of our truck.

the light blue and black girls..

..enjoying what ducks enjoy most, a morning swim.

Part I, Three new ducks: Three. That was not planned. I’d contacted Jenn at her local Revolutionmama Ranch where we’d gotten our first Indian Runners to see if she had any females available. We wanted just one to replace the incorrectly sexed fawn & white females we ordered several weeks ago- one is female, but one is actually male. Big *ugh*, considering when you don’t buy them local, the shipping costs are high. Jenn informed me she had three Runner girls left from her baby stock for the year. They’re on the verge of laying age, probably by September.

During the drive out to her property, I told myself we’d take just two home. Nice try. By the time Prasad and I arrived and saw the three very bonded and attached ducks, I gladly took all three. They’re gorgeous in person- the pictures don’t even come close to showing the richness of their colors. One is shiny black with white speckles on the chest and iridescent green feathers in the sunlight. Another is a darker grey with bluish and black flecks, while the smaller girl is a brilliant, rich light blue. I’d been hoping for a blue Runner, and there she was. That seems to be how it goes before an animal joins us- I imagine the color or type I’d like, and they just happen to be exactly what we find. Now, onto the Mortimer/drake ordeal…

Mortimer (right) living in harmony with the new girls

Part II, Aggressive Drake: Before bringing home these beauties, Mortimer was in the slammer (the pen pictured at left). He was harassing the fawn & white babies constantly… just super rude and aggressive. He had to be quarantined both day and night, and I placed an on Craigslist ad to sell him. Last evening we brought our new girls home, and he went after them, too. So, we quarantined him another night. This morning I went out to clean up his pen and let him loose in the run. That time he left the new girls alone. He did an occasional nip or two if they came too close, but no aggressive chasing or pinning down. He went after the new fawn & white babies again, but today it’s been way less than before. He’s pinned them down a few times, but then walks away and gives them their freedom to swim and eat (unlike before). We’re hoping this is a trend, and that he’s merely asserting his dominance in the pecking order. Maybe there’s hope for Mort after all. That’s our hope, considering he’s such a gorgeous boy and we’ve had him almost a year.

Chameli & Adelaide, our fawn & white babies are free to roam the run now and seem to be our most avid swimmers.

These two cuties are the ones Mortimer has been targeting. We’ve seen a 75% reduction today, and hope that continues for all their sakes. Adelaide is on the right, and Adelaide is a male/drake. He doesn’t quack like Chameli… drakes squeak. His markings are more distinctive, too. He’s going to be another gorgeous drake to have around, and yes, we’re planning to come up with a new name.

We’re hoping that we’ve simply learned something about drake behavior; flock behavior. Introducing new members can be stressful, but it’s natural and inevitable. If Morty adjusts and is able to maintain his standing as the Supreme King of the flock, I think things will calm down.

Ermengard saying "hello" from the duck house

Last, but not least, is Ermengard. She’s our very calm and sweet Buff Orpington, and the first of our Spring chicks to start laying eggs last month. She never lays eggs where the other chickens like to lay. Instead, she seeks out new and exciting places (a really cool non-comformist). What I love most about her, is that she doesn’t mind being picked up. After this picture was taken, Phoebe, our duck came along and sat down beside her and they laid eggs together. I ended up eating Ermengard’s egg for breakfast.. thanks Ermie!

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Filed under Chickens, Ducks, Eggs, Organic Food, River Living, Urban Farmsteading

Garden Update: Mid-Summer 2011

We haven’t had the most ideal Summer for starting the journey of urban farming. There’s been little or no rainfall, and the temps keep sticking in the 100’s- unbearable, especially with the high humidity. Despite watering mornings and evenings, we lost our cucumber, pea, zucchini, and our second harvest of green beans fried on the vine. Those losses alone had us somewhat discouraged, however we’ve had big successes with other plants. We’re seeing peppers, potatoes, watermelon galore, and tomatoes popping out of our ears! The cherry tomatoes seem to be the most productive (an absolutely delicious), so we’re saving back seed for next year… we’ve been popping them like candy the last two weeks. The larger tomatoes are doing well, too, but have just started ripening. Our tomatillos had a batch that dried up and fell off a few weeks ago… sad, sad! But the second batch is hanging in there– extra watering required! I assumed they’d be as hardy as tomatoes in the heat, but I was wrong. This is a learn-as-you-go operation, and we’re still having a lot of fun!

