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
At this time we have just one variety of fish, tilapia. As a cook my goal is to make this fish every way possible, but not recognize it as tilapia. If store bought tilapia is your idea of tilapia, you would not recognize our fresh from the tank, farm raised fish. Sweet, flaky, white meat, it is perfect. I pan fry it whole, coated with corn meal, Cuban style and I make New England fish chowder with it. Fish tacos, fish salad, ceviche, the possibilities are endless. I will smoke some this weekend when we smoke pork bellies for bacon. Think smoked fish dip, perhaps Finnan Haddie. I also want to salt tilapia, think salted cod, anchovies and other salted or dried and slightly salted fish, like fish jerky. The salted tilapia pizza will be awesome.
I know our fish are raised with kindness in pure fresh water, no chemicals, no antibiotics, and with love. That is as good as it gets in life for them and for us. I prepare them with love, cook them superbly, and honor them at the table.
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.
By Philip "Felipe" Hancock