Sunday, July 31, 2016


the ducklings have been very busy making feathers.  except for the black duckling, who is still a little behind, they've got fully feathered bellies...

Sunday, July 24, 2016


i've been playing doctor with one of the ducks for the last few weeks.  spot started having a lot of trouble breathing about 3 weeks ago.  a couple of weeks before i noticed spot's breathing difficulties many of the ducks had been coming back from foraging with foxtails in their nostrils.  i was able to remove all the foxtails i saw but they move very quickly and it's quite possible spot had one that worked its way in and out of sight before she made it back to camp.  she was in pretty bad shape at one point, not able to keep up with the rest of the flock and working so hard to get air into her lungs that her chest had a deep depression in the center and her whole body would heave with each inhalation.  she couldn't quack and would cough occasionally. 
i've had an interest in herbal and holistic healing since i was in high school and it's grown stronger over the last several years.  i think it's best to give the body the support it needs to heal itself.  i believe that for myself and for my animals. 
mullein and sage are two plants that are good for lung/respiratory ailments and garlic is a potent natural antibiotic.  i grow lots of sage and garlic in the gardens and mullein grows wild on our property and in many places nearby along the road.  i made a strong tea of sage and mullein leaves each night to add to the feed and drinking water pans each morning.  unlike many chemical drugs, having the tea in the communal feed and water was not a danger to the healthy members of the flock, it was just more good food.

drinking pans with mullein and sage tea, including the chopped leaves from the brew, spot standing rear left

i also mixed up a concoction of honey, coconut oil, crushed fresh garlic, powdered dried sage, and turmeric powder and gave that to spot orally with a needleless syringe twice a day.

needleless syringe with honey, coconut oil, garlic, sage and turmeric

spot seemed to know i was trying to help her.  she didn't fight when i would pick her up to give her the medicine and she would even leave the rest of the flock occasionally to come see me during the day, she'd walk over to me and bow and give me a look and then she'd go back and join the rest of the ducks again.  
she's shown great improvement.  a few days into the beginning of the treatment she started coughing quite regularly which i took to be a sign that her lungs were clearing.  she got her quack back with the coughing.  lately her breathing is hardly noticeable, she's eating well and her activity is normal.  i got her down to one dose by syringe per day for a few days after she seemed to be stable in her improvement.  she's never refused the medicine but i noticed with the last couple of doses she has spit most of it out so i've taken that as her way of telling me that she doesn't need anymore right now and i've stopped giving it to her.  i'll be keeping a close eye on her, especially during the intense heat we'll be having over the next week or so.  i think she's got a little more healing to do but i feel like she's going to be just fine.

spot's namesake is the black spot on her neck peeking out from under my thumb

Saturday, July 23, 2016

duckling growth

the ducklings are just a few days shy of being 4 weeks old and they've changed considerably from the round little fluffballs they were when they hatched.  the black duckling is quite a bit smaller than the other two but i think it started out a bit smaller and it's also far more active than the others so may be burning energy running around instead of putting it all into growth.  they all look to be quite healthy and harpo is still doing a great job caring for them.
here's a look at how they've been growing...
black duckling on day one, still a bit wet from the hatch

fluffy, safe, and warm 2-3 days after hatch

5 days old exploring a bit but staying close to each other and to mama

1 week old and practicing good runner duck posture

not quite as tall as mama

at 2 weeks they've lost much of their roundness...necks and bills noticeably lengthened

by 3 weeks old body and head shape look a lot like the adults and they are much more aware of their surroundings...keeping an eye on a passing turkey vulture

about 3 1/2 weeks (2 days ago) a few tail feathers starting to emerge

a few hours ago

can't wait to see how they look in the morning.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

the caterpillar

the caterpillar
indentured to hunger
to the butterfly
to the moth
to the moment of becoming
and the dream of flight

Monday, July 11, 2016

egg handler

a few weeks ago i applied for an egg handler's registration so that i can legally sell our surplus eggs and so that we will not run out of room in our refrigerator for things that are not eggs.  

while i was waiting for the registration to be processed i designed a carton label. it's nothing fancy, just a simple drawing and some clear text (of course the photo would turn out bit blurry).

ink and watercolor sketch inspired by a photo i took of one of our ducks

the label may not be fancy but the eggs are...

i also built and painted a sign for down at the road so people can find us if they want to.

no one has stopped so far but i've seen a few cars slow down a bit.  i think people may find the duck kind of amusing.

duck eggs probably seem a bit exotic to a lot of people in this area and i'm not expecting much interest.  i'm happy if the sign slows people down a little and puts a smile on a few faces even if no one wants any eggs. 

Monday, July 4, 2016

happy birthday, grover dandy...

...and thank you.

the garden is the place to bee

native bee on echinacea

honey bees drinking nectar from squash blossom

small native bees, native bumblebees, and honey bees gathering artichoke pollen