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Sunday, May 1, 2016

It's now May 1st, though with the weather, you'd never know it.  We have had snow three times in April, once nearly a foot.  I had been putting my garden plants out in my portable greenhouse until the snow started!
What happened to spring?????
Deer in snow

Duck pen covered in snow

Actually kind of pretty!

This year the duck pen survived the snow, in part because I had redone the top and tied everything together and in part because we knocked as much snow off as possible.  The dusk are doing fine.  Two are brooding—well, kind of three.  The one we call Broody who hatched a bunch of babies last year has been sitting for over three weeks.  Then there are two sitting in another pen.  They both sit on the eggs, at the same time.  We had a third duck in there, but fights broke out, so she's now in the greenhouse at night until it dries out and I can put in another divider.  If anymore fights break out, whoever is fighting is on their own outside the pens.  I have no more room.  Or said duck gets a room in the freezer.  Muscovies are interesting ducks, but they do have a lot of interpersonal disputes.

The daffodils were blooming, but I had to bring them in when it got cold.  There are more getting ready to bloom soon.  Weather is forecast to hit 78F by Thursday.  It has been a roller coaster here for about two months.  Still hoping for spring soon!

These are the additional duck houses.  We started putting them outside the pens with just an opening into them because the ducks don't make as much of a mess.  All are hinged on the back for easy removal of eggs and bedding.  We are learning ways to make the duck keeping easier as we go along.

This is my makeshift greenhouse.  I put the small, portable one out by the corner of the house for hardening off my plants.  The plants are doing well.  Some of the tomato plants are over six inches tall.  Last year at this time, my plants barely had their second leaves.

Lastly, it's Sasha doing what she does best—sleeping!

That's all for now!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

It's already March

Seems like things just keep getting in the way of updating blogs.  My teeth and mouth are a constant source of distraction, what with dental visits and so forth.  Hopefully, that's over soon.

Sasha is doing very well.  Cute little critter, we think anyway.   She's all of 3 1/2 pounds but very sturdy for such a small dog.  She likes to jump from chairs onto the dining room table and then jump off when caught standing on the table.  The chairs now stay pushed up so she can't do that!  Sasha is also confined to walking on a leash because she just can't resist bunny chasing, right through the fence.  While she has learned sit, stay and off fairly well, stop or come is not yet in her list of accomplishments.  She does tolerate snow better than at the beginning of the winter, but still doesn't like "the white stuff" on her ramp and in her yard.  She does love coming in and jumping on Jim or I while she's soaking wet, however!  She will not wear a sweater.  I tried it and she just sits still and won't move.  We'll work on it.

It's been an interesting winter.   There have been a couple of very strong snow storms and a huge amount of wind.  My garden greenhouse had the fiberglass torn off the frame, so I will be rebuilding that.  There was a prairie fire this fall (courtesy of the landfill not knowing what to do with a burning compost pile in 50 mph winds—burned down 12 houses and many, many acres of prairie) so when the wind hits the 25 to 30 mph range, we get sand blowing everywhere.  Much of the area looks like sand dunes.  When spring comes, the grass will come back somewhat and it will look better.

Winds have hit 38 mph sustained several times and have taken their toll on structures out here.  One trailer lost its roof (fortunately, it was a "false roof" built over a metal trailer roof, so no leaking or raining in).  We now have a weather station to tell us how fast the wild is blowing and a wind sock so we can tell direction.

This month, we had several antelope go through our yard.   It's kind of unusual for antelope to be in so close to houses, though they have become less afraid of people in the thirty years I've lived here.  

The ducks have been doing well this winter.  A couple of times they had to go in the greenhouse and off and on they had to go in their pen due to a great horned owl in the area, but most of the time they were in the garden area.  Our "pet" duck, Baby, was alone in her pen as she does not like the other ducks (I saved her by bringing her into the house, but in doing so, kept her from imprinting on other ducks, so she's a pet).  Then the male decided he liked the duck we called Tiny (hatched last summer as a single egg by one of our female ducks) and proceeded to show his interest by breeding her almost exclusively.  As a result, he pulled out a ton of her feathers around her neck.  She looked so sad and pathetic, I decided to separate her from the others.  She and Baby did okay together—they don't like each other, but they don't fight. 

