Slip Slidin Away

Today’s farm report comes from Ben

This week has seen warmer temps, snow melting, mud coming, and more daylight!

It has also seen a loss of some ducks. February 5th, we were missing Rosencrantz, one of the new ducklings from last summer. The next day, the two older black ducks were gone and there was a pile of feathers just off the pond. Next day the white poufy duck was gone. The next day three mallards were gone. And the next day, another mallard. There are only 2 left, a male and female mallard.

Shucks. It’s really kinda sad… This happened late February last year too; lost several ducks then. The pile of feathers would indicate an owl (just because it seems to happen at night). I’ve only seen a hawk attack a duck once, and that was middle of winter and the pond was iced over and the hawk had it right there. Possibly bald eagle, we have them flying around, but never seen one try to get a duck, and again, not sure they could carry it away. So, we always assume coyotes when our critters are ‘gone’. But we don’t understand: the mallards can fly! Why don’t they fly away?? Are they sleeping that hard? To lose two or three in a night, is it a pack?
There doesn’t seem to be any disturbance; Bailey isn’t raising a fuss, Humphrey isn’t trying to get out. One night, just as we went to bed, there was a fuss and Kelly went out with the flashlight and she could see some ducks flying around. I still hope those are just hanging out somewhere else for a while.

I did find another pile of feathers up the road, but that seemed to be a pigeon. I just hope these two ducks survive. Our ducks have never learned to come in at night. You may remember when they were little, the trouble we had trying to get them inside. And then once they’re older and out on their own, they just never have come in. Some stay closer to the house, and you’d think this batch would have figured that out by the second attack. I hadn’t seen the flock of wild ducks flying around lately, but then Thursday afternoon, eight of them were here. It was so interesting to watch them circle. First one came down by the other two, then two more came down. Then 3 went over by the barn and the corn I spread over there. And another with the first ducks and the last one back by the barn. “You go first!” I don’t know, but once the ducks are gone, we can only assume the predator will move on to the chickens.

I walked back to the pole barn one morning and all those pheasants that had been coming in and eating corn were back there in the barn. Sure surprised us when they came flying out, goodness.

As we’re all dealing with ice, our driveway has become an issue.

Those of you that have been here may remember how long and twisty it is just before the house. We joke it keeps the riff-raff out. It also keeps us home when the weather is bad. As we’ve all been saying, the multiple snows, some rain, some packed snow, it’s all combined to make ice on the entire driveway. A few days of sunshine and nice temps this week helped a lot, and I used the loader bucket on Monday and managed to scrape a lot of ice off. Bet you didn’t know I had a sun screen in the tractor. It was an extra.

But it was also extra slippery, and I almost got myself into trouble on one of those corners. We call it “Above the barn” and we mean it literally. There’s a good row of oak trees along the fence line, and then a 30’ drop down to the barn and cow yard. The trees are there to stop you going over. More than once I’ve been in a tractor that has slide over into the fence and trees. Once I broke the entire glass door of my Deutz tractor. Once I ripped out a fence. This time I didn’t hurt anything; just had to stop, and catch my breath, and make a game plan. Took two tries, and I was out. No issues.

The snow melting off the shed roofs either makes a frozen lump on the ground or puddles up until it comes into the shed. I’m hoping next year, after the concrete project, I’ll get some landscaping done enough to prevent this.

Sometimes the entire side of snow will slide off the roof and then I have a huge pile of snow to move. Thank goodness for tractors and loaders.

And as the ice melts, the mud isn’t necessarily better. I’d venture it’s slipperier. And I’m not sure how well zak-traks work on mud.

It’s gonna get better. Another few weeks, and it will go fast and soon we’ll be smelling the rain and seeing the grass greening up.


58 thoughts on “Slip Slidin Away”

  1. That’s really too bad about all those ducks, Ben – I hope some of them still show up.

    I’m pretty sure I’ve cracked a window at some point, might have been the basement one in the Robbinsdale house when I was raking. And I know I’ve had to replace windows that were already cracked when we moved in there.

