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Farmette 1769

by Monica Melograna-Ward

Tag Archives: green

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Call ducks are Bantams, which places them in the miniature poultry category. Due to their light body weight, they can fly very well. So, unlike your average heavy farm duck, it is advisable to clip a wing so that they don’t wander too far off.

Clipping the flight feathers from one wing sets both wings off balance, leaving them flightless. The procedure is painless, since feathers are just like finger nails and hair.

Some blood vessels are still active in newly grown feathers, so avoid that area during clipping.

Muriel (left), Hector (right)

Muriel (left), Hector (right)

Duck Video

We bought Muriel, a female Call duck, at Carolina Chickenstock in the Fall of 2012. With a bit of searching early in 2013, we located a male (drake) Call duck for sale near Winston-Salem, NC.

In conjunction with the drake duck, there was also the opportunity to buy a male (gander) African goose to go with Annie, our female Chinese goose. It was a long drive from the Charlotte area to get the drake, so without too much thought, I went ahead and bought the gander too.

Muriel seems happy with her new duck boyfriend, Hector. They waddle around together, taking an occasional dip in the baby pool or a spare water pan. They are both super cute and easy to handle. Bantam breeds take up less space/accommodations and also consume less feed. Miniature livestock fit well here at our little farmette.

Our Annie, seemed content with her surprise boyfriend, Robert. They quickly become a bonded pair of closely related (both from the Swan Goose) domesticated geese.

Geese Video

Robert (left), Annie (right)

Robert (left), Annie (right)

The thing is, we don’t have a pond, stream or a fenced section of land for them, so there were second thoughts. I made the decision that the best thing was to get these full size (Standard) geese out of their pen and into the hands of someone with a more suitable set-up. They were sold to Kunekune Pig Preserve here in NC. One section of the preserve boasts a large fenced area with a big pond. They should be comfortable and safe at their new home.

We greatly enjoyed our time with them. Geese are very wonderful birds and great watch animals for farms.

Four Bantam chicken eggs (left), One Bantam duck egg (right)

Four Bantam chicken eggs (left), One Bantam duck egg (right)

That decision now leaves more time and energy to attend to our Call duck pair. Spring, though a bit unpredictable and chilly this year, has sprung. Beginning mid-March, Muriel started laying eggs. Her eggs are green!

A homemade egg candler shows obvious growth.

A homemade egg candler shows obvious growth.

The pair is now proven fertile and we are excitedly looking forward to Call ducklings. My lovely husband Jamie often says “There’s nothin’ cuter than a bucket of baby ducks”. I am thinking that Call ducklings, due to there tiny size, may just prove to be our new, ultimate, Spring baby fixation.

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We can’t wait to see!

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Goats have quite a lot of horsepower for their size. We have four pygmy goats. Ours are 35-50 pounds each. One of them can make a formidable opponent in tug-of-war. When you need to move an unwilling goat on a lead, that is the game you play.

They have several jobs on the farmette, one of which is being a playful, cute pet. Goats are also foragers, and so clear brush like no weed-eater you’ve ever seen. They produce milk, which can be a great source of dairy foods for your household. Hopefully, this year will be the one that we actually try milking our goats. We have two very tame girls that should not be too much trouble to train to the milking stand.

Our little billy goat boy, Jeffrey, has turned out just as planned. He is very small, but gets his job done with his harem.

Jeffrey - Our Herd Sire

A nanny has to give birth in order to produce milk. A lot of people take the kids away and bottle feed. This way, the nanny will think of you as her kid when you are milking. Then you can share the milk with her real kids. The following pic is of Luna, who is 1/2 Nigerian dwarf and 1/2 pygmy. She should make a great milker since she is tame and friendly. Also, the Nigerian blood will make for better milk production.

Luna - Nanny #2

I had to give Luna extra attention when she was born since she was a super-runt, being half the size of her two brothers (her mother had triplets). She is my favorite due to the puppy dog-like personality that developed from the extra care.

We sell off the boys (you only need one). The sales goes into our farmette’s feed and grain money jar. Goats are a great livestock animals since they serve so many purposes. And again, they are very endearing too.

Special Goat Tip; Double up on the collar and connection when you leave them out on a lead. They are very agile, mischievous animals and it helps to have back-up security on tie-outs.

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I have always been a big fan of recycling. When it was not available curb side, we’d haul all we could to recycling centers. Between the recycling centers and Goodwill, the land fills have been relieved of a lot of stuff.

Lack of funds for supplies and green living go together. Reusing requires more imagination. Since I have all these pictures of structures in my head and no materials, why not expand on the reclaimed wood idea that has been used on some of our animal shelters?

Coming up with ideas that do not take a great amount of physical strength is a challenge. I have to work in short spurts and without heavy lifting due to a medical issue. There is a balance to be held between activity and rest. If I do too little, I will lose muscle. If I do too much, the inflammation takes hold. Holding power tools can also present a problem. So, I have been wracking my brain to come up with solutions for my limitations. I need to create a building style that is easy on the body.

