I love this time of year…

I was laying down on the couch-y piece of lawn furniture in the yard this afternoon and looked up and saw this pretty cloud formation. It was about 85° F, there was a bit of a breeze, and it was lovely.

Here’s Crayon checking out the new digs. She – along with the rest of the girls – are trying to figure out the new set up. John built new roosts – so that everyone is at the same height when they sleep. It’s really throwing them for a loop – you should hear them squawk when it’s bed time.

See? It’s cool, huh?

Of course, at the end down there – right before the fan, you take a left into the old part of the coop, where the nest boxes are. There will be additional nest boxes soon – John’s working on them. They’ll be to the right – between the door frame closest to us in the picture and the beginning of that roost.

Are those not the cutest little feet? Isn’t it the cutest little butt? And look! Wing feathers! The chicks are going to be 2 weeks old on Monday. There seriously is nothing more precious than watching these three little adoptees follow their Mama Shelly all through the yard each and every day. She clucks when she finds something yummy for them to eat. She’s teaching them that I am the queen of the world because I bring fun snacks. I love it that they are excited to see me! We are SO doing the letting the broody hen set on fertilized eggs again thing!

There have been lots of visiting kids here the past couple of weeks. My neice and nephew have been visiting off and on over the summer thus far – although they’re returning home on Tuesday. I’m going to miss them so! And my best friend – who lives in Mexico with her husband and children – spends the summers here with her parents, who live right down the street from us and go to the same church that we do. So Pepper has been on recipient of oodles of love overload all week long. I think she’s had more kids throwing balls for her to chase the past two weeks than she has in the entirety of her life. She’s really been sleeping well at night!


Here’s one of the Blue Andalusians. I think they’re just beautiful. They are great foragers – and so GREAT for a backyard flock that gets to free range. They’re quiet, polite, and are reputed to be excellent layers – of white eggs! Go figure!

Here’s one of the Delawares in the garden – eating weeds. I love it when they eat weeds – and remember to leave my cucumbers alone! Isn’t she pretty? She’s got black tips on her tail feathers, too. Interestingly enough, the Delawares lay brown eggs!

John and I were lamenting tonight about the sad state of affairs the garden is in this year. Well, I did have a major orthopedic surgery – so I’m almost no help. I can weed some – but as you can see here – not nearly enough! Here a couple of the Speckled Sussex are helping me with weeding. Those are lima and bush beans behind them.

But when it comes right down to it – we’re doing the best we can – and were just so thankful that we have a garden to grow things in!

Look – lots of cucumber flowers – woo hoo!

When this cucumber grows up – it’s going to be in my next batch of Creamy Cucumber Salad!

Here’s Caleb – without a nose. When I was out weeding in the garden tonight he HAD to get close – and as I was trying to take his picture he turned away! Stinker!

OH! And look what we have! I actually ate one tonight – and it was perfectly ripe, sweet, luscious, and perfect. It was the ONLY ONE that was ripe, though. That’s okay – I need the week that it will take them to ripen up to get some projects done before I jump in and start canning jams and jellies.

This is our first year to do corn in AGES. We just really hadn’t had success previously. But with the expanded garden plot we decided to try again. It’s actually about as tall as John – and has put tassels on. I love that! That means there will be corn!

The green beans are coming along nicely. Thus far – no deer have obliterated them. I’ve got a couple of tomato plants that have bites out of them – but so far, they’re leaving the green beans alone.

And if this isn’t cause for rejoicing, then I just don’t know what is!


I love these tomatoes – even with the couple of little chicken peck marks in them. They’re a green stripey tomato. I think they’re going to be similar to the ones I eat in Spain – I sure hope so. If so – then it’ll be tomato mush for me!

This really has been the weirdest tomato year we’ve had in a long time. Some of the plants are thriving. Some have set fruit literally at the GROUND – what’s with that? Others are just looking like late bloomers – big time. Virtually every plant has some fruit on it – but man, not the bounty we had last year. Of course, it’s still early…

One of the blogs I’ve read in the past – The Shibaguyz – have constructed potato condos. John decided to give the design a go this year. You build this frame, put the soil in the bottom, add your seed potatoes, and then when the potatoes have come up about a foot or so, you add the next row of boards all around, adding more soil. Again, you wait until more growth, and repeat the process. They say you can harvest 100 pounds of potatoes from one Condo. When it’s time to harvest, you unscrew the bottom row of boards, pull the soil out, and there will be your potatoes! Cool, huh?

