When I was little, it was just my mom and me. We lived in the garden and had the whole place to ourselves! It was fun!
My name is Peggy Sue. I am a chicken. My Mom is Daisy. She's a duck. We live on a farm with other animals. My favorite is the lady farmer, she is always nice to me. I don't like the pig, she always steals my food.
When I was little, it was just my mom and me. We lived in the garden and had the whole place to ourselves! It was fun!
There were lots of things to explore. My mom always worried about what I was doing. She knew that I could get into trouble, so she kept a close eye on me. The lady farmer worried about me too. She covered the pool so that I wouldn't get stuck in it.
When I got bigger we moved to the big yard with all of the other animals. It was a scary time. I stayed close to Mom, she kept me safe.
Soon I learned to explore on my own.
I started going off by myself and got into BIG trouble. A big mean bird flew down into the yard and tried to grab me. I ran and squawked and made a big scene! The farmers heard me and came running. They scared that big bird away! Thank goodness! The Farmer told me I needed to stay with the others for safety. So, now, that is what I do.
Sometimes the Farmer brings us special treats, which is great because I am little and everyone else gets to eat first. Someday, when I am big, I'll get to boss the other chickens around.
I'm almost big enough, now!
It's not that different having a duck for a mom. She hangs out with me and teaches me stuff. None of the other chickens fly, but I do! And, I know all of the great places to find cool bugs to eat.
So, this is my life. We don't look like a regular family, but we are happy anyway. I like the farmers too. I left them a present today. I hope they like it. ~Peggy Sue~
Thanks for joining us, I look forward to seeing you again soon!
In the ebb and flow of farm life, there is a rhythm to change. It almost feels like water. You find yourself moving with the current, and barring any obstacles, you ride the momentum, until a new direction presents itself or is sought. Peaks and valleys are not preferred, slow and steady wins the race.
As time went on, our older ducks had passed and Daisy found herself an only-duck in an all chicken world. We had been allowing the flock to downsize naturally, as a conscious decision. There is always a desire to grow and expand, but that must be carefully balanced with the practical: cost, care and return on investment. As much as we love our farm family, each animal is here for a reason and serves a purpose. Growth without purpose, is a recipe for failure.
Daisy has always been in the company of chickens. They are her companions. She has even adopted a leadership role, and several of the more junior hens will follow her lead. It works. We have harmony. There is unity and peace. It is the sacred pause we work for.
But I knew change was in the wind when I found that Daisy had made a nest and was sitting on her own infertile eggs. I recognized the look on her face. DETERMINED.
I had a couple of options. I could keep removing the eggs until she finally wearied of the process. Or I could allow her to continue to sit on the eggs until such time she realized they would not hatch and she could move on with her life.
I chose option three. I removed her infertile eggs and replaced them with fertile eggs from our hens. Chicken eggs. Then waited to see what would happen.
She never batted any eye. She sat on those eggs like a champ. For three weeks and one day.
I knew it was a risk. Ducks and chickens have different incubation requirements. Chicks take 21 days to hatch. On day 21 they tend to pop out of their shells like popcorn. I've seen it over and over, it's really quite amazing. The timing of it.
But we were on day 22 and I feared the worst. It was over. I knew that Daisy needed to start eating and drinking again to regain the weight lost from sitting the eggs. Allowing her to remain on the nest, was to allow her to starve to death. My heart was heavy as I headed out that morning to do the daily chores.
Halfway across the yard I heard the sound. I stopped to listen, wondering if my mind was playing tricks on me. Nope. There it was again. I ran the rest of the way to Daisy's enclosure and found the source of the noise.
A chick! A single, perfect, chick. Chirping its little head off. Music to my ears!
Daisy was still working the eggs, still focused, still devoted to the cause. But she had succeeded. She hatched a baby chick all by herself and it needed her time and attention. As soon as I could, I lured her away from the nest, collected the remaining eggs and fluffed up her straw. I set fresh food and water out for her, and also for the baby. Then I started childproofing the area, looking for water hazards, etc. When everything felt secure, I settled in to watch.
Daisy was kind. She was gentle. She was patient. She was everything a new mom should be. Baby chick was in good hands.
Afterwards, I candled the eggs that had remained and found that none of them had progressed. There would only be one. A sweet baby girl chick. I named her Peggy Sue.
This duck series was intended to give a glimpse, a snapshot of our experience with ducks. Of course, there is much more than I have shared, but hopefully you've enjoyed our little duck story and maybe even will consider adding ducks to your homestead. In any case, thanks for following along, it was fun for me too. :)
This is the fifth and final edition of a series on raising ducks and why you should add ducks to your life immediately! :)
Please join us next week for a special encore edition of our duck story, featuring little Miss Peggy Sue. Cuteness overload!!
