Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Ducks 2014

An update on our little flock...
We now have four ducks, 3 Welsh Harlequins and 1 Pekin; they are three years old.  After several months of getting "dud" eggs pretty consistently, we finally determined one of the Pekins was throwing the duds, so we retired her.  The duds were deformed shells: soft, like the membrane without the hard shell, sometimes with a string of shellish mass hanging off the end; or sometimes little to no shell at all--just the white and yolk in a splooshy mess with a little membrane-ish stuff along with it.  After seeing one of the Pekins lay these a couple of times, we began calling her "Dudley", and soon after that we had her for dinner.  She was not good.  I wondered if being an older duck would make her tougher, and it did--I should have made soup or stew, I suppose, rather than put her on the grill.  As it was, we couldn't eat it.  Nice try.

With the four remaining ducks, we do still get an occasional dud here and there--they seem to be coming from the remaining Pekin (our current "Whitey").  On very rare occasions we get four good eggs in one day.  I know that the 3 Welsh Harlequins lay good eggs, I'm just not sure if "Whitey" is done with her egg-laying days or merely a bit off for a while.  We don't really want to keep feeding a non-productive duck!  I've been encouraged by two days with four eggs in the past week. 

One duck has begun to lose feathers, and I suppose the others will soon, too.  Along with the loss of feathers, egg production will drop off and stop as they molt.  Another year done.  Hopefully this coming fall/winter they will begin laying sooner than last year.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Thar's Voles in my Peppers!

See the trench going under the plant!
I've been noticing underground trenches in my pepper bed, starting at one end and on through to the other end.  The holes are about 1 1/2-2" in diameter, and go under the pepper plants, up again, down and up to the end of the row.  First off I discovered that 6 or so peppers on my only paprika plant had completely disappeared.  Then I found holes and chew marks on some of the anaheims.  Each day I inspected, I'd kick the soil back into the holes.  I'm amazed that the pepper plants are still living, with the holes going right through their roots.
I began researching on the web to determine what kind of critter might be burrowing like this and eating chile peppers.  All I could find was that I should use chile pepper spray to repel them.  Ha!  These guys seem to LIKE the chiles and at first were leaving the sweet peppers alone.  I said, "at first".  Now, I find chew marks, holes, and half-eaten sweet peppers almost daily.  They really seem to like the peppers, but so do I!  That's enough.
Yesterday I went out and bought some snappy-type mouse traps and placed them near some of the entrances/exit holes.  Before I ever left the area, in maybe 3 minutes, I'd already caught a vole.  Mystery solved--it IS voles.  Overnight I expected I might catch more, but although a couple of the traps had been snapped, no more catches.  I also bought some castor oil, which is supposed to repel them, so I'll give that a try, too.  Perhaps I can keep them out of the peppers, but hopefully by just "repelling" them from the peppers, I won't be sending them off to the tomatoes nearby.
I took a pic of the dead vole in the snap trap, but I'll spare you.  There's a nice picture of a cute, fuzzy vole and more information HERE.