Here’s a good peek at the expanded garden plot. See all of the blank space? Yep – it’s the stuff we just haven’t gotten around to planting this year. It’s so bizarre. But, oh well!

Here are my sunflowers (three different varieties, if memory serves), nasturtiums, and poppies that are coming up in the little bed along the street. Please ignore all of the weeds that are coming up along side of them. One day I’ll make it there – just not today, or likely this week.

William was so proud of himself – he caught one of the Delawares!

The hammock my sister sent from Mexico back with Jonathan last year has gotten a real workout the past couple of weeks. The kids swing each other about halfway up the pear tree that it’s tied to. I just don’t watch. They have a great time, though!

So – that’s pretty much what’s going on in the yard!

We’re loving summer – and the beautiful evenings that we can sit out and enjoy the cool breezes and the company of friends and family.

We are blessed.

My chickens are hilarious!

They think no one is looking… that no one knows they’re stealing cat food. Oh, but we know! So do the cats! Caleb (who could be a stunt double for Garfield ANY day) is particularly unamused. But – the truth of the matter is this: the cats are afraid of the chickens – so the chickens eat the cats food! Here’s sweet Henrietta. Poor baby! This morning I went out to let the girls out of the coop and give them a little treat. Everyone raced out of the coop and I opened the big door, and there’s Henrietta – perched up on the roost – pretty high up, to be honest. I talked to her for a minute, then got out of her way – it looked like she was getting ready to hop or fly down. And off I went… I had a doctor’s appointment this morning – a long one!

When I got home at noon I went out to let the girls out of the chicken yard so that they could free range. They went giddily running into the yard and I did a quick head count… “Where’s my Henrietta?” I asked Millie. She squawked at me and then ran off to find bugs. So, I thought – “I should check the coop.”

What should I find? Poor Henrietta! Stuck up on the roost – right where I’d left her – HOURS earlier! So I lifted her down and put her out into the yard.

She pretty much spent the entire day very quietly. Yesterday, honestly, she was far more active – and loud. Today she pretty much hung out close to the coop. Her closed eye does open just a teensy bit now – hooray! And her bald spots are sporting little bits of new feather growth.

Did I remember to announce to the world that Crayon is laying now? Here she is with Rooth. Crayon’s eggs are a slightly pink tinged very pale tan color. And they’re pretty darn big! Like 2.25 ounces. Wow! Some day, I suppose, we’ll name the Welsumers. I think that would have to be precipitated by our being able to tell them apart… So – since we’re not there – here’s one of the five Welsumers! LOL!

Ducky is a riot – she actually poses for pictures. She’s so cute!

Here’s another of the Welsumers… Isn’t her coloring lovely?

And here is super goofy Angel. Angel is the California White with blue eyes. At least I think they’re blue. She also has the distinction of being one VERY curious chicken! When I put the camera down to her eye level she comes charging closer – trying to figure out just what exactly that thing is!

Hence, I get some truly hilarious pictures of her!

Today is one of those days when being out in the yard with the girls was just the right thing to do. Especially after hearing that I need another surgery – one that will require me to put NO weight on my left foot for at least a month. Sigh. Thanks to the girls, though, I was able to end the day with more than one laugh!

I guess this means it’s winter….

We were given the forecast on Saturday evening that Sunday we’d wake up to snow. As is often the case here in the lovely Pacific Northwest – there are dire warnings of “wicked winter weather” (one news station in particular has an affinity for this phrase!). More often than not, however, it turns out to be nothing – a total bust – much to the kids’ disgust.

So we awakened Sunday morning and rushed to the window…. Would there be the 1 to 3 inches of snow predicted?


Nada. Nothin. It was stinking cold. But no snow. Bummer.

But as we were getting ready for church one of the kids yelled (it must have been William), “I see snow flakes!” And sure enough there were a few tiny little flakes descending from the sky.

Well – isn’t that nice?! A few flakes to five the kids their snow fix! Thought I as I went on my way getting ready for church.

