Category Archives: Om Nom Acres

A homestead milestone

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In August my sister, Devin, and I drove two hours to collect a family of Muscovy ducks from a former colleague of mine.  Her neighbor had raised them as a small home business and couldn’t take them with him when he moved.  The ducks wandered over onto her property and hatched a clutch of ducklings; she didn’t want to keep them but she did grow rather found of the two adult males of the group.  We took two adult females and 11 six-week old ducklings.

Originally we housed them in a pen constructed of T-posts and welded wire with a dog igloo habitat.  This worked well until they were fully grown when there space was limited.  Devin helped me convert our outbuilding (“barn”) into a shelter for them with a large run.  During the three months we raised them we lost two.  The first to our dog, Dashel, who pushed his way out the side door and did what dogs of his kind were bred to do.  The second to a great horned owl one night before we had a cover on the pen.  The owl removed the adult duck’s head and neck, leaving his body in the pen until morning.  We burned the duck’s body.

With ten ducks left, 3 males and seven females including the original adult pair (named “Mama Duck” and “Masi Duck”) we decided we needed to reduce the herd. Neither Sammit nor I are comfortable slaughtering an animal ourselves at this point, though I hope to build up to that one day.  I found a place about an hour drive north of our house that would process our ducks for $8.00 each.  We made the decision to keep Mama & Masi ducks in part because we had given them names and in part because they are the matriarchs of the group and again in part because they would be tough meat.  We decided to keep one male to either line breed with or trade for another male to improve genetics.  We also decided to keep two younger females because we aren’t sure how old the matriarchs are and want to make sure we have eggs and can hatch more clutches in the future.

Last night around dark I penned the five most generic looking of our 10 ducks.  We’re keeping a male that is in recovery from a leg injury (“Limpy”) and two additional females who are easily identifiable (“Wingding” a duck with a wing that doesn’t lie flat, and “Rascoon” the only one who still sports an all black face).  It was easier than I thought to pen them.  I did it alone and there wasn’t an hour of chasing like I had imagined in my mind.  I just had to be smarter than the ducks.  They spent the night in dog crates in our garage and Devin and I loaded them into the back of the Lexus at 6:30 this morning.

I’ve had a lot of thoughts about this process.  I had a dream last night that I snuck into the garage and set them free from myself.  I’ve felt like I’m betraying them and their trust which I think is a lot of projection; I actually don’t think they’ve ever liked or trusted me but rather see me as a food dispensing device but I can’t help up interpret their wagging tails at dinner time as affection.  I’m not ready to become a vegetarian so I could not very well let myself “save” these ducks (that were never meant to be pets) while eating my chicken shwarma for dinner.  We thanked them for their lives and for dying to nourish our bodies.  For the short time they were alive they were allowed to be very “ducky” – given free roam of not only our property but that of our neighbors as well.  They were supplemented with a little grain at night when they were penned in a[n eventually predator proof] shelter.  They ate all the bugs and weeds they wanted and always had a pool to splash in.  They could fly where ever they wanted and waddle in puddles – in short, we gave them the best lives we could.

I cried this morning when I got back to the car, just for a second, but long enough to have my relationship with our food system changed forever.

Om-Nom Acres is moving!

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We’re expanding in lots of ways! While our website is staying right where it is our actual physical location will be moving soon.  Sammit and I bought our first home.  It is SW of Ann Arbor (one of our favorite places) in a city called Saline.  We have some work to do on the house before we move, but next growing season we’ll have plenty of space to expand beyond our current 700 square feet to fill as much as the 2.3 acres as we want (which will probably be a little at a time).  It’s zoned as agriculture which means we’ll have no problems adding chickens or goats to the mix – though no word on when that’s going to happen.  We are very excited and will post more pictures and updates as they happen.

Also, we’re adding to our family very soon (hopefully next week)!  Please be patient and stick around through the next two months though we may not have much material posted while we adjust to all the changes.

August Garden Updates

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The Good:

  • We have cherry tomatoes!
  • The cucumbers are coming in nicely, but have started to show signs of wilt/disease.
  • The squash is growing nicely.
  • The corn is growing nicely.
  • We’ve been able to harvest a few more beans (they’re fighters)

The Bad:

  • No peppers yet, but some blossoms have arrived.
  • I don’t predict a large harvest in September.

Note: I added a harvest tally to the sidebar –>

 

 

July Garden Updates

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The Good:

  • The garlic has been harvested and is curing.  It’s a respectable haul for my first year.
  • We harvested the first tomato – delicious! but nothing else has ripened.
  • We’ve eaten 2 flavorful cucumbers and 2 have been harvested and are waiting for friends.
  • I’ve harvested some basil, thyme, chives, and mint.
  • The corn has tassels!
  • The bean plants are recovering from the rabbit attack but may not ever recover fully.
  • Some winter squash has taken (after I took the initiative to pollinate).

The Bad:

  • The zucchini and summer squash will probably not produce this year – the plants are almost the same size they were when I transplanted in May 😦
  • My peppers are hit or miss – some are thriving, others are being eaten.

Note: I added a harvest tally to the sidebar –>

June Garden Updates

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The Good:

  • The garlic is doing great!  It’s almost shoulder high with beautiful scapes.
  • I have tall tomato plants and one huge green tomato on which I cannot wait to see some color.
  • The cucumbers have survived the dogs’ rearranging session and are starting to climb up the trellises.
  • Carrots, radishes, and beets are coming along nicely.
  • Our strawberry plants are establishing runners.

The Bad:

  • The corn is calf high, about 6 inches shorter than everyone else’s crop 😦
  • While I spent the weekend in Connecticut someone came through and ate the leaves off of all of my green and purple bean plants 😦
  • The squash is coming along but is moving much slower than I remembered.
  • My peppers are hit or miss – some are thriving, others are being eaten.
  • I never put my broccoli, cauliflower, or cabbage in the ground; I’ll try again for the fall.
  • Weeds and Violets have taken over the beds by the garage.
  • The dogs LOVE to climb into the beds and dig around in the loose soil.

Note: I added a harvest tally to the sidebar –>

Garden Updates & First Harvest!

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The side beds and a quarter of the u-shaped bed are done.  I have to finish the u-shaped bed, the garage bed, and decide if I’m going to start our pumpkin bed.  The heat, humidity, and low-energy from the pregnancy have been slowing me down.

Dash Sleepy

Dashel taking a break from the hot outdoors.

Gir never goes outside but he's feeling the heat and humidity in the house.

Gir never goes outside but he’s feeling the heat and humidity in the house.

Pea Progress

Pea Progress

Side Beds (2 of 4): Beans, Squash, Sweet Corn

Side Beds (2 of 4): Beans, Squash, Sweet Corn

Garlic Progress

Garlic Progress

Strawberries are in the ground.

Strawberries are in the ground.

First harvest of the season: 0.15 ounces of strawberries.  Very sweet!

First harvest of the season: 0.15 ounces of strawberries. Very sweet!

Transplants

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Mesculin Mix, Peppers, Melons

Mesculin Mix, Peppers, Melons

Cabbages, Tomatoes

Cabbages, Tomatoes

Beans, Cukes, Beans

Beans, Cukes, Beans

Today I started hardening off my transplants from the basement.  I had a late start to the season, with the whole finishing grad school and growing a human being, but I think they’re looking good!  I may still purchase a few tomato transplants to get a head start on the ones I have.  If these guys make it they will be my first successful transplants ever.