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!



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

Update: Sorin’s Blossoming Independence

Sorin is settling in quite well to her new home. She’s remembering to take out the trash every Monday evening without reminders… that’s better than me! She’s also been keeping her home nice and orderly. She’s actually very particular about her home, and takes a lot of pride in keeping it clean. Most importantly, she’s been getting herself out of bed for work. Did I just say that? It’s a miracle, considering she always relied heavily on Daniel and I to pry her out of bed every day (it was never easy). That was one reason we thought she might never be able to live independently, but she’s proving otherwise. Up at 6:0oam on her own. Honestly, I’m amazed. I always thought she was capable of a great deal, but she’s slipping into the role of responsible, independent young woman more quickly than I ever imagined.

She still has her kitten, Sookie (pictured above). When Sorin is away at work she worries so much about her being left alone. She calls me a lot to see if I can check on her. While home, she’s such a pampering mother to her. Lucky kitten! They keep each other company, and Sorin really seems to be enjoying her solitude and refuge from the hustle and bustle of our family. What I’m loving most are the phone calls… she calls me, and we sit and talk for 5-10 minutes at a time. Funny how that happens once kids move out. My mom and I talked more when I was finally on my own, and it’s a tradition I’m really enjoying with Sorin now. We’re clearly going to develop a strong friendship, which is heartwarming.

Here’s the icing on the cake: Sorin has a position as a nurse’s assistant at the hospital. The two-year internship through Project SEARCH will help her gain more competitive job skills, and she’s completely thrilled about her current position.We haven’t gotten all the details about her duties yet, but Sorin is beaming with pride, and so are we!

And as I have promised, pictures of Sorn’s new little 400 square foot house are coming. Amelie and I are checking on the house today, so I’m hoping to post them very soon!

Posted by: Jill

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First Day of 4th & 5th Grade

Mr. Cool, and Sir Spiffy

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Evening Cicada Transformation

The sound of Cicadas: One reason I love living in the Midwest.

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.



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Surviving the Week

Six days. I’ve survived six days straight, alone with four kids in the home, and I didn’t lose my mind. Not once. It’s a complete miracle. I’ve never stayed home this long while Daniel was away, and it wasn’t as difficult as I imagined.

Maybe I’m speaking too soon, considering I still have about 18 hours remaining before Daniel gets home. He’s been on an inspiring, week-long¬† spiritual retreat, and it’s helped immensely that he called me at least three times a day to share all the peace and joy. It also helped a great deal to see a friend’s pictures of him on the pilgrimages and outings. (Thank you, Mei!) Since I’ve been there many times, I was able to re-experience it all with him in my mind and heart. He’s really glowing, which warms my heart. The main feeling I have today is a deep joy and gratitude for the fact that he was even able to go; that he could miss work, and that I could hold down the fort for him without ending up in a straight jacket.

The kids have done reasonably well, too. They’ve all spoken to Dad at least once a day, and I kept updating them on what he was doing each day. We’ve all felt very connected to Daniel. Amelie started saying “Coo-Roo” for guru this week (super sweet). Behavior-wise, I had a few challenges with Sky (very up & down), but nothing new and no surprises. The key seemed to be keeping him very busy with peers, outings, and a basic schedule. Liam had outings 5 hours/day M-F, which was a Godsend. I haven’t lost my mind, and if anything I am doing better than ever. God gave me every ounce of strength and endurance I needed, and then some! Now, I can’t stop counting down the minutes until I get to see Daniel’s face.

This picture really made me smile. So much happiness at a dinner gathering! Left to Right: Joey Moore, Amy Davis, Daniel, Annie Jablonski, and Mei Ling Moore

Blessings from Br. Achalananda, Vice President of Self-Realization Fellowship

Daniel on the grounds of our guru's home (Mother Center at Mount Washington)

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RAD Parenting: Just One Day of Truly Unconditional Love

