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PostPosted: Wed Jun 14, 2017 2:06 am 
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Last year I tried to make a "year in review" thread, but it just took too much time to write everything up all at once.

I'm thinking this year I'm going to try to do more frequent updates on my projects. Kind of like a psuedo-blog. (If that's not appropriate for this forum just let me know.

(Note: I actually wrote the following on Sunday but didn't want to bother with resizing images until today.)

This morning I woke up and went to feed the chickens and ducks. I've got three mature ducks, one of which has somewhere around 18 chicks and the other two are setting. (I think the last one might be setting on duds, something got the drake about a month ago and I think the eggs in her nest are all new.) I've also got three mature hens. One hen is setting, but we have no rooster so I got some fertilized eggs from a coworker and snuck them under her last week. A relative also got fourteen baby chicks that had been hatched out of an incubator and gave them to me.

Last year I was saying "no more animals!" but it looks like I might end up with loads of birds again. If the other ducks manage to hatch out more I'm going to start selling chicks.

Anyway, I built what I thought was a really good run for the baby chicks with lots of bird netting to keep the magpies and ravens out, but when I went to feed them this morning the mother duck and her ducklings were in the chick's run. I guess it wasn't nearly as impervious as I thought. :?
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I found where they were getting in and blocked off the hole.

I also fixed up the temporary fence surrounding the duck run. It was supposed to be temporary last year, and I'm really hoping it will actually be temporary this year and we'll get the ducks moved out to the garden. I don't want to put a ton of time into it. The goats kept smashing it last winter to get to the duck food. My mom smashed it some more this year because she is clumsy and is always running headlong into things. :lol:
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This fence wouldn't keep a bear or a big dog out. It's more to keep the ducks in and to hopefully make a fox think about going after something easier.

A coworker of mine let me take some cuttings from her apple tree. Today I grafted them to some hardy crabapple rootstock. If any of them make it she'll get some and I'll get some.

I had some crabapples already in pots from last year. They were the leftovers from some failed grafts (most of them made it, but some didn't). The amazing thing is a couple of them spent the winter up on a shelf outside with no protection whatsoever and still came back. These crabapples are some tough trees!
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I really hope some of the grafts take, as it sounds like voles ringed my coworkers tree and it sounds like it's acting pretty dead this spring. I hope she doesn't think it was me, I took very little in cuttings. I grafted eleven trees. A few of them that were big enough I left a branch or two of the rootstock on, but most I had to graft pretty close to the base.
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I'm trying not to do much in the garden this year, and am instead going to try to focus on taking care of my perennials. I did help put up the pea fence today. I love peas! We usually get our garden in relatively late in the year. That's a drawback to running a plant nursery. We essentially get all the vegetable and flower starts we could want for "free" but we don't have time to plant them until it's past prime planting season.
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I blasted a squirrel this afternoon. He had been hanging around for several days stealing animal feed. I don't like shooting things, but when squirrels hang around they seem to always end up damaging the house in some way. I used my full-choke single shot 12 gauge. It's really handy for pest control, as up close it annihilates whatever I point it at without me having to take really careful aim.
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Some jackass turned loose domestic rabbits and one was hanging around here for a few days. I hope it doesn't come back because I'd rather not shoot it. At least it was big enough to be worth eating, unlike the tiny red squirrel.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 14, 2017 2:53 am 
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Tonight I worked on another fence. This one is also supposed to be temporary. I got it 3/5 of the way done. I scrounged all the steel t-posts I could find and still had to dig some holes and use some janky old logs for posts.
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It's above one of the sections of our garden. The plan is to move the ducks there to help with slug control. Eventually have the run nearly surround the garden with an inner fence keeping the ducks out of the garden and an outer fence keeping them where I want them and hopefully protecting them from predators. Right now we kill the slugs by hand but with all the vegetation surrounding the gardens more slugs just move in, so I'm hoping a duck moat will help.

I started working on this fence last year, but I rushed it and it didn't keep the ducks in so I moved them all to the chicken run (where they are now). I'm taking my time this year. Last year I had to hurry to get them out of my grandmother's greenhouse so she could plant.

