Sunday, July 25, 2010

Take that Algae!

We have been in discussions about how to better take care of the side of our pond, the rocks that fill it, and the new porous shells we dropped in for the frogs to hide. We were worried about the addition of a big fish like a Koi or an Oscar as these can occasionally become aggressive towards outward species, IE, frogs. And getting rid of mosquitoes is great and all, but they would also rid the pond of the frogs, which is a terrible crime.

Then we ran into the problem of Connor. What would he do to the fish? I mean this is a duck who is so territorial that he will beat birds to death then rip them apart in some gruesome manner. Not rarely, or occasionally, but normally, and on a semi regular basis. So tossing some fish into this pond that hang out near the surface is asking for trouble. Now I'm not saying he'd eat them, but I full expect there would be some beaten fish floating belly up by the time he finished.

Then we remembered back, there was the perfect fish we could get, a bottom feeding algae eater. A pleco.


We used these a lot when we had our 75 gallon fish tank. They never got really big because of the amount of other fish to food ration, but one thing they did do, was get fat off the algae produced. And they did a marvelous job, are durable fish, and kept to themselves and most importantly on the bottom.

So I bought three of them. Two mediums, who I named Jim and Pam, and a large one who I named Dwight. Dwight is about 8 or 9 inches and Jim and Pam are about 4, currently. But given that the pond is clocking in at over 500 gallons, they should have plenty of room for growth, and hopefully expansion (assuming they are boy and girl).

Here the new kids are.

This is Dwight, he is all of the images but one, which is Jim.





This is Jim, he looks huge because I was rocking the zoom, but he and Pam are only about 4 inches in length.





As you will notice Dwight is rather long. Which is good, I didn't want a ton of tiny suckers in there so I forked over the 30.00 and bought Dwight. There was a larger one, but he was 40.00, and in all honestly he was only darker in color and a little fatter. He wasn't 10.00 larger by any stretch. (And if you are wondering Jim and Pam were 9.00 apiece.)



You will notice Pam is not in any of the images. This is because she immediately took off around the pond like lightning, then hid in the stacked mass of rocks in the middle. Kudos to you Pam, you camera shy scamp.

As of this morning none were out and about, but I attribute this to them being twilight fish.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Hide and Seek

Late at night, usually when Freya needs to go out because she is certain I need no sleep and that he bladder is the size of a dime, I will take the time to play hide and seek with nature. I creep up to the pond and red light the animals, then I will walk around the gazebo because the frogs like to take little dry ground trips. And finally, usually to very little end, I will look for the croaking. The wonderful little frog who sits content in a tree and teases me with his talking. Until a couple of night ago I had never been able to find him. But that all changed. Armed with my headlamp, camera phone, and a dream, I searched, pulling back prickly limb after prickly limb. Then I found him.

There he was, hiding near the top of the short holly tree. I always croaks and sound like he is on the running, flowering vines behind the holly on the fence. I guess that is his own little art of deception. Well not last night. Last night was my night for victory. When I saw him I inched in close because I didn't want to startle him. You know how frogs can be. And as I snapped photos of him another revelation came! There were two of them! Probably having a good laugh at me, no doubt. Well jokes on them, because the Midnight Creeper, Nature's Paparazzi has plastered your faces all over the internet!









Whoa! Two of them! What fun we've had tonight!



Speaking of hide and seek, Conner has always been one for hiding himself wherever he thought we wouldn't see him. When he was a wee little duck whose feathers were just changing color...



Even to yesterday while I was taking pictures.



I've noticed he spends a lot of his time in shadowy corners lurking about. Sometimes you catch him looking at you like a foreign spy, other times he is playing coy looking the other way. He is quite good at what he does.







Even Freya likes to get into the act occasionally. (By the way, look at that tongue! Gracious!)



The Saturday Blog Hop

Thursday, July 22, 2010

A Litte Help from my Friends.

So over the past few days (when time has permitted) I have been scrounging my picture files. Mostly in order to may things easier to fin so blogging won't be a nine hour event. I ran across some images of various friends of Freya's, and one video, but for some reason it won't open as a file, so either a patch, or a punch will occur at some point. But until then I'd like to introduce you to some of Freya's pals.

Ok, so Freya wants to narrate the montage. In fact she wanted to do an 80's music montage, but I told her that garbage wasn't happening, so here she is to talk.

Hey guys! Oh man oh man, what have we got here!

Ok, this is my dad's twin and his new girl Lucy, which makes me her...cousin, dad says I'm her cousin.




