Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Rain Barrels

I have one rain barrel. That's really not enough to make a difference during the dry season, yes the Pacific Northwest does have a dry season! In the future I'd love to have a system for storing water but for now I have my one little rain barrel. Its overflow goes over to a little pond. Really little, only about 18 inches deep and maybe two feet across. Around the pond I planted a rain garden with water loving plants.

Here's a picture. Drizzle's a bit blurry, but you get the idea. The green hose goes to the pond. Normally the hose is connected at the middle for the over flow, but it had been freezing so I'd put it down at the bottom to drain the tank. Obviously it was no longer freezing when this picture was taken.

This is what the area looked like in the summer. 

Here's what it looks like now.

I looked at the pond one day when it wasn't raining and realized that the ducks had filled it with the dirt from around it.  A few inches of water was above the mud in the pond, and when it rains the whole area floods because the ground around the pond is lower. As spring arrives I have a feeling I'm going to have to clean out the pond and fence of the area if there is to be any hope of having a lovely shade garden around my pond again this year.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Duck Art

My daughter gave me a lovely little picture of a Silver Appleyard Duck for Christmas. 
She had to really work to find an artist who had pictures of the right breed. 

The artist, Claire McCann lives across the pond.
She has prints of several other heritage breeds.
Click HERE to visit her Etsy Store.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Cozy Duck

Not all the ducks in my life have feathers.
This is Quackers, a fuzzy friend given to me by a young friend of mine. 
Well, we share Quackers. I always bring him over when I visit. 

Sunday, January 11, 2015

The Morning Routine

Ducks are creatures of habit. 
Every day when I let the ducks out for the day this is how it goes:

First it's bath time!

Then it's time to preen.
They take time to get their feathers nicely oiled and ready for the day. 

Finally, it's time to forage. 

My ducks rarely head straight for the food dish, they'd much rather find their own food.
This is one of the awesome advantages of heritage breeds. 

Thursday, January 8, 2015

January in the Pacific Northwest

It was colder in some parts of the country today than it was on Mars! 
But not here!
The ducks enjoyed playing in the hose.

And while the ducks were distracted 
Fiona Zecora and Merida visited the duck house.

And Broody enjoyed a stroll around the yard.

Isn't this what every normal backyard looks like?
(Broody from the back. Rapunzel on the right.)

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Big Ducks in a Small Pond

My parents gave me (and the ducks!) a 50 gallon tub for my birthday present.

I had to lift them into it so they could get the peas. The ramp was too new and different, and they were very excited about the Peas! and Water! It was the first time since they were 10 weeks old that they could paddle about, not since they used to take baths in the tub inside the house.

Happy Ducks! 

And sometimes Headless Ducks! ;) 

Friday, January 2, 2015

Foraging in the Cold

One of the benefits of the duck heritage breeds is that they forage. If they have adequate space and habitat they will forage for a large part of their daily food intake. This reduces your feed bills, it also means that your ducks are kept happily busy in between naps.

It's been below freezing night and day this past week. Because I knew cold weather was coming, I piled old straw from the duck house on top of the garden. Even though the top layer was frozen, if I dug down a few inches and turned over the soil, there were plenty of worms and grubs for the ducks to find. This requires focus as the ducks are right underfoot, ready to grab the worms the moment they come into view, and I have to be careful not to bump them - or worse - with the shovel.

The ducks now follow me around whenever I'm carrying a rake or a shovel, waiting for me to unearth some treats. It's quite endeering. I do wish someone had been there to take a picture of me out shoveling in the garden, with the ducks at my feet, Ella cat on my shoulder, and my fleece snowflake pajama pants keeping my legs warm. ;)