    Not a window, but I’ve had some spectacular breaks of other kinds – a large crockery bowl comes to mind. Joel once knocked a 3-gallon crockery water jug off its stand – that was a fun clean-up, but at least it was just water.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I agree, except I’m not sure they could carry it very far away, so why isn’t there more feathers?
      What is the lifting capacity of the great American horned owl? 🙂

      Liked by 3 people

    2. I agree with great horned owls taking the ducks. They are silent and deadly for all types of fowl. You won’t hear them as they raid your flock, just see the piles of feathers. I’ll bet they perch in some of those nice oak trees you’ve got there.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. Rise and Shine, Baboons,

    I do not remember breaking any windows. However, the breakage we have had on the top of our cold frame where I start my spring plants has been spectacular. The top of that is a window. We have replaced the top of the cold frame many times but that is all just boring stuff. I will have to think about breakage.

    I think Bill’s opinion about the ducks is probably correct. And sad. We Baboons are so attached to your fowl!

    Liked by 5 people

  3. Our dog is so excited when we come home and let him out of his crate that he zooms around and races to the patio doors to be let out. He is so excited he jumps up and crashes into the patio door so hard that I am afraid he will break the window. I make him sit just as he gets to the door to preempt a crash. It has been working well thus far. He can be quite a roughneck.

    Liked by 5 people

  4. My mother once dropped a gallon glass jug of rootbeer on her foot during a family gathering. The jug broke, as did her big toe.


    1. That made me cringe. Ouch.

      Here is a spectacular break, but not a window. A nose.

      Yesterday our realtor and her husband, who are becoming friends, came over with the condo sale’s paperwork for us to sign. She had warned us that while line dancing at a local bar Wednesday evening , she tripped and did a face plant on the floor, breaking her nose. Her face was black and blue, and swollen. She was wearing sunglasses which she removed. Both of her eyes were deep purple. She said she was getting bored at home after two days, so she was happy come over with the documents. Then her husband saw a grapefruit on our counter, and said he will bring over a box of oranges and grapefruit. Next fall when we come back to visit I hope her nose has healed straight. We will go out to eat together, but she said that right now she has to choose between eating and breathing.

      Liked by 5 people

  5. Two windows.
    At about age 10, while in a blind rage, I put my fist through an upstairs window. I remember doing it but haven’t a clue as to why. Probably motivated by my sisters. Always have someone else to blame.
    At about the same age, I accidentally put a bullet sized chip in the outside glass side panel of the Park elementary school gym door. The steely marble didn’t penetrate the glass. Hardly noticeable. Fled the scene. It was friend Billy’s fault for making me take that shot. A.H.S.E.T.B.

    Liked by 5 people

  6. When Husband drove up to the Reservation on a busy oil field highway, the big trucks often threw little rocks that put chips in his windshield several times

    Liked by 1 person

  7. My younger brother Kurt broke the back window of a boyfriend’s father’s car when I was in high school. I had been out with this guy and he was driving me home. We lived out on Cannon Lake and had a long drive from the county road down to the house. My brother was on his bike up by the county road and we slowed to talk to him. He didn’t like this particular guy at all (turned out, I didn’t either) and said something rude. My date said something rude back to him and drove off down the drive to the house. As we turned left to pull into the yard, my brother through a rock and it went right through the left rear window, smashing it to pieces. It was my date’s father’s car so there was some payment to be made. Kurt was six years younger than me so he was only about 11 years old when this happened and didn’t have any money so it took some doing. It all ended well but Kurt and I still remember what a remarkable throw that was!

    Liked by 4 people

  8. I once was cleaning the fridge in a rush and plunged a large, cold, glass shelf into a sink of hot water. It shattered into small pieces, and it was not fun to try to remove all that glass so it wouldn’t go down into the garbage disposal.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Thermal shock, probably. I was opening the oven door when it exploded, sending glass shards across the kitchen. Pyrex is tempered glass, which means when it’s cast it is cooled in such a way that the outside surface is cooled faster than the center, creating a dynamic tension in the glass that makes it stronger. But when it does break, it doesn’t just crack– it shatters.

