Six Weeks of Being Betrayed

Six Weeks of Being Betrayed

It has been six weeks since we moved here, and it has been six weeks of being betrayed. Betrayal is a nasty word and one that is only fitting for our situation. Our lives have been filled with joy, happiness, inspiration, and wonder. Simmi is acclimating to life in our semi-wild location. Dom has been busy with work. Sara has been working around the land and taking care of the horses.

And me? Betrayed by my own body. My autoimmune problems have gone away, but in its place comes my clumsy ways where I bang into walls, trip over small sticks, bang my head on corners of cabinets, lose my balance standing on the first step of a ladder, and cramp my hands up so bad that I can barely pick up an ax or hammer without it slipping through my fingers.

It all started when Simmi destroyed the zippers (both sets!) on her tent. The first set is on the outside of the tent, and the second set is on the screen. You see, she LOVES to make a small opening in the tent, and then dive in. There is no time to unzip the tent properly because what’s the fun in that?! No, this child wants to dive through the smallest opening possible. I kept telling her not to do that because she’ll damage the tent, but she didn’t believe me.

And then it happened. Both zippers broke. It’s not like we can take the tent down and just run it through my sewing machine to repair it. I have to sew it all by hand. The key word is hand. I had zippers from the extra tent we have, so I removed them and started sewing. It took four hours to get the first set of zippers properly attached. My hands were so cramped it was difficult to type or do any work. It took nearly a week for my hands to start working properly. Once they were somewhat recovered, I had to get the second set of zippers put on because a storm was coming.

Six more hours of sewing the outer zipper. This zipper was more of a challenge because of the thickness of the canvas. After I finished the second set, I could barely move my hands. I was betrayed by my own body. But I did it to myself. I pushed through and destroyed myself.

Six weeks of being betrayed.

My hands are finally getting back to normal. I still have problems with fine motor skills and typing is somewhat of a problem, but I can use my ax again without fear of it slipping out of my hand and cutting open my head or leg, or anyone standing in close proximity. Being accident prone is something I’ve always had to contend with, but when hands are so cramped they can’t do what they’re told, it makes my issues with banging into things and falling even worse.

It’s kind of like when you bang your toe on something and then all the sudden you keep banging it in that same area. When I fall because I tripped over a small twig or leaves (yes, I’ve tripped over a leaf last week) and my hands aren’t working properly, my fall is even worse because I can’t catch myself.

Betrayal sucks!

Beyond my quirky accident-prone ways, things are going great here. Here are some photos of the goings on around here…

Dom built a temporary teepee greenhouse. The poles were taken from trees the horses stripped.

We originally wanted to use our leftover plastic furniture wrap. It kept snagging and ripping so we ended up using some plastic we had laying around.

I sewed fabric straps to anchor onto the outside. Dom will need to attach them where I can’t reach. The straps keep the plastic from moving and provides a way for me to string up the outside and inside of the teepee to prevent the plastic from moving too much in the wind.

We added a door lined with chicken wire to prevent the chickens from getting in. They have been conspiring all week to get in and eat my little sprouts. We’ll be adding bricks to the front since it gets pretty muddy at the entrance.

The door was made from branches and attached with some old cabinet hinges we had. Making this little greenhouse was fun and it didn’t cost any money to make.

The seedlings have been enjoying their new home. We currently have artichokes coming up in the aquaponic system and next week they’ll be moved to the greenhouse.

I’ve had this cutie pie with the most adorable little freckles helping to move the seedlings into the greenhouse.

See what I mean? As I was stripping the bark off the poles, the chickens were plotting the great seedling heist. A few of them managed to get in there and I had to chase them out.

My girl has the best laugh.

She loves playing cards with her dad. She likes to trash talk while playing. It’s hilarious. When I hear Dom and Simmi playing, and she’ll say to Dom as she wins, “Eat it old man!”

I love him.

We started building the chicken compost run. It’s made from wood that was laying on the property, screwed together and lashed with jute. The side walls will have welded wire attached, and chicken wire will line the top. We have a nice stinky pile of compost under that tarp. On the right side is where the horses are (they’ll be moved soon to the pasture full time), when they are out of the area I’ll be putting tomatoes on that side. Tomatoes can handle compost so it will be a good set up and it will shade the compost pile and the chickens towards the end of the day. We’ll also be adding honeysuckle and trumpet vine to the chicken run to shade the girls all summer. They’ll also attract many pollinators for the garden.

At the close of Sunday evening a few weeks ago, Dom was frustrated, hot, bothered, and ready to be done. We pushed through the dehydration and cramping hands during mid-day in the hot sun because we needed to get the chicken run covered with chicken wire to protect the posts from the horses. Yet, even with a torn meniscus and working on the uneven ground all dehydrated and weather-worn, the end of the day scowl was the only thing showing his pain. I feel fortunate to have such an amazing person to walk through this life with. When he came home from work he apologized to me for the way he handled the day. I was unsure why he needed to apologize. He said, “I love that we get to work together, but I know I could have made the whole day more fun for both of us. Instead, I barreled through and made everything a chore.” What he doesn’t understand is that every moment I spend with him is heaven, and the fact that he would apologize and want to make it even better rocks my world.

