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Gail Gardner

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since Jul 08, 2014
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hugelkultur duck forest garden
Freelance writer, small business marketing strategist offering social media promotion services. Live and help out on an organic farm; work totally online; late 50s. Interested in buying more locally raised grass fed meat and poultry and organic fruits and veggies. (Must take PayPal.) I also buy food shipped to me from non-local organic and grass fed farms. Planning to plant fruit trees and eventually a permaculture food forest. Admirer of homesteaders who can do a bit of everything needed from building and growing to keeping things repaired.
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Recent posts by Gail Gardner

john mcginnis wrote:"They won't eat raw zucchini or cracked corn,"

I have found that soaking the corn with some winter wheat into a mash will usually interest chickens.

Must be just yours. My ducks love zucchini, squash, pumpkin, canteloupe, watermelon and all the other produce and plants I mentioned above.

They will even eat the rinds of all of those.
3 days ago

sam na wrote:I'm also interested in this.

Going to try perennial wheat and sunflowers this year. Guess they need to be crushed before can be accessed

Wheat berries can be sprouted or grown into fodder (no soil required). I do both. The ducks love the soaked wheat that doesn't sprout and also the sprouts grown 6-7 days.

They will eat the fodder if they're hungry enough, but they're not crazy about it. Fortunately, my horses love the fodder. So I feed what grows to them and what doesn't to the ducks.

You can also sprout field peas or plant them for grazing. They won't grow into fodder. I sprout peas and sunflower seeds for the ducks (and sometimes me).

You can grow peas, sunflowers, buckwheat, radishes and salad mix with brassicas and mustard in it into delicious microgreens. I don't grow enough to want to share mine with the ducks though!

I would plant lambs quarters. It grows wild like a weed especially wherever the ground has been disturbed by poultry, horses or other animals. The manure makes it grow huge.

Lambs quarters produces a ton of seeds and all above-ground parts of the plants are relished by ducks and poultry. Our ancestors called it "fat hen" according to Eat the Weeds.

It is also very healthy for humans to eat: young leaves as salad, older leaves as a pot herb cooked in water like any other green or stir-fried.

Lambs quarters may already grow on your land if you have any areas that aren't manicured. And it is one of the easiest plants to correctly identify due to purple shading and a white powder.

This is young lambs quarters:

These plants can grow 6-7+ feet tall when grown in manure. And they stay green well into winter (through December where I live).

The seeds are easy to harvest. I laid some big plants on the concrete bad porch and let the seeds fall off and then scooped them into a container. Or you can put them in a paper bag and let them dry then shake into the bag.

My ducks love leaves from all the plants that grow into the fall and through the winter. They absolutely love sweet potato leaves and brassicas, too.

I feed mine leaves from cabbage, kale, broccoli, cauliflower and the leaves and roots of radishes and beets. After a hard freeze killed the pea plants, the ducks still love to eat the plants.

55 Things You Can Safely Feed to Ducks – Fruits, Veggies & More!

There are other weeds that stay green in winter that ducks eat. There are very good lists of which are safe and what isn't safe in Duck-Safe Plants and Weeds From the Garden What can ducks eat straight out of the garden?
3 days ago

Tereza Okava wrote:If it's an Aloe vera (other types of aloes may vary) it literally needs next to no light.
My office is like the portrait of the survivors: snake plant, prayer plant, peace lily, and a Zamioculcas. I take them outside every two weeks for a weekend where they get water and indirect sun, and for the rest of the time they stay in a dark corner. And they're happy.

I agree. Aloe Vera thrives on neglect. I bring mine in outside in the fall before the first freeze. (Hard freeze WILL kill it.) I put them wherever no light or some light doesn't matter.

And I rarely water it because I don't want it growing in the winter. I just want it to over-winter as is. The ones in indirect light put on pups. In the spring after all risk of frost is past, I repot all the pups + put the mother plant in a bigger container.

I water once in a while during the growth period, but not a lot. It doesn't want to stay wet all the time.


These all need regular watering and some light to thrive:

Herbs like basil. Water regularly and always harvest the new little leaves -- not the big primary leaves.

Mints of any kind: peppermint, lemon balm, etc. If you plant it outdoors, be careful as it will take over.

