Nicole Alderman

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since Feb 24, 2014
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Five acres, two little ones, one awesome husband, 12 ducks (give or take), and a bunch of fruit trees and garden beds. In her spare time, Nicole likes to knit, paint, draw, teach kids, make fairies & dragons, philosophize, and read fantasy. She doesn't HAVE spare time, but does like to fantasize about it!
Pacific Northwest
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Recent posts by Nicole Alderman

It also looks nice enough that HOAs might not complain.

To me, it's a prettified keyhole garden

But, not everyone is as skilled as Raven to make a lovely one [url=]like hers[/url]

I remember being at the stage where I wanted to be a gardener but had no idea how, and stuff like this looked REALLY tempting to me. "Someone did all the hard work and made something perfectly so I don't have to biff it up!"

I think this thing is perfect for someone who has money, but not time, and not much skills and feels unable to tackle a compost bin. This does the hard work for them. And, yeah, it used plastic. So do most compost tumblers...
19 hours ago
I can see your profile picture, but not your cover picture. No idea why!

I think we were able to get measurements for the profile picture. With the cover picture, the problem is that it scales to your browser screen. So if you zoom out, or zoom in, or make your profile narrower, you'll get different amounts of the picture you posted.

Cindy Skillman wrote:

I was glad to hear of your experiences with deep litter for your ducks because I’d like to get a breeding trio of ducks at some point. I LOVE deep litter with my chickens. If you really, really want to use it in the chickens’ coop, you could look at building on a deeper bottom, to contain it. I probably would lean that way if it were me, but I didn’t just kind of get stuck with someone else’s chickens like you did, and that definitely is a different situation. I think you’ll enjoy them—it was very kind of you to take them in.

For removable roosts, I think, looking at your photos, that I’d build some U-shaped brackets from scrap wood, and make them a little tight to make for a friction fit. I’d use 2x2 wood (you could paint it for easier cleaning if you like) and I’d try to place them parallel to the nesting boxes to make it easier for the hens to get in them. They won’t have any trouble with either direction, though. It’s just my own “OCDness,” really. I suppose you could also use closet rod and hardware if you wanted to. That should work well, too.

I’m really impressed with the image of you splitting off wooden shakes. I hope you’ll post some pics. So cool! Also I’d love to hear more about your ducks and how you do deep litter with them, etc.

We've been loving the chickens, especially my children! We would often go for walks, and the rooster is about as old as my son (who's 5), so since he was a toddler, he's wanted to see the chickens, and the neighbors let us stop by and see the chickens any time we liked. Then my daughter was born, and she loved seeing the chickens. Needless to say, they've grown up being mezmorized by these chickens. I was still stunned by just how much they love them now that we have them. They keep saying, in wonderment, "They're our chickens now"; and they go in there and pet them and carry them and herd them around. The chickens are really sweet and tolerant, too, especially the rooster.

You can see more of my cedar splitting adventure in this thread: Since I don't have a froe (nor money/ability to make one), I've been using my axes to make the shingles. They take longer, and they're really rough, but they're working! Here's what I got installed today:

There's a lot more to do. Thankfully, I'm in no hurry, and it's a nice learning experience for me and the kids, so it's all good!

As for deep litter with ducks, my duck house is on a cement slab (here's the thread with pictures of us building it

Here's a more recent pictures (okay, it's 3 years old, but it's still what my duck house looks like!)

Mine's 8x8 with attached nesting boxes that are also at ground level. I have anywhere from 8 to 22 ducks in there (22 is really pushing it, and it's usually when a bunch of babies hatched and we're waiting for the boys to be big enough to eat). To start the deep litter, I just put down a few inches of pine shavings.

Here's my routine. Every morning when I let the ducks out:

  • I move the old/poopy bedding out of the nesting boxes and into the main area. I put new shavings in there. Ducks tend to poop on their eggs. Especially in the low egglaying season. I sometimes wonder if the non-laying females go in there, and "bare down" to lay, and lay some poop instead, often on another ducks eggs. Sigh.
  • I spread the nesting box pine shavings over the other bedding, either with my foot or pitchfork, and sprinkle a little more pine shavings on any big deposits of poop.
  • Every 2 or 3 days, I use a pitchfork and flip the bedding. This isn't intensive or thorough. It's just enough to aerate the bedding and keep it aerobic. Since ducks don't scratch and peck, and I don't have any chickens in there to turn the bedding, it's up to me to turn it. Some days, if they haven't pooped much, I just stick the pitchfork under it and lift up to give it some air. On the days I turn the bedding, I don't usually add new shavings. If you have chickens in with your ducks, you probably would only need to use a pitchfork on it as often as you ever need to with just chickens.

  • All told, it takes me maybe 5 minutes, at the most 10 on a day when I'm taking my time and doing a thorough turning (and enjoying being alone outside while my husband watches the kids. :D). I usually have about 3-5 inches of bedding in there at a given time. I should probably have it deeper, but I'm always stealing it to put in my garden beds and under my raspberry bushes and as mulch. There's no smell of ammonia, so I'm thinking the bedding doesn't need to be as "deep" as people say.

