Monthly Archives: July 2010

Weekly menu plan

Here’s this week’s menu – we won’t be having any meat meals for the next week and a half, in accordance with the restrictions of the Nine Days (a time of mourning in the Jewish calendar).

Sunday – brunch – eggs with cream cheese; dinner – tuna casserole

Monday – banana ice cream, l – ladies cabbage, eggs with cream cheese;  d -West African stew

Tuesday – b – buttermilk pancakes with real maple syrup and/or homemade jam; l – honey baked lentils, kasha; d – easy fried rice

Wednesday- b – potato pancakes, yogurt; l – West African stew; d – pizzas (one whole wheat crust, one nut flour crust)

Thursday – b – maple grits puff (will adapt from this recipe); l – honey baked lentils, baked potatoes; d – Really Good Vegetarian meatloaf

Breakfasts are usually supplemented with fruit; lunch and dinner is usually supplemented with vegetables.  Last week I began incorporating two official snacktimes into the day for the littles, since they were constantly asking to eat something and stopping to make them something each time left us all feeling that we were making and serving food all day long.  Snacks are foods like ants on a log (celery spread with nut butter and topped with raisins), fruit, nuts, and popcorn.  This week I’m planning to make nut flour cookies, almond macaroons, and coconut flour biscuits for snack time.

>>Also, where are the menu plans, I need your primal menu plans!!!!<<

I’ve gotten so busy the last few weeks I haven’t taken time to post my weekly menus.  But now that I’m posting, they still aren’t primal – sorry to disappoint you!  The menu plans for my family aren’t primal, only my personal plan is.  Since most readers don’t know what is being referred to, I’ll explain that at the advice of a homeopath/alternative nutritionist, I’ve adapted my personal way of eating so that I pretty carefully stick to ratios of 80% calories from fat, 10% calories from protein, 10% calories from carbohydrates.  I’ve been doing this not somewhat haphazardly for several months, but it’s been about 5 weeks that I’ve been tracking it to be sure the ratios are balanced properly (they weren’t on target at all before that).  I plan my food for each day the night before, and use to track the ratios.  Eating in this manner is referred to as paleo or primal, though one doesn’t have to keep to the same ratios that I do (mine is a healing protocol).

So my daily food isn’t too exciting, though it is very tasty and filling – it’s basically lots of vegetables (salads and cooked – these are the carbohydrates), proteins (eggs, chicken, cheese, fish, meat), and lots of high quality fats.  If I were cooking primally for my family, I’d snazz it up a little but I’m happy keeping it simple because otherwise I’d never make the effort to cook for myself. :)

We aren’t yet getting much from the garden – unfortunately, we’ve had very little rain and scorching temps, and the garden is growing more slowly than I would have liked.  Such is life!  :)  It makes me think quite a bit about those dependent on rainfall for their livelihood.  Other than a handful of grape tomatoes, our noteworthy vegetables from the gardens have been two huge spaghetti squash from a plant that volunteered from my compost pile.  But I have a lot of tomatoes on the brink of being ready; I hope that next week we’ll start being able to pick them fresh for our meals.

(This post is part of Menu Plan Monday.)


Share your feedback about blog!

Recently I’ve chosen to post more superficially and less frequently than I have in the past – I have so many things I’d like to share about, things that are more consequential than what I’ve been sharing about lately. I’ve missed posting about what is on my heart and mind, but I’ve had a lot of ambivalence about blogging recently. My concession is to post about things that don’t require as much mental energy from me.

I started this blog back in Aug. 2006 as a way to help young mothers who didn’t have any one in real life to turn to with parenting issues. I’ve been blessed with a lot of joy in arena of family life and wanted to help others experience it, too. Unlike most people who start a blog, I didn’t tell anyone I was blogging until two and a half years after I started, when friends said I should make my thoughts and experiences available to others, and I told them I already was, right here on the blog! It’s amazing to me how many of you have somehow found this blog despite my low key approach; the growth seems to be mostly through word of mouth and I appreciate that so many of you have shared my blog with friends.

I’ve expanded from the original topic of parenting – in response to new things I learned about and implemented as well as questions, I gradually shared more about frugality, homemaking, homeschooling, nutrition, preserving and growing our own food, and other topics. I’ve enjoyed having a way to share what we were doing and offering information that was of practical help, inspiration, or interest to others.

