It was beautiful weather this weekend, and although on the one hand we got much accomplished, on the other hand, we had to deal with bad things, as well.
Because it is so rare that there is actually a windless day in Kansas, we use every chance like that to do any necessary burning. (There had been a burn ban on most of the winter because we had such a horribly dry winter and first part of 2009.) So this weekend we burned off the thatch grass (dead, heavy, clumpy stuff) in the western goat corral, so that next rain it can begin to green up nicely and become viable pasture for the goats.
Then we went to the north edge of the property to where Steven is restoring the orchard, and were going to burn it off in sections. This area has much taller, denser dried grass -- we burned it last year. We are burning this area because it has a major issue with dense poison ivy, and we're trying to get a handle on that organically.
In hindsight, of course, there are many things I would have done different to prepare for this task.
Anyway, we just started just a small section burn, but it burned very hot and fast and I wasn't able to keep it behind the fire line on the north side. While there is nothing that direction (like structures) for it to do any damage to, it did get away with burning one of Steven's hand-raised-from-seed apricot trees before we got it back under control. He was not happy. But we hope perhaps it will come back from root -- we watered it well, and re-mulched it with wet straw after the fire.
The rest of the orchard is in other sections of our burn area, and we decided to not continue that project that day :(
However, back when we were burning off the goat corral - we decided during that time to put the goats into the front chain-link yard, where the dogs usually are. The reasons were two-fold; first, allow the goats to graze off some of the good green grass in the yard; and two, have them secured well away from the fire area. But we can't put the goats in there while the dogs are in there, so we put the dogs into a small area off the goat pen that we use just as a holding corral (like when the one doe had her baby and we wanted to separate her). It is just woven wire, but would hold both the dogs safely.
What we didn't think about (until too late) is that the ducks sometimes go through that little holding pen (because they can go through woven wire) to get to water. We went all day with this arrangement and never thought about it. The dogs are not used to the chickens or ducks being within their own fence (since they are usually in chain link). And we never imagined the ducks would wander in there without realizing there were dogs inside.
By the time we realized our mistake this weekend, we had a dead duck. And no, it couldn't be just ANY duck. We have seven ducks -- six are hens -- four of which are crossbreeds that we have for no particular purpose, and three are Steven's purebred Cayuga's for his breeding stock. Those three are two hens and one drake (male), that he had high hopes of raising chicks from this spring. So no, the dog couldn't have picked one of the crossbreds, or even one of the Cayuga hens of which we had two -- the dog had to go and kill our one and only drake. Steven was not happy. :(
As Steven carried him off to bury — without trying to sound callus, I pointed out that since he was already dead before we could intervene, his life shouldn't be in vain - we should eat him. So then we took time out to butcher our fine duck; and put his breast and leg meat into a crock pot. He has made a fine duck soup - very tasty.
But now we need to obtain a new Cayuga drake.
I think, as a tribute, I will end by posting my recent video I took of the ducks playing in the stock tank. (I think in this video the drake is the one up on the side of the tank, preening, and watching over his hens) :)