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Gail Gardner

pollinator
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since Jul 08, 2014
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hugelkultur duck forest garden
Freelance writer, small business marketing strategist offering social media promotion services. Live and help out on an organic farm; work totally online; late 50s. Interested in buying more locally raised grass fed meat and poultry and organic fruits and veggies. (Must take PayPal.) I also buy food shipped to me from non-local organic and grass fed farms. Planning to plant fruit trees and eventually a permaculture food forest. Admirer of homesteaders who can do a bit of everything needed from building and growing to keeping things repaired.
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Recent posts by Gail Gardner

Sonja Draven wrote:I haven't tried a fork (I'm not sure the difference between a manure and non-manure fork) but I definitely will.



A potato fork has wide flat tines and the handle is usually shorter or may have a place to put your hand. A manure fork also known as a pitchfork has long, thin tines that are often more curved and often a longer handle. A seed fork is really wide with a lot of tines and gets way too heavy for me to use for moving manure.

A broad fork is used to loosen the soil. I'll try to share a photo here:

"From left, a spading fork, digging fork, manure fork and broadfork. (Barbara Damrosch/BARBARA DAMROSCH)" from Washington Post.

Sonja Draven wrote:Friend confirmed that stuff was growing on and around the manure pile...



You want to know that broad-leaved "stuff" was growing and not just grass. Here's how to Test soil or compost for herbicides and what plants are affected.

And here's a video:

Sonja Draven wrote: I just got a truck load of aged horse manure. Dark, wormy and no sign of straw / hay but it's sort of a gummy / sticky texture compared to what I'm used to. A pain to shovel. I hope that's normal... I haven't used horse before.



I don't want to discourage you, but horse manure can sometimes be problematic. Sadly, some people are using herbicides that are so persistent that they don't break down even when composted. So you have to be very careful to only use manure from animals that have not been eating any pasture or hay that was sprayed with these kinds of herbicides.

Some people are doing test plantings a few weeks early because the damage these herbicides do doesn't show up until plants are a few weeks old. I hope that the manure you got is free of anything like that. Creating new soil is complicated, and some components tie up nutrients as they break down.

Hopefully, someone with more advanced skills than I have will be able to read through what you've done and give specific suggestions.

Tom Pivac wrote: Do you care about inbreeding in your farm animals (or you do for some types but not for others) and what steps do you take to prevent inbreeding if you do? Cheers.



That is a very good question. My personal opinion is that the best animals I've ever had came from crossing purebreds from 2 different breeds. So, for example, my favorite dog was 50% Border Collie and 50% Blue Heeler. Doing this provides hybrid vigor and an outcross that greatly reduces any weaknesses caused by inbreeding in the original 2 breeds.

I did the same with horses. When I no longer bred registered Thoroughbreds (TBs) for racing, I outcrossed them to AQHA (quarter horses / QHs) so that my younger horses are 50% TB and 50% QH. In so doing, I retained the endurance and quality of the TB side, but greatly improved their feet, made them easier keepers, and gave them strength to do work around the homestead should that become useful in the future.

Many horse breeds are very inbred, but only through the best lines. TBs we typically avoid inbreeding closer than 2x4 or 3x3 because close inbreeding often results in much smaller offspring that are potentially unsound for the purpose intended. That close they tend to be dominant breeding animals and when it works, outstanding performers.

On the other hand, QH breeders often breed extremely closely. Daughter to sire (father) matings are common, especially in lines where people are trying to increase or maintain very high inbreeding co-efficients. The lines that inbreed are typically working horses rather than racing horses.

And QHs are often less inbred to start with than TBs which can trace their lineages back to the 1800s. That said, most QHs carry TB bloodlines if you go back far enough. They just don't have records because the AQHA is a young breed of horse.

When I decided to get ducks, I am doing the same thing. My drakes (males) are American Pekin aka Long Island Pekin and Buff. When I acquired more females, I bought Silver Appleyard, Buff, Rouen and Khaki Campbell -- primarily Silver Appleyard. All of these breeds were developed from the same duck lines (Ayershire and Mallard principally), but the ducks I have would not be related to each other (except 1 Pekin female).

I thought horse color genetics was complicated; duck color genetics is even more complex and the available tools aren't as useful. In case anyone is interested:

BUFF
The buff ducks are a result of a cross between Indian Runner, Rouen and Aylesbury ducks.

PEKIN (American Pekin is actually a Long Island)
original Pekins descended from mallards and were upright like runners. American Pekins were developed by crossing with Aylesbury ducks.

