Kalin Brown wrote:
Miranda Converse wrote:If their house is big enough, I would leave them in there for about a week so they know that is home then start letting them free range again.
How big is big enough to leave them in it for a whole week?
Miranda Converse wrote:If their house is big enough, I would leave them in there for about a week so they know that is home then start letting them free range again. One of the biggest realizations that has helped me out so much is that ducks do not like to go to bed before they are ready. I basically have to wait until the sun is already setting before putting them to bed. Once it's dawn, they tend to start meandering towards their pen and usually will gather around the entrance or just go in on their own. Then all I have to do is walk towards them with my arms out and they just walk right in.
I would absolutely stop chasing them and picking them up. It's not easy to gain a ducks trust and it's even easier to lose it. If you have to herd them, walking slow and steady towards them, with your arms out is the best way. If they start veering to one direction you just take a small step in that direction and they will turn back on course, if you go too fast they will overcorrect in the other direction. It takes some practice but after a while they will realize you are just trying to get them to bed and they will head that way when you walk towards them.
As far as eggs go; I spent months trying to get my ducks to lay in the coop and finally I figured out if I just left one of their eggs behind (I guess they could tell the difference between their eggs and the wooden eggs I tried), they would lay in that spot like clockwork. I just make sure I don't leave the same egg everyday. If I take all of the eggs for some reason, they will all lay in random spots until they collectively decide that one spot is better than another and they will get back to laying there like clockwork again. Might sound weird to leave an egg out all day but if you think about it, a bird will lay eggs for up to a week before sitting on them to hatch and they are still fine.
kay Smith wrote:We are going to put mushrooms in our little forest area for the first time this year. Does your family like mushrooms? I could see them doing well in the shade of your trees.
I love the variety of trees you have! I'm really wanting to make some preserves this fall so it really just had me drooling!
Nicole Alderman wrote:Teaching them to come for food/into the house at night is hard. We have a giant salmonberry patch in the middle of their yard, and for months it would take two of us to get them out of the brush and into their house. I think a large part of the problem was that we were scaring them (which worked for about a month to get them out of the brush, then they just hunkered down). You can also keep them in the house for a day so that they learn that it is home.
Other tricks to herding them is using one bowl for food helps, and singing a song while you feed them helps, and luring them with bits of food also helps in the beginning. Also, carry the bowl of food when you're trying to lure/herd them. Soon they'll follow you when ever they see it. For a while, to get them used to it, you can feed them only in their duck house, to train them that that is the place for food.
Now, whenever the ducks see me (especially if I'm carrying any sort of bowl), they come running. My ducks free range when I'm home, and then I herd them into their enclosure when we are going to be gone. Feeding them a little and singing their song really helped get them to come running into the enclosure. I used to herd them, now they all actually follow me and try to trip me!
One nice thing I noticed is that if you end up adding a duck to your flock (due to a death), the new duck will take maybe three days to a week to get trained to the same level as your other ducks. Which is really nice!
As for getting them to lay in their house, adding some nice nesting boxes helps, and so does keeping them in there until 9:00am. Also putting a fake egg in their nesting box (golf balls work, but not as much as the fake eggs). Having said that, my ducks may very well be laying in salmonberry bushes all over the property, and I would never know...
kay Smith wrote:I must say it sounds impressive what you have done!
I wonder.. Have you attempted vertical gardening and \or using your roof to grow vegetables? A rooftop garden large enough would allow room for fruit and nut trees to grow in your yard
Galadriel Freden wrote:Wow Kalin, it sounds like you manage to do a lot! I would love to read more about your urban homesteading.
I think a lot of people here are on smaller properties. I live in a very small suburban space (more urban size and density, but without the urban amenities), smaller than yours. It's still big enough to keep our flock of chickens (average flock size is around 10-12), a small vegetable plot which keeps us from buying veg during the summer and autumn, with some to store for winter. I also make a few medicinals from wild harvested plants and herbs. I've got a lot of dwarf fruit trees and even an almond tree, mostly planted up against my fences and walls; I keep them pruned within my reach for ease of harvest.
I find that I can produce a lot of food even in my tiny vegetable plot. Last year I tracked my veg harvest and totaled it at 66 lbs of food. I didn't track egg totals or fruit harvest, and there were some things (like peas) that never made it into the kitchen to be weighed I'm hoping to double that harvest this year, though it may be too lofty a goal! Still, I'm sure I'll improve on it, and I'm tracking egg production this year.
I'd like to raise bees too, and rabbits and goats...and I'd really love to set up an aquaponics system. We have a small goldfish/frog pond, and it filters into a little gravel grow bed, planted with a few bog plants and vegetables; I'd love to expand it with another, bigger grow bed and more fish, maybe even edible fish.
I've realized that I can't do everything, though. I have to decide which things are the most important, like whether I should have a big bed of strawberries or vegetables. Vegetables win every time, I'm afraid--though luckily we can go to a local farm and pick strawberries there. And though I'd like to, we also can't breed our chickens at the moment, as our neighbors don't want a cockerel in the vicinity. I'm looking into breeding meat another way, maybe with another animal like rabbits. Or maybe our situation will change in the future and the neighbors won't be as adverse as they are now.