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Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The Saga of Duck Village


Duck Hut #3 Before


Duck Hut #3 After - Part One
Somehow (oh, really - I know exactly how...) my original glowing vision of Duck Village is rapidly deteriorating into a hodge-podge of structures, hastily plopped in the yard and surrounded by saggy fencing.  In my first rosy imaginings, there was a neat layout of matching, charming, fetching structures, surrounded by neat fences, burbling pools, and geraniums in the window boxes.  Kidding about the window boxes, but I sort of remember seeing one in my original daydream.  The reality is downright gritty.  However, gritty though it may be, it's working for now.  Before the onset of winter (which I find myself hoping for every day now), I need to paint the huts and reinforce the front opening of #3.  I have visions of majestic columns supporting a mossy pergola (got the moss thing going) - sort of a cross between the Taj Mahal and Jefferson's Monticello.  There may be mosaics involved...

A girl can dream.

 

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Clipping along.

Time is going much too quickly...whoa!  We've been experiencing the massive heat wave that has blanketed much of the country.  I was slogging around this weekend, feeling as if I had been transported to Florida.  Against my will.  Everything is wilty, including me.  Even my Mobile (AL) Maiden (Lovey) became a damp golden puddle.  If The Pepperoni had had access to a hair trimmer, he would have given himself a shade-do.

We finally got some rain - so very little - yesterday afternoon, but it was enough to perk things up for a moment or two.  I am sure everything will be back to limp-mode by this afternoon.  I had been told that Accuweather was THE weather service to follow.  I'm not a fan (pardon the intended pun).  My app said that the rain would start in 9 minutes and last 49 minutes.  It started in 25 minutes and lasted all of 15 minutes and "rain" was a misnomer.  Drizzle came to mind. 

Last Friday night, as I staggered into the house at dusk, toting the (non) little ducks into their night-time digs, I stopped, unloaded the little buggers and vowed that was THE END.  They are so big now (except for Gimpy) that I had to make two trips of three.  Can we all say, "R.I.D.I.C.U.L.O.U.S."?  I had located a dog house (after much fevered viewing of craigslist offerings) that was in the ballpark of what I was willing to spend.  It was a fair piece away, but I was desperate and contacted the seller.  He and I dickered a bit and the price dropped in my favor.  Then I got the measurements and realized it would not fit in my car.  (Insert sounds of a cork popping and a glass filling multiple times here.)  I thanked him and said it would not fit so I was still looking.  He offered to deliver it for some outrageously high amount.  (More glass filling.)  I thanked him but declined.  He offered to do it for less.  (Hic) Decline.  He offered a very reasonable amount - apparently, he wanted it out of his yard.  We agreed on a price and he ended up bringing it under threat of rain (which never materialized - thanks, again, Accuweather) and was I ever glad it didn't fit in my car!  We may have muscled the bad boy into the back, but I would never have been able to get it out.  It's massive!

In the gloam of Saturday night, I was busy herding ducks and stapling bits of hardware cloth across the gaping hole in the front of the dog house.  BUT, there were NO ducks in the house Saturday night.  (Sound of second cork popping...)  I had to do some quick thinking and managed to work out a rather convoluted duck arrangement:

Biggies - get about 15 minutes to enjoy their food and water dishes after being let out of Duck Hut #1, before they are hustled out to the yard with the chickens.

Middles - nothing has changed, bless their hearts - they have Duck Hut #2 and its surrounds all to themselves.  For now.

Kentucky Babes - get hustled out of their dog house (aka Duck Hut #3) through a series of loosely erected chutes into Duck Hut #1's fenced area, where they spend the day.

I quickly realized that stapling and re-stapling pieces of hardware cloth (and then ripping off same every morning) was not the best idea I've had.  So I poked around in my wood pile and found some leftover bits and fashioned a door - after rebuilding the front a tad.  It is far from ideal, but it will do for now.  I will post before/after pictures tomorrow.  I had a houseguest from Sunday-Monday and it threw off my already-shaky schedule.

