Winter Duck Care

Winter Duck Care

Winter Duck Care

Don’t worry, the ducks are fine!

 

During the winter months, this is a regular declaration for many duck owners. When people see our ducks plopped down in four inches of snow or withstanding an icy blizzard, they often ask, are the ducks okay? Are they warm enough? Do they need a heater or heat lamp?

 

Luckily, ducks are extremely resilient, cold-hardy animals, which is why they were our first choice for a backyard farm animal. Here in Colorado, temperatures can drop below zero degrees during the wintertime and snow is a constant. Thankfully, ducks have remarkable physical adaptations that allow them to withstand our wonderful, snowy Colorado winters!

 

Ducks are equipped with some of the best natural defenses against the elements. These animals have a double-layer of waterproof feathers and an interior layer of insulating, downy feathers. Underneath all of those feathers, ducks have a thick layer of fat. This layer of fat helps them maintain a core average body temperature of 106 – 108 degrees Fahrenheit. To top it all off, they have a counter-current blood flow that helps reduce heat loss through their feet and legs.

 

These natural attributes help ducks weather even the most brutal winter storms. Despite these adaptations, duck owners need to take a few important steps to keep their feathered friends safe and happy in the winter. 

 

3 Tips for Caring for Ducks in Winter

Keep Your Ducks Healthy & Warm

Provide a dry, wind-proof shelter

Ducks need a dry place to shelter away from wind, snow and moisture. While their feathers protect the body from wind and water, their feet and bills are still prone to frostbite. Adequate shelters should have a solid roof and walls that block wind and water (snow or rain). As an extra precaution, we line our duck coop with old, plastic Amazon mailers. These help reduce any wind or moisture that may penetrate the spaces between wood slates or cracks in the coop. A simple liner can also provide some insulation and protect from drafts.

 

It’s also extremely important to keep drinking water OUT of the coop. Ducks LOVE to play, splash and make a complete mess out of any source of water. Any water inside the coop can potentially lead to frostbite on the duck’s feet or legs.

 

As an important note, please avoid using a heat lamp in any coop or outdoor shelter. Heat lamps are unnecessary to care for ducks and extremely dangerous (fire risk!).

Access to fresh, unfrozen water

Ducks need access to fresh, unfrozen water throughout the day to swallow and digest their food properly. During the winter months, their drinking water should be changed several times a day to avoid freezing.

 

Our duck run is a short walk from our house, so we’re able to easily replace their water a few times a day. If frequent trips to the duck run aren’t feasible for your situation, a heated dog bowl is always a viable option.

Provide extra bedding for nesting

Unlike chickens who roost when they sleep, ducks nest at ground-level. When the temperatures drop, it’s helpful to add extra bedding to the coop, so the ducks can cozy down into a warm nest. During the winter, we add extra straw to the coop to protect their feet from the cold ground and for their overall comfort.

 

So at the end of the snowy, winter day – yes, the ducks are fine! Evolution has equipped them with their own unique adaptations to withstand the winter elements.

ABOUT ME

Minimalist Mama is a curated story of mamahood, minimalism and simple living.

Portia Owens

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Turmeric Honey Milk Latte

Turmeric Honey Milk Latte

Tumeric Honey Milk Latte Golden Milk

The snow’s falling, it’s delightfully crisp outside and I’m snuggled up on the couch watching HGTV reruns. As a play on this entire mood, I’m sipping on my new favorite warm beverage – a comforting, creamy turmeric honey latte. 

 

I’ll admit it, I’ve long avoided the turmeric latte because honestly, I don’t really enjoy the taste of turmeric. Also, the turmeric latte seems to be having a bit of a moment in the trendy, yuppy, fad market. So, just to be counter-culture I avoided the drink all-together (rebel, I know).

 

But finally, I conformed and on this cozy winter day and I steamed up my first turmeric latte.

 

And WOAH.

 

I’m completely, 100% on the turmeric latte bandwagon.

 

This sweet, frothy beverage has subtle hints of spice and everything nice. It’s earthy and grounding, yet uplifting and sweet. It’s my new daily non-caffeinated pick-me-up and surprisingly, it doesn’t have the overbearing, bold turmeric taste.

 

Turmeric lattes also have many health benefits depending on the ingredients you choose incorporate. The use of turmeric for herbal medicinal purposes dates back thousands of years and even traditional medicine has recognized the benefits of this spice.

 

Turmeric is known to be a potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. It can help reduce chronic inflammation that contributes to heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and other degenerative conditions. It can also aid digestion, reduce symptoms of depression and boost immunity.

