Breaking News: More ducklings……

I’m only millimeters away from overdosing on cuteness. Breaking news, (literally)Timmy has done it….hatched some ducklings just as we were giving up all hope. Parenthetically, there’s some breeding peculiarity with Muscovy crosses that can result in infertility and after over 30 days (normal is 26) we were beside ourselves (well, I was) fearing we would have to intervene; take away the eggs, remove Timmy from her brooding condo and suffer the sadness of one seriously mournful, cravingly expectant Mama ( and she is the sweetest, gentlest duck ever to have waddled in this wide world). I count 4 little black and gold fluff dumplings (no that’s not a typo….its one of the symptoms of cuteness OD) so far but don’t want to disturb her on the nest. Its ongoing. There may be more tomorrow. I’ll keep you posted, next time with photos.

Marma-Mia!

Marmaduke and her ducklings

Marmaduke ( a corruption of Mama Duck) has lived up to her name and hatched 7 exceedingly cute and adventuresome ducklings. These tiny ducklings were hatched three days ago and already, they think they own the place. Despite the fact that they’re provided with their own special baby food, they eat the chicken feed and snap at the hens’ ankles and combs if they try to have a normal meal! Jeez. One of the tinies even terrorized its Papa when he tried to hang with Mama. Nothing funnier than watching a tiny, fluffy yellow duckling chasing down a giant Muscovy drake.

This time we will not offer naming rights to the niece and nephew; the last time we did that the results were a little unimaginative; Jaws, Swimmy, Big Boy,etc…you get the idea. Once a pecking order is established they seem to name themselves, Swimmy turned out to be very timid, thus Timmy, Jaws, as it turns out, was appropriately named as she snaps at the other birds and eats anything that crosses her path, fish, frogs, toads….Big Boy’s name was changed to The Senator, on account of his resemblance to Christopher Dodd and the other male muscovy just looks and acts like a Felix. (I wonder why people don’t use that name more often when naming their children. It’s a good name for someone who’s very cute.)
Meanwhile, Jawsy-wawsy, Timmy-swimmy, and LaLa (the miniature call duck) are all sitting on eggs and we failed to record their due date, mainly because we couldn’t pinpoint a start date. They seemed to lack the necessary commitment at the outset, hemming and hawing, sitting then swimming. We thought we’d outsmarted them by placing some of their eggs beneath a broody hen but the hen turned out to be equally non-committal. I suppose it takes a while to warm up to the idea. After all, what’s so great about sitting in a box for 21 days (25 for ducks) with only a 5 minute break once a day to eat, drink and groom?

Recalcitrant Spring

Its turning out to be a delayed spring, misty and cold enough to make yet another and hopefully the last trip to the woodshed. The greenhouse is the warmest place to be, and its a good thing as we’ve plenty of work there to keep us busy tending all the young plants that really ought to have been put into the ground by now. The soil thermometer jumps crazily from the 40′s to the 6o’s and although we’ve planted some tomatoes in the garden we’re keeping some plants in reserve as back up. The magnolia bloomed two weeks later than usual but a vision of spring beauty it is.  Meanwhile the cold weather crops are coming along slowly but surely…spinach, lettuce, mustard greens, beets, swiss chard, radishes, brassicas. The poor little hummingbirds arrived a week or two earlier than usual. We’ve increased the sugar content of their nectar. The orioles are back and are wistfully hanging around the apple trees, but they too are a bit early. The honeybees are tender creatures and grateful for the sugar syrup we’re supplying them with. The ducks are sitting on eggs, and frankly, a cozy little sheltered duckhouse seems like the place to be for my money. (I’m hoping that the chickens don’t get broody, 30 chickens is more than enough).  Some old-timers are saying we’re in for a cool summer. We’ll see………………I’m not putting my sweaters away yet.

Asparagus

The green shoots that put the spring in spring

The green shoots that put the spring in spring.

This being the first year that we are able to harvest asparagus, I consider this a triumph of our edible landscape.  (The daffodils are no slackers either!) The asparagus have been a delicious treat, especially tossed with pasta made from our duck’s eggs which impart a lightness that makes no sense, knowing that they are richer than chicken eggs.  The voles seem to be enjoying them as well.(the asparagus, not the duck eggs) and they are the bane of our existence these days. Andrew is keeping a tally to mark his trapping successes. Last count was 30 voles and 10 or so moles.  This is utterly demoralizing.  Every effort to create a rich soil does as much to encourage more herbaceous predators.  My mind turns to ferrets, and worse.

For those starting a new asparagus bed you’ll know that one ought not to harvest the spears in the first couple of years. If you’re like us you won’t be able to help yourself and will throw caution to the wind and start cutting. Its okay but don’t overdo it.  If you take no more than a third of the spears you’ll leave enough to promote the plants’ future vitality.

Tomorrow we’ll be enjoying a salad of steamed asparagus  topped with chopped, hard boiled quail eggs and a caesar vinaigrette.  Now, if only our mead was ready for the drinking…..but that will be next year’s triumph.