This winter started with a sudden cold wave without snow which created perfect conditions for cross-country skating.
Such as this clear and thick (~10cm) ice on our pond:
The pond is a bit small though for serious skating so we headed for the bogs.
Since about 20% of Estonia is covered with wetlands we have lots of bogs to choose from. My partner happens to be a bog enthusiast so we tend to go to different ones too.
Bog pools are nice for skating for a couple of reasons. They are usually shallower than lakes so they tend to freeze faster. Secondly bog pools form interesting systems with lots of nooks, crannys and islands which might be a bit more interesting than skating on a big lake.
We started with a skating trip to Suru Suursoo with 360.ee on the afternoon of New Year’s Eve. There we skated on two different bog pool systems, Tallekesejärv and Suursoo umbjärv:
And here’s just a random picture of how nice the frozen bog looks like
Next day we went to Kõnnu järv which is located near our home. That one is more of a lake than bog pool:
And finally we went to Mukri soo where we skated on Lake Eidapere.
As you can see each successive picture has a bit more snow on it so it’s rather likely that by now there’s too much snow for skating. That’s really the only downside of cross country skating – the natural conditions suitable for it are present for a week or so per year and sometimes even less.
This spring we bought 5 young Indian Runner ducks: 4 female ones and 1 male one. The ducks are called Termitomyces, Concepcion, Diversant and Part; the drake is called Tutulus. Today we had our 500th egg and we probably won’t get many more this year since the temperatures will soon be below freezing point and some have already stopped laying.
I wanted to write down a couple of things that we have learned about duck keeping during our first year. Maybe it will help someone.
First of all I live in Estonia which has a rather cold climate. For 3-5 months per year we have thick snow and the temperature is below freezing. Sometimes it’s around -20C for a week or even longer. While ducks are hardy and don’t seem to mind bitter cold they still need something that protects them from the wind, drinking water and some water to clean themselves in.
Luckily we didn’t have to start from zero since we already had an ex-henhouse on our property from the previous owners.
It stands on 4 drystone pillars about 1m above the ground, measures 4x4m and has the roof and walls covered with tin roofing panels and has mains power available.
So in short it’s a total overkill for this particular purpose. In the spirit of overkill I built a porch for it with a rather long ramp in place of the stairway since ducks can’t climb stairs as well as hens do. We also bought a large fishing net that protects some of the duck yard from goshawks and other flying predators since they were the reason why the old owner stopped keeping birds. Ducks also like to sleep under
the house during warm summer days which protects them nicely from overheating and flying predators.
The main problem with keeping ducks indoors for a large part of the year is that they are really messy birds and like to play with water. In the beginning we just had a ~15l water bowl in the middle of the room that they drank from and used for washing. We filled the bowl in the morning and in the evening and in between they always managed to find a way to spread most of it all over the room. This can’t possibly be good for the wooden floor of our duckhouse so we tried various ways to reduce the splatter.
What we are currently using is a balconly flower pot that is attached to the wall ~5cm from the ground and everything near it is covered with linoleum. Directly under the flower pot we have a large plastic multipurpose tray that has 4cm high edges. That way most of the splatter will stay on the tray that we can easily clean.
This year the frogs came out couple of weeks later than usual since the spring was so cold but now they are everywhere.
Since our new place has a rather large hen house we decided to make use of it and got ourselves some indian runner ducks. These ducks are a bit unconventional
because they walk almost upright (almost like penguins) and are rather fun to watch because of that.
They should also be great egg layers but I can’t comment on that yet since they are a bit young for that.
PS. in case you don’t get the dogmask reference here’s an explanation.
Temperature is still down to around -30 degrees C at night and pipes sometimes tend to get frozen but at least the nature looks really nice.
And it’s time to get ready for the spring…