We have wild grape vines setting their fruit. We’ll be cutting back most of the vines in this area and grafting different types of table grapes to them. We’ll be putting up a pergola for Farm to Table events and the new grapes will grace the pergola.

I got my hands on the last pot of Spanish lavender. I’ll be taking cuttings to make a lot of lavender that will grow down the driveway and in the potager garden and well, everywhere else. I love lavender!

Scored some rhubarb and I’ll be planting it next week.

When the Benadryl hits hard, goofy faces happen.

Sara is loading horse manure onto each of the market garden beds. Soon we’ll dig the pathways and form the beds.

Hopefully, in the next few weeks, my hands will be fully recovered. In the meantime, I’ll be busy creating new plants from cuttings, planting more seeds, continuing to work on the market garden, and working on the business hub. Now that I can type again, I can also start writing more blog posts!

Oh, and in two months we’ll be welcoming some ducklings! I’m so excited about that. We’ll be driving to Arizona to pick up Dutch Hookbill Ducklings. I haven’t decided how many we’ll purchase, yet. This month I’ll be ordering the pond liner and getting the duck area ready. It’ll take a month to get all the rocks moved into their pond.

Pictured above is a Dutch Hookbill Duck. We’ll be getting our ducklings from someone who is preserving this breed in Arizona. She’s an excellent photographer as well!

Here’s what the Livestock Conservancy says about the Dutch Hookbill:

This unique and very old Dutch breed of duck is thought to have originated in the Netherlands between the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in the province of Noord-Holland. As the name implies, the breed is characterized by its downward curving beak, setting it apart from other duck breeds. It is believed that this trait was particularly useful to duck breeders in making it easier for hunters to distinguish Hookbills from wild ducks that inhabited the same areas as the domesticated birds. In Holland these ducks were managed in the waterways and canals of the countryside and they were expected to forage for most of their own food. Today they are still among the best foragers of domestic ducks.
According to the Dutch Association of Breeders of Domesticated Waterfowl (Nederlandse Vereniging van fokkers van gedomesticeerd watervogels) the Hookbill duck and the Noord-Holland White Breasted duck (also known as the Witborst duck) had similar genealogies. Their exact origin has never been determined but it is speculated that the breeds developed from early importations of Indian Runners. This idea is supported by J. Bonenkamp in the magazine Avicultura (8/1990) where he accounts of finding pure Hookbill ducks among groups of ducks in East India.

The unique appearance of the Hookbill made them desirable as ornamental birds but early on the Hookbill was known for being excellent layers of eggs. That combined with their remarkable foraging capability made the breed widely popular on Dutch farms. In Holland, in the 18th century ducks were provided a place to nest and feed while they were brooding, then ducks and ducklings were all sent out to the surrounding wetlands to forage for their own food and received no further supplemental food. The wings of the ducklings were clipped to make them easier to catch later. By mid-August the birds were gathered and sent to market in Purmerend, where they were purchased by duck keepers who would use them for egg production. The birds kept for breeding were selected to be sturdy and disease resistant, self-sufficient, adaptable to new circumstances, and efficient layers needing less food than other breeds in order to be productive.

The Dutch Hookbill breed declined in the 20th century due to a diminished market for duck eggs and the effect of increasingly polluted waterways that served as their home. By 1980 the Hookbill was nearly extinct, but through a Dutch effort led by Hans van de Zaan, the last 15 birds were collected and used to start a conservation breeding program in the Netherlands.

Dave Holderread was among the first to import the Dutch Hookbill into the United States in 2000. He found that there were three bill types in the population: extreme curve, moderate curve, and straight. In his book Storey’s Guide to Raising Ducks (2011), Holderread outlines that the most effective breeding strategy was to cross birds with moderately curved beaks to each other or an extremely curved beaked bird with a straight beaked bird as the best breeding options. He found that crosses between birds with extreme curved beaks had poor egg fertility. There are still very few primary breeding flocks of Dutch Hookbills in the United States.

Dutch Hookbill ducks have excellent flight capability, especially younger individuals. The birds reach sexual maturity very quickly by around 16 weeks of age. Healthy ducks can be expected to lay anywhere from 100 – 225+ eggs per year. They come in three primary color variations: dusky, white, and white-bibbed dusky. Other colors exist but not in great numbers here in the US. The Hookbill is a remarkable breed that deserves a second look as a viable and efficient egg producer for small scale farming.





