DuckTubSwimAccording to one of my duck books, exposure to water over their backs at an early age (three days) activates a duck’s oil gland. That way, as they lose their baby fuzz and their new feathers come in, they already have a functioning oil gland, and can waterproof themselves. If this is not done, the oil gland does not activate until the ducks are about 8 weeks old. In my mind, waterproofing = better insulated, so the sooner the better.

So Saturday, Sunday and Monday, it was “let’s go to the pool” day at our house. I filled my rectangle plastic tub (which I use for, I don’t know, about a million different purposes over the course of a year) with warm tap water, just deep enough that they could still stand up, and the ducks went for a swim/splash. They LOVE the water, and after a few minutes of splashing around, slowly getting waterlogged, back they went into the brooder under the heat lamp to dry off.

Meanwhile, in the background, Rossi fussed and whined and stuck his head through the cat door. He SO wanted to help (or just be wherever I was at all times, which is flattering, but also sometimes gets to be a bit much, depending on the moment).

Meanwhile, early season crops are getting planted, and it’s hard to remember, when you look at all of that bare ground, what it will look like in a few months. In the ground: garlic and shallots (from last fall), scallions, potatoes, cilantro, dill, parsley, lettuce, radish, arugula, kale, chard, spinach, beets, peas, kohlrabi, and a few broccoli and cabbages started inside about a month ago. People sometimes ask me what I grow. And I want to say, “Let me tell you what I don’t grow. It would be a faster list”.

Soil temperature? About 52 degrees. Growing degree days as of today? 126.5. Growing degree days on this date last year? 40. We’re way ahead in terms of accumulated warmth. The pear tree is blooming gloriously and the apple trees (crab) are just about to pop. We ate our first harvest of asparagus for dinner on Friday. And had a mild frost on the night of April 8th, which set back the few potatoes that were bravely poking their heads above ground. That will teach ’em.

Meanwhile, a new incubator temperature “waffer” is installed, and a new batch of turkey and duck eggs is incubating. Only 26 days to go. Grin. Fingers crossed for a better hatch this time, and for baby turkeys!

Miles Away Farm Blog © 2013, where the ducks are growing fast, and we’ve invented a bit of a multi-tiered waterer, so that when they go through a quart of water in 4 hours, some of it remains in the next container down until they manage to splash it into the waiting “trash” container below the watering platform. Messy babies. I keep thinking that one of those chocolate fountains they use at weddings would come in handy about now. And they are only a week old!