I'm starting to think temperature was the primary issue with the duckweed since the stuff down at the creek is dying, it simply lagged behind the stuff in the pond because of the volume of water. The azolla seems to be doing fine. In fact, the stuff in the bucket that I collected the azolla in (and which contains mud from the creek) has already multiplied enough to cover the surface of the bucket. I added a scoop of compost to one of the other containers to see if that will boost the growth rate.
The stuff in the pool seems to be struggling the most, but I intentionally didn't do a water change just to see how the azolla would fare in the same conditions. Still surviving, but definitely not doing as well as the other containers. Gonna let things run for a while longer before I change the water and see if it's the pool or the water that's having the most impact. Though, I just got a confirmation that we will for sure be getting the IBCs, so the pool may be getting retired entirely.
Not the greatest pics, but the seed balls are sprouting. The hands off approach is definitely less work, but it's a lot more sitting around and waiting for things to happen... which is driving me a little crazy, despite the welcome break.
The rabbits have hit the 3 pounds mark. That puts them on track to reach butcher weight at 16 weeks, which is what I was aiming for given a natural diet, and the slower growth rate of this breed.
The azolla with creek mud and the azolla with compost both seem to be putting on good growth. The azolla in plain water and the azolla in the pool are both showing signs of stress. Obviously the plain water is lack of nutrients, the pool is more nebulous. Haven't changed out the water yet. Planning to change it out and replace it with water and compost, since that seems to be performing admirably in the smaller test. If a water change doesn't get things rolling, then my only other suspicion is that something is leaching into the water from the pool and it will have to be retired entirely. Have the okay to pick up the IBCs, but my friend is out for surgery this week, so I don't know when exactly I'll be getting them. I'll wish need to figure out a way to protect them from the sun, since I don't know that I can justify spending money on paint. Maybe I can find a bunch of half cans of paint that somebody just wants to get rid of. But, since I can't transport myself, I don't want to waste someone else's time driving around to pick up half a can here and half a can there, especially if it ends up wasting more gas than it saves in paint costs.
We'll see. I've been teaching a friend to drive on the weekends, so if there aren't other errands to run and they need to get hours behind the wheel anyway, then I suppose it makes more sense to pick up stuff that I can use out here. It was definitely nicer when I had the option if turning other people's trash into treasure.
So, here's a perfect example of why I hated the first seed ball technique I used and the size of the balls it created. Not only do the individual seed balls contain way too many seeds to get a good distribution, but because they're so large and heavy, they tend to roll into low spots and clump together. After taking this picture I picked out any solid clumps that I could and spread them around.
I would really love to have a light layer of mulch over the top of these guys while they're sprouting to help protect them from birds, but I'll be leaving the property first thing in the morning to stay with my friend after their surgery. By the time I return, the critical period for protecting them will have passed, so it's simply a numbers game at this point. And I probably threw tens or hundreds of thousands of seeds at the problem (according to the quick, back of the envelope math I just did, and given that the bulk of the seeds were brassicas or similarly sized seeds, and doing a rough conversion from volume to weight, it could have been in excess of a quarter million seeds... granted, a vast majority of that is from the insane amount of turnip seeds that I saved coupled with even more turnip seeds from the sprout mix that a friend gifted me.) I do still have about half of the seed balls for the human mix because they still need an additional coat of clay that I haven't managed to harvest and process yet. The plan is to broadcast the second half after the first half is established enough that I can see where any bare spots are, and at the point I should have mulch down to protect the second round from birds.
Moved the rabbits down to where the landowner can keep an eye on them while I'm gone. There are four rabbits in there, they're just buried under their food. Technically, with the systems I currently have in place, all of the animals should be able to go 3 or 4 days without human intervention. But since I won't know for sure how long I'll be gone, 3 or 4 days might not be enough. The landowner has historically not been great about following directions with regards to the animals, so hopefully everything survives my absence. The rabbits have outgrown the cage that I have, so the big goal for when I get back to the property is to get them outside now that temps are mostly starting to cool off. They were surprise bunnies, so the guy I bought them from could only give me ages within a couple weeks, so that's putting me dangerously close to breeding age. I at least need to get the male separated until I'm ready to start breeding, and they're old enough to not have issues fun being bred too young if it's not one thing, is another...
