You Dirty Weasel
We started out the month with sadness and heartbreak, unfortunately.
If you’ve farmed for long enough, or experienced the loss of an animal to predators, then you know the feeling. The “something isn’t right here” feeling. For us, it was when Karl went out in the morning to let the chickens and ducks out for the day and didn’t hear the tell-tale peeping of excited little ducks ready to explore the world.
Ten ducks, two weeks away from butcher day, plus their mother were taken from us. This was our biggest homestead loss thus far. I’ll make no excuses, these ducks were housed at night in a pen made from chicken wire. We’ve used it for three years without incident, but we always knew it was a risk. Chicken wire is meant to keep chickens in, hardware cloth is what you use to keep predators out… so if you didn’t know that, let me be the one to have learned our lesson and share with you our mistakes.
The purpose of these ducks from the beginning was for meat, so even though they were as cute as could be, I knew I wasn’t going to get attached. The silver lining, I suppose. What really bothers me though, is that the weasel(s) not only killed to eat, but killed for sport. It’s nature, I get it- we’re all part of the food chain somewhere… but eating three ducks and leaving eight more dead on the ground, just for fun really ruffles my feathers.
But it didn’t stop there.
About a week later, one chicken was missing during the nightly chicken count. Mama Henny didn’t come back to the coop for the night. She’s prone to broodiness, so we figured she created a nest somewhere in the yard and was sitting on eggs. We did a sweep of all the chicken-hiding places with no luck. Two days later another chicken was missing, this time Abe Lincoln.
Now this was not a coincidence. The girls have been on lock down ever since until we figure this out. We’re not entirely sure, but we believe it was a weasel of some sort that snuck our two chickens as well (in the middle of the day). The chickens are used to free-ranging, so they’ve been just miserable locked in their run all day. We try to let them out every night for a couple hours with a lot of supervision… but it just isn’t the same.
The homestead feels different without the presence of the chickens roaming around. I miss watching them run across the yard and seeing them every time I look out the window. Hopefully the weasels can be brought to justice soon.
Mama Henny and Abe Lincoln were a couple of my favorite girls. Abe was always a little skittish and didn’t really trust me. I spent the last year trying to win her over and had just succeeded last month- so that one stings extra hard.
Life Ends and Life Begins
On a much, much happier note: she did it! Little Brother (one of our ducks) hatched out a clutch of baby chicks for us, from our very own chicken’s eggs. She is a first time mother, and from the day she decided to sit on the eggs she has been phenomenal! These ducks have amazed me with their dedication to hatching babies and protecting them, sacrificing their comfort and freedom.
We now have seven adorable baby chicks, and even though we have three different breeds of chickens here, ALL of the chicks have at least one set of Easter Egger genes (that’d be Otto’s handiwork, most likely).
They are so much fun to watch! They flit around their run, jump up on the high logs, chase after bugs, and LOVE it when I bring them a big piece of zucchini. Of course we are hoping for as many hens as possible… but based on their behavior, I think we may have more guys than gals. Fingers crossed!
Let the Harvest Begin!
The start of the garden harvest always flips my fall-time switch. I picked a cucumber and some pea pods and then all the sudden I was making caramel apples and banana bread! And it’s still in the 90s! Every year this happens… it seems like a kind of nesting.
I’ve already dehydrated a ton of parsley and basil, and we’ve been eating plenty of green beans, pea pods, kale, cukes, radishes and ground cherries! Despite the INCREDIBLE amount and size of weeds we’ve got growing, and the UNRELENTING pests that showed up (likely because of our mild winter)… we’re still getting a decent harvest.
Figuring out what grows best here in our soil, which varieties we prefer, which things preserve well and are actually something we want to eat during the winter months, and how much to grow for our needs are still things we’re working on figuring out!
Bees Will Be Bees
This beekeeping season has been a wild one!
Our goal has always been to intrude as little as possible on the honey bees; no micro-managing here. We figure that they are pretty smart and know what they need more than we do most of the time anyways!
We’ve had a couple swarms, and we have one hive that is towering high with boxes… and we hope it’s chock-full of honey!
The bees will continue to spend the next month gathering as much nectar as possible. The nectar flow is starting to decrease in intensity, and the flowers starting to bloom now will be some of the last for the bees before they settle in for the cold weather ahead.
Thanks for being here with us!
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