February 13, 2017

Homestead Happenings #4


Welcome to Volume Four of a sort-of-monthly feature of updates on the homestead, small tidbits and news that aren't really worthy of a post of their own.

Updates, news and small tidbits from the homestead.


I raised Frank, my young white Muscovy drake, from the day he hatched out of his egg. He was an only duckling and grew up friendly, until one day when he bit my arm. This behavior continued and I finally realized he needed a mate. We found some Muscovies for sale in a nearby town and brought home not one but two hens, one for Frank's coop and one for the larger duck coop.

My Muscovy drake, Frank, as a teenager.
Frank as a teenager

Frank's new mate is a young chocolate and white hen I named Cora. Frank's biting behavior ceased shortly after Cora arrived. The black and white hen is sharing the larger coop with Mama and Papa duck (hence her name, Sharon), who are also black and white pied.

Sharon and Mama are both laying eggs now and have quite a nest-full. I'm curious to find out who will set on those eggs or if they'll share the duties.

A clutch of Muscovy duck eggs

Muscovies and most other ducks are too large for most nest boxes, especially the ones I was using that were simple cat litter buckets set on their sides. This duck egg nest is under an upside-down Rubbermaid bin with an opening cut into one of the short ends.

Egg production in the chicken coop is ramping up too. While I leave the Muscovy eggs for the hens to brood, the chicken eggs are for our consumption. In the depths of winter our eight hens were averaging just one egg a day. Lately I've been gathering 4-6 a day and yesterday there were seven eggs.

The chickens are enjoying their new nestboxes

Recently I traded with a friend who wanted some tires to use as planters. In return for a truck-bed full of tires that have been laying around here since we bought the place, she brought me a bank of nest boxes for my coop. The girls are very happy with their new furniture.

After all those really cold days in December we've had some beautiful days in January and February. Saturday we hit 84°F. The fire danger is critical though. We've had several wildfires around us and are ever watchful. I sniff the air outside several times a day, and check the horizon in all directions looking for smoke. I'm thankful for the volunteer firefighters who fight these fires and then keep watch to make sure they don't flare up again or hop across a road. We desperately need rain.

Ella watching the sunset.

One of my favorite things to do on nice afternoons is wander the field with the horses and my camera. Ella watched the sunset with me one evening. She's an "in your pocket" horse who loves to know what I'm up to. After all, I might have a treat in my pocket. (She's usually right.)

Hubby used the chainsaw to cut a path through the woods to the clearing that will house my beehive. A friend told me about Prairie Moon Nursery which sells wildflower seeds. I'll be ordering seeds that are native not just to my area but native to Oak Hill Homestead, seeds for plants that I've seen growing here over the years. I don't want to introduce anything new, just augment the number of plants so the bees will have plenty of food. My garden will contain more flowers this year too.

I'll be rehabing the herb garden this spring, stay tuned to watch the progress!
When the herb garden was new.

I've torn down the herb garden bench, leaving only the brick pad I put down years ago. The boards that formed the bench have rotted and needed to be replaced, so I'm taking the opportunity to change things up a bit. The rose bush next to the bench was leaning forward to an alarming degree, so we staked it up and pulled it back into place when I pruned it over the winter. It had grown taller than I am and is now at a more manageable height. Stay tuned for a closer look at the herb garden rehab project coming soon.

I'm looking forward to the plum trees blooming very soon. The earliest they're flowered is February 28th, just two weeks away! I wonder if they'll be early with all this warm weather we've had?

And speaking of soon, next Monday I have something special for you, so be sure to visit for all the details!



This post has been shared at some of my favorite blog hops.


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10 comments:

  1. Fun to hear what's happening on your homestead, Kathi. But why don't you eat your duck eggs? We love to bake with ours! Sadly, while I'd heard ducks lay as well in the winter as the summer our ducks didn't get the memo and we haven't had one duck egg all winter. :-(

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    1. That's a good question, Michelle. There are a couple of reasons. Muscovies usually lay three clutches of eggs a year, so they're not always available. Second, we have eight hens that lay more eggs than we can eat. And finally, I sell the ducklings. :-) Maybe your ducks are also seasonal layers? I know some breeds can lay all year long, but others don't.

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  2. We've eaten some of our duck eggs at times. We're inundated with eggs right now, but I haven't seen a duck egg. I don't know if she isn't laying yet, or if she's hidden them. It's interesting to see what's going on at your place.

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    1. Spring, the time of drowning in eggs! LOL.

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  3. oh to live in an area like that . we do what we can here where we live I would love to have a few chickens, and more room to enjoy myself
    come see us at http://shopannies.blogspot.com

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    1. That's all any of us can do, Angie, do what we can with what we have where we are.

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  4. Our hens are starting to lay quite a bit again too. We started making sure there was enough protein in their diet, though, so I'm going to attribute it to that. ;) We were only getting one a day out of our 10 hens and now we're getting 5-8! Stopping by from the Homestead Blog Hop.

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    1. They definitely do need more protein in the winter to keep up with their laying. Thank you for stopping by; I hope you'll be back!

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  5. I love hearing about what other Homesteaders are doing. We are using kitty litter boxes as extra nesting boxes too. I like your rubber-maid idea. That might be a good option for our turkeys this year. Thanks, for sharing!

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    1. I hope it will be the right size for your turkeys, Anne.

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