What has motivated me to use my limited time to write here for four years was the joy I got out of being able to share with all of you. People used to ask me what I did for ‘self time’, and I told them that’s what my blog was. Those of you who have taken time from your busy lives to share your feedback have been a big part of why I’ve posted as much as I have – no one wants to feel they’re writing to an empty audience! I’ve been touched by those of you who have told me the ways this blog has changed your perspective or life for the better, and this has been my main encouragement in continuing. But bit by bit the joy of blogging has been draining out and without that, I’ve been less motivated to share.

Why am I feeling like this? One big reason is I’m increasingly concerned that if something is inelegantly written or poorly expressed, something I write will be taken out of context or misunderstood. It takes a lot of time and energy to write for publication because ideas have to be so clearly fleshed out. My most recent published article took over three hours to write – a typical blog post takes less about an hour. The difference in time is clarifying and reclarifying the way something is expressed to avoid misunderstanding. But I’m already spending a significant amount of time blogging and clearly it would be a poor use of time to spend triple that to ensure every post is the quality of a published article! However, I’m reluctant to share about topics that are the most meaningful to me since I don’t want to be misunderstood and can’t spend hours composing every sentence for the small minority of readers who may take offense.

There are some other reasons, but the biggest one is that at this point I’m doing some serious reevaluating of where my life energies are being spent. I have to determine where my energy is best spent, and as enjoyable as blogging has for the most part been, I’m really questioning if this blog is of sufficient value that it continues to justify my time. Hundreds of you are reading here every day, and knowing the size of my readership are has always been very encouraging. But at this point I’d appreciate more direct feedback.

(Suddenly a recent event with the rabbi of our synagogue popped into mind. He started this synagogue almost a quarter of a century ago, and fairly recently decided to leave to go to another synagogue. Why would he leave something he had put so much of his heart and soul into establishing? Because he was putting in so much time and effort with so little feedback, and it was discouraging to the extreme to feel he was working on his own. People were happy to take what was offered but took what was offered for granted, and weren’t willing to engage in more participatory roles of giving. In the end, when the congregation realized what they’d be losing, there was an outpouring of support and commitments to be more involved, and the rabbi decided to stay. We tend to underestimate the importance of appreciation.)

If you’ve been reading here on a regular basis, I’d love to hear why you keep coming back. What have you gained? What do you most appreciate about this blog, and why?

In the next couple of weeks I plan to meet with advisers to get their advice and feedback on life direction/time investment. I’ll be keeping all feedback in mind as I determine what to do or not do. For those who are willing to share their thoughts here regarding the blog, I’d very much appreciate hearing them! (I’d rather that thoughts were shared in the comments section, but for those who prefer to contact me directly, you can email me at avivahwerner at yahoo dot com.)


Finding a baby bird

I think I need to add a category for bird related entries – they can’t be easily classified according to my current categories!

A couple of days ago we sold four of the eight ducklings, and yesterday we sold the three ducks that we incubated (they were 7.5 weeks old). All of the birds went to excellent homes; I enjoyed meeting and chatting with the buyers at length.
As I said to one of them, when I got started a couple of years ago canning and was acquiring canning supplies, I remember telling dh that people who can are the nicest people. Well, yesterday I was saying, poultry people are the nicest people!

So our yard is much quieter and emptier now that seven ducks have gone to new homes, which is nice. But about two hours after the ducks were sold, a new addition was dropped into our laps. Or to be more accurate, dropped onto my bathroom floor!

Here’s what happened. Yesterday dd13 suddenly said to me in the middle of the day, “I think I hear a cheeping coming from the vent in the bathroom.” She listened again and thought she heard something again, and asked if she could open the vent cover. I couldn’t imagine how it was possible to have a bird inside a wall but said, sure.

She opened it and found a shoe (which must have been there a long time since it wasn’t one of ours), a key, and something else. And there was no more noise. So the kids were laughing to each other at how they thought they heard a bird but it was really a pile of junk. But then a little while later, they heard cheeping again. So they stuck the digital camera up into the hole in the wall, and took a video, since they couldn’t see anything (the vent opening is right next to the ceiling and pitch black inside). They loaded it onto the computer so they could see if there was anything there, and sure enough, a bird was flitting around inside the wall! Yikes.