    I will mention that it usually works best for me to feed the ducks before I put them in, that way I don't have to supply them with a pail of water in there and have them dribble it around everywhere. Whatever you do, don't put a pool or tray of water! Your bedding will be a soggy mess! Even with a pail, mine tends to get soggy (I do live in the rainy pacific northwest. It's not too bad on the dry summer or freezing days), which is why I try to feed/water them outside of their house, if possible.
    1 day ago
    I made the shingles that thick, because any thinner tended to make the wood crack vertically, making smaller/useless shingles. It's fun experimenting with different techniques with the tools I have, as I remember reading when the first setttlers came to Seattle, the young man who came to prepare things for the family had no froe, and so the structure he was building had no roof. It's nice to know that, slow as it may be, I at least am not without shingles even without a froe!

    Tomorrow I'm going to try going radially, as I made it to the center of the log. I thought about trying to split it...but then realized I am probably not strong enough to do that (this cedar has been seasoning outside for almost 4 years now!)

    After watching some videos, I had it overhang 2 inches at the bottom and overlapped the shingles. Since there was pressboard on the other side of the stryofoam insulation, I used long nails to nail through the foam to the pressboard. Most shingles got one or two nails into the wooden structure around the foam, so hopefully they'll be secure enough.

    I also discovered that I stink with a hammer. Or rather, I discovered that I still stink with a hammer. I remember as a teenager, we went to Mexico to build homes, and despite practicing before hand, I could not drive a nail into the house, despite trying for an hour. I'll never forget how, when I was practicing beforehand, my 70+ year old grandmother--who weighed maybe 120 pounds--came over and pounded the nail in with a few deft strokes. Hopefully with a bunch of practice, I'll be able to wield the stinkin' hammer at least half as well as my grandmother could!
    1 day ago
    Oooh, it looks like this is a giveaway for seeds from Seeds for Generations (

    Here's the direct link, for those worried about a weird link. Both links lead to the same place.

    Here's a bit about their companion planting matrix

    But, it seems that the company that they're doing their giveaway through is rather shady. At least, my browser is saying it isn't safe. I'd probably give them your spam email address...
    1 day ago
    Thank you Judith! That's super helpful!!!

    Hmmm, I was thinking, should we do--for the Straw Badge--some sort of hair rinse, where people choose 3 of the following herbs (like dandelion, sage, chamomile, dandelion, etc) and steep in apple cider vinegar. (I make something like that for my psoriasis.)
    1 day ago

    John C Daley wrote:How do you ferment the food please?

    Sorry it took me so long to respond! Here's some great info on how to ferment Scratch and Peck's  Fermenting Feed Guide
    1 day ago

    Brett M. Scott wrote:HERBAL FIRST AID KIT, wound powders, flower essence infusions (water), bug sprays, compresses, BATHS! (herbal baths have roots in every culture world wide and are very . powerful.) So many ideas. Something worth considering here is that plants have 10s of thousands of constituents and oils, alcohols, waters all bring out different flavors or primary/secondary actions and overall different proportions. So familiarizing with different forms and mediums is important.

    Oooooh! I'd love to know more! What plant(s) would you use for:

      - wound powders
      - flower essence infusion
      - bug spray
      - compresses
      - herbal baths

    Plantain, cayenne, calendula or chamomile, wild comfrey, goldenseal?, dandelion, rose hips, burdock?, milk thistle!, nettles, witch hazel, pine, basil, thyme, mints, oregano are all very powerful.

    Looking at what we've got so far, we've done

    dandelion root tincture(sand level),  
    rosehips syrup (sand level),
    ginger root  tea (sand level),
    calendula flower Salve (sand level)
    chamomile flower Infusion (sand level)
    Plaintain leaffPoultice (sand level)

    And at Straw Level:

    Echinacia Tincture
    Oregano Tincture
    Cayenne Tincture
    Elderberry Syrup
    Cottonwood Buds Salve
    Comfrey Salve
    Comfery Poultice
    Honey cough-drop/lozenge (or maple syrup? for vegans?)
    Nettle Tea
    Peppermint Tea
    aloe-- grow an aloe plant
    Witch hazel Decoction???

    Right now, I think our idea is to have people learn about an herb and make a preparation with it. Once they've got a good foundation, then they can--maybe?--select select plants that are nearby them to add to their journal and choose a preparation for it?

    But, first, I'd love to have the wound powder, compresses, bug spray, flower essence infusions and herbal baths each feature a different plant so people document that they've learned not only about that plant, but also about a preparation, at the same time. What would be good plant(s) for these preparations? More than one plant per preparation is okay!

    2 days ago

    Joy Oasis wrote:First aid kit is a great idea. I think it has to have cayenne tincture as it might be life saving during stroke, heart attack, and any external or internal bleeding. I saw it stopping stronger bleeding from the wound within few seconds. It does sting for a bit, but it increases circulation, and that is great. I do not even like spicy things, but cayenne tincture is always in my bag. And I always have some capsules stuffed in case of infection or in case I start feeling colder legs or hands than I think I should (compared to my son. LOL). I avoid commercial made capsules because of the fillers.

    Great idea! Would this be a glycerite or alcohol or water-based tincture? I'm not certain which tinctures should be which?

    So far, for Sand Level we have a dandelion tincture (water-based?)

    For straw level, we have listed

      - Echinacia Tincture
      - Oregano Tincture
      - Cayenne Tincture

    What part of the plant would each of these be made from? Which would they be glycerite or alcohol or water-based?

    Thanks so much!
    2 days ago

    Jennifer Richardson wrote: but I am not coming up with anything stunning.

    None of us are! The struggle is real! One potential title for nuerodiversity/disability/aging/etc is "Being Human" but we're afraid it'll turn into people sharing about what is inhumane, rather than sharing human differences and challenges. UHG!
    2 days ago