Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Blog neglect


I would like to say that since Thanksgiving I have been so busy I haven't been able to keep up.

But the truth is I am just not that organized.

Here are the girls after the weekly cleaning. The snow is a foot deep in places in their yard and half the straw bale was to cover up some snow so they are more willing to go outside. I bribed them into the garage (not that they really needed it) with peanut butter spread on bread with a homemade warm mash of corn and wheat berries on top. But as soon as I was out of the way out they came to inspect.


The heated water bowl has been a much appreciated addition - for those who bring the water and those who drink it. It sits just under the hen house, protected from the side w/ part of a dismantled compost bin. So easy to clean the straw out that inevitably ends up making a soup.

The girls have adapted well. I don't know why I worried - after all wild birds are in our yard all winter. The red light in the garage annex gives them a heat/light source during the day - and the no light heater adds about 10 degrees in their coop at night. we get 1-3 eggs a day now - I think because so much of their energy is spent keeping warm. But they are well enough to greet me when I get home from work.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

I really want a truck someday


I don't think this is what the fine people at Mazda had in mind when they put in leather seats.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

-5

Hubby went to Fleet Farm and picked up a qt. heated dog bowl. Happy day.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Insomnia?

It was dark when I got home from work. Usually hubby switches from the inside the garage light (daytime) to the nightlight in the henhouse, but tonight the chick chalet was dark and the door open.

I dropped (well set down) the groceries and my work bag on the frozen sidewalk. Inside the garage I switched lights. The annex was empty.

Inside the coop were 3 hens wandering aimlessly around the small floor.

Tweety and Shelly were not among them.

Taking my stuff inside to the warm kitchen (hubby was just taking enchiladas out of the oven) I grabbed our little LED lantern and went back out.

The missing hens were under the coop, hunkered in the straw covered snow. They were too far for me to reach, so I went in to dinner, figuring they would "go towards the light".

They did not.

The next 20 minutes was spent with me going in and out of the garage trying to catch the wayward hens. It's bloody 5 degrees! What are they thinking? The other 3 were squawking protest I think, after all their heat lamp was on but the door was open.

When all were ensconced (unhappily I might add) I gave them fresh water and quartered an orange. Maybe it was dehydration. Or plain contrariness.

Wish I had gotten a photo of them in their hiding space

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Hey what happened?


They blame me.

Standing in the 19 degree weather the flock stares accusingly. Like this was my idea (Mwa ha ha) Their feathers are ruffled, keeping the warmer layer of air next to their skin. At night the heater keeps their coop 10 degrees warmer, but that is no longer cutting it. During the day the garage addition has a heat lamp and they have started laying their eggs under it - well out of my reach. My really cool waterer cracked when thawing one morning and I can't find the electric dog dish. So until I can make a trip to Fleetfarm, we bring the little waterer in a couple times a day and at night to thaw it and add fresh water.

Where did time go? Last thing I remember was dressing up the girls for Halloween. That is the start of the holiday season, and it ends with Juju's birthday in January. And whose idea was it that "fall back" was a good idea? Now the hens are in bed when I get home from work.

Nyeh!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

High sentry

Butters takes his guardianship of the flock very seriously.

There are at least 2 feral cats he has run off. He chases squirrels out of the hen yard, scatters small wild birds attempting to eat layer feed, and stares down any inquisitive bystander that is looking over the fence.

He is always above it all. Here the hens are in the landscaping by the back fence. Other times find him on the back step, on the lid of the bbq and during those rare times all the hens are in their yard with the gate open he lays on the sun soaked shingles of the coop roof.

If we could just train him to herd them . . .

Friday, November 20, 2009

rainbow eggs


We are no longer sure who is laying.

We know the green eggs are Jane Doe.

We suspect the white ones are Shelly.

The new brown ones are lighter, a little pinky, one of the Naked Necks we think.

Tweety has stopped laying all together. Or else she is hiding them REALLY well. She only has 1/2 a city lot to roam and we have looked. But she seems too happy and energetic to be egg bound or some such thing. False start maybe?

What really wigs me out is how the egg colours match our counter top.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Mesha is 5


Collateral damage from decorating cupcakes.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Turken Spa


2 posts ago there is a picture of Daffodil under the toddler slide.

This is Mina.

Notice a difference?

Mina apparently does not care for wayward feathers on her neck. She prefers to be a loud and proud NAKED NECK.