And this guy is Jake! Man he doesn't care for me for some reason. And he has the biggest feet I have ever seen! They look like those tennis racket things Eskimos wear! (Ugh, dad says they are snow shoes, and saying only Eskimos wear them is racially stereotyping, whatever that means.)



This is Jake and Lucy asleep. They look like those doll things, dad says Russian Dolls. (I think dad might be a know-it-all)Look at those feet! Good grief!



This one is of uncle Josh and Brigette, before she died. I never knew her, but look at her face, doesn't she look like fun. Oh, and uncle Josh has since seen a groomer (dad is chiming in again saying people don't go to groomers) and he now looks like a short-haired version of himself.



And this guy, sitting on my bed, is Steve. He also died; he was old. I never knew him, but dad said he was awesome, and loved playing, and really he kind of ruled the house with a furry fist. I say kudos to him!



Ok, these two are of a friend named Rascal, she has a brother named Rufus, he is a Sharpee (Sorry, dad says it is Shar-Pei, apparently a Sharpee is a thing you write with. I'm asking dad to leave, he is really making this difficult.) and she is a Yellow version of me! She didn't used to like me, but now we played some and she tolerates me. Rufus wants to play and has these big puffy cheeks that I like to nibble. He hates that. He is sitting on the couch in the shadows. He looks like a creepy lurker.






This is our pet skunk;-) No, its actually my human cousin Olivia (That's Josh's bipedal kid.)




This is supposed to be a cabbage, but I think it is the monster from that Rick Moranis movie the Little Shop of Horrors.




Hehehe, I sneaked this is while dad wasn't looking. Doesn't he look like the biggest dork! He said this was his "hobo beard" it was fashionable on railway cars, and it carried belongings, so it served a purpose too. I just think he looks ridiculous. Man is he going to get a kick out of that!



Aw man, you know who I don't have pictures of! My besties Chloe and Darla! Holy cow Darla is a Yellow like Rascal up there, and Chloe is a flat-haired black lab, man she is so fun! All we do is chase each other in circles until Darla says we have to quit, but really we just let her leave then do it some more. Hehehehe, ok, I'm going to have dad get pictures of them! They are great! We go swimming together at this big water thing.

Ooop, dad is coming, I better scoot, I want this image up before he sees it and takes it off, aufedersein!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Spotty Speckled Rock Disease: AKA: Tadpoliosis.

I went back out yesterday as the clouds and rain left and went crazy with the camera. I took pictures of everything blog related, sixteen pictures of Conner which will be posted in the next couple of days, nine of Freya, also to be posted, and then nine of these little darlings friends we have found. More during the gallery:



As you can see here with our first image the sun was playing shadowy tricks off the reflection of the water. Darn you beautiful sun and all your shiny happiness. What I will draw attention to is the black liner and the spots. These spots are some of our little swimmers.



Again the sun and its capturing of the terrible shadowy figure playing paparazzi to these tadpole film stars.



These next images are from when I decided to move with some sort of success and snapped several really close, mostly zoomed in, some dangerously reckless leaning over centimeters from the water tactics, and other methods a complete rookie like myself would use to get a shot in. In honesty they came out like I wanted, and they show a lot of the swimming little city I was hoping to get. Its like watching a live action version of the Snorks.







Monday, July 19, 2010

Wooo, guess what we have!



I snapped this in the late evening last night, just a quick ninja photo job. I will take more as weather permits.

As you can see though, the rock in the center is covered with these alien looking black dots. These black dots were to me, like so many of you, instantly recognizable as the smallest form of the tadpole. I haven't counted them as such an attempt would prove useless, but from just estimation there are at least several hundred. Not just on the rock, but floating, swimming, hanging out on the similarly colored liner. They are everywhere. I have no doubts these are the children from the eggs I reported on a few days ago.

And we were going to toss in some fish...I think that decision may be stalled, at least for now.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Saturday Blog Hop

Red Light, Green Light, Go!

So I took Freya out last night....first let me include this preamble. I am heretofore adding news and notes about the pond here because it is a pond, and there will be times Conner is in it. It only makes sense to put pond news on a Duck blog, right? Right.

Now, where was I, oh yes, taking Freya out. Here I am with Freya off doing her Freya thing while I walk around with this nifty little head lamp on my head. I use it to startle unsuspecting critters into frozen statues because I like to see what nocturnal beasts roam my backyard. It really is fun so stop judging me.