Not much else got done, as I do not function well at all in heat and humidity.  This was why I moved north.  I'm so glad there is no global warming problem...she says, dripping with sarcasm and sweat in equal amounts....

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The Power of Two.

I'm not sure why I am so surprised at the number of things two people can accomplish (as opposed to The One).  Maybe it's because I talk to myself (out loud) so often, I think there are two of me?  Heaven forbid.  I took a couple of days of vacation time at the end of last week so I could have a chunk of time to spend with my youngest sister.  She is a force of nature and a joy.

She got all the tall genes.

Jazzing up the deck.

Thinking outside of the box.

 
Curried mussels.

Arroyo con Pollo with refried beans
We:

Picked all the red currants
Finished (if only that were possible) weeding the garden
Picked the peas
Painted the coop
Fixed the duck ramp
Painted (almost - ran out of paint) the deck chairs
Painted the deck tables
Cleaned out the duck tub
Vacuumed
Dusted (you KNOW it wasn't me)
Cleaned surfaces (ditto)
Drank champagne
Drank BLUE champagne
Ate lunch OUT (a big deal for me...)
Shopped - (where I - brace yourself, girls - bought 3 new bras!)
Cooked
Ate like royalty
Talked
Laughed
And Scrappy was brushed to a glossy finish.

Speaking of dogs, Lovey and The Pepperoni (aka Ankle Velcro) were both quite bereft when she left.  They are still subdued.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Getting it done.

I realized I was wasting a lot of precious time whining.  This weekend, I hoisted my BGPs, stiffened the upper lip and plunged in.  We got a good, soaking rain over the weekend and it buoyed (pun intended) my spirits and energy level. 

Two dozen garlic scape 'muffins'
I will admit that the cleaning of my house continues to suffer.  But, hey ho.  The dogs and cats don't mind (since they are instigators of all things linty and the hedgehog-sized-hair-bunnies) and I have until Thursday afternoon to spiffy up the guest room and clean bathrooms in advance of my youngest sister's arrival.

Duck Hut 2 in action
You can see how easy it is to clean out - DH2 is easier, as it only has three 2x4s to work around - a better design learned from DH1 - which has four.  You can tell the builder works on houses.  The hinged side/roof has an added benefit of providing shade and shelter from rain.  This is especially good when your Middles seem not to have the sense that god gave a turnip, when it comes to seeking shelter.  The process of getting the Middles out in the morning is as smooth as clockwork, whereas the process of getting the Middles into their hut at night is still very much a work in process.  I have to devise a chute set up so that I can get them herded in as a body, instead of picking them off, one by one. 

Nifty roof lifter

Nesting box projection with
its own lift-able lid
The huts are working out very well.  The Biggies waddle, single file, into theirs at night with only the slightest of 'help'.  Because of the construction, DH1 has a nesting box in the middle of the side.
 
Duck Hut 1 - the Prototype
Meanwhile, back at the little coop, the pullets got to go out into the Big World for the first time on Saturday.  Unlike every other batch of newbies that have gone through the process, instead of peering out timidly until someone got crowded at the door and 'fell' out, these little girls shot out of the door like cannon balls.  I have two new (to me) breeds - Partridge Rocks and Salmon Faverolles, plus a "Free Exotic Chick", which is Murray McMurray speak for extra roosters.  I have no idea what breed he is.  The Faverolles (pictured below) are brassy little things - curious and seemingly fearless.  They also go in and out of the coop all day - another first.  On the first night, all were inside with the exception of one madly peeping little Partridge Rock.  Amazing.

