I went across the pasture and up the hill to take a new updated photo of the farm for my blog header, but there is too much growth on the trees to see anything. I'll have to find a new spot with a clearer image for my summer shot.
What is black and white checkered?
That would be one of our duckings and his sibling. I love seeing the colours of foliage and fur developing on new critters. We've called this one Nascar.
And look who went cock-a-doodle-doo this morning. The first one out of the group to do so. It would be nice if he were the only one.
And lastly, look who finally got in the mood to help! It's a good thing too because I couldn't get that pole back out of the hole to take into the barn for it's cutting and drilling.
After noticing how badly neglected our poor horses were, I made a point of going out to visit them today. They were so badly covered in flies it must have been a pain for them. Their fly masks had been removed (by themselves) and lost out in the pasture so I had to go trekking through tall weeds and grass to find them. We have extra's but they have long been lost to the field. While scowering for them I thought of our wonderful ducks and how they keep our pond virtually bug free, I thought what wonders they could do for the horses. Though they were anywhere between 20-30 flies per horse, my muscovies would have them eaten in no time flat. If only Chase didn't have a fear of ducks. You see when we first brought home the call ducks they had accidently wandered into the horse's pasture where Chase promptly went berserk and tried to stamp them all to death.
Taking a chance that the muscovies are much bigger and noticeable then the call ducks, I decided to test the horses with our two guinea pigs. Sir Quacksalot and Mrs. Quacksalot. With a little help from the hubs. I thought it would do him good to get involved, it had nothing to do with the fact adult muscovies have very big and sharp claws. :)
Though I did make him take precautions and wrap the ducks up in a large towel. Covering their faces so that they would remain calm, he carried them down to the watering hole out in the horse's pasture which at the moment is all dried up, but, thanks to, I found one of our missing fly masks caked into the bottom.
The first to be brought down was the Mrs. She looked so lost.
Then Sir Quacksalot joined her and they were so happy to be reunited. You swear they had been parted for weeks. They looked like a scene straight out of a romantic move. If they had arms, they would have collapsed into each others.
They weren't to be in reunion bliss for long, however, as the test was about to begin. Chase had noticed the white critters in his field and went over to investigate.
Then promptly ignored them.
Cowboy, however, wanted to ensure the new tenants of the pasture knew where he stood in the pecking order and gave them chase just to prove his point.
So yay about that! Glad to know the muscovies and horses can cohabitate nicely, which of course got the wheels in my head going. How was I going to encourage the ducks to stay down there. Of course, one major enticement would be a source of water. However, this one is dependent on a wet season.
So I was thinking of laying a pond liner over the bottom with the hopes of trying to retain some water. And maybe I could add a summer residence down by the watering hole for the muscovies in the form of a raised hut complete with porch for the duckies to enjoy the scenery. Not sure about predators though. However I have heard that big animals like horses can help keep away the kind of predators that feast on ducks. I know they keep our little Duke safe out there at night. And with the new muscovies growing quickly, the pond is getting slightly congested. I think they would prefer the new summer retreat anyway. The dogs don't like to hang out in the pasture.
Anway, wanted to share this adorable photo of one of our baby bunnies. His/her ears have turned down at the tips. Too cute!
And one more thing. My oldest comes home tonight after working a late shift and says to me, "Where did you get the flowers?".
"From around the farm", I tell her. "Really, I've never seen them before." Sometimes, stopping to smell the flowers isn't enough. Sometimes you need to stop and at least notice them.
That would be Emma's native american name if she had one. Retrievers are bred to retrieve, but Emma would rather befriend the little ducks. And they enjoy her in the pond just as much. Maybe because there she is in their own turf...and moves considerably slower.
Hard to believe my boys looked like this two months ago.
This is how they look today.
Complete with curly tail feather, putting any doubts of their gender aside. Not that their green heads didn't already give it away, lol.
They were our first ducks and still our favourites. Ben is king duck (even though he is the smallest) and rules over all the ducks and is by far our most handsome duck.
And the most loved by my boy. Though Sir Quacksalot is coming up a close contender. I mean, really, how cool is a duck that can catch frogs?!
We live across from a swamp. Literally. Here's a view of it from the road.
And if you turn around and take a photo of our property from the exact same position, this is the proximity it is to the swamp.
You might think it has enough distance not to be affected by the mosquitoes that harvest in that swamp, but I can tell you it is not. The swamp is about 200 hectres across and consists mainly of swamp land. On the other side is our local town. It has a reputation of being infested with mosquitoes. So the mosquitoes on our property have been a nuisance since the warm weather arrived. Our daily attire consists of this. I spend a small fortunate on this stuff.
We get eaten alive so often that there isn't a series of photos I take a day that don't include someone swatting a mosquito.
