Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The good, the bad, and the ugly

I love my life, really I do, but things go wonky all the time and I end up with chickens in the bathtub... I'll start with the ugly and work my way to the good so we end on a good note here.

 The Ugly:

You can just see him in there
  •    Last weekend I sent Aislyn out to give the bunnies food and water. She came running in the house saying that there was a snake in the cage and the babies were dead. I ran out there (after grabbing my camera) and, sure thing, there was a snake in the nest box. It was just a medium, garden variety snake, but it was big enough to eat one baby and kill the other 3. The mama bunny was cowering in the far corner and practically jumped into my arms when I opened the cage door. Mike followed closely behind me, shotgun in hand. Then he proceeded to poke the snake with a stick, repeatedly, until the snake tried to climb out of the cage. Of course, it couldn't get out, there was an entire half-grown bunny rabbit in it's belly, but it sure tried. While it was stuck there Mike shot it. 
  •  Yesterday morning I gave the Maran and Blue Amercuana chicks fresh water. As I walked away I forgot to drop the shade cloth back into place. About 8 hours later, when it was 108 degrees, 14 of the 21 babies had wedged themselves into a small corner behind a cardboard box, where there was a bit of shade, and smothered to death.The survivors were quickly moved into the bathtub to cool off and recover. I can't tell you how bad I feel about it. 
 The Bad:

Sad sad zucchini
  •  Squash bugs have killed all my zucchini and yellow squash and are now working on the patty pan and cucumbers. I've pulled most of the plants and I'm going to try again in a different bed. I've heard that planting radishes all around the seedlings might help, so I'll try that.

    Get a room!
  •  Grasshoppers are everywhere right now. I can't walk anywhere without flushing out whole clouds of them. They don't seem to be too interested in the garden yet, but if they do decide to munch on my veggies there are enough to wipe everything out. They are also busy making lots of baby grasshoppers... everywhere I look there are grasshoppers getting busy.

We're letting it dry before we give it to the animals
  •  The corn has succumbed to a terrible earworm infestation. We're going to put in a new crop in a few weeks. Luckily, the chickens don't care if there's worms in the corn and the goats like the crunchy dry stalks, so it's not a total waste. I am sad that I didn't get any sweet corn for 4th of July though.

  •  Gabe has been sick. It's nothing major, just a virus, but it's awful when he's sick because he can't express himself very well. He's been sleeping a lot and Turtle is more than happy to keep him company during naptime. 

 The Good:

Aislyn, Ian, and Lily
  •  I'll start with the best thing. The pool!! The Nanas went out and found us the biggest above ground pool they could. It keeps the kid occupied, which keeps the bickering to a minimum. If it weren't for the pool the kids would have to stay inside when it gets really hot out. Plus, it's huge, so there's plenty of room for the grownups too. My favorite thing to do late at night now is to go float in my ring, watch the stars, and enjoy the quiet. 

Dehydrated tomato paste
  •  I have tons of tomatoes. Yesterday I stopped counting the cherry tomatoes I was picking when I got to 100. I've made a few jars of tomato sauce, lots of dried cherry tomatoes, and (my favorite) dehydrated tomato paste.We had amazing BLTs the other night and there is a big bowl of cherry tomatoes on the dining room table for snacks. 

Mama and babies
  •  Miss Broody wasn't having any luck hatching out her eggs, so I took them from her and gave her a few of the babies I hatched in the incubator. After dark I snuck out there with 4 babies and switched them for the eggs. The next morning I went out to check on the little family and all seemed well. The next day she let them come out of the nestbox and explore the coop. Now they're running around after their mama and she's teaching them that the compost bin is the best place to find tasty tidbits.

Buddy likes to be in the middle of things
  •  Buddy the duck was delivered to my a door a couple of weeks ago by one of the (semi) local members of my gardening forum. He needed a new home, and I have the space for him. The other ducks gave him a bit of a hard time when he first arrived, but now he's part of the group. He's a crested Khaki Campbell and a very handsome guy. I think some of the Pekin girls are sweet on him.

That's it for today. It's time to have some lunch and then go swimming. Blessed Be...

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Great day

 Hello everyone, it's been a great week here on the farm. My hubby's grandmother (Nana Debbie), mother (Nana Cindy), and sister (Auntie Jennifer) are out for a visit and we're so happy to have them! The kids absolutely love having two Nanas here at the same time and are just about bouncing off the walls.