So I went to the pond and conducted a little experiment. I set the lamp to the Red light setting, because it is much dimmer and the range of focus is much smaller. Easier for perusing a natural habitat in the most covert of ways without actually using night vision. With lamp set to red I creep barefoot -- for stealth -- over to the pond to see if I could catch any frog activities. Lo and behold the Red light worked! Experiment was a success! The frogs barely noticed I was there. I say barely because some brown 7 month old four-legged beast was making an awful lot of racket. Still, here is some of what I saw.

Now, before you all jump to conclusions and say, Jeremy, that light is hardly red. I want to say, I know. What I did was set my camera up to shoot, then quickly hit them with a douse of petrifying light. Then I went back to covert ops mode.

This is one of my new friends in the pond. I think he totals number 11 frog now.

I admit, the images are on the darker side, but what do you expect, it was 10:00 at night and I was ninja shooting photos here.


Here is a distance shot, getting my feel for the land.



Here is one on zoom to be safe.



This photo was not on zoom, I was actually this close. And for all you out there wondering, yes I did pet the frog, and no I don't have a wart. And for those weirdos of you wondering if it is a prince, or princess. I don't know, I didn't kiss it, I'm not some kind of creeper.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Duck Spans.

Ok, after being given a bit of info, and deciding it was time to research this myself, I went on the prowl, lurking in the darkest corners of Duck information. Stumbling from the stacks I found out, from various sources, ducks live to be 10-15 years old. Not duck years, cat year, or the ever so popular dog years. They are human years, and that is a long time.

It send my mind wandering, and rather quickly as my mind so often does, it came up with a lame joke about being long in the tooth, which obviously is just duck candor amongst friends. I say this because duck teeth aren't really teeth are they? They are more like tiny little scrubber pads, much like a fish. The are primarily used to grasp and hold things that are wriggly and moist, such as a worm.

But, all jokes and lessons aside...this duck of mine, Conner, is going to be living with, and as long as, Freya, most likely, since both are roughly the same age. Freya is slightly younger, almost a year, but that means Conner will be the senior adviser on staff when they run for neighborhood office.

It also means something else. A point a friend showed me, I don't have an angry old cuss. I have a mouthy...billy (since ducks have bills, come on people, I shouldn't have to explain all the jokes) teenager on my hands, full of pomp and pride, big quacks and short fuses. Oh he is going to be a joy for a while still. I wouldn't be surprised to see a major loss of feathers simply because he can't stop running his Bill at everything that walks in his general direction. Dogs, kids, some humans, squirrels, rabbits, birds, man my duck is a bully. Thank goodness Freya is here to keep him in check. His Green Lantern to Green Arrow, his Eric to Hyde, his Desi To Lucy, his...you guys get the point.

So world, here is to 10-15 long happy years.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Angry old cuss.

I'm not sure the life cycle of a duck, I mean living from start to finish. I certainly know about the life cycle when a stupid dog gets a hold of one. Jerk. But the full span, still not sure.

What does it matter, you ask? Well it matters in the sense that I think Conner is starting to reach old codger status. He hates when Freya gets near his water, his tree, and most of all his person...er...duck.

You see, a few months back I reported that Conner was tempered. Well that temperament is like hatred now, I think. Rarely goes a visit where he isn't instigating something. His favorite thing to do? Wait for Freya to turn her back, chase a stick, or just out right pee, then he will sneak up and nip her feet, pinch her ears, or grab onto that droopy bit of skin dogs have on their necks. Then the raucous begins. Feathers scattering, wings flapping, paws pounding, and two very set upon animals chasing.

Of course his feathers are in a constant state of ruffle, and his beak is showing ugly signs of wear and scratching, but he never stops, and Freya never gives and inch. To watch the two you'd think they hated each other, but from what I have seen there is no ill-will, or malevolence. Just constant picking.

It makes me wonder what Conner is playing at, because he likes to go on the back porch and chase the cat as well, who is so old and indifferent to him he just climbs higher than Conner can get. Cats and their aloof attitudes. God love 'em. Still he loves eating the cat food, and refuses worms as a dietary supplement. He will let you pet him, but only if cornered, and if you hold him long enough he will stop the crazed flapping and give you audience.

In fact writing all this now I don't think he is old...I think he might be a head strong twenty something looking for trouble...maybe one week here in the next year or so he will learn some stoicism and just stop being and aggressor.

Maybe.

Then again I could be out of my mind.

Oh, last I mentioned the eggs. They failed terribly in the hatchery. In fact Ms. Aslinger went and bought some feeling so guilty over a matter she could neither control or help. Still, Shannon took the ducks home with her, and I have still heard no reports good or bad, so maybe that is a good sign, maybe not. Who knows.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

The kids are alright.

