Notes from ‘Rivendale’ #25

Posted: April 24, 2019 in Ducks
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Update on ducks: 5 hatched in the incubator and are doing well in the brooder. My other sitting duck hatched 10 ducklings currently in a cage in the paddock. I moved her at night to avoid being attacked. Female ducks with ducklings can be super aggressive. For a small bird they are mighty fearless when protecting their young. So far, they are all doing well and are happy enough. I am happy they can’t escape. When they are a bit older, I’ll put all 15 together with the mother in a larger pen. Happy days!

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Notes from ‘Rivendale’ # 24

Posted: April 8, 2019 in Ducks
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Consider this scenario: Female duck has made a nest in a tyre in the duck yard. The holes in the duck house wire are large enough to allow baby ducklings through. I observed a hawk, probably a hawk or a falcon near the chickens/ poultry this morning. So what do you do? Obviously they can’t be let hatch and then escape to certain death. So I spent about two hours putting a finer netting around the area and a fence and a roof of wire. So what does the duck do? She keeps escaping!!!

Finally after dark, I attempt one last time to put her back in. She will not go! So, I have to rescue the duck eggs and put them in the incubator. So annoying! 2 are infertile and most of the rest aren’t looking too good on candling. At least two out of 6 are alive. They are in the incubator now. I do have another duck sitting on eggs in the duck house. I could kind of hedge her in and just give her any of the ducklings hatched from the incubator. Well, that is the plan.

Going on holidays soon for 4 days. Hope they don’t hatch too soon. More work for my son and worry for me!

Au revoir, mes amies.

It’s Spring and everywhere is green again after five long months of drought. I visited some local gardens on display last weekend and they gave me lots of ideas to improve my garden. One thing to do is plant trees/bushes with contrasting foliage to give depth to all that green! Purple and maroon as well as red look stunning against a green backdrop. I like the way people raised garden beds with rock walls and separated gravel from lawn using pavers in curves. A simple but effective garden plan was  using raised beds made from treated pine and filling in pathways with gravel. This made a more formal garden but one that would be quick to create. They grew both veggies and ornamentals in this garden.

I saw lots of different ideas for chicken houses. Most had a covered area and then an open wired in run also with a roof. The chickens looked fat and well fed and were bedded on sawdust or straw. One group of all female hens were so fat they almost waddled. People also used tiny wire on the lower sections of runs to keep out mice and rats- a great idea. I was amazed to see how many plants grew under huge fir trees that dropped pine needles. This also made a good mulch for informal pathways.

I have growing in the garden at the moment: silver beet, kale, lettuce, beans, strawberries and have sown carrots, potatoes, zucchini and orange eggplants- that’s right, quite unusual and apple shaped. Hope they come up. Its a bit too cold for tomatoes and some of the seeds I’ve sown are slow to come up due to the cool weather. Recently, we have still had the wood fire on at night.

The animals are thriving with almost 30 new chickens on the property in various stages of growth from day-olds to about 10 weeks old. We have two hens looking after them, the rest have been raised in an incubator. One hint is to put some older chicks in with the day-olds in the brooder to teach them to eat and drink and to give them company and warmth. They all seem to get on very well and end up pals for life! The young female turkey now has a new male suitor and he struts around displaying his big white but slightly mud-stained feathers. We also have 6 new ducks- 3 pekins and 3 new muscovy females. The pekins are very pretty and they just love being let out to nose around for worms- its as if they have never been on grass before! They are very attractive ducks with cute faces and look like the Jemima Puddleduck of Beatrix Potter fame.

I let the ducks and chickens out for some fun today after work and several of the male muscovies were looking disgracefully dirty, I was hoping they’d go for a dip in the duck pond, maybe tomorrow. While I haven’t go much fencing done in the last few weeks, at least I have been saved from doing endless watering!

Adios, amigos.

