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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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