So periodically she hooks up with Tweety and stretches her neck out in front of her. Tweety then pulls the offending feathers in the hen version of a bikini wax.

Blink! Blink! (my reaction)

Mina is more girly than I am.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Araucana!


We got these today.

The one on the left is from Tweety, we assume.

The one on the right, with it's greenish tinge, can only be a gift from Jane Doe.

She laid it in the dog kennel addition and came back to look for it later - she trashed the space with the finesse of a rock star in a hotel room looking for it. Hay piled in the center and bare cardboard all around.

Hubby had already filched it - he brought it to me at work to see. What a guy!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

What part of it's raining . . .



Did you not understand?

Additions


It seems that at some point in any historical novel - literature or otherwise- the family home of the protagonist is described. Always it has been in the family for generations, with each patriarch adding on in a tasteful manner. Each addition is blended into the previous so the wide variety of styles seem to be congruent.

This is not one of those type of houses.

In these same books, the antagonist is not so lucky. Invariably each generation adds on to their family seat with no style or technique and the home is an eyesore to the whole countryside. Even the local merchants are outraged. Although sometimes it is the young innocent ward of the villian that lives there also - before falling in love, of course, with the heir to the other home.

The hens have something closer to this ideal.

Above is the newest add on. Hubby opened the dog door into the garage and set a dog crate on blocks and lined the bottom six inches with cardboard before adding hay. With the weather turning colder and the rain continuing we thought another dry area was in order.

Maybe we should have named her Jane Eyre instead of Jane Doe.

Oh - Tweety continues to lay an egg every 2 or 3 days. As of yet she is the only one. But they are not quite 20 weeks old so this is just a bonus.

Mesha loves having a couple of these pullet eggs over easy for breakfast - they are just her size.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Shelly


That is Jane Doe above her.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

1st egg!



It is no surprise to us that Tweety is once again ahead of the class.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Weekend plans

Tonight I am reading a book about growing wheat in your backyard. And listening to Skinny Puppy.

Strangely, for me, it works.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

the bunkhouse


Top L-R . . . Mina, Daffodil & Tweety

Bottom L to R . . . Jane Doe & Shelly

Monday, October 12, 2009

First snow

NOTE:These photos are from today and a couple days ago.

Well, we skipped the whole fall foliage part of the season - The streets are covered with green leaves. The shrub by the back door will probably hold its frozen green leaves until spring.







The girls are quite put out. Tweety and Jane were very vocal on where they were choosing to place the blame for this turn of events. All of them stood in the doorway for about 20 minutes. I passified them with warm breakfast of corn and oatmeal. But they were still squawky for the entire morning.






This is the wire cover to the hen yard. It should melt this afternoon or else I will have to knock it down so it won't collapse. But from the upstairs window it looks like a white roof.











After spending the night accidentally locked in the garage, Butters was also unimpressed by the icy ground. He spends a lot of the time in the chicken run - trying to catch one of squirrels that are always after the veggies etc we toss in. He is of yet unsuccessful, but I expect to see one laid out on the back step before spring.


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

bake off

Today I started with a dozen duck eggs.

Now I have chocolate chip cookies, lemon ginger zucchini bread, apple raisin bread, and banana bread. And a completely trashed kitchen.

The weather is wet, as it has been for most of the last week. So it was the perfect day to test the egg theory.

All the bread came out denser, the cookies came out too crispy for my taste.

I should probably test again. Just to make sure.

Also I have cider in the percolator and apple rings in the dehydrator. I acquired 2 bushels of apples this weekend with the time honored question - "You gonna finish that?" Well it was a little more involved than that (but not much)

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Mad as A . . .


It feels like I should be building an ark.

I'm so glad hubby built the chicken house on legs - cause under it is where they have been hanging out all day. I have the heat lamp on inside - not because I think it is cold, but I want them to be able to dry out before going to sleep.

I put down new straw today - good thing, because there is puddles in their yard now, without the extra layer it may have been a lake. The one bale I didn't have encased in plastic is sprouting.

Where was this weather during the growing season?

Friday, October 2, 2009

Duck egg baking

So I will admit to taking the easy way out.

I baked 2 batches of brownie mix brownies. Both baked in a glass pan, put in a cold oven and baked at 325 for 1hour.

verdict.

The chicken egg batch was its usual gooey brownie goodness. Even the next day (which is as long as they last around here).

The duck egg batch was firmer, dense and chewy. And, superior in satisfaction.