Notes from’Rivendale’ #22

Posted: June 8, 2018 in Chickens
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It’s Winter and the burning log fire is going. The heat from it is the most comforting thing when its bleak and wet outside. Outside in the paddock, I bedded down the best 10 hens with a frizzle rooster and the one remaining turkey after I returned from the US two weeks or so ago. I called it putting them in ‘lock down’. My reasons were thus: They are in the strongest house which is big and has lots of light and nesting boxes. It should be fox-proof. And I can see if having them in close quarters helps them start laying.

Well to report something good at last, they have started laying. Well two of them have. And interestingly enough, they seem to eat less food because they are less active. I give them all the best scraps form the kitchen and greens as well. Today I got them shell grit. They love scratch mix and for some reason, its cheaper than pure wheat grain. I also feed them a laying mash, often hot with scraps mixed through. They really love this.

The other hens and roosters who are free range have produced no eggs. The ducks are loving their new pond which the wet weather has considerately filled up. So the muscovies are looking blindingly white instead of murky mud splattered brownish. The weeds I have so far put in the pond, the ducks have equally enthusiastically eaten so getting a real pond ecosystem up and running is a work in progress at the moment. All the pens have feeders made from plastic down pipes which allows me to go off for a few days and know they will be fed well. The material on the floor of the ‘lock down’ pen is straw though I plan to buy a shredder and put all my scrap paper through it to make litter for them. I noticed a few years ago that worms love this mixture of shredded paper and chicken poo and some of them were massive in size when I was digging up the litter to put on vegetable beds. It’s a good way to recycle paper too. Time to get in some Winter greens in the vegie garden. Have a great long weekend, fellow travellers in life.

I do spend way too much time in front of Pinterest. The work by artists and craftspeople around the world is utterly fascinating. So what’s trending? On the fabric front, fabric fish in colourful patterns used for, I don’t know, pencil cases perhaps and fabric mushrooms. Then there’s the up cycling of old ‘jumpers’ ( ‘sweaters’ in the US) into really cool coats or mittens or even beanies and head scarfs. Amigurumi crocheted animals are really cute as are the tiny dolls. I have had a go at them and its harder than it looks even with the Youtube videos to follow. A word of advice- don’t use cotton yarn as it stretches, use wool to crochet your animals.

diy patchwork upcycled jacket              https://www.instagram.com/p/BS2T16egYE-/

In jewellery, check out ‘polymer cane jewellery’. Canes are lengths of polymer clay rolled with different colours which can produce quite detailed and representational effects when cut across. The better jewellery uses subtle colour ranges such as olive greens and coffee with white and black and contrast hues like orange or turquoise, also the canes are less complex. Feathers and flowers are too kitsch and child-like. There are many polymer clay recreation attempts at faux gemstones like turquoise or opal but I don’t find these as interesting or  artistic as the cane jewellery. These  often have matching pendants and earrings in modern shapes. Fascinating is the unusually structured bangles  made with subtle cane colours that resemble sea creatures or coral.

Polymer artists to watch are Meisha Barbie and Melanie West.

Meisha Barbee Inner wave bangles by Melanie West

Meisha Barbie                                                    Melanie West

Artists are making full size vases in wonderful colours using polymer clay but these would be expensive to make and buy. Another trend in polymer clay is to make amazing doll heads and bodies. Some are surreal and transport the viewer to another dimension of doll crafting. The best at this new craft appear to be the Russians like Michael Zajkov. Here is some of his work:

Artist Masterfully Sculpts Hauntingly Lifelike, Fully Articulating Dolls From Polymer Clay

Michael Zajkov   The Russian artist's collection of handmade dolls is captivating viewers around the world with them appearing so realistic that if you blink, you may wonder if they  #Art #bjd #collectiondoll

Hard to believe this is a doll, yes!