Silver Appleyard
Created by crossing Rouen, Pekin, and Aylesbury. Appleyards as previously mentioned are light phase restricted mallards. The restricted mallard gene (M^R) is reportedly dominant over its alleles (M+ & m^d), & was called "restricted mallard" largely due to melanin restricting action in duckling down. very young pure bred Appleyard ducklings are ususally yellow-ish with only the "mohawk" & tail showing dark pigmentation. As the ducklings age dark pigments do come through

Rouen
Also referred to as Giant Mallards, they are descendants of wild mallards  developed in France

Khaki Campbell
To begin, Campbell crossed an Indian Runner that was an exceptional layer with a Rouen of good size. Later, she bred the resulting offspring with a Mallard to develop hardiness in her breed. Next, Mrs. Campbell wanted a particular buff coloration, so she added Penciled Runners to the mix. The end result were the attractive, excellent laying Khaki Campbells that we know today.

CROSSES

Pekin over Silver Appleyard
Mallard x2 / Aylesbury x2 / Rouen / Pekin x2

Pekin over Rouen
Aylesbury / Mallardx2

Pekin over Khaki Campbell
Aylesbury / Indian Runner x2, Rouen, Mallard x3 (one from the Rouen)  

Buff over Silver Appleyard
Indian Runner, Rouen x2, Aylesbury x2

Buff over Rouen
Indian Runner, Rouen x2, Aylesbury, Mallard

Buff over Khaki Campbell
Indian Runner x2, Rouen x2, Aylesbury

If anyone is interested in inbreeding patterns, I'm happy to answer questions. In TBs, we intentionally linebreed one family, especially through the best females and then outcross from that family while simultaneously linebreeding another family in the same pedigree.

Studying how cattle ranchers brought in new sire lines can be useful. And I suspect that would work well with most livestock. They intentionally inbred to determine whether their breeding stock carried any negative recessive traits (so they could cull them). But then they typically outcrossed or linebred once they knew a line was solid.

When choosing breeding stock, the conformation / health / disposition of the offspring is more important than that of the parents themselves. Sometimes, a beautifully put-together mare will through bad foals and a mediocre mare will throw good foals when bred to a better stallion. I used to call those "pass-through" mares = mares whose own genetics were so weak that all her offspring resembled their sires.
1 month ago

Amanda Beckman wrote:Hi Jay,

Thanks for info! I didn't realize domestic ducks formed pairs. Since getting these two, I don't think I've ever seen them more than 3 feet apart. I like your ideas for using the water, making something where I can move the water around is definitely on my list! I'll be sure to post if I come up with some new training or enrichment activities for them!



It really depends on the duck. Right now I have 4, 1 male Buff (I think), 1 male Pekin and 2 female Pekins. They seem to have paired off with 1 female to 1 male. But strangely, one of the females seems to be kind of a loner duck. The three others bed down together in the daytime and she is off to herself. But at night, they all 4 sleep as close to the LGD puppies as they can.

And I see the smaller Pekin female swimming often. But the other 3 don't seem that interested in swimming. That is kind of weird, too. But where there were so many ducks, who knows how many liked to swim vs how many didn't? There was no way to tell with that many.
1 year ago
These are my puppies when they were about 8 months old.



This is their Dad (1/2 Great Pyrenees 1/4 Border Collie 1/4 Australian Cattle Dog aka heeler) and Mom (1/2 Great Pyrenees 1/2 Australian Shepherd).



They naturally herd and guard the ducks which is what I want them to do once they settle down a little and I get them trained.
1 year ago
I've been making plans very similar to yours. Here are some of my ideas:

Lay fallen wood above and below wild plum trees and other edibles. Cover it with leaves and the dark soil scraped out from under big trees. Then dig a trench above it and put that dirt on top of what you already have. My thought is you slow down the water and let it soak in while feeding the wild tree so it has better fruit.

You could also graft plum or peach or whatever works on that base tree to get better tasting fruit. If you have a lot of these, maybe the deer and turkey won't eat all the fruit before you get to it. They left my peach trees alone and I get quite a bit of fruit off the wild trees even though there are a lot of deer and turkey here.

That could be because there is a ton of buckbrush covered in berries and sumac everywhere. Maybe they prefer that.

I've also harvested Chanterelle mushrooms, blackberries and what I believe are huckleberries. Those are all located far from any buildings in an area heavily utilized by the deer and turkey. (I see them nearly every time I go out to the blackberry patch.)

Found what I believe to be service berry trees (aka June berries), but I forgot to check them at the right time. My plan is to borrow some of the decomposing wood and dark soil from under trees near the wild fruit trees and shovel some manure if any is handy, and chop/drop some greenery around those fruit trees to naturally fertilize them to produce better.

