Monday, April 4, 2011


Yesterday we added a new species to the farm.  Four Welsh Harlequin ducks, about 6 months old and just started laying.  I had planned on getting Indian Runner ducks (primarly because they are good layers and the come in the 'typical' white with orange bill colouring - our daughter is a mad Jemimah Puddleduck fan...).  As it is the Welsh Harlequin is a rare duck breed, which was derived from the Kahki Campbell duck - which is a very good layer.

The ducks are very beautiful (I would love to get a drake of the same breed they are stunning!), and fairly calm for ducks, although they don't really like the kids running around them too much.  At the moment they are confined to a small pen and yard.  I have 2 side by side, so I'll rotate the ducks between the yards once it gets too muddy.  We will eventually fence off an orchard and let them run around there.  I'd love to set up a 'duckaponics' system to grow rice, but that will probably be a few years down the track.

Our reasoning for getting ducks is to complement the egg laying of our hens - ducks are happy in the winter and lay well when the hens mope an moult their feathers and don't lay much.  The ducks will slow down when the hens will pick up the pace in summer.  We do lots of baking and cooking and use lots of eggs, so diversifying our egg production is important to keep us in good fresh eggs. 

The kids are rapped in the latest additions, and the paler duck is of course Jemimah Puddleduck. 

Saturday, April 2, 2011


Its been a while since I've posted on the blog.  Life has been very full, and there is just never enough hours in the day to do it all! 

We have had an amazing growing season here.  Although the weather hasn't been as typically warm as most years, we have had LOTS of rain (over 200mm in February...  2 years ago we had about 7mm!!!).  Everything has remained green, which has been lovely, and has meant no worrying about bushfires or watering the garden.  I'm enjoying it, although it has meant that we have had a dismal tomaoe harvest this year. 

We have enjoyed a very abundant zuchinni harvest however!!!  I've had to get a bit creative with using them up!  This year I've grown capsicums for the first time and I'll definately be planting them again.  They have been pretty successful.  I also planted sweetcorn which grew well, but we did have issues with pollination (I think our site is too windy). 

Currently we are getting LOTS of apples (from our own tree as well as from friends and roadside trees).  I've bottled some lovely cooking apples from a nearby organic apple orchard, and made some chutney, and cakes etc.  I've also got a batch of apple and blackberry wine on the go.  I'm still hoping to make a batch of apple butter or sauce or something and maybe some more bottled apples.  

In the next few years our fruit trees that we have been planting will start to bear fruit and we will be able to enjoy a real abundance.

I've spent a bit of my time building a duck pen to house a few ducks for eggs.  We finished it off today.  As I understand it, duck are much better winter layers than hens, so they'll offset the reduced egg production from the hens. Next up on my list is to improve my vegetable garden fencing (and expand it - its currently about 8mx8m but I think double would be ideal). 

Work on the house building has stalled, but I think work may start up again soon.  Its hard as owner builders to find the balance between working to pay for the building and doing the actual building.  Both take alot of time.  I think there will be an update on the house soon on the blog.