Green onions - eat the greens all winter.

Little tomatoes and bell peppers in a sunny window. I grow tomatoes year round in a east or south facing window. Mine are trellised to a wire on nails above a double window.

Charlie plants - easy to start from leaves; hard to kill.

Spider plants aka airplane plants another hard to kill. When they get rootbound they put off pups. I sit the mother plant's pot on the ground and put little pots around it for the pups. Cover the bottoms, wait for them to root, then cut the stem between them.

AVOID: Ferns unless you live in a sauna or they're not real.

Dan Boone wrote:Thanks for any suggestions anybody may have.

Have you tried any dressings that contain vinegar? I've noticed that when I made the mayo with Balsamic vinegar instead of lemon juice that seemed to produce a softer wheat pasta more similar to white pasta.

If you use bottled dressing, you could add a tiny amount of flavored vinegar and see if that makes a difference.
7 months ago

Sonja Draven wrote:I haven't tried a fork (I'm not sure the difference between a manure and non-manure fork) but I definitely will.

A potato fork has wide flat tines and the handle is usually shorter or may have a place to put your hand. A manure fork also known as a pitchfork has long, thin tines that are often more curved and often a longer handle. A seed fork is really wide with a lot of tines and gets way too heavy for me to use for moving manure.

A broad fork is used to loosen the soil. I'll try to share a photo here:

"From left, a spading fork, digging fork, manure fork and broadfork. (Barbara Damrosch/BARBARA DAMROSCH)" from Washington Post.
10 months ago

Sonja Draven wrote:Friend confirmed that stuff was growing on and around the manure pile...

You want to know that broad-leaved "stuff" was growing and not just grass. Here's how to Test soil or compost for herbicides and what plants are affected.

And here's a video:
10 months ago

Sonja Draven wrote: I just got a truck load of aged horse manure. Dark, wormy and no sign of straw / hay but it's sort of a gummy / sticky texture compared to what I'm used to. A pain to shovel. I hope that's normal... I haven't used horse before.

I don't want to discourage you, but horse manure can sometimes be problematic. Sadly, some people are using herbicides that are so persistent that they don't break down even when composted. So you have to be very careful to only use manure from animals that have not been eating any pasture or hay that was sprayed with these kinds of herbicides.

Some people are doing test plantings a few weeks early because the damage these herbicides do doesn't show up until plants are a few weeks old. I hope that the manure you got is free of anything like that. Creating new soil is complicated, and some components tie up nutrients as they break down.

Hopefully, someone with more advanced skills than I have will be able to read through what you've done and give specific suggestions.
10 months ago

Tom Pivac wrote: Do you care about inbreeding in your farm animals (or you do for some types but not for others) and what steps do you take to prevent inbreeding if you do? Cheers.

That is a very good question. My personal opinion is that the best animals I've ever had came from crossing purebreds from 2 different breeds. So, for example, my favorite dog was 50% Border Collie and 50% Blue Heeler. Doing this provides hybrid vigor and an outcross that greatly reduces any weaknesses caused by inbreeding in the original 2 breeds.

I did the same with horses. When I no longer bred registered Thoroughbreds (TBs) for racing, I outcrossed them to AQHA (quarter horses / QHs) so that my younger horses are 50% TB and 50% QH. In so doing, I retained the endurance and quality of the TB side, but greatly improved their feet, made them easier keepers, and gave them strength to do work around the homestead should that become useful in the future.

Many horse breeds are very inbred, but only through the best lines. TBs we typically avoid inbreeding closer than 2x4 or 3x3 because close inbreeding often results in much smaller offspring that are potentially unsound for the purpose intended. That close they tend to be dominant breeding animals and when it works, outstanding performers.

On the other hand, QH breeders often breed extremely closely. Daughter to sire (father) matings are common, especially in lines where people are trying to increase or maintain very high inbreeding co-efficients. The lines that inbreed are typically working horses rather than racing horses.

And QHs are often less inbred to start with than TBs which can trace their lineages back to the 1800s. That said, most QHs carry TB bloodlines if you go back far enough. They just don't have records because the AQHA is a young breed of horse.