365 Days of Planting: Days 57-78

I’m trying to play catch up with my 365 Days of Planting. I don’t plant every single day right now, but as soon as the weeping hoses are installed I will get back to planting everyday. Right now the watering schedule takes up about 2 hours of my morning, which is the prime time to really plant or do any manual labor. It gets super hot out and with no rain in sight, it may turn out to be a scorcher this summer, with very little relief.
Anyway, here is a follow up of everything that has been planted since June 14th:

  • Sweet potato slips (they didn’t take…all died)
  • A very large patch of potatoes
  • Black seeded Simpson lettuce
  • Lolla Rossa lettuce
  • Red salad bowl
  • Royal Oak leaf
  • Giant Caesar
  • Grand Rapids lettuce
  • Prize leaf lettuce
  • Two Black Star watermelon
  • Two Butternut Squash
  • Six Sand cherry bushes
  • Seven Fig trees
  • Two- Three leaf Sumac shrubs
  • Two- Fern bush
  • More Mammoth sunflowers
  • Petunias
  • Desert Red Bird of Paradise
  • Two Mulberry Trees

Our Paulownia trees shipped out yesterday and should arrive I think tomorrow or Friday. We’ll be planting them next week. Also, our neighbor we get all our horse manure from is digging up his mulberry trees and asked if we wanted them…we said HELL YEAH! I love mulberries.

Our property is really starting to morph into something completely new. I love it. I can’t wait till everything starts to mature and take on a life of its own.

The ducklings turned one month old today. We officially have only one duckling named. When my daughter Hannah was visiting for brunch this past Sunday, she caught the little guy in the photo to the left and started laughing as he/she peeped really loud in protest to being picked up. As she was laughing she said “I think this one’s name should be Frankie!” I asked her, “What if its a girl?” Hannah’s reply to this was “Well that is even more funny then!” So whether Frankie turns out to be a drake or a duck, the name shall stay.

Frankie will actually be a part of our breeding stock.

The ducklings are all getting so big and they are losing their peeping sounds. They are starting to quack and it just sounds so cute.

In about two weeks they will go through a transformation of sorts where they molt their baby feathers to make way for their adult feathers. That should be a treat right? We’ll have feathers everywhere and they will look like true ugly ducklings at that stage.

Betty Complex is going through a similar transformation and instead of looking like “Betty Complex” she is looking more like “Ugly Betty!” LOL

Around Our Property

We have been very busy over the last week planting, planning and digging.
I was digging holes planting strawberries and planning out our Mediterranean garden, and Dom and Vicki were digging out the pond for our new ducklings.

Of course the ducklings can’t go into the pond until they are a bit older, but we are getting ready for their arrival.

The photo to the left is of our Lily of the Nile.

I find these flowers captivating and beautiful. They just have this way of commanding our full and undivided attention.

Each morning when I go out to water our newest additions to the garden, I keep staring and staring as though I were waiting for them to speak to me. I think they do speak to me…they speak peace. Their graceful ways, royal hues of color and majestic elegance make me want to bow down and claim my allegiance. I am altogether enraptured by them.

Other things planted this past week are Waxleaf Ligustrum, Everbearing strawberries, Concord grapes, Redflame grapes, green grapes.

I have a theme going for our Mediterranean garden but we came to find out this morning that we can’t grow olives here. That makes me very upset since all the research I’ve done to date indicated that there are certain olives that will grow in zone 7.

When we went to order them this morning, the sales man wouldn’t even recommend we purchase them for our area, and he had no suitable olive that would grow here. I thought I was going to cry! But I must say that I found his honesty refreshing since he didn’t just try to sell us the trees anyway to make a quick buck.

If anyone reading this is from the Albuquerque area and you are growing olives successfully, please leave me a comment to let me know what kind of olives you have. We really want to grow them here, but I’m unwilling to sacrifice four good trees just to “see” if they will grow here.

In the Mediterranean garden we’ll also be planting figs.  Obviously everything in this particular garden is not Mediterranean, but maybe that makes it extra special to me.

Finding some outstanding hyssop will be next on my agenda to plant near the grapes, and we’ve been looking at some gorgeous ground covers for color and interest. Here are a few photos of the areas we are working on:

Planted in the front row on each side of this little garden are lavender…four on each side. Behind the lavender are strawberries. Behind the strawberries are Waxleaf Ligustrum. Beyond the Waxleaf near the fence is one of our artichoke patches and up against the fence are Armenian cucumbers growing.

This photo is of the other side of the same little garden. Hooking around to the left are strawberries, in the center is a pomegranate, in the front is lavender, and of course in the center is Lily of the Nile.

I don’t have photos of our grapes yet since I planted them yesterday and I still need to shape the area.

Below is a flashback from what the area looked like last year before we planted the Mediterranean garden:

Here are some photos of Dom and Vicki beginning the process of digging the pond out. We were going to do the pond in the chicken pasture, but at the last moment changed our minds and decided to place it in the front of the house.

We have a really nice slope that goes up to the side porch and we do want to have a butterfly room in front of of the porch. Having a pond right in front will create a micro climate for when we have butterflies…especially when we need to overwinter them.