Friday, September 30, 2011

The Last of the Vegetables

Here we are in the official first week of fall, and we still have green tomatos covering one of the tomato plants. This is a fresh flush of tomatos and yellow flowers, since the weather cooled down. I saw some green tomato preserves on a blog last night, so am thinking about trying some myself.  We also have a bunch of peppers, and the last of the green beans.

Look at all the blossoms on this plant on Sept. 30!

As you can see, the rows between the beds (except for the one covered in indoor-outdoor carpeting, were allowed to overgrow when the quail came, because they would calmly walk into them and disappear!  I planted that bed full of marigolds as companions to some tomatos.... the marigolds did not grow until after the heat wave of July, hence the fact that they are lovely now (in the weeds!)

We are still getting peppers, but I bet it's going to be too cold here before long.  I have a bunch on the counter.

The bean beds are mostly empty.  No, that's not a pumpkin you see... but a Homer bucket.  We are going to lay indoor/outdoor carpet between all the rows for next year... you can just see some, where there are NO WEEDS.  We are also going to re-dig and add amendments to all these beds. 

And here's one for the record books...when grandson Chris was here two weeks ago, he came in the big henhouse to help me for a few minutes.  While in there, he was looking around, and scared a hen who was up in the only part of the building that still has dropped ceiling tiles, over the feed room.  He stood on the small stepladder and said... I think there are eggs up here!
Of course, I can't reach up there or see, and Keith is using the bigger stepladder.  Tonight when Chris got here, we got the small stepladder and he climbed up on the cabinet to look.  This is what he found:
My little hen Nanny, a purebred Japanese bantam, was on them, trying to set them.  Ruby, my old prodcution red, has been laying up there.  The smaller eggs are Nanny's, I think.  I'm hoping since Chris got the eggs that both hens will not try to lay up there again.  Our big problem is there is no privacy in the big henhouse, and they hate laying in it.  We'll rectify all that in the new henhouse, we are going to make nice boxes for them to lay in.  I hate to waste these eggs, but they can't be eaten at this point.
I'm going to try for a third week to link to Verde Farm for Farm Friend Friday! 

POSTSCRIPT:  I appear to be unable to use the Version 2.0 Mr. Linky on the Verde Farm site... something on our computer is keeping me from linking... so I've linked for a second week to Farm Photo and Recipe Friday at Fresh from the Farm, a great blog I found a few weeks ago, with lots of good cookin' and pictures!

Thursday, September 29, 2011


After dragging my tush for three weeks, I am finally on the mend and glorying in the autumn weather we are having around here. 

I've also been blog-hopping, and it's time to talk about some of the wonderful blogs I try to read regularly.... I hope to do this more often, because some are truly inspiring.  It never ceases to amaze me at the creative and interesting people out there who take the time to sit down and write about the things that they love!

Some I feature in my side-bar... and some, I'll tell you about today.

First, FarmGirl at Ohiofarmgirl's Adventures in the Good Land.  She is amusing as well as a good blogger... and I love to read her.  She also linked me up with a couple more good blogs... and if you take a look, we are all posting about the D. Landreth Seed Company, oldest seed company in America, which is in receivership right now.  I hope, no, we all hope to see this old company stay alive... Jere Gettle, are you reading us????

Through her, I found a new blog, Kristen at Rusty Moon Homestead, who blogs about gardening.  For a new blogger, she looks like she'll be a keeper!

And also, I found Robin at The Gardener of Eden , who has a super gardening blog with great pictures.

For bees, Susan and Roger at Squash Blossom Farm write not only about bees but CSA gardening.. they are serious about it, and also, many of you read, I'm sure, Jayme Goffin at Tales from the Coop Keeper, and I am sure have laughed along with her at her informative bee-keeping videos she posts on her site, thanks to help from able cameraman (and son) Aaron.

Janis, at Animal Instinct , has not only the most beautiful herd of cattle you have ever seen, but they made it through losing not one but two barns last winter, in horrible conditions, and still look like they have every hair in place.  She takes truly remarkable pictures, and I really admire her stick-to-it-iveness.

Patrice, ("Follow Patrice, she has cookies") at Everyday Ruralty not only writes a good story about her place, but interviews other "Farm Chicks" on her blog regularly, so you can get to know them. 

What can I say about one of my favorites, Michaele at Sprout 'n' Wings Farm , I bought great skin butter from her for Christmas presents, and she has a really good blog with an especially good entry today for Michaelmas. 

