Friday, August 26, 2016


the official common name is, lesser goldfinch (Spinus psaltria is the latin), but i don't think there's anything lesser about them.  they're beautiful, sprightly little birds and i love the cheerful chatter they make when they come into the gardens to eat the ripening sunflower seeds.

this lovely lady got a little too near the netting at the top of the trellises in the kitchen garden while foraging sunflower seeds this morning. she wasn't injured, just a little spooked.

Monday, August 22, 2016

the other side of the road

on a quiet stretch of road
through gently rolling hills
somewhere between here and family
the memory of an afternoon
years ago
coming or going
pulling to the side of the road
where a coyote
shot to death
had been hung on the barbed wire fence
i lifted its body from the barbs
and carried it to the other side of the road
placed it in a low spot
pulled some dried grasses over it
and asked forgiveness

Monday, August 15, 2016

happy birthday, mama!

wishing you a wonderful day.  love you very muchly and i've got a big birthday hug waiting for you...

Thursday, August 4, 2016

brownie's booties

runner ducks, as the name implies, are very active ducks.  they spend most of the day, literally running around as a flock, foraging for greens and insects and the occasional frog or toad.  because they are so active and they're traveling over some fairly rough and uneven terrain it's not uncommon to have at least one of them with a slight limp from a strain or something rough or sharp they may have stepped on.  usually the limp is nothing serious and is gone after an afternoon siesta or an overnight rest.  if the limp seems persistent or pronounced i catch the afflicted duck and have a look at their feet and treat them if necessary.  early this spring a few of the ducks were limping from a condition commonly known as bumblefoot.  bumblefoot is basically when a callous or corn on the bottom of a duck's foot (it's common in chickens too) becomes infected, usually through a break in the skin, and forms a painful round sore which if not treated (often surgically) the infection can sometimes spread to the organs and cause death.  surgery involves cleaning the wound, cutting into the center of it with a scalpel or razor blade, squeezing out the infected core and then bandaging the foot.  i opted for the non-surgical route.  i made a salve of honey, coconut oil, garlic, turmeric, and finely powdered epsom salt.  every night when i was getting the ducks ready for bed i'd catch the bumbly ducks (most evenings staal would help me by holding the duck while i cleaned and dressed feet although i also got pretty good at doing it one-handed when i needed to), clean their feet, apply the salve and bandage them.  we did this for a few weeks and all of the ducks recovered nicely without having to resort to the blade.  during this time i found an etsy shop ( ) that makes shoes (and other accesories for ducks, geese and chickens).  i ordered a few of the duck shoes but because they are made to order and made by hand it took quite a while to receive them and by the time they arrived the ducks were well and didn't need them. 

neoprene closed-toe duck shoes made by PartyFowl

brownie was a little limpy tuesday evening so yesterday morning i had a look at her feet.  her heels were a little cracky, nothing serious, but obviously uncomfortable enough to cause a slight limp so, while staal held her for me, i washed her feet in warm water with epsom salt and tea tree oil, applied a little vitamin E oil and put the shoes on her.  brownie is our smallest duck and they were a little big on her even though i ordered the size recommended for runner ducks.  they fit well enough to allow her rear toe to go through the hole in the back without any trouble and the velcro closures at the ankle and top of the foot kept the shoes from slipping off.  she was able to run and forage with the others all day and didn't seem uncomfortable. 

the shoes are very well made and easy to clean.  they're made out of neoprene, the same material used to make wetsuits, so they're perfect for ducks.  they're a great addition to our first aid kit and make dealing with foot ailments a lot easier for me and the ducks.
i'll be keeping an eye on brownie's feet to make sure nothing serious develops and i've got her little booties ready if she needs them.