No more ducklings, they’re Ducks!

 

DSC_0180At 6 weeks old you would never know that they aren’t full grown.  They are the sweetest, messiest birds.  I have fallin in love with my waddley friends.

They were moved outside at the beginning of April.  They out grew their brooder box quickly.  But with the help of an old truck camper shell and a heat lamp they have adjusted really well to being outside.  Because of their size, I don’t worry about snakes and so far we haven’t had any issues with predators.  I did secure their cage with netting and chicken wire so I could sleep at night.  If I choose to raise an animal, any animal, you can believe that I am going to do everything in my power to make sure they have everything they need to thrive and are protected.

Since these picture were taken, we have added water to their pen for them to enjoy submerging their heads and taking a bath.   It changed their world, make no mistake about it ducks need and love their water.

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We lost our Sweet Kain

We lost our boy recently.  He was our caretaker, protector and our best friend.  Kain would have been 15 years old this May.

He was a pitbull, but he didn’t know it.  He loved a ball, he would pick up my doves, but drew the line at ducks.  He was my constant companion and best friend.  Losing him was no different than losing a family member.

I have no doubt where he is and I know that he will wait for me….he will be missed…but never forgotten.

Becoming a Beekeeper

honeybee_genehansonWith the increase discussion on Bee Colony Collapse, I made the decision this year to start keeping bees.   I have absolutely no experience and I don’t know anyone that is a beekeeper, so this endeavor is most definitely a learning and more learning experience. There are so many reason I wanted to pursue this hobby.  Sure I want some honey, but really, I want to do my part and help the bees.  I love everything in nature and keeping bees just seems like the right thing to do and a perfect addition to our little hobby farm.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have as much time to prepare as I originally thought and that turned out to be pretty stressful for me.  You see, timing is very important for bee keepers and for bees. So the fact that my two nucs of bees ( a queen and her nucleous of bees) came in two weeks earlier than expected sent me in a little bit of a tail spin.

On the way home from work I received a call, “the bees are in”.  That’s when the tailspin began.  I was behind the eight ball at that very moment, and I knew it.  You see, I had bought two of everything.  Two bottom boards, two brood chambers, and two supers and two telescoping covers.  I was all set, except they were unfinished.  I had put a coat of finish and polyurethen on each piece, but I still had to finish sanding them and applying the second coat. Problem was it was raining, so I skipped bible study and finished everything in our garage and put a fan on the pieces and prayed they would be dry by the next day.  Oh and called my boss and told him I would be late the next morning, “my bees have come in.”  I could hear him roll his eyes.

Sure enough I drove to my local bee keeping supply folks the next morning and he loaded two nucs of bees in the back of my truck.  We talk for a few minutes and I asked every question that I could think of.  I knew Scott from the beekeeping class that I had taken a few weeks earlier.  He was very patient with me and told me every step to install the nucs.  I started sweating as soon as the nucs were in the truck, I was thinking, I am about to pick bees up out of this box and put them in my hive…Oh my, what am I doing.  I haven’t even looked at another hive.  I had watch video after video which did give me a little more confidence.   It was raining that morning and I knew I couldn’t install them until the rain had stopped and the sun came out.

Finally the sun came out, I suited up, got my smoker going, grabbed my hive tool, took a couple of deep breaths and off I go, alone, with 10,000 bees……..and I did it.  I installed a nuc of bees in one of my hives.  It started to cloud up again and I decided to wait to install the other nuc when I got home later that afternoon.  But when I got home it was pouring down rain.  So I couldn’t install the second nuc.  The next morning, it was raining, so installing the nuc would have to wait.  Finally at 1:00pm, I installed the second nuc.  And guess what, “Queen cells”.  I installed them anyway.  I had read enough and learned enough to know that “queen cells” were not good.

So I called Scott about the queens cells and his advise was cut them out and put it on facebook to see if anyone could use the queen.  Once I put it on the SC beekeeping association facebook page, I was inundated with suggestions and theories about how the  bees were in swarm mode and I may want to keep the queen cells in case the current queen swarmed.  I have just gone from beekeeping 101 to advanced beekeeping.  I am no where near ready to start rearing Queens.  But this is what I am faced with.

