OUCH!

There comes a time in (nearly) every girl’s life when she just has to drop everything and blog.

This is one of those moments.

That, people, is a BIG egg.

How big, ask you? (I knew you would, so I hauled out the kitchen scale.)

THAT big:

Yes, that says 4 ounces.

FOUR stinking ounces.

Poor little hen. Hope she’s okay… Didn’t see anyone having keeled over or limping along or anything….

Owie mama!

Okay – back to the many other things I ought to be doing…

Stinking Hawk!

Can you see it there in the mist?

This hawk has taken to hanging out quite near to the girls.

It seems fairly young.

Rather lithe.

It’s definitely bold.

It will swoop right down into the chicken run – with me standing just feet away!

I wish I could get a picture of it in action like that! But I’d have to actually look out the window before walking out the door – hands full of egg basket, table scraps for the girls, etc. – and be prepared with camera ready at the go.

Makes me thankful for the crows that hang out – they take great delight in harassing this hawk! Go crows!

This morning, as I walked out and nearly came face to face with the hawk – all of the girls huddling under cover – I was surprised that once the hawk winged it up to the tree just beyond the willow that the girls seemed happy as can be to just resume normal activity.

Because I was there? I don’t offer all that much protection – although I can yell – well, except for right now – I’m losing my voice to this stupid cold. I gave the girls a stern talking to about using caution with the stinking hawk hanging out so close by.

See how concerned they were:

Huh? You talking to us?

Yeah – so – obviously – they seemed to feel the danger had passed.

Oh – hey – remember Lacey?

She was one of the chicks Jezebel hatched in February. You can see her a little older here, too.

She’s done some growing up

She’s the Silver Laced Wyandotte in the middle. Pretty, huh?

Dommy (the Dominque – original, huh?) – one of the chicks that Buffy hatched in May may well be going broody… She’s kind of half-hearted about it – part of the time on the nest, part of the time off… That’s her behind the Leghorns. After we muck out the coop this weekend, I’ll set up the Broody Mama portion of the coop and see if she really wants to set eggs or not… If so, we’ll be getting some fertile eggs to bring in for her to hatch.

I don’t think I’ve introduced Blanche yet, either.

This is she:

She’s a buff colored Easter Egger – re-homed to us this winter. Blanche, she’s such a different girl. Kind of a social “special needs” kinda hen. She just doesn’t play well with others and self-isolates quite a lot. She has gotten bolder of late with the warmer weather – venturing out amongst the other girls now and then. But definitely not the team player the other girls are. She lays a lovely nice-sized blue-ish green egg every few days – but always in the wackiest locations! She makes me laugh.

I took some pictures yesterday that I’ll try and post later today or tomorrow. Hard to believe kind of stuff – particularly for those of our loved ones and friends who are on the East Coast awaiting the latest snow storm to arrive…

Back to rest for me, with a fresh mug of hot tea and honey for my very sore throat. Always with an eye out the window for the stinking hawk!

Stink!

It seemed like destiny.

One broody hen.

Plus 5 Golden Sex Link hatchlings needing a Mommy…

And reports from the Backyard Chicken Yahoo Group that folks had successfully snuck chicks under an existing broody hen and had them bond.

Perfect, right?!

It seemed so to us, anyway.

So yesterday, we happened to be on the far East side of town – in close proximity to a feed store that keeps chicks in stock through the summer – so we swung by. Sure enough, they had a lovely variety of chicks, and so we bought 5 to bring home.

We set up a temporary brooder and gave the chicks some time to acclimate.

As the evening was drawing to a close, we substituted one non-fertile egg under Shelly for one live chick over several hours.

It seemed to go well.

There was a point in time, though, when I was worried. She got agitated. She was pacing and squawking. I was just about to go and grab the chicks and return them to the brooder when I got sidetracked by this:

Is that not the cutest thing you ever did see? Buffy and her 4 babies perching on the roosts at bedtime! Three under her wings, and the little Dominique sticking close to Mom.

