The Glory Returns (and so does the work)!

chillin' in the sun

chillin' in the sun

Your eyes are not foolin’ you, folks.  That is good ol’ fashioned sunshine you see in that picture.  As we all well know, weather forecasting is basically good for about 12 hours into the future.  Beyond that, they really just can’t tell.  And thank goodness for that!  Just four days ago I told you all that the forecast was for cold, gray rain for as far out as they can predict – which is about 2 weeks, in theory.  Happily, it only lasted until Friday (two more days, rather than two more weeks)!  Yesterday, it was clear and sunny with a pretty decent frost on the grass in the morning, but by the afternoon, the temps were in the mid-60s!  Last night stayed in the 50s, I do believe (it was 55 and very mild when we got home from dinner in Portland around 10:30pm), and this morning it was in the 60s by 10am and we were in T-shirts all day, with a high of about 75 according to the thermometer on the coop.

So, with all this warmth and sunshine, came lots of long-overdue outdoor work.  We busted our butts and finished filling the first two garden boxes.

Brian tosses dirt into the box from the back of my truck

Brian tosses dirt into the box from the back of my truck

Sorry, that pic is actually from the day of the hawk attack – I took pics of the dirt-filling that day and planned to post about how we started doing it and the attack derailed everything.  We only partly filled one box that day (it wasn’t sunny or warm, as you can tell from the sky in the pic) and since then, the weather completely prohibited further efforts until this weekend.  Back to today’s story….

Once each box was filled, I immediately planted stuff.  In part of one box, I planted seeds:

I am leaving room at the north end of this box for two of my tomato plants (too cold to transplant still) as they will be tall so I want them north of things so they don’t shade the other plants.

In the second box, I planted perennials:

  • Jersey Giant Asparagus
  • Mary Washington Asparagus
  • Victoria Rhubarb
  • Hood Strawberries (very popular at the farmers’ markets here in the Pac NW)
  • Aromas Strawberries (this is a new variety to me, so we’ll see how it goes)

And, I also got the soaker hoses into place for these new plantings.

newly-filled-and-planted boxes with soaker hoses and bird netting in place

newly-filled-and-planted boxes with soaker hoses and bird netting in place

And, amazingly – I had to water today.  With this sunshine and warmth, we have gotten a lot of warm, dry wind as well and even though you could swim in our yard two days ago, today, everything was dry today.  Anyway, as you can see in the picture, the third box in the first row is almost filled as well.  We plan to finish that tomorrow (it’s supposed to be even warmer – yippee!) and I will plant more then.  The little teepee-like things you see are bamboo poles that are holding up bird netting.  This is to keep rabbits, wild birds, AND chickens out of the garden.  They will happily scratch up all the seeds and devour any seedlings that may pop up.  Chickens and gardens do not mix during the growing season!  They have already taken a few bites of strawberry leaves as I haven’t gotten to covering the second box yet.

Also today, I went to Portland Nursery and picked up a variety of evergreen, flowering shrubs to add to my general front -yard landscaping plan.  While there, I picked up a plant that is new to me  – called Pieris J. “Cavatine.”  It’s a beautiful little compact evergreen shurb that is covered with strands of white, bell-shaped flowers.  Anyway… I found that I couldn’t unload it from the truck bed because it was so COVERED in honey bees.  They are crazy for this plant, which is pretty cool… so, maybe I’ll have to pick up more than just one.

Pieris J. "Cavatine"

Pieris J. "Cavatine"

honeybee, enjoying the flowers

honeybee, enjoying the flowers

Sorry, the sun was going down and the light was bad and I had to lean over the edge of the truck bed to take the pictures and this was the best I could do.

Chicken News

Buff Orpington

Buff Orpington

There isn’t much exciting (which can be a good thing) to report on the chicken front.  They turned 8-weeks-old yesterday and are all happy, healthy, and growing like weeds.  JB is still ahead of the curve on the male-maturity scale and is definitely head-honcho.

JB

JB

The pain-in-the-arse still-unnamed roo faces off with him constantly and JB always wins.  Scruffy is still eating worms as fast and as often as he can.

Scruff with a worm

Scruff with a worm

Daisy Mae still doesn’t like getting her picture taken –

"WHY must you always take my picture?!?!"

"WHY must you always take my picture?!?!"

and really doesn’t care for people in general, thankyouverymuch.

Pippin Chicken does seem to be growing a muff/beard after all.  That’s cool, because if she is really an Ameraucana, then that means she’s probably a “she.”  However, it would be a bit sad if my “free surprise rare chick” turned out to be an extra of what I ordered anyway (remember, I ordered 9 Ameraucanas, 8 Cuckoo Marans, and 8 Buff Orpingtons, and what was sent to me was 8 Ameraucanas, 9 Marans, and 9 Buff Orpingtons, plus Mystery Chick/Pippin).  It’s still too early to tell for sure, and she wouldn’t hold still or face me so I pretty much failed in the picture department… this was my best:

do you see a beared or muff?

do you see a beard or muff?

One of the Marans ladies has gone kind of red around her eyes and on her face in general, so right now she looks like a “vulture chicken,” as Brian so nicely put it.

