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.
SE Oklahoma
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Recent posts by Gail Gardner

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.
1 year 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.
1 year ago
I've been making plans very similar to yours. Here are some of my ideas:

Lay fallen wood above and below wild plum trees and other edibles. Cover it with leaves and the dark soil scraped out from under big trees. Then dig a trench above it and put that dirt on top of what you already have. My thought is you slow down the water and let it soak in while feeding the wild tree so it has better fruit.

You could also graft plum or peach or whatever works on that base tree to get better tasting fruit. If you have a lot of these, maybe the deer and turkey won't eat all the fruit before you get to it. They left my peach trees alone and I get quite a bit of fruit off the wild trees even though there are a lot of deer and turkey here.

That could be because there is a ton of buckbrush covered in berries and sumac everywhere. Maybe they prefer that.

I've also harvested Chanterelle mushrooms, blackberries and what I believe are huckleberries. Those are all located far from any buildings in an area heavily utilized by the deer and turkey. (I see them nearly every time I go out to the blackberry patch.)

Found what I believe to be service berry trees (aka June berries), but I forgot to check them at the right time. My plan is to borrow some of the decomposing wood and dark soil from under trees near the wild fruit trees and shovel some manure if any is handy, and chop/drop some greenery around those fruit trees to naturally fertilize them to produce better.

Another idea is to find an area where a tree fell and is decomposing. Scatter a mix of seeds near that trunk (or even just fallen branches) and see what wants to grow there. Then plant more of what took off or just let it spread naturally.

Winged elm seems to be a pioneer species in Oklahoma. Wherever branches or tree trunks lay decomposing, winged elm pop up around them. So another idea is to plant pits and seeds from various fruit trees (peach, plum, apricot, apple, pear, fig, etc.) in among the winged elm. They may provide some protection from deer while the trees get established.

I know that fruit doesn't breed true, but if it isn't tasty to eat off the tree I would make jelly out of it. Or possibly graft other varieties onto it. If a tree produces well, I could consider fencing it off later.

Where water runs down a hill, wild plums and winged elm get established. Use the first idea (slow down the water and increase fertility) multiple times as that water runs towards the pond (which overflows and causes erosion -- so there is clearly more than enough water to divert some of it).

Plant guilds on each mound: 2 fruit or nut trees, 1 nitrogen fixer, 4 berry bushes (gooseberry, black current, red current, blackberry, raspberry etc.) between the trees and 30 perennials (TexasBoys comfrey, herbs, garlic, chives, rhubarb, sweet potatoes) around the trees and bushes.

Modify the quantity if necessary, but I'll try for that and put in several of these between 3 existing wild plum trees and the pond that water is running into.

1 year ago

thomas rubino wrote:Well the moose "thinks " she is still little baby puppy...
She's not even 6 months old yet.  #70 as of 10 days ago... I can still pick her up but I can't see the scale anymore!

What breed? My puppies are about 9 months old now, but not quite as large as yours.

1 year ago

Amanda Beckman wrote:Long-time duck appreciator turned duck caretaker after I came across two very thin and friendly ducklings someone dumped at a park a few months ago. They are fully grown now (pekin male and what looks to be a khaki or khaki-hybrid female), and they are being raised as pets (some eggs would be a nice bonus though). I'm getting my PhD studying bird behavior, and am fully aware of the breeding behavior of male ducks. No eggs yet, but they are definitely trying to get there. I haven't observed anything that I would consider aggressive or harmful to the female yet (their little pair dances in the kiddie pool are pretty cute). I just had a couple questions in regards to making sure my ducks (mostly the female) have a happy life:

1. Has anyone had success with just a pair of ducks? Or are more female ducks in my future a strong possibility?
2. Is there any enrichment that may help my male keep his mind off other things? Maybe learning tricks (they already know "duck house" means go to their hut), or some type of puzzle/food activities? They have a little pool in a fenced in area near my house, but I saw a coyote on my property so now I'm nervous about leaving them unattended. Other than letting them roam around the yard I'm not doing any other enrichment.
3. Are oyster shells necessary for ducks?

Hi Amanda. Success meaning getting eggs or reproducing? I lived on a place that had about 160 ducks. He never culled the males so some didn't have females and others had from 1 to 3. I have 2 young pairs now, but they just started mating and no eggs, yet.

Ducks love dried soldier flies and meal worms. I buy mine off of eBay. Mine eat sprouts I get from SerenitySprouts. I put Agrilabs VITAMINS & ELECTROLYTES PLUS on their sprouts daily. I get that from eBay, too, but you can buy these things at farm stores and some feed stores.

They need oyster shell when they're laying eggs. Predators are always a major problem. The day I was gifted with my 4 ducklings (by someone who knew I planned to get ducks -- but AFTER I was set up for them) - I bought 2 Livestock Guardian dog puppies.

I have electric poultry netting and used 1 fence to split it diagonally. The puppies are on one side (until they're more mature and calmer) and the ducks on the other. I also have fishing line criss-crossed above the fence to deter hawks.

And I have Night-Guard repellent tape strung up all the way around to deter all kinds of predators. It flashes really brightly off the outdoor light when the wind blows (and it blows most of the time here). But the puppies (which are now 50-65+ lbs each) are the primary reason I haven't had predator issues.
1 year ago

Tyler Ludens wrote:

mos6507 wrote:
I gave a mesquite tree to my mom in Florida, but it won't grow in northern latitudes.

Do you know what's the maximum latitude they will grow at?  We're at about 30 degrees N here where they thrive...