        Liked by 3 people

  9. So sorry, Ben, for the loss of your ducks. I hope it’s the owl so your chickens should be safe at night when they’re inside. But no doubt about it, you are much more aware of the many predators they could fall prey to.

    One of our trips to Mexico, I made the mistake of trying to lift a large colorful Mexican crock, half full of water, from the kitchen counter by lifting it by its handles. In the split second I had the crock off the counter it flashed through my mind “are these handles strong enough to hold this crock?” The answer was immediately obvious as the crock crashed to the ceramic tile floor and shattered, spilling water all over the place. Fortunately I found a similar crock in a small Kino gift shop so I could replace it for the princely sum of $50.00. It wasn’t even my bright idea to move it off the counter, but the water in the crock wasn’t deemed clean enough to be safe to drink by Anne, and she needed the counter space for food prep.

    Liked by 4 people

  10. lots of windows playing ball in the neighborhood as a kid
    home runs playing street ball and good news bad news
    one run but pissed neighbor
    driving to florida in the winter had passengers window explode in the van
    like a bowling ball hit it
    tarp over the window with duct tape from chattanooga to orlando
    cold driving
    it was 35 ish and efroster was blowing max
    weird break for sure

    lots of gravel from trucks in years as a traveling salesman 50000 miles avg per year
    claimed them 5 or 6 times but often i don’t notice when it happens only later
    crack in the windshield now needs to replace now
    had a bb gun as a 2nd grader and shot at the little 1’x2’ window in the side of his garage
    i was pleased to be able to hit it and hear it tick like throwing pebbles to wake up girl in the movies whose asleep in the second floor bedroom
    then the very somber neighbor comes over and talks to my dad at the back door
    then i get called and asked if i’ve been shooting at his window
    i say yeah but it didn’t break
    he said there are 15 or 20 little holes and started laughing uncontrollably
    i knew it wasn’t big trouble
    how about getting motion lights ben
    pretty readily available these days
    maybe solar set up if pond is to far from a plug

    can gravel be added to mud to firm it up and pack it down ? just thinking

    rember the broken window in going my way during world war 2 glass reaction difficulties
    bing and ingrid getting old man whoever to donate his building to the catholic church after the boys broke the window with a baseball the second time
    that broken windowcrandctrue for me
    it was always the crabby neighbors window that we broke


    Liked by 3 people

  11. i went to alaska and found this wonderful stone polar bear about football sized and had it sitting on the shelf next to the fireplace about chest high
    the shelves were built ins about 20” wide and 12” deep with those height adjustable pins that stick in the side to pre drilled holes
    daughter olivia was 4 and wanted to see the bear close up so she bega climbing the shelves like ladder rungs. i had just boarded a plane for china and got the email/text on route about the shelves of jericho coming tumbling down and the giant gash in my daughter from the broken shelves oh and the bear had a gash too
    traveling requires that stuff happens while you’re away
    lots of travel stories about 2 feet of snow with my downhill football field length driveway with mt being 10 days from a return
    now i get to live vicariously through my grand kids and their notable undamnbelievable circumstances that are part of being on the planet
    ain’t life grand