Last year I found an albino wild geranium growing where I was going to put the duck run. They're normally purple, and I've only ever seen a white one once before. I figured it would end up getting killed if it was in the duck run, so I transplanted it and it came back this year. (This doesn't really have anything to do with self sufficiency, I'm just pretty happy that it survived.)
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The cleft graft I made on my grandmother's crabapple tree also survived the winter.
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These pictures were taken after 11 PM. It's light pretty much all the time here now. My chickens refuse to go to bed.

I usually change into bib overalls when I get home from work. I like them better than pants. The problem is they don't have nearly as many pockets as my normal cargo pants. I think I'm going to need to get a Bat Belt and sew some loops into my bib overalls so that I can carry all the tools and assorted crap that's handy to have on me while doing chores.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 14, 2017 5:37 am 
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I am (and have been) intrigued by your duck moat project. I have few questions-

Would chickens eat slugs? I know people 'back East' who use chickens for pest control but I've never heard of anyone having a slug problem.

How much problems do you think we would have from unwanted insects in a high tunnel with raised beds?

You are in Mat-Su, right?

Thanks for the update, I look forward to reading more! Good luck with the projects!

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 14, 2017 10:02 am 
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Hiroshima_Morphine wrote:
Would chickens eat slugs? I know people 'back East' who use chickens for pest control but I've never heard of anyone having a slug problem.

Chickens might eat slugs. Our chickens have never seemed to be interested for some reason, even when we gathered them up and put a little food in with them. Our ducks do seem to eat slugs.

I saw a video a while back where a lady got her chickens to eat slugs.


At the very least I think the chickens could be used to keep things eaten down and therefore deny the slugs some cover.

Hiroshima_Morphine wrote:
How much problems do you think we would have from unwanted insects in a high tunnel with raised beds?

Other than slugs (which nobody had a much of a problem with in the past, and my grandmother thinks came in on plants shipped up from Washington) our main insect pests in this area of AK are cut worms, root maggots, aphids and cabbage moths. The cabbage moths don't actually hurt much unless you're trying to sell the cabbages, so I wouldn't even count them as much of a pest. The root maggots can be a real problem for some crops (like turnips) but not a problem for others. The cut worms are probably the most destructive.

We haven't had too much trouble with pests, other than slugs, including in our high tunnels. I think the high tunnel might actually afford from protection as a lot of those pests come from moths or flies that lay eggs which hatch into the pest. I know the most common way to protect from root maggots is to cover them up with netting. It also means you could release ladybugs inside and have them be contained for a little longer.

Last year I tried putting plants in pots in the middle of wire benches in our high tunnel. The slugs crawled up on top of the bench and then across the wire to get to the pots and eat my tomatoes. :x Being in a high tunnel there might be better opportunities to use different kind of slug barriers, many of which require the barrier media to be dry.

On the plus side our chickens love to eat cut worms.

Hiroshima_Morphine wrote:
You are in Mat-Su, right?

Thanks for the update, I look forward to reading more! Good luck with the projects!

Yup, I'm in the Mat-Su.

Thanks!


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 15, 2017 1:21 am 
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Our chickens always loved slugs... and tomatoes, sometimes pumpkins or squash. Chickens will eat anything they can get in their mouth.
Ducks are not as hard on your produce. I hear Guinea hens only eat bugs, they are strict carnivores. But they are also noisy so I have not tried them yet.

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 15, 2017 1:51 am 
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2now wrote:
Our chickens always loved slugs... and tomatoes, sometimes pumpkins or squash. Chickens will eat anything they can get in their mouth.
Ducks are not as hard on your produce. I hear Guinea hens only eat bugs, they are strict carnivores. But they are also noisy so I have not tried them yet.

Our chickens usually leave the stuff in our garden alone. The only thing they've caused problems with are plant starts still in trays or cell packs and trying to turn some of my grandmother's flower beds into dust baths.

My brother wants us to get guinea hens. The farm he worked on in Oregon last winter had a bunch of them.