Daniel spent the early afternoon weeding, and acidifying (coffee grounds & peat moss mixed into the soil) & mulching the two "test" Blueberry bushes. They're hanging in there, but boy are they struggling! Blueberry plants have shallow root systems.

we have some Russian Giant sunflowers hanging in the shed. We'll be putting paper bags over the heads to catch the seeds. These grew in our front yard, and put on an amazing display... a definite repeat planting next year!

Sky Bear carried this little bucket around and filled it with goodies today. The baby potatoes were harvested early from his little garden since the plants weren't doing too well. The ones we planted in the barrels are still doing great, though.

Last, but not least, I love our big Basil plant. I've been cutting from it weekly, and mixing it into pasta and sauces... fresh backyard Basil is amazing! For some reason it's tolerating the heat much better than our Lavender or Rosemary plants... I think it actually enjoys the heat.

 

 

 

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Filed under Blueberries, Food, In Season, Natural Food, Organic Food, River Living, Urban Farmsteading, Veggie Gardening, Weather

Pinch Me! I’ve Died and Gone to Tomato Heaven

First cherry tomatoes harvested today!

My all-time favorite crop has to be tomatoes. I could grow nothing but tomatoes, and be perfectly content. There is no comparison between organic home-grown and store bought tomatoes; pure ecstasy. These little cherries taste utterly divine, and will not last long. All our tomato plants, which were started indoors from seed, are now over 6′ tall and covered in deliciousness. Mmmm mmmm!

Posted by: Jill

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Filed under In Season, Organic Food, River Living, Urban Farmsteading, Veggie Gardening

First Homegrown Green Beans

Picked today. YUM!!!

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Filed under Food, Organic Food, River Living, Urban Farmsteading, Veggie Gardening

Backyard Pullet Eggs

4 1/2 month old pullet's egg on the left, adult duck egg on the right

I couldn’t resist sharing a picture of the first egg laid by a hand raised chicken. Hens are not called “hens” until they are one year old. Until then, they’re known as “pullets.” We weren’t expecting pullet eggs for another month, so Ermengard is an early bird!

The scale isn’t apparent in the photo, but her little egg yolk was the size of a quarter. Pullets start out laying small eggs, and become larger as the pullet grows. As adults, the bigger hens lay larger eggs. From Prasad’s review, this tiny delicacy was “very nice, supreeemely delicious.” Not bad for Ermengard’s first egg. Sorin wants the next tiny egg, so I guess we’ll have to create a waiting list.

Posted by: Jill

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Filed under Chickens, Ducks, Eggs, Food, Natural Food, Organic Food, Simplicity, Urban Farmsteading

Firsts on the Farm

check out our very first cucumber, hand-picked today. Isn't it gorgeous?

First egg from one our first baby chicks was laid today (pictured on the Left)! It was most likely from 18 week old Ermengard, a Buff Orpington. Isn't it cute?! The egg on the right is from our adult Rhode Island Red, Marge.

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Filed under Chickens, Eggs, Natural Food, Organic Food, River Living, Urban Farmsteading

Summer Ducklings

Two-day old Adelaide and Chameli finally arrived today. These are two Indian Runner females we plan to add to the couple we already have. I’ve fallen madly in love with Indian Runners (aka Bowling Pin Ducks , and Penguin Ducks). These two females will give a 1:3 male/female ratio to our little flock, as well as increase our yummy egg supply.

Raising ducklings in Summer is a different world from Spring time. I’m guessing we’ll find it preferable, considering they’ll only require a couple weeks indoors, versus the 4-6 weeks. They may require some supplemental heat in the evenings outdoors, but only until they’re four weeks old.

NAMES: Adelaide (Ad-uh-layd) means noble & kind, and Chameli (Chem-elly) is an Indian Sanskrit name meaning Jasmine flower.

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Filed under Ducks, Family Happenings, Organic Food, Urban Farmsteading