Salmon Faverolles
Since it was raining Sunday morning (O, Frabious Day!), I gathered up all the sofa covers and dog blankets and tootled off to the local (within 20 miles) Laundromat.  I had not been there for about five years, so was caught off guard with the new operation system that did not involve quarters.  High tech!  Money goes in, card pops out and then there is some system of scanning.  I had a brain freeze and looked frantically around for help.  There was a very nice (and highly tattooed) woman with her young son, reading in the corner.  "Help!" I chirruped.  She showed me the ropes and I was off.  I read a book (woot!) and answered some long overdue phone calls.  Then tootled home (still raining WOOT) and attacked the garden.  I weeded for three hours solid and got about 90% of the beds done. 

Duck bedding was cleaned, areas were raked, pawdicures were completed, treats were handed out for good behavior.  Lovey falls on her side and doesn't move through the whole process, silently willing it to be over.  Scrappy and Pepperoni tremble violently, but suffer through it.  I then brushed Pepperoni - he loves it so much that his nose runs - and tried to remove some of Scrappy's loose undercoat.  I swear that dog sheds a basketball-sized pile o' fur every week.

I got a lot done - although I completely missed two of the two MUST-dos on my list.  Last night, I curled up on the sofa with a cat and a dog, a glass of herbal tea and two Aleve and watched the last part of a DVD.  Bliss.





Friday, July 8, 2016

"8 Days a Week..."

La, la, la, hum, hum.  "OH, 8 days a week is not enough to get things done!"  These are the things I sing to myself in the mornings.  The poultry and waterfowl seem to approve of my singing voice.  I did a quick pictorial update on those beings that consume 80% of my waking hours, when not at the office. 

Anconas at 3 mos.
I really, really like the Anconas.  And they were not planned!  They are fairly quiet (except *cough* for the one Melanie hatched for me...I may call her ARiA, after Air Raid Alarm) and go hither and yon in a compact formation.  I can get them herded into their Duck Hut without much trouble.
 
Little heap o' Kentucky ducks!
These little dumplings are still being toted from house to pen, twice a day.  I am hoping that the Anconas, who show a very strong maternal urge when it comes to the babes*, will take them under their collective wings this weekend and I can finally clean out the back room.  Lawsymercy.

First day out for the Cayugas!
The "middles" are out for the first time on their own.  Within the safe confines of their side of Duck Village.  I waited until today, since I know it will take me an hour to get them back inside tonight.

A blurry shot of Duck Village
I will try to take better pics of Duck Village this weekend.  You will notice that the chickens have invaded the left side as soon as my back is turned.  As you face the huts, the entire right side is hinged and opens up, is propped with a sturdy pole and the interiors can be raked out.  Cool beans!

WHOA!
I went to (lightly - still no rain) water my parsley pot last night and saw this beauty!  Whoa, Nelly!  Being limited to a Google search on my phone, I believe it to be a Black Swallowtail Butterfly caterpillar.  If someone knows differently - speak up!  I am sacrificing my older parsley plant to this green beastie, but would prefer it not eat my this year's plants.

*On Monday, as I was frantically trying to clean my house and get food ready for the family BBQ, I heard mad peeping outside.  I ran out and found that the Anconas had unzipped the doors on both sides of the baby pen.  UNZIPPED them!  I grabbed the butterfly net and scooped up the babes and then wired the zippers together.  Unreal.

And a final thought, as we go into the weekend....why do they call it canning when it's actually jarring?




Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Monday Musings

Thank god I am no one's parent.  I would be a dinosaur - a has-been, locked up for providing (aka forcing) order.  I wouldn't pass the test, as I feel structure is a GOOD thing.  After spending TWO days with my handyman's daughter, I went in and hugged my dogs until their eyes bulged.  Don't get me wrong - I have met kids that are delightful to be around.  Just not any around here. 

When it works not only on paper...woot!
I sweated bullets all week, waiting to hear from my handyman.  Communication is not one of his strong points.  I finally called him on Friday - one of those fish-or-cut-bait calls.  I was assured up, down and sideways that he would arrive at 9A to complete Duck House #1 (three weeks late) and build (and finish) Duck House #2.  He arrived at 12:30 with both his kids.  His son (helper) spent 90% of his time fiddling with his phone.  His daughter (not a helper) followed me within six inches (much too much in my personal space) talked constantly and required 24/7 supervision.  By me. 