Now we are getting to the season where the hens start laying eggs for broading, so I have the ducks divided into pens and Baby and Tiny are in the garden.  Tiny is laying eggs, but I don't think she's old enough to actually raise baby ducks.  The male is alone in a pen since he seems to be the source of the most angst in the flock.  He's not happy, but when the weather is better, I will let him out with a couple of the hens at a time, so he can enjoy female companionship.

I planted seeds for garden plants.  It's a bit early, but with the warmth of the house and a flourescent light, I think I can get the seeds to come up.  Last year I waited too long and the plants were not big enough by May/June.  I really love growing tomatoes that I can eat.  They are all heirloom varieties and I freeze them for making soups and sauces in the winter.  Homemade tomato soup can't be beat!

That's it for now.  Happy Spring!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Happy Holidays to all

I see I have not updated this blog for quite some time.  Apologies.

Garden season is over now—it's cold and windy.  My garden did well, in spite of a slow start.  My carrots and beets were huge, and the zucchinis very prolific.  In August, there was a frost that killed half the zucchinis and damaged the pumpkin vine and tomatoes.  I trimmed the plants back and warm weather returned, with the plants recovering.

huge beets
frozen pumpkin vine
Huge carrots and 9 lb zucchinni
huge oddly shaped carrots

Sasha is growing some.  She still only weighs about 3 lbs but she's a bit larger in size.  For a tiny dog, she's very tough.  We found she does NOT like snow.  First snow, when we opened the door to let her out, she started at the snow and then ran and hid.  Finally got her out for a bit and she chased some snowflakes.  After that, any time it snows, we pick her up and put her outside.  She's very fast, however, and has been very successful at doubling back and getting back in the house!  Yorkies are surprisingly quick.  She's caught flies and killed them!

Sasha being feisty
Sasha chasing snowflakes

The great horned owl returned for a bit.  While he was interesting in the past, the ducks are now living in the garden and I was worried he'd go after the ducks.  We tried putting them in their pens and/or the greenhouse, but that was not working, so they are back in the garden.  In the greenhouse, Baby has to be separated from the others.  Baby was the duckling I found fallen over in the mud and brought in the house.  Against all odds, she lived, but does not know how to be a duck very well.  Baby does not really get along with the other ducks.  In the garden, it's not a problem since there's plenty of room for all seven of the ducks.

I'm throwing in a picture of fall colors and of the deer in the yard.  The deer are here often and raining down destruction on my trees.  I didn't get time to prune the bottom of the Russian olive trees, which is just as well, since they ate all the leaves off the new shoots.  I would have wasted my time!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Muscovy Duck breeding

I am putting in pictures of my Muscovy ducklings to show how they grow.  I want to note that most of what I have read about raising ducks is not really necessary and makes a lot of work for the owners.  Bleaching bowls, changing bedding if it's wet, etc all made no sense to me.  Ducks live in ponds and no one changes the bedding when it rains.  My Muscovies would roost in trees if I didn't clip their wings.  I wash out the bowls when they look nasty.  I add bedding when it looks nasty.  My ducklings (Pekins, Rouans) when I purchased them were put in enclosures at 60 to 70 degrees.  I did not have the facilities for warmer.  They all did just fine.  The ducklings my hen hatched this year have been cared for her.  I figure the duck knows more than I do about baby ducks.  In the winter, my ducks had a freezer for shelter during the day and heat only when the temperature dropped below zero.  

The one thing I did have to deal with is predators.  Since I clipped the wings on my birds, they depend on me to protect them.  In the past, the single most cause of duck loss for me was the neighbor's dog.  They now have covered pens that they go in at night and the losses have gone down dramatically.

We did butcher four this AM and will do four more tomorrow.  We don't have the facilities for keeping 16 ducks.  The babies that hatched were always destined for the freezer.  I wanted to know what the ducklings looked like as they got older. We started with adults, so I had no idea about the color changes as the Muscovies grew up.  We ended up keeping one of the new males and getting rid of the older one.  He was getting mean and beating up some of the females.  Perhaps a younger male will not be so inclined.  We hope not anyway.