One thing I was hoping to do this year was collect hazelnuts from any of our native hazelnuts that had managed to produce in this year's drought. Those are the ones I really want to plant, since I need trees that can produce under the climate extremes that we're experiencing. In fact, this strikes me as the perfect year to collect nuts and seeds for planting from any of the species that managed to produce. Decided to wander around town yesterday while my friend was passed out on painkillers and look for hazelnuts. Found lots of trees, but the nuts were noticeably absent. In fact, this year I've only managed to spot 2 nuts, and that was during a day hike with a friend nowhere near the property, and they weren't ready to harvest yet. I'm supposed to go on a hike with a friend to a spot that I think might be promising, but it may just be the end of our native hazelnuts in our changing climate.
Was beach at the property over night to check up on things. Feeding the rabbits a natural diet has been working well. There's a lot of disagreement over what can and cannot be fed to rabbits. My basic approach has been to feed predominately grass and clover, and then add in weed that I know are edible for humans, plus herbs and veggies (mostly kale at this point, since not much else has survived. Any time I introduce something new, I add only a small amount to see how they tolerate it, and I always feed a wide mix of things so that they aren't compelled to eat anything they aren't inclined to. I go especially light on brassicas or anything with high levels of oxalic acid. I've started experimenting with the few trees on the property that aren't reported to be toxic to rabbits. They've tolerated our native ash well, which some sources have listed as fine too feed, as well as willow. They're getting maple for the first time this morning.
Since they've tolerated the ash and willow well, I'm eager to cut a bunch to feed over fall and winter. The adventure continues...
This is 100% from a naturalized population, not imported larvae. This is the largest I've seen the population so far. I've been seeing lots of other species prior to this, but I'm pretty sure this marks BSFL beginning the dominant species in my bin, which should crowd out any undesirable species, according to what I've seen.
On the azolla, I think the test batch with the compost is definitely reproducing the fastest, but it also has algae growing in it, which may or may not be a problem. I'm hoping that once there's a thick enough layer covering the surface, it'll keep the algae from getting the light it needs to thrive. That does mean that it would need a period of time before I could harvest any, but if that's effective, it's but a huge deal.
Managed to pick up Covid while I was staying with my friend. I'm almost at the 2 week mark. Still have a persistent cough and some congestion, but the worst of the symptoms have passed. This was only a week after getting my vaccine, so it's good to know that a week provided sufficient protection.
Haven't been doing much. It's pretty much been taking everything I've got to get the animals fed and run occasional irrigation. I don't think it's been quite though moisture for things like carrots, but lots of things are growing. I actually took a long look at what's growing right now, and it's more stuff than I honestly expected given the amount of neglect. There are some signs of nutrient deficiency in some things, mostly yellowing in a number of what appear to be daikon sprouts... a sizeable portion of which were imported seed, which is likely just not as well adapted to my conditions as my saved seed. I do want to make a nettle tea application at some point, but I'm not sure when my energy levels will allow. My overall recovery has been slower than anticipated based on how relatively quickly the initial symptoms subsided.
At any rate, that's why there haven't been any updates lately. I have been doing much other than laying around in bed and waiting for this to pass.
I have another broody hen and I think it's time to revisit balut.
I've had chicken balut before. I wasn't a fan. Tasted fine, I'm just not a fan of my hard-boiled eggs crunching. 🤣
But apparently one balut egg has about 188 calories and roughly 14 grams each protein and fat (I haven't seen anything remotely official backing this, but a number of sites have parroted that chicken and duck balut have similar nutritional profiles.) That's compared to around 78 calories, 5 grams of fat, and 6 grams of protein for a fresh egg. Seems like most of the food value is being thrown away by consuming eggs fresh. It may not seem like a lot, but that's the difference between meeting your caloric needs on 10 eggs a day versus 25.
The upside of producing my own balut is that I can control the incubation and have a less developed egg than I could buy, if I so chose. I don't know. I'll give this round of eggs a try and see if I can get over the texture.
Since incubating balut doesn't seem require the same level of care that incubating eggs to hatching does, I'm thinking I might be able to rig up my dehydrator to incubate them.