Cat update for week ending January 23

It’s Caturday! 22 pictures today… and yes, one of them includes Bernie. Probably the last time I’ll succumb to that meme. Probably.

Let’s start with some cute snuggles inside the cat house:

Snuggles

Four cats; drinking, deck, eating, and background:

Four cats

Poppy drinking, Bella on the deck, and Porcini cutely peeking around the corner while stretching on the tree:

Three cats

Pepper supervising me while I was building the duck island in the shop:

Cat

Three cats:

Three cats

A couple of cats by the fountain garden:

Two cats

Bernie and a cat perched on the upturned bench:

Bernie and cat on bench

Too close!

Cabin cat

Three cats inside the house:

Three cats

Spud emerging from a cabin:

Spud

Cabin twins:

Cabin twins

Poppy emerging from the house when I went to refill their water dish:

Poppy

Porcini enjoying some sun on the cat deck, and Poppy drinking the refilled water:

Two cats

Poppy usually hangs out in the cat house, but a few times this week she has gone to the cabins instead; here she’s arriving, with Pommie already in a cabin:

Poppy and Pommie

Poppy and Pommie:

Poppy and Pommie

Porcini also stopped by to see what was so exciting:

Porcini, Poppy, Pommie

Poppy emerging in the morning:

Poppy

Spud and Poppy in the cabins while I approached to feed the birds:

Spud and Poppy

Spud in the breezeway cabin:

Spud

Poppy drinking, Bella enjoying a good stretch, Porcini eating:

Poppy, Bella, Porcini

It’s below freezing at present, so that heated water dish is really needed.

Spud emerging in the morning; sleeping in on the weekend:

Spud

Three cats enjoying the heating pads in the cat house on this sub-freezing morning:

Three cats

Flock Friday for January 22

Welcome to Flock Friday! I couldn’t help myself, I succumbed to the Bernie meme with a couple of the pictures this week.

But first, here are the chickens greeting me in the veggie garden:

Chickens greeting me in the veggie garden

Bernie watching the chickens:

Bernie watching the chickens

Chickens greeting me in their run:

Chickens greeting me in their run

Chickens waiting for treats:

Chickens waiting for treats

Me holding a container with some rice, which gets their undivided attention:

Chickens waiting for treats

They do love the rice:

Chickens with rice treats

Chickens with rice treats

Chickens with rice treats

Chickens with rice treats

Bernie in the pond; don’t sit there too long, the water is rather cold at present:

Bernie in the pond

Ducks:

Ducks

Ducks

Ducks

A wide angle of the pond:

Wide angle of the pond

More of the ducks:

Ducks

Ducks

A foggy view from by the grove, with the new chicken coop on the left, the brown gazebo on the right, the white gazebo barely visible in the background, and if you look closely, some ducks on the edge of the lawn:

Foggy

A closer view:

Foggy ducks

Duck island progress

Yesterday I made some more progress on the duck island project. See my previous post for an introduction.

Having bought some 4 inch ABS DWV (Drain/Waste/Vent) pipes and 45° elbows from Home Depot, I dry-fitted them within the frame. I’ll need to trim a couple to make them fit, but they should help add some buoyancy to the island:

Pipes added

Here’s a closer view of the pipes, plus a bucket that I’ll optionally use if I need more buoyancy (as I probably will):

Bucket

If needed, I’ll add two or four such buckets spaced around the island, sealing their lids closed with silicone. I should be able to add them after installation, once I see how well it floats. (The lid doesn’t match the bucket as Home Depot didn’t have the black ones I wanted, and only had orange lids, but they fit the green buckets; I’ll face the lids towards the center of the island, so they won’t be visible.)

Pepper was supervising me:

Cat

Next I used scraps of wood and clamps to measure the boards for the platforms:

Planning platforms

There are two levels of platforms; one should (hopefully) be right about at the water level, the second lower than that, as ducks find it easier to swim up then put their feet down to step higher. The lower ones weren’t in my original design, but I think will be a good addition.

I lifted the island to lean it on the shop door, so I could attach the platform boards; this is our first look at the top of the island, too:

Leaning on the shop door

Here are the water-level platforms, made from 1×2 boards, attached with finish nails:

Adding platforms

A closer look:

Adding platforms

Back down on the floor (and upside-down again), adding the lower platforms:

Adding platforms

I know they aren’t super tidy; I didn’t bother cutting the boards at angles, or trimming with a nice clean line, since the ends won’t be visible when underwater.

Here’s a closer look at the two platform levels, and the pipe:

Adding platforms

That’s it for now. Next time, I will trim the pipes and stick them together (I forgot to pick up the proper adhesive for ABS pipes from Home Depot, so ordered some from Amazon).

I will attach the pipes with some metal hanger straps, and add the pond liner that will contain the island dirt. I’ll probably also add a third platform level above the pipes to help hold them in place, hide the edge of the liner, and make another step for the ducks to jump to before reaching the dirt.

Then it’ll be time for installation! We’ll see how far I get next time. Stay tuned!

