And You Thought I Couldn’t Get Any Smarter…

That’s OK, neither did I :)

But, it happened anyway.  That’s right, I finally came up with perfect names for the Buff Orpingtons.  Meet – our Golden Girls:

Dorothy

Dorothy

Sophia

Sophia

Blanche

Blanche

Dorothy, Sophia, and Blanche.  I win the chicken-naming game.  No, no – no applause necessary.  You’re too kind.  I’m blushing!

I don’t currently have a Rose because I only have three Buff Orps (it’s too bad we lost the one chick at three days old), and because none of these three are a Rose anyway.  Dorothy is big and in charge, and kinda angry/scary-looking (reminicent of the late, great, Bea Arthur).  Sophia is petite, clever, and independent.  Blanche is beautiful and fluffy and the boys like her.  Now, all I need is a ditsy, golden chicken and we’ll have our Rose.  I am considering the goldish Easter Egger, but I don’t know… their colors keep changing as they get older and she might not end up fitting so well in the Golden Girls’ group.  We shall see.  Maybe I’ll get another Buff Orp someday.

Another Brilliant Idea

"We're supposed to drink out of these?"

"Where's the real water, mom?"

As I have mentioned in the past, as the birds have been growing up, I have been dreaming of getting them poultry cup-waterers in order to save space in the coop, and overall cleaning efforts.  Well, last week, I was in the coop and without thinking, I opened the top of their 5-gallon fount waterer to smell the contents.  Lately, they have taken to their old young-chick ways of pooping and getting shavings in their water, 5 minutes after I clean and refill it, even though it’s up on the stand that is supposed to prevent these things from happening.  When poop and food and shavings sit in the water in the tray, the bacteria grow and back up into the 5-gallon reserve and the whole thing begins to smell quite nicely in a very short time.  It got to the point where I was dumping out the contents of the tray a couple of times a day and also hauling the whole thing inside and scrubbing it with soap and hot water, inside and out, way too often and way before the 5 gallons ever ran out.  It seemed wholly inefficient to me.  Anyway, when you open the top, there is no longer a vacuum seal and all 5 gallons of water run out onto the floor.  The shavings-covered, plywood floor of my coop.  Can you say moldy shavings and rotting flooring?  As I kicked myself for being so dumb, I begrudgingly scooped out all wet shavings from the coop into the compost and told myself it was high time.  They’re big enough now.

So, I gave into my dreams and got the cups.  I ordered them from McMurray Hatchery (same place I got the chicks) and they arrived a few days later with easy installation instructions – drill a 21/32″ hole (does that seem like an odd size to you?  Lowes does not even carry a bit that size.) an inch from the bottom of a regular 5-gallon bucket (not included), attach the provided spout (which leaks unless you use plumbers putty with it, which is not mentioned), which hooks up to a rubber hose that runs into the gray plastic pipe (which leaks at the joint unless you use teflon tape, “optional,” not included) with two tiny cups attached.  You mount the pipe and cups to the wall of the coop, place the bucket higher than the pipe (for now, ours is on top of another bucket), and fill the bucket with water, and voila!  You have a waterer that none of the chickens know how to use!  Congratulations!

OK, I don’t mean to complain.  But, it has taken two trips to Lowe’s and a lot of adjustments to get this working properly.  That wouldn’t be so bad, except that it’s been four days now and some of them still aren’t so good at using it.  To get water from it at all, they have to learn to push and hold down the little yellow levers.  Some do this.  Others drink all the water out of the cup (a tiny amount) without ever hitting the lever.  For the first day, I left them with their old waterer as well, so that they wouldn’t go thirsty.  That night, I closed them in after they’d gone to roost, and I let them back out into the run (where I’d placed their old waterer) at around 8:30am.  They wake up with the sun, which is around 5:30am these days, so they’d been in there with only the cups for about three waking hours.  Half of them ran out to the old waterer and drank like they were about to die of dehydration.  And I felt like crap.  Since then, I have been posting about it on BYC, and I have been told that it takes about three days for them to learn how to use it, and if I don’t take away their other water sources, some will never learn.  Great.  I have to count on birds with brains the size of fava beans to figure this out so they don’t die.  I honestly don’t have great faith.  But, I am told they will get it.  They can “smell” the water.  Here’s hoping.