    Liked by 3 people

  12. It’s a beautiful Sunday morning and I just finished doing my chores. The sun is shining, there’s no wind, it’s 37°, it was cold enough overnight the ground froze so it’s not yet muddy. And I have nothing going on so I have the time. And right now I’m sitting on the edge of the steps with Bailey’s nose in my face and Humphrey on the other side sniffing out something. His nose is wiggling and his eyes are fixed. It’s one of my favorite ways to spend Sunday mornings. I talk to the chickens and the ducks, and they all come running to see me, even though I have nothing for them, they are forever hopeful. There’s a lot of snow around yet, and the chicken coop, the former ear corn crib, is in a low spot. Not the lowest spot in the yard, just another low spot, I guess that’s what happens when you live on the side of a hill. It was a problem back when I was milking cows and grinding ear corn every week, and I had to be pretty strategic about when I could get down to the crib, and now, even though there are clear paths and I’ve got the road 95% clear of ice, there’s still snow, and melting water crossing it in places.
    There is grass going down to the chickens, but y’all know, coming out after winter it’s been trampled down all winter, it’s just a hard mat, and at freezing point, it’s still slippery. There’s about a 20 foot radius in front of the shed doors where the chickens are all the time, or where the younger chicks and young ducks pen would be in the spring, that there is not much grass established because the young chicks eat it all. So those areas get muddy. I’ve put boards down, I’ve thrown down feed sacks, I’ve even dumped rock in there before. But, a lot of chickens, the spring thaw, south’s die of building, and it’s mud. Mud which then they get on their feet and Walk over the eggs and then the eggs are dirty too. I’m not complaining, this is rural Minnesota in the spring. It Will get better, and it has been worse.

    I’m pleased to say our two mallard duck pair has survived another night. So that’s three or four nights without any losses as far as I can tell And yesterday, I saw 12 mallards flying around the yard.

    I just finished filling the birdfeeders, the suet plugs, the suet block, the ear of corn, the wild birdseed, and the sunflower seeds. Talked to Bruce, our yard overlord mounted on a tree, I had a picture of him a few years ago, One of those bronze tree sculpture things. With a door knocker in his cheeks. Yes, his name is Bruce.
    I carried four buckets of water to the chickens this morning, they drink a lot of water. Dumped out the water from the heated bucket, and refreshed that, I left two buckets out side for them to work on. It’s an understatement to say they like the freshwater in the outside bucket better than the freshwater in the heated bucket. They drink that too, but given the choice, will go to the outside, but first which makes complete sense.

    It is just such a nice day, I’m taking my time, sitting here, enjoying the sunshine, and the dogs, the chickens, the guineas, the ducks. Enjoying the view, not thinking about too much seriously, I felt like I needed to write about it. It doesn’t get much better than days like this. Enjoy the rest of your Sundays

    Liked by 3 people

    1. It’s so refreshing to hear you – or anyone, really – expressing their awareness of how much they have to be grateful for. Is it perfect? Not by a long shot, but it really makes a huge difference in your quality of life where you focus your attention. Thanks, Ben, for sharing this. I intend to follow your advice and enjoy not only the rest of my Sundays, and most the of rest of the days, too.

      Liked by 5 people

  13. Speaking of breaking things. I know I’ve told this story before.
    Kelly and I were doing our wedding registry. We’re in Daytons looking at flatware and dishes and we get to the Waterford crystal display. We eye some things, pick some water goblets to add to the registry, and I point to something, and say something like “That’s cool” and the entire display shatters. Three or four shelves of crystal, just drop. I’m standing there with glass all around me thinking “WHAT DID I DO?? I DIDN’T DO ANYTHING!” and the clerks come running and they all say it’s OK and I’m just embarrassed and flabbergasted. And I look around, and Kelly is no where to be seen. Soon as glass started falling she took off. I found her over in the towels. It still makes us giggle. This would have been 1988 or 1989. I wonder if there was security camera’s. Would have loved to have a copy of that tape.

    Liked by 5 people

  14. Once again I feel like I’ve lucked out. There are a few things that YA likes to do and does on her own, without my asking. Or does them quite willingly (and thoroughly) if I do ask her. One of those things is vacuuming – when she eventually gets a place of her own, she’ll have to teach me how to use our current vacuum before she goes! The other things is shoveling and chopping. She spent about an hour yesterday on the driveway and another hour just now. It got very bad when it snowed repeatedly while I was in the midst of the kitchen cabinet project and I didn’t find the time to shovel like i should have (and YA was out of town)!

    Liked by 2 people

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