Well, I hope this article has given you some inspiration to check out the trends and massive talent in crafts at the moment, adios  amigos.

regards

Amundr

 

Notes from ‘Rivendale’ #21

Posted: December 2, 2017 in Chickens, Ducks
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December already! It’s pouring down outside, a Summer storm putting paid to plans to go shopping. Luckily, I mowed the lawn earlier in the day. Not much is in the garden, only some silverbeet so that’s a major job for the holidays. I have some small tomato plants in pots ready to go. My attempt at a green house failed. The wood I put on the roof got soaked and weighed down the plastic pipes supporting the roof of plastic sheeting. So I’ll have to use smaller plastic pipes for the cross pieces. Anyway, not a biggy as they say. Just noticed the kiwifruit vine and it’s enormous and very thick over the old chook house. Hopefully, we’ll get lots of kiwis again this year.

Update on the farm animals. We have about 25 new chickens of various ages and 6 baby ducklings hatched out about 2 weeks ago. The ducklings are very yellow but two have black markings as well, a bit more than the black marked ducks we already have. I have about 5 duck eggs in the incubator due out on the 11th of December. Some of the chicken eggs we hatched came from a lovely little black hen that was taken by a fox. We found a secret stash of her eggs sitting in hay in a small shed out the back so I put a couple in for incubation and they hatched. As usual we have also had a few losses, the worst of which was Swampy. While we were off on a few days holiday in Bendigo, Swampy was taken by a fox. I miss him still a few months later. He was a very sociable little bird and always come up to us when we were outside wanting some food or just curiously pecking at my hoes. He ‘helped’ build the duck house, well gave me company anyway while I was building it. I have never known a bird so keen to hang around us, that’s because I raised him form a small peet.

My retirement from school teaching  is imminent so I am looking forward to having lots of daylight hours to achieve things on the farm not the least of which is to get fit again. There is always so much to do, but I am determined to get things done one by one.

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Notes from ‘Rivendale’ #20

Posted: September 28, 2017 in Chickens

First the good news. Swamp, our male swamp hen returned after a sojourn of three days. He looked a bit worn out! Probably because he was off pursuing a mate! He hasn’t left again since, either. Now he’s content to chew on my shoes whenever he can. He particularly likes a small gold chain that came with a tag on my Ugg boots. It still hasn’t rained so I ‘ve decided to make a greenhouse in the hope I can start a garden and it won’t need too much water. I’m constructing it from steelies and agricultural pipe which form three arches. I have a big roll of glad wrap I’m considering using as well, I’ve also been hunting around for recycled plastic so I don’t have to buy too much. This is one of my construction principles- to use recycled material wherever possible. Not only is it cheaper, its also better for the environment. It’s quite windy at the moment and I’m wondering how the plastic will go so I’ll have to tape it well. I bought some cloth tape for the purpose.Veggie gardens are precarious entities and unless you have a ready supply of water there’s not much point in going ahead. I’m hoping the greenhouse  as well as mulching the garden well will retain moisture in the soil. So  maybe we will get some veggies this season after all.

On the chicken front, we had 5 successful hatchings of chickens this week. One grey, two buff, one white and one black chicken. I still have four eggs in the incubator so we shall see how they go. They were put in later than the first lot over about 5 days. Generally, if you put in all the eggs on one day they hatch 20 or 21 days later over a 4 day period. Nothing viable hatches later than that. We had a few deformities this year in chickens that hatched or died in the egg so I’m really looking at what I feed the chickens and will cut down on their all wheat diet. This is supplemented with grazing on pasture and the occasional box of vegetable scraps as well as regular household scraps. They all seem pretty healthy at the moment so I’m not sure what went wrong with the hatchlings. The survivors are doing well eating tiny birdseed and starter crumbles in the brooder. I have a broody hen at the moment as well and thought I could put the chickens under her but she rejected one and pecked it so they are all in the brooder and she’s in the lower cage sitting on 11 eggs. She’s only a small bantam so its a big ask but I want her to have at least a few hatchlings so its better to set more eggs. The rest of this  year, I’ll stick to broody hens to hatch the eggs hoping there aren’t too many of course. I am getting about 6 eggs a day on average- buff, brown and two shades of blue. They all look so pretty in the egg basket that sits near the door- a convenient when you are dropping off eggs to the house.

Hoping your Spring plantings are going well and happy rain weather to us all,

regards