Friday, November 9, 2012

On goat health

You can check out my goat post here.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Back to Blogging

You missed me didn't you?  Both of you did, I just KNOW it. 

There is much news, I suppose.  And as with farms and life, there is good and bad.

We'll start with the bad and just get that out of the way....

It has been a rough year for ducks here at the urban farm.  We lost 2 over Labor Day weekend to a fox, with an additional one mauled pretty good.  Josephine "the survivor" Duck, managed to make it.  Much to the surprise of both the SB and I.  I cleaned her wounds with water and hydrogen peroxide and then sprayed them with "wound spray" which is pretty much an anti-everything spray.  I don't know what is in it but it is anti fungal, anti bacterial and probably tastes really bad to foxes.  We tucked her into her own little sub pen and tried to get her to eat.  After a couple of days, she started on some spinach, moved on to water fowl food and finally to regular duck food.  I don't know if I missed a cut on her leg, or if there was some kind of fracture.  But over the next week or so her knee swelled significantly and got hot.  I called my gung ho vet and he allowed me to pick up some antibiotics from the compounding pharmacy in town.  It was nice that my Mama could pick them up and she paid for them.  Which I appreciated even more when I had to pick up the second round and pay $38 for them.  Sheesh.  So we gave Miss J oral antibiotics 2x per day for most of a month and topical antibiotic cream as well.  And the SB gave some physical therapy along the way as well.  She got better, finally.  Then she slipped a tendon.  Which is not good.  This can come from prolonged swelling.  Maybe we let her get too much exercise too soon?  I don't know.  The SB has redoubled his efforts in the physical therapy, stretching the tendon and hoping to convince it to stay where it belongs.  So far there is not much of a change, but he is persistent.  I hate to see her hobbling, but she otherwise seems in pretty good spirits.  Certainly alert and engaged in her flock so I don't want to put her down.

In the meantime, we lost another duck to the fox in broad daylight right behind the SB's back.  Damn fox.  So now, the ducks can only go in the fenced in garden unless we are right on top of them.  Pain in the butt and hard on the garden.  There is much planning to do to make the garden work next spring.  Now we have some half assed fencing keeping the ducks (mostly) out of the fall garden. 

Because all the ducks we lost were females, I bought three older ducks to add to the flock to keep the boys from harrassing the girls too much.  We are still a little boy heavy, but I don't want more ducks.  I could get rid of one of the boys, but I would hate to send him off to a new home without a friend and I don't want to get rid of any more of mine.  We'll see how spring goes.

The good news is that the goats were out in the country this week getting knocked up.  Yup.  My girls are gonna have them some babies this spring.  I took them out to Dragon Hill Farm to meet their baby dady.  Apparently deeds have been done and I am going to pick them up tomorrow.  They have been gone less than a week, but it feels like forever.  I am excited about the babies, but terrified.  Clearly things don't always go as planned in these little events.... and the real issue is how on earth and I going to bring myself to take the babies away from their mamas?  Oi.  I am either going to be very unpopular or cave and leave them on their mothers and never have milk.  Oi.  My head hurts just thinking about it. 

In other good news, in the process of buying the ducks I met this really amazing lady who has had ducks for a long time.  She is a fantastic resource and I look forward to talking more with her in future.
As the light wanes for the year, I have been being more social.  It has been great to catch up with friends and neighbors now that the air has cooled and the mosquitoes aren't hounding me at every instant. 

Fall is such a relieve.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Season of Yellow

This is the time of the year that we are surrounded by yellow.  Literally.  The farm is electric with brown eyed susan's that have naturalized on the front hill, along the driveway, and pretty much anywhere else we don't mow them down.  In addition the sunflowers are blooming in a last gasp of summer.  The gold finches are here in droves to eat the sunflower seeds and flit through the yard and garden.  They will start in on the BES seeds when the sunflowers are gone.  The walnuts have started to drop little yellow leaves in the grass as they get ready for fall.  I don't know how they make it as they are the last to fully leaf out and the first to start dropping their leaves.

Then there are the garden spiders.  Which I always see in the beginning of August (though this year it was the last week of July).  They are the beginning of the end of summer to me....  Can't say I'll be sorry to see it gone.  Only, as always, devastated by the end of the fresh tomatoes.

Sunday, July 22, 2012


Yesterday the temps didn't get out of the 70s and we had on and off rain all day.  These days in the summer are some that I look forward to with great anticipation.  They are a relief from oppressive heat and anxiety about my garden and my animals.  We don't use the AC much around here, but when we do, I feel completely disconnected from the outside world, and that makes me uncomfortable.  I love the comfort of the AC in the blasting sticky heat of summer and it means that I can actually sleep instead of tossing around trying to find a cool spot on the pillow.  But it has its price.  This weekend was a gift.  A sweet reminder of the other 9 -10 months of the year that are mostly just plain glorious.

Another gift came my way recently too.  You won't believe it.  I actually won something.  I did.  Me.  I won a giveaway from a blog of some seeds.  How cool is that?  Pretty cool.  I waited by the mail box like a love sick teenager (back when people corresponded by letter) until the packet came.  I am planting them this weekend.  Annie's is not a seed company that I have any experience with, so I will keep you posted.  They do have very charming seed packets with some good info on them.  I was looking at the packets of seeds and roughly calculated 1500 seeds for the collection.  That is a lot of vegetables.  It makes me feel like I shouldn't just scatter them willy nilly around in the garden and then ruthlessly thin.  It is amazingly wasteful.  But I have tried the individual planting cells for each seed and I find that often transplants don't do as well in side by side comparison.  The dilemmas....

