Hatched Surprises and Compost Tips!

We’ve run out of room for the babies!  It has been an incredibly successful spring here at Running Duck Farm.   One mini coop is full of a mixed hatch of older chicks, including some Speckled Sussex, Buff Orpingtons, and some mixed “surprises”.  Above them are smaller chicks, Belgian Bearded D’Anvers in black and a beautiful straw “quail” color.  Another coop is full of ducklings and some orphaned mute swan babies who aren’t yet big enough to be a part of the main flock.  Two Belgian Bearded D’Anvers hens are setting on a shared clutch of adorable bantam eggs, and occasionally one hatches and gets added to the group of smallest chicks.  The six baby Royal Palm Turkeys are in a mini coop of their own in the Rooster Room.   We just keep switching everyone around and hoping for the best.  The bigger, juvenile Runner Ducks from spring’s first hatch are now with the adult female Runners.  They go in the pond area every day and love to swim under the lead duck fountain.  Last week before Clara let the ducks out for the day a Great Blue Heron was fishing near the fountain until the Runners chased him away.  The various adult birds are happy to be anywhere on these beautiful days, with the ducks heading for water or mud, and the chickens heading for grass or dirt.

I always rave about my compost and how wonderful it is to mulch with all summer long.  Yesterday when I was tired of  desk work I filled a wheelbarrow full of some great year old compost.  It is a combination of mucked out pine bedding and chicken manure, plus grass clippings and leaves from fall clean-up.  This is turned and then scratched all year long by the hens, and I add pelletized lime when I am ready to use it to balance out my acidic soil.    I had a nice break spreading this wonderful stuff on a row of morning glories, nasturtiums and chives that grow in a bed at the end of my back porch.  Some more went on the roses, and the remainder on my tomatoes.  I got busy again in the office, and it completely slipped my mind what an open invitation fresh dirt is to a chicken.  I don’t know how they spy it from so far away, but by the time I went back to the house the hens had scratched all the dirt, with the morning glories and nasturtiums  in it, out of the bed and onto the walkway.  Honestly, I was pretty mad.  The truth is it was entirely my fault.  If I had taken the time to water the plants after composting them, I would have been ok since  mud has no appeal to a chicken.  I will not be doing that again this summer if I can help it.

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