I always liked those candle holders made of little pieces of glass. Tiffany lamps are great also. The thoughts in my head today revolve around reusing glass bottles. I have been saving wine and beer bottles to make into hummingbird feeders, but I may build a chicken shelter with them. There is a great site about glass bottle houses with lots of pics on it: http://popsop.com/6571. I particularly like the Buddhist temple and Artist’s studio. Bottles allow some light through and add color to structures.

I also found how to make filler that is natural: http://www.wikihow.com/Build-an-Adobe-Wall. We have plenty of clay soil available (not sure yet where to get sand without a trip to the beach with a dump truck). Cement may have to be an added ingredient since the area that we live in is not dry like that of regular, adobe, housing locations.

Some sort of basic wooden frame seems necessary. Two by Fours are inexpensive and easy to work with. It would probably help quite a bit to have a skeleton shell to help the project along.

How Big?

Having a barn that is large enough to walk into without bending is my first thought. As I started to draw, I realized that an entrance way would be great. If there were a 45 degree turn, the wind and weather could be kept out while keeping the building door-less. Supplies could be kept in the entry way, up in cabinets.

Shelter Sketch A

Obviously, this is a long term project if it were to be made exclusively from bottles. Maybe just part of it will be glass inspired. Hmm?

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We have a square with wood edging that will be our Spice Garden. My handwriting is atrocious, so I will type in the contents: Oregano, Mint, Cilantro, Chives and Basil. These will be great additions to our Italian, Asian and Mexican dinners.

Spice Garden

Since it is easy to go overboard on the gardens, we have made written plans this year. It seems to make sense to limit the crops to something manageable. This is our way of avoiding total mayhem on the Farmette.

Vegetable Garden

This plan is impossible to read, so I’ll explain. To the back of the vegetable garden is a quick incline and plateau. It has a slight curve in it when viewed from above. Corn and plants that grow in vine form will be planted here. The vine types are zucchini, watermelon, cucumbers, cantaloupe and yellow squash.

The illustration is flipped. The main (long) vegetable garden is in front of the plateau. We love tomatoes. Since this is a highly desired crop, we’ll spread it out along the entire length of the Long Garden. Then in front of them in sections will be the green beans, peppers, sweet potatoes, eggplant and okra.

Now that it is all written down , it seems like a lot. I think we’ll be able to care for it all OK though. There is quite an incentive to do the work.

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I have two vertebrae smashed together in my neck. This has debilitated me quite a bit this past year. A wonderful chiropractic/physical therapy combination office has allowed me to bypass surgery and avoid pain pills. Having finally found the right direction to go in order to address this issue, I can function enough to do some of the activities that I really enjoy. Gardening is one of the great loves of my life.

After deciding to move the garden, we only had digging to look forward to and therefore procrastinated. This is positively not the fun part. We finally set up to start working this past weekend and the weather decided to mimic a sauna.

So, the area was staged and a sprinkler set up to soften that area. Then it rained the next day. Yesterday, I tested the waters (thick red clay soil) and was absolutely amazed at how easy it was to dig when moist.

Starting the Garden

The surge of my home office graphics work is over for now, so I’ll take advantage of this morning and work outside. The tiller gets too clogged if you try to start with that, so digging and de-weeding is the first thing to do.

This was not the best idea. I am still making a mental list of the parts to my favorite activities I must ban. One third of the garden is dug and now void of plant life, but the digging part is too much for my neck. I must have my husband do that part before I de-weed.

1/3 long garden turned

Lettuce, spinach and other cool weather vegetables (Spring crop) will have to be skipped, but there is plenty of growing time left. Our summer choices for the garden will be covered in our next blog.

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There is no way to count the ways in which all of us can do this. You have to be practical, since it all takes time, energy and some space. Every bit helps both our little piece of the planet and the whole world.

Ideas run a muck when you visit others with a similar approach to the day. Old buckets can be used as nesting boxes and tin tomato sauce cans can be used to start seedlings.

Our main chicken coop began with newly purchased wood, but the continuation has been produced with reclaimed wood. This is a great way to save money and the environment. If you’d like a consistent look, a bit of brick colored barn paint is low cost and does add its flair to your barnyard.

Our food is not wasted – ever. What does not go into the chicken coops, goes to the compost bins. Although the ducks are vegetarians, the chickens, turkey and guinea fowl are like vultures on just about anything that comes their way. After seeing them in action, I have no doubt that they are closely related to dinosaurs.

So, you can turn your table scraps into eggs. Many residential areas allow a small number of hens, but no roosters.

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The great thing about chickens is that you don’t need a male chicken to motivate your hens to lay. Roosters are sperm donors only. The exception to that rule – we have one little guy (the smallest yet most aggressive to humans) that enjoys raising chicks.

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A quick note ending the normal work week (our work continues over the weekend). Posts resume on Monday.

Manure is great natural fertilizer for your garden. This is good news to us, since when we have enough for our own garden, a craigslist follower gets free growth enhancement and we get free farm help. Nothing like a “Free”  Farm and Garden Ad to clear out the pasture. BYOPF – Bring your own pitch fork!

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