 

Basically turmeric is too good to be true, right?! It’s a powerhouse spice that can supplement any daily health or wellness routine.

 

My favorite adaptation (so far) of the turmeric latte includes almond milk, honey, turmeric, ginger powder and cinnamon. Together, these ingredients made for a sweet and slightly spicy drink that enhances digestion, increases energy and fights inflammation.

 

So here I am, being basic and trendy AF with my turmeric latte… and I’m okay with it. 

 

Follow my recipe below and let me know what ingredients are a must-have in your latte! Snap a pic of your turmeric latte and tag @minimalist_mamaco for a chance to be featured on my Instagram stories!

Turmeric + Honey Milk Latte (Golden Latte)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup almond milk (may substitute with coconut milk or oat milk)
  • 1 teaspoon raw, unfiltered honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger powder
  • 1 cinnamon stick (or 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon)
Optional Ingredients: :
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon coconut oil
  • Shot of espresso

Stove Top Directions:

  1. Bring all ingredients to a boil in a stove top pan.
  2. Simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. Pour + enjoy!

Directions for Steamer (espresso machine):

  1. Add all ingredients in a stainless steel frothing pitcher.
  2. Steam with the steam wand until the mixture is the desired temperature. If you have a built-in or hand-held frother, you can froth the milk as well.
  3. Pour the mixture into a mug and enjoy!
ABOUT ME

Minimalist Mama is a curated story of mamahood, minimalism and simple living.

Portia Owens

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Immune Supporting Elderberry Syrup (Homemade Recipe)

Immune Supporting Elderberry Syrup (Homemade Recipe)

Immune Supporting Elderberry Syrup

Cold, flu, COVID… oh my! ‘Tis the season for the sniffles and the most important time of the year to take extra precautionary steps to boost your immune system. Throughout the winter months, elderberry syrup is a staple in my household because of it’s immune-boosting and anti-viral properties. 

Elderberry Syrup Basics

So what exactly is elderberry syrup and why should it be a part of your wintertime health routine?

 

Elderberry syrup is a combination of four simple ingredients: raw honey, cooked elderberries, water and cinammon. Elderberries are small fruits that have long been touted for their medicinal properties and health benefits, including:

  • Immune boosting properties
  • Antiviral – elderberries help decrease duration and severity of respiratory illnesses
  • Natural antioxidant – elderberries are rich in anthocyanins (a type of flavonoid) that act as an antioxidant and have anti-iflammatory, anti-vital and anti-cancer benefits
  • Helps to clear sinus infectons
  • Reduces symptoms of allergies
  • Chock-full of vitamins and minerals
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Anti-carcinogenic
  • Natural diureic – help promote bowel movements
 

Incorporating elderberry syrup into your daily health routine can have so many benefits beyond cold and flu prevention. It’s really a powerhouse plant that supports many whole-body functions and benefits the entire family!

Benefits of Homemade Elderberry Syrup

So why make your own elderberry syrup instead of simply buying it from the store? For starters, store-bought elderberry syrup is expensive. To put it in perspective, a 3-ounce bottle of Gaia Elderberry syrup costs around $16. According to the recommended dosage (1 teaspoon a day) for a single adult, that bottle would only last 18 days (36 days for a child). The cost of elderberry syrup can quickly add up, especially if you’re using it throughout the entire cold and flu season. 

 

Aside from price, the majority of store-bought elderberry syrups contain potentially harmful ingredients. Even the products marketed as natural or organic contain ingredients that can have adverse side effects.

Many popular elderberry syrup brands contain:

 

 

  • color and flavor additives
  • sugar (in the form of glucose syrup, corn syrup, cane sugar)
  • preservatives (citric acid and potassium sorbate)
 

These ingredients can be irritants for those with sensitive digestive systems, acid reflux, allergies, and hypersensitivity.

 

 

In the case of elderberry syrup, homemade is best! My recipe incorporates pure, simple ingredients that truly support your health. It also yields more syrup than store-bought options and at a fraction of the cost. 

 

Supplement and support your families health with this affordable, homemade recipe.

Immune-Supporting Elderberry Syrup Recipe

Supplies:

  • Large cooking pot
  • Fine-mesh strainer
  • Spoon
  • Mason jar with lid

Ingredients:

Optional Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. In a large pot, bring water, elderberries, cinammon, ginger, clove and vanilla extract to a boil.
  2. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 40 minutes (or until the liquid is reduced by half).
  3. Drain the liquid with a fine mesh strainer into a mason jar or other glass storage container. Press the elderberries with a spoon to remove all liquid from the berries. Discard the cooked elderberries. 
  4. Let the mixture cool until it reaches room temperature.
  5. Add raw honey and mix well.
  6. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Note: Shake well before every use.