If you want to learn about rare breeds, take a look at The Farmer at Hidden Meadow Farm for some awesome Highland Cattle.

I haven't even mentioned the horse blogs I follow or the traveling blogs... in England, Wales, and Scotland, or the decorating blogs... I'll talk about them in another post. 

Don't I have lovely ears?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Follow Ups

Review of the great pie I made Sunday afternoon... the pie was delicious, but here's the rest of the story... it was almost IMPOSSIBLE to get the crust out of the iron skillet!  Never again!  Next time, it will be in a deep dish pie pan, placed on the lowest shelf in the stove.  The skillet is now clean and oiled and put away again.  Nice idea, just not practical.

The Nikon camera I bought during the summer has become a disappointment.  I actually had to have it replaced by Nikon/Best Buy because the first one broke after 3 weeks.  They got another to me just as my old Canon kicked the bucket for good, but this one just does not work right.  It is the Nikon Coolpix S1400 touchscreen.  There is an annoying bar that appears in many pictures.... here is an example:

This is me trying to capture the mists that were hanging over the bean fields on either side of the highway this morning.  (yes, I know I shouldn't have been shooting and driving, I'm guilty).  As you can see, there is a bar in the picture, to the right of center.  It is in hundreds of my pictures.  I was NOT pulling the picture closer to me.... I just took it fast, but I have noticed whenever I try to pull the subject in closer, I get the bar.  This camera has a 5 x zoom and 14 megapixels.  In truth, I can't pull closeups of anything, really.
If I am on top of something, the picture is decent:

Fancy, tonight during chore time.  His girls April and May had already gone into the rabbit hutch.  These three are STILL sleeping in the hutch, and it's starting to get cold.  They huddle in the straw of the nestbox side.  Once it really gets nippy, they are going to be put into the little henhouse whether they like it or notI would love to breed a few more Porcelain D'Uccles in the spring, I love these beautiful birds.
Notice there is no line through the picture.
It is dark now in the morning when I go out to chore.  I can see the Spehar's shop lights twinkling on the other side of the big ponds, because they start early in their wood shop.  Monday morning and this morning, there were no lights to greet me, and I figured out why tonight.  The "boys" went by in their truck as I did chores, with the trailer behind them.  They are fine cabinet makers, and there is a new house going up down at the end of the road from us... we suspect they are doing the custom cabinets.  Whoever is getting them is getting good work done, as they are master cabinetmakers.
If you bigify the above picture, you will see the llamas leisurely laying by the hay manger after their pellet breakfast, with Butch and his two girls scratching in the straw of the llamayard, all as happy as peas in a pod, just what I like to see on my way to work. As you can see, it is just coming light as I pulled down the driveway at 7:30. 

Monday, September 26, 2011

A Fast Post Tonight

Made up of bits and pieces, this will be fast.  I am tuckered out... three weeks of dragging has taken it's toll.  I'm pooped out tonight... and so is Keith, hay fever has worked a number on him. 

When we moved here, there were several large walnut trees in the yard.  One is a century tree, we think well over a hundred years old.  This year, it looks like this:

Yes, our grand old tree is dying. 
In contrast, there is another 50 feet from it, right next to the big henhouse:

If you click on this, you will see that there are hundreds if not thousands of walnuts that I'll soon be paying Nathan to pick up for me.  It's still in good health.
These are black walnuts, and gone are the days when the lumber companies would come to your yard and buy the trees.  Now you have to fell them and haul the to the mill to sell.

Now, for friend Jill, HERE is the rat I have been telling you about, eating along with the chickens tonight.  I say it's a muskrat, it does not have pointy ears like ratus ratus. 

As you can see, it's very calm with me in the henhouse.
Here is another picture of it's short tail:

I don't blame the hens for not wanting to lay in that box you see.

Before you all start shaking your heads, yes, we have a bad feeding regimen.  I feed in one regular chicken feeder, and the others are open bowls or fortexes for the chicks.  We also feed outside.  When we move to the new henhouse, all of this is STOPPING and the chickens will be working harder for their food so there is not as much waste.  They will have a feeder hanging from the rafters, and will have to work at getting their food.  Since Butch and his girls will be moving, the big henhouse flock will be out on pasture regularly again, and finding a lot of their own feed.  I am about to declare war on the mice and rats, though, and One Bite is going to be heavily laid where the chickens can't get to it, including down the larger ratholes in the pen.