Today I went up and checked out the trees I planted in the community garden last year. I'm trying to get the start of a little food forest going. The bigger stuff that I planted in the ground (apples and korean pines) made it through the winter fine but the little stuff I put in one of the garden beds isn't looking good. At leas one pear and one nanking cherry made it. I'm going to have to go up and weed and water it some. They've also got a bunch of orange hawkweed coming up in the garden. :gonk:

I weeded a bunch of stuff I planted last year. The blackberries are all alive, although some are coming back from the roots. Blackberries aren't usually cold hardy up here and these are more of an experiment. The yellow raspberries are doing well. The hybrid hazelnuts from Badgersett made it through the winter. They're an experiment too, and I think if they continue to survive they might have commercial potential. I put landscape fabric around them and one of my service berries. I need to put down more landscape fabric as I weed things.
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My mom bought yet another place. I think she has some sort of weird mental disorder. This place is pretty rad, though, and it's just down the road. She's told me I can do pretty much whatever I want with the back half. It already has a bunch of apple trees and some other cool perennials, as well as a bunch of infrastructure and a museum. :D

I sold a couple apple trees that I grafted last year to a lady I know. Made $50, which more than covers the seed I used to start rootstock and and the scionwood and all the materials I've used so far, but doesn't even come close to covering my labor. It's nice that some of these hobbies are starting to look like they might pay for themselves.


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 16, 2017 11:05 pm 
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I've enjoyed reading about your projects and seeing your pics, Quazi!

I would also be very interested to hear in more detail your experiences/methods for grafting, which you have mentioned several times in this thread. That being said, expanding on the topic might belong more in a thread of its own.

The topic of grafting is fascinating to me, from a scientific and utility standpoint...as well as the idea of little pieced together Frankenstein's trees having always been amusing to me. :D

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 17, 2017 12:15 am 
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More ducklings hatched out today. I'm definitely going to have to sell some. I can't get any good pictures because the mom's are skittish and everything turns out blurry.

Checked out the new place my mom bought. Has a bunch of apple trees on it already, as well as some chokecherries. :D

Ellywick wrote:
I've enjoyed reading about your projects and seeing your pics, Quazi!

I would also be very interested to hear in more detail your experiences/methods for grafting, which you have mentioned several times in this thread. That being said, expanding on the topic might belong more in a thread of its own.

The topic of grafting is fascinating to me, from a scientific and utility standpoint...as well as the idea of little pieced together Frankenstein's trees having always been amusing to me. :D

Thanks!

I made a thread about apple grafting last year. LINK

You might also want to check out the video of Steve Edholm's "Frankentree" that I linked in that thread.


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 02, 2017 9:26 pm 
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The ducklings are a lot bigger, and roaming all over the place. I need to get them moved to their new run before a fox or something else gets them.

Here some of them about a week ago:
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Here's some of them today:
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It's hard to get all of them at once, as there are about 25 of them. We lost a few when they were younger. I wasn't sure what was wrong, but then I saw two of the mother ducks either attacking one of the ducklings or fighting over it. I asked the lady that sold them to me last year and apparently on occasion older ducks will kill young ones.

The fourteen baby chicks my cousin and aunt picked up are also doing well.
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My hen that was setting got joined by another hen, and they both sat on the eggs together. About eight of them hatched out, and now they both try to raise them which can lead to fights as they try to sit on top of eachother. I haven't snapped a good picture of them yet.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 03, 2017 12:29 am 
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Took a quick walk out to my overgrown test plot today.

All of the blackberries I planted last year show some signs of life. One barely has a few shoots coming up from the roots, and the best one has flowers, but the others only have leaves. I'm not sure if Blackberries are self-fertile, or if maybe some of the raspberries might pollinate them? Maybe I just won't get any this year, but I'm still pretty happy they made it. I guess most of the time they can't handle the winters, but we had an average-ish winter last year and this breed is supposed to be hardy.
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Some of the honeyberries I planted have started producing.
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I thought the Maximilian Sunflowers I planted didn't make it. I walked by these a few times thinking they were just fireweed shoots, but it looks like some Maximiliian Sunflowers coming up!
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 05, 2017 2:56 am 
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Yesterday I transplanted a few honeyberries and a gooseberry out into my test plot. I also transplanted the hazelnuts which I think are coming back from the roots into bigger pots. I still have some that need to go into the ground this year, but it's getting pretty late.

