Ducktopia and Pendulum 2

Hi All

It’s Saturday! Most of you would think that I was having a ‘DUH!’ moment there, but for most of you, Saturday starts your weekend (or perhaps Friday night…). For us, weekend is just another day in our routine. We started off by heading over to Exeter and walked the dogs around. Earl has been particularly twitchy of late, most probably puberty and pretty soon, he is going to join the confraternity of “dogs with no nards”. It’s not going to make much difference to his personality, but it should calm down his need to sniff, pee and hunt for females. Earl has been in the bad books today. When we got back from Exeter we started building “Ducktopia”. We are adopting two 1 month old ducks on Tuesday and after doing some research on the subject of housing them, I discovered that you really should house them in different pens to chickens…bugger! Ok, that meant that we had to make a duck pen. We also found out that ducks love water. Well, to be honest, it wasn’t finding out, it was more becoming more aware that ducks love water to the extent that they need it in large amounts. We don’t have a water source of great magnitude apart from the Tamar River but the Tamar River at this point (Devil’s Elbow) is salty and not the best fun for ducks so we had to find a source of water apart from our manky old pond that is full of mud and duckweed and not much else (especially water, as it has a leak). We have an old set of concrete trough’s that must have been used once for providing water for sheep in the first paddock up from the house and we were going to try to lug them down (concrete trough’s are VERY heavy for anyone out there that doesn’t know) to where the ducks will be housed but in the end we found an old fibreglass dinghy up in the shed that can be used to fill up with water in the vegetable garden area. Pond down, house to go!

Yes…we have a fair bit of weeding to do but once we do, this is going to be part of the vegetable garden and the ducks are going to earn their keep scoffing slugs and snails for us

Here’s our potato patch. Small, but at least we found somewhere in amongst the rocks to plant some. Thats why we don’t have a veggie garden yet, we have to make it out of raised beds and that takes time and thats something that we don’t have a lot of while we are studying…

We then decided to have a look at where we could build a structure to house the ducks. The one problem with the internet is that everyone has an opinion about how to do everything and their way is most definitely the best way. Then there are the people that want to make everything as complicated as they can and you end up thinking that you need a degree to raise chooks or ducks. As far as I am concerned, my grandparents used to have a poultry farm and must have raised hundreds of chicks. I dare say they didn’t have chicken crumbles, medicated food, molasses chicken feed, duck crumbles, layer crumbles, pre-layer pellets….it’s all designed to make you pay through the nose for what pollard, bran and wheat used to do perfectly well. How would a wild chicken live? Would it wait for someone to drop it some special medicated de-husked corn? I don’t think so! It would be out there scratching around, eating any grub that was stupid enough to get scratched up, eating grass, anything else that they could get inside them to sustain them. Ducks are easier than chickens and we haven’t had much trouble so far with chickens so hopefully we will have a reasonably easy transition from “Hill William’s with chickens” and “Hill William’s with chickens AND ducks”. We have made an ‘interesting’ pen for the ducks to live in. We didn’t have much time, and we needed to use what we had available to us on the property. My dad was a bit of a hoarder so we had lots of ‘bits and pieces’ left lying around all over the place. We rootled around through everything and found some planks of treated pine that had come from a small chicken coop that had previously been on the property that we dismantled. We used some treated pine poles that we got when we dismantled a large wooden pergola that was hidden underneath a mountain of banana passionfruit vines and we used some tin that we had just lying around and turned it all into a triangular duck pen that is now called “Ducktopia”.

Remember we made this with what we had lying around. Its not fancy, but its cheap (free in fact) and its somewhere for the ducks to sleep… I must admit that I took this photo slightly on a slant but the illusion is that the shed is just about to sink into the ground! Ducktopia backs onto the compost heap. The roof of Ducktopia slopes into the compost heap, all of the lovely liquid manure that ducks produce in copious quantities is going to seep into the compost heap. No doubt the ducks will end up bottoms up in the compost heap so we decided that they may as well live near it! That big pile of debris off to the left is drying out so that we can burn it. The wood is for burning in the stove, and the leaves are for having a bonfire. That door is not actually afixed to anything so please dont judge Steve on his lack of ability to put a door on straight!…