Farmer Tom noticed it first. It was early morning, I had just opened up all of the coops and was busy running around getting everyone fed and watered. Just like every other day. He called me over.
"I think there's something wrong with Daisy."
My heart dropped. I rushed over and stood next to him and watched her. She was alone, away from the flock, holding her head very low, moving slowly. She took a few steps and then bumped into something. She looked confused. She was quiet. She laid down.
I walked right over and picked her up. That's when I knew for sure we had a problem. Because while she is friendly, she is always a little aloof. Allowing me to approach without scooting out of reach, was a big sign that she was in trouble.
We inspected her quickly and found no wounds or injury until we noticed her eyes. They were missing. It looked like they were gone.
***WARNING-GRAPHIC PHOTO TO FOLLOW***
The area around her eyes was completely swollen shut and we could not find any evidence of eye remaining. She had been brutally attacked somehow and we were stunned. How did this happen?
I had a suspicion. With Daisy still in my arms, I went to investigate.
I knew we had a bad rooster. He was a great protector of our hens and Daisy was bonded with him, but he had attacked me a couple of times. Anytime I worked in the yard I had to keep one eye on him.
I once deflected an attack with my garden shoe. He punctured my foot right through the rubber. He was always watching me. Looking for an opportunity.
Back at the coop, we found him there. At the scene of the crime. His chest splattered with blood. Still defiant. Farmer Tom got that look on his face and I knew what was coming next. I took Daisy back to the house to treat her wounds.
I cleaned her face and poured an eye wash over the raw skin. I made a nest area for her where we could keep her secure and comfortable in a separate enclosure by herself. We washed her eyes several times a day.
While she rested I did some research online to find out what we could do for her if she was blind. I decided that if she survived the attack, we would give her every chance at having any quality of life that could be provided. I found several examples of ducks that lived and thrived despite having vision impairment.
Several days later, as I approached her enclosure, I heard a familiar sound. Daisy was sending out her morning greeting. I peeked inside and saw her standing up ready to go! I opened the door and off she went.
Straight to the pool.
She could see! Better yet, she seemed unfazed. Running around doing all of her regular stuff. Amazing!
It turns out that keeping a bad rooster is a bad idea. I had no idea he would turn on his own flock or that it was even possible for such a thing to happen. She somehow managed to defend herself just long enough for us to distract him. But that was his last day, and I'm not sorry about that. Another lesson learned the hard way.
Daisy fully recovered from that event and has continued to bring joy to our farm every day since. Here she is in slow motion, showing off her beautiful array of feathers. Be sure to catch the tail wag at the end! :)
You might think that would be enough life adventure for one little duck, but no, there's more. And you won't believe it.
To Be Continued...
This is the fourth in a series on raising ducks and why you should add ducks to your life immediately! :) Please join us next week for the exciting conclusion as our duck tale (tail) gets even wilder! You won't want to miss it!
Growing up as an only duck could have been a bummer, but Daisy had lots of siblings. Of the chicken kind.
Her mom was always nearby, teaching her how to do duck things.
...and fixing a snack. Snacking is her favorite.
The great thing about ducks is that they will eat THE BUGS.
All. Day. Long.
You don't even have to wash them off. Just toss it over, dirt and all. Worm, grub, larvae, beetle yeah man, bring it.
Tomato hornworms were a challenge that no chicken of mine even attempted. They were curious, but I'll pass, thank you very much. Daisy choked them down like a champ.
And while we have enjoyed the ducks in general, Daisy is a special character. Always the first to greet me every morning. She comes when I call her. She makes the best of every situation. She never complains.
Rain or shine or darkness, she shows up for work.
Except the one time she didn't.
To Be Continued...
This is the third in a series on raising ducks and why you should add ducks to your life immediately! :) Please join us next week as the series continues.
I had previously attempted to hatch ducklings, but was unsuccessful. With artificial incubation, it is important to get the settings just right, to mimic the conditions a mother would provide. Each species has it's own requirements, and as no-brainer as it might appear, there is as much art as science involved.
When my previous duck hatch experiment failed, I reached out to the homesteading community to help troubleshoot my process. It was actually through those exchanges of pictures and stories that I was able to pinpoint my trouble areas. This community is as generous with their wisdom as any I have ever had the pleasure to be a part of! So much I have learned by asking and listening, they are an incredible resource, especially if you are missing "elders" in your circle. I encourage you to seek out a mentor or fellow homesteader to walk the path with you. It might save you a lot of time and grief, plus you'll have a shoulder to cry on, when the time comes. And believe me, the time will come.
So, while we were navigating a truce outside between the duck army and the resident chickens, a little magic was happening inside.
Our first baby duckling!
In case you are wondering, after a shrug and shake of his head, Farmer Tom accepted Daisy into our little farm family with all the grace he could muster. How could he resist?
