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Thursday, November 28, 2013

Time flies when you're having fun!

It's been a long time since I updated here.  Summer has ended, fall is past and winter is upon us.

This year we had a yellow-headed blackbird stopping by our yard.  I cannot remember having seen one in the past, nor had I seen the juncos that were here earlier in any other year.  It may have to do with our feeders actually being full this spring!  I also found a camel spider in the house again--I rarely find these bugs inside or out.  
Camel spider
yellow-headed blackbird

The small garden area did well, probably due to the increase in precipitation this year.  We had far more rain than last year and it seemed to make a difference.  We had a large crop of zucchini, two spaghetti squash, lots of lemon cucumbers, tomatoes, green beans, beets and a few carrots (the carrots didn't come up very well).  I had allowed the cucumbers and squash to "climb" the chicken wire fences--with some interesting outcomes!
zucchini plants

tomatoes in greenhouse

Vegetable squash growing in fence

Lemon cucumber growing in fence

October 4th marked the end of summer/fall with a heavy, wet snowfall of 18 inches.  Trees came down all over the city and county, leaving the landscape strewn with limbs.  Two month later, the county and city are still trying to get to all the downed limbs on city property, while homeowners wait for tree services to get to their name on the list.  We lost only 3 large branches, but we did go our and knock the snow off the branches to help avoid losing limbs.  The duck pen, with it's chicken wire and snow fence cover, collapsed on the south side.  The ducks were fine--they were a bit confused as to what happened, but they had apparently been in their house at the time of the collapse.  We dug out the snow and pulled the sides back up, but it will require repair before spring and new ducklings are brought in.

Can you find the ducks?

Heavy, wet snow and bending trees

Duck pen before collapse

Sagebrush being weighed down

Very bad for fence

Ice storm a couple of weeks later

Ice storm

Trees down

We ended up with two female ducks which started laying eggs in August.  They were quite prolific layers--up to 5 eggs per day!  I ended up freezing many of the eggs because I just could not use them fast enough.  Since the females were such good layers, we opted to find someone to take the ducks, rather than butcher them.  I plan on going with Pekin ducks again next year.  These were funny to watch and did not follow me around endlessly as did the Rouens we had last year.  Pekins grow very quickly and could go outside quicker than the Rouens.  The one downside was the Pekins seemed messier.  They went everywhere around the yard together--so funny to see them waddling all over the place.  They travelled much more of the five acres than did the ducks last year.  
"Aflac" duck!

Oh, that feels sooo good!

"Headless duck"

ducks in a row!
We did not get any deer this year in hunting season.  The one night they were in the yard was the night the duck pen collapsed.  We had not seen much of them anyway--I think because it rained, there was more natural food and they stayed away.  We still them out on the prairies near the house, but had not seen any in the yard until recently.  The are mostly nocturnal at this point.  The weather is getting colder, so I expect to see more of them come in as winter progresses.

Two point buck, barely

Can you locate the deer?

Stopping for brunch