Yeah – didn’t stay just a few courtesy flakes. It actually started to accumulate! Wow! Maybe they got the forecast right afterall!

By the time we left for church there was a decent smattering of snow on the ground.
The girls seemed a little puzzled by it, but didn’t pay it much mind.

The yard even took on that lovely wintry look with a dusting!

And it certainly didn’t detain the girls from their warm oatmeal and berries treat for the morning!
Pepper – on the other hand – was over the moon about the snow! She wanted out to run and play and jump and bark at the snowflakes!

She was definitely in her element! Jessica even went out and tried to put together snowballs to throw to the dog to catch – but the snow was very powdery and that didn’t work so well!

Caleb, as it turned out, had other plans for the day. He went and settled himself on top of my sewing “basket” (which is actually just a plastic bin with a lid full of projects that I think I ought to do) to do a little bird watching…

You gotta admit – it is lovely to watch them! And there were so many that came to feed – a much wider variety than we might normally expect.

Caleb did have his moments of excitement – where he tried to climb the window sill to try and reach a bird or two out in the dogwood!

But the birdies were safe!

I think this one might be a towhee… But we even saw a few robins trying to get to the feeders yesterday! Wild!

All in all – we had quite a little bit of accumulation before the day was done. Something in the 3 to 4 inches of snow range. We are up the hill a bit with a little more elevation, so that makes sense.

Getting Ready for Winter

This is a very pretty flower I picked up at Home Depot in late Spring. I wanted it in the vegetable garden because I felt it would attract pollinators. It did. It’s lovely. And, it’s pretty darn hardy. Today I transplanted it out of the garden – which hopefully will get tilled tomorrow – and into planters on the front porch. Here’s the info about this flower – Sunny Day Tickseed – a type of coreopsis. But you wanna know what bugs me about this plant? This little blurb on the plant identifier tag: “Protected by US Patent Laws and/or Canadian Plant Breeder’s Rights. Illegal propagation is prohibited.” Okay – how stupid is that?! I’m sure someone somewhere thinks it’s a good thing to have intellectual property rights to the propagation of this plant – but one has to wonder… what if it accidentally is propagated naturally? Will I be prosecuted? Ugh!

I hope this pictures comes out okay… In the background – see that truly BIG pile of leaves? The boys worked hard today to amass it. They’re planning on building a fort from the raked up leaves. Ummm… today was one of those rare REALLY blustery days here in Oregon. Supposed to be tomorrow, too… This Mom can’t help but wonder if this plan may somehow be, well, difficult to execute fully. 🙂

ALL of the animals are loving the leaves. Pepper likes to roll in them. Jake and Caleb like to curl up in them. The chickens like to scratch through them… And soon, I hope, they will be moved to my compost heap – helping to make wonderful compost for my garden one of these days!

Today John worked hard to finish up pulling up all of the remnants of the garden. The chickens LOVED following behind and scratching through everything.

Wow – it’s that time of year ago – time to start strategizing what next year’s garden will be.

It’s wild how strange it is that we’ve come full circle. No more green beans… This will be my garlic patch – and soon! Thanks to Danni‘s and Melinda‘s examples and excellent information – I will FINALLY – after years of feeling completely inadequate and definitely not smart enough to attempt it – plant my first garlic patch. Woo Hoo! I’ll be sure to report later!

And here is my piled-high compost heap. The girls are investingating – trying to determine if there’s anything worth finding in there.

And here is my new composter. Kinda wild, huh? It’s called Earthmaker – it’s an Aerobic Composter. It involves a three step process – it has three different compartments – see?

Interesting, huh? I like it thus far, and will be sure to give updates as to how effective it is – or is not!

It occurred to me today – Hey! I should harvest the seed from my basil! Why have I never thought of that before? So, I went out with my scissors and a saran wrapped basket (so anything that escapes a seed pod will not be lost between the slats of the basket), and went to work. Here’s a peek. I’ll probably get around to coaxing the seed out of the pods tomorrow – I’ll be sure to report back! But here’s a great resource I found online about harvesting basil seed.

So – it’s true… it’s full force fall with winter on the way. I find it nearly impossible to believe it’s only a week until November. But I think I’m ready for it now. I think the fact that it hasn’t been horribly soggy has helped. I may even be ready for the rain. We’ll see!

The week of the rooster!