171 - to a neighbor
If I turned my back on her - she was someplace I had asked her not to go.  My plans - formulated in the heady early hours of Saturday - were to spend Saturday on all things outside.  Sunday was for all things inside.  Monday would be for falling to pieces getting my BBQ ready.  Needless to say, nothing got done outside on Saturday.  HM did NOT complete either #1 and #2 because he RAN OUT OF TIME.  I, of course, was so relieved that he was taking his kids away, I did not complain.  Much.  He assured me he would return Sunday - without kids - to finish both houses.  I felt fairly confident, as he had left his sawhorses - owned by his employer.

172-173 on Freecycle
Shall we wait for the other shoe to drop?  Good news?  He did arrive, and only a half hour late.  Bad news?  With his daughter.  Sigh.  I tried to stay inside and work on my list, but the peeps of panic emanating from the back yard had me popping in and out the entire time they were there.  The last straw was the frantic peeping of one of my middies being pursued across the yard by the daughter.  She had, after I said very clearly and firmly not to touch anything living, fished out one of the little Cayugas and then dropped him.  I snapped.  I told her he was NOT brave for "jumping" out of her hands.  He was terrified.  I ordered her to stop chasing him and to leave the yard.  I let it calm down and make its way back to the rest of them, then very gingerly opened the door of the pen and it gratefully ran inside.  All this time, her father studiously ignored what was going on.


174 - Freecycle no-show
I was steamed.  Under most circumstances, I would have rounded up his hours and paid him over the actual hours he worked.  I did not.  While I appreciated the overall quality of the end product, he was unreliable, uncommunicative, unorganized (thank god I have a lot of tools) and kept bringing his damn kids.  Will I use him again?  Possibly in the fall on a simple framing project, when I have had enough time to forget how frustrated I am at this moment.  But only if he a) calls if he's delayed and b) does not bring either of his kids.  Pfft.

175-181 and 182-185 and 186-193
The family/friends BBQ turned out great - my sister is so amazing - and a good time was had by all.  As a matter of fact, she and I practically had to push them out the door.  I managed to get everything cleaned up (using a minimal amount of water - still no measurable rain) and staggered around until 9.  Then went off, bleary-eyed, to bed with the sounds of three dogs snoring loudly in background.




Thursday, June 30, 2016

The so-called garden.

Leetle puny squash plants, with
watermelon plant in the front.

Pea flowers!


Tomatoes with Sandy's fool-proof
watering system.


Garlic (l) and shallots (r)

Potato row with Lettuce House



Nasturtiums, catnip, comfrey

Food for my soul



(Weedy) bean/pea/cuke bed - with a side of sunflowers
These were taken a few days ago - before our tiny bit of rain, which has perked things up for the nonce.  I doubt it will do much good in the long run, but it did fill my rain barrel.  Halleluiah!  Such a dry, hot spring it has been.  I pushed it this year with using old bean seeds and ended up having to replant most of them.  Well, duh.  My 'special' cukes did not do well, but since they must be the only cukes in the area, I am trying to coax the two survivors along.  I did, however, plant some non-'special' cukes in the back.  I mean, I must have my cukes or it ain't summer!

The potatoes are going gangbusters and I need to do one more 'hilling' and then I'm done - except for constant patrol for potato bugs.  Carrots did not germinate.  I give up.  I'll buy them from a local farm.  I stubbornly plant eggplant every year and it never produces.  This year, I am down to planting one and nursing it along.  No eggplants this year?  No eggplant plants next year.  Phooey.

All visions of a neat and varied herb garden got lost in the Great Duck Adventure, so it is still 90% mint, with 10% a combination of French tarragon, thyme, cilantro and lovage.  I will try to take pictures of the back this weekend.  The good, the bad and the ugly.