They asked me what we should do and I told them we’d have to wait and see – my standard stalling tactic when I don’t want to deal with something right away. After a while we decided to leave the vent cover off, open the bathroom door, and open all the windows on the main floor so when it flew out, it could quickly find an exit.

I’m really not a bird person – I’m uncomfortable with the sudden fluttery movements and sharp beaks. Once I was at a homeschool nature class on birds with the kids, and the person leading it released a starling that flew across the room. The other mothers moved slightly, while without thinking I made a very noticeable (and undignified) duck- no other mother moved more than slightly – the naturalist giving the workshop was laughing at my obvious discomfort to this small bird flying across the room in my direction. Well, that’s how I am. I find birds unnerving because they’re unpredictable. So the idea of a bird flying around my house wasn’t something I was looking forward to, but neither was a bird dying inside my wall something I wanted to have happen.

Hours went by, and the cheeping was quite loud but the bird couldn’t seem to find it’s way out. I went to take a very late afternoon nap, and when I woke up was greeted with the news that the bird came out. Phew, I thought, I’m glad it left the house when I was asleep. But my relief was premature- it didn’t leave the house. In fact, it was sitting on top of my dehydrator in the kitchen wrapped up in a towel and cheeping loudly. It was a tiny baby bird.

It seems that it finally fell out of the vent opening onto the bathroom floor, which is where ds8 found it. (Seriously, it’s a good thing it missed the toilet, which was just a couple of inches away, or it would have drowned.) This baby bird is very lucky he ended up in our home, since he’s being very well-treated. :) Dd9 is very, very good with animals, so she’s been feeding him tiny ants and potato bugs that she searched for in the garden, duck pellets mashed up with water, and giving him lots of water so he doesn’t dehydrate. This morning the kids discovered that it loved cornmeal mashed with water – they drop it into his mouth and he gobbles it down. He’s so tiny that he easily fits into her hand – when she closes her hand he’s totally inside and it hardly looks like anything is there!

Dd9 holding Yona M.

Are you wondering how a bird could be inside the walls of your house? Well, I certainly was! The kids said that a nest had been laid somewhere in the gutter near the roof, and there was a very small gap between there and where the vent for the bathroom exits. It apparently was just large enough for this tiny baby bird to stumble into.

We’ll have to research what to do with him, but it looks like a baby sparrow is our newest pet. My current understanding is that once a person touches a baby bird, the mother won’t take care of it anymore, and he would die very soon if he were released back outside now. I hope I’ll be able to borrow a cage to keep him until we decide what to do with him long term. We’re getting lots of hands on science recently without even having to look for it!

His name is Yona Matza. Dh suggested the name based on a famous Shabbos song called Yona Matza, ‘the dove found’. The song is about how the dove that was sent out of Noah’s ark found rest on the Sabbath. This little bird found rest in our house right before Shabbos, so it seems like a fitting name. :)


Torah Home Education cds available

This morning I reminded myself that I needed to notify you that the recordings of the conference are available for purchase, but before I did this evening I got an email from a blog reader wanting to know if there would be cds! Sorry to keep you wondering and waiting! I haven’t even contacted the conference attendees who requested to be notified when they were available – I’ve just been so busy.

But the recordings are available on cd or mp3, and they’re great! You don’t know what a source of pleasure it is for me to make these available, since there isn’t anything available for the Orthodox community except for these. I love knowing that people all over the world who can’t come to the conference in person can still benefit from hearing these in their own homes!

Here’s a list of all the recordings available, from last year and this year. As you can see, different topics were covered each year so they reinforce and complement each other.

– “Minimizing Outsider Syndrome” – Mrs. Malky Adler (2010)

– “The Challenges In Our Yeshivos” – Rabbi Yosef Bentzion Bamberger (2010)

“The Myth of Socialization” – Dr. Nechama Cox (2009)

“Teaching Tefilla (Prayer): More than Technicalities” – Mrs. Yehudis Eagle (2010)

“Homeschooling and Marriage: Stressing or Strengthening?” – Mr. Mort Fertel, author of Marriage Fitness

“Home Education and the Oral Tradition” – Rabbi Simcha Feuerman (2010)

“Chanoch l’naar al pi darko – What does it mean for us?” – Rabbi Menachem Goldberger (2009)

“Teaching Chumash with Rashi” – Dr. Russell Jay Hendel (2010)

