April 9, 2019

Ordered 2 more Caragana arborescens seedlings from Burnt Ridge, as well as Hippophae rhamnoides and an everbearing mulberry to develop perennial domestic bird forage and shade layers with usable human fruits.

Bonus effect of these and the also-ordered evergreen huckleberries and future salal is they will draw and host wild birds, with the native huckleberries and salal especially supporting native species, including hummingbirds.

Caragana and Hippophae both fix nitrogen as well, enriching the surrounding soil web.

Preparing plans for how to safely and attractively raise this year’s ducklings differently from last year. I want the mamas each to have their own space, and for the brood to all be separate from the rest of the flock.

Intent to better-define the non-cedar-bedded front planting areas, but am undecided on material/aesthetics, though rocks or logs all magically of uniform shape would be ideal.

Sort of an ongoing surprise that the deer haven’t eaten the now-uncovered kales in the front yard.

Finished the last 2×8 in the back yard – next to irrigate are the two 4×4 beds, then perhaps drip noodles to some of the bagged plants.

With another filter (and, preferably, timer), I also would have the materials to do the front beds, though more mainline would almost certainly also be necessary.

Filled half the empty front yard 16″x8′ after ripping the sod and placing it upside-down in the 4×4 to let it get uncomfortable.

Transplanted Thunderbird, normal evergreen huckleberries, which were surprisingly and disappointingly well-rooted in the ‘hugel’. It will be a great place for huckles when the birds no longer have access, but now is not a safe time there.

Transplanted also the languishing lingonberry, and the worst off of the two barbecue rosemaries.

Transplanted a horseradish mothercrown to the shadow of the front yard dead stump.

Bought a 3# Little Giant hanging feeder for the pullets/future ducklings.

Filled and hung hummingbird feeder. Starlings have been hitting the suet, but I kinda’ like them, even though they’re an invasive.

The pullets have been goofing off all over their apartment, and making good use of both levels. Hanging the feeder makes a world of difference, and I’m sorry I hadn’t been doing this sooner.

For maximum security, our final bird area should include a hot wire along the ground, to discourage predator digging.

Used the yellow cedar blocks from the bag of work’s planer shavings in the main garden. Had the realization that I could have been doing snakes with the emitter line instead of separate parallels, which requires many more pieces and fidding. Will try an S on the last bed.

I wonder how easily the sawhorses/boat could be hardware-clothed in to make an area that birds could sleep safely, such as for when duckling ‘teen’ groups grow larger.

Saw a no-bathe waterfowl drinker in the Premier 1 catalogue with a just-attach-to-garden-hose autofill assembly with float. Possibly a heckin’ lifesaver.

April 8, 2019

Got the 6 pullets today from a gal who, small island, is the cousin of the owner of the espresso stand we frequent, and for who I am hatching Anconas.

4 dominant Copper, and 2 Color Pack.

Perky things, but pooped out this afternoon/evening and slept as if they’d been killed by botulism.

Lentil’s baby,born today, is 50% dark brahma, and one of the darker blush egg layers – cuckoo maran, maybe. Possibly black star.

April 7, 2019

Parsnips and beets have definitely germinated.

Wild garden lettuce is taking its time.

The large goumi and all the haskap are in bloom.

Finished the third 2×8 garden bed of DripWorks irrigation – it was really a confidence-booster to get rolling on actual dripline – it’s hard to imagine a garden that doesn’t need me to water it!

More x-pens came. The real garden solution is a taller perimeter fence, but at least the panels let me also protect plants while raising ducklings.

Getting 4 Dominant Copper and 1 Colorpack layer hybrid from K.O.S. They’ll be 4 weeks old tomorrow, and definitely female.

Emptied and refilled all the plastic nestbox tubs in the coop.

Somebirdie bit an owie red raw spot on the poor pied duckling.

According to Muscovy group discussion, Skateboard is probably one of the uncommon bronze ducks – a color also required for ‘fume’. Can be determined w/linebreeding to a daughter from a black or blue pairing, according to someone who seems to know what they’re talking about.

Trouble is figuring out the ol’ genotypes.

Thought I’d almost used the roll of dripline, which is sort of true, but there’s an unopened fresh roll of both emitter and blind lines and tons of everything but stakes.

April 4, 2019

Candles last night, and Lentil appears to have 2 babies cookin’.

14 live eggs under Snorkel due around the 17th

Alto F1 leek starts just germinated

Moved the 2 boy mules (who might not be sterile), and Rory, who is just kinda crappy, and old enough to go to the farm, to the side yard, to give the females some peace. Males in the main yard now are Oli, Pogo, Skateboard, and Yoshi.

Females are Utie, Ankka, Greycie, Papi (in garden w/babes), Snorkel, Scooter, Blue Mama, Mule Mama (pink band) Barred Oligirl, atipico gal, blue swedish-laced farmgirl.