Cat update for week ending January 16

It’s Caturday. And birdyday, apparently.

Three cats, including Paladout:

Three cats

Poppy:

Poppy

A cam app screenshot with five cats; two in cabins, three in their house:

Five cats

I flushed Poppy out of her house again while refilling their food dispenser:

Poppy

Four cats, with three eating the bonus food I tossed on the ground for them:

Four cats

Pansy in the back of the shop:

Pansy in the back of the shop

Porcini enjoying a bath in a sunbeam:

Porcini enjoying a sunbeam bath

Porcini and Poppy:

Porcini and Poppy

A GIF of Bella on the deck, Porcini climbing a tree, and another cat running up, startling Bella:

Three cats

Spud stretching in the breezeway:

Spud

Porcini rolling around on the awning, Poppy drinking:

Porcini and Poppy

Porcini and Poppy snuggling:

Porcini and Poppy

Porcini and Poppy

Porcini and Poppy

A GIF of Porcini snuggling and rolling:

Porcini and Poppy

Paladout on a foggy morning:

Paladout

Spud in front of the cabins:

Spud

A Steller’s Jay grabbing cat food; such a pretty bird:

Steller's Jay

Steller's Jay

Duck island thoughts, design, starting

Our ducks spend a lot of time on the banks of our pond, or swimming around the pond. Being in the pond is safer for them at night, being less accessible to predators.

I have added several upturned pots in the pond as mini islands for them to rest on, as additional options, but there aren’t enough for everyone.

So I recently had the idea of using an old dinghy (that we inherited with the property) as an island.

Here’s the old boat:

Old boat

I dragged it to the pond:

Boat on pond

Then waded in the pond, flipped it over, and pushed out most of the air (the boat has a big hole in the bow), to make a larger island, wedged on top of one of the pots:

Boat island

However, that isn’t ideal either, as (a) the ducks seem to be freaked out by it, not wanting to go near it, (b) it’s kinda ugly, and (c) it doesn’t seem great for roosting or nesting.

So I decided to build a wooden island, with a thin layer of dirt and grasses, contained by some spare pond liner. And to make it a bit more island-like, I thought I’d make it an octagonal shape.

The first step was to sketch various sizes to determine a good size; big enough to be useful, but not too big, and considering materials (cutting 8 foot boards into various lengths efficiently). I sketched it in the excellent Linea Sketch iPad app:

Drawing

I decided that an octagon 6 feet across would be ideal, with some platforms around water level to make it easier to get on and off. Here is the design I came up with:

Drawing

Here is a GIF time-lapse of my drawing (a fun new feature of Linea Sketch):

Drawing

I surveyed the wood I had on hand, and started to construct it:

Wood and table saw

The edges are 6×1 boards, screwed into blocks; here I’m laying out the pieces:

Laying out edges

Below the edges are 8’ 2×4 boards to help hold the shape and support it, with bits sticking out beyond the edges for the water-level platforms (this is upside-down):

Base

That’s where I’m at currently. On Sunday I’ll add the platforms.

My original concept was to add legs, so this would sit on the pond floor to support the weight of the wood and dirt. But I’m now planning to make it a floating island. Floating would have the advantages of rising and falling with the pond water level (which can vary about 10 inches throughout the year), and perhaps be movable for maintenance. But it also has some complexity of getting it to float at the right level, and anchoring it in position.

So I need to figure out how to add sufficient buoyancy. There are complex formulas for that, but that’s beyond me, so I’ll probably just add a bunch of foam pool noodles, and/or closed pipes, and hope for the best. If anyone has any advice on this, I’d welcome it!

Cat update for week ending January 9

A pleasant Caturday to you.

The twins by the cabins:

Two cats by cabins

A zoomed photo of the cat house, with three cats visible — one on the awning, one inside the house, and a third on the deck. Quite likely one in the feeder too:

Cat house with 3 cats

A screenshot of my cams app, showing five cats — one in the feeder, one in a cabin, and three in the house:

5 cats

A time-lapse GIF of a raccoon encounter — a raccoon approached the cabins when Pommie was in there, then went behind them. She retreated, and the raccoon came between the cabins:

Raccoon and cat

Raccoon and cat:

Raccoon and cat

Porcini scratching while looking in the direction of the camera:

Porcini scratching

Porcini by the heated water dish:

Porcini

Poppy under our main deck while I refilled the bird feeders:

Poppy

Two cats in the evening:

Two cats

Spud and Pommie starting to retreat when I’m approaching to refill the bird feeders:

Spud and Pommie when I'm approaching

Pommie wonders if the coast is clear after I’ve gone:

Pommie

Four cats:

Four cats

A GIF of Porcini licking and snuggling with her mother, Poppy:

Snuggles

Porcini and Poppy snuggles:

Porcini and Poppy snuggles

Spud in the breezeway:

Spud in the breezeway

Spud in the kitchen garden, watching me:

Spud in the kitchen garden

A GIF of Porcini scratching the tree by the cat house, while another eats, and a third approaches in the background:

Scratching tree

Four cats (one barely visible in the feeder):

4 cats

Three cats enjoying the heating pads on a sub-freezing morning today:

Three cats

Poppy and Bella on a frosty morning today:

Poppy and Bella

Flock Friday for January 8

How about some pictures of chickens and ducks to distract from the chaos of the world? Oh, and some bonus cats.