We're also going to just the heated waterers for winter, so we only have two to fill at any given time, since our plan is to close off the little henhouse for the winter.  If we leave it open, the hens will begin laying in it (from the big henhouse) and I'll be crawling in and out of there all winter.

Then again, it's better than losing the eggs in the pasture.

Here is my little doll, tonight, sitting on the porch for a few minutes with me:

And lastly, the Teeny Babies... outside for the very first time today!

Stickin' with mama, but mighty happy about it, too!
That's a bantam cochin, so you can see how small they are! All three pullets, too... yipppeeee. 

Sunday, September 25, 2011

A Perfectly Lovely Sunday

It is, and was. 

When we moved here 7 years ago, about ten of the bigger fencepost had birdhouses on them.  This is the only one left, they have all rotted out and fallen, including the one on the black post.  A long term project is to put birdhouses back on the posts. 

The flower garden is still full of color.

The view from the back of the tractor as I cut... Ranger is in the fence corner guarding the yard from the cars on the road... and you can see the colors of fall are starting to show.

Witchy Poo, on the front porch... so the little ones won't get too scared.

Hangin' Out after treats tonight.

Our little doll Hannah, staying out of my way while I vaccumed.  Keith realized this morning that she really can't see.... we think she sees shadows at 6 inches in front of her, but after that, nothing.  She is having a little trouble getting around the house, and we have begun carrying her to the deck.  She can't tell where we are if we get up and leave her, and we have to stamp our feet for her to feel the vibrations, as we think she either can't hear or can't put two and two together. 
This afternoon we took a good rest, Keith and I, and fell asleep on the couches, me sitting and him reclining, surrounded by pugs.  Keith worked for four hours on the henhouse, and is back out there at it.  I am thinking of making some salad for a simple dinner, as we planned to grill and then decided we were too tired. 
This did not last long:

It is the skillet apple pie I made yesterday.  There is a sliver left.  Next time I'll put it on the bottom rack, it got too brown, but was so good, and very easy to make.  I saw the recipe in Southern Living last month, but also a version here at Angies Pangies, and that's the version I used, minus the pear, which I would like to try.  I put a cookie sheet underneath it as she suggested, it did need it.  As I said, except for the crust being a little too brown, it was great.

Have a good start to your weeks, everyone!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Saturday Afternoon

Saturday afternoon, about 3 PM.  The most glorious, sunny fall day you can imagine!  I am sitting at the computer, listening to "In the Heights" (more about that in a sec) and watching Aztec in the pasture, perplexed because I have let Rambo and his flock out into the pasture for the first time in many months. Butch has hidden himself in the north end of the pasture to avoid a confrontation.... but I have seen him several times and know he is fine.  Aztec is bucking and galloping around, confused about the chickens being out in "her pasture" and running back to Inca for reassurance.  Tony is a notorious chicken-chaser, so I am watching him closely.

I never talk much about the things that make me happy (or maybe I do, subconsciously).  I love history, and read it frequently.  I used to be on the board of a Civil War Roundtable (Western Missouri) and would still be in the club, but they meet so far away from where we live now.  Another wonderful hobby dropped due to high gas prices.... however, I can still read history, and do.  Keith and I share this love, and it was studying Civil War battles that brought us together.

I worked more than one job most of my adult life.  I worked as an usher and ticket taker in almost every venue in Kansas City, Missouri and some surrounding areas.  I finally became the production house manager for the Lyric Opera of Kansas City, and was the house manager for the opera, the Kansas City Ballet performances at the Lyric, and the Kansas City Symphony performances.  For some years I managed the ushers for the three groups, and we worked in many of the larger venues in the surrounding areas.  In the summer, I managed concession stands at Sandstone, and I had ushered for 16 years at Kemper Arena, so have heard about every artist I wanted to, and some many times.  I worked Elvis twice before he died, right in front of the stage.... I saw Paul McCartney and his bands several times, every rock band from the 80's and 90's, and every major country artist.  I was still doing all this when I was at the first Calamity Acres, and believe me, I was stretched thin time-wise for a long time.  I did chores in the dark on both ends, and my poor animals saw me coming and going.  I had very cooperative (and understanding) bosses on my main job, so was blessed in that respect.  I absolutely LOVE Broadway shows, and have been very lucky to see many, and see some of them many, many times because in the "old" days, they played Tuesday through Sunday here at the Music Hall.  I still love them, and I still have lots of Broadway tunes on the Ipod.  I am listening to selections from "In the Heights", "Catch Me if you Can", and "The Book of Mormon" as I type this.