I think I need to test with another, from scratch, recipe - Just to make sure

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Bloody Hell!


Wait, I changed my mind. Let's go back to September for a couple more weeks.

I could see my breath this morning.

I took my trusty coffee cup (handwarmer - I have NO idea where my box of winter gloves etc are) outside to "do the morning chores" The hens glared at me from their roost. Like it was MY idea that it is 45 degrees in their coop. The leaves on the birch in back and the maple in front are still as green as can be - I don't think they got the memo. But then again neither did I.

I'm still rooting for an Indian Summer.

To placate the girls I threw down some cracked corn on their morning zucchini, leftover oatmeal with hot chocolate and mash. I've had the jar for near a year "Earth Tones" dent corn we got from our CSA last growing season. I wasn't sure what to do with it. The kernels are beautiful in, as the name implies, earthy colours. But if I ground them altogether - well, muddy brown cornbread doesn't seem to appetizing. So the hens graciously forgave me for the weather and attacked their breakfast like it would run away at any minute.

By the afternoon they were back to normal. But roosted by 7pm. It gets dark so fast now.

Seriously, "REDO!"
(fairly odd parents reference there)

Monday, September 28, 2009

Chick Fight!


It's hard to tell, but Shelly and Jane Doe are circling each other. Shelly seems to pick fights with all the hens except Tweety. Well - it is more of a choreo- graphed dance ala West Side Story. All puffed up posturing and rebel yells (squawks?). At some point Shelly will turn her back - like she forgot the other girl is there - and suddenly puff herself up and hop/fly at her current adversary stopping just before contact is made. Then it is Jane's (or Mina, or Daffodil) turn. This can go on for 10 minutes - with reruns throughout the day.

I will post more pictures as I can get them. But my camera argues the point. With the standard 3x zoom, by the time I get close enough to get a good shot they stop what they are doing and look at me heads cocked "What? We weren't doing anything!" before running off giggling (cackling?) Come to think of it - kind of like my children. Then there is the shutter lag time - oh you wanted that picture? My camera mocks me. But it is too funny to miss. Maybe I need video with music (the Jets song comes to mind).

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Fall Cleanup


The garden season is done. The hens are now taking care of the last green left in the pots. On the left was Mesha's pumpkin plant - it's lone orange fruit harvested in early August. There is a small green one hanging off the side where I had THOUGHT it was protected.

It now looks like the tomatoes posted previously.

Jane Doe stands where once there was a Costoluto Genovese Tomato. They are a funny Italian Paste tomato - my fruits were all strangely shaped - one even grew around itself. They had a pronounced tomatoey flavor and meaty flesh with few seeds. I didn't get enough for sauce - but they sliced up nicely for a hamburger or BLT.

The plant never really came back from the sudden mid summer temperature drop. But continued to look tall and full for the rest of the growing season. I just moved its purpose from edible fruit to privacy screening.

I figure the soil will be even better when the girls finish with it.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Duck eggs


No I did not get any ducks. A friend of mine gets a dozen a week and gives them to anyone who will take them.

I didn't even know there were black eggs!

We made quiche for dinner. The girls could barely break the shells. I will try pumpkin cake (with ginger cream cheese frosting) this weekend - they are supposed to make superior baked goods.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

it was a massacre


I guess all those books that said keep the chickens out of the garden were serious.

Monday, September 21, 2009

dear diary

Remember when you were a teenager and your Aunt Mabel would give you a journal with lock and key, you swore that you would write everyday? And you would, for a couple weeks and then nothing for months. I kinda feel like that. The following is a bunch of unrelated commentary. Sorry. But this is like my journal - but with pictures.

It tastes like fall. The potted begonias and alpine strawberries have been replaced by garden mums. I don't particularly like mums, but they are better than bare dirt. This is my favorite time for the fire pit. The slight chill in the nighttime air makes the crackling sound more enticing. The neighbor's tree has starting dropping yellow leaves. It is the first to turn - all others are still bright green. But it is prolific and we rake at least 3 times a week - well hubby rakes.

Logan brought me 6 bales of straw - he has a truck. I greatly appreciated it - I have yet to clean the straw off my leather seats from the last haul. I have stacked it on one side of the coop in puncture resistant garbage bags. 2 birds 1 stone ya know.

The girls still refuse to roost themselves, preferring to crowd into the nesting boxes - there is always one left standing. So every night hubby or I move them to the roosts and there they will stay until morning.

