Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Vote Now!

It's down to two choices!  Please vote (above).  Poll will be open until 11:59 pm Michigan time on Wednesday, August 1.  May the best duck names win!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Duck Naming Contest is Open!

The ducks need names.  While they are only three months old, they are full grown.  This boy and girl hang together all day long -- if one disappears for a moment, the other goes into full alarm mode.  The young hens seem to view the ducks as their leaders, and the flock moves with the ducks.  In the past week or so they've begun going outside, but I have not yet seen them swimming.

My last pair of ducks were named Ari Duckass (after my former colleague, Ari Ducas) and Dick-the-Duck (because I liked the sound).  You may recall that I have also had chickens named Dixie Chick, Chicka Khan, Eartha Chick, Maria and Jesus (hay-soos!), Spot, Miss Peep, Chesley Spring Chicken (after my friend Chesley Spring), and many other amusing names.

So I am looking for a couple of great duck names.  Could be a matched pair, could be individual names.  You have one week.  Contest closes end of business July 31.  Winner will be announced on August 1.  I choose the winner(s) and my decision is final.  After all, I have to live with it, you'll be moving on to another contest.

To enter, you must put your suggestion in the comments of this blog post.  E-mailing me does not count.  Adding your suggestion to a Facebook post does not count.  I want everyone who enters to be able to see what everyone else is suggesting, and that's the best way to do it.

What do you get for entering the winning name(s)?  Bragging rights.  I'll name you in a blog post.  And if you ever get out to Busy Solitude Farm (while the ducks are still alive, so don't dilly dally!) you can meet your namesakes in person.

Start now!  Will the names be historical or hysterical?  Alliterative?  Synonymic?  Perhaps they'll follow a theme...flowers?  Music?  Vegetables?  I am eager to see what you come up with, so let's go!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Enough already!

How many eggs are cooking away under this hen, anyway?  I'm sure it's over a dozen -- you're just seeing the front of the pile here.

With two hens setting for the past month, lots of my eggs to sell have gone to waste.  The other hens continue to lay their eggs in the boxes with the setters.  Each of the hens had a pile like this.  Something had to be done!

So I did it!!!

I moved the other hen, Maria, into the isolation pen, along with the ten whole eggs that were under her. An eleventh that had cracked was left behind.  The yellow hen ate it.

Maria is not pleased.  You see her up on the foundation rim, kind of above the waterer in this photo.  The eggs are in the crate. 

No one is keeping them warm.  That's a feather stuck to the one on the right.  If Maria doesn't get in there soon, these eggs will be lost causes.

Mama Maria has been preening since she moved.  I'm afraid she's planning to start dating again!!!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

My new bed!

After weeks of brutal heat that prevented my getting into the garden, yesterday (a work day) and today brought mid-80s and clear skies.  Time to build another new bed in the vegetable garden!  You can see it framed out in the distance above.  On the right are the three beds I did already this year.  No surprise that the crucifers in the closest bed are really ailing -- cabbage and broccoli do not care for heat!  But the peppers in the middle bed are flourishing, and my tomatoes plants are covered with green fruit, keeping me very hopeful.

But back to the new bed.  This is part of my "raise the raised beds" project.  A few years ago I put in 2x6 frames, but they proved to be inadequate when the spring rains came, allowing the beds to wick up ground water and stay saturated, rather than draining.  This year I'm adding a second level of 2x6 frame to bring the soil up higher.

I'm so glad I thought to cover the huge pile of dirt on my driveway.  Despite the two inch rainfall we got a few days ago, the dirt pile stayed dry and therefore MUCH less heavy!

It takes about three dump carts full of dirt to fill the bed.  The first cart is easy to load and empty.  The last one, not so much.

Once it was filled and smoothed, it was time to decide what to plant.  I have absolutely no planting plan for this season, since I had no idea how long it would take to redo the beds.

In clearing the weeds out of the frame before I raised it, I discovered a single strawberry plant that somehow survived to this point.  I set it aside as my "inspiration piece."  And sure enough, what did I find at the garden center?

Strawberries!  These are everbearing, meaning they make a crop in June and continue to have scattered berries through the rest of the season.  It didn't take very long to go from this

 to this!

I put in 15 plants, plus I buried some of the babies on the runners.  Technically you're supposed to cut those off so the mama plants can get established, but these seemed so healthy and I hate to discard healthy plants!

The trick will be keeping them watered for the rest of the summer, but next June the reward will be sweet and juicy!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Coop, Continued

About a month ago I noted here that the yellow hen had gone broody ten days earlier.  Since then, the stripey hens took over the boxes and have been pretty much stuck to them.

I know that some of the eggs they're on are rotten.  Every once in a while I go into the barn and can smell that one broke.  When that happens, I think the hen eats it all.  Blech.

Recently I've been able to collect a couple of eggs almost every day from the third (empty) nest box.  Apparently at least some of the other hens have stopped laying with the stripeys.  Is that because they sense that something is developing and their egg will go to waste with the setters?  Or maybe they just find the stink of the rotten eggs as unpleasant as I do!

A few days ago I happened to go into the barn just when one hen was off her nest.
A full dozen!  That's crazy!  Interesting, too, that it's only the green eggs under her.  Do the brown layers know something?

I seriously hope that all of these mysteries will be revealed sometime VERY soon!  And when they are, I will report back to you!

Monday, July 2, 2012


Still a full house in the nest boxes.  While the two stripey girls look on, I found the yellow mama hen trying to squish her way into the first box.  If you look closely, you'll see why there's not room for Faith and Mama Hen...

It's because Rooster was in there!  What is a rooster doing in a nest box?  He scratched around in the straw for a minute, pushed the girls right out of the way.

Then when he realized I was looking he popped right out, proud as he could be.

I had a little talk with him.  I said "Rooster, we're low on box space at the moment.  Would you mind leaving the first room open for the girls who actually produce something?"

He made no commitments.