By the time I went back to check on the chicks, I found this:

Shelly with chicks nestled underneath her wings.

WOW!

I was so surprised. And exceedingly pleased.

But still a little worried.

Worried enough that I snuck out there a few hours later to make sure everything was going okay. Sure enough, everything was fine.

Early this morning John went back out to check on everyone.

Sadly, Shelly had rejected the chicks. One she’d booted out of the nest, and it had died during the night. The remaining 4 chicks were huddled and trying to stay warm.

SO SAD!

And such a bummer. I had so hoped we could get Shelly past being broody this way, and that she’d be a good mama to them, like she was to her chicks last year.

Stink.

So – we’re brooding 4 remaining chicks.

Back up with the heat lamp.

Poor babies.

And fickle Shelly – back on the nest box – thinking she’s gonna get babies from the wooden eggs she’s setting…

Ugh!

A Rare Day Off…

I had to go back to work at the end of May – after 4 months off for medical leave.

I’ve had few days off – although I have been fortunate enough to be able to work first half-time, and most recently, about 3/4ths of a typical work day.

On an average day I’m at work by 7 am, get home by 1:15 pm – and pretty much crash. Getting over this lengthy illness will take a concerted effort and quite a bit of patience! It’s been pretty frustrating not being able to accomplish the many things that I feel I ought to accomplish.

Over the course of the last week – after a substantial delay due to the very cool, very wet Spring we’ve had – our garden has begun to take some shape.

HOORAY!

Here – let me show you what we’ve got put together so far…

This is the “old” garden. I.e., the original garden plot that’s been here since we moved her 5 years ago.

In the foreground are three rows of squash… they are yellow crookneck (my very favorite in the whole entire world), and Mexican squash – sometimes also seen as grey zucchini. The Mexican squash is a new variety for us – I buy it sometimes at the store, but it’s expensive, and not reliably available. So I decided we oughta grow some!

Next, is a row of dill. I’m relying on it to be wildly successful – I have big pickling plans this year!

There’s a reserved space next (i.e., empty) – right before that trellis. It’s for the trellis that is currently being used for peas. When the peas are done, the trellis will move here, and we’ll get another planting of green beans in. And the trellis that you see here:

On the left side are the old standard – Blue Lake pole beans.

On the right – another fun new option:

In the right growing conditions, these beans can grow up to 36″ long! WOW! The rumor is that they’re fabulous, too. I hope to find out. That would mean, of course, that we NOT the deer get to eat the green beans this year!

To that end, I’ve planted lots of flowers that are supposed to be deer deterrents. Like:

My goal is to edge each plot with plantings that the deer are said to be particularly repulsed by. They include: astilbe, coreopsis, gallardia, chives, lavender, sage (quite a number of varieites), purple coneflower, candy tuft, and bee balm. Here’s hoping it works!

After the green bean trellis are five hills of another new to us planting – Romanesco Zucchini. I think this is the variety of squash that I enjoy so much when I’m in Spain – or at least something very similar to it. I heard so many raves about it – and it was SO difficult to obtain the seed. I’m really hoping for success with this one!

And lastly in the old garden – four or five rows of corn – I can’t remember how many now. We’ll see when it comes up! 🙂

In the “new” garden plot we’ve got…

A potato condo with both Red Pontiacs and White Kennebecs. Here’s to a more successful potato year than last year!

Cucumbers! The trellis on the left has pickling cucumbers. The trellis on the right has slicing cucumbers.

In the foreground you may be able to discern a hill – there are actually 3 (I forgot to get a shot of them!) – one of a variety similar to cantaloupe that we’ve enjoyed in Spain, another an heirloom cantaloupe, and then an heirloom watermelon.

We’ve got forty tomato plants in the ground. A few aren’t looking so great. Gosh – they could sure use a few solid days of genuinely summer weather! They are all – of course – heirloom varieties: Paul Robeson, Copia, TC Jones, Grammy Cantrell German Red, Moon Glow, Dr. Wyches, Grace Lahman’s Pink, Roman Candle, Weeping Charlie Roma, Amish Paste, Isis Candy Cherry, Dr. Carolyn Cherry, and Tess Land Race Currant Cherry.