“When the Torah Directs: ‘And You Shall Teach Them to Your Children’ – Does it really mean what it says?” Rabbi Daniel Lapin, author of America’s Real War (2010)

“Life After Homeschooling – How Do Kids Integrate?” Mrs. Susan Lapin (2010)

“Learning in Their Own Way – Home Education for Different Learning Styles” – Mrs. Chana Lazaroff (2010)

“Strengthening Your Family Through Homeschooling” -Mrs. Rivka Malka Perlman (2009)

“Don’t Break the Bank! Home Education on a Shoestring” – Mrs. Avivah Werner (2010)

“Teaching the Multi-Age Family” – Mrs. Avivah Werner (2009)

“Yes, You Can Be Your Child’s Rebbe – Teaching Limudei Kodesh” – Rabbi Osher Werner, author of Pharoah and the Fabulous Frog Invasion (2009)

The mp3s are $7 each; (edited to add – cds are no longer available except at the Torah Home Education Conference). If you’re interested in any of the recordings, let me know (avivahwerner at yahoo dot com – replace the ‘at’ and ‘dot’ with the normal punctuation). You can pay via Paypal or check.


Beating the heat with our new pool!

We’re having a huge heat wave here – over 100 with a heat index of 110. Yesterday afternoon the girls called the weather and the report was 108 degrees. It didn’t feel that bad outside in the shade, but I think it’s because the humidity wasn’t so bad. Today the humidity is much higher and it’s really not very comfortable inside.

Fortunately, we bought a pool and put it up just in time! Two years ago a family member gave us a baby gift of $100 to use for the family. When I asked the kids what they wanted, they said a pool. Because we didn’t have a place to put it or a private yard, I couldn’t get one right away. But last summer we put in the brick patio, so we have a firm base to place the pool on. And thanks to the new fence, we have privacy and don’t have to worry about the security issues involved with an unattended pool in an open yard that neighboring children might get into.

I grew up with a pool in the backyard as something only the very well-off had. To me it’s incredible that we can enjoy the luxury of our own pool to relax in! Thanks to relatively new ways of engineering above ground pools, you can buy a pool at a relatively inexpensive price that can be assembled at the beginning of the season and then stored away after the season is over.

I bought a 16′ pool that had been used for one season for $50, but it didn’t have a working motor so the motor was an additional cost. (The retail price for the pool with the motor is $400-500.) Dh did the research on it and ordered the pump; it was about $200 with the filters. After it arrived ds saw it and within five minutes of getting online found the exact same thing for about $50! You can tell my kids have been trained by me. 😆 Then the two of them figured out the cost of the water to fill it – $63. So for a one time purchase price of $250 (which could have been significantly less if we’d known about the less expensive source for the pump), and a seasonal cost of $63, we can enjoy swimming daily in the convenience of our own yard.

The new pool in use

I included a picture so you can see how large it is – in this picture are dd9, dd13, and ds17. (The girls are wearing modest bathing suits that I made.) You can see there’s plenty of room for all the kids! It’s only 4 feet deep, but that’s deep enough for them to swim and have a lot of fun. The littles can swim with someone older if someone older is willing (you can see a little in his high SPF wetsuit on the ladder getting ready to come in), but the ladder goes in the pool when it’s not in use so that the littles can’t get in when they’re alone.

The first day the pool was up was Sunday, so we celebrated ds17’s birthday with an almost 7 pound cheesecake (his favorite dessert), followed by a swim and a bbq. The kids had an amazing time but the floors inside got so wet with everyone running in and out! So I made a new policy: after you get out of the pool, you can’t come in until you swing for two minutes on the swingset. That helps them dry off enough so that they aren’t dripping – it’s been very helpful. :)

Here’s a picture of the playset, for the person who requested to see it. :)

View of swings (kiddie wading pool and picnic table are under fort)

playset from the opposite slide – slide and fort

Here are our ducklings taking a swim yesterday for the first time. (Soon after these pictures were taken, four of them were sold, so we have just four ducklings now.) We wanted them to stay cool, too!

Ducklings wondering what to do with water

They figured it out!

The three older ducks get to swim in the kiddie pool- someone forgot to put the lid on so the ducks hopped in! (That will obviously be emptied and thoroughly cleaned out before the littles use it again – but right now they’re enamored with the big pool.) No pics of them, but they’re pretty happy out there in the 105 degree weather right now.

