Animals

Arf

A Village Fit For Mice

In my family, we love mice so much that I had to say no when my husband and daughter wanted a snake. We had it in the house for two nights and I couldn't stand the idea of feeding it mice--or worse, rabbits, when it got older. We've had many mice pets! I understand they have to eat them, but I won't buy them as food. Luckily the breeder was happy to have the snake returned.

The Language Of Bees

We all want more honeybees, whether for our personal gardens or the fate of society in general, so any news about protecting bees is always helpful. But what about bee language? While it doesn't seem like being able to "speak bee" would be all that helpful in preserving bee populations, there are actual benefits to decoding "bee dances" in order to understand how they communicate.

Garden Helpers

"Wait ar minute!" I can already hear you saying, looking at the photo. "Rabbits destroy my garden!"

Yes, but they can also help it thrive! Did you know that rabbit droppings are some of the best fertilizers you can use in your garden? No, you don't have to open up your garden to all of the wild bunnies, but you can get a couple of rabbits (same sex to prevent mating!) to keep as pets. You can either put their enclosures above your garden to help droppings fall right into it, or you can just scoop it up and toss it in to use. Pretty awesome, right?

Secret Garden Gets Animal Welfare Award

A few years ago, any mention of Siegfried and Roy might have triggered an angry reaction rather than praise, given the whole tiger situation, but now their Secret Garden attraction is being hailed as a sanctuary for animals. The garden and habitat at The Mirage has recently been awarded the gold standard of animal welfare from American Humane.

Backyard ponds and fountains

Water features in the garden

With the addition of ducks to our garden, whom by the way have already begun earning their keep with their healthy appetite for slugs, we needed to think about installing a water feature. Our variety of ducks don't necessarily need a pond but they will be cleaner and happier if given an area to splash around in on occasion. A water feature also helps complete a garden both aesthetically and environmentally.

Ducks in the garden

Raising backyard poultry.

Our garden got some new denizens this weekend. Backyard chickens have been the rage for several years now, but the fallout isn't pretty. Many people jumped on the chicken bandwagon not realizing the amount of care these birds need or the cost of raising them for eggs. Most chickens also only lay regularly for two or three years, but they can live 10 years or longer. This results in many people now trying to unload their older hens that are no longer laying but which they don't want to slaughter. It's sad but could have been avoided with some research.

Since we are working toward a sustainable lifestyle, cheap eggs aren't our only motivation. We're limited to five birds on our property, though, and we aren't interested in culling a flock every few years. After much research and visiting with other backyard poultry aficionados, we decided against chickens. The short laying life, health issues, winter issues and sometimes viciousness of the birds just didn't fit into our life. But, ducks on the other hand were almost perfect. We now have two Khaki Campbells and one Indian Runner duck peeping in an improvised brooder in our bedroom.

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