The Garden, the Flock, et al…

Ever have one of those – well, months! – that just seem to whiz by? I’ve been taking pictures every few days with the sincere intent of updating on the chicks, the big girls, the garden, etc.

Today ends my procrastination! Today I update! (Okay, so technically, it’s tonight now. So sue me!)

The Garden

John has been sick. I’m still recovering from my ankle surgery. Honestly? We’re behind. We’d hoped to get newspaper or brown paper bags down, and then compost or bark mulch on top – but illness, finances, and nuttiness of life took over and it just hasn’t happened yet. That changed today!

A load of compost was delivered – hooray! Yes, this means lots of manual labor on my end, but that will be good for me. I’m just trying to decide how I’m going to keep the stuff out of my cast!

It’s so great to see the corn coming up! And it’s really doing well! We’ve not had much luck with corn in the past, so this is exciting! We’ll try and get it thinned this weekend, and get it mulched.

 John planted two types of pole green beans – the ones in this picture are flourishing – particularly in comparison to the second variety – which seems to be a bit slow and lacking in oomph. I’m hoping a little time will remedy that. I’m determined that WE will eat the green beans this year – NOT the deer!

We were able to actually can some of the green beans from last year – but we ran out quite some time ago – so way not enough! It’s such a bummer when you have to go back to the store bought stuff.

We have actual squash hills now. The plants look so beautiful and healthy – hallelujah! There will be squash soon! I love that so much. Funny how I’ve been missing Mom and Grandma so much this year – the wait for the yellow crookneck squash definitely reminds me of them! J

I’ve done a horrible job of planting flower seed this year. Well, I did get some Cosmos in next to the corn – it’s coming up nicely. And the sunflower, nasturtium, and Shirley poppy in the front bed. It’s nice that the sunflowers are coming along so heartily!

As I’m sure you’ve been able to ascertain from these photos – I haven’t been doing much weeding. I’m a bad gardener! I think that’s part of the reason I’m so excited about the compost delivery today – it’s amazing what a nice layer of mulch can do for a weed problem! Just throw down a layer of saved paper grocery bags, put the compost on top – and voila! No more weeds! You better believe I’ll be out there soon getting that plan into motion!

The Flock

 

 

Remember the Chicken Vortex? First Hallie went missing. Then two of the babies – both Delawares. About a week ago, as I was driving by one of our chicken-owning neighbor’s place, I caught a glimpse of a beautiful Rhode Island Red. “Could it be?” thought I. I promptly determined to bring one of my missing chicken fliers to said neighbor. Later that afternoon William and I did just that, and the neighbor took us to their coop – and said, “Nope. Just our regular group of girls.” She *did* sort of look like Hallie. I wasn’t sure! It was one of those moments when I thought – why haven’t we banded our girls?!

For two nights our babies were missing. Friday we had a family BBQ that we planned to attend. John stayed home – still in the throes of his flu. About halfway into the evening I got a text from him saying, “One of the Delawares is home!”

 We don’t know where she was for 2 nights – but we were thrilled she decided to and found her way home!

 Sunday afternoon as the boys were putting the trash out for collection the next morning Jonathan said, “Doesn’t it smell like there’s something dead over here?” We nosed about but couldn’t find the source. The cats are always finding mice and the likes and playing with them to death – sometimes leaving the partial remains when they’re bored. But couldn’t find anything like that. Yesterday afternoon my cousin Bob and her children were over to play. Her daughter Ari and Karina (my niece who is staying with me this week) were playing hide and seek in the yard when they came in yelling “There’s a dead chicken under the tree!!!” Yes, there certainly was. Poor Hallie. She’d obviously been there for some time. We looked there! But she was quite dark, and it is in a cluster of ground-hugging cedars – and well – we missed her. So – the Chicken Vortex seems to have only gotten one chicken – one of the baby Delawares.

Shelly, one of our California Whites, has gone broody once again. This is the second time for her – the first time was in the dead of winter. You can read about it here. She’s been essentially glued to the nest for several days now – and so after hearing about someone else’s good experiences, we decided to get some fertilized eggs from Eggs 2 U. We got a dozen eggs – part Dominique part Silver Laced Wyandotte. Getting Shelly transferred from the nest boxes where all of the girls lay in the coop to the make-shift “nursery” was an experience for John! But suffice it to say that Shelly and eggs have taken up residence in Pepper’s kennel.