I love old MGM musicals, and make a point to watch them.  If we could remember how to work our Blue Ray with our tv, I would watch Meet Me in St. Louis tonight... one of my all-time favorites.  I'm praying Chris can figure it out for us next weekend, as he is coming up for Round Two of Sapling Destruction.

I love fall, and decorating for it, but I find as the years go on, I am decorating less and less.  I keep it up for the grands, though, and now we have Paiton, Jaxton, and the new little Jace. 

I love gardening, but the body is slowly breaking down, so Chris is taking over the heavier chores. 

I love to bake, and this afternoon, I am making a skillet apple pie before Keith gets home.  I have just spoken with him... he is five hours out, so I have time.  He was glad to see all of his cousins at the funeral this morning, and the majority of them are getting together for a bonfire tonight, to talk about his Uncle Cletus and remember him.  I told him he should have stayed, but good person that he is, he said he would not have had fun without me.

I love horses.  We had minis and our dear pony Beau here.... but it is not the same as riding.  I am like Velvet Brown in "National Velvet"... always thinking I am going to inherit a stable of horses, one to ride for every day of the week (and one to win the Grand National on).  Keith could tell you that I still troll Craigslist several nights a week, looking at the horse ads.  Some of my best memories are on horseback, and I love to read The Cheyenne Chronicles, Gracie and the Rough Rider, and Dances with Horses (and many, many more) to see others who love their horses and are still having fun with them.  I don't know that we will ever be able to have any more here... things are getting out of control feed-wise, and we believe in vetting and proper foot care, so it becomes a matter of economics.  My heart still thrills when I see them and smell them though.

I don't like the rodeo anymore.  I dated a rodeo cowboy (bulldogger) for a while, and I worked the American Royal Rodeo for many, many years... but now neither Keith or I can stand to watch the animals mistreated.  We came to the conclusion at the same time, got up, walked out of a performance and have never gone back.  I'm just sayin', as Suzanne says.

I love the circus, which is confusing taken with the above paragraph.  I belonged to Circus Fans Association for 25 years earlier in my life... and I love the history and lore of the Big Top.  I have not been now in several years, but used to go to as many shows as I could get to in the past.  I have had many friends from the circus world, some gone now.... but enjoyed learning all I could about it without actually DOING it!  I have great admiration for people who can live like gypsies and master centuries old feats of daring-do to entertain the rest of us.  I only knew one trainer who mistreated (IMHO) his animals, and he is one of them who is gone now, thank heavens.

This morning on my way to the library I watched wild turkey cross the road in front of me, all hens.  I tried like the dickens to get pictures... but just could not with the Nikon.  I am not satisfied with this camera... when you bring it closeup, it puts a black bar in the picture... and the camera is SLOW.  I'm going back to a Canon in the future. 

Can you believe this is a post without pictures?
Okay, I'll throw one in:

Gratuitous pic of Lil eating her dinner last night... she likes to eat alone and unbothered.

Friday, September 23, 2011

It Aint Over 'til It's Over

I've had a week's worth of sick....three, really.... the symptoms showed up three weeks ago in chills and aching, and then a full blown cold this week.  Now I have a stomach complaint so bad that... well, too bad to talk about in genteel company.

I took off at noon today, since Keith was to go up north to Ioway to the funeral.  Mapquesting the route to the designated city made him realize that instead of a 3 hour drive, he was facing a 5 1/2 hour drive, so he has left already this afternoon.  Our local garage here in Tongie was able to get his ailing truck in, replace the battery (which he could have done) re-set the computer (which he could not have, and therefore they get ya!) and have the oil changed and then took off to spend the night in Ottumwa. 

He took along pictures of the new baby to show his parents.

I am pretty worn out tonight, so truncated chores and am in for the evening.  I have most weekend errands done, so will concentrate tomorrow on house-cleaning and getting some things together to prepare dinners for the coming week.  Keith will be working out of town most of the week, but I am going to make a skillet cake tomorrow with some fresh apples, and decorate the porch for fall. 

We have noticed lately that our little Hannah, who was also sick for a while, has lost almost all her remaining eyesight.  She eats by herself, as she cannot defend herself from the two younger dogs. 