Mike, Lily, and Nana Debbie

 Yesterday was a particularly busy day. Mike spent the morning trying to get the pool set up, but was having tractor problems. Jennifer, Nana Debbie, and I spent the early afternoon at Homestead Heritage enjoying the scenery and poking into all of the shops and buildings. I can't decide if the The Potter's House or the Fiber Crafts was my favorite...or maybe it's the Gift Barn, they had the most amazing hand stitched quilts. Either way, we had an amazing time and a fantastic lunch at the Cafe. It's such a great place to spend some "girl time" and the people are so very friendly. I spent lunch trying to convince Nana that she should move out here. Arizona is much too far away.

Nana Debbie teaching Ian Chopsticks

 After we got home Mike went to the grocery store so we could get ready for the BBQ we were having last night with a family from Mike's church. I had planned to have a mad dash cleaning spree when I got home, but it turned out that I didn't need to because Cindy had done it for me! My whole living room, kitchen, and dining room were spotless! Did I mention that she's my very favorite mother-in-law?
 We had a great dinner of grilled pork chops and corn on the cob, with macaroni and green salads. I was a little bit nervous (as I had never met the family that was coming over) but, shockingly, I got along great with them. They also had the 2 most polite children I've ever met (the little boy called me Miss Renee, how cute is that?) and they had a blast checking out all of the animals.
 After they left, Mike and I got to escape for a night at the White Rock Creek B&B. It's where the visiting family is staying and they insisted that we go have a night there, they would watch the kids. I have to admit that I didn't require a whole lot of insisting, it's a beautiful B&B and the rooms all have bathtubs big enough to swim in. It's a very romantic place and we had a great night, and I'll just leave it at that. We had a lovely breakfast, provided by our hosts, Dana and Retha, and then we headed home so that everyone could head off to church (leaving me with my cherished quiet Sunday morning!)
 Today should be a less hectic day. Mike is going to give the tractor a good talking to, then level the site for the pool. Hopefully it will be up and filling this evening. We're going to hang out around the house, visit, and have some grilled steaks and squash fritters with leftover macaroni salad.
 Enjoy the rest of your weekend and Blessed Be...

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Duck update

 Well, I've spent a lot of time supervising the ducks in the last few days. Since I don't have a permanent shelter built for them yet all 27 ducklings are sleeping in the 4'x8' chicken tractor. It's pretty cramped so I'm having to move it a couple of times a day so that they aren't standing in their own poo and so that they have fresh grass to munch on. I also let them out every time I go outside.
The little duck up front is Spot. I'm waiting for her to get into something so I can say, "Out, damn Spot!"
 The routine goes something like this...I open the door and walk around the tractor, the ducks run out the door and make a beeline for the back porch (cause that's where the food is, ya know) and peep until I throw a couple of handfuls of food out. Then they trip all over themselves and each other to get a few bites.

A little bit crowded
Then they all dash back to the kiddy pool (which was fine for 3 ducklings but it terribly inadequate for 27) for a quick drink. Some will hop in and have a little bath, but most of the new ones haven't figured out how to easily get in and out. Duck, Goose, and Jill like to show off to the others by gracefully jumping in for a little swim and then, just as gracefully, jumping back out. After a drink they either chase flies and wasps or run around eating bits of grass or looking for bugs to munch on. When they get tired they find a patch of shade and settle in for a nap.

 I think that Duck and Goose are hens, since they are starting to get mottled feathers on their chests and faces, but Jill is still too young to tell. Here's hoping for a boy so we can breed some more (although that would mean a name change is in order, it's just not nice to call a boy Jill!) The new ducks are harder to sex, because a hen and a drake Pekin look almost exactly the same. I won't know for sure until the boys get their drake feather or the girls develop their quack. We will be eating most of the boys when they get big enough. I want to keep about a dozen hens and 2 drakes though, so that we can hatch our own next spring.
 The chickens have given the ducklings surprisingly little trouble. They discovered that I'm pretty likely to have food when the babies are out, so they intermingle and play nice to have a chance at getting some treats. Moonshine even seems to feel protective of them and chases the cat and kittens off if they come too close.

More food 

Moonshine is watching out for "his" babies
 And here's a video of Goose showing off. I can almost hear her, "Really y'all, it's easy. You just hop right in." Note the looks of envy on the other ducks faces.

 That's it for today. Enjoy the rest of your weekend and Blessed Be...