When I decided to get ducks, I am doing the same thing. My drakes (males) are American Pekin aka Long Island Pekin and Buff. When I acquired more females, I bought Silver Appleyard, Buff, Rouen and Khaki Campbell -- primarily Silver Appleyard. All of these breeds were developed from the same duck lines (Ayershire and Mallard principally), but the ducks I have would not be related to each other (except 1 Pekin female).

I thought horse color genetics was complicated; duck color genetics is even more complex and the available tools aren't as useful. In case anyone is interested:

The buff ducks are a result of a cross between Indian Runner, Rouen and Aylesbury ducks.

PEKIN (American Pekin is actually a Long Island)
original Pekins descended from mallards and were upright like runners. American Pekins were developed by crossing with Aylesbury ducks.

Silver Appleyard
Created by crossing Rouen, Pekin, and Aylesbury. Appleyards as previously mentioned are light phase restricted mallards. The restricted mallard gene (M^R) is reportedly dominant over its alleles (M+ & m^d), & was called "restricted mallard" largely due to melanin restricting action in duckling down. very young pure bred Appleyard ducklings are ususally yellow-ish with only the "mohawk" & tail showing dark pigmentation. As the ducklings age dark pigments do come through

Also referred to as Giant Mallards, they are descendants of wild mallards  developed in France

Khaki Campbell
To begin, Campbell crossed an Indian Runner that was an exceptional layer with a Rouen of good size. Later, she bred the resulting offspring with a Mallard to develop hardiness in her breed. Next, Mrs. Campbell wanted a particular buff coloration, so she added Penciled Runners to the mix. The end result were the attractive, excellent laying Khaki Campbells that we know today.


Pekin over Silver Appleyard
Mallard x2 / Aylesbury x2 / Rouen / Pekin x2

Pekin over Rouen
Aylesbury / Mallardx2

Pekin over Khaki Campbell
Aylesbury / Indian Runner x2, Rouen, Mallard x3 (one from the Rouen)  

Buff over Silver Appleyard
Indian Runner, Rouen x2, Aylesbury x2

Buff over Rouen
Indian Runner, Rouen x2, Aylesbury, Mallard

Buff over Khaki Campbell
Indian Runner x2, Rouen x2, Aylesbury

If anyone is interested in inbreeding patterns, I'm happy to answer questions. In TBs, we intentionally linebreed one family, especially through the best females and then outcross from that family while simultaneously linebreeding another family in the same pedigree.

Studying how cattle ranchers brought in new sire lines can be useful. And I suspect that would work well with most livestock. They intentionally inbred to determine whether their breeding stock carried any negative recessive traits (so they could cull them). But then they typically outcrossed or linebred once they knew a line was solid.

When choosing breeding stock, the conformation / health / disposition of the offspring is more important than that of the parents themselves. Sometimes, a beautifully put-together mare will through bad foals and a mediocre mare will throw good foals when bred to a better stallion. I used to call those "pass-through" mares = mares whose own genetics were so weak that all her offspring resembled their sires.
10 months ago

Amanda Beckman wrote:Hi Jay,

Thanks for info! I didn't realize domestic ducks formed pairs. Since getting these two, I don't think I've ever seen them more than 3 feet apart. I like your ideas for using the water, making something where I can move the water around is definitely on my list! I'll be sure to post if I come up with some new training or enrichment activities for them!

It really depends on the duck. Right now I have 4, 1 male Buff (I think), 1 male Pekin and 2 female Pekins. They seem to have paired off with 1 female to 1 male. But strangely, one of the females seems to be kind of a loner duck. The three others bed down together in the daytime and she is off to herself. But at night, they all 4 sleep as close to the LGD puppies as they can.

And I see the smaller Pekin female swimming often. But the other 3 don't seem that interested in swimming. That is kind of weird, too. But where there were so many ducks, who knows how many liked to swim vs how many didn't? There was no way to tell with that many.
2 years ago
These are my puppies when they were about 8 months old.

This is their Dad (1/2 Great Pyrenees 1/4 Border Collie 1/4 Australian Cattle Dog aka heeler) and Mom (1/2 Great Pyrenees 1/2 Australian Shepherd).

They naturally herd and guard the ducks which is what I want them to do once they settle down a little and I get them trained.
2 years ago