Plants need water to grow you know!

We all realize that plants need water, and plenty of it unless it's a cactus you're trying to grow.  Last year I watered the garden often, most weeks we watered daily or every other day.  This year... I didn't do that.  Why, you ask?  Well I'm not exactly sure, which is the truth as crazy as that sounds.  I realize that plants need water obviously, and I am also hoping for a good harvest but I didn't get into the habit of watering daily or as often as I should have. 

It hasn't rained alot as far as quantity goes.  In July we had some drizzle or light rain every so often but not a good soaking.  I can see the results of this in the plants.  The cucumbers and zucchini are not as far along as they were last year.  The potato plants aren't as large as I expected them to be, especailly compared to our friends' garden. They live 20 minutes away and said their plants are much bigger! 

July 26th Update

Im sorry for the lack of posting this week. It's been busy and the humidity has been almost unbearable.   36-40C with humidex for a week straight!! 

I have been working outside in spurts then rehydrating with cold water and also carbonated water.  I have also been eating tons of fruit, not much appetite for a big meal in this heat, but the watermelon is tasting pretty good.

 

I took apart the duck pen last week then I recently installed new hardware cloth on the outside of each section.  Hardware cloth is the metal fencing to keep the critters out.  The stores call it "hardware cloth" I guess when the holes are smaller than 1 square inch. Apparently if a hotdog can fit through the hole a weasel can get through as well!  So this time I used fencing with 1/2" square holes.  That will hopefully keep them out.  I also built 2 new sections 6' long to add to each side so they will have more room.  Believe it or not the 20' got taken up pretty quick with their house, pool and small deck (off the pool of course).  This extension should give them some extra ground room to forage and play.

 

Hopefully we can get their pen finished off in the next week just in time for them to move in.  They will be about 7.5 weeks old and fully feathered.  They should be okay for managing thier own temperature. We stopped heating up water bottles late last week as its been soooo hot outside and inside.  We don't have air conditioning, well not conventional air conditioning anyways.  More on this later.

 

We put the ducks outside in the dog run for about 1-2 hours a day so they can get some fresh air and see the world!  They can forage and nobody showed them how to.  It's amazing to see how they figure stuff out on their own.

Khaki Campbell Ducks

This breed of duck is a cross between a mallard and a duck species from the UK.  They are known for their incredible egg laying ability.  Duck eggs are normally about 1/3 larger than chicken eggs. Not only are duck eggs tastier but they also have over 1% more protien. Females can lay over 250 eggs a year!  The question is ... of the four ducks we have are there any females?

You can not identify whether a duck is male or female until they are at least several months old.  As they get older their bills change color. Males have a orange colored bill whereas females have a bill that is more bronze in color. Males will eventually have greenish head feathers while females will stay brown.  At around 5-6 months of age the male (drake) will develop a curled tail feather and at 7 months the female (hen) will start laying..  An earlier indication however is the female ducks make more of a quack sound and the males a whistle.  So far so good as one for sure is quacking.


Weeds weeds everywhere

It sure doesn't take long to have weeds take over the garden. My back has been pretty sore and weeding wasn't a priority for the past few weeks.  I was just away for a couple of days and when I got home I went to see how the garden was doing. The vegetables have all grown and so have the weeds! Wow what a jungle!  This should be fun....

 

Duck Pen Relocation Program

I had some time today and my back wasn't too bad so I decided to dismantle the duck palace.  For those of you that are new to this blog we built duck pen last summer and it underwent several renovations.  It became a duck "palace" complete with pool and lounging area.

 

 

Full size ducks!

Our baby ducks have grown so much in the past few weeks. They're about 4 weeks old and almost full size. They're eating and drinking machines. All that eating and drinking also makes them pooping machines! We are really going through the wood shavings and now have to clean out their enclosure daily. We brought the quartet outside yesterday to give them some fresh air and some room to roam. 

 
 

Koda let the ducks use her dog run

Heat wave!

I will admit it has been a cooler spring and start to summer but this week has made up for it.

Yesterday was 35 or so with the humid-ex and today it is 40C with the humidity. I do not like hot weather.  To even say I enjoy really warm weather would be a stretch. I would take  -10C (yes that is a minus sign) over +30C any day. 

Our dog does not like the heat either.  She told me! So I thought I would make it a bit better for her and for us. 

I borrowed the duck pool and also grabbed some shade cloth. 

Who doesn't like a dip in the pool?

 
 
 

Shade cloth installed. It made a big difference.

 

Our visitor came back!