Marans lady with red face and eye-area

Marans lady with red face and eye-area

The other day, when I cut down the tree that was in front of our house (so it wouldn’t shade the roses I’ve planted to climb up our front columns), I took the big, main section and stripped all the small branches and leaves from it and trimmed it down to fit in their run.  I figured they could play and perch on it.

tree trunk and branches to act as natural perches and play structure

tree trunk and branches to act as natural perches and play structure

and, they seem to like it… though I’ve been remiss on the pictures, and this is literally the only one I have:

chillin' on a branch

chillin' on a branch

A Small Oopsie

As the chickies get older, their rate of food consumption accelerates, and this has caused me a minor problem today.  This morning (or maybe last night), they ran out of food and the new shipment won’t be here until tomorrow afternoon.  Oopsie.  I had SO much left when I placed the order that it seemed I was almost ordering too early.  Then, once I placed the order, it suddenly seemed like I filled up their entire 16-lb feeder and it was empty again in a day or two!  Until very recently, I wasn’t even filling it up completely because the food sat in there so long.  Seeing them everyday, though, it’s hard to realize how much they’ve grown.  It seems like just the other day that I switched them to the adult feeders and had to put blocks around it so they could reach it.  Since then, though, I have removed the blocks, and raised the feeder higher and when I realized I was going to run out of food, I stopped to look at the yesterday, and most of them are so tall now that they are looking down into the feeder and it’s nearly time to raise it again.  The point is, they grow FAST and eat faster and faster all the time.

This minor glitch in my plan made me get creative.  In addition to free-ranging them as long and often as possible yesterday and today (so they could eat plants and bugs), Brian dug up a bunch of grass clumps and put them in their run for them (bringing the free-range to them)…

all I can say is, boy do I take great pics of Brian!

all I can say is, boy do I take great pics of Brian!

…and I cooked up some homemade chicken food.  I did this because there is no organic chicken feed available locally and so the choice was drive to the feed store and buy a soy-based, non-organic feed, or cook something myself.  I chose the latter.  As per usual, I started by posting about it on the Backyard Chickens forum.  People were kind enough to answer my questions and I formulated a plan from there.  So, here is my emergency, temporary homemade chicken feed recipe:

  • -5-Grain hot cereal that I don’t like and was happy to feed to the chickens so I didn’t have to eat it (whole grain oats, rye, barley, wheat, and triticale)
  • eggs
  • spinach
  • heavy cream (just a little – mine was on the verge of going bad so I tossed it in per a BYC suggestion)
  • buttermilk

I brought 7 cups water to a boil and salted it just slightly with kosher salt.  Then I stirred in 3 cups of the cereal and about 1/2 cup cream and cooked it on low heat until the liquid was absorbed.  Then I stirred in 7 eggs and cooked until they seemed fairly done.  Lastly, I stirred in some spinach until it wilted.  I let this mash cool and scooped some into a shallow dish, poured some cold buttermilk over it (I’m out of yogurt, but buttermilk has similarly healthy cultures and the chickies love dairy).

cooking the chicken food
cooking the chicken food
the finished product

the finished product - mmm, yummy!

I took it out to them this evening and they ate it like there was no tomorrow.  I went back in and took them a second helping but I guess they weren’t so hungry anymore as it generated far less interest.  The second serving I left in the coop with them when I closed them up for the night so they’ll  have something to munch on overnight and in the morning.  Anyway, it was a hit and so hopefully they’ll be OK until the regular feed comes tomorrow afternoon.

More New Neighbors
twins!

twins!

As expected, we had another lamb-birth recently.  This time it was twins!  They were born a few days ago now but I didn’t mention them because shortly after they were born, they disappeared.  I honestly thought they died.  I know it’s hard with twins because they are so tiny when they are born and they looked like they were struggling to stand up that first day.  Anyway, then a couple of days later, one showed back up.  So, then I thought – ok, well… one died and one lived.  Then, on Friday, I saw the one lamb with its mama and I could hear the other one’s crying from somewhere that I couldn’t see.  I thought – oh, wow!  They’re both alive!  And then I thought – oh, no!  why can’t it get to its mama?  Well, it turns out that mama rejected one of the twins, and so my neighbor has been bottle-feeding her.  She is sooooo tiny and cute and she follows him everywhere about 6 inches from his feet.  He told me he can’t get anything done because the baby now thinks he’s her mama and cries for him day and night!  It’s pretty ssad because when my neighbor is gone at work, the poor baby sits out in the pature with the others and cries for him, while her sibling gets to nurse from mama.  Poor baby!  Anyway, daddy sheep seems to have taken a liking to the baby, so she hangs out with him when my neighbor isn’t home.
baby and daddy

baby and daddy

I don’t have a picture of her with her human mama yet, but I’ll do my best to get one soon.  The older lamb (just over a week older, I think) is very cute because he is SO excited to have playmates – he runs and skips around and tries to play with them all the time.  They day they were born, he was all over them – tail spinning with glee.
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3 thoughts on “The Glory Returns (and so does the work)!

  1. lol! It’s funny that everyone reacts that way… but if you think about it, eggs are chick FOOD, not chicks themselves. They form out of a tiny spot on the yolk and then as they grow, they absorb the yolk for food. They finish absorbing it the day they hatch and sometimes still have a little yolk hanging on after they’re born. So, yes, eggs are chicken food! Of course, that’s not to say they aren’t cannibals… they’ll happily eat chicken meat… and even each other… that’s why you can’t leave wounded chickens in with the others – they’ll peck at the blood until the chicken is dead and then they’ll eat the dead chicken. So lovely! Also, they love eggs so much that if they accidentally break one in the nest and start to eat it, you have to kill that chicken because she will always be an egg eater from that point on…

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