Wednesday, April 6, 2011

"Rubber" Duckies

Welcome to our "rubber" duckies' house!

This morning the boys and I headed to the local farm store and picked up 8 Ancona ducklings and 13 Cornish chicks.  Yes, procrastinating on my yearly poultry order actually worked out for me this year.  Last night when I stopped in for feed I saw they had a new shipment of ducks and chicks in.  The price per bird was actually quite a bit less than what I usually pay when ordering birds.  Granted I had to take what they had in stock.  But I'm happy.  I didn't need any new laying hens this year so the Cornish chicks will be nice freezer birds for winter. When it comes to poultry I like rarer breeds or less common breeds and found the Ancona ducks are actually on the rare list as rated by the American Livestock Breed Conservancy.

The boys and I were outside most of the day today.  We spent a lot of time in the barn.  We made sure the new ducks and chicks were OK.  We cleaned out the hen house and refreshed the nesting boxes.  We combed the goats.  And we checked on the "rubber" duckies.  This is what Grant would say when he wanted to go peak in the brooder house.

Grant thought the little chicks and ducks were sooo soft (see his little hand - so gentle).  Luckily it was a nice warm day and the chicks seemed fine being handled outside the cage.  I have to say I am excited for grasshopper season this year now that our acreage is once again stocked with ducks.  Ducks are the only thing that have ever kept the grasshopper and cricket populations down.  I remember days when the ducks would waddle to the pen at night with their crops nearly touching the ground.  Such good little bug hunters!  I'm usually a fan of Rouens but we'll give these Ancona's a try.  We'll just have to do a better job at protecting them from bobcats and neighbor dogs.  I think I'm better prepared this time around.

While cleaning up the barn we found more sandbox trucks and toys.  Of course we had to use them.  Clark made a lovely sand cake with grass filling (his words) that we had to try.  (Of course it was absolutely delicious).

After nap time we went back out and did some planting.  Well, technically seed starting.  I am using my handy seed/plant starter guide that I received from Park Seed last year.  I'm a bit behind.  According to the guide my tomatoes and peppers should have been started last week.  Oh well!  Using my handy old wash basin with lid we set out the seeds and soil and started tomatoes, peppers, eggplant (mainly used as a border bug trap), marigolds (lots of marigolds), basil and rosemary.  Park Seed has a great book I use for seed starting - "Success with Seed."  The book recommends always watering from the bottom.  It worked last year so that's my new method.  This is why I started everything outside - to make sure I had no leaks in my bottom containers.

The boys helped with the process too!  I would pour the seed in their hands and then pick out the seeds for planting.  They thought this was great fun.  We brought the seeds inside and set them on our big trunk in the East window of the living room on a heat mat.  I had great success with seed in this location last year so hopefully will have success again!  So much cheaper to start from seed than to buy plants (as long as it is successful).

Finally, we topped off the planting day by putting in our radish bed.  This old bottomless drawer seemed to make a nice planting area to house little things like radishes (as long as the cats don't think it's their new personal litter box!).  Clark claims he loves radishes - I'm not sure he's ever really had one.  Although knowing my son he really will love radishes.  Other than green beans there's not a vegetable he won't eat.  In fact, the odder the vegetable the more he seems to love it.  He was even eating raw potatoes one day and loving them while Alan chopped them for supper.  Which is how my dad eats them so I guess he comes by it naturally.  But wait - I can top the raw potato.  One night while chopping onion he asked to try the raw onion.  Alan and I never say no when it comes to our kids trying new food.  Expecting him to spit it out at first bite he made our jaws drop by asking for more!  Ughh - I still haven't developed a taste for raw onion.  Which reminds me - I may need to go plant more onions.

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