Country Living & Penny Pinching

Getting back to "Little House on the Prairie" living

Tag: ducks (page 1 of 2)

Rain on the Homestead

It’s raining……..do I write the clothesline post………it’s raining………write about the rain instead haha

That was my mentality while writing this post. Here in sunny Southern California we have RAIN. Not a sprinkle but it is puddling and flooding all over the property :/

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I parked…stepped into the puddle…pulled my car forward more and then got the Littles out

Now the most rain I remember getting while growing up was back in high school. It rained for a week straight and all of the walkway drains got backed up and there were huge puddles across the paths and single file lines next to the buildings to try to pass in the few feet that were not inches deep with water. You always knew someone was going to be in big trouble if they got to class late because they went straight through the puddle that was at least mid calf high.

OK, I know, enough down memory lane! All of that is written to express how much I am not used to rain where we live. If and when it does rain, it is normally during May/June and its one good down pour then it sprinkles. Since we moved out to the country last year we have been introduced to hail, snow about twenty minutes away, thunder storms, rain in the summer (yes I let the Littles play in it), and now down pour after down pour. It is said (by who I am not really sure but everyone keeps saying that, I’m just kidding haha some weather person must have said it but I do not really follow the weather channel, I know what the weather is like by looking out the window haha anyways…) this year will be a crazy el nino year. Oh My Gosh! I am not ready for this much rain!

the chickens aren't ready for this much rain either. Hiding under our back covering.

the chickens aren’t ready for this much rain either. Hiding under our back covering.

Don’t get me wrong I love chai tea and sitting on the couch to read a book with a blanket and cuddling with my furry babies and husband and listening to the rain with the window open a tiny bit all the way.

haha totally staged :P look at the rain drops on my sweater.

haha totally staged look at the rain drops on my sweater, but there really was tea and this is my favorite book

But that does not happen here on the homestead! I mean seriously that is in fantasy land. With three Littles under five, a puppy, chickens, and now pregnant goats this mama is not getting to sit on the couch any time soon. I know it sounds like it but really I am not complaining, I love having all these animals and I love my psycho kids but those days of relaxing  and listening to the rain are about fifteen years away, (5475 days), haha not like I am counting.

don't mind the shopping cart the littlest Little loves to leave out his toys

don’t mind the shopping cart the littlest Little loves to leave out his toys

OK OK back to the homestead. So our goat shed/chicken coop thinks that when it rains it needs to absorb all of the water and keep it in this massive puddle under all of the bedding! Seriously! Just look at the water!

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inside the shed/coop

So while I was checking on all the animals I decided while wearing my flip flops I should jump over a massive puddle……what was I thinking? It was only by the grace of God that I did not fall backwards and land in the said ginormous puddle. Stepping stones just might be in my future, and if you read along with the blog then they will be in your future too!

the water is up to my toes

the water is up to my toes

Now, one should never complain (again not complaining just sharing my thoughts on the topic) unless one has a way to fix it. I was relieved to see this article that someone posted on a Facebook group stating where to find free sand bags. Just google free sand bags in your area. Turns out during crazy weather fire stations will provide sand and bags and all you need to do is show up (preferably with a buddy) and a shovel and make your own, do call ahead to make sure. Fill the bag about half way with sand and instead of tying them just fold over the top and place it flap side down. This way they are nice and flat and will fit nicely together.

she knows how to keep dry :)

she knows how to keep dry 🙂

Since it is raining right now and I have all the Littles by myself, I am not getting my sand bags today haha but hopefully once it all dries out I will go fill quite a few sand bags to place around the shed/coop and be more prepared for the next rain. Also rain gutters or a roof extension will most likely be in the shed/coops future. So stay tuned.

Staying cozy together

Staying cozy together

All of the above was mentioned for fun. The main point of this post is to let you know that rain is a battle that we must conquer. For me it is fighting to keep home base dry for the animals with sand bags and a longer roof. Duel accepted! Rain you are going down. (haha I crack myself up!)

What does your rain battle look like? 🙂

Imprinting on Adult Ducks

Ducks! We tried to have ducks before but when the massacre hit,read about that here, they were too expensive to get again right away. Thankfully we had friends a few months later who were switching duck breeds and needed to re-home their Muscovy full grown ducks. Four females and one papa male were going to be coming to live with us.

Dog crates can be used for more than just dogs :)

Dog crates can be used for more than just dogs 🙂

Now when dealing with Muscovy ducks remember that they can fly! So before we loaded them up from our friends farm, I was taught how to clip their wings so they wouldn’t fly away the second they got released from the crate. While the ducks were in the van the Littles and I fashioned together a temporary home from dog fencing.

The turkeys were not fans of having to share their half of the coop

The turkeys were not fans of having to share their half of the coop

Nailed together a chunk of 2×4 with three pieces that were cut out of the chicken coop wall when we originally made windows.

2x4 used as a corner brace

2×4 used as a corner brace

It wasn’t super sturdy but we added a brick on top and it seemed like it wasn’t going anywhere.

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Also know that full grown ducks need time to imprint on their new house and of course you, the poop picker upper and feed dispenser. Chickens can get put on the roost at night, be released the next day and come home that night no questions asked.  Ducks on the other hand need two weeks. That’s right TWO WEEKS! This was the longest two weeks ever.

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This is where they lived for two weeks until the perfect day and time that I would open the door and they would spread their wings and run around so happy to be free from their pen. Or so I imagined….