She paced and squawked and paced some more, but she eventually settled down and got to business.

Today she was as happy as a clam to be setting on her eggs.

The funny thing being that she’s always been partial to one of the dummy eggs we’ve kept in the nest boxes in the coop. Last evening we put it in with the fertilized eggs to see if it would entice her to settle down. Don’t know if it did or not – but today – as you can see from the picture – she’s scooted it away from the REAL eggs and is only concerning herself with them!

Our chicks are 9 weeks old today – and are looking less and less like babies – more and more like big girls! I’m still blown away by the fact that the big girls and the not-so-baby-ish babies get along so well. It’s such a relief!

I chose some – well, I guess sort of different – breeds for this batch of chicks. We’re intrigued by the heritage and rare breeds – and so that did have a lot of influence on what we chose.

I’m not sure if my favorites are the Delawares or the Blue Andalusians. They’re completely opposite build. The Delawares are HUGE. The Blues are lanky. We have two roosters for sure – one is a Blue; the other is one of the Buff Minorcas. (There is one other that *might* be a roo – but we’re still watching and waiting.)

We have three different colors of Ameraucana – white, a black with reddish/brownish highlights, and a really golden with brown highlights. They’re all so cute with their puffy little cheeks!

The Fam…

 

 This week we’ve been allowed to have our Jessica home!  She left a week and a half ago to work at a Christian camp about an hour East of here.  She normally wouldn’t be allowed the week off like this, but the camp’s census was down and she was allowed the week off.  (Yay!  I’ve missed her!)  She and William are both working at our church’s version of VBS – called KidFest.  My niece and nephew – Karina and Elijah – are here for the week so that they may attend KidFest, as well.  It’s been great fun for them, too, because my cousin Bob’s children (who are close in age to Karina and Elijah) are attending KidFest, as well.  When they are dismissed at noon, everyone has been congregating at our house for lunch and play time.  These kids sure have been sleeping well!

Jonathan left during the early morning hours Monday for Mexico – where he will go and visit his Mom for the next about six weeks.  It’s so wierd not having him here.  We all miss him!

John is *sort of* getting over the horrible cough/cold/flu or whatever the heck it is that he’s had.  Poor guy – he’s just been having the worst time with this thing.  I’ve threatened actually taking him to the doctor – something he doesn’t much believe in – if he doesn’t get better – soon!

For the most part, we’re all just really glad school is out and the summer is thinking seriously about doing it’s thing.

 What we’re really looking forward to, though…

SLEEPING IN!

I love it when school is out for the summer!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is way too long – but suffice it all to say that I love this time of year. And here’s one of the big reasons why! J

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The Chicken Vortex

It’s a mystery. I don’t know how. I don’t know why. But chickens have been disappearing here at our place.

This is very disconcerting.

First – it was Hallie. She’s one of the big girls. One of my super faithful layers – of course, she’s a Rhode Island Red. And she has her own special brand of wackiness. She can be really hilarious if you spend any time with her. She was last seen on the 3rd of June. Yes – that’s a whole week ago!

Then – last night – two of the baby Delawares turned up missing.

I love the Delawares. They’re so cool. They’re beautiful. They’re very social, and they’re reputed to be great layers, as well as excellent foragers and free-rangers. Just what we wanted! That’s why I ordered five of them! I want five of them! Now I only have three.

But what the heck is up with this?! Where are my chickens going?

Yes, there was a coyote in the back yard the night before last. Yes, we see raccoons in the yard every night, and nearly every early morning. Yes, we have hawks scoping the place out regularly. Yes, we have an unfenced yard – so neighborhood dogs could, theoretically snatch a chick or two.

The thing is – there’s no sign of struggle or evidence that any of them met with an untimely demise. No feathers. No blood. No pieces parts. (Sorry, gruesome, I know.)

And, for the most part – all of the girls stay pretty close to home – and more specifically, the coop and chicken yard. They know that’s where I bring them treats!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My number one suspicion right now?

Predators of a human nature.

We live on a pretty busy street. People walk by, jog by, ride their bikes by. The city bus goes by. The school busses go by. People stop all the time to admire the chickens. Sometimes they stop and want to talk and ask questions about being having backyard chickens. I’m all for that. My thought is – did someone more than admire? Did they decide they wanted a few chickens for their own little flock?