Today I finished getting the new "temporary" duck shelter and fence finished, and got most of the ducks moved into it. The wiliest duck escaped and is hiding out in the woods.

I used some scrap plastic fencing for the fence. I couldn't tension it like regular chicken wire, so basically I would go between two posts and put another post as far out as I could get the fence to stretch to try to keep it taught. This gave it kind of a weird zig-zag perimeter. I ran a wire through the top of the plastic fence to try to help keep it from sliding down, and another wire a few inches above to give it some extra height. I used 6" staples to try to help secure it to the ground, as well as scrap boards all along the bottom stapled to the fence.

I think there's about a 50/50 chance that I'll find the ducks running around outside the fence tomorrow. :lol:

The first part went quick, as I had two fairly long pieces of scrap fence. The second part took a lot longer as I had to patch together shorter lengths. In hindsight I should have just bought another roll.

Here's a picture of the fence with one of our garden plots in the background. The permanent fences I want to build surrounding the garden.
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My brother got me a small dog run for cheap at a garage sale. We threw it in the duck run for a shelter. I put a tarp over the top for a little shade, with bright sunlight seeming to bother them far more than rain. Makes sense that ducks wouldn't be afraid of getting wet. I angled the tarp down do hopefully it won't fill up with water. I need to adjust it later so that the overhang covers up the feeder where I can load it from outside the fence.
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Unfortunately I wasn't able to tighten the chainlink by hand. I'm not super worried about it since I have the fence around the outside, but I'd like to get it fixed up better next year.

There are also a couple halves of a large dog carrier in there for small, cave-like shelters they can go into. They seem to like hidey-holes like that. I figure I can move them around from every once in a while so they don't end up laying in their own poop all the time.

I gave away six ducklings to a friend of a relative. Or, I should say I tried to give them away, but the relative asked for $20 on my behalf. I guess that's cool, but if I was going to charge money I would have asked for $60, so I feel a little weird about it. :|


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 08, 2017 12:20 am 
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The apple trees I grafted the earlier have started blossoming. That's never happened to me before, and I'm not sure they're supposed to do that. I figure I should pinch the blossoms off so they focus on growing and not making fruit, but what I hope is this isn't the scion making some sort of last gasp at procreation. :ohdear:
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Thanks for the updates and the pictures!

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 08, 2017 6:23 pm 
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Thanks, it's been way easier just posting things every once in a while rather than trying to wrap it all up at the end of the year like last year.

Weeded a bunch of the trees and berry bushes today. Showed a lady from the WWOOF organization around the place.

We stuck some fertilized eggs from a co-worker of mine under a broody hen (we had no rooster) and three or four days before they hatched another hen started trying to sit on the same clutch. They both claim the little baby chicks, and it's funny to seem them sitting on top of each other when they're both trying to sit on the chicks.
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 10, 2017 1:33 am 
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Spent a lot of the day transplanting peppers, tomatoes, squash and melons into bigger pots which we're going to keep in our high tunnel. Still a few peppers to go, and the cucumbers as well.
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 12, 2017 12:53 am 
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Found the runt duckling "Dinky" floating dead in the duck pool yesterday. Not entirely unexpected, but a little sad none the less.

A fox started hanging around yesterday. After my mom told me she had seen it I went to put a shotgun in my car. As soon as I stepped out the back door the fox ran right by me away from the chicken run and towards the duck run, while I stood there with an empty shotgun in one hand and a bunch of shells in the other. :oops: :lol:

I decided to sleep out in the room nearest the birds, and I left the door open partly so I could hear better and partly because it squeaks. I got woken up by ducks making a racket. Went out the door with the shotgun and saw the fox down the path towards the ducks. It was behind a few weeds, and I think it thought it was hidden. The first shot got it pretty good in the shoulder, but didn't penetrate very deep. I quickly followed it up with a second shot to the head. I need to pick up some turkey loads at some point.
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I paced it off at 29 yards when I got home from work today. I tried peeling the tail, but just managed to pull out half the fur.


