The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Unanswered questions

Dabbling ducks"I came across your blog maybe a month ago, random link on reddit, but I was so intrigued by what you are doing that I have been nonstop reading for about a month, until I made it through the whole archive from start to finish....

There were a some loose ends that you haven't tied up yet, just a couple stuck with me that I wanted to ask you about, so thought I would email. What happened to your Osage oranges you planted a few years ago, did any germinate? Have you been cooking/eating the ducks or did I miss that?  How were they?"
--- Jeffry

I'm always impressed when I get these emails that start "Just read your whole blog." Thanks for diving in with two feet, Jeffry! I hope you don't mind that I excerpted part of your email here --- I figure others may be wondering about those loose threads too.

I'm afraid the osage-orange experiment was a dismal failure. Our world is just so rich and full of life here in southwest Virginia that the idea of planting seeds in the wild and expecting any Planting osage orange seedsto survive sounds much better on paper than it works out in reality. Unfortunately, native plant life took over so quickly that any seeds that did germinate didn't make it past the cotyledon stage. If I decide to try the idea out again, I'll instead start seedlings in pots or in a garden bed and then transplant into a well-mulched area once they're large enough to compete.

The ducks were a slightly more successful experiment. We have indeed been eating them and the consensus is...they're okay. I suspect we'd be singing the praises of duck meat from the rooftops if we'd gone for a meat-specific breed and then taken the time to pluck rather than skin. As it is, I consider duck to be a bit below the quality of an old hen --- with less impressive pastured fat and requiring long, slow cooking for ease of gnawing the meat off the bones. In other words, we won't be raising ducks as a meat animal again in the near future.

I also appreciated all of the comments I didn't include in this post. Specifically, I hope your family's adventure is exciting and smooth when you move onto your homestead in eighteen months. Good luck!

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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We raise Swedish ducks, both blue and black, and we have never had any problems with them being either lean or tough. Of course, we pluck ours, even if it is quite a bit of trouble. I doubt they would roast well without the skin and that thick layer of fat beneath it.
Comment by DucksInARow Tue Jan 19 18:41:11 2016

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