Every day the girls find feathers around the yard. (These are Mina or Daffodil's) They put them in the nest boxes so the hens will have a "pretty house". Are they molting? Growing winter down? I have no idea. I've said it before, but I do wish I had paid more attention to what my parents were trying to show me as a child. I think we should be getting pullet eggs in October. We'll see.

Monday, September 14, 2009

appropriate naming

So her name is Jane Doe. And I have no idea what kind of chicken she is. Weird sideburn feathers - reminds me of the mutton chop style of early presidents. Her name fits so well

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Instant stress relief


I love my chickens

Well, I suppose that is obvious since I avoid Facebook like the plague yet I have this blog!

But knowing they are at home is very calming to me. I cannot take customer's anger personally when I know Tweety is going to beg for food like a small dog as soon as I walk in the gate.

They are only chickens, but I feel the importance of our symbiosis way more than I do with the cats or the hamster. If I care for them they will help feed me. What an amazing relationship! It is now that I realize, for all of my cooking from scratch and growing a few tomatoes, how little connection I have to that which sustains me.

It makes me question whether I really need that brownie mix whose label I cannot read.

Well yes, I do.

But maybe I don't need the whole pan.

It's a start.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Huzzah!


My darling knight fought the digital dragon and found my photos.

Posts I have been drafting over the last week or so will be coming up randomly

Fall is coming I can feel it.

The cucumbers and tomatoes are yellowing (although lack of water is helping the cooler nights accomplish that I am sure)

It was cool enough that I was able to can stock on my days off.

School Started.

The hens are now in bed by 8pm of their own accord.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

What a difference the hay makes



Before: re-purposed dog run.

After:


It smells so good now - and the hens are happy with new things to scratch and peck. You can see the compost bin turned protective feeder (bonus - keeps all the wild birds from eating all the mash!) What a great makeover for under $4!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

but my computer ate my photos!

I can't find them anywhere!

New posts are in limbo until the Vaio fesses up.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Now for something completely different


Yesterday was Hubby and my 13th anniversary.

We celebrated it with our traditional picnic with the girls at the Sculpture Garden (next to Walker Art Museum)

This is probably the most famous "art" in the Twin Cities
Spoonbridge and Cherry (although it does have a sign that says not to climb on it)

It is a perfect picnic place and the sculptures can be touched - unlike the art inside the museum (yes I know this from experience)

It was a splendid day

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Hen Pergola


I had forgotten the end of last year's bean seeds were mixed in with the morning glories. I credit these plants with the cooler temperatures inside the chicken yard.



Juju and Jane Doe

I think we have a future 4H member

Saturday, August 29, 2009

august?!

It is supposed to drop down to 45 degrees this weekend. Good bye tomatoes! It has not been a good season, with only 2 days that we wished we had air conditioning and many nights dropping below 60.

The hens have stayed mostly in their yard today - with the garage, wood fence and the vines keeping out the cooling breeze.

I am hoping for a Indian Summer.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Monday, August 24, 2009

Chicken Rugby















The game was in full swing when I got home from work this afternoon. Hubby said they had playing it for most of the morning.

Yes, that is a dead mouse.















I can't decide whether to be grossed out or applaud.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

old is better


Why am I showing you this?

Because it is glass. Go to any farm supply (here is is the local Fleet farm for everything except food and straw) and for $20 or so I can purchase a white plastic chicken waterer.

Or for a mere $3 at a flea market I get glass.

I will get a new metal bottom so I can put it on a heater for the winter.

As an added bonus - the chickens peck at the bubbles as they go up inside. LOL

Friday, August 21, 2009

But it works for the cat!?!

Every afternoon, Butters the cat suns himself on the step watching the hens cluck around the yard. He enjoys their company unless they come up on the step. At that point he meows until we let him in.
I can hear the conversation now - I am pretty sure it is Tweety's idea that if they stand at the back door they too will be let in.
"Hey she's at the door again. I'm sure it will work this time!"
"What's in there anyway?" This would be Jane Doe, the most vocal of the group. And the most suspicious of our intentions. "I don't think I want to go in."
"The waffles came from in there. The cucumbers too!" This would be Tweety again. The other three are looking back and forth between her and Jane like a tennis match. Jane is not convinced and jumps off into the bushes.
Tweety stood there, looking at the door, long after the others had left to chase worms in the wet yard.