This will be a quick post, unfortunately, because even though I promised, I really don’t have very many pictures or stories. :::cringe::: Don’t hate me! I’m sorry! I’ll do my best to get more soon.
Over the weekend, we actually had “hot” weather – it got up over 80 degrees on Saturday, Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday with totally clear, blue skies. We took advantage of that weather to do a myriad of outdoor projects. I dug up a previously-lanscaped-by the previous-owners-and-then-ignored area in our front yard, and planted several roses in it (which is just the beginning – I have bigger plans for the area). I also planted a climbing rose on the fence by the gate that goes from the front/side yard to the backyard. Next to that, I planted a 25′ row of sweet peas. Yes, it’s much later than I’d like, but as you may remember, Charlie ate my indoor starts, and since then, I’ve been planning to direct-sow some outdoors and the weather hadn’t cooperated until now. I also planted some sweet peas in some other places, I planted a heather, and I finally finished splitting and repotting my Mara Des Bois strawberries (this was a project previously derailed by a caterpillar incident. those of you who know me will understand). For some of this new planting, I installed soaker hose irrigation, with much more planned. We also started laying the lines for the drip irrigation for our baby fruit trees in our mini-orchard because they need constant water for the first few years, and we can no longer count on rain alone at this time of year. All this work out in the sun nearly killed me, I have to say… and I spent the dark hours of Saturday and Sunday nights in a sweaty, dirty heap on the couch.
Brian also mowed the grass and somehow just about every dandelion was just barely short enough to escape the blades of the mower… so the grass looks neatly trimmed now, but the dandelions are as strong as ever. Hopefully the neighbors don’t mind.
Since we last spoke, I have successfully converted them to sleeping-in-the-complete-dark chickens! Yay for me! Actually, for some reason I had no trouble at all and I deserve no creditl. I did nothing other than turn off the light and remove it during the day on Saturday. I’ve read quite a bit how they are afraid of the dark the first night they have no light…. even their shipment-mates at Cori’s house didn’t want to go inside the scary, dark coop the first night… and actually, they are still giving her trouble now a week later. But mine are just fine with it. Go figure.
Other than that, things are going swimmingly. They are eating a TON of food… they go through about 50lbs in a week and a half right now. Hungry little things. JB is an avid crower and really goes at it around 8am (we haven’t heard him at the crack of dawn yet, though maybe he’s not loud enough yet to hear from inside the closed coop, across the property and through our windows into our sleeping ears…) and again around noontime and again in the afternoon after work… like maybe 5 or 6pm. Often 5-10 good crows in a row over a couple of minutes, and then he stops. Also, I have to assume that Scruff is still working on his crowing and that maybe some of the crows we hear are from him, though if that’s true, then he and JB sound identical at this point. I don’t know. I think it’s mostly JB. This morning one of the other two boys gave it a shot. JB and Scruff were in the coop with me and the other two were outside and a feeble crow-like noise issued from somewhere in the run. I looked out the window and I think it’s the un-named boy that is medium-sized and shy, but I’m not sure. Before long, we’ll have four crowing roosters on our hands. The time is creeping closer to permanently reduce our rooster population. Though I’m still in no hurry.
Lastly, today was pecking order day. I’ve read that they really start establishing a pecking order at around 8 weeks. Well, until today, I only saw some occasional, random, and sporradic bullying and that’s it. This afternoon, however, made me dub today Pecking Order Day (the chickens didn’t know about Earth Day). Suddenly the girls were sparring, pecking each other on the head, fluffing up and towering over each other, etc. Lady B held her own against another Ameraucana. Pippin Chicken had it out with Pol Pot and took the match in a narrow victory in the third round. The Marans pullets pecked anyone on the head that they could reach, and Daisy Mae was picked on by everyone. I am told that soon a clear 1-15 order will emerge that will be obvious even to us non-chickens. It will be interesting to see how it turns out.
Right now, only one thing’s for sure – JB rules the roost. I think they’re too young for that to be a sure thing long term, but that’s the way it is for now.
While mowing on Sunday, Brian came across an injured garter snake. It looked like something had stepped on it or it had been somehow smooshed in another way. He worried that he ran over it, but with our 2.5 acres, we have a riding mower (I know, it’s not my favorite, but we use it minimally and without it, the grass gets 6 feet tall in a heartbeat) and those giant tires would have smashed him to smitherines… not just injured him a little. Anyway, he had a squished-looking spot on his mid-section and some blood on his body and on the surrounding grass. Knwoing my snake-doctor skills, Brian picked him up and put him in a shoebox to show me when I got home from the store. There’s not much you can do for a small, injured snake, but I made his little box as comfortable and secure as possible and I gave him a dish of water and let him recoperate in the house for a couple of days until he got his strength back. He was clearlyin shock for about 24 hours… he was alive but didn’t really respond to touch or movement. He just sat in a coil. Then on the second day, he had uncoiled, pooped, and had some water. By that evening (last night), he was crawling around like normal and spending most of his time in or near the water (garter snakes love water… their diet consists of things like fish, frogs, salamanders, and other aquatic or amphibious or water-seeking critters). Today at lunch, I snapped his picture as he was thoroughly enjoying a bath and then we took him outside and let him go by the pond. We just put the dish on the ground with him in it and he stayed for a bit and then eventually left. Hopefully his indoor recovery time was enough to give him a better shot at making it in the wild on his own again :)