Tonight little Amos fell asleep in my hands. He's so cute. This photo shows how his nostrils are deformed. They're just little pin-pricks instead of open nostrils like they should be. Yesterday I noticed a small lump just above his elbow on his front right leg. It's a round lump, almost like a big mosquito bite, but I'm a little worried about it. Kittens shouldn't be developing fatty tumors or unexplained lumps. Especially after losing our pup to juvenile cancer just three months ago.
Today I released the two ducks back outside that had come in with frozen feet during the deep freeze this week. By the time I was done with barn chores, Not Charlie was doing fine, reunited with her ducky friends. Charlie didn't fare as well. Yes, we have nearly identical ducks named Charlie and Not Charlie. Charlie started to limp shortly after she went out, and by the end of barn chores she was down again. Her feet weren't frozen this time, but it was obvious she was cold and her legs hurt. I don't see any physical damage to her feet, but she's back in the entryway in a kennel for the night and we will try again tomorrow to put her back outside with the other ducks.
We lost three ducks the other night. The last night coming out of the cold snap. It wasn't even that cold, so I don't know what happened. We lost Omelet (our fawn and white Runner drake - father of all of our runners except his mate Quiche), the new Silver Appleyard drake we picked up this fall, and one of the two females we referred to as "Duck Duck" (both identical grey ducks). I suspect their deaths had to do with our water in the pool freezing. At -50 I couldn't even refill the pool because the water was freezing almost immediately. The temperature is much improved (the roof was dripping outside, even though the thermometer only showed 30-degrees).
I'm still dreaming of gardening. I have so many ideas. I just hope I have the time and energy to work hard on set up when weather warms up.
Current idea - cut down the small black walnut tree beside the barn - install small 12 x 24 or 12 x 36 inch raised beds along the east edge of the barn. Install trellises from the raised beds up against the barn. Use 3-foot tall chicken wire and posts to fence off the entire side of the barn to prevent the birds from devouring the plants. Ideas to grow in these spaces include pole beans, morning glory flowers, cucumbers, hops, or possibly squash. I could add in a rhubarb plant between each raised bed to space them out without wasting the space between. This would give about two feet between trellises, and if I offset what I plant in each raised bed (beans in one, flowers in the next, beans in the third, flowers in the fourth, etc.) I should be able to grow out beans and save seeds without worry of cross-pollination. The plants growing up the trellises will provide shade for the barn helping to keep it cool in the summer, the shape of the barn will allow the rain run-off to water the raised beds, the flowers grown will help to attract more pollinators to the rest of the garden, and the rhubarb will provide a perennial food source once it gets to full size (they'll be grown from seed). Costs could range from $15 - $40 per bed depending on my materials, for a project total of about $125-$200 for all the materials except soil.