Monthly Archives: February 2015

What We Did When We Should be Building a Duck Coop

In the last post, I talked about how I finally convinced mom to let me convert a large section of the back yard lawn into paver stones and garden beds.

Reader, except for a few minor things like cleanup and adding a proper border of stone around the new mini lawns, it’s done.

Here’s the week in pictures:

And finally – just today – Mom put in the last stone on the pathway!

I’m really chuffed with how great it looks!  No more slip n’ slide through the mud!

We designed the pathway to turn off into a little mini patio for the Display Quail Coop.  I think I’ll put a few pots of herbs here.

We still need to get more stones to border the lawn…

…and also, that wood border is getting rotten, and we’ll be ripping it out and either just sloping the dirt down into the new bed, or putting in a border of stone to keep the two-level look.

There’s another tiny little circle lawn in the shady/wildflower area. We’re checking into options for replacing the grass with something green that doesn’t require cutting.

I can’t wait to start planting in the new garden beds, but that will have to wait for a few months.  Right now, there’s just a thin layer of dirt over newspaper and cardboard to kill the grass underneath.  Eventually, it will be a combination of herbs, easy perpetual vegetables and fruits, along with a few areas for annual veggies.

In quail news, Loki and his chosen girl have made a beautiful nest, and are laying eggs.

They are so cute.  Loki accompanies her to the nest, and sits beside her, grooming her feathers while she lays an egg.  Then she leaves, and he sits on the eggs for a bit, touching them with his beak, talking to them, and guarding them.  They are showing so much joint interest in their eggs that I’m hoping I have another female that will choose to go broody and raise a clutch for me.  But we’ll have to see. Coturnix quail are infamous for not raising their own young, but I’ve been lucky before.  Fingers crossed!

On Quail Monogamy & Remodeling a Garden

Loki the quail is being a bad boy.  Or a good one, depending on whether you are the female he loves…or the female he hates and was chasing all over the pen, causing her fly into walls out of sheer panic.

I’m starting to think coturnix quail are monogamists.  They’re fine kept in a group of a male and several females in the fall/winter, but once those spring hormones kick in…oh boy.  So right now I’ve got Peabody and wife together, and Loki and wife together.  I’ve had to put the other Italian girl in her own little wired off area, because she was going to hurt herself, trying to escape.  Cinna is still with two girls, but even he clearly has a girl he’s bonded with, and one he ignores.  I think once I either give away one of the pairs (or a male dies) I’m going to keep two breeding pairs, and one cage of only females for egg production.  They are definitely teaching me what they like, these quails!

And in spite of the fact that we are counting down to April 17th, and the arrival of three little ducklings, we haven’t started building their coop.  Instead, we are remodeling the back yard.  I’m of the persuasion that more than a small patch of lawn is a waste of space.  Mom is very attached to her lawn…or was.  I don’t know what I said, but suddenly she came around to my way of thinking, and we are getting out of the backyard lawn business.  Except for a few small areas.

We are also putting a paverstone path instead of the grassy area that always gets the most foot traffic.  In the winter, this area turns to mud, and I once used it accidentally as a very effective slip n’ slide.

Also, thanks to the influence/encouragement of Grow a Little Fruit Tree, I have planted two peach trees.  One Indian Free, the other Charlotte.

The boards are there because Dexter has discovered the joys of digging disturbed dirt.  Joy is a muddy, filthy corgi!

I also planted two cherries: Black Tartarian and Royal Ann, and have two plums on order: Coe’s Golden Drop and Mirabelle.  I’m especially excited about the Mirabelle, because there used to be house nearby with a plum tree producing mini yellow plums.  They were so good, but neither the owner nor I had any idea what they were.  Finally, though, I’m sure I figured the mystery out.  Since the house near me was sold and the tree removed, I’ll be so happy to have one of my own.

Also, I was in the local paper Sunday.  After being interviewed on keeping backyard chickens, a photographer came and took some pictures of my setup.  It’s too bad everything is in winter ugly mode right now, but the article did come out well.  I did not say I used ‘fine sawdust’ as bedding in my coop, however.  That would be a recipe for disaster!  Large flake shavings, that’s the ticket!

It was a surprise to find I’d actually made the front cover…sharing space with the human trafficers, no less!

New Quail Coop

Here is the latest and FINAL quail coop.

This one is my rotating garden bed scheme.  The first year, it will be here, on top of a unused raised bed.  In the fall, after the quail have had time to dig, eat bugs, and fertilize the bed, I’ll switch the coop to another bed that has been growing vegetables.  The quail will get to eat whatever is left of the veggies, and get to work fixing up this new bed for the following year.  I think it’s quite a brilliant idea, so hopefully it works out like I think it will.  I do know that since I had to move quail around, I took the opportunity to take out a couple of barrows full of great compost from the quail coops currently in use!

So now Cinna and his two girls are in the new rotating coop, and Peabody and his wife are in the display coop.  Loki and wives are still in the large green roof coop, but after I build the new greenhouse, they’ll be moving inside there, to help with pest control, and next year, I’ll be hatching out some Serama chickens for the large green roof coop.  After that, everyone should be set for the long term!

Here are a few pics of inside the new coop:

And now, with quail:

Cinna and his girls are happy with their new home.  I had barely put them in it, before they were all having a dust bath together in the corner.

This one has two doors on top.  One over the run, and one over the nest box area on the left.  I still need to put the rubber roofing on the nest box roof.

The chickens weren’t very pleased with the process of building the coop.  First I made the raised bed, and filled it with dirt that they would have loved to dig around in themselves.  They couldn’t quite grasp the necessity of building a coop over the top!  They think I do far too much building of fences as it is!

But they did enjoy seeing the quail move in.  I’ve noticed before that they like to watch the quail.  It’s pretty cute when quail and chicken are standing looking at each other face to face through the wire!

The weather here has been so warm.  We’ve had several days with 60 degree temps, and even the night temps are usually in the high 30s or early 40s.  I’ve decided to risk getting the garden started early, because I just have a feeling that Spring is actually coming early this year, and we’re not going to go back into winter.  Nothing too crazy though!  I started some lettuce, kale, peas, and argula.

You cannot believe how lovely it is to see little bits of green growing again!  Unless, of course, you garden yourself.  🙂

The weather has been making it nice for getting things done outside.  I have a long list (as always) of Things That Need to Get Done:  greenhouse, duck coop, trellises, various gates and fences, and rain barrels.  Plus I’ll be putting in more fruit trees, but I’ll post about that later.

After a day’s work in the garden, it’s good to be able to come in and collapse on the couch!

Local Chicken/Quail Program

I mentioned this briefly before – along with three friends, I’m doing a program on keeping chickens, ducks, and quail naturally and happily in a backyard.  If you’re local to me, and interested in this topic, you should come!  It’s free, at the Mount Vernon City Library.  Monday evening at 6:30pm.

There will be live quail there – Loki and two of his wives plan to attend – and if the quail cooperate, a giveaway of some just-laid quail eggs!