And of course, the final gift, carefully disguised as ANOTHER vet bill is the news that all the cat's liver functioning is totally back to normal, which means that his liver failure was temporary and there is no reason to believe that he will not survive to aggravate us long into the future.

Happy day.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Bad Ass

I have been working to integrate the new ducks into the flock.  It is similar to last time, but there are only two to integrate into a flock of 8, rather than the other way 'round.  I must stay, it made me a little nervous.   These two littles are ready to join the flock, it is just the big ducks that are resisting.  The little ducks will follow them around and snorffle at a respectful distance from the big ducks.  I don't leave them alone with them for extended periods of time as I am afraid that the big ducks will ditch them someplace in the yard and they will get lost or snatched by the very large hawk that seems to be hanging out in the church lot next door.  I still have them sectioned off when they are in the pen, so that they don't get tormented and so I can be assured that they have access to food and water.

This morning I was going to be in the garden for a bit and thought I would let the littles hang out in the pen in the same space as the big ducks to see how things were going to go.  As usual, the big ducks started making ugly faces at the little ones and giving little charges toward them.  Agatha, our little female shocked me by giving it right back to the other female ducks.  She was taking no shit from those old ladies.  Go Agatha!  Both of the little ones are still afraid of the male ducks, but I think they are off on some good footing.

Total integration is near, which will cut down a tiny bit on the morning feeding/watering chores, though I will make sure there are at least two food bowls in the pen for a while so that everyone has the chance to eat.  The males do seem to want to chase the babies off of the food, but they aren't super diligent about it.  Short attention span those ducks. 

Here is an old picture of the babies, when we still had three.  The little yellow one is the one that the snake tried to eat but only managed to kill.  Probably selected because it was the littlest.  Agatha is the brown duck on the back right with the bi colored bill.  Both she and the other one are Khaki Campbell/Runner crosses (at least that is what we think). 
This was taken on one of the first days that they were out in the yard and swimming in our little duck pool.  For whatever reason, everyone was being still enough for photos.  Something that rarely happens with the livestock.

Friday, July 13, 2012


There are a few things to celebrate around here, the first being the break in the heat.  We are back to our normal temps and even in the low 80s today, which is a real treat.  I have taken the day off to plant the fall garden.  Carrots, beets, spinach, leeks, etc etc.  I am also going to try fall potatoes, though I have few hopes of realizing significant harvests.  So worth a try though as home grown potatoes are one of my favorites.  It has been incredibly dry here, so I am not sure what kind of luck we will have on anything.

We are also celebrating that the cat has not died yet.  In fact, he is looking remarkably well for being on Death's door for several days.  It appears he will live to cost me another $700 at some point in the future.  Woo hoo.

All of our February ducks are laying eggs now.  Not every day, but we do have 5 egger days which is super.  It means we will now be able to start selling eggs again and the ducks can pay for their own damn feed.  We'll cross our fingers and hope that the recent string of losses is at an end and we can have a relatively quiet rest of the year despite what appears to be an explosion in the fox population.

And finally, I am celebrating my 300th post here on the blog.  Yay blog. 

And I leave you with a photo of the rather large snapper who drowned our duck. (Ooh, another reason to celebrate!  A photo!)  This is my hand.  Not a giant hand, but an adult hand.  And that is the turtle.  He is big, no?  He is in one of those galvanized washtubs.  The kind of tub I prefer to load full of ice and beer rather than killer turtles.  Maybe that will come later in the summer.

Sunday, July 8, 2012


The heat wave that has hit the central and eastern US is still with us for another day or so.  The temps are near or over 100 the past few days.  In the upper 90s and around 100 for the seven previous days.  We have turned the AC on.  This is not something we normally do.  But some of us get a wee bit cranky when we are trying to sleep and can't because we are drowning in our own sweat.  All hail modern technology.  I really feel for the folks who have been out of power for the last 8 days.  Most days I could have probably made it without AC by moving slow and drinking cold drinks and sitting in front of the fan.  Subtract the fan and the ice and I would be toast.  You folks who have toughed it out are impressive.  I, on the other hand, am a pansy.  The weather people say that this all starts to break up tonight and tomorrow and we will have a week that is back in the 80s.  The prediction is for the low 80s on Tuesday.  When I went to the farmer's market on Saturday, everyone was talking about Tuesday in awed tones as if it was a holiday.

I have high hopes that the Canadian cold front that is up to relieve us from the heat may also bring us rain.  We have been watering like crazy over the past few weeks.  All the wee thunderstorms have missed us and things are dry.  Really dry.  The ailanthus is starting to wilt.  We are lucky that the soil here is good and sucks up water quickly.  We can have a lot of impact with our watering as not much rolls off.  Still, our water bill will be staggering.  Along with the electric bill for the AC.

And of course on top of that, is the vet bill for the cat who is very likely dying.  Liver failure.  Probably permanent, but possibly temporary.  We are treating him as if it is temporary, though I don't hold out much hope.  He is lethargic, but doesn't seem to be in pain, so that is good.  I'll have my first experience giving subcutaneous fluids today.  I suspect it will be a lot messier than we think.  But it can't be much worse than trying to get cat food in his mouth with a syringe.  I already changed clothes once today.

The garden is doing remarkably well considering the drought. We are getting cukes, tomatillos, a few peppers and summer squashes.  Tomatoes have to be coming soon... Cucumber agua fresca is just around the corner. 

Ducks hold up to the heat remarkably well.  The little ducks are now convinced they are big enough to play with the big ducks.  The big ducks have no interest.  Sound familiar?  Oh, Teh Drama.