Preparing for Spring: sowing seeds, planning for poultry, and dissuading the dogs.

We’ve had some strange weather here the last few days – it warmed up from below-zero temperatures midweek to the 50s on Friday and Saturday, resulting in a fierce wind that sent dried leaves swirling and dancing through the forest, driving our Shiba Inu Ruby mad with delight as she chased them hither and yon.  Earlier in the week it had snowed and even the snowflakes were worth chasing and snapping out of midair:


Spring is coming, and we’ll make a second attempt at raising poultry; we shall not be deterred by last year’s failure!  

Family Farm is just starting to get their little fuzzy butts in:

We are sure we can train Professor Diggers to leave the chickens and ducks alone; we’ve heard of other folks being able to train their Goldendoodles to leave their poultry alone:

…but Miss Ruby is probably going to be another matter.  Either she’s going to have to learn to live on-leash or the chickens aren’t going to be able to free range and will have to come out of the hen yard into a chicken tractor when they need a change of pace – I just can’t see us being able to train away thousands of years of breeding to hunt small game in Ruby’s Shiba Inu genes.

Oh, but the duckies…they may be able to elude her!  She isn’t much of a swimmer, and while I was searching on the Permies Forum for information about raising ducks (my parents had ducks when I was in high school, but I didn’t participate much in their care), I saw pictures of a floating duck house someone had built:

Photo credit: Dan Permington on the Permies Forum.

Isn’t that clever?  It’s attached by a rope to shore so you can pull it in to clean it and gather the eggs, but then you can let it float back out to the middle of the pond where predators (and Ruby) would be less likely to bother with them.  The biggest problem around here is coyotes.  They have killed off nearly all other egg stealers such as raccoon and skunks, and they sometimes come sit by our pond and yip and howl at night.

My bigger concern is how the catfish in our pond will treat the ducks.  It’s time to start fishing out and frying up some of the larger ones; I couldn’t bring myself to click on or link to any of the YouTube videos I found while researching this matter, but suffice it to say catfish will eat ducklings. Of course, we’ll be getting both layer ducks and meat ducks, so we too intend to eat some of the ducks eventually, but our method of dispatching them will certainly be quicker and less distressing for the duck than the dreadful (and not terribly quick) way in which the catfish (or bass) do it.

Yesterday afternoon we took a long walk around our woods; there’s been a dead snake sitting by a tree that we’ve noticed a few times when the snow has melted.  I kept mentioning to Phil that he ought to clean it up so the dogs don’t get into it – lucky for the snake that he didn’t – the unusually warm weather woke the “dead” snake up!  I would not have thought a snake would just sit above ground frozen all winter if it were still alive, and I wonder how it will fare now that the temperature is starting to drop again.

On the gardening front, I’m starting seeds now in my little toilet paper roll pots:


I save toilet paper rolls all year long in a plastic bag hanging in each of the bathrooms.


Cut slits up the sides, fold them in, label them, and fill with dirt.


I’m giving pelletized seeds a try for the first time because they are easier to sow indoors in pots.


Fill the bottom of a clear plastic container with pea gravel to help hold the seed starter rolls upright.


Set the bin in a sunny window and water regularly.

Of course, it’s much too early to plant anything outside in Michigan.  But I’m scratching my gardening itch indoors by growing new plants from the cut-off ends of romaine lettuce and celery hearts.  I’d heard of doing this and always wanted to try it to see if it works, and it seems like it does!

What you do is trim off the ends you would normally discard, rinse them well, slice a very thin bit off the bottom to enhance water absorption, and set them in a dish with a half-inch of water in it.  Change the water every day and voila – here is the progression over the past week:


You can see the new plant growing out of the center!  This was only over the course of a week for the one that has the most growth, so it’s a pretty quick process.  You can eventually transplant them into the garden or into a pot in a sunny window sill if you like or just harvest the center; I’m not sure how long it will keep growing solely in water, though.  Our youngest daughter has proclaimed the romaine just the right size for a “fairy salad”, so she may harvest it for lunch today.

Next I am going to give it a try with other kinds of lettuce and also scallions.  I have an abundance of large, south-facing windows in my kitchen, perfect for a little salad and herb indoor garden.  Anyway, waste not, want not…no matter if you live in a city apartment or out in the countryside, you can grow new food from some of the veggie scraps you’d just be throwing away or composting.

6 thoughts on “Preparing for Spring: sowing seeds, planning for poultry, and dissuading the dogs.

  1. In the photo of the pond, that has to be the world’s most frustrated cat.
    So near and, yet, so far.
    I do hope Ruby can learn to leave the ducklings alone.


  2. I like hearing about the dogs. I think you made a great decision teaming up a hyper breed witha a calm breed. Tog ether they balance. It had to be deliberate and it seems to be working wonderfully.
    I have heard that putting a Sicilian donkey in a stall with a racehorse has the same effect.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Yeah, our garter snakes like to sit along our rocky ledge in the back garden when it is warming. My wife taught all the dogs that they were not allowed to hurt them because they eat slugs…however, rats, squirrels, and rabbits were taught to be dispatched without mercy. The bunnies had to go because they do not historically belong here…and perhaps more importantly to her, because they ate all of her yellow crocuses ;-D

    And from experience, Northern Pike are really brutal feeders on ducklings and goslings.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Grow your own: helpful tools for getting your vegetable garden seeds started. | The Sunshine Thiry Blog

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