The best thing about ducks is that even though they can be chicken-like, they are a whole other ballgame. Read here about ducks in the garden.
To Be Continued...
This is the second in a series on raising ducks and why you should add ducks to your life immediately! :) Please join us next week as the series continues.
When we decided to start with ducks, and by we, I mean me, I had already done the research. I knew what WE wanted. Indian Runner ducks. Done. No question. They would be perfect for the garden, easy keepers, fun, QUIET, etc.
It was Spring and our first of the year bird swap-o-rama was about to hit our fairgrounds. It was a perfect plan.
If you've never been to an event like this, it's quite an experience. All kinds of people and animals everywhere. Cows, sheep, donkeys, llamas, pigs, goats, poultry (just the birds alone are mind boggling) about anything you would imagine on a farm, and then some. It's like a flea market, except with animals. People drive all night and sleep in their cars to get there. By the time the gates are opened, cars, trucks and trailers are lined up as far as the eye can see.
The Swap starts early, and it's a rain or shine event. So at 5:00am under a thunder and lightning sky, we found ourselves juggling flashlights, coffee cups and umbrellas peering into crates and cages trying to find my precious ducks.
Even in the dark and mud, I practically skipped down the rows and rows of vendors selling every imaginable color and size of poultry, except for some reason I couldn't find anyone with Indian Runner ducks. In the predawn light it quickly became apparent that THIS day was not going to be an ideal start for me and my duck adventure. In fact, it almost didn't happen because we only found one guy selling Runner ducks that he knew little to nothing about and in the chaos of the event, his ducks were all flapping around in a panic and it was difficult to even see what he had. I thought I spied a couple of Runners, and tried to point them out to Farmer Tom, who then dove into the madness and started handing me birds which were quickly placed into a crate. I tucked all the feet and feathers inside and closed the door. Farmer Tom paid the man and we were off! Fingers crossed that we had a few good candidates.
By the time the sun was up and we were home with our new flock members, I realized we had two Runners and two something-elses. And a whole lot of noise!
But I was determined to see this through, so I settled them into the garden where they mostly did what they were supposed to (eat bugs), some things they shouldn't (eat plants) and some things that alarmed me (they were aggressive with our hens).
In fact, so aggressive that I decided the two non-Runners needed to find a new farm home.
But before that happened, something else happened.
I found an egg. An egg? Somehow I didn't anticipate a duck egg situation. It never even crossed my mind. But my mind likes to sort through these life puzzles and somehow the egg was scooped up and placed into my incubator, joining a batch of chicken eggs already in progress. A little detail I "forgot" to mention to Farmer Tom.
To Be Continued...
This is the first in a series on raising ducks and why you should add ducks to your life immediately! :) Please join us next week as the series continues.
2016 was a year we grabbed by the horns and never let go. We had some disappointments, yes, but some new experiences I wouldn't trade for the world. Politics aside (yes, please), it was a fantastic year! Why? Because we made it that way. We set goals, we were diligent, we did the work, we made it happen. Did we have help? Absolutely! That's what made it so perfect.
A few quick highlights:
My second and third EVER long distance races
Running with my daughter!
Getting engaged to my bestfriend!
Celebrating our 50th birthdays this year!
Friendships that span 40 years: Priceless!
A trip to the West Coast to visit...EVERYONE.
And to eat...EVERYTHING!
Then back to the Midwest for a wedding!
Me and Farmer Tom!!
Since we aren't yet retired, we still have our real jobs to do and somehow we both took a step up the ladder this year and found new ways to contribute. We did more house renovating (of course), worked on projects, and the list goes on.
White sunflower garden.
In December we had that FANTASTIC MOON.
No, I don't have the correct camera to shoot it with, but that didn't stop me from trying. Everywhere I looked it was staring back at me. HUGE.
There is farm news to report too, and more details on the wedding, but I'll save that for later. Still and all, a great year. Thank you 2016!
Do you have something wonderful to report on your 2016? If so, please share below, I'd love to hear it.
Otherwise, keep checking back on the FB page this week as I bring everyone up to speed to how and why we are Pocket Farmers and why you should be too. :) Thanks for joining us, I look forward to seeing you again soon!
I have this belief that a farmer is always a farmer, even when he has no farm. I think you are born this way. The instincts, passion and drive are all there sitting dormant until one day, you are presented with your canvas, a potted plant, a backyard garden, some bare land. You plant a seed, you nurture a tree, you grow something edible. And suddenly, you have found yourself, your art, your calling.
I can think back many years, to childhood, where my farming 'gene' was awoken, but it would be decades before I was actually able to put my mind and body to work, actively planning, sowing, harvesting, preserving food, enough to feed our small family and others. It was a homecoming to my soul, a cleansing, a place to park my brain that has a habit of never stopping spinning. Farming is good for the brain, as the problems and challenges are ever present, ever changing. Always something needs tweaked or reworked or innovated. Farming is a puzzle that always is missing a piece. The rest of the pieces have to compensate, but they don't offer up that information, it is your brain that has to decide where something can be stepped up and where things need to be left alone. You think on it, you try something different, it works or it fails, then you repeat the process. Over and over. Forever. This is farming.