I decided after doing some more reading to open the hive with the queen cells and if they are still there, I am gonna remove the frame that the queens cell are on and start a new nuc.  If that nuc is successful, I now have a 3rd hive, just like that.

I hunt because it makes my heart beat fast, I garden because when everything is coming in at once, it makes my heart beat fast.  I can already tell that beekeeping is for me, because it too makes my heart beat fast.

Stay tuned….

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ducklings!

Now that I am an old hand at Chickens, I wanted to add to our little hobby farm and raise some ducklings.  Cute lil fellows and boy are they messy.  I have had them now for a couple of weeks and things are going well.  A couple of things that I have learned, they really like water.  I know they are ducks, but I didn’t realize how much water they would use in a day.  The waterer in the picture holds 1 gallon of water.  I change it two times a day, morning and nights.  I also clean their brooder twice a day as well.  They have to have water to eat and they have to keep their nostrils moist.  But be careful of the container that you use, because they can drown in the first few weeks of their lives.

They can be fed chick starter food non-medicated.  But they need a little more niacin than chicks do so you have to add a supplement to their food so that their legs grow strong and healthy.  It is recommended to give them brewer’s yeast for the additional niacin that they need.

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Also, give them oats with their food too.  This will ensure that their wings grow strong.  But not too much, you want their primary diet to be the chick starter/grower.

Also, they love greens (kale, dandelions, grass).  It is a special treat for them and they are so appreciative.

A bathtub is a great place to keep them, but if you’re like me you don’t have an extra bathtub laying around.  So you have to improvise.  I went to Walmart and bought a tote big enough to fit into the old cabinets that I am using to house them.  I lucked out and bought one that fit perfectly.  We cut an opening that they can easily come in and out of and it worked great.  Now the wet can be wet and the dry can be dry.

 

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I can already tell in two weeks that they will out grow this very soon.  So I got to come up with another plan and soon.

So far this has been a fun experience and the ducklings seem happy.  I will keep you posted as they grow older and bigger.

 

Fall brings Persimmon and Persimmons bring goodness

Not only does this time of year bring us Muscadines and Scuppernongs, but also the wild growing Persimmon.  Check out the cool Persimmon recipes for an old time favorite.

My dog Kain will sit under the tree and eat himself sick.

Persimmon Fudge
4 c. sugar
1 stick margarine
1/2 pint marshmallow cream
1 c. chopped nuts
2/3 c. persimmon pulp
1 c. evaporated milk
1 tsp vanilla

Combine sugar, milk, butter and persimmon pulp in a heavy saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the candy reaches the soft ball stage (236F)*. Remove from heat, add marshmallow cream, nuts and vanilla. Pour into buttered pan. Cool and cut.

*Candy has reached the soft ball stage when a bit dropped into a glass of cold water forms into a ball.

Persimmon Bread
1 1⁄2 cups sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup persimmon pulp
1 3⁄4 cups flour
1⁄2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1⁄2 teaspoon nutmeg
1⁄2 teaspoon clove
1⁄2 teaspoon allspice
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1⁄2 cup chopped walnuts
1⁄2 cup chopped dates (optional)

Preheat oven 350 degrees. In a large bowl blend sugar and oil; add eggs and persimmon pulp.In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and spices; add nuts and dates then mix well. Stir flour mixture into persimmon mixture. Turn into two greased and floured loaf pans. Bake for one hour or until done, testing center with a pick. Turn out on wire rack to cool. Freezes well.

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Persimmon Pudding
1 cup pulp
3⁄4 cup sugar
3 eggs, beaten
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1⁄2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup milk
1⁄4 lb butter
1⁄2 teaspoon cinnamon

Combine persimmon pulp with sugar. Beat in eggs. Mix in milk, then butter. Sift or stir flour with baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg. Mix with persimmon mixture. Pour batter into a well greased 9-inch square cake pan. Bake in a 315-325°F oven for approx 60 minutes or until knife comes out clean.

Read more: http://griffinsguide.com/content/2015/10/06/persimmons-a-fall-delicacy/#ixzz3o5Htzdmf