Tuesday, August 13

What Other Changes Are In Store For Us This Summer?

Wow…this summer has been much different than the last several we endured, with drought, heat and ticks. The ticks have been here as usual this summer, but not in such abundance sine the weather has been colder. We had that very hot couple of weeks, which drove the ticks into hiding and then the weeks that were actually chilly. That also drove them back into hiding. The big difference is that the temperatures have actually returned to something like they were during Vick’s childhood years up here. She remembers that you never had to use air conditioning in the summers up here. It was just naturally chilly, which was the main reason people came here from the city. They wanted to get away from the heat of that concrete jungle.
It is raining again…filling the lake to overflowing by now I’m sure, because Josh and I laid pond rubber across the stacked cap blocks which made the dam for the lake. They were allowing water to squirt through the cracks and around and under the dam, so the rubber became a sealer, helping to hold back more water, keeping the lake level from dropping so quickly. It remained full the entire week since we did the rubber and filled the lower side of the dam with large ballast stone for support. It is a very stable, earthen breast dam now…one that will be able to withstand the winter ice and high springtime run-off.
Yesterday was a day off for us and we used it to go pick up some things we needed at Lowe’s and prescriptions at Wal-Mart. Upon returning home, I roto-tilled two raised beds for Vick and she planted a late crop of potatoes since the ones in the tires didn’t do so well. We need to research that method further and try again next year. In the mean time, perhaps we will get a few from yesterdays planting by late fall. I tilled in a ½ block of peat moss and two bags of sand in each of the raised beds to create a loamier bed. We are going to do this to all the beds next spring before planting. We are also going back to padding the walkways with wood chips like last year. Doing straw this year was a big mistake because the straw was so full of seed that weeds grew everywhere and the straw used in the beds as a cover guard was so wet that planted things rotted and weeds grew in their place. Who knew the seeds weren’t removed before baling? One thing for sure, there are NO seeds in wood chips!
Doodles is back in the little barn with the three Pekin ducks as of last evening. Obviously yesterday they resolved their differences and he is back with the three stooges, because it looks like the fighting is over and done with. Sometimes I wish I could listen to them and understand what they are saying when the quack back and forth like they do.
The chickens always make me laugh because of the God awful sounds they make. Most times they sound like they are screaming or groaning…sometimes singing a song, or just clucking and putting to themselves. Sometimes they sound like they are in agony and dying a slow death. Even thought the chickens are funny, they have little personality.  
Ducks on the other hand do possess personalities…each and every one of them has their own personality which allows you to know them apart. Emmy was our favorite. She partnered with a Rouen male we called Grover and she gave him particular lip every time he mated with another female duck or another male forced himself on her. She actually expected Grover to fight for her, intervene and stop her sexual assault! If he did not…then she laid into him with her incessant quacking and head bobbing…usually following him as he walked away from her. Sadly, one day Emmy was gone…taken by a fox, judging from the pile of feathers near the fence. We still miss her and that was over a year ago.
Anyway, we have dropped the flock size of both the ducks and chickens due to the feed costs. We sold chickens, but never sold a duck. As we lose them, we just don’t replace them and one day we will only have Indian Runner ducks.
Indian runners are the coolest of all ducks except for the Muscovy ducks. Indian Runners and Muscovy’s are very docile and get along well. If you have males, they do not torture the females during mating season like all the other breeds do. When we get to that point, we will only buy females and if we get a male, it will be due to the hatchery’s mistake. If we ever have ducks hatch here, it will be Indian Runners bred and reared by a mother duck. We will not hatch eggs here anymore. Our turkeys are hatching their own eggs too, increasing our flock from within.
We will always have ducks, chickens and turkeys for the eggs which are very popular and we enjoy watching the ducks and chickens on the farm. We will again sell turkeys for the holidays, but under controlled circumstances. Not like before. We will sell excess toms from the flock, holding one Alpha and one subordinate as a back-up. Any other hatched males will be sold for table fare in the fall.           

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070248 Cluckin' "A" Critter Farm, LLC

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