This is the front of Ducktopia. Its off to the right hand side and the compost bin is in behind the tree. The shed is the wood shed but its been separated off into 2 areas for broody chooks and their chicks and regular chooks, but we have a broody sitting on eggs in this initial area as well now. You can see the enclosed area where the broodies and their chicks are enclosed and safe from the feral cats. All in all our poultry section is doing alright…

Steve and I work together well. I come up with ideas, and then help him implement them. Together we think that we did pretty well with the room that we had to put the pen in, and with the materials that we had on hand. We recycled huge nails from the pergola timber, straightening them out so that we could hammer them in again. We had a segment of ‘fence’ from our place in town that we had made when we needed to contain Emo dog. We occasionally house sat for my father when he went away on holidays and we used tea tree timbers to make the entire structure in town (fence) and this bit was a segment of the fence, so it was only fitting that we recycle it into part of Ducktopia. The ducks will have to remain in their enclosure for a bit until they get used to where they now live, and then they are going to be free ranging ducks with access to their pond, the veggie garden to eat their weights worth of slugs (we have plenty here) and snails and lots of grass that we have all over the place. I guess the idea of having ducks is starting to get a bit of a rosy glow but you still owe us Nat!

After we built Ducktopia and I finished peeling leeches off myself (3 today), we got a phone call from the friend that we are doing the garden design for as she is taking an old gazebo off our hands. It’s not something that we have ever been fond of and she is actually doing us a big favour as then we can drop a large wattle tree that is leaning over it, open up a large area for planting out some of our precious tree babies, especially some horse chestnuts that Steve grew from seed and a lovely young Sequoia gigantea that Steve also grew from a seed. We have masses of all different kinds of maples, again, grown from seed and lots of ginkgo biloba that we grew from seed from trees outside the Albert Hall in Launceston.  They are taking the gazebo tomorrow after we liberate it from its shackles of oppression (concrete) and then some large dead trees are going to also be liberated from their shackles and removed from their threat of falling on the power lines. Living in the country has idiosyncrasies that people living in towns or cities may not be aware of. Our friend has no power, water or telephone available to her out where she lives and she lives “off the grid”. She has solar power, hot water generated by solar in summer and running through pipes in the back of their large wood stove in winter. They have a large tank to collect water and they use mobile phones. We have a pole in the middle of one of our paddocks. When I say “paddock” I use that term most loosely, as they are full of rocks and trees and not a lot of grass to be honest and the power pole that brings the good stuff to our house apparently belongs to us! Yes, that’s right people, we pay for that power pole, for its upkeep and if it should fall down, its replacement, to the tune of over $6000. I wonder why we can’t rent it to Aurora like we have to pay for line rental on a phone eh? Anyway, we don’t want the trees to fall on the power lines so our friend’s partner is going to help us pull them down safely and we can then cut them up for firewood (added bonus).

Living in the country also opens up a lot of situations where you can barter for things. It’s the going currency in the country. We give our friend a gazebo; she gives us all the limb wood that we can cut up on her property. Her partner is a welder and we have a large pile of steel on the property, left here in the past and that we no longer want. He can have it, and he will do some welding for us when we need it. You don’t need money, there is always someone out there that can do what you want or provide you with what you need, so long as you have something to swap. My friend gave me some of these today….

Now here is a curious thing. You either LOVE broad beans, or you HATE them. It’s like mangoes and coriander leaves and Durian. I have always adored them and the same with Brussels sprouts. I love vegetables in general and remember way back when I was a child. In Australia we had potatoes, carrots, beans, peas, pumpkin and that was about it (oh, beetroot in a tin…) and salad veggies of course, but my mother did some work for a market gardener who introduced us to broccoli. Now broccoli is something that lots of children HATE. I remember mum cooking this broccoli and serving it with a bit of butter and pepper and all of us sitting reverently around to taste this wonderful new vegetable. It’s like chicken when I was a child. No-one ate chicken like they do today; it was always a Sunday roast or perhaps something that you had very rarely cut up in a casserole (or perhaps that was rabbit…mum never really told us :o). It was always a special occasion and something that you looked forwards to. Back to my broad beans…I am having them tonight and am really looking forwards to eating them.

