Thursday, May 19, 2011

Buff Duck and a wide variety of beans

Sunnyside Farm is fenced all around. 4 foot wire on t-posts, an electric line across the top of that, and 2 feet more of wire fencing on the ground abutting the upright fence. We have, over the years, learned hard and ugly lessons about what a fox can do in an amazingly short period of time. We have lost as many as 200 2 week old chickens in one the fox and, we assume, a few of their friends. They can dig quickly and efficiently right under a fence and still have time to empty the portable chicken pen.

And we wanted ducks. When Homer's parents and sister Pat farmed on Maryland's eastern shore they were overrun with mosquitoes. There are jokes all over the DelMarVa peninsula that the mosquito is the state bird, and if you should ever decide to camp on Assateague Island, make certain there are no holes in your netting! Homer would visit their farm, and noticed the ducks running, with mouths open, catching mosquitoes by the hundreds. When we put down roots here in PA, we had not the massive mosquito problem as the shore does, but we had our fair share of skeeters, enough that we could not eat outside some nights. We decided to get ducks, as spraying to kill mosquitoes is just not an option for us. I loved the Buff Ducks I saw at the PA farm show, and ordered some from McMurray Hatchery. We had 8, but sometime last summer the fox did get in and killed 3. So now we have 5. One the above footage he is the last one to leave the loaf of bread, he looks a little different with a darker head and a more orange bill. We have hatched ducks this year, and they are growing like crazy at the Mitchell's house, we are told the kids love them! More are in the incubator and under some chickens and some ducks, we hope for more ducklings as the weather gets warmer. And we walk the fence line on a regular basis, to repair any damage, make certain every gate opening is tight fitting, and to clear brush that might stop the electric from working.

most views of the ducks look like this, as they roam the property:

Last year when we planted beans the geese and the ducks ate every sprout as they came up in the garden. Our CSA members did not get any beans from us, as beans take a long time to grow, our growing season is not quite long enough to get beans from a second shipment and planting. Homer and Jerry replaced the fence around the entire vegetable growing area, and there is even a double fence around the bean growing area. The beans will climb up the fencing, making for easier harvest. Here is the list of legumes planted this year:

Lazy Wife Greasy Bean
Blue Coco Snap
Green Asparagus
Black Turtle
Jacobs Cattle
Lima Christmas
Purple Asparagus
Whippoorwill Cowpeas
Willow Leaf White Cowpeas

Some of these are better fresh, some are better dried, then reconstituted in the dead of winter when summer and the fresh vegetables are a distant memory. We have planted a lot, and plan to be able to provide to our members an abundance of many colored beans this year. The fencing is too tight for the ducks to squeeze through, too tight for the geese to get their heads through, and as long as we keep the gates closed we will have a bean crop in 2011. If the sun ever comes out again!

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