IMG_3713Instead that moment was a complete let down! It took almost five minutes for these ducks to even consider leaving their pen. I guess the imprinting worked haha Eventually they did leave and learned that they had a whole seven acres to roam.

finally able to stretch their wings

finally able to stretch their wings

Over all I am very happy that we followed instructions and kept them locked up to complete the imprinting process, but don’t expect a huge wonderful joyful migration once released. Currently the ducks still always come home, sleep in the same place and are not super big fans of the kiddie pool pond we set up for them.

Have you ever gotten an animal and had to imprint on it?

PS I always think of the Twilight Saga when I hear the word imprinting. What do you think of?

Deciding on Free Ranging or Building a Run

To cage or not to cage? That is the question. We chose to not cage but everyone’s answer is going to be different. When asking this question one needs to consider the land, neighbors, money, predators and time.

  1. Land – If you live in a cul-de-sac my guess is that you will be building a run. Although if you train them to come when called and have supervised free-ranging time, there could be the best of both worlds. The more land you have the more options there are. We live on seven acres so we chose a stand alone coop and the birds have free reign over the whole property.
  2. Neighbors – When in close proximity you MUST make friends if you decide to free range. Go around to the neighbors and let them know what you are thinking on doing, then hear them out and go from there. If they are being difficult try an egg offering deal such as every couple of weeks bringing them a dozen eggs. If they are happy about having chickens running around then still bring them an egg offering to keep them happy. When building a run make sure that you keep it clean and not too smelly or else know an egg offering is needed to keep the neighbors OK with smelling poop.
  3. Money – This was our biggest challenge. In order to safely enclose the amount of chickens we wanted we would have had needed a couple hundred dollars in fencing to keep them safe. There was no way that was going to happen. So free ranging them became even more of a reality. Survival of the fittest right? If you have the money and are only doing a few, then a run would not be nearly as expensive.
  4. Predators – Ask around! Again with the neighbors. People who have lived in your area for more than a year will know what to watch out for. If your predator is bears, get livestock guardian dogs; coyotes, trees for the birds to jump in; hawks, bushes for the poultry to hide under; snakes, set a trap. Building a run will over course help deter all of these predators except the bears. All in all a livestock guardian dog will help with all predators but…that is only for the people who have major flocks. Some regular dogs are easy to train and will help with the predator problem as well, just be careful because dogs are also a type of predator to the poultry. Bottom line, make sure there is a place that the flock can escape to if a predator decides to come traipsing into camp.
  5. Time – If you are impatient like me, not to cage (free ranging) will definitely be your answer. How much time do you want to spend cleaning the run? How much time do you want to spend building it? Planning? Your time is valuable, always remember that. Opportunity Cost! Economics class coming into play. What you choose to spend doing for thirty minutes is time you could be doing something else. Choose what matters and is important.
  6. Eggs – Do you want to go on an Easter egg hunt everyday, train chickens to only use the laying box, or not worry about it all? Luckily we have not had a problem laying outside the nesting box but we are only dealing with one laying hen at the moment.

So now you know the factors to consider free ranging or building a run. I do realize this is all written in a free ranging voice, but there is no right or wrong way to raise birds. Keep them safe, love on them (to a point), do what is best for your family, and if you do something and it doesn’t work out just dust yourself off and try again. Good luck on making your choice.

If you have chickens what choice did you make? If you don’t which one would you lean closer to? and why?

Stages of the Duck Pond

If your husband is anything like mine than all you need to do is get ducklings and he will jump on the farming band wagon. We started with two Muscovy ducks. This breed was chosen because they do not need a pond, it would be great but they wouldn’t suffer if there was not a permanent pond in place. So plans were never made for one, but since the Hubby was smitten he declared they must have water since they really did love playing in it. That brought us to the 1st stage of the duck pond. A Pie Tin!!!

 

Two little ducklings sitting in a tin, S-P-L-A-S-H-!

Yep, this was a throw away pie tin in my cupboards from a certain restaurant that sold Calendar’s (haha I crack myself up, Marie Calendar’s). It was the right size for them to sit together, splash around, and still left plenty of room for them to walk around the cage.

Once the ducklings moved to the pen with the chickens on the deck we quickly learned the pie tin was now too small and the chickens would try to sit on the edge and dump it over immediately. This is where the 2nd stage came in. It was brought on by the Hubby’s love for the ducks and not knowing which dishes were the expensive ones.

a Pyrex Baking Dish

That’s right, one of my glass Pyrex baking dishes. in his defense there really wasn’t anything better to choose from in the cupboards and this worked out really really well. Heavy enough to not flip, deep enough to dunk their heads in, and really easy to clean. So props went to the Hubby after I had a couple of breaths and thought it through. Also I happened to have a weird size and he thankfully used that one, which is one I do not use regularly.  So I definitely recommend this to others as one of the stages to use for growing ducklings.

our lovely ladies

After the ducks were in the coop we realized they were getting way to big for the baking dish and needed something bigger that would not break the bank, easy to clean, store, and move around. Thus moving us into the 3rd stage of the duck pond. We went to Walmart and found the $4.88 kiddie pools! The Littles got a blue one and the lady ducks got pink. It took some coaxing but the ducks eventually learned that this bright pink thing was something fun and they would only go in when we weren’t watching. By the time we could get the camera they would have jumped out and ran back into the coop.

can you even imagine what this animal conversation was?

Word of caution! Baby chicks and duck ponds do not mix very well. Our dog was acting weird so we went out to see what was wrong and there she was with this hen staring at one of our Leghorn chicks who had fallen into the pool…I mean pond and couldn’t get out.

Eventually we would love to make a real pond but seeing as we are penny-pinching, our kiddie pool will suffice for now. Have you ever had a duck pond? What was it like? Pictures are always great too!!

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