Opening day was great! The sun was hot, the customers enjoyed the garden, and I managed to get a lot of work done too!
I don't think I've mentioned yet that Pink-Pink is sitting on a nest of eggs have I?.....here's the story:
For the whole month of May she had been really "Broody." (Broody is a word to describe a duck's behaviour when she is ready to sit on eggs. In nature, a duck lays an egg a day in a out-of-the-way place, and when she's laid about 10 she will sit on them without getting off for more than an a few minutes a day.) We would literally have to push Pink-Pink off the nest to get her eggs. She has never shown this much interest in nesting before so I decided that when I got back from bear hunting I would let her sit on some eggs. Well, the day I left she was so mad when I shooed her off the nest that she broke some of the eggs (domesticated ducks share nests, so although she only lays one egg a day she is always sitting on a pile of eggs when I shoo her off the nest). As soon as I gathered the eggs she rushed back onto the nest to sit. I felt so bad for her that I decided to let her have some...I selected 7 of the day's unbroken eggs and slipped them back underneath her.
Then we left on the boat. I was worried about her....so I kept calling home to check on how she was doing. She was very committed to the nest....so I felt good about that, but since she was in the hutch I was worried that the other ducks would crawl in the nest with her every morning and lay more eggs. This would be bad for many reasons:
-she needs to keep them all the same temp and humidity
-she rolls them over several times a day, possibly bringing the outside ones to the inside and moving the inside ones to the outside...so if she is not physically covering them all at all times they will probably all perish
-ducklings will hatch at different times...pulling her attention in too many directions...causing ducklings to die
-the possibility of eggs getting broken increases with lots of ducks entering and exiting the nest
When I called home the next morning after they collected the eggs to get an egg count I was told that they had only gathered 6 eggs. The morning count is usually closer to 12, so I knew right away that the other ducks were laying additional eggs in her nest. I asked Carolyn to fashion some sort of door for the inner hutch to separate Pink-Pink from the herd in the morning during egg-laying time, but that evening when it was time to lock them up for the night she just happened to be off the nest! SHOOT! The next night, and the following nights after that, she was on the nest at lock-up time, so separation was complete.WHEW! The door is removed during the day, so she is able to get off the nest and get to the pond, but at night it is replaced to keep the other pesky egg-layers out in the morning .
Once I was home I watched her while I was working in the garden, and at the first available opportunity when she was off the nest I snuck into the hutch and counted the eggs.............16! WOW! That is pretty marginal......but it seems she is completely covering them, so let's hope for the best.
Ducks sit motionless on the nest for hours at a time, for days on end. I just marvel at how still they can be for so long! They only get off the nest for a few minutes a day......and then they hurriedly eat, drink, groom themselves, poop a tremendously large pile of poop, and scurry back onto the nest. Sometimes they hunch over with their tail feathers spread out and put up a show of quacking and hissing to tell everyone to get out of their way while they are doing all of that too.
Every time I go check on Pink-Pink she is sitting in a different position, so I know she is turning the eggs faithfully, but I have never seen her move around on the nest ONCE! She is so secretive....I really would love to watch her stand up and turn over each egg, one at a time, and sit back down again.....but she won't let me.
Ducks lay on their eggs for 28 days before they hatch, so be looking for ducklings about July 1.
Watching baby ducklings hatch is so much fun, but the question begs to be asked, "What am I going to do with 16 more ducks?"
THE U-Pick GARDEN will be closing August 20th. This will be the last year the garden will be open to the public. Next year I'll be operating as a CSA, supplying about 20 regular customers with weekly boxes. Thank you for your support over the last 8 years, but it's time to try something new.
To get a copy of my book, "How To Grow Vegetables In Sitka, Alaska" just give me a call....The books are $20 plus tax. If you live out of town and want me to mail you a copy, you can mail a check for $25.60 to:
P O Box 6021
Down To Earth U-Pick Garden is located at 2103 Sawmill Creek Road in Sitka, Alaska. It is open usually from mid-June through late August. Hours are Monday-Saturday 12:00 to 6:30. On Farmer's Market Saturdays I am not open until 2:00. Children are welcome but may not run through the garden or chase the ducks. If you have any questions you can contact me, Lori Adams, at 907-747-6108 or 907-738-2241. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org