And it's embarrassing when we have company and they aren't aware of our mosquito problem and spend the entire visit swatting and crying out in pain and frustration. Others, like the inlaws, know to come prepared and bring their own repellent. So we've been working hard at battling these nasty mosquitoes. A big job that is never ending is keeping the yard well maintained and not allowing tall grass or weeds for the adult mosquitoes to nest.
Of course this lawn feature doesn't help.
Stagnant water is perfect breeding grounds for mosquitoes. We do have a fountain that keeps the water moving but it is run by electricity and we really watch our hydro consumption. So we have added goldfish and koi to help rid of the eggs and larvae. In addition, we also bought these guys.
But they turned out to be more pond ornaments than a defense against mosquitoes, so we bought more.
Meanwhile, I dug deeper in my research on muscovy ducks and contacted a breeder not far from our farm. When visiting her farm, I discovered she lived in a wooded area with a far, far larger pond than ours, along with six horses, two goats, chickens and lots and lots of muscovy ducks. All on a smaller acreage than our property. And she had absolute no mosquito problem. Even her horses were able to go without fly masks. She credited it back to her muscovy ducks. So guess what I came home with.
I'm under no illusion they will rid my farm entirely of mosquitoes but if they could cut down the numbers even just slightly so that we can sit outside and actually enjoy the outdoors, then I'll be happy. Either way, I know one little man who was thrilled to bring them home.
Went raspberry picking today! In my own driveway. That's right, I found a whole new patch of sweet raspberry plants growing down along the driveway and in a flowerbed next to the pasture wall. They are not the biggest raspberries but I'm just so thrilled to have them.
They seem to be a dual plant with both raspberry and blackberries. I had no idea they could come that way.
Sweet young chickens on my front porch.
The duck run at sunset.
Finding my boy in the duck run at sunset is way too sweet.
He thought it was pretty sweet that Ben's head was beginning to turn green and wanted me to post a photo on my blog.
Here's a better angle.
We finally finished the first of six hutches to be built for my girl's rabbitry. Just five more to go.
Here's a little rabbit sweetness to motivate me to get those five hutches done. Lacey and her kits at two weeks old.
As promised, the duck run finally went up today.
It was only me and the boy home, but we got the job done in half a day. It's bigger than any of our other runs, giving it the nickname of the Duck Park.
And runs parellel to the horse pasture. Even though Chase hates ducks, he'll appreciate their fly elimination abilties.
Of course there are a few things to finish/change...like the size of their swimming hole. A wash tub just won't do it. And first thing tomorrow, the boy has insisted we go out and buy this to hang on the gate.
Some may call me a quack but that would hardly stop me from bringing home more of these today.
They are the promised replacement ducks for my son. And yes I'm fully aware there is more than four.
But I'm just as much of a sucker as my boy when it comes to adorable little ducklings.
Thought I'd share some updates from around the farm. First, as I mentioned briefly in the previous post, our dark snowy call duck who was to be named Daphe if a boy or Daphne if a girl, has been renamed Ben. My son wanted to name him since everyone else was naming animals and when he said Ben, I liked it and agreed. We are 99% sure Ben is indeed a boy. He has grown some beautiful and colourful feathers. I haven't got a photo, but will try and post one when I do.
Another name change around the farm was June's, one of our stray barn cats. Initially, we had thought June and May were mother and son, then May got pregnant so that corrected that. However, June is a late bloomer and her testicles have finally dropped. Yes, testicles. June is a boy. Very disappointing, since she/he was so much friendlier and prettier than May, which really should have been the first sign. Anyway, not to confuse us too much we changed his name to Juno.
Me and my hardworking crew have been working steadily on the henhouse.
Haha, they are such jokers!
Actually, I'm pretty proud of my crew...3 females and a 7 year old boy and we've nearly completed a henhouse entirely on our own.
Second wall goes up.
All the walls are now up, I haven't taken a photo yet. I just need to add the door for humans and a door to the run and the girls are moving over. Which I can't hardly wait since they've been free ranging in the barn at night because they have become just too big for the brooder. There is poop everywhere in the barn. As soon as I can lock them up at night, they are moving in.
My daughter finished her rabbit house and began work on the rabbit run.
The completed house and run. She is raising the house about a foot off the ground, however, to create a shaded spot for the rabbits. The rabbits cannot all go in at once so they rotate in the house/run on a daily basis. They love it and it gives them lots of exercise.
The tarp is there because we discovered after a rainfall that there was too much space between boards, so she will need to insultate the inside eventually as well. She also wants to add shutters over the windows to lock the rabbits in even more securely at night and place a flower box under the window to pimp up the place.
The ducks have been holed up in the run during the day with the rabbit ever since last night's incident. I didn't want another accident and chance of loosing another bird. Don't think the boy could handle it. Anyway, as soon as I'm done the henhouse, the duck's run and house are on the agenda next.