Separating the two banks of tomato trellises is a row of basil plants. I have some serious pesto plans for those basil plants!

Also in the new garden is my weed-infested patch of cabbages…

As well as my weed-infested patch of peas – which have pea pods on them now!!! Woo Hoo!!!

Aren’t they beautiful?

You may recall this entire plot was completely weed infested – as recently as just a week ago! We decided to just till it all under and start over again – sadly, saying goodbye to the spinach and green onions that had limped along thus far. I need to get out there and weed this little corner – and soon! – but only as energy allows.

Also in this plot are…

Parsley…

Cilantro…

Beets…

…and marigolds.

So far.

We will fill up nearly every spare inch we can.

I still need to get lettuce planted, a new planting of spinach, and a new planting of green onions in, as well. I put those under the trellises – it works out nicely.

John also got two more beds tilled tonight.

The front bed – along the street – will have pumpkins and lots and lots of perennial seeds that I’ve saved up and need to get in the ground!

And a bed where we’ve had great success with green beans in the past, will play host to green beans once again! John will get the trellising up in the next day or two, and then it will get planted. And then immediately thereafter – fenced! One MUST protect the garden from the chickens!

And speaking of chickens…

Buffy and three of the babies… the fourth (the Dominique) is always trailing behind somewhere!

One of the little black sex link chicks. Isn’t she pretty?

And – one of the EIGHT mostly naked chickens I have on my hands right now:

I don’t know if it’s the weather being so cool and yucky that’s caused so many of them to decide to molt all at the same time – or what! But there are feathers EVERYWHERE! Poor things – they look kinda pathetic! At least it’s not as cold as when Crayon molted last year! But has sure put a damper on egg production!

So – while I didn’t get as much done as I’d hoped to on this lovely day off, I’m thankful for every moment I got to spend here at home with the kids and in the garden, and out with the girls. I even threw together a new fun salad, that I’ll post about later this week. I think it’s going to be a keeper!

Oooh! And – Shelly‘s broody again! I think I’m picking up fertile eggs for her to set in the next day or two. More on that as details are available!

Ah….

There have been days in the past weeks when I’ve felt as if the sun would never shine again. There were days of actual INCHES of rain. The soil was too wet to work. I have a crop of mushrooms that is impressive.

Wanna see my garden?

Yeah – seriously – all weeds.

Okay – there’s some green onion in here:

Can you see it? You gotta work hard.

And there’s a bit of spinach, too:

And the peas – planted MONTHS AGO – are finally getting a little height:

It’s to that point where I don’t know if we should just till it all under, or really try and hoe all of the weeds out.

It’s nearly mid-June, for heaven’s sake, and the garden isn’t in yet!

But today – something beautiful happened.

It’s actually hit the 80’s today.

Beautiful.

Clear skies.

Not a cloud in sight.

Warm.

Amazing.

Lovely.

Sunny.

Ahhh…..

Thank you Jesus!

My hydrangeas may actually bloom!

And there will be blackberries! (Thank you little bee for doing your pollination thing!)

Phew.

The forecast for the week actually excludes the “R” word (it’s four-lettered and ends in n).

It was so nice today, in fact, that I let Buffy take the babies out of the broody mama section of the coop. She kept them close to home – but it was fun to see her teaching them the ropes of the coop in general.

Aren’t they getting big?! The little Dominique (on the left) is the most adventurous thus far.

And my Cuckoo Maran is still broody. I dunno – she’s really determined, this one. If we hadn’t already had one broody girl, I definitely would have put her on eggs!

So – hooray!

It does appear that summer may be coming around, after all!

I love this!

Well – I gotta say – I think we’re doing our part!

Isn’t it crazy how completely revolutionary backyard poultry seem less than 100 years later? I mean – honestly – it’s against the law in neighborhoods just a stone’s throw from my house. And don’t even get me started on home owners associations! Ugh!