Only three chicken pictures this week. Here are a couple roosting on top of the metal food storage bin in the old coop:

Chickens

Enjoying some treats in their run:

Chickens

Chickens

The ducks over by the edge of the flowerbeds, with the white gazebo in the background:

Ducks

Heading over to the back lawn, past the pond deck:

Ducks

Night ducks:

Night ducks

On the back lawn, with the brown gazebo and new chicken coop in the background:

Ducks

As mentioned on my personal blog, I noticed that Sassa, the gimpy duck, is actually a boy:

Sassa

So we need to come up with a male Swedish name starting with “S”. Got a bunch of suggestions via Micro.blog already, but if you have any ideas, let me know.

Along with a similar discovery last week, that means that of the six ducklings from the second batch last year, which were supposed to be all female, two were male, and four female. Which brings our totals to five males and seven females… not an ideal ratio at all. I hope that won’t be a problem in Spring when they start mating. Male ducks can be, shall we say, rather enthusiastic in their endeavors.

A couple more pictures of the ducks on the back lawn:

Ducks

Ducks

Yesterday when I went to the pond, I noticed the ducks on the back corner, and two cats off to the right:

Ducks and cats

Here’s a closer look at the two cats; a black one (hard to see) and the gray Paladout:

Two cats

Closer:

Two cats

The ducks sleeping on the bank:

Ducks

I went around that side for a closer look; here several of the ducks are tilting their heads to look at me (but Betty is sleeping by the seedling):

Ducks

I went behind the pond, and the black cat scampered through the fence (I’m pretty sure both living on that neighboring property):

Cat

Paladout is more used to me, and just watched from the top of the bank:

Cat

I wasn’t too worried that the cats would attack the ducks; ducks are too big for cats to want to tackle, unless desperate.

Cat update for week ending January 2

Welcome to the first Caturday of 2021! Mostly with pictures from 2020, of course.

Here’s Bella about to jump onto the camera housing:

Bella about to jump onto camera housing

Bella about to jump onto camera housing

Spud and Porcini in the cabins; unusual for her to be there:

Spud and Porcini

Porcini and Poppy:

Porcini and Poppy

Spud:

Spud

Porcini:

Porcini

Wide eyes:

Wide eyes

Oh hi:

Oh hi

Porcini looking out the back door:

Porcini looking out the back door

Mirrored cabin cats:

Cabin cats

Porcini and Poppy snuggling:

Porcini and Poppy

Porcini and Poppy

Three cats:

Three cats

GIF of a possum approaching the cabins, being startled by Pommie, and retreating:

GIF of possum and cat

Three cats inside their house:

Three cats

Cabin cats (the twins, Spud and Pommie) looking concerned by heavy rain:

Cabin cats

Comfy cabin cats:

Cabin cats

Super-relaxed Porcini:

Porcini

Flock Friday for January 1

Happy New Year! 🍾🥳🎊🎉

Today, a surprise revelation about the ducks… but first, some chicken pictures:

Chickens

Chickens

Chickens

Chickens

The ducks in the back corner of the pond:

Ducks

Ducks

Our pond partially froze for the first time this season on Tuesday. Here’s a time-lapse GIF of about an hour of the ducks swimming around in the non-frozen portion:

Ducks

A still shot:

Ducks

Another time-lapse GIF:

Ducks

When I went out there on my morning rounds, the ice had already somewhat melted, but there was some left:

Ducks

Ducks

Ducks

So what’s the surprise? Well, we noticed that we had misgendered one of our new ducks. In the second batch of ducklings in 2020, we expected to have all females, including a Khaki Campbell, who we named Clara. When ducklings are young, it can be hard to tell their sex, and apparently the hatchery made a mistake. Ducklings initially develop feathers like females when young, but as they get older, males start to show distinctive plumage. So apparently Clara is actually male; we now have two male Khaki Campbells, and one female. So Clara’s true name is now Cam.

Looking back at my photo archive, I can now see the first signs of a change as far back as October, but I didn’t notice until Jenn pointed out the change on one of the rare times she accompanied me on my evening rounds. I’m so observant!

Here are the ducks on the back lawn. The front rightmost two are the two Khaki Campbell males, Clyde and Cam:

Ducks

Ducks

In the pond, from the pond deck:

Ducks

Collision while going after mealworms:

Ducks

A closer view; Clyde and Cam, the two Khaki Campbell males, are the lighter ones with dark heads on the left; Cora, the female, is in the center, with a Rouen behind her:

Ducks

Peeking through the duck house:

Duck

The bank by the duck house:

Ducks

Another couple of pics from the pond deck:

Ducks

Ducks