Golden beets & parsnips are germinating. First oca w/leaves popping.

Uncovered the parsnips and beets, previously burlapped. Made an x-pen peak above them, and a burlap strip relaid to hover over the parsnips.

Applied citrus fertilizer to most garden perennials.

Seeded in cups:
Thelma Sanders’ Sweet Potato Squash
Winter Luxury Squash
Empress of India Nasturtiums

Covered the sorrel last night, and produced some feeble deer deterrence around a couple of things in the front yard.

The hardware cloth half-cylinder is now over the garden strawberries and fennel that were chickened so badly on Tuesday.

Up-potted the small avocado and galangal.

Told dad I’d give him $100 for all his haskap plants

Seeded a tiny grid of Chinese garlic chives with the baby goumi.

Seeded mixed edible flowers in an Empress Wu pot.

Carrots and radishes now under the long screen

Note that some covers that insects fit through are needed for pollination, but others that slow down butterflies and cabbage flies would also be desirable.

Ongoing focus of protecting plants without compromising the various exposures they require, and then of getting the garden’s look a little more uniform again. It’s getting a bit of the junkyard vibe I don’t crave.

Dripworks irrigation arrived – looking forward to checking it out, hopefully tomorrow.

All the boys were back in the main bird area when I came home from work and went to put them away – and Oli was with Papi and the babes in the garden.

April 1, 2019

  • The 3 ducklings, hitherto respectful of/disinterested in the fruit bushes, were going to town on two Sugar Pies and the older of the two goumi – even though the latter has thorns.
  • Would move the family back into the main bird yard, but the chickens are too trustworthy in their fledgling stabbage/pinfeather yanking. Elevated the two smaller bushes instead.
  • Took Robin to the farm, brought back a blue girl and an atipico.
  • Sent tempting photo of a blue or lilac to the owner of a brown duck I’d like to trade for.
  • Turned more of the compost. Papi jumped on top and helped eat worms. I’m pleasantly surprised that the chicken poop bedding isn’t too awful for worms – the more the merrier!
  • Compost has been sitting at 80f this week.
  • Dragged the satsuma out into transitional daylight 0 the damn plastic pot breaking more and more along the way.
  • Off to the farm for tacos and dumptruck purchase with G. L. as well as feed dropoff/egg collection/bird tally.
  • Sowed many past due flower bulbs from G. L. over winter today. Should have winter-sown them.
  • Hand-ripped some sod and grasses from around the shallower front beds, because the runner grasses especially just pop right into the beds.
  • Carrots out front went unmolested all winter. Consider another late season sowing out there – or parsnips anytime now.
  • Sown:
    • Wild Garden lettuces 2×3
    • Halblange parsnips,
    • Yukon gold potato,
    • Austrian crescent potato,
    • 2nd gen. red-skin/white flesh organic potatoes from Thriftway,
    • Makah ozettes
    • Touchstone Beets
    • Cascadia Snap Pea
    • Super Sugar Snap Pea
    • Oregon Sugar Pod II Snow Pea
  • Transplanted:
    • Cloth pot borage to next to concrete pad.
    • Pennsylvania Golden Pawpaw,
    • Campbell NC-1 Pawpaw
    • Unnamed PawPaw seedlings
    • Mint roots around the front window bed
    • Dug up and potted several very large red sunchoke tubers
    • Up-potted about 27 pineapple crush alpine strawberries
  • Bought and up-potted a Hinnomaeki red gooseberry from Kathy’s Corner, with the seed potatoes (Yukon gold and Austrian Crescent)
  • Groomed the bananas
  • First apple bud
  • Moved a couple more 20 gallon bags into the garden for potatoes
  • Moved the large haskap into the garden with the Sugar Pies and topped off its soil, and that of several other perennials.
  • Set up a weird trellis w/ xpen panels for peas and protected from ducklings and chickens with the screen previously over the potato onions and lettuce section.
  • Spent almost the entire day outdoors
  • Discovered a third of last year’s Echinacea purpurea in the front yard 4×4

