Last week we recapped the dates of the first day in the vegetable garden over the course of the five years we’ve been at Three Bird Farm, asking the question of if we are late this year. Because it sure feels late! As it turns out, we’re pretty much on schedule. While we have started earlier (26 March in 2016) and later (17 April in 2013), it’s usually around this time when we start cleaning the beds and prepping them for planting. The difference this year?
The seven silver Appleyards had just about the best day ever. At almost a year old, they are confident and have certainly honed their foraging skills. One of the (many) reasons we opted for ducks over chickens is because of their known foraging prowess without the damaging scratching for which chickens are known. Seven ducks in the garden keep the snails and slugs at bay, and, well, they are also darn cute and personable!
In addition to cleaning the beds and turning in some compost, we need to also continue rebuilding the raised beds. Last spring we rebuilt four of the beds, and this year we hope to get another four done. First however, we need to get seeds planted…and duckproof those beds. While the ducks are great at foraging for pests, they are also superb at eating pea shoots!
The compost is still frozen in the center, so we also spent some time today turning it to get it back to cooking. Turning it over, we found plenty of black gold on the bottom. As you may remember, we built the current compost bin set-up last spring, and it’s served us well so far.
Finally, we decided to tackle the vine mountain growing on an old, dead apple tree beyond the the duckhouse in the picture above.
In this area, we want to create a largish run for the ducks that is predator proofed, so the tangled mess has to finally go. The two things we wish we had done differently with the duckhouse are 1) create an area to easily separate a duck that may be either injured, broody or just needs a time out, and 2) create a space to store food and other essentials at the duckhouse. So, with those two things in mind, we started clearing some space. We also want to have another area that is safe from avian predators for daytime shenanigans–our plan to free range the ducks during the day got changed when Amelia was attacked last summer.