Yes, we're in the bathroom.  As you see, she is a messy eater.  She gets regular soft dogfood, cottage cheese, and chicken in small pieces, and relishes it.  Tonight she had just cottage cheese and chicken, and hoovered it up, (her nickname was always Hoover).  It hurts us to see her sitting alone and lost in the house... she backs into a corner so she feels safe, because she can't tell where everyone is.  The really sad thing is, we think her hearing has gone pretty much, too, as she can no longer tell where we are.  I literally have to go right up to her and stamp, and then keep stamping in order for her to follow.  We watched her this afternoon... we were talking in the kitchen as Keith got ready to go, and we realized Hannah was not with us.  When we went to find her, she had backed against the couch and sat there, staring out, trying to figure out where everyone was.  It wasn't until Keith got up to her that she realized he was there. 
We will cope with this for the rest of her life, because of all the dogs, she is the most undemanding and sweet.  She justs wants to be by me, that's all she asks.

The colors of fall are all around us now. 
The birds look especially beautiful in the light, and it's sad to know that soon, it will be dark in the evening as we do chores.
Red, the little cochin rooster, looks so pretty in the sunlight....
But two seconds later the red rooster beat this guy, Boots, up badly, and Boots cowered in the little hutch inside the pen on the right.  Boots is the one that Lilly got last week, and recovered for several days.  We are watching him closely, as he was always rather dominant before.  At some point, some of the little roosters are going to need to be winnowed out, we are aware of that. 

If you remember, a few weeks ago, I got this little quasi-nest box at Tractor Supply:

It's made by Ware Manufacturing and sells for 9.99.  It is the cheapest of the cheap.  But as you can see, the little hens LOVE it.  They fight to lay in it, and there are usually two in it at any time.  So today, I made a special trip to TSC because their wild bird mix (in the white bag) is the best mix for 9.99 for 35 pounds I can find.  I scraped the bottom of the bird seed barrel this morning.  I noticed they had a few more nest boxes, so bought two more, and in the morning, I am going to install them in the little henhouse.  If I'm right, it's going to be much easier to find eggs in there.  This one is not attached, it is just sitting there.  For two weeks, my black-headed blue silky hen has been in it, and I have the bite marks to prove it!
I leave you tonight with a picture of the hyacinth beans... they are so beautiful in the evening sunlight:

Linking (I hope) to Verde Farm for Fall Farm Friend Friday!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Too Sick to Sit Up

Well, I really succumbed yesterday.  I had to go to work.... and my mind was numb all day, I'm afraid....Nyquil brain.  I came home and Keith kindly did chores for me so I could get on the couch in my nightgown, under a cover, and lay half awake until I could take enough Nyquil to knock me out.  The little bit of rest did the trick, I was able to get up this morning, do chores, and go to work.  I'm not completely out of the cold yet, but feeling much more human.

Last night, Keith lost an elderly uncle, and today, this little guy was welcomed into the world:

Keith's first grandchild, parents Amber (Keith's daughter)  and Jesse are so proud of their boy, 7 lbs, 7 oz.
The first great-grandchild for Keith's parents. 
When God closes a door, He usually opens a window.

(I'm too sick to be around him, but Grampa promised to get lots more pictures!)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Tuesday Again, and a Missing Bird

It's Tuesday evening, and I have a full-blown fall cold.  The aches and pains from two weeks ago finally manifested themselves, and I am sneezing and blowing with the best.  I hope it doesn't last long!
After a rainy weekend and Monday, we had a wonderful balmy day here, with highs in the upper 80's.

Tonight we are missing this girl:

It's Little Girl, the brassy back old english gamebird pullet.  The last time I am certain I saw her was Saturday night, when they roosted inside.  Sunday night, they stayed out.  I have not seen her since Saturday for certain. She was a lovely little pullet, and now I have Speedy, the Brassy back OEG rooster, and no hen for him. 

This guy almost got eaten by Lilly, in fact, we thought he was gone.  Keith asked me to put him in the nursing cage so we could watch him for a while. 

It's Boots, the bigger of the two Mille Fleur roosters... and I'm happy to tell you that tonight, he is back with the flock on the roost.  No harm done, thank heavens. 

Here is the Perp, looking contrite. She happens to be by the pasture gate, with Reddy and Eagle on the other side.  Hmmmm.
And here's our silly Tony.... and