Living the waterfowl life

An older photo of our birds (have lost some to predators and freak accident)




Layer two and three and four

So I went out and got a truck full of horse manure today and put layer two on the garden.



After the manure I put a layer of top soil and then, to protect my seedlings from our destructive chickens, a cattle panel that fits exactly over



The beds are the exact width too for our chicken tractor, so after growing is done, we can let them corralled in there to dig up the soil and contribute some more manure

Too much going on

We’re trying to get away for a few days next month and before that time I’ve got to get some garden beds going and get Duckingham Palace at least partially built. The major growing season in florida is coming up this winter and October is getting to be the very latest to start plants. I have two big beds created from cinder block border in zone 1. I am going to layer it this way: about 1 block height of mulch, then half a block height of manure and then some fill dirt/sand/top soil for the final half block height. My thinking is this, with all that mulch at the bottom there should remain a descent supply of moisture, along with the horse manure which should have nutrients and hold some more moisture and then the top layer which will hopefully provide the air layer, though with so much sand here, I may need to add some perlite to create those pockets for air. This is the start of the procedure with the block height of mulch. Underneath the mulch is a sheet mulch of cardboard to hopefully squash some of the weeds in the area. The beds are 13 blocks long and 3 blocks sandwiched into those long sides, 64 blocks total per bed. The imperial measurement of the growing area is about 3’11” by 15’7″. I have two of these situated between rows of trees in our orchard.


Major animal loses

Recently a bobcat has started coming onto our land and over the past 5 weeks or so we have lost 3 chickens, a male duck and an unknown sexed goose. I personally caught the cat in the act with the goose on Friday the 13th. I was able to scare the bobcat into dropping the bird, so at least he didn’t get the meal and I was able to bury it for soil enrichment. The downside is, it died in my arms while I was carrying it 😦 Sad times. We are currently looking at ways to protect them.

Here is the suspect


Duckingham Palace

The acquisition of what was supposed to be 4 geese and 2 ducks turned into 5 geese and 3 ducks with the original shipment containing an extra goose but the wrong sex ducks and a second shipment of ducks. Needless to say the original chicken tractor and roost will NEVER hold everybody, so planning for a monster concrete block structure has spawned in the brain and in Google SketchUp. It will allow for future, unplanned, but probable bird expansion. Below is start of preparation of the concrete pad area, removing vegetation (read weeds).



Today, I got out my circle making device (a rope and stake) and measured off the outside radius and the inside radius (of the planting mound), which means everything inside of the inner radius will be the mulch/compost pit. Using the second countryside organics bag that was nearly empty (thankfully buckets were invented), I laid down the weed barrier and started mounding the dirt from the pit onto where the planting will occur. It will be about 3 feet wide at the base and maybe 2-3 feet high. The overall diameter of the outer circle is 12 feet and the mulch/compost pit will be about 6 feet across and maybe 3 feet deep, though, everything at the bottom will be stuck in an anaerobic state under water. The water level was still 16 inches below grade but you can tell by the darker (wet) dirt up higher that it looks to be about 10 inches below grade with our current weather situation. So hopefully the mound combined with grade will give a deep enough area for roots but not become completely water logged. Not sure how the other plants that will go in (comfrey, lemongrass, cow pea and maybe taro) will do, but we must experiment and fail if we are ever to succeed. Here are some pics





And finally the birds eye view from a ladder


So, the information started rolling in and I stumbled upon a meet up group for the Naples area and now the wheels are turning.

After the sun went down ( not any cooler since I have to completely cover up against mosquitos), I started the first path in the middle of what will be two banana circles.

Here is the pano with the circles drawn. This approximately 1/3 acres is almost entirely in standing water from now until October except this figure 8 of higher ground. So when I dig out the 2 mulch pits in the circle centers, I’ll be able to get it up slightly higher. I will do those and probably wait another month to see where the water table is then.


Underneath the mulch is the paper bag from our countryside organics feed. It seemed to be the perfect width for a foot path and what better way to recycle an organic feed bag?!



The success was hinging upon an actual crawl off, up the ramp and down into the bucket. Well it has happened 3 different times now and I haven’t seen any yet come out the drip hole at the bottom


And the chickens are satisfied with the results too



Around the orchard

Here are a few current pics.

The passion fruit will be 8 weeks in the middle of July. Not sure why the one is shrinking and wrinkled.



The Anna apple


And two Dorsett Golden apples



The pineapple doesn’t have a fruit stalk yet but a sucker is coming out from the base



This creepy spider was on the Barbados Cherry bush and some very tiny flower buds are starting to form



And finally a Valencia orange, which seems way behind where it should be for this time of year.


So I finally put this out a week or two ago and looked yesterday to see larvae crawling around. It is full of coffee grounds from Starbucks and then things like cucumber peels, home coffee grounds, chicken fat and other misc kitchen scraps and topped off with a layer of cut grass. The flies seem to like laying in bins with just layers of grass over any cardboard laying spot I give them on the underside of a roof. A Tupperware lid from Goodwill (the bottom half is being used as a watering hole for bees) that is nearly perfect size keeps excess rain out. Here are some photos.




And collecting the leaching liquid


I had just dumped a cup or two of rain water that had collected on top of the lid.

I’ll have to see how the crawl off ramp works before I declare total success