Mesquite spread like crazy in east-central Texas (down in Falls County, for example). They grow ok in NE Texas around Kaufman County, but don't get nearly as big and don't spread as much. I haven't seen a single Mesquite tree since I moved to SE Oklahoma, so that may give you an idea where they like to grow.

I suspect that Honey Locust is the Mesquite of Oklahoma.
1 year ago

john mcginnis wrote:An interesting article --

Certainly makes a case for communal living even if its not about that topic.

Roasting a turkey is a great use of energy even for people who live alone. Thanksgiving dinners turn into how many additional meals? Personally, I eat turkey and leftovers twice a day until the white meat and a little of the red meat runs out. (I love turkey and this is my favorite meal.)

Right after the first turkey meal and the stuffing has been removed, the entire rest of the turkey gets turned into turkey stock for turkey soup all winter long.

Everything I cook I tend to make many meals of and sometimes weeks of meals out of so communal living or not, we can all use power wisely if we cook once and eat many times.
1 year ago

Marco Banks wrote:Oak trees are tough.  With a pointed stick and a big bag of acorns, I'd get out there an plant a 1000 of them in late winter when the ground begins to thaw.  I'll bet that you'll get 25% germination and 10% survival rate.

I don't know if it is squirrels or just acorns dropping everywhere and then being washed along when it rains. In the hickory-oak forest I live in, there are baby oak trees everywhere. I wish I knew someone who wanted them as some of them need to go. I'll probably end up cutting them off at the ground to keep them from blocking the driveway and taking over the pasture areas unless someone wants some first. (SE Oklahoma Seminole County)
1 year ago

Bryant RedHawk wrote: ...Soil is built by bacteria and fungi in nature, these will be key for the soil improvement you want, along with clovers and cereal grains you can have a harvest and build soil at the same time. Redhawk.  

I forgot to mention that in the hickory-oak forest where I live, the clearings have been planted in what is obviously a soil-building pasture mix. It contains a lot of clovers and cattle vetch as well as coastal and other grasses. Soil is being built by:

The pasture planting and grazing
Downed trees, branches, leaves, wild plants that are decaying
Mushrooms breaking down trees
Grazing animals including wildlife depositing manure
Weeds that pull minerals out of the soil and deposit it as they decay

There are crop plants you can use as cover crops that can also be harvested for food or grazing including peas, turnips, legumes and no doubt many more.
1 year ago

Matthew Hugo wrote:Hi all,

I'm obsessed with nuts. I'm from the Southeast and I dream of harvesting nuts from abundant chestnuts, hickories, oaks, hazelnuts, and native fruit trees (pawpaws and persimmons). ... It's in mountainous western NC at about 2000 ft. and gets about 40-45" of rain. The slopes are intense (15-30 deg.), the soil is thin (past clearcutting left just a couple feet of soil over shale and conglomerate), however what is there is of a nice texture...

2. Graze animals below the trees. Not sure what animals work best, but I would love to get benefits of understory control for ease of nut harvest. Stocking density doesn't have to be production scale, more like ecological-benefits scale.
3. Use fire as a management system in the fall or early spring, much like native cultures often have in oak/hickory/chestnut forests to clear understory and reduce pest pressure like acorn weevils...

... Nut crops are also heavy N-feeders. My idea is growing productive N-fixers and using chop-and-drop, or something like that. ... The biggest problem I'm having is thinking up a way to develop the degraded topsoil, and stop more from eroding. What are the pros and cons of creating berms and swales on such a steep site with little topsoil to begin with?...

I'm worried about the logistics of getting heavy machinery up to this spot, and the compaction of the soil from the machines themselves.

I live in a natural hickory-oak forest where persimmons also grow wild. They may not be the kind of oaks you would want (small acorns). But they grow on hills in poor soil that varies from pure sand to pure clay to pure rock. There are a lot of creeks and hills and valleys (small hills and valleys) that are natural here. Our average rainfall is 43" a year.

Using animals to graze back the underbrush is now considered by some to be far superior to using fire. See Allan Savory's advice (videos on YouTube) including this one:

Animals have grazed this entire place. There are clearings with grass that has been grazed by cattle, horses, and either sheep or goats in the past. There are also a lot of deer and turkey that live and/or pass through the property. Animal manure would provide more nitrogen for your nut trees on all kinds of terrain.

Using equipment to clear land or trees damages the roots of the trees you leave behind. Any time you do work that damages roots, you need to cut the trees you want to keep back severely. If you don't, within 5 years they are likely to gradually die off. I know someone who bought a place for the trees and accidentally killed them clearing to build his house.

And I knew the tree expert a huge cattle company employed. It was his job to mark the trees to save and to get them topped and cut back by 1/2 so they didn't die. The bulldozer operators also knew not to get under the branches of the trees. The roots are typically the same distance out as the branches grow.

My horses travel everywhere on this place - hills, rocks, trees although I wonder why as there is no grass up in most of the trees. Maybe they're eating the trees and underbrush. Cattle would, too. A mix of livestock is best because they don't graze and browse in the same ways. Goats and sheep are great, but harder to keep in fences (especially goats).

No one has made any berms, but the land is naturally not flat. There is little erosion because the hills are either covered by trees or grass or rock. Same with the creeks. They are mostly lined with natural rocks with trees along the edges and moss.

I believe the hickory-oak forest in NC couldn't be too far from you. You could go observe the natural version. This might interest you: Piedmont Forest Succession
1 year ago