First thing in the morning, the first joy of my life presents itself, feeding my ducks and cleaning their pool. I love those fat waddling little quackers. Love hearing them greet me, I can feel their excitement and anticipation as they come running. I talk to them as if I expected an answer, even answering my own questions. Probably nearly the same conversation everyday if I was to tape it. They always make me happy to start my day 5am-ish, rain or shine. Animals need fed and water cleaned before coffee, they are my start button.
The duck children are growing, their protected area has expanded, they now live in Duck World, have a pool and a pond. They just discovered the pond 3 days ago as they inched and explored their way down the hill ever so carefully, eating bugs and greens along the way before the big reveal. It took them most of a week to gather the courage to venture off any distance.
Run-off from the tilapia tank floods their pond and keeps it fresh continuously. They return to the pool each afternoon and nest near it. Ending their big adventure with some cracked corn and banana leaves....love those banana leaves along with culantro leaves and the best part, culantro flowers. Yum Yum...
By Ginnee Hancock (aka: Duck Mom)
Living off-grid comes with lots of manual labor for the woman of the house. No dishwasher, just our hands scrubbing away. Not many 1st world conveniences in my house, so I look for things that bring me joy.
It is wonderful to see them maturing and becoming more independent. They are beautiful and I am thankful for the joy they bring to my life each day. It is the little things in life that I have learned to appreciate on the farm.
By Ginnee Hancock
Katuk is a plant that few people had or knew about where we live. The leaves are 49% protein and contain twice as much calcium as milk does. It tastes like a cross between almonds and fresh garden peas. The first leaf I tasted had me exclaiming...WOW! It was love at first bite. We had to have rows of Katuk for our farm. Our friends, who introduced us to Katuk, gave us some cuttings and my husband rooted them in the nursery. We waited patiently for the plants to grow and resisted the urge to sample the leaves; we did not pluck one delicious green leaf from our precious new crop. We knew where we wanted our new edible hedge and carefully planted the young plants. A few days later, much to our horror, the leaf cutter ants had stripped every single leaf from every plant. A bit of a bummer, I really was in love with this leaf and its awesome fresh flavor. Thankfully, the leaf cutters finally tired of the Katuk and moved on to strip the young citrus trees of their leaves. The naked little plants survived and new leaves emerged. Worried that I would run out of Katuk to eat, I planted more and more that blossomed into a small forest of Katuk. I planted our edible hedge along our road thinking that it would be food for people walking by. Most folks don't forage as they walk about and although they may be hungry, they pass on by these tasty leaves.
I am known to be obsessive at times, so they say. For a while my obsession was Spinach and it was part of every meal, sometimes a big part. It took hours to clean massive amounts. I even thought about cleaning it in the washing machine on a low, slow, cold water cycle. Seriously, I came close to proto-typing this technique. Katuk is easy to clean and grows clean, unlike spinach. Fortunately the Katuk went wild and I can strip the leaves and edible flowers off in seconds, a quick rinse and we are ready for fine dining. I changed my obsession to Katuk and now give most of the spinach to the ducks. They don't have my gourmet pallet, don't yet have the appreciation for Katuk that the leaf cutters and I have. Too bad for them, we have an unlimited supply.
As I have stripped the leaves off, I have replanted almost every stem. I gave stems and instructions to everyone who crossed my path. We also had the stems planted at the local school. I know some folks were saying, OMG she is eating the hedge. I was. I am. So many stems, so easy to grow, so much nutrition, so delicious... I love Katuk!
By Ginnee Hancock
Ducks, aren't they beautiful, sweet, graceful beings? We have a beautiful little pond with banks of wild grasses and Malanga on the edges. We got the ducks as babies and after they got big enough to fend for themselves, we introduced the little beasties to their new environment and they love it. They love eating mud and seeking bugs like we thought they would. They stay busy rooting, pecking, and .... destroying every plant they come into contact with, including the Malanga (Cassava). Who knew?
Do they know it takes a full year to grow that Malanga? No, I don't think they care. They ate the leaves, destroyed the plants and then they dug into the tubers and ate those. The beautiful expensive Lilly pads that were prospering and the tilapia liked......gone. Because they had never lived in the wild fending for themselves, we make sure that they have grain available to them, so it is not that they are super hungry with nothing to eat; it is just what ducks do. They muck up their environment. Although a bit surprised, we now know what to expect and can plan accordingly. No more fancy water plants for a while.
We have more ducks to release, a different kind, but I expect the same results. They will be set free in a different pond. We tried to integrate them with the beasties, but the beasties attempted to kill the new guys, looked as if they were trying to drown them, it was ugly. So much for pond peace....it’s my dirt, my pond, my water, my mud, my bugs…..little narcissist ducks.
The ducks smell, we expected that, but the tilapias who share their pond are thriving on the algae that are helped along by the duck poo. The smell does not affect us as they are far enough from the house in their natural environment. If you plan on doing ducks yourself, although you may think that eating breakfast and watching the ducks is pretty cool, you really do not want the pond close to your home or to be up wind from where you dine.
The green season is just beginning and the 240 to 300 inches of rain that we receive should help to clean the air, refresh the ponds and make ducks happy.