Storage:
  • Store in an airtight container (mason jar with a lid is best)
  • Refrigerate for up to 2-3 months
  • Freeze for up to 6 months

Dosage:
Adults: 1 teaspoon a day for maintenance, may increase to 3 teaspoons a day when sick or feel an illness coming on.

Children over 1 year-old: 1/2 teaspoon a day or maintenance

Important Notes:

  • Do not give elderberry syrup to infants under 1 year old. Honey can contain bacteria that causes botulism in infants.
  • Elderberries MUST be cooked for safe consumption. Do not eat dried elderberries, as they are toxic and contain cyanide-inducing glycoside. Cook elderberries for at least 20 minutes.
Cost Comparison:

This recipe yields about 16 ounces of elderberry syrup and costs about $12 to make at home. This batch will last the average adult about three months when taken once daily.


Most store-bought elderberry syrups average around $15 for 3 ounces, which amounts to over $75 for 16 ounces. By making this elderberry syrup recipe at home, you can save around $63. That’s a HUGE cost savings and a small investment in your personal health and wellness!

ABOUT ME

Minimalist Mama is a curated story of mamahood, minimalism and simple living.

Portia Owens

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Duck Eggs vs. Chicken Eggs: 4 Reasons Why I Prefer Duck Eggs

Duck Eggs vs. Chicken Eggs: 4 Reasons Why I Prefer Duck Eggs

Duck Eggs vs. Chicken Eggs: 4 Reasons Why I Prefer Duck Eggs

There’s a certain charm to raising backyard poultry, it’s an alluring hobby that yields farm fresh eggs and a fairly consistent food source. Today, chickens seem to be the preferred backyard poultry choice and actually quite mainstream for backyard flocks. Ducks are also an excellent choice, especially if you’re raising them for egg production.

 

 

Over a year ago, we started our backyard flock consisting solely of ducks. Since ducks seem to be a little more unconventional, we get a lot of questions about raising ducks and the eggs they produce. Most frequently, we’re asked:

 

 

What do they taste like? A rich, nutrient-dense chicken egg!
How do you cook them? The same way I cook chicken eggs – fried, scrambled, or baked (duck egg Quiché is a must!)
Are they bigger than chicken eggs? Yes, about 30% larger.

 

 

There’s naturally a lot of curiosity from family, friends and neighbors about the differences between the two types of eggs. If you’re curious to know why we’ve made the transition from chicken eggs, here are four reasons why duck eggs reign in this household!

Size

The bigger, the better – right?! As a breakfast-loving girl, I prefer to start my day with a large, protein-packed meal. Prior to raising our own laying ducks, I would use four store-bought, jumbo chicken eggs each morning for my breakfast alone. One of my favorite attributes of the duck egg is the sheer size of the egg – it’s about 30% larger than the chicken egg. With a much larger yolk and a greater yolk-to-white ratio in comparison to a chicken egg, duck eggs are massive and incredibly nutrient-dense. Now, my hearty breakfast only requires one (sometimes two) eggs!

Nutrition

Duck eggs have all the goods… nutritionally-speaking. With higher levels of Omega 3, fatty acids and protein – duck eggs are nutritionally superior to their chicken counterpart. Duck eggs are chalk-full of essential vitamins and minerals, including: niacin, vitamin B12, vitamins A and D, iron and folate (especially if they’re pasture-raised or free-range). In comparison, duck eggs have more essential vitamins, healthy fats and vitamins (and a longer shelf-life!).

Flavor

This is a biggie. I get questions weekly about how duck eggs taste, their flavor, and whether it’s similar to that of chicken eggs. To answer those questions, YES! Duck eggs taste very similar to chicken eggs, but a little more rich. As mentioned before, duck eggs have a larger yolk and a greater yolk-to-white ratio, so you guessed it… they’re more yolky. Duck eggs are also higher in protein and lower in water-content, making them GREAT for baking – think tasty, fluffy, and rich baked creations! Initially, you’ll notice a subtle difference in taste and a slightly different consistency between the two. But, overall they taste the same – duck eggs just have a little more flavor!

Consistent and Versatile

Ducks are very hearty animals and unlike chickens, they often keep laying year-round (even during the winter). Their consistency in laying is what allows us to have fresh eggs every day for our favorite dishes and recipes. Oh, and there’s no single way to make duck eggs! They have the same versatility as chicken eggs and can be used for so many of our staple dishes.

 

My two-cents, don’t hesitate to sub those chicken eggs for ducks eggs! They’re different (in a good way!) and have so many nutritional benefits.