Hope everyone else is enjoying the summer and staying cool!


Duck pictures

The ducks we incubated were seven weeks old yesterday, and I’ve finally determined what kind of ducks they are! I didn’t have photos for a while so I wasn’t able to ‘introduce’ our ducks to you. Now I have pictures, though since they were in an unplanted raised garden bed when I took the picture, it’s not a very nice background.

I’d been scouring the internet for pictures, and tentatively decided on two breeds. I finally decided to stop being wimpy and contacted the person who I got the eggs we incubated from – she has an inadvertent way of making people feel foolish for not knowing the answers to their questions, and I didn’t really feel like going through that after experiencing it twice. The eggs were from a farm of a friend of hers, so I got the name of the farm, googled it, and got a phone number.

What a pleasure! Seven weeks of wondering what kind of ducks they were, and it took one minute to resolve! All I needed to know was what breeds she raised – she named four breeds, and two of them were what I thought our ducks were! That was gratifying. :)

Peeps, a female Rouen

Peeps was the cutest of the three ducks that we incubated – she was yellow with some black striping when she hatched. As she’s gotten older, she’s gotten darker and darker. Even though she’s reaching a mature size, the kids still like her best. They think she’s the friendliest and the prettiest. Dd9 cuddles her against her chest and shoulder like a baby. :)

Darth (foreground) and Mo (behind)

Darth as a newly hatched chick was very dark brown, so the kids named him Darth Vader. We thought he was a she until a week or two ago, when ds11 noticed the feathers on top of his head were getting darker. And then I realized his beak color had changed as well, and then noticed his feet were a different color than the others. He is a male Rouen duck.

Mo, our crested Swedish Blue

Mo is a crested Swedish Blue – the crest is the cute little puff of fluff on top of her head. Any kind of duck can be crested, thought it’s not extremely common. Mo was the first duckling to hatch; it took two days for her to break through her shell after she pipped and I didn’t think she’d make it. In the beginning she was the strongest and biggest but with time she’s lost that advantage. She was dark grey when she was born, and got lighter and lighter as she got older; we thought she was a he until recently. Now she’s a light gray. Mo is short for Mohawk. I couldn’t figure out what kind of duck she was for a while because this wasn’t one of the breeds on my radar – the idea suddenly came to me out of the blue and so I looked up pictures of Swedish Blues and sure enough, she was a match!

It’s been so interesting to watch them grow and develop. It’s been a great learning experience for us. Identifying them was most challenging ‘lesson’ because the baby pictures I found online didn’t match up with our ducks. As ducklings, I never thought that Peeps and Darth were from the same breed, since their coloring was very different at that age. I actually thought the two dark ducklings were the same kind of duck, and then as they got older realized they weren’t a bit alike.

A couple of people have contacted me, interested in purchasing these ducks. I was planning to give them to the people where I buy my duck eggs from, but if I find a good home closer and sooner, I’ll do that instead. Since I have limited space and the ducklings will be getting big soon, I can’t have all of them free ranging at the same time. (Right now the ducklings are outside in a caged area that is open at the bottom so they can forage and are still protected from predators, but in about a week or two they’ll be big enough to be out during the day.) So my preference is to find a new home for these lovely ducks right away.

Seven of our eight ducklings

Here are the newest ducklings. They are two weeks old as of yesterday. These are all Welsh Harlequins, and we haven’t been able to name most of them since they all look so similar! The exceptions are Sunny, the duck in the foreground on the right whose beak is lighter than the others, and Indy, who had an eye injury last week. Sunny is the lightest of all of them, hence her name.

Indy is short for Endurance, since even when it looked like she had lost all sight in one eye, she kept struggling on. Walking was challenging for her because she lost her sense of balance, and she was falling into the water dish since she couldn’t see anything from one side of her head when she walked. The first morning after she got hurt when we saw her, she wasn’t eating or drinking and was mostly standing in one place or apart from the others, getting pecked by them. It was painful to see and I was really concerned; I spent hours that day watching her to see how she was doing.

BH Indy’s eye has almost completely healed and her eyesight is back to normal. A few days ago one side of her face looked deformed due to the swelling, now you can hardly tell the difference between her and the others. I didn’t expect it her eyesight to be restored or for her to look normal again, and I’m so, so glad for her that she’ll be able to grow up healthy in every way. We had already decided after she got hurt that she would be one of the four ducks we would keep, to be sure she’d have a good home.