March 31, 2019

  • Took the bird run down to bare soil level this week, finally. Rebedded with 1.6 bags of Gem white shavings, but it’s still not enough.
  • Moved carrot burlap to reveal sprouts and hung it to shade the paw paw saplings. Set cold frame upon trellis to protect carrots.
  • Experimented w/2 windows from old farmhouse shed /\
  • Planted the rest of the potato onions from the replacement shipment from VENDOR for a total just over 60 – I’ll recount when they sprout.
  • The 3 babies are incredibly bold and come running when I call them. The black female is just starting to pin on her bread, and all three have had little feathered tails for a while now.
  • 2 more Ancona egg broken – I inspected it and it appeared to be infertile – perhaps just a hot dud popping, but it didn’t smell rank to me.
  • 15 eggs now.
  • Hauled, arranged, and tidied many of the 20 gallon soil bags.
  • Rachel has been going outside for cat adventures.
  • Scooter is also brooding now, and two or three more gals have just started laying. Probably Utie, Blue Mama, and Greycie.
  • Raked the garden path mulches up a bit and some of the yard.
  • Spent quite a bit of time outside in the wee hours last night making a pair of raccoons uncomfortable. I went out to see/hear one scrabble back up the fence into the big bay laurel in the Danger Corner. Hit them with thrown dirt clods, driving them higher into the tree. Let both dogs out to make a display of large animals being fast and agile., and went out again later to make it uncomfortable for them to leave the tree as well – I want them to just know our yard as a Bad Time Zone. I ultimately let them climb down out of the tree (1am?), and they left with further help from the hose that I’d been spraying at them. They’ll be back, but I’m glad to have ‘won’ this encounter.
  • Got all feed secured and the feeder into the can. Moved the rooster, who’s been sleeping in the doghouse with some girlfriends, into the coop, and better-secured the door of the run.
  • Transplanted some of last year’s strawberry crowns to the front bed with the rhododendrons.
  • Need to sow: peas, lettuce, parsnips, hong vit, mache, golden beets, dill
  • Need to start beans, tomatoes, squash
  • Turned almost all the first compost bay over into the second bay – whoof!
  • Many perennials, etc. from last year that I assumed would have wimped out over the late summer, or winter, are resprouting – including the Echinacea purpurea in the front 4×4, and in the middle of bed A with the radishes.
  • Time to transplant chives, harden oca and mashua,and I’m moving the citrus outward.
  • A green lemon fell off the lemon tree when I jostled it on DATE

Creature Feature: Muscovy “Ducks”

Superb homesteading animal

  • Benefits
    • Eggs 50-125 per year, during their season. Birds will lay more if eggs are collected daily and they are not allowed to complete and sit a nest.
    • More muscovies
      • Consider even half of that number being offspring per year per laying Muscovy. They’re the flock champions of mothering and can pull off 1-3 large clutches (of up to 20 eggs!) per year.
        • Mulards & Hinnies
    • Meat
      • When not raised to obesity, Muscovy ducks are notable for meat significantly leaner and stronger-tasting than that of their mallard cousins.
      • Hefty carcass and unique meat flavor offset long, 12-20 week, grow-out period. Reviewers compare the flavor of Muscovy duck to roast beef, ham, and veal, varying by preparation method.
    • Feathers
      • The down structure of the Muscovy is the closest of domestic birds to that of the Eider duck, producer of the renowned eiderdown.
    • Fertilizer
    • Pest Control
      • Muscovies, possibly hence the name, can boast the ability and drive to snatch flying insects, most notably flies, out of the air.
    • Entertainment & yard company
      • I’ve always loved watching chickens, but these guys are on a different level. Intelligent and interested, without the raptor-like bloodlust thirst for flesh that chickens have. My drakes come up to me, tails wagging, arching and bowing their necks, and huffing up a storm, and will greedily eat from my hands. The females are more reserved, but Ankka will accept a nibble from me.
  • They are also said to be ‘silent’ ducks but, while quackless, Muscovies have a variety of vocalizations and are usually talking to me or to one another. My male, Oli, huffs with varying urgency as a response to most situations, and Utie and Anka chirp and trill. I also recently attended some sort of duck meeting, where they were all bobbing their heads, puffing their wings, and making a sound like geese whispering and croaking. Once in a while, one makes a single honk if startled or pecked by a chicken.
    • They are a good choice for a low-profile backyard flock
    • Draws fewer predators? Find citation of the noisy call ducks attracting predators in support
  • Strong foragers
  • All ducks resistant to disease/parasites compared to chickens
  • Lower water motivation
    • Runner ducks also not super into water
    • Less contaminated water better for multi-species situations and setups with smaller waterers
  • Good free rangers
    • Strong foragers
    • Competent fliers -ADDRESS FLYING YO. Trimming vs. pinioning.

Muscovies, along with turkeys, are one of two domestic fowl originating in the Americas and are, in fact, a distinct species from, Cairina moschata; often written CITATIONto be more closely related to geese than to the mallard-derived domestic ducks.

  • Producing less oil than true ducks (inside and out; the meat is also less greasy), CITATIONmuscovies are only slightly more water-resistant than the chickens, and are mercifully not compelled to bathe in any bit of water they see.

Background, Feral, Domestic

  • Used to hatch conservation species
  • American natives
    • Rio Grande Valley
  • Legislative Status
  • Kosher status
  • shared nesting, called dump nesting


David W. and Mildred M. Holderread. Raising the Home Duck Flock. Storey Publishing, LLC, 1978.

Drowns, Glenn. Storey’s Guide to Raising Poultry. 4th ed., Storey Pub., 2012.