The hens and ducks have enjoyed our delicious watermelon harvest. Lucky for them, we had several huge vines in the front yard garden, and we ended up buried in melons. They were so happy this evening!
Category Archives: Urban Farmsteading
Mortimer came and spent over seven months on our little farmstead. We adored him, watched him grow from a little brown duckling into a beautiful taupe and green Mallard drake, and he gave us so many laughs with all his character. Being part of a mated pair with Phoebe, it was a tough goodbye, but a necessary one. That last two days he was here were not pleasant, especially for him since he kept getting quarantined. The mornings were the worst, running up to any duck he could and pecking them, grabbing them, chasing and chasing every duck in sight. He was not a happy guy, and the whole flock suffered. Even Phoebe has stopped laying eggs from all the stress… She’s a daily layer, but she’s had three days with no eggs!
Morty left yesterday with a great guy who resides in Harrisonville, Missouri. He has property with a pond in the country. He keeps several ducks, including Runners like Mortimer, chickens and even a turkey. He’s in very good, loving hands which made the goodbye a lot easier.
Now, for the sweet gift I found today. It was laying next to our roses:
It’s a curled tail feather from Mortimer (grainy image, but you get the idea). Only mature males have these curled tail feathers. It was a very special find, and we’re keeping it to remember our very first, beautiful male duck. So long, Mortimer, thank you for the joy you gave us, and may you enjoy your new pond & flock!
Building the split run has been a huge project this Summer (male buck on one side, female doe on the other). It’s been dragging along due to all the excessive heat we’ve had… we simply cannot build in 95-100 degree temps or extreme high humidity. Because of the delay, our buck, Forest, has had to endure a longer time in his small hutch until it’s completed. It ate at us, and we felt terribly for him since he was growing so much. Finally, today, the door on his side was built, attached and latched. He has about 9′ x 5′ to hop around now. He’s officially a very happy bunny! He really deserves it because he’s such a sweetheart. He loves humans, and follows us around the yard like a dog. Here’s the door:
Now, on to Meadow’s door. They’ll both be able to see each other through the rabbit wire soon. Most of all, we’ll have fun watching them hop around from the sun room windows.
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…
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.
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.
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!
I recall traveling to several other States during the Summer, and really missing their loud humming sound at sunset. They’re literally all around here, all over our property. We keep finding their emptied brown shells, but never came across a Cicada in the process of transformation until this evening. They fascinate me. Unlike Butterflies, the don’t even have to have a cocoon, and simply transform within their own skin. They emerge larger and much more beautiful than before (well, I think they’re beautiful, anyway). There is a lot of symbology behind them. They’re garden good-guys, and target feeding on damaged leaves. I just plain love them, and consider their loud Summer hum the sound of home sweet home.
Below are the night time pictures I caught this evening on the edge of our rabbit run. I felt like a voyeur as I watched such a profound change happening. His pants are down! The Cicada slid out much faster than I expected. When I ran inside to grab the camera, he was barely out of his skin. When I ran back outside, he was almost finished.
Like Daniel always says at the end of the day when we’re trying to settle down, but can’t because of one more chore, “A farmer’s job is never done…”
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!