Usually you can’t tell at a young age if a duckling is male or female, unless you are very experienced with what’s called vent sexing, but something unique about Welsh Harlequins is that the females are born with pink bills and the males with dark bills. This changes within a few days and then they’re all dark; to make it more confusing, as they get older, the males bills get lighter! Since the ducklings were sent when they were a day old, and we got them two days later, I wasn’t sure if the bill color would still be accurate at three days old, so I asked the hatchery to mark those they thought were female. (They did, but warned me that the bill color isn’t 100% accurate.) In the end, it took probably a week before their bills changed and what I noted matched how they marked the ducklings – now Sunny is the only one with any pink on her bill.

I’m planning to sell four of the Welsh Harlequin ducklings, and the only question I’m going back and forth in my mind about is whether to keep four females or three females and a male. The advantage of more females is more eggs (eventually); the advantage of a male is that they can reproduce if we for whatever reason would want that. At this point we’re leaning toward three females and a male.


Building raised garden beds on a budget

There’s been a good amount of yard work going on here lately – planting, building more raised garden beds, putting up the playset, and most recently, building teepees for our plants to climb. I want to maximize my growing space, and by having them grow vertically instead of horizontally, I can plant things closer together.

I like raised beds since the yard looks more organized. They also are nice since you can put whatever growing soil you want in them instead of trying to amend your existing soil, and they are higher off the ground, making planting and harvesting more comfortable. It also helps children at play be clear about where they can and where they can’t run! (And it’s a bit of a deterrent to foraging ducks. :))

The only soil amending I’ve done has been composting by burying vegetable scraps deep in the dirt. Last year I got a half a truck load of wood chips, planning to use them for paths between the beds. But since I didn’t yet have raised beds built, the chips ended up getting mixed in with the composting so my soil isn’t as rich as I would like. I could probably use more wood chips for the paths now, but I don’t feel like making the effort at this point – too many other things to do.

We built the raised beds and teepees for free using recycled wood (we also used recycled screws that were removed from the playset when we took it apart). A while back someone was giving away fence sections that had been cut in half vertically, so they weren’t good for using as fencing. We got a bunch of the sections, and then took them apart (because they were old this was lots easier than it would have been if they were new). Then they were rebuilt into the raised beds, which I think have an attractive rustic look, kind of like logs.

There are seven new beds – two sections each with three beds (the one you see is the first, then there are two more parallel behind that), then another one against the back fence. Oh – you can also see part of our lovely new fence beautifully installed by dd13 and ds16. :) Doesn’t it look nice?

With the remaining wood we made teepees for trellising the plants. How many teepees we’ll build will depend on how much wood there is – so far we’ve built 11. Ds17 (today’s his birthday :)) had an idea of how we could attach four of the boards with one screw, and then when we take them down for the season, they should be able to lay flat without having to be dissembled. That’s the idea – if it works out, it means we have just the one time effort of building them and then we’ll store them compactly in the garage until next season when they can be used again. We’ll see if it works out that way when the end of the growing season rolls around!

I had another idea of how I wanted to trellis the plants but the materials I preferred didn’t come to me for free so that clearly wasn’t what I was meant to use! I hope that the last of the teepees will be built today, and then I only have one more building project in the yard to do. (I want to build a pergola for the berry bushes to grow over, but it will have to wait until I have enough free wood to build it.)

Frugality and creativity often go hand in hand – you have to look at what you have and think how to make it meet your needs. It’s satisfying to look at the yard and see what was a pile of junk wood headed for the dump being put to good use and looking attractive!


New ducklings and duck update

A week ago I got a call from the post office that I had a special package waiting to be picked up – our new order of baby ducklings!

The lady at the post office was a little freaked out by it, and refused to let me open it in front of her (which you’re supposed to do so someone official will vouch that they’ve all survived transit).  It was so cute to hear the little cheeping coming from the box and open it and see them all eight of them healthy as could be (this was the minimum number I could order – usually the minimum is ten but I was able to get just 8 since it’s so warm now).  I ordered from Holderreads in OR since I heard very good things about the quality and health of their birds.  I was lucky to have called in time to place an order for the very last batch of ducklings available this year.