Well, it’s been a while since I gave an update on the baby girls, so I thought I’d do just that!

But first – most of you are well aware of the fact that we live in Oregon.

Yes, we have a bit of a reputation as being a bit of a rainy state. (Honestly – do you know that a significant part of the state has desert?!) And it’s true – there have been t-shirts produced in the past that read, “Oregonians don’t tan – they rust!” But really – most of the time – particularly in late Spring and Summer, and oftentimes well into Fall – it’s just incredibly beautiful. Green, lush, amazing.

This year – we’re living up to our notariety the home of the rained upon.

This is what the skies look like more often than not:

According to the weatherman, this will be the 4th wettest May on record.

NOT something to celebrate, I’m feeling.

Okay – that’s my whine about the weather. Just wanted you to know that the sunshine filled pictures of the girls ARE NOT going to be coming next… mostly cloudy, recently been rained upon pictures ARE, in fact, next!

Meet Lacey:

This is one of Jezebel’s babies that hatched in February. She’s the first hatchling that we’ve had reach this age. She’s now almost 15 weeks old. She’ll likely start laying in 3 to 5 more weeks. Hard to believe she’s that grown up! Isn’t she pretty? I love her coloring.

Remember my little leghorns that I brought home in March?

They’re getting so grown up! These girls are now just shy of 12 weeks old! Just about six more weeks and then they’ll start laying! They really are lovely – and are very sweet natured.

You may recall the 16 chicks that came home in April. Sadly – we believe a coyote may have gotten the majority of these girls. We’re left with only 4 of the original 16. My heart just aches over the loss of those beautiful little babies!

The four now 7 week olds we are left with are thick as thieves.

The three black chicks are supposed to be Black Sex Links. They look so dissimilar, I’ve got to wonder. The fact that they came from a farm store that we’ve had pretty significant misidentification of breeds in the past, doubles wonder factor! Of course, we have no experience with this breed, so who knows! The fourth chick is the lone surviving Sicilian Buttercup. She is SO beautiful!

Isn’t her coloring amazing? I can hardly wait until these girls grow up!

And, of course, we have the chicks that hatched this past week. Buffy is proving to be a wonderful mother, and her four chicks are thriving!

Buffy – by far – is the most mellow broody mama that I’ve had to date. She lets me pet her, feed her little treats from my hand (without any fear of losing a finger on my part!), and will let me lift her up enough to get a quick status report on the chicks.

…and…. I have yet another broody hen.

She’s a Cuckoo Maran – and she is bound and determined to hatch out chicks with the wooden eggs she’s setting. She somehow manages to gather a few eggs that the other girls have laid each day and gets them to her favorite nest box to warm.

I’m about ready to head out to the feed store and buy a few day old chicks to put under her! We know several folks who have had great success doing just such a thing. The only thing that keeps me from doing just that is the fact that I don’t know where I’d put her and said chicks! Broody Mama quarters are currently occupied with Buffy and babies! Dunno… I’m mulling it over!

And while I know Uncle Sam doesn’t necessarily encourage us all to have a couple of cats in the backyard – I couldn’t imagine our yard without Jake and Caleb! They keep the place rodent free, and – I’m fairly sure – consider the girls strange step-siblings of some sort!

Here’s Caleb – wondering why the heck I’ve got a camera in his face! J

I tried to get a close-up of Pepper to balance things out – but she thought I wanted her to play fetch with the camera – so that didn’t work. Instead, in closing – here’s a further-away shot of Pepper – who is doing what she does best – guard her flock!

Just Because I Can…

…I’m gonna share some more baby pictures!

If you look carefully – you can see all four chicks here.

How cute is that? A day old and grooming already!

Just about bedtime.

How’s that for a sunset?

By the way, there are four chicks hatched now. Three are Easter Eggers, the fourth is a Dominique. A fifth chick has been working on hatching this afternoon and evening. I’m still hoping for the balance to hatch, too!