We Will Not Be Moved

The wasps which built a nest at the base of a bird feeder under a pear tree were becoming a problem. Walk too close to the pear tree, and they’d sting. The one time I got stung, it felt like I’d walked against stinging nettles, and realized it was those wasps.

At night, I covered the nest with a bag and carried it off and hung it under a cedar far away from places well traveled.

The next morning, the wasps were back under the pear tree, buzzing furiously, and determined to rebuild where their nest used to be. I don’t mind as they eat a huge number of insects. I just need to warn anyone who visits to stay clear of the pear tree.

A Dewy Web

It’s a cool, July morning. During the night, a spider spun a dewy web in the grass.

The Barred Rocks are fully grown. I haven’t spotted one on a nest yet, but I am finding pullet eggs so I’m sure they are starting to lay.

The forest is a favorite place for mother hens to bring their chicks. How many chicks are in the picture? They blend in well to the forest floor. Every mother hen has her own rearing style. Most don’t start roosting until their chicks can fly up with her. Maybe because it is summer, or maybe because she was raising so many, she went back to roosting after two weeks, leaving her large brood to huddle together on the floor at night, but during the day, she calls them all, and leads them on great treks through the woods and out beyond the cabin.

It Takes a Lot of Smarts to be a Duck

The path to the cabin is overgrown with lavender and thimble berries. You can’t see the cabin until you are almost there. When the summer busies are over, the market a memory, I’ll have time to trim the thimble berries, but I’m in no rush. It would be a shame to trim the thimble berries before I’ve eaten them all.

Shasta daisies are a sign that August is nigh. It’s been a cool summer, frequent rains and clouds, not good for tomatoes but a paradise for potatoes.

A near drowning incident with one of the ducklings was the inspiration to make an easy landing for them to get out of the water. I didn’t expect the landing to be a hit with the ducklings. After a swim, they love gathering on it to relax.

Spend any time with ducks and you realize that there is a lot going on inside their little heads. They converse with each other much more than chickens. When you consider the feats that wild ducks have to accomplish to survive in the wild, migrating long distances, finding places to raise their young, eluding prey, it’s not a life for the stupid. It takes a lot of smarts to be a duck.

Lap of Luxury

An unexpected surprise were the falling flowers from this morning’s bouquet. Within minutes of bringing in fresh flowers for the table, some of the flowers rained down on my keyboard and the table.

And this is the definition of luxury. From a friend, a pile of their alpaca fur clippings for my chickens. Yes, alpaca fur lined nests. I’ve yet to read a claim on any egg cartons that their hens have alpaca fur lined nests.

It’s an experiment to see if hens prefer alpaca lined nests to straw and hay nests. And to entice them to use one of the two alpaca fur nests, I sprinkled herbs on one of them. According to another friend who gifted me these herbs, they are supposed to attract hens to nests when you sprinkle them onto the nest. We will see. I have my doubts.

And more chicks hatched today, by Hazel, who weeks ago, decided to nest in an out of the way place, hidden behind a board, above a set of nesting boxes. I knew one of her chicks had hatched when I heard it peeping, went into the chicken coop, and discovered the chick perched high above the nesting boxes. I tucked her back underneath her mother, and will move Hazel and her new chicks to someplace closer to the ground tonight. She is up more than five feet above the ground. I wonder how she is planning to get her chicks down.

Dog Days of July

It’s the dog days of July, but when you think about it, every day is a dog’s day.

I’ve had to separate Ema and her ducklings from the other ducks. She needs time alone to raise her ducklings without being harassed by the drakes or fighting with Snow whose eggs should be hatching soon.

Ema has picked the soft straw next to the duck’s swimming tank as her nest for her ducklings. When they aren’t foraging through the potatoes and garlic rows, Ema and her ducklings are either swimming in the water tank or preening and resting on the straw by the tank.

All it takes is spending an afternoon watching a mother duck with her ducklings, or a hen carrying for her chicks, to understand that ducklings and chicks are much happier being raised by a mother.

The Upstate Abundant potatoes are looking very good this year. A few more weeks and I will have some for the Mount Vernon Farmers Market, or will I end up eating them all?

New Ducklings, New Potatoes

When I went to put the ducks to bed last night I heard peeping. Emma’s eggs had hatched. Today was their first full day outside, and she took them all over the garden. The row of komatsuna and rows of baby radishes are now gone, no doubt devoured by the little ducklings. Now I know that I need to protect baby greens from ducklings.

Emma is very protective of her ducklings. Get too close and she’ll charge. She even nipped my leg at one point.

Today was all new potato day, the first picking of the season, a handful of potatoes dug up from underneath a few potato plants. There is nothing to compare to the taste of potatoes fresh out of the ground, their skins so thin and delicate, you have to carry them as carefully as eggs to keep the skins from rubbing off. Potatoes like these are too good to sell.