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 14, 2017 2:34 am 
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Emptied and refilled the duck's kiddie pool today. Usually I try to do it every 2-3 days, but our water system had issues and I let it go for six days. It was pretty damn funky. I got some in my mouth, which I guess was sort of my comeuppance for not taking care of it sooner.

Ducks (it's hard to get a good picture of them)
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Kiddie pool being filled with clean water
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Bucket full of poopy water
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I fill up five gallon buckets with the old water and use it to water my trees. I might start using it to water certain annuals, like broccoli, but probably not things like carrots.

I bought a submersible pump last year that I need to find. I've been emptying the pool by hand into the buckets. A big tank on a trailer instead of the buckets would be a good thing to get as well.

The cleft graft I did last year that made it through to this year has turned yellow. It's been hot and dry and I think the tree is dehydrated.
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Finally got done reading all your stuff in between calls at work. I love hearing what you are doing! I hope I can look at the pics soon and actually see what you are doing, but they don't come through on work computer. I cant believe blackberrys don't do well up there. Down here they EVERYWHERE, I nearly choked when you said you had actually PLANTED some. Honeyberry, are those the year round yellow raspberries? Dad planted a couple a few years before he died and they have really taken off, they are doing better than the standard raspberries, and the black (forgot name) raspberries.

Keep us posted, love reading all your posts!

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 17, 2017 1:01 am 
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Thanks!

It's the Himalayan blackberries that are invasive in Washington and Oregon, right? The kind I planted was called Nelson and came from Fedco out of Maine. The one blackberry bush that had flowers is forming little tiny berries, so we'll probably get a couple handfuls. It's still pretty uncertain whether these will actually survive long term.

I got my first two raspberries of the year. I was going to take a picture, but I had to scarf them down quick because people were trying to grab them out of my hand. I'm sure you all know what raspberries look like anyway. :lol:


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 17, 2017 11:49 am 
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Sorry, I forgot to mention that honeyberries are long, blue berries that taste like blueberries but are actually closely related to honeysuckle. They are very cold hardy and one of the first berries to ripen.

I got six different kinds about three years ago, but the chickens pulled the tags out of all the pots and mixed them up.

I've got some yellow raspberries, but I don't think they're theven year-round kind. I'm glad the ones your dad planted are doing well!


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 17, 2017 12:23 am 
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Haven't been tackling any new projects for a while. Just doing maintenance on what I've got.

Oh, and eating all sorts of berries. I love walking out and picking a few berries as a snack.

I did get one of those drill bit chicken plucker things, and I'm going to need to start butchering soon.


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Thanks for the good posts!

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Last night a little after dinner I saw a small group of my ducks walking across our driveway. They were supposed to be locked up in their run. These ducks can fly about like a chicken, but they only seem to when something is chasing them so I grabbed a shotgun and ran out to the run.

There were a couple big sections of the plastic fence ripped down, and in several places the top and been squished down. Based on the tracks it looks like a big bear with a cub broke into the run, and I'm guessing the squished down tops are from the ducks flying over the top. There weren't any feathers or blood, I think the bears were just looking to get to the feeder.
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I couldn't find sign of anymore ducks. I herded the six into the old goat corral, and I put the feeder into an out building with a door I could latch. Later that night I was driving down the road and saw something at the end of our driveway. I spun the car around and saw six more ducks, which I herded all the way back to the goat pen. Today I still only have six ducks total, so I suspect it was the original group and they just wandered out of the goat pen and got lost.

This afternoon a really big black bear wandered through our yard. I grabbed my shotgun and fired a slug into the ground to try to scare it off. It ran for a ways and then stopped, so I went back into the house and grabbed a couple rounds of birdshot to fire into the air. (Brenneke Black Magic slugs are too expensive to use as noise makers.)
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I need to get some rubber buckshot or slugs for added incentive. I also need to put electric wire around the run next year.


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