A few years ago (has it been that long??), I set the blog down. It wasn't intentional. We were very busy, extremely busy. There wasn't enough time for everything, so the blog took a nap. I just checked on it, and it was sleeping nicely, like a cat on a heater, perfectly content to continue its rest, or to be picked up and cuddled. I have much to share, and I enjoy the process, perhaps I will pick the blog up and give it a pet. My plate is very full, but a tweak here and there might carve enough room for it. Perhaps the form will change, still there will be pictures. Always pictures. I cannot help myself, the camera is like an extension of my hand, it is always there seeing the world in all its colors and shapes.
The blog does need to be regular, because I believe that when I invite you on the journey, you need to see it in real time, otherwise it loses it's flavor. If it isn't fresh out of the oven, smelling up the kitchen, it won't excite you and it won't excite me. Fresh blog. Yes! Doesn't that sound good?
Like anything that has been sitting awhile, I need to do some cleaning. Updating. There are a bunch of cobwebs up in the corner. Give me a minute and I will get to that. For now, I will just focus on the words.
Here is where you come in. For a blog to live, it needs to be read. It needs to be shared with friends. It needs to be interacted with. A full three dimensional blog does not just drift in the wind, it is part of a family of fellow travelers who take turns leading and following, chatting amongst themselves, sharing the energy as a sort of perpetual motion machine. Let's make a deal. If you look for me, I will be waiting for you. Sunday morning. Ish. :)
If you are onboard with this idea, just pop a quick note below and on the FB page, to let the internet know we are back. A little something to wake us up, maybe "hello!" or "good morning!", like you would say to friend you hadn't seen in awhile. I look forward to chatting with you all, I have missed you.
As a side note, in this brand new year, we are celebrating our 6th anniversary as a Pocket Farmer on the web. So it's a happy birthday, happy new year and all the good things that go along with all that. Thanks for visiting, I hope to see you again next week. Suzy
So, when I found that a couple of pole bean volunteers had established themselves in the "wrong" spot of the garden, an area without climbing apparatus, I had to quickly improvise.
I pulled some branches off of the burn pile. These are about 6' long. Use whatever you've got, it just needs to be tallish.
What you should have when you are done is 4-5 poles on the perimeter, and one straight down the center for the vines to grab onto in the early stages.
Might as well build a couple, while you are at it.
Then you just water and wait.
And, pretty soon...
...you'll have this.
Or, as I like to call it, seed for next year.
These bean ladders are easy, quick, effective and cheap (or free). I kinda liked the look of them in the garden. I might just throw the seed out next time and put little huts over them as they grow. Or not. Who has time for that??
In case you are new or haven't seen my posts for awhile, I've been on hiatus. But feel free to stop by anyway and say hello over at our FB page fb.com/thepocketfarmer and share your garden tips. I'd love to see you there! :)
Finally. It happened. The long long winter is showing signs of weakness. Just a few degrees, mind you, but what a difference those few degrees can make. Just a week ago, this river was a solid block of ice.
On the homefront, we have also begun to thaw. There is a steady drip, drip, drip of snow melt from the roof. The snow drifts are sinking and ponding is unavoidable. Coop Town could now be considered lake front property. Normally, we call this area, Lawn.
But winter isn't leaving without a fight. Even though I was ready to get my seeds started in the cold frame, I had to dig through 18" of snow to find it.
The good news: tomato seeds are ready to go!
The bad news: the rest of the garden has to wait.
Such is life in the snowbelt. We'll get there, we just have to be patient.
In related news, all of our birds survived the winter. The boys suffered some frostbite of the comb, but are otherwise healthy. Big Man spent the winter growing these impressive spurs.
In two weeks we are expecting our first hatch of the season. Farmer Tom has informed me that the generator stands at the ready, in case of power failure, as he learned in previous winters that the incubators MUST NOT LOSE POWER, and that I will not hesitate to sound the alarm even if he is sleeping soundly. Thankfully, he gets it. He is a wonderful man. :)
In a month or so, this place will be transformed. With Spring, a new season and new life. It's time to put the dark days behind us and start the cycle all over again. I'm ready. Are you?
Feel free to join us on our FB page at fb.com/thepocketfarmer. I hope to see you there!
Hi, I'm Sue Cellini, and this is my blog. It's mostly about my attempts to "green-up" my life. Up until recently, I've been so busy working and raising my kids that I hadn't paid much attention to the BIGGER PICTURE. Well, now I'm paying attention and I've had a lot of catching up to do.