Saturday, May 30, 2009

And Again with the Ass Kicking

The ducklings continue to kick my butt. The bigger they get, the more they need feeding and cleaning and general stuff. They are still in the basement. I go to the City to pick up the SB and his stuff and bring him home on Sunday. It'll be nice to be co-parenting.

The ducklings spent a good portion of the last holiday weekend in the garden splashing around, which was excellent. I have figured out how to get them in and out alone, but it is much easier with two. Soon though, hopefully, the run will be built and they can be out quite a bit of the time. Here are photos from last Saturday....

The ducklings love the SB. I think they clearly see him as the leader as he is the tallest.

Thursday, May 14, 2009


Because I am too tired to be coherent... I bring you pictures.


Monday, May 11, 2009

Livin' the Farm Life

This livestock raising thing is freakin' exhausting. Saturday morning, first thing, I cleaned out the duckling cage. In a word, disgusting. Everything was totally soaked. The ducklings are changing daily, and Saturday's trick to see how fast they could empty the waterer. I know it shouldn't be shocking, but these ducks totally love water. I thought they were drinking the majority of it. Until I came home at 11PM Saturday night after a babysitting stint to a lake of duck runoff in the basement. Too tired to do much about it, I laid down some news paper to sop it up. Then I went upstairs to read about ducks.

Sunday at 6 AM I woke up and began to devise and implement and environmental management plan. The platform the ducks were on had to be lifted off the floor - luckily we have lots of bricks from our chimney demolition 10 years ago (and no, you cannot have them). The platform went on bricks... Luckily we thought in advance to put a shower curtain on top of the platform then the cage on top of that. The cage also had to be lifted so that it could drain properly. I used the overhang of the shower curtain to create a gutter that drained the runoff into a bucket. By Sunday afternoon there was about 3/4 of a gallon. I am pouring it into the compost pile. Sunday afternoon, I had to go get a new gallon sized waterer because I watched the ducklings empty the quart one in about 45 minutes.

I got up at 6AM this morning, with some help from Kitty. I went and fed and watered the ducks and then did a few small chores while the feeding frenzy took place. The only thing sharks have over ducks in a feeding frenzy is teeth. It gets a little ugly and the ducklings are all covered in food and water by the end. When they settled down, I put some dry bedding in the cage and refilled the food and water for the day. I was a little worried that the gallon waterer might not be enough so I left work a little early and was pushing to get home, thoughts of gasping ducklings in my head.... When I opened the door, the smell of ducklings greeted me. All the way from the basement I could detect the sent. Not overpowering, but certainly recognizable.... I went down and found some water in the waterer (whew!) and set about to cleaning out the cage again.... If it were warmer, I would have opened the door and aired the place out, but with the temperatures falling, I didn't want things to get cool in the basement. I think I am going to have to scrub everything with bleach when they move out...

I think the ducklings are getting bored. I am devising a swimming strategy for the weekend when it is supposed to get warm. I think a little paddle and play time in the water will exercise them sufficiently, and provide some rockin' photo opps. In the meantime, here is a link to CHO's photos from Sunday morning. I think people are getting really tired of me using the word "cute". I will have to consult my thesaurus.

In other news, I am neglecting both the cat and the bees. The garden looks pretty good for the most part, the potatoes are amazing and one plant is actually budding already. I picked the last of the fall/winter chard as it was getting ready to bolt, and got some lettuce for a few salads this week. My arugula has already bolted. It is too cold for the tomatoes and peppers and eggplant to be doing really well. It is a banner year for slugs, which makes it an even better year to have ducks. I bought two whole flats of plants this weekend which I needed not at all and now do not know when I will find time to plant.

Friday, May 8, 2009


I am afraid I have unwittingly invited monsters into my home. In 3 days, the ducklings have gone from getting through most of a bowl of food and 3 cups of water to 4 bowls of food and more than a gallon of water. Of course, much of it is spread across the cage, but they must be ingesting some of it because they are noticeably larger. I am talkin' NOTICEABLY. If you haven't seen them you would think they were still small, and they are, but they are growing like weeds.... You should come see them. They have been viewed by several neighbors, friends and family over the past three days. I think today is the first time they have started to settle a bit. They seem a little more confident.

Kitty is still unaware. Thank heaven. Once he finds out, there will be no rest for any of us.

The weather is spectacular and I am blogging. Remind me not to complain about working in the heat when the time comes. Clearly I am squandering the good weather.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Make Way for Ducklings...

So the duckling that I was worried about, seems to have kind of caught up with the rest of the crew. There are definitely larger and smaller ducklings, but it is hard to tell which is the "runt" now... So perhaps we have dodged that particular bullet.

