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January 12th, 2016

When you have birds, or any animal, it’s a balancing act. Finding the best way to keep them safe from predators while allowing them freedom to roam and be able to be what they want to be. The result is that my birds range fairly freely, but I lose some to predators on occasion. Yesterday was one of those occasions.
Turkey feathers in chicken wire
It’s always sad to lose a bird or two, but in the circle of life we can’t expect our animals to always win. Life just doesn’t work that way. My predator loses are very low, but that doesn’t make it any less heartbreaking to lose an animal you’ve been raising and caring for. We lost two of our young turkeys Sunday night or Monday morning. It was their fault for deciding to roost outside not safely in the coop like they should have, especially now that the electric fences are down for the winter. It did teach all the other birds a lesson, every single young turkey was in the coop early yesterday afternoon, safely locked away from whatever nabbed their two litter mates.

Holy Blueberries Piggos

July 30th, 2014

We have the pigs in an area by the back garden that has a small patch of high bush blueberry bushes.  They were overgrown with weeds, something blueberries do not take too kindly too.  We knew the pigs would chomp down the weeds and possibly root a little around the bushes.  That wasn’t a huge issue though, I figured I could simply take cuttings to start new bushes. I didn’t think much of the bushes until yesterday when I noticed they were heavy laden with GIANT berries.
blueberries 1
The pigs had decided to use the area around the bushes as their latrine after chomping down the weeds. They have only rooted a little bit around one bush. I plan on moving them shortly and filling back in with soil and the bush should do just fine. The size of these berries is incredible. I’ve been growing/picking blueberries my entire life and I’ve never seen berries this large. They’re flavorful too, not watered down as sometimes oversized fruit is.
blueberries 2
Funny thing is that I read in a very old (circa 1880’s) livestock book that pigs fed with wheat middling have very high quality manure, some of the best pig manure you can get. I didn’t think much of that until now. The pigs have been getting wheat mids in their feed every day. In return I get giant fruit, I think next I’ll be putting them in the orchard under the fruit trees to improve fertility in that part of the garden.

What kind of manure or fertilizer have you found to work best in your garden?

Growing Like Weeds

August 3rd, 2013

If you remember, the first week of July was a busy week with ducklings and keets hatching out within a few days of each other. The ducklings are being taken care of my Mama Duck and she’s doing a GREAT job. Having a good mother is such a time saver when it comes to baby animals.
Growing Like Weeds 1
The keets on the other hand are being mothered by me, not my favorite job. It’s just so much work to cart them in and out. If I wanted to keep them inside or in a brooder all the time it wouldn’t be so bad. But I want them to be able to peck in the grass and stretch their wings.  They’ve learned to fly out of their enclosure, so we’re trying to figure out what to do with them to keep them safe from the predators we have around here (namely foxes, but also eagles and ravens).
Growing Like Weeds 2
One thing I like about summer is that it’s baby season. There are fawns, wild ducklings, little birdies in their nests and wild turkey poults and I’m pretty sure fox kids as well. There are babies everywhere you look!

Have you been noticing little animals out in nature?

Chick Update

June 1st, 2013

The chicks are doing really well, they are now outside 100% of the time. Dailon built a movable chicken coop, following the instructions in the back of Harvery Ussery’s The Small-Scale Poultry Flock. So far we like it, there roosts inside and nesting boxes with outside access. We don’t really need to worry about eggs any time soon, these chickies are just about 5 weeks old.
chicks roosting on old swingset
I love that they’re roosting and acting like little tiny chickens. They scratch, dust bathe, chase insects and they are even establishing a pecking order. It is nice to have them be fully outside and more or less taking care of themselves.
chicks roosting
It has been fun to watch these little guys/gals grow up, we’re looking forward to the upcoming months to watch their transformation into teenage chickens.

What’s your favorite animal to watch grow up?

Duck Potatoes

December 11th, 2012

If you remember, we added some ducks to Chiot’s Run back in October. When we traveled back to Ohio for Thanksgiving, we left them in a heated room in our garage. They still weren’t fully feathered and we hadn’t trained them to the electric fence, so we figured it would be the safest place to leave them. When we left they were still ducklings, we arrived home to BIG DUCKS!

Not only were they big ducks, they had gotten lazy in their cushy indoor days. When I would open the garage door to let them out to forage, they wouldn’t leave the garage. After two days of this, I finally decided it was time to withhold their food. A hungry duck is one that will go outside in search of food. Low and behold, it worked! Now they’re out and about much of the day eating dandelions and clover in the lawn.

The good thing is, they have now been trained to see an indoor place as a safe place and a place to sleep. I think this will be greatly help in our efforts to keep these guys safe from predators. I don’t have to herd them inside at night, they go in on their own. If they start trying to stay outside, they’ll be herded inside. We’ve already been working on our herding with them, it’s really quite easy with a flock of ducks!

They’re not quite fully feathered and they’ll still get bigger than they are now. Muscovies are pretty large ducks. The good thing is that they’re very hardy, the cold doesn’t seem to be bothering them at all. They’re so entertaining, we really get a good laugh from them quite often. They seem quite curious and love watching us working outside, here they are paying close attention to Mr Chiot’s coffee roasting to see if they can pick up any tricks.

We’re still in the process of building our duck house, we’ve been slightly busy with our work after taking a week and a half to travel to Ohio. Hopefully they’ll be living in their new digs by Christmas.

Have you ever had to deal with lazy pets?

Reading & Watching

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.