Next year, if we let the hens brood, we will have to modify how they are caged and dealt with.  We need more free-ranging during the day, for one thing.  Otherwise, the growing ducks eat and eat.  We went through 40 lbs of duck food in no time feeding them.

Here are the photos I promised—a day late!

May 17, 2015  one day old

May 23, 2015

May 27, 2015

June 6, 2015

June 12, 2015

June 16, 2015

June 22, 2015

June 27, 2015
Mother duck and largest drake from the hatch July 2, 2015

July 10, 2015

July 23, 2105

July 23  Late hatch I took into the house originally

Tuesday, May 19, 2015


I see it's been quite some time since I last posted.  In the time passed, my pomeranian, Dusty died.  I was in the hospital four times with three surgeries.  That did not leave much time for blogging.

Things are better now.  I just got a new puppy—a female Yorkie that we named Shasa.  She's quite small—maybe a pound or so.  Her parents were small.  We had agreed that when Dusty died, our next dog would be a female Yorkie.  We were not having much luck finding Yorkies for sale in Wyoming and then an ad showed up in the paper.  It was a Wyoming breeder, which was good.  She's quite smart and socialized.  She knows what a pee pad is for, thought she may not always avail herself of the knowledge!  Also, in typical Yorkie fashion, she is clever enough to climb up on furniture and other no-no's!  We are actively puppy—proofing the house as much as possible.


One of our muscovies also hatched 11 babies.  Nine are still alive—one got through the fence and died.  Our duck pen is not baby-proofed either, it seems.  One is in the house.  I found him face-first in the dirt and felt sorry for him.  I never thought I'd bring a duckling in the house, but I felt sorry for him.  It's very, very cold here.  Today's it's 37 degrees with snow.  When I brought in the baby duck, it was barely above 40 degrees.  I didn't think it would survive, but after I got it warmed up it started eating and drinking.  This is the third day and it's still alive.  (I use "it" because I have no idea what sex it is.)

Muscovy babies

As noted, it is snowing today.  I had gotten all my cold weather crops planted and since then it has been really cold and wet.  Our highs are often only in the fifties.  I doubt anything has come up and it's too wet to walk in.  I can't mow and the grass is a foot tall.  We can't even use the dog yard because it's overgrown and it's too cold and wet to work in.  For now, Sasha uses her papers.  She's usually too busy sniffing around outside to bother to do her business.  Typical puppy!

We also had hail a couple of days ago, enough that it looked like snow.  There was a tornado that hit Torrington and very large hail in several places.  This was typical when I moved out here 32 years ago. It is possible that weather does run in cycles.  If so, winter will be long and harsh.


Right now, she's untying my shoes for the third or fourth time.

Had to put up a tarp to help protect the duck with the babies.  It is really cold and windy out there.

First May snow

Daffodils in snow

Deer are back!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Here we go again!

It has been a roller coaster season.  It jumps up into the 50's for a while, then back down to the 30's and below.  It's predicted now that it will be cold and snow.  Yesterday, I was out in a t-shirt and no jacket checking on where my ducks were.  I left them free-ranging, which I have not done lately.  Most days they go in the garden, where they are relatively safe from predators and wind.  However, since it was warm and not windy, I left them out.  They were showing great interest in something on the ground and in the sagebrush.  Later, when I came to check, they were in the freezer shelter in the garden.  When my hubby came home, the ducks had returned to the wind break and were foraging again.  At night, they have to stay in the greenhouse when it's cold because that's where their heated water dish is.  Most days I do let them out for a while, but if it's below 10 degrees, it's just too cold.

There's not much else going on here.  Winter is just not the exciting season it can be.  Hopefully, things will pick up, more snow will occur and things will pick up!  This is Dusty "plowing" about 3 inches of snow on her ramp to get to her yard!  She loves snow!

This is Dusty with her tail hair removed.  She was sick for nearly two weeks and her tail hair was always messy, so I removed it.  Now she really doesn't look like a pomeranian anymore.  

My small Christmas cactus bloomed again this year.  The larger one is not doing well, so I am going to repot it.  

So long for now!