You can tell they are already growing. They have figured out the eat then put the face in water thing that makes ducks work. They use the water to wash out their nostrils and with that dry food, you can see how they would need to. So I sat and watched them for a long time tonight going from food to water and back like a recirculating pool. They love to fish for bits of lettuce in the water even though they aren't very good yet at eating them. I am putting down new layers of straw twice a day. You could really do it about every 2-3 minutes, but you really have to draw a line somewhere. They are going through about a gallon of water a day. Most of which ends up in the bedding. Oh well.

My friend V says that ducklings are like crack. I must concur.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Roller Coaster

Today was the day the ducklings were supposed to arrive. Or not. It was Tuesday, likely Wednesday or maybe Thursday. I started out by calling the post office at 8:15. They were very nice and took my name and number. Then I had to wait until it was 8:30 in Iowa to call the hatchery. Yes, they shipped Monday but without a tracking number. So great, they would likely be here today. Called back to the post office later, talked to someone else who was incredibly nice and said the package wasn't there, but I could call the distribution center. Which I did, and got another unbelievably nice person who said to call back after noon because that was the last truck of the day coming from Richmond. I called back. No live birds except for the Tractor Supply order. Dang! Canceled my ride, moped to the SB, CHO and my Mama. And fretted about the little critters being in a box for another day.

At 2, Tuck from the loading dock called to tell me the birds were there! I had to call back my ride V. We had been planning the duck run since I placed the order. She was on the phone. GAD I must have called about 18 times in 12 minutes. She finally whisked me off in the red Duckmobile. We picked the little darlings up around 2:40 this afternoon from a postal clerk who looked like she couldn't wait to get rid of them. I told her that I was supposed to inspect the package for losses in front of a clerk and I thought she got a little green around the gills. Luckily I could just pry the lid up a bit and check them out. No feet sticking straight up in the air, so I guessed that was OK. Then V and I navigated traffic Oh So carefully home. Where we stuck there little bills in water to get them drinking. Which they, for the most part, took to - well, like ducks to water..... Right.

Next we moved them to the new basement quarters (theoretically cat proof - the basement, not the quarters) and got them rolling on some crumbles. Three point two minutes later there were crumbles and water spread across the cage like a very small tornado had come through. Really. It was impressive. As we were watching them tear around making the cutest little pat pat sounds with their feet, V pointed out that we had 11 ducklings. Right. Ten would have been plenty. Even nine if we lost one. Crikey. The SB said, "That's about 300 more eggs!" Right. But I am betting it is a male, why else would they have thrown it in for free other than they have lots of extras. We do have one little one that may or may not make it. It is just teeny and not up to speed. I kind of hope that if we lose it, it is sooner rather than later....

The majority of the little beasts are eating and drinking like champs and the SB and I went ahead and cut off the leg bands since he is here and it was DEFINITELY a two person job.

So? Are you ready for the photos? Actually, most of them are terrible, I will try to get more good ones soon, but the little buggers are FAST.

Upon arrival at the Future Urban Farm. They were actually pretty calm. Until we dipped their bills into the equivalent of duck gatorade - which inspired them to begin leaping around and trying to climb out of the boxes. Or maybe it was just being handled and stared at that made them a bit nervous....

This is probably one of the chocolate colored ones. The feet are the best.

This is before everything got really crazy.... Wow. You should see the place now. Crikey. Oh, and they started to smell bad almost instantly. The cat is still blissfully unaware. At least I am blissful that the cat is unaware. I don't know that he is blissful. He is always on the cranky side. When I was last downstairs, they were all sleeping under the lamp and next to the heater. I need to go look at them and make sure they have food and water for the night. It is just remarkable how much they have gone through in such a short time.

In other news.... the potatoes are loving this weather. But frankly, I am ready for a little sunshine.

Saturday, May 2, 2009


Today the SB and I had the pleasure of touring some local veggie gardens with some pretty interesting folks. A neighbor put together a handful of people who have veggie gardens in our quadrant of the city. The most remarkable thing about the tour (5 gardens in 4.5 hours) was how different they all are. Some are quite structured and others totally free form. I found herbs I had heard of but never seen and drank some ground ivy tea, and learned that black eyed peas are care free and delicious.

I can't wait to get back into the garden now. Just having an afternoon with people who are enthusiastic was exciting. I want to put my peppers and tomatoes in.... I want more garden space and I want to be harvesting. I am so greedy. I have so much space and such an amazing setup, but I want more.... I want a place for black eyed peas and more greens and corn and winter squashes and about a million more varieties of everything.

The SB and I went to Southern States earlier this morning and got feed and grit and a waterer for the ducklings. We still have some thing to figure out... Like where the cage is going to go.