Another idea is to find an area where a tree fell and is decomposing. Scatter a mix of seeds near that trunk (or even just fallen branches) and see what wants to grow there. Then plant more of what took off or just let it spread naturally.

Winged elm seems to be a pioneer species in Oklahoma. Wherever branches or tree trunks lay decomposing, winged elm pop up around them. So another idea is to plant pits and seeds from various fruit trees (peach, plum, apricot, apple, pear, fig, etc.) in among the winged elm. They may provide some protection from deer while the trees get established.

I know that fruit doesn't breed true, but if it isn't tasty to eat off the tree I would make jelly out of it. Or possibly graft other varieties onto it. If a tree produces well, I could consider fencing it off later.

Where water runs down a hill, wild plums and winged elm get established. Use the first idea (slow down the water and increase fertility) multiple times as that water runs towards the pond (which overflows and causes erosion -- so there is clearly more than enough water to divert some of it).

Plant guilds on each mound: 2 fruit or nut trees, 1 nitrogen fixer, 4 berry bushes (gooseberry, black current, red current, blackberry, raspberry etc.) between the trees and 30 perennials (TexasBoys comfrey, herbs, garlic, chives, rhubarb, sweet potatoes) around the trees and bushes.

Modify the quantity if necessary, but I'll try for that and put in several of these between 3 existing wild plum trees and the pond that water is running into.

1 year ago
pep

thomas rubino wrote:Well the moose "thinks " she is still little baby puppy...
She's not even 6 months old yet.  #70 as of 10 days ago... I can still pick her up but I can't see the scale anymore!



What breed? My puppies are about 9 months old now, but not quite as large as yours.

1 year ago

Amanda Beckman wrote:Long-time duck appreciator turned duck caretaker after I came across two very thin and friendly ducklings someone dumped at a park a few months ago. They are fully grown now (pekin male and what looks to be a khaki or khaki-hybrid female), and they are being raised as pets (some eggs would be a nice bonus though). I'm getting my PhD studying bird behavior, and am fully aware of the breeding behavior of male ducks. No eggs yet, but they are definitely trying to get there. I haven't observed anything that I would consider aggressive or harmful to the female yet (their little pair dances in the kiddie pool are pretty cute). I just had a couple questions in regards to making sure my ducks (mostly the female) have a happy life:

1. Has anyone had success with just a pair of ducks? Or are more female ducks in my future a strong possibility?
2. Is there any enrichment that may help my male keep his mind off other things? Maybe learning tricks (they already know "duck house" means go to their hut), or some type of puzzle/food activities? They have a little pool in a fenced in area near my house, but I saw a coyote on my property so now I'm nervous about leaving them unattended. Other than letting them roam around the yard I'm not doing any other enrichment.
3. Are oyster shells necessary for ducks?



Hi Amanda. Success meaning getting eggs or reproducing? I lived on a place that had about 160 ducks. He never culled the males so some didn't have females and others had from 1 to 3. I have 2 young pairs now, but they just started mating and no eggs, yet.

Ducks love dried soldier flies and meal worms. I buy mine off of eBay. Mine eat sprouts I get from SerenitySprouts. I put Agrilabs VITAMINS & ELECTROLYTES PLUS on their sprouts daily. I get that from eBay, too, but you can buy these things at farm stores and some feed stores.

They need oyster shell when they're laying eggs. Predators are always a major problem. The day I was gifted with my 4 ducklings (by someone who knew I planned to get ducks -- but AFTER I was set up for them) - I bought 2 Livestock Guardian dog puppies.

I have electric poultry netting and used 1 fence to split it diagonally. The puppies are on one side (until they're more mature and calmer) and the ducks on the other. I also have fishing line criss-crossed above the fence to deter hawks.

And I have Night-Guard repellent tape strung up all the way around to deter all kinds of predators. It flashes really brightly off the outdoor light when the wind blows (and it blows most of the time here). But the puppies (which are now 50-65+ lbs each) are the primary reason I haven't had predator issues.
1 year ago

Tyler Ludens wrote:

mos6507 wrote:
I gave a mesquite tree to my mom in Florida, but it won't grow in northern latitudes.



Do you know what's the maximum latitude they will grow at?  We're at about 30 degrees N here where they thrive...



Mesquite spread like crazy in east-central Texas (down in Falls County, for example). They grow ok in NE Texas around Kaufman County, but don't get nearly as big and don't spread as much. I haven't seen a single Mesquite tree since I moved to SE Oklahoma, so that may give you an idea where they like to grow.

I suspect that Honey Locust is the Mesquite of Oklahoma.
1 year ago