Darn it all, I hope not.

So – we’re looking. Yes, I have missing chicken fliers. Lord, you know you’ve become a bonafide chicken nut when you put up missing chicken fliers!

This afternoon the boys and I are going to scope out the neighborhood a bit and see if maybe there’s a neighbor who has seen one or more of the missing girls. We’ve got quite a few chicken keeping neighbors, so hopefully one of them may have noticed something!

Come home girls! We miss you!

Lost Chicken!

Hallie! Come home!

Chicken Information
Name Hallie Sex Female
Breed Rhode Island Red Color Dark Red
Age 15 months    
Markings/ Distinguishing Characteristics
  Her comb is slightly tipped to one side..
Contact Information
Name Dina McBride Phone 503-xxx-xxxx
Address Near NW 107th & Cornell Road in Cedar Mill E-Mail dinacmcb@comcast.net
 
Last Seen
Location Home Date June 3, 2009
Story
Hallie was in the yard happily eating bugs and grass. When it was time to go to bed – she didn’t come back! We’ve looked and looked and we can’t find her.

 

We miss our girl!

 

Her sisters miss her, too!

 

If you’ve seen her – please let us know!

A quiet day

I don’t get many of those, by the way – quiet days, that is. Yesterday I didn’t have a single appointment until 6:00 pm. This in contrast to the day before when I had TWELVE.

I needed a quiet day.

And while it was a quiet day – it was not without it’s thrills. Like just happening along and accidentally opening the door to the nest boxes, checking for eggs, and getting to witness our Hallie laying an egg. Standing up, I might add. Danni has a great video of her Sparrow doing the same on her blog today – you can see it here.

How cool is that?! I was really surprised – I guess I shouldn’t have been – that it would be sorta slimey when first laid. And further amazed to watch it dry in what seemed to be just a fraction of a second. And how VERY warm it was when I was able to retrieve it.

A definite highlight of my quiet day.

Here’s our Hallie…
And I spent some time playing with Pepper, the wonder chicken dog. I don’t know if I mentioned it before, but she spent several weeks with our wonderful friend (who is a vet) up near Tri-Cities, WA while she was being spayed. I missed her!

Here she is in classic form.

I’m usually pretty driven to get a whole bunch of things done – ’cause there are always a whole bunch of things that NEED to get done. But you know what? Yesterday was amazing – quiet, restful, peaceful, restorative. Sigh. What a gift!

Our Rooster Laid an EGG!!!

So we have this neighbor…

Well, I should back up a bit… If you remember Harlan the rooster, you’ll remember the neighbor – you can get the whole story here. Suffice it to say – our neighbor does not approve of roosters.

In the past week I’ve had several alarming mornings… picture this… me, in my nightgown, wearing my muckers (the world’s best shoes for running around a dew-wet yard), a cardigan, my hair all over the place… madly trying to coax my California White chickens out of the neighbor’s (yes THAT neighbor’s) newly seeded lawn. I nearly have a heart attack every time I glance out the bathroom window and see that they’re THERE – AGAIN!

About a week ago the neighbor’s wife came and knocked on the door to let me know our chickens were in her yard and I should come remove them… I, of course, quickly donned shoes and followed her to the sight of them scratching in her yard.

This neighbor and I have never spoken before. It was an interesting conversation. She mentioned casually that she used to raise chickens. She shared some tidbits on the best methods to raise chickens. And then she informed me that one of my California Whites was, in fact, a cockerel – not a pullet and that I should be cautious. I responded that I was pretty sure that it was, in fact, a pullet, not a rooster – we’d already gotten rid of our California White rooster – and that it wasn’t unusual for the pullets to develop more pronounced combs and wattles right before they started laying eggs – just about the age of these chicks. She made certain to let me know that she had no doubts we had a roo on our hands, and that she’d be keeping an eye out.

Today – our “rooster” laid an egg!

Here SHE is… she doesn’t have a name, but since she’s so easily identified visually from her peers now, I suppose we’re going to have to come up with a name for her! Any suggestions?

And here’s her egg. It’s our first white egg! Woo hoo! It was petite – only 1.375 oz – but perfectly beautiful!

How’s that for a display of variety?! The darkest eggs are Millie’s, the lightest of the brown eggs are Henrietta’s, and the medium brown ones are Hallie’s.