This is Joe… He’s a young, pretty dumb raccoon that comes often during the daytime hours to hang out on our back porch. Our dog doesn’t seem to mind much – unless the chickens are out free ranging – then she gets hacked off. And – oddly enough, our cats don’t seem to give a rip at all! I personally think Joe’s front right paw is injured. I also think Joe may need to go on a little trip to the woods where he can live somewhere other than suburbia!

Jess took this picture the other day. This is Jake (one of our kittens) realizing his sneaky hiding place to observe the chickens was no secret to anyone and he may as well come out from under the car! He’s such a goof!
Isn’t this the sweetest little flower?
Caleb – hanging out on the top of the chicken run. He loves hanging out and watching the girls do their thing! Now that they’re all so big, he just watches – doesn’t seem to have much interest in having any run ins.

Here’s Harlan – never far from the girls – keeping a close eye on them and everyone else! He takes his job seriously.
Henrietta is by far our most social girl. She is not at all opposed to just hanging out sitting on my lap while we’re out in the yard. She is very intrigued by my air cast, though!
Here they are – playing follow the leader yet again – it’s always a riot, though, when they all end up in the corner and wondering why the heck they are there!
Do you see rooster here? Cause I see rooster here!

Here are the baby girls – out for a field trip to the yard. They seem to enjoy the outdoors quite a bit. They are just about three weeks old.
There is nothing quite so right as a flock of free ranging chickens in your yard, garden, and compost heap!
Our week started – for all intents and purposes – when Harlan (yes, as in Sanders, you know, the KFC founder – yes, that’s what he got named!) the Welsumer Rooster came to stay last Sunday. You’ve never seen such a stunning, sweet-tempered specimen of rooster! We learned in pretty quick order that he’s a right at 4:15 a.m. every morning to rise kind of a guy – and that’s when the crowing would start. Then the rooster a couple of blocks over would answer, then Harlan would answer back… and so on, and so forth…

Suffice it all to stay that the neighbors are not thrilled.
I can’t say as I blame them. While we all in this particular corner of the world are on 1/2 to 3/4th acre plots the house direct to the West of us is the least amused. Today they made it clear that Harlan would no longer be tolerated.
We’re bummed – we really have come to love him. He’s absolutely hilarious to watch, and is quite intelligent – not to mention, of course, beautiful to behold. But we want to be good neighbors, so Harlan will return to Sno-Kit Farm tomorrow – much to our sorrow. We hope that in the near future we will have a home of our own with enough elbow room to welcome him back to our flock. Thank you, Sharon, for sharing Harlan with us for this week!

[Here’s Harlan – sunbathing – BUT – keeping an eye out on his flock! It was hilarious when he’d doze off – startle and awaken, then hop up on his feet and crow for all he was worth to prove his vigilance!]

School is out for the summer. It will be wonderful to have the kids home. I love this time of year!

Pepper, the chicken dog…

I think pretty much most people are aware of the fact that Australian Shepherds are herding dogs. I remember thinking about the time Pepper was three or four months old – as I watched her herd the kids around the yard – that she’d be a happy girl if she could herd some sheep or goats or cows in our yard! Yesterday, it occured to me that Pepper is – in fact – thrilled to be a chicken herder.

After all of the tales of woe I’ve read from folks who’ve had tragic ends when chickens and dogs intersect, I’ve been very cautious about Pepper’s access to the girls.

But Pepper is a very maternal girl. When Jake and Caleb (our cats) came to stay as orphaned 7 week old kittens, she was positive she was their Mom and would lay down, grab one of them between her paws, and then commence with a thorough washing. Funny thing is – now – our nearly 15 pound cats still let her do it! LOL! John mentioned to me that one day he found her doing the same thing to one of the big girls. My worry, of course, being she would think, “YUM!”

Well todayI decided that I’d cautiously observe Pepper’s interactions with now about 12 week old Henrietta, Hallie, and Millie.

As I sat at close proximity I was amazed to observe her quietly follow the girls around the yard. If they were to wander further than she felt comfortable with – she’d gently round them up and head them back closer to me. At one juncture Joe (the young racoon that seems to have adopted our family – horrors) peeked out of the bushes the girls were not terribly distant from – and Pepper tore off after him, barking like crazy. Her hackles didn’t settle down for quite some time afterwards and her watch was extra vigilent.