If you’ve been reading here a while and know that we incubated duck eggs a while back and hatched out three ducklings, you may be wondering what happened to those ducks!  As of now, those three ducks are reaching their adult size (they’re 6.5 weeks old now and are adult sized at 8 weeks).  I’m planning to take them to their new home in two or three weeks on a 27 acre farm where they will be able to free range with the other chickens, ducks, and geese that have a home there.  We wanted to wait to see the final development of feathers and growth, which is why we haven’t given them away yet – and after the entire incubation process and seeing them freshly hatched and every day since, you start to feel attached so we’re not rushing to give them away.

Ducks make such nice pets!  I know it might sound funny, but they’re fun to watch, easy to take care of, and they are relaxing to have around.  I enjoy sitting outside and watching them.  We kept them in a straw lined box the first few weeks during the day and night, then transferred them outside for the day and then finally outside for the night as well.  We didn’t do this until the yard was fenced, but now they free range (though they still love when we give them the duck feed once a day) throughout the day.  They also eat pesky bugs and slugs that you don’t want in your yard.

They do quack a lot at about 6 or 7 am, which is the main problem we have (since I don’t want my neighbors to be disturbed).  I thought it was because they got thirsty and needed to have their water refilled, but then we realized it wasn’t the water they were missing, but us!  Even though they have each other, they get lonely for us after a night with no company.  So I’m trying to preempt the noise by having someone go out early in the day to see them.  Otherwise they’re not especially loud.

As far as their droppings (in case you’re wondering about that!), it’s really not a big deal since they are waterfowl and their wastes are pretty liquidy.  So it’s quickly absorbed in the ground and we don’t have lots of smells or piles of fly attracting stuff around.  I think the main reason this isn’t a problem is because they have the entire yard – if they were confined to a small pen, it would be different.  When they were younger and in the box with straw every night (like the new ducklings are now), we’d use the ‘fertilized’ straw to mulch around the garden plants that weren’t yet fruiting.

If we like these ducks so much, why are we giving them away and why did I buy more?  It’s because I’d like to use the eggs from the ducks eventually – I’m not keeping them around just for the fun of it. I don’t know what kind of ducks I have, since I got the eggs via a friend of the person who raises ducks, and I don’t know what breeds she has.  I only know that she has a number of breeds and that the eggs could have been crosses of any of them.

I specifically want Welsh Harlequin ducks, since they are fantastic layers (comparable laying rate to the best chickens), very pretty, and have a number of other advantages.  (Here’s a site I found yesterday with more details, which sums up a lot of the benefits of Welsh Harlequins.) They’re not very common, and I couldn’t find anyone within a two hour radius who was selling any, so at the beginning of June I turned to Holderreads, a high quality hatchery, to aquire them.  Initially I was planning on Khaki Campbells, which are also top egg layers (along with Runner ducks, which my kids don’t like the look of) but then learned about the Welsh Harlequins, which are bred from the Khakis for their coloring distinctions and have all the same advantages but look nicer (in my opinion) and are calmer.  If I knew any of what we had were Khaki females, I would keep them.  But I don’t know anyone to ask about it, and I can’t figure it out on my own – the internet pictures aren’t enough and because they could be crosses of any number of breeds, it makes it impossible for someone inexperienced like me to work it out.  So buying ducks of the breed I wanted is what I decided to do.

I was planning to post pics of the new ducklings and older ducks, but my brand new camera that I never used has disappeared without a trace.  Sigh.  Such is the reality of life in a big family.  So I have to wait for dd to be around to use her camera.  So for now, here’s a link to the site where I bought our ducklings; you can see what the ducklings look like at the very bottom of the page. They are extremely cute!  When I have the use of a camera I’ll add some pics. (Edited to add pic below.)

I’m not planning to keep more than four of the eight ducklings, though if I had room and the zoning allowed it, I’d keep more.  Someone is interested in buying two and wants to come by tomorrow for them.  Due to an eye injury yesterday of one of the new ducklings, I’m not sure what I’ll do with the remaining two that I planned to sell.  I won’t sell one with an injury but I can’t sell them individually, since they’d be lonely without a companion.  I could always give them to the same farm where the older ducks are going, but I’d really like to offset the purchase cost by selling some.  I’ll have to see!