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.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


Check out my post at Cville League of Urban Goatherds.  I am double dipping.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

It has been so long....

So much has happened in the last month +.  There is no way to catch up other than a list! (because you know we love a list around here almost as much as Starr Hill Girl.)

1. A week after the snapping turtle got one of the brown ducks, a fox got Aretha.  Aretha was one of the original flock and was the only reliable layer left.  Our other old girl, Josaphine, lays eggs but they have very thin shells and are often broken.  And they go bad quickly since they don't seem to have much coating on them (a waxy stuff that is deposited on the eggs as they are laid so that they don't dehydrate).  It was a bummer.  We think she got snatched on evening at dusk.  We didn't even realize she was gone until the next day.  We never found any sign of her, no feathers, no carnage, no nothin'.  That is why we think it was a fox.

2. I paid $5 for a small container of homegrown tomatoes at the market.  It made me want to go home and fertilize my tomatoes.  But I am not sorry I did it.  I am just sorry everyone else likes tomatoes as much as I do.

3. I got a call from a friend at work that they were incubating some duck eggs and did we want some more ducks.  I consulted with the SB.  Why YES, thanks, we would like some more ducks!!

4.  We took receipt of three adorable baby ducks.  Two runner/khaki crosses and one pure runner.  They would adorably follow me around the garden and play in the water while I was hosing down the plants.

5. I dug my potatoes.  One of my favorite jobs.  I looked into planting fall potatoes.  I doubt it will work but giving it a shot.

6. We lost the little runner to what appears to be a snake attack.  It was crushingly sad as these little critters are so personable.  And I had to tell the folks that gave them to us.  It is really hard when this happens as you really feel as if you have just failed miserably.  Failed the ducks, failed the family, failed at farming.  It always makes me wonder if this is just the way it goes or if we are particularly bad at this.  I think the SB is getting PTSD.

7.  We still have two very cute ducklings.  They are just catching on to the fact that we are not ducks and they are not people.  But they are still quite personable and too small to leave alone with the big ducks.  So when they are out, they hang out with me in the garden or swim in the creek.  They are excellent company.

8. The February flock is starting to lay.  Today I got 5 tiny "pullet" eggs.  Hal a freakin luja.

9. And finally, at the request of my friend Meghan, to whom I owe the privilege of owning goats (she made it legal in the city), I have started a new blog.  We'll be discussing goat ownership in the city.  I am sure there will be cross links as clearly, I am not finding a ton of time to write on THIS blog, much less another.