I have thus concluded: we have ourselves a chicken dog. And a darned good one, too. After a very successful several hours with the big girls, I had her babysit the little chicks (now nearly 5 weeks old) while I was transferring them from the baby pen back to the coop. I originally was going to take them straight from the baby pen to the coop, when one of the chicks that I was carrying managed to escape and start running around willy nilly. I then decided to put the other chick I was carrying into the finished side of the chicken yard, and Pepper then very obligingly plopped herself down on the unfinished side to keep an eye on the youngsters.

She was pretty torn (as you can see from the photo above) by the fact that one chick was out running around by itself, but her duty clearly lay in the growing flock of chicks to her side! She whined a lot! It actually took me quite a while to get that one escapee corralled and back to the coop – much to Pepper’s relief!

The big girls are always looking for duty to bathe in. I’ve put out DE, which they do to a certain extent, use to bathe in. But I could just about heir their sighs of joy when they discovered the dusty driveway! First they dusted, then they basked. They were nearly deliriously happy!

I found it really interesting that they felt no sense of danger from Jake and Caleb today. Both cats are pretty successful hunters – something that I really like about them. We have only seen DEAD rodents since they’ve come to live with us – just the way I like things! And though it pains me to admit it, they catch an occasional bird, too – I could just weep when they do – I love the birds so! So I’ve been quite concerned about interactions between the chicks and the cats.

Jake and Caleb were up on their elevated feeder munching away when the three big girls came their way. They watched the girls, but didn’t seem too interested, to be honest. Eventually Caleb jumped down and quietly went and sat to observe the girls more closely. Pepper sat and watched carefully – and I was prepared to intervene. Henrietta actually got nearly nose to beak with Caleb, and it was then that I realized, “The girls are taller than the cats now!” Henrietta – nearly simultaneous to that thought – reached out to peck at Caleb, who in turn made a bit of an injured pride squack, and hightailed it out of there! Wild! While I won’t relax my vigilence with them, I’m a little bit pleased that the girls – thus far – can hold their own with the cats.

I have to say, though, that today was tonic to my soul. Spring has definitely sprung – now if only it will warm up enough to actually stay! The lovely iris are beginning to bloom, and my peas are as well.


I love this time of year!

The little girls are getting so big! When Jessica’s friend came out to see them she exclaimed that they were huge. We’ve named two of them already, this one is speedy(right), she’s so tiny. Most of the other chicks are twice her size. The other one that we’ve named is Shelly.
The big girls love to go outside. It’s so funny, you just open their little door and they hop right out. However, when it’s time to go back inside they are super hard to catch. We;ve had a few close encounters wher they’ve wandered too close to Jake or Caleb (our cats) but so far they’ve come out just fine. We all can not wait for their yard to be built it’s going to be so nice. Hopefully John will finish that this weekend. 🙂

This is such a cute picture i just had to post it. It looks like the cover of a movie lol.

They’re HUGE!

Sometimes we come into the pantry to check on the girls first thing in the morning and the first thing that pops out of our mouths is, “Good grief! They’ve doubled in size again!”

Our girls don’t look so much like chicks any more, they are looking more and more like little chickens.

All four girls routinely fly up to the side of the brooder now. Henrietta has recently taken to flying up to the backs of the chairs that we have the pole that the heat lamp hangs from. Sometimes the girls will roost on the side of the brooder and then one by one they’ll doze off, and someone will forget where she is and – whammo! – sthe’s fallen off the side and onto the table. It can be pretty funny to watch them teetering, fighting sleep, trying to keep their balance. Reminds me of when the kids were little and we’d be riding in the car and they’d be fighting sleep. 🙂

All of the girls now *love* to perch on people arms, shoulders, and will occasionally try to fly up and be on top of someone’s head. They are completely comical when they will try and “unseat” whomever might happen to be in “line” ahead of them. It’s something like watching chicken bumper cars! LOL!

We’ve had several instances of one or two of the girls bumping each other off of the edge of the brooder, even – both ending up flying down to the floor in a last ditch effort to avoid crashing and burning! There have been a couple of times when Pepper has been watching intently – and you can just see the desire in her eyes to take just a little bite! It’s not at all unusual for her to sit on the floor adjacent to the table that holds the brooder and just whine away while the girls perch. Thus far Pepper has avoided trying to get up on the table, Jake and Caleb have even mellowed out about it. I think everyone is finally getting used to each other!