As you know Conner has been forced to be by himself, which no one ever wishes for, honestly. But, and this is a big fat Sir Mix-a-lot type but, I think the loneliness has helped him. It has calmed him. Tempered him. He is still feisty, you can't remove that from him, but he has become less of the sentry and more of the duck.

He no longer lurks about looking for a predator to banish, now he just attempts to play with what he sees. Birds usually die, and yes, he kills birds. Chipmunks run, and squirrels are now very weary of my backyard. His new friend, Freya, my lab, has become a nice little way to expend some of his energy, as seen below.






In other news we are at that time of the school year where we are hatching ducks again, as I previously spoke of, and here is an image of the eggs, eighteen of them, in their incubator.



I will keep you all up to date as this story develops...in about ten days.

Friday, April 9, 2010

A week later...almost.

Today is Friday the 9th of April, and it has been very near a week since Sally's death. The first day was hard on Conner and I, but being a human I was able to move forward rather quickly. After all, life is life and death is its finality, right? Conner, however, has not had this luxury. He lost his life long companion, and since the life of a duck is significantly shorter than a human, I can only assume his loss was akin to that of losing a 10 or 15 year partner. Knowing this I paid a much greater amount of time with him. Well, Freya and I, did. (For those who aren't in the know, Freya is my 3 month old Chocolate Lab. [ Yes, yes, a lab, I know, hunting dogs and all that jazz, but I assure you things are kosher on her end]).

During this week, this mourning period Conner walked aimlessly around in search of his passed partner. He quacked quietly and infrequently. He spent a greater amount of his time at her grave. The mind and actions of animals fascinates me. This week I have seen a duck exhibit sorrow, and I have seen a dog, who is like a giant pesky little sister to Conner act cautiously, and sympathetically. She never once attempted to start their daily game of chase. She never sniffed him out and bothered him. She took a discrete, and respectful leave of her senses and gave Conner the proper mourning period.

It wasn't until two days ago that Conner started exhibiting familiar actions; pursuing a noisy latch on the back door, quacking and then coming to anyone exiting the door, chasing, and bothering Freya as she sniffed for a place to use the bathroom. These events have given me hope that Conner isn't just going to sit idly by and waste away in grief. No, rather, my boy, is going to do his best to pull through.

I say all this and I add a new section. Tomorrow I am going to a local flea market to see if I can find a Rouen female for Conner to "shack up" with. Whether or not this will be a good idea is yet to be seen, but I can't just leave him alone for the rest of his feathered days, that's for sure.

Onto other news, Ms. Aslinger has contacted a fine farm about getting the new batch of eggs this year. I am excited because we will be hatching more ducks, and our new coworker, and godsend, Ms. Shannon will be taking this years batch home with her, save one.

Save one you ask? I will be taking one with me. I can't help it, I must bring one of these new ducks home. They are called Cayuga ducks and their color is absolutely gorgeous. They have the magnificent coloring of a mallard head all over their body! It is an oily emerald color shimmering and bluish green. It would be the perfect addition to Conner. Hopefully.

This also marks the time of the year where we being the incubation period and since the blog i established pre-hatching I will be chronicling all events from the time we receive the eggs until they hatch, and are in the caring hands of Shannon.

For now I must postulate and get my lazy bones back to work! (Just kidding the kids are napping.)

Sunday, April 4, 2010

R.I.P

So I haven't posted in a really long time, and I had a fair amount of pictures I may get on here and post soon. Until then I have bad news.

Saturday one of my dogs go a hold of Sally and pulled her through an opening she found in a fence. She was trying to drink his water, he was acting on K-9 instinct. Sadly I found her a short while later dead in his dog house, neck rung. I assume the events happened how I said because there was a fair amount of feathers by this whole, and his water bucket was there. Either way, we have lost Sally, who has recently been laying with regularity and Conner was fertilizing.

Conner has not taken it well and I am very worried about him. I can't find a straight answer on the definite mating habits of male Rouen ducks. This concerns me greatly because he seems to be grieving himself to death. I am in search of answers and another female Rouen for him, but am afraid I won't find the answer soon enough.

If anyone knows of info, or has experience in this matter, please help, for Conner.

Until I find an answer let's have a moment of silence for our friend.

Also, parents reading this, if you still are, do not tell your kids unless it is a lesson about death and grieving, because I don't want them to know.

For now I must care for my boy,
Jeremy