Mother = Unconditional Love, correct? That’s what I’ve been taught, but it isn’t always that easy, nor is it realistic when we’re all flawed, imperfect, and unenlightened human beings. In my nineteen years of motherhood I’ve been close, and I only mean close to giving unconditional love. The only true unconditional love in this world comes from God, saints, or truly enlightened beings, but mothers are very, very close. That said, I’ve had my challenges with a child who is determined to push me away, never tell the truth, deceive the whole family, and cause us to feel completely unsafe in our own home. I experience hourly knots in my stomach, have become hyper-vigilant, and was diagnosed with PTSD. The whole experience is a massively painful boulder God/the Universe/my guru has thrown at my head.. ouch! Instead of throwing it back at him or running away from it, I’m embracing the boulder because it’s from Him; chiseling away for the hidden diamonds inside. I’m determined to master the art of unconditional love in this lifetime, so what better stage to be on than with a RAD (Reactive Attachment Disordered) child.
Unlike most days, this day was filled with harmony. I should say, rather, that I myself was filled with a harmonious acceptance about life. Could it be that I awoke refreshed after a long night’s sleep and meditated for almost an hour, or that my husband is on a spiritual retreat and he keeps calling me with incredible insights, or could it be that every time I observed Sky’s negativity, constant deception, and problematic ways I immediately forced myself to think “MY GOD is in him, MY GOD is there.” When I think “MY GOD”, I get an image in my mind of my guru. It’s not a thought, necessarily, but an overpowering feeling. I feel such heart-melting affection for my guru when I see him in a specific scene in my mind, and I can feel his great Love for me as well. His sincere sweetness is beyond any description, and the closest to God’s Love I have ever experienced. To shift into that feeling when I have observations of negativity in Sky causes all of what’s happening in this dense, physical world to disintegrate… to melt into Love. Maybe that is why I was filled with such harmonious acceptance today. I’m hoping so, because it’s an easy practice for me. If not, maybe the harmony and calmness came from my therapeutic time with Prasad…
Prasad is doing extremely well today. I’ve noticed that, due to an hour long conversation this morning (intimate 1:1 attention), he is less nervous, less scattered, more focused and present, and most of all extremely joyful and more affectionate than ever. My presence is medicine to him, and his is to me as well. We spent a lot of time together without Sky today and had the opportunity to ‘be ourselves’ together, which doesn’t present itself often. We feed off of one another in positive ways, and I can always feel my inner child adoring him… he’s the brother she never had, but always wanted. We were both in such a heightened state of joy by the time we picked up Sky from a play group today, I’m sure Sky noticed. He became very withdrawn and shut down in the car and at home, which is what he always does when Prasad and I are very happy, playful and alive. He wouldn’t speak much, but it didn’t affect me at all like it usually does. Normally, I’d get dragged in, try cheering him up to no avail, all the while realizing I was robbed of my previous, very positive state of mind. Instead, today my level of joy remained stable the whole day through, despite Sky’s various attempts to drag us down.
At one point when Sky walked into the kitchen he was slouching, heavy, angry, glaring at me and obviously depressed. Nothing triggered it, except that we were happy (close to ecstatic). This is how he gets when he wants to drag everyone down. It’s complicated, but if no one shares in being miserable, he feels alone, isolated, and out of control. I observed his face and heard my own inner voice saying “MY GOD, MY GOD… MY GOD is in there. MY GOD is in him.” I felt deep affection; a vast ocean of love, not necessarily for Sky personally, but for the beautiful image of God I know is within him. He would not be living and breathing without it. I saw his sulking, angry face as the mask it really was, and literally felt the presence of God hiding deep inside of Sky and all his self-centered ways. All was well. The whole evening after dinner (Sky’s most difficult time of day) was more smooth and drama-free than it has ever been. My thoughts alone can transform a situation.. Sky was not healed, nor is that my intention, but he did not even attempt to engage in any sort of conflict. That’s a huge “Wow” in this family.
This day was miraculous. I know these spiritual lessons are why I chose to be a mother. They’re extremely difficult to learn, but I’m determined to get it, one day at a time. Unconditional love for all people, regardless of what they do, their mistakes, or how they treat us, is what we are here to cultivate on this planet. Sky is my greatest teacher and catalyst in that regard, and I thank him. I’m realizing that great, unswerving, unconditional love in the face of misunderstanding, pain, and ugliness is the only way out of our suffering, both individually and globally. For the first time I’m seeing that I am capable of it, if only for today.
  • On a last note, I couldn’t help sharing this extract from St. Francis, since it is so applicable in my own life. I was reminded of it by a friend, and I didn’t fully understand it in the past, but it makes complete sense to me now:

Brother Leo asked [St. Francis] in great wonder: “Father, I pray thee in God’s name tell me where is perfect joy to be found?”

And St. Francis answered him thus, “When we are come to St. Mary of the Angels, wet through¬† with rain, frozen with cold, and foul with mire and tormented with hunger; and when we knock at the door, the doorkeeper comes in a rage and says, ‘Who are you?’ and we say, ‘We are two of your brothers,’ and he answers, ‘You tell not true; you are rather two knaves that go about deceiving the world and stealing the alms of the poor. Begone!’ and he opens not to us, and makes us stay outside hungry and cold all night in the rain and snow; then if we endure patiently such cruelty, such abuse, and such insolent dismissal without complaint or murmuring, and believe humbly and charitably that that doorkeeper truly knows us, and that it is God who makes him to rail against us; O Brother Leo, there is perfect joy.

“And if, compelled by hunger and by cold, we knock once more and pray with many tears that he open to us for the love of God and let us but come inside, and he more insolently than ever shouts, ‘These are impudent rogues, I will pay them out as they deserve,’ and comes forth with a big knotted stick and seizes us by our cowls and flings us on the ground and rolls us in the snow, bruising every bone in our bodies with that heavy stick -if we endure all these things patiently and joyously for love of Christ, write, O Brother Leo, that in this perfect joy is found.

“And now, Brother Leo, hear the conclusion. Above all the graces and the gifts that Christ gives to those who love him is that of overcoming self, and willingly to bear other pain and buffetings and revilings and discomfort for love of God.”

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Farm Life: Abbot & Costello

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…”

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