Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Choices . . .

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


Nope, he's not choking it! This chick was rowdy before it came out of the shell, and there are only two ways to keep it still. If I set it on my shoulder, it'll burrow into the long hair at my neck and sing soft happy chirps -- for about 20 seconds, and then it pops up and darts about, which isn't a healthy activity for a chick so high off the ground. The Genius Husband prefers to wrap these wild peeps in his big hand with just a tiny fisthole opening to peer out from.

For two days, this chick's egg rocked and bumped against the others in the incubator. The early peeps were muted, but as the hours passed, they gained in fury. To make matters worse, it was the only chick to hatch from that small batch of eggs, though it does seem to have the energy and vitality of a half dozen packed into one tiny ball of fuzz. For two days it peeped with the volume of 6 or more, and I took to wearing headphones while I worked so I could concentrate. Fortunately, a large clutch of ducklings hatched a few days later so he has company now. I've moved them all to larger quarters in one of the barn brooders.

Growing up with ducky siblings, I suspect he'll have identity issues. We've seen this happen before - ducklings that walk hunched so they'll not stand taller than their chicken friends, guineas who eschew the company of their kind and live with the hens instead. Amusing but relatively harmless quirks. But danger lurks for a chick who thinks he's a duck, for there are buckets about, and he can't swim.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Purple wave

I always grow purple petunias, not because I like them, but because my younger daughter liked them so much when she was small. I think she still favors them, but not with the single-minded exhuberance she exhibited a decade ago. She's grown now, and she no longer spends summers weeding at my side and sneaking away to read the books in some shady spot. And still I grow purple petunias even though I'm not enamored of most things purple. A garden just doesn't seems right without them.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Bee balm

Wild bergamot aka horsemint, bee balm
Monarda fistulosa
I didn't see so much of it during the drought the last two years, but a wet spring seems to have rejuvenated the prairie flowers. I've found a few small patches on my land, and several large patches down the road at the edge of a cornfield and still more in a neighbor's native prairie field.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

The Story of Bruce

Bruce the Duck came to live with us earlier this summer. His journey began with a phone call from the Genius Husband. 'You want another duck?" Hmm. Yeah. I didn't have enough of those.
Bruce belonged to a teenage girl, and he spent his early days as a fuzzy, yellow, adored pet. But as ducks do, he grew. And his family began to realize how large (and smelly) he would become. So Bruce made the long car trip from the metro area to the farm by car. Below: Bruce meets the flock. We left him in his cage for the first 24 hours so the rest of the ducks, chickens, and turkeys had a chance to get to know him before any actual mingling occurred. With poultry, this is always a good idea since they'll peck a hole in the head of an outsider if they don't like how he looks. (Or smells.)

Bruce continued to grow, and in just over a week he'd lost the last of his yellow fuzz. He joined the flock and learned about wading pools, mud, and other ducky things.

Silly duck! Anyone who's lived around ducks knows the kind of trouble a duck can get himself into. Bebe, the farmcollie, alerted me to Bruce's predicament -- apparently Bruce had so much fun splashing in the bucket he'd discovered that he splashed out too much water. Ducks have short legs, so they have trouble climbing out if the water level is too low. Bruce, however, didn't want to get out. Oh well. Too bad. No more buckets for Bruce!