Do you have any questions about the differences between duck and chicken eggs? I’d love to help answer them.

ABOUT ME

Minimalist Mama is a curated story of mamahood, minimalism and simple living.

Portia Owens

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5 Easy Ways to Go Zero-Waste in Your Kitchen

5 Easy Ways to Go Zero-Waste in Your Kitchen
5 Easy Ways to Go Zero-Waste in Your Kitchen
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5 Easy Ways to Go Zero-Waste in Your Kitchen

In the United States, approximately one pound of food per person per person is thrown away every single day. This amounts to about 103 million tons of food waste, or nearly 40% of our entire food supply. Food is the number one item found in our landfills, accounting for about 24%.

 

Obviously, something needs to change. These statistics are daunting, but they should not discourage us from taking small steps to lessen the environmental, economical, and sociological impact of food waste.

 

The logical place for us to start in our quest to reduce food waste is in the kitchen. You may find that you have already implemented steps toward a zero-waste kitchen, including conscious consumerism and repurposing containers. If you are looking for further ways to reduce waste in your kitchen, consider the following easy steps to start your journey toward minimalism and sustainability.

Buy in Bulk

This does not mean stocking up on items from Costco! When we say “buy in bulk,” we are referring to the bins filled with dry goods like lentils, rice, and nuts at the grocery store. Purchasing items in bulk reduces waste by skipping the cardboard and plastic associated with pre-packaged items. On that note, don’t forget to bring your own reusable container for your bulk items and skip those single-use plastic baggies! Helpful hint: you will be charged by weight, so weigh your container before you fill it up so your cashier can deduct this from the final price.

If your local grocery store does not offer an appreciable bulk section, there are loads of options online! Saffi Foods, for example, produces bulk olive oil and vinegars in reusable glass bottles. The Wally Shop offers pantry items, beauty products, and cleaning products sustainably and all in reusable glass containers.

Get Creative With Containers

Coffee tins, jelly jars, wine bottles-the sky’s the limit when it comes to repurposing things in the kitchen! Get used to holding on to non-plastic containers, even if you don’t have a purpose for them yet. I promise you, you will! Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Wine Bottles- sterilize these and use them to store your bulk olive oil and vinegars. If they do not have a twist-top, invest in a few reusable wine stoppers to seal them.
  • Coffee Tins-these are great for dry pantry items, like rice, beans, and lentils. Keep a little bamboo scoop inside for easy measuring.
  • Jelly Jars-if you make your own pet food or baby food, these are great for storage in the fridge. You can also use them for smaller pantry items, like chia seeds or flax.
  • Plastic Juice Bottles-sometimes, plastic is unavoidable. But a durable plastic container, like an orange juice bottle, can have myriad uses! Fill them up with bulk cereals, pasta, or simply refill them with more juice.

Try Solid Soaps

As far as I know, there is no rule that says dish soap has to be liquid! Try switching to a bar version of dish soap to reduce plastic waste. If you are a soaper, you can try our recipe for a kitchen bar soap with castor oil and coconut oil – it has a gorgeous lather and the coconut oil cuts through grease as well as any liquid soap.

Re-use Kitchen Scraps

Fruit and vegetable peelings account for a high percentage of landfill waste. Before you toss them out, think of a way you might use them again. Vegetable ends and peelings, like carrot peels, onion and garlic paper, and celery butts can be boiled with salt and herbs to make a flavorful stock. Citrus peels might be infused in your homemade cleaning products to give a natural scent and added antimicrobial activity.

 

Additionally, did you know that many parts of your unwanted food scraps can be used to grow whole new vegetables? Potatoes, leeks, onions, cabbages, and certain herbs are just a few things you can grow from scraps.

Try Beeswax or Vegan Food Wraps

Cling film has become ubiquitous in the American kitchen, but, as a single-use plastic, it is a major contributor to microplastic pollution. Luckily, there are alternatives to plastic wrap that are sustainable and prettier! These adorable wraps are soaked in beeswax, which gives them flexibility and sealing ability comparable to cling film. Their fun patterns also add a whimsical touch to a family picnic. This company also offers a vegan option made with soy and candelilla wax.


Going zero-waste can seem intimidating at first, but it is actually an instinctive process. We, as humans, are naturally creative and many of us already have a desire to make, save, and reuse things. The beauty of zero-waste is that it can be 100% tailored to you and your lifestyle. It can be thrilling to find new ways to reduce your waste, and you may just find a creative outlet you didn’t know you needed!

ABOUT ME

Minimalist Mama is a curated story of mamahood, minimalism and simple living.

Portia Owens

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