Friday, August 15, 2014

Baby Ducks and Propolis Varnish Update

     We had some new little baby ducks start to hatch on the morning of August 4th, just as we were leaving for Oregon to go camping at Fort Stevens.  Fortunately, the babies don't require much to eat or drink for the first three days so I was able to postpone putting in chick waterers and feeders until we returned from Oregon.  I don't believe that there is anything on the planet cuter than ducklings.  Out of  eleven eggs the mother duck successfully hatched out nine ducklings, seven of which survived the first week.  I thought we were doing fairly well on letting the mother care for them.  I removed the low water containers from the duck pen so the ducklings wouldn't get stuck in a water dish and drown or die of hypothermia.  I left just one 2 gallon bucket in the pen for the mother duck.  I figured it was high enough that it didn't pose a danger to the very little ducklings.   It turned out that I was very wrong. All but three of our ducklings managed to jump up into the water bucket and drown.  I was as impressed with their leaping ability as I was unimpressed with their decision making. I'm now making the mother duck drink out of the chick waterer for the next few weeks until the ducklings are big enough to be safe from water hazards.
one egg hatching while one duckling hides beneath his mother

Proud mother duck a few days prior to the duckling disaster

    Raising ducklings isn't so very different from raising teenage children. It seems much of our efforts are directed towards protecting them from serious dangers that just look like a good time to them.  I'm glad we successfully survived that time of our lives. I have a lot of sympathy for some of the struggles that our children have with our grand children. I'm glad I did a lot better protecting our children than I have with our ducklings.

     Regarding my propolis varnish.  We have had some unseasonable rain over the past few days.  I had accidentally left one of my wooden folding chairs out in the rain.  The propolis varnish seemed to be just as water proof as had been advertised.  There was no color change in the varnish, nothing whitened or turned opaque.  The amazing thing is that I had only applied one coat of varnish to the chair.  I ran out, of varnish before I even finished one coat on all of the chairs.  Anyhow, the appearance of the chair was unchanged after three days in the rain. I was very impressed.  I think the propolis varnish will work very well on the wood trim on my little row boat.

   I'm preparing this post while I'm waiting for beeswax to melt. I ran last year's beeswax cappings through my solar wax melter a few weeks back and ended up with a nice brick of beeswax weighing a little less than three pounds. I have often entered my honey in the fair, but I have never submitted a beeswax entry. I rendered out over 500 pounds of beeswax over the past year, but in order to enter it in the fair it has to come from my own apiary.  Most of that beeswax came from cappings I had purchased from a local commercial beekeeper.  Anyhow, a few weeks ago I stumbled on a paper sack containing the cappings from last years honey harvest. I had cleaned them, dried them,  put them away and then forgot where I had put them. I found them just in time to take advantage of a nice 90 plus degree day to help me render out the beeswax in my solar wax melter.

   Earlier today I melted the beeswax in a double boiler with an equal amount of water. When the wax was fully melted I poured it through some Tshirt material into a bucket in order to filter out impurities. Now I am remelting it without water so I can pour it into molds for the fair.  I have enough beeswax where I could also do a poured candle entry, but it is too late for that now. I'm just going to pour the wax into one pound molds and pick the best one to submit to the fair.

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