Ducklings day 36

Today at the duck house is a bit different: to give the ducklings more space, I assembled a little run for them using some spare gates.

They’re getting bigger, and are old enough to go outside now, though about three weeks from being ready to go free-range in the pond.

My initial idea was to use some posts and spare fencing wire to make a run, then I remembered these metal gates. The two poles even have concrete still on them, making them more stable.

These gates used to be on a fence between the field and the rest of the garden, that we removed years ago.

Here’s what I assembled. It’s just held together with bungee cords, but is secure enough — and is only temporary; I’ll remove it all once they’re allowed in the pond:

Duckling run

The gate on the top probably isn’t necessary; it’s mainly to keep other animals out. The ducklings can’t fly that high (or at all yet).

I can slide the top gate off if desired, and can swing open the left gate to access the run.

I’ll get them to go back inside at night, and close up the duck house. This run is just for daytime use.

Here’s a shot from the duck house cam, with the doors open:

Duck house cam

The first duckling to step slightly outside:

Ducklings

Starting to explore:

Ducklings

Ducklings

Ducklings

Ducklings

Ducklings

Bert was very curious:

Ducklings

I moved the mobile camera from the beehives to watch the duckling run:

Camera

Bert:

Bert

Peeking at the ducklings from above:

Ducklings

From the other side:

Ducklings

Some pictures from the mobile cam (before I changed the cam label):

Ducklings

Look at those wings!

Ducklings

Back inside for a nap:

Ducklings

Afternoon run time:

Ducklings

Sitting around:

Ducklings

Ducklings day 35

Zoom zoom… today I zoom in on some of the ducklings, and remind you (and me!) of their names.

1x ducklings:

Ducklings

2x ducklings:

Ducklings

4x ducklings; this Betty the Buff:

Ducklings

One of the two Khaki Campbells, named Clyde or Cora (I’m not sure which this one is; the gender will be more apparent once a bit older). Check out those growing wing feathers:

Ducklings

The other Khaki Campbell; if I had to guess, I’d say this is Clyde, and the previous picture is Cora, but could be the other way around:

Ducklings

This is Sven, the male Blue Swedish:

Ducklings

The female Blue Swedish, Sonja:

Ducklings

One of the two Rouen boys, Raoul or Rémy (the other was hiding):

Ducklings

Betty and Bert having a conversation, perhaps about how both of their bills are so dirty (ducks aren’t the cleanest when out of the water):

Ducklings

Oh deer

Living in a rural area, we frequently get deer visiting our property. I don’t take pictures of them all the time, but have accumulated a few, so I thought I’d post some recent ones.

(We used to get elk too, though they stopped when neighboring properties were developed.)

From a month ago, a deer munching grass in front of our beehives:

Deer

Near the apple trees behind the workshop:

Deer

You may have seen these on my personal blog, of a doe and a couple brand-new fawns:

Deer

Deer

Deer

From a couple of weeks ago, just hanging out by the aforementioned apple trees, watching me as I went past:

Deer

Deer

A few days ago, a nighttime graze right in front of the beehives cam:

Deer

Deer

Deer

A couple of days ago, grazing on plants in the traffic circle of our driveway:

Deer

Deer

And that’s why we don’t have tulips anymore. When choosing plants, deer resistance is always one of the criteria, though they don’t always read the labels.

Ducklings day 33

It’s duckling time again!

A peek though a nesting box… I need to clean that out, there’s a bunch of mashed spilled food mixed in the straw:

Ducklings

And the usual pics:

Ducklings

Ducklings

Ducklings

Ducklings

Curious head tilt:

Ducklings

Got a bit of lettuce on your bill, Betty:

Ducklings

I accidentally took a screenshot of the iPhone camera app, but thought I’d post it for the skyward head tilt:

Ducklings

Converting the fountain into a garden, part 1

One of the features of our homestead is a fountain with a flower-girl statue, that was added by a previous owner.

Here’s a GIF of the fountain from 2014:

Fountain GIF

However, we rarely ran the fountain, as it tended to spray water outside the pool, and leaked, so we had to keep topping it up. Plus, after a few years the electrical supply became unreliable, popping the GFCI increasingly frequently. And without running the fountain, the pool became a breeding ground of mosquitos and such.

So, we decided to replace the pool with a garden.

Here’s the pump in the base of the fountain, which I’ve disconnected:

Pump

I had the idea of using the fountain tube to water plants in the middle basin of the fountain, so I temporarily connected a hose to check that that would be feasible:

Hose

Yep; here’s a GIF of the fountain working from that hose:

Fountain GIF

That basin has a drain hole, so it won’t fill up with water when we put soil and plants there (the drain is still plugged in that GIF).

So, after checking that, the next step was to add a new tap for irrigation tubing to the fountain. I could have connected to the existing tap next to the fountain, but I wanted to have the tubing enter the fountain from the back, where it wouldn’t be visible from the house or deck. The garden to the right of the fountain doesn’t already have a tap, so I wanted to add one.

I knew from a previous plumbing project that there is a pipe under that garden. Here’s a picture from 2015 of an overly complex piping system I added for the flowerbeds (the tap on the left is to attach a water timer and short hose to the nearby female port, enabling timed watering, with a bypass valve too). The pipe at the top goes under the garden next to the fountain:

Flowerbed plumbing

Here’s that location now; you can see the short white hose, though there isn’t a timer connected currently:

Flowerbed plumbing

When I dug down in the garden next to the fountain, I found the pipe in the expected location:

Pipe

I turned off the garden water supply, then cut the pipe (a little water drained out):

Cut pipe

Then I added a tap:

Added tap

The next day (allowing time for the adhesive to cure) I turned the water back on, checked for leaks, then filled the hole:

Filled hole

The next step was to drill a hole through the base of the fountain wall, so I could have the irrigation tubing tidily go through the wall rather than over it. To do that, I previously purchased a rather large 1 inch by 16 inch masonry drill bit:

1 inch by 16 inch drill bit

Here’s the drill bit in my driver:

Drill bit in driver

Though after a while I switched to a dedicated drill. It took over an hour to get through the concrete-filled block of the wall:

Drilling

Drilling

The hole:

Hole

Then I added an irrigation pipe from the new tap through the hole:

Irrigation pipe

Inside the fountain pool, I added a T-junction to the irrigation pipe, with one fork going to the fountain tubing, the other for sprinkler emitters for the bottom level:

Irrigation pipe

That done, I brought several loads of scoria to add at the bottom as a drainage layer:

Dumping scoria

Thusly:

Scoria

We inherited a large pile of scoria over near the beehives; still lots left:

Scoria

Then I did a couple loads of soil:

Dirt

Starting the soil layer:

Soil layer

Soil layer

That’s all I had time and energy for. I will probably finish adding the soil next weekend, weather permitting.

It was quite a workout; don’t need a gym when you have a homestead!

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