I mentioned my 3 visitations from leeches today. Steve even got one which is amazing because they don’t really like him at all. They adore me. I am not quite sure why, but if there is a leech around, it will head over in a most determined manner towards me. Perhaps because I am a vegetarian? Perhaps because I have “A” type blood? Who knows…whatever it is, they LOVE me. I am not squeamish about them, but I would rather that they didn’t take my blood without asking! Our friend was telling me about her decision to grow veggies this year in a very different manner to last year. She got green vegetable bugs all over the place and had grown them in neat and ordered rows. This year she is planting seeds straight into the ground, along with shrubs, annuals and various other things to fool the bugs. She figures that in nature, nothing grows in straight ordered rows of one thing so its harder for the bugs to find what they are looking for. Good idea! When we eventually manage to get out into the garden we will do the same.

I will finish off this post by asking you all this perplexing question. It’s not my question, its Steve’s. We were in Exeter this morning walking the dogs and picking up a chainsaw file guide and as we were walking along pods of cyclists were riding along, yelling at the top of their voices, taking up an entire lane of traffic and generally being non-road tax paying nuisances. There are 2 types of cyclist. The first type I have NO problem with. They ride their bikes to work or on the weekend for leisure and they wear sensible comfortable clothing NOT BLOODY LYCRA! You see a cyclist wearing lycra, and you just know that they are a wanker who fantasises about being in the Tour de France. In Launceston, most of them are over 50, retired and fat. Steve wants to know what it is that makes a man, when he hits middle age, and after he has gained a reasonable amount of gut fat, buy a pushbike and try to pour himself into lycra!!!!? What possesses them to even think that they can get away with it? A size 10 woman will think twice before going anywhere in a figure hugging dress but these men think nothing of hanging their beer guts over their handlebars and thinking that by cycling they are doing themselves some sort of favour! Neither Steve nor I like the Lycra brigade and the fact that most of the politicians, lawyers, doctors etc. have joined the Lycra society, you can see why! Wankers, the whole lot of them! Ok, now that is off my chest, I have some broad beans to get stuck into. Steve just had some of the most awesome sausages that he has ever tasted and wants to share what they were with you. He bought them from Nigel’s gourmet butchers on Tamar in Exeter. These sausages won a silver medal at some sausage event and Steve was sceptical when Nigel coerced him into buying them as he hasn’t ever really been a chicken sausage fan, but these sausages were so good that Steve has ordered me to get him a kilo on Tuesday. They are “Thai curry prawn and chicken sausages”. Do yourself a favour and get yourself some. They were like sausage laksa…and as everyone knows, laksa is delicious! Have a great evening and enjoy whatever you are about to do on the first day of your weekend. Tomorrow we are baking bread and removing a gazebo…I will take photos…


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. mum.
    Oct 29, 2011 @ 22:20:56

    You have been busy since I was over Pen. That’s quite a heap you have there to burn. The ducks are happy with a smaller shed about half that height too, but I’m sure they’ll be happy there. What sort of ducks are they?That boat will be fine, even something a bit shallower would do. Use those cement troughs to grow some herbs or the like in too. The have a hole don’t they> With the gazebo gone, & getting rid of unwanted wattles etc, that will open up the area for your own trees nicely. Now you can start to visualise what you want & where.Go for it !


  2. zooinmyhouse
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 18:23:19

    Brilliant idea using that old boat for a pond 🙂 It’s weird, our ducks are perfectly happy sleeping in the same pen as the chooks, but the chooks have their own big castle that the ducks cant get into. I really hope you enjoy your duckies! Our mates are always scabbing duck eggs from us- I think we’re feeding half the town.


  3. athursdayschild has a long way to go and much to be thankful for.
    Apr 08, 2013 @ 05:49:19

    I was trying to think what to make for dinner tonight. This reminded me of the fake sausage I just bought. That will go over rice and beans. I wish we could grow broccoli well. We will try again this year.


    • narf77
      Apr 08, 2013 @ 05:52:37

      I never managed to grow it either and my kale was an abysmyl failure thanks to everything known to man being attracted to it :(. Back to the drawing board! 😉


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