This morning, I took away their old waterer completely.  All day they had just the cups.  A little after 5 pm, the water level in the bucket had gone down about an inch and a half from where it was this morning, which was a good sign, but still didn’t seem like enough to me.  At that time, I also let them out to free-range a bit as we had a break in the rain.  Their old waterer was sitting out in the grass and had a bit of rainwater in it.  Three or four of them eventually found it and drank, again, like they were dying of thirst.  BUT, the others didn’t.  So, I guess that’s a good thing.  I guess most of them have it figured out.  Only a few risk dying of dehydration at this point.  So, I continue to leave them with only the cups in hopes of forcing it on them.  It gives them SO much more room in the coop and it’s so much cleaner and easier for both them and me – they don’t have to drink poopy water all the time, and I don’t have to haul it around (let me tell you – 5 gallons of water is HEAVY) and clean it up.  My only concern is – what if some of them truly don’t figure it out?  Will I be able to tell ahead of time, or will I just find them dead at some point?  Am I being overly paranoid?  And now, onto other news…

Chicken Soup

Brian caught him.  It was funny.  I videoed it.  Roll it:

Soup is officially our largest chicken by a good bit now.  He is HUGE.  I don’t know if you can tell in the video, but he is.  I took him from Brian after that and held him while sitting down and he didn’t even fit in my lap.  His name is still Soup, though.  Charmingly, when I try to touch the cup-waterers to show them how to use them, Chicken Soup bites my fingers.  Boy, is he asking for it…

Cool action shots of JB while he was “mad” at us for picking up his boy.  You wouldn’t think he’d care, but at this point, he seems equally enamored with both the boys and the girls – he actually dances more for the males than the females.

JB, flapping

flapping

crowing

crowing

Garden News

flower buds on apple tree

One of my apple trees is a tad ambitious for its young age and has quite a few beautiful, hot pink buds, which are now blooming into blush pink flowers.  pwitty.

golden-girls-018

And so the apple tree wouldn’t feel alone or self-conscious, one of my cherry trees decided to follow suit.

a bunny

a bunny

We have bunnies.  Lots of bunnies.

They have babies.  Lots of babies.

a baby bunny

a baby bunny

I saw this baby.  It was tiny and cute.

Bunnies eat gardens.

I hope the hawks eat the bunnies.  Straight up.

Planting Raspberries

golden-girls-076

After way, WAY too much time in their packaging in our garage, we finally got ourselves together with enough time and cooperating weather to install our reasperry trellis and plant our bare-roots plants.  We now officially have a 40-foot row of black (Jewel), red (Autumn Britten), and golden (Anne) raspberries.

Brian dug a trench.

golden-girls-065

I dug 3-foot-deep post holes, 20 feet apart.  My three holes took longer than Brian’s 40-foot trench.

Then we installed the 8-foot rough cedar posts with cross-bars at 3 feet and 5 feet off the ground (standard for raspberries – made by me and my brother, Matthew, during my family’s last visit up here).

golden-girls-068

We leveled the posts.

golden-girls-070

Then we poured dry concrete around them (1 80-lb bag per post), which we are assured will harden quickly from rain and groundwater.

golden-girls-071

At this point, it looks like this:

golden-girls-073

Then we backfilled the trench with my lovely garden soil that is 1/3 organic soil, 1/3 compost, and 1/3 sand for nutrients and good drainage.  Raspberries cannot tolerate porr drainage and are often grown in raised beds for that reason.  We ran this trench along a high point that is very well-drained.  That, combined with the sandy soil, and I’m hoping for success.  Once it was filled, I planted my 16 plants a little more than 2 feet apart.  The recomendation is 24-36 inches, depending on who you ask.  Either way, they send up lots of new canes from their roots and form a hedge, so no matter how you shake it, there will be no space between them at all eventually.

Once planted (pic above), we also installed soaker hoses.

Those of you who pay careful attention may have noticed that I did not plant my Rosanna raspberry or my thornless Loganberry.  Well, I forgot I had the Logan, but I allotted space for th Rosanna, but it ended up that Raintree Nursery gave me a couple of extra plants of the other varieties and there was no more room for those other two.  So, I will have to figure out somewhere else to start another berry patch.  Oh darn.

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One thought on “And You Thought I Couldn’t Get Any Smarter…

  1. Speaking of bunnies. Our dog found a baby bunny nest a few weeks ago. All the baby bunnies died. I felt bad for about two minutes.

    As usual, great progress with your projects.

    Sandy

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