I love wildlife. We use to volunteer at a wildlife rehabilitation center in Northern Ontario. I am also an avid wildlife photographer. However a mink can not live in our house with us.   That just wouldn't work with the ducks and our dog. In addition to these reasons, mink bite their prey on the neck and withdraw blood! I doubt I would be able to sleep knowing we had a mink as a tennant. 

Well over 24" long!

Our "little" home intruder!

Surprise!

It is early morning, I came out of the bathroom/laundry room, as I had just finished feeding and watering the ducks. (I think they grew overnight again. )

As I opened the door I saw a somewhat large, black, furry critter on the living room floor!  

 

We have one pet and she is not black. 

 

I could not believe my 👀 eyes. 

I calmly told my wife to keep Koda upstairs.

 

She says "Ok... why?".

 

I replied,  "Because there is a large mink in the living room!!!"

 

...to be continued. 

Honey!

I was able to check the hive today. Wowzers there's a reason for the saying "busy as a bee". The hive has changed a lot in 3 weeks. Originally we transferred 4 frames that had bees, honey and brood. The other 6 frames were bare. Today 8 frames were full, and they're heavy, probably 5-6 pounds each.  Some were full with honey, and some with honey and capped brood. Things are going well in the hive. The bees are running out of room however to grow with only two bare frames available. If the queen finds things too crowded she will leave with the bees. This is called swarming.  I added another "super" which is the box with 10 new frames. This gives them a whole bunch more room to grow. 

Once the new super is 1/2 - 3/4 full we can add a honey super. In between the 2nd super and the honey super we have to put this thin board called a queen excluder. This will allow the worker bees to go up and store honey but not let the queen up. That way there will only beeeee honey and not brood as well. In the fall we can harvest all the honey in the "honey super" and we leave the honey in the bottom two supers (below the queen excluder) for the bees to eat over the winter. 

Added a super

 

 We need a laundry tub!

The ducks go through a lot water.  When their water dispenser is empty, or close to empty, the trough is full of wet wood shavings, which is what we use for bedding in the tote. Sometimes there's also duck poop and wet feed on the dispenser and in the trough. Needless to say we have to rinse everything well. The place that we were using was the tub/shower. The wood shavings were kept from going down the drain by this drain strainer which worked fairly well. The problem was we have to fill their water jug 3-5 times a day.  The strainer gets full of wood shavings then plugs up and then the water doesn't drain. So the tub ends up with duck food and some duck poopy water in it.  Whenever one of us wants to have a shower we have to clean out the tub. This chore got old pretty quick. We decided a laundry tub was the best idea. It would fix this situation and my wife said she would use it for many other things as well. So a new laundry tub it is.

Luckily the tub was getting installed next to the washing machine.  The water lines and drain was right there. That made the job easy peasy. 1 hour later and we had a new place to fill the duck water and a clean bathtub. 

Taps installed on tub

Supply lines attached to taps

Tees cut into water lines and supply valves installed

 

 

 

 

 

Things that make noise in the night...

We went out for a drive to the ocean to cool off as it was very hot with the humidex at our place. When we got in we were on duck duty, water, food, reheat water bottles, change some of the wood shavings that got wet and spend some time talking with the duckies. 

While getting ready to retire for the day we heard a strange noise outside. It was made by a bird or animal of some sort. 

After a few minutes of listening to the intermittent noise I went outside armed with a flashlight. I scanned the bush where the sound was coming from but didn't spot anything, no animal shapes or reflective eyes.  

The noise happened again and was coming from up in a tree. As I shone the light upwards a owl leaped into the air and soared across the driveway to another tree. The owl looked like it was a barred owl which is a species I was somewhat familiar with. We had them in northern Ontario where we used to live. I've even photographed them on several occasions.  I heard their eerie call many times as well and it didn't sound anything like what I was hearing now.  

A few minutes later I heard the noise coming from across the road where the owl flew to and then I heard it again where it was coming from originally.  There were two of them! A few minutes later and the silence was interrupted by some branches breaking at ground level as an animal was moving about. I tried to spot it with the light but was unsuccessful. 

 

I went back in the house after listening a few more times to the strange noise from above. I told my wife what had happened and that it looked like a barred owl. She found, on a website, the same noise we had heard earlier. It was from a juvenile barred owl.  

I have to say that of all the owls I have heard, barred owls are a bit eerie. Their regular call is enough to spook you if you have never heard it before.

When you get a chance check out barred owls online and have a listen to what they sound like. Don't forget to listen to juvenile barred owl sounds as well. I've had the opportunity to see and photograph Great Grey Owls, Great Horned Owls, Northern Saw-whet Owls and the Northern Hawk Owl.  The Great Grey makes the who who who sound. The great horned owls are fierce hunters. The northern saw-whet is very cute and the northernhawk owl look somewhat like a hawk hence its name.