Eco my sister will be home soon and she's always making coffee so i guess i will save her coffee grounds for the chooks that i will be getting.
So yesterday i got the ducks home. Lovely they are but a bit frightened of the move. They've obviously never left home before. We put them in the pen and not so long after one flew out of the pen. I hadn't wanted to cut their wings before because i was afraid of snakes and thought they might need to fly out of the pen to escape. But this was a mistake because now I've lost a duck and secondly its too cold for snakes at this time. Anyhow, I will keep hunting for the lost duck and she might come back. My farmer who sold me the ducks just phoned me today about something else. He said if the duck doesn't come back he'd give me another. Anyway after the ducks flew out we thought we had better cover the pen after all. We put greenhouse mesh on the top and pretty soon i realised what a good solution to snakes it would be. My father agreed and said it would be the cheapest solution also. So that's what I will do when we build a proper hen and duck house. Because we have lots of greenhouse mesh around here. But even if we had to buy it, it seems to be cheaper than wire mesh and its a lot easier to handle.
So when the farmer phoned up just now, we chatted about this and that and we got on to the topic of chickens. He's got lovely black ones. He said he'd breed some up for me. I love it when people give me things. I offered to pay for them but he doesn't mind. He said he only wanted money for the ducks because he'd spent such a fortune on feeding them up.
I bought a back of feed for them yesterday. It cost almost $20 for 25kg. That will only last a month if i don't supplement their diet with fresh things and free range roaming and that is what I intend to do of course. I certainly don't need pets for the sake of pets. These are going to be working ducks and they have to earn their keep!
I can't wait for the beautiful black chooks though.
The farmer also gave me some bits of plants to have a go at. It was wonderful visiting his farm seeing all the wild things he's got over there.
Its so exciting growing things. I am well and truly hook already.
I found my lost duck. She was in the creek across the highway. There's a puddle there. What a good girl. I must say it was hard to catch her and I couldn't have done it by myself. But I'm relieved that she's back.
I've thought of names for them all. Bertie is the drake - after Bertie Wooster. The girls are called Mavis, Gertrude, Ethel and I can't decide on the last name yet. It needs to be totally unpretty. So harriet and henrietta and beatrice are out. Can anyone help me with one of those old-fashioned names. What about Maude?
What a lucky find! You could call her Miss Marple cos she like a bit of an adventure....
You might call the runaway "lady gaga" - she's a bit outside the box
Warwick, Sth East Queensland
Permaculture Design Warwick Pty Ltd
Light travels faster than sound ..... that's why some people appear to be bright, until you hear them speak.
Thanks for all the input. I'm afriad I have settled for maude because i don't to break the theme. Though I must say, three of the ducks look exactly the same so i don't know how i am going to identify who is who. Maybe after a while they will display some distinguishing personality traits.
I did like the idea of Miss Marple, though. And murgatroyd is definitely unattractive enough to fill the bill.
I've started on the duck and hen house. I suppose I should write this post when i've finished rather than at the beginning but there could be benefits.
Its going to be about 3-4 metres square. Does anyone know if i have to keep the ducks and chickens separate?
We are using some heavy duty steel mesh for the walls. Instead of chicken mesh to keep the snakes out, i am going to put shade cloth over it all. I can't imagine the snakes chewing hole in it. The good thing is that there doesn't need to be any posts. The top will have iron sheeting. I will put sawdust on the floor. And try to find a nice big duck bath.
The ducks seem to be settling in. They have their bath every morning. Today i saw two of them in it together! which is quite something as its not a very big tub. In fact, i think there was a little monkey business going on.
The only thing i'm not sure of is how deep to bury the walls. Can snakes dig holes. A neighbour told me i should bury them 1 foot deep. That's damned hard work.
Update: I've only minor news to report. I think. I am up to the second planting of vegetables. Most of the seeds in the first round came up. The main failure and the most disappointing to me were the rozellas. I was given the seeds a year ago. I probably need fresh seeds.
Its been interesting to note the difference of growth in the different beds. The best bed by far has been the dinghy bed. The second best bed has been the old burning frond pile. Everything else is muddling along.
Yesterday I was saddened to see that a bandicoot had dug up a squash or pumpkin plant. I was glad that it wasn't actually in a garden bed though. Maybe the little creature will not discover my garden beds for a while yet. The ducks have started trampling on one vege bed in search of munchies but in general I am happy with and loving the ducks.
We've begun having visitors so my work has been interrupted a bit of late.
Work on the chicken house continues.
I had a visitor who has done a permaculture course and she pointed out some pesty problems and discussed treatments. She mentioned something called wettable sulphur for the citrus and all these fungicides that i then went to the gardening australia site to find recipes for but discovered that they are preventatives not treatment.
I did some research on derris dust. Not sure whether i am going to use it or not. I do not find any merit in the notion of its causing parkinsons's disease if what was said about its being tested on rats is the explanation. I would be interested in getting hold of some derris plants perhaps.
Friends have been giving me seeds and plants and so on. How lovely and how unexpected.
I've already used up my first pile of compost. Since its mostly lettuce it breaks down fast.
Don't too hung up on pests. If you still get a crop to harvest who cares. And if some critters get to something first consider it chook food with added protein supplements (they LOVE slugs). Just plant more than you think you need to allow for losses and accept them as part of biodiversity. I'm promised that over time my garden will mature and the predators will keep it in balance (only a year old so far so I can't say yet....). But only if you don't kill them first. And make some predator homes - lizards, frogs, and maybe something like the Good Bug mix of plants from Green Harvest for good insects.