4th of July weekend. Beautiful Sisters, Oregon. Weaving, spinning, felting and more: It’s the “Around the Block Fiber Arts Stroll” part of the biggest quilt show in the country. Head on out to central Oregon next weekend and enjoy all the fun shops and touristy things Sisters has to offer, pop over to Bend for some delicious craft beer and spend your Sunday afternoon strolling past shops and vendors showcasing their fiber arts. I’ll be at Sundance Shoes with some fun/cute Fiber Friends for sale and a workspace set up to offer felting demos and mini lessons. Stop by and say hello, 1-4 Sunday the 6th.
We can’t wait to see you there!
A friend recently asked me “how do/why would ducklings drown? Aren’t they buoyant?” Ducklings ARE born quite buoyant and float easily, but the sad fact of raising waterfowl without a real dirt-lined pond is that you have to take preventative measures to keep your little charges safe, even from the water they so love.
We raised muscovy ducks and chickens together in a run. Since our land doesn’t have a pond and we rotationally graze our birds, we provide minimal water in cement mixing tubs. The tubs are the perfect size for adults to drink from and bath in (and even make whoopy in from time to time) and are easily emptied, filled and moved from place to place. Since ducklings are born the size of an egg, we also provide much smaller oil changing pans in the brooder run. Still: these pans are plastic and slippery making it nearly impossible for a tiny bird to escape from w hen the water level lowers.
We’ve lost 2 ducklings this season to drowning. Each time i felt absolutely terrible and blamed myself for inadequate management. We had been using bricks as a sort of ‘step ladder’ but if the water level lowered too much even those weren’t sufficient to allow the clamouring of the smaller, weaker birds. I have to be pragmatic and think of this as the culling of the weak, but darnit i’d rather give everyone their best shot at survival! Enter: the duckling ramp!
This “highly sophisticated’ device is made completely from scraps laying around the farm: two chunks of 1×3 and an old hinge. That’s it. A longer section of 1×3 rests on the ground, the hinge folds at the lip of the pan and the shorter section dunks into the water and even floats like a little ‘dock’. The ducklings just love to line up on the ramp and take turns drinking from it, hopping off and swimming around, then climbing back up for easy exit. This ramp could be constructed on a much larger scale with longer sections of 1x6s and 2 hinges to allow access to larger tubs and pools. You could even get fancy and pin on little raised cross pieces or some sandpaper for better traction.
Life, homesteading, farming, animal husbandry: are all endless learning experiences. I just really hate it when that ‘learning experience’ comes at the expense of a little life. SO i hope this new system will prevent any further duckling drownings. So far it’s working GREAT and the duckies are almost big enough to hop in and out of this little tub without assistance of the ramp. But you won’t catch me removing it too soon – i’ve learned my lesson!
What lessons have your animals taught you lately?
When one constructs a fence, one must provide access through said fence. A good garden/farm gate is sturdy, large enough for people or vehicles to pass through, opens/closes easily and most importantly: keeps critters out or in. Gates can of course be purchased at any good farm store…. but we like to do things a little differently.
Here on Birdsong Farm we liked to ‘waste not’ and get creative with the materials we have on hand. Thanks to a rotten roof and untidy previous owners – we have a LOT of “materials” to work with. Granted, 30 year old dry and cracked wood full of bent and rusty nails wouldn’t usually be my first choice in building materials, but they are what we happen to have and actually make for pretty attractive gates. My husband loves the weathered look of our gates and after a few uses and weeks in the weather, the splinters get worn away making attractive and functional access to our yard and garden areas. Our first gates hang on our yard fence, keeping our corgi in and safe from the log trucks. The latest gates hang on our garden, to keep out deer and other pests plus keep ducks and chickens in or out when using them in the garden or outside in a mote to manage pests and weeds around the garden. I wouldn’t test these gates with a horse or pig, but they should keep out deer and ducks just fine!
My husband built each of our gates to fit their space perfectly and they really work well for next to no money invested. He’ll be adding some wood burned embellishments soon to make them even more attractive and for now they’re doing their job. The wood was all reclaimed from the property and items purchased from the farm store include the hinges, hangers and latches. Each gate cost us under $30 and fit perfectly. Not bad! Sure – we could have gone to the store and spent several hundreds of dollars each on ‘proper gates’ but then we wouldn’t have that money available for seeds and hoses and other garden essentials. Instead, we spent some time to reclaim otherwise wasted material to create a brand new structure we’re both super proud of. Construction was relatively simple once the design was laid out and we’d be happy to share our plans with anyone interested in building some homemade gates.
We also have a large gate to allow the truck and tractors to enter the garden. Andy was mulling over the best way to construct that gate when i got the idea: hang two cattle panels in the space and remove them as needed. The total cost of the panels was $60 to fill a 12 foot span – much less than a standard metal farm gate and much easier to construct (with no sagging) than our other wooden gates. I think it was a really great solution and is so far working quite well. Getting the panels down is a little tricky but no problem with a second pair of hands.
What have you built using ‘waste’ materials?
What could be cuter than an adorable red and white Corgi wearing a frog costume? Nothing! But this tiny Nubbin version is a close second, for sure!
I just love a challenge and Fiber Friends lovers keep throwing them at me – I knew i just had to take the challenge of creating a frog costume on Missy’s custom Nubbin. I think it turned out super cute…. Response to a photo of this Nubbin that i posted to Facebook has already been great: I believe i can quote friend and client, Amanda: “This wins the internet for Tuesday.” I love it when Fiber Friends make folks smile.
Bring the smiles to you: order a custom Nubbin, pet portrait or breed standard Friend at www.FiberFriendsOnline.com and check out all the fun accessories on our add-ons page from costumes to toys and more! Thanks for beign so inspirationally cute, Missy from San Francisco!