Back to the Garden

The travel posts are over, and now I can return to updating you on the garden and the animals.

It’s been pretty warm weather-wise – we only had our first light frost this week – so I’ve put off winter-proofing the quail coops until 2 days ago.

To keep out the worst of the winds and rain, I wrap the smaller coops in clear plastic.  I want them to still get light, and to be able to see out. I also fill the coops with loose straw. The quail LOVE to be able to burrow around in there.

I don’t put plastic on the big coop. It’s big enough the rain can’t get in except at the edges, and there’s lots of areas where the quail can get out of the wind. I do put a lot of straw in it, through.

Look how pretty the nasturtiums look – they are blooming up a storm, even though it’s the middle of November.

Partly because of my travels, I didn’t get much of a fall vegetable garden in. I did plant garlic, and I planted the greenhouse in some beets and kale.

I also moved a few of my more delicate potted outdoor plants inside. It’s nice to be able to have a place to put these, finally.

The “Hardy Nasturtium” I planted this year is growing tremendously. I hope it will survive the winter okay, because I really love it.

It’s finally blooming, too. The hummingbirds love the flowers.

The ducks are full grown, and are doing their job as slug patrol.

An unexpected benefit of having them loose in the garden all day is  that they keep the chickens in line. I have a couple of young, flighty chickens, and I used to have some trouble with them flying over their fence into the garden. Not while the ducks are on duty! The ducks LOVE the chickens (they are sex-crazed little maniacs, and I think they hope the chickens are drakes!) and given the chance, they will follow the chickens around the yard and try to seduce them. The chickens are not amused. If the ducks are in the yard, the chickens won’t go there.

Another benefit of the ducks is their eggs. Surprising the heck out of me, they are actually using their nest box!

And I completely adore duck eggs. They taste better than chicken eggs, for sure! I’ve never been able to eat eggs on an empty stomach – if I have scrambled eggs for breakfast, it always makes my stomach feel a bit icky. Duck eggs don’t have that effect on me. I’ve heard that people who are allergic to chicken eggs can eat duck eggs without a problem, so how cool is that?

The chickens are not laying right now because of molting, and winter light, and a variety of other excuses. But they do still have work to do. Year-round, they are my master composters.

They have a large yard, that they have turned to dirt. To keep the ground soft enough so they can dig for worms and bugs, I keep a layer of straw on top of it.

If I throw it out in sections, they will take care of spreading it out.

They also eat all the grass seed in it, and break the pieces up, and poop in it, and basically turn it into this lovely pre-compost. One or twice a year, I go and scoop it up and put it on the garden.

It finishes composting directly on the garden, and I put more straw out for the girls to get to work on. The chickens are definitely earning their keep even when they are taking a vacation from egg-laying.

I’ve been making lists of what I plan to accomplish next year.

I want to build a second rotating quail bed for the extra females to live in, so I can get them out of the big coop. I also want to hatch some more quail to add to the female population. Right now, I just have two mated pairs, and three solitary females.

Once the quail are moved, I can remodel the big coop a little bit, and hatch some miniature serama chickens.

I also want to build the colony rabbit house, and start raising meat rabbits.

Also a must-do is finishing the various fencing around the property, and put in some new raised beds along the side front yard.

And then….wow. I think all the building might be done! If all this gets done in 2016, starting in 2017 I’ll be able to start working on the purely decorative stuff that been sliding by because of lack of time/money.

 

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