Day Three

Henrietta is a bold girl. She’s bigger than the others, she’s bossier than the others – she seems to be a leader. What Henrietta does, the others attempt.
The above picture shows Henrietta’s accomplishment for the day. She started trying to reach the top edge of the brooder box (34 x 18 x 15) first thing this morning. By 10:00 am she’d figured it out. Wow. I wonder what the coming days will hold!
The girls continue to be pretty much ravenous. They’ve been through a quart sized canning jar full of feed today. They seem to eat, poop, eat, poop, nap, poop, eat, nap, poop, and then eat some more. LOL! In between they take turns trying to figure out how to get on top of the feeder and waterer (with Henrietta trying to get to the edge of the brooder once she’s made it to the top of the feeder).
I’ve noticed that our tiniest chick seems to be pretty aggressive – she’s started walking on/over the others when they’re in her way, and will see one of the others settled down for a nap and will go over and plop herself right on top. She’s pretty comical!
We’ve had to keep a close eye on the cats today. The picture below pretty much says it all! This is Caleb – on his hind legs, extended up to hold onto the table and peer up at the chicks through the clear storage bin that we are using for a brooder. Desire is clearly written all over his face!
Jake (our other kitten, and Caleb’s brother and littermate) had his first exposure to the chicks today – and in his usual fashion, was far more aggressive in his approach – he just launched from surface to surface until he was on the table next to the bin and planning (swiftly) how to get in there and get his morning snack! He learned quickly that the chicks are NOT his to play with, no matter how much he might long for them to be so!
We just can’t believe how quickly the chicks are growing. They seem to be exponentially getting bigger – can it be hourly? I suppose it must be, but wow – it’s one thing to know it in theory and another to see it before your very eyes! What an amazing thing to behold!
I’m dying to know exactly how old they are. It seems that their wing development is really moving forward. And I’d read somewhere about little tufts of chick fluff starting to float about at some point of development – I’ve got to find that reference – and that was seen a little bit today. I’m sure it was Henrietta – she’s larger, and seemingly more developed than the others.
Another fun day in the life of backyard chicken wranglers! We’re enjoying quite a lot of time just standing by the brooder and watching. Funny how fun that simple activity can be!
Looking forward to what the coming days will bring – I think!

Day Two

I think the things I am most surprised about thus far are:

  • Our chicks eat a LOT!
  • Our chicks can dirty their water in seeming SECONDS!
  • Our chicks are already trying out their wings!
  • Our chicks already seem quite a bit bigger!

Last night – even before we had thought of heading to bed, we were astonished to see the biggest of the chicks flapping her wings and trying to get up to the top of the waterer! By early this morning, she’d managed the feat! We’ve named the biggest chick Henrietta. The next to the smallest one William has named Millie. The other two are nameless as of yet – but there’s plenty of time.

We found Caleb – our Maine Coon Cat kitten sitting in the brooder with the chicks tonight. He had then herded into the corner behind the feeder. I can just imagine the dialogue going on in his head… “Hmmm… which of these tasty morsels shall I try first?” Caleb is very Garfield-like. At seven months of age he weighs 10 pounds – and he’s not fat! – he’s just something akin to a linebacker in build. After a swift removal from the brooder, a firm scolding, and speedy escort out the back door, the chicks seem to have recovered from the trauma. Phew!

All in all, it’s been a pretty quiet day. We did decide that the smallest of the chicks must be younger. One disadvantage of buying from the feed & seed store – no exact dates on birth of these girls.

We’ve talked it over and can’t decide if it’s just us, or if the girls have doubled in size in one 24-hour stretch of time. They did go through an entire mason jar’s worth of starter in that same amount of time. Four little chicks! Who knew they could eat so much!

Right now we’re trying to decide how often we should change the litter in the brooder. It’s not smelly. But I can’t seem to find a real clear answer on how often or what signs trigger the need to change it out. When the time comes, I’m sure my compost heap with sing the hallelujah chorus – rice hulls AND chicken poop! The stuff dream gardens are made of!