Adding Muscovy Ducks to the Homestead

Nothing worse than opening the mailbox and being greeted by a bunch of bills.

Nothing better than opening the garage’s brooder and being greeted by a bunch of bills.

Bills1

That’s right.  We are now are the proud caretakers of six baby ducklings.

Muscovy Ducklings.

Gentlemanly Muscovy Ducklings.

Group

I’d been considering adding ducks to the Homestead for some time, so when our good friends at Shady Coop Farm mentioned they had a broody ducky mama, I quickly called “Dibs” while making a mental note to ask for spousal permission later.

Here are a few reasons why I sought out Muscovy (Cairina moschata) for our specific situation and goals.  I will write a follow-up post all about where these guys will call home and how I’m integrating them into my overall Permaculture design… and you’ll see then why some of these are very important to me.

  • Muscovies generally require less water (read: pond depth and surface area) to be happy and healthy when compared to other breeds.  They do very well with just some large water tubs.  At minimum, they need the ability to fully submerge their head to clear food particles out of their nostrils and eyes.
  • Muscovies generally are egg hatching machines.  They are very instinctive mothers and will set  basically any clutch of eggs you put in front of them – no matter if it’s chicken, guinea, quail, whatever.  They live to hatch.
  • Muscovies are an excellent and delicious source for healthy meat.  Since they are such great mamas, and we already have a decently large size chicken laying flock, I don’t care that Muscovy are not the most prolific of egg layers.  They will grow up living happily before graduating respectfully to our freezer as a sustainable protein source for our family and extended community.
  • Muscovies are known as the “quackless” duck as their vocals are usually more like a soft goose hiss, rather than the loud “quack” my two year old has perfected after much practice.  Since we don’t have neighbors right on top of us, this isn’t a huge deal, but I mention it because the primary duck yard will be somewhat close to our house.
  • They’re excellent foragers.  This is really where they shine once you read (later) what their Homestead chores will consist of.

Besides all that, can you really NOT have a few of these little guys around your place each year?

Duckling

Yeah, me neither.

So one evening after the kids went to bed and Joanna was tucked in after a long day of chasing and/or nursing said kiddos… I was off to Shady Coop.

Ducks always seem to look smiley and amused, but don’t let this pic fool you… Mama was not happy about our mission.

Mom

 SCFPickup

We safely snuggled all six in for my trip home.  Then we humans sat around into the night swapping tips and stories.

You want to hear one more thing about how great Nancy and Paul are?  They refused to take any money for the little guys.  After much cajoling, I did get out of them that Rain Barrels are on their To-Do list, so I showed up with a bag full of all the parts they’d need to make one from scratch, and made sure they accepted it.

Wonderfully kind people.

Anyway, I returned home…  put the Muscovies in their temporary brooder… flicked on the heat lamp…  and headed to bed.

Waterer

Closeup

The next morning the Wife awoke to meet her new fuzzy friends.

JoannaChristmas

The Boy was (is) overjoyed.

Parker

And I guess that “Asking Permission” thing worked out OK, as I haven’t had to sleep in the garage with them yet. Joanna even picked out a favorite, which she nerdily named “One of Six”.

I have very specific instructions she emailed me one morning.

Favorite

Message received.

We can’t wait to watch the little guys grow up and get to work.

–Mike

Question of the Day: Do you keep ducks?  Have them in your plan?  Have any tips?

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Posted in Ducks

An Important Independence Day Tradition

Tomorrow is Independence Day.  A national holiday.  A day of celebration.

More importantly, I believe it is a day for reverence, reflection, and respect.  A day I spend extremely thankful for many reasons, one of which is a tradition I hold dear.  A Family Tradition you are now formally invited to join.

Before you and your loved ones dig in to your BBQ feast, beverages, and fireworks… after your prayer (if you’re so inclined)… I invite you to join us in reading the Declaration of Independence.  Yes, the whole thing.  If you’ll be blessed to be surrounded by friends and family, have everyone take a turn reading a small section aloud… even the little ones.  If you’ll be blessed to celebrate by yourself, I still recommend reading it out loud. (I have!).

Read those words and give some thought to their meaning.  In case you don’t want to Google up a copy, I’ve included it below so it’s easy to print out.

It’s easy to forget their reasons and rationale for declaring Independence from their own government and King.  Do any news articles over the last few years, even over the last few decades… and more importantly – issues you rarely see in the news… relate to their list of grievances our Founders listed for us?

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Posted in Homestead

Companion Planting for Grapes

I’m a big advocate of companion planting.  A couple driving principles of Permaculture are “Integrate Rather than Segregate” and “Use and Value Diversity”.  If we’re going to try and implement those anyway, it makes sense to put some thought into the different plants we put together in our systems. Some plants are friendly to each other. Others… not so much, and should be avoided.

Today we’re talking specifically about beneficial companion plants for your grapevines.

GrapeCompanionPlants

I recently shared the Shade Trellis I built for my Chicken Coop.

ChickenCoopShadeTrellis

Well, a couple days after I took that picture, my bare root grapevines arrived and I was ready to plant the trellises’ raised beds.

There are other options, but I chose to go with these for reasons we’ll discuss.

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Posted in Garden, Permaculture, Pest Control

Free Workshop on Keeping Backyard Chickens

Just a reminder that tonight, Wednesday June 18, I’ll be hosting a free workshop as part of the Bellbrook-Sugarcreek Park District Speaker Series.

ParkDistrict

I hope you can join us to learn everything you need to know to raise backyard chickens.  If you’re just starting out… or looking for a way to manage a healthier and more natural flock, this workshop might have something for you.

We’ll discuss local laws, breed selection, how to house, feed, and care for your birds, and much more.  You might be surprised just how easy it is, especially considering the many benefits chickens provide in addition to a healthy breakfast.  This program will be presented by Mike Kinsey, Owner of Gentleman Homestead Consulting.

Registration is encouraged. Walk-ins are welcome.

The program begins at 7:00PM at 2751 Washington Mill Rd, Bellbrook, OH 45305 (<– Google Map link).

Hope to see you there!

Posted in Chickens

Who’s the Big Winner?!

Mikey’s the Big Winner!!

SwingersThanks espn.go.com

That’s right, ladies and gentleman…

I came.  I saw.  I commented.  I won… A blog contest.

In particular I won some rocking chicken art from the very talented Sarah Hudock of Lighthearted Art thanks to a contest sponsored by Tilly’s Nest, one of the most informative and entertaining chicken-centric sites out there.  Seriously, if you haven’t been reading… you need to be.

Just don’t expect to win this.  It recently arrived and is already complementing my coop.

TinArt

Sarah’s art is perfect for sprucing up anything – inside or out – as her tin easily wipes off and resists the weather.  Since this  beautiful piece has a little bit of a feminine flair, I figured our girls would love it.

To digress for a second…

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Posted in Chickens

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I'm Mike, I'm new to this blogging thing, and I'm glad you're here. As a Permaculture Design Consultant, I enjoy helping others build a resilient and sustainable food system that takes care of itself. I also regularly hold seminars and workshops on a variety of topics.

Recently, our young family moved out of the cul-de-sac where society says we're supposed to live, and onto five acres outside town. If you stick around, you'll see our successes and failures in real time as we start from scratch and transform our land. Read a lot more about us Here.

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