Oh – and Jake has found a new favorite place to nap during the day:

Yes, that’s him curled up right underneath the nest boxes. The girls don’t seem to mind him there – and he doesn’t seem to mind them, either. He’s such a goof!

It’ll be interesting to see if he’s allowed to continue to nap there as more and more of the chicks start laying… The middle girls are now of an age where that will begin. I’ll be sure to report!

Pictures of the Girls (Finally!)

Today’s Post Courtesy of Jessica Here are a couple of pictures of Henrietta. She’s so cute!
Here’s one of the little girls (that aren’t so little anymore)
hiding in the trees by our house
Here’s Millie, her comb is finally coming in.
She’s roosting on the lawn furniture.

The little girls love wander all over the yard.
There’s speedy, running like always…
Hallie and one of the white chickens searching for

snacks by our neighbor’s garage
Here’s my mom with Henrietta. She is such a cutie!

Here’s me and speedy. Speedy is still the runt
and she is super clumsy.

Hallie has the biggest comb of all. But weirdly enough

she doesn’t lay as regularly as Henrietta and Millie

Henrietta and Millie just hanging out
All of the girls love to eat blackberries out of your
hand. Ducky, BB, and Speedy all want this one.

Rooster Report and more!

This is El Pollo Loco – as the kids have named him. This is the guy – not even alpha roo – who is taking the lead in the crowing arena. He’s gone from being a morning crower to being a most of the day all day long crower. We are not amused. Okay – well, that’s not entirely true. He sounds hilarious – very much like a young pubescent boy in the throes of voice change. Loco is definitely dealing with some vocal challenges. Even so, he manages to communicate with the roo who lives a couple of blocks over. He’s an interesting little chicken this one – kind of a quirky personality. He does have good Roo qualities, though – he watches out for his ladies and he is quick to sound the alarm.

This is our little Welsumer rooster. He’s 5 weeks old now and boy – is he all boy! We’re so happy that he will be rehomed to a wonderful farm where he’ll be encouraged to crow for all he’s worth! I feel confident he will be a stunning grown up.

Our rooster crowing intervention of last evening had an interesting result. First – let me just interject here that letting the boys go into the coop and roost and get a little drowsy first is a real key toward success in this enterprise. Next key to success is having teenagers on hand who are quite skilled at the art of chicken handling. That being said, we went ahead and placed our four roos in the cage/kennel type dog crate on the back porch. They had a bed of pine shavings and the crate was draped for the most part to keep it dark – and protected. (Remembering that we have regular racoon visitors.) John typically is up and getting ready for the day at about 4:30 or 4:45 each morning. Once he’s gotten ready to leave for work he goes out to the coop and lets the chicks out of the coop and off he goes. So this morning he went out and let the girls out. The roos, up until that time, had remained perfectly silent! (This is all the way to 5:45 a.m.!) Once the girls were out and about they began to crow, however.

So, the modified experiment for the coming morning is to NOT let anyone out and about until the hour we feel is appropriate. (I’m thinking 8:00 a.m.) I’ll report how it goes. 🙂
I say this every year – but I just can’t help saying it again. I just can’t believe how much the green beans grow in each 24 hour period of time! WOW! I just found a great green bean salad recipe that I want to try out… I wish they’d hurry up and give me some beans! (At this rate, it shouldn’t be long!)

We have three different types of pear trees on the property. All of the trees are very loaded with fruit this year. We do next to nothing with the trees – other than to prune them. I think we’re supposed to thin the fruit out or something – but obviously, I’m no expert on it at all! A couple of years I made a pear jelly that had cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and a hint of cloves in it. People loved it – so I’m thinking it will have to be on the list of things to can this year!

I realized today that it had been a while since I’d posted any photos of the big girls. They tend to forage a little further afield than the middle girls, so they are not often around for photos.Henrietta is on the left and Hallie is on the right. They’re so funny. Henrietta is definitely at the top of the pecking order. She is large and in charge! Well, actually Millie is the largest of the three girls – and the darkest now – she’s so pretty! The big girls are now 16 weeks old by all accounts that we can figure out anyway. Gosh, shouldn’t be long before they start laying!

We’ve got plenty of projects to keep us busy over the holiday weekend – building nest boxes will be high on the priority list. I’m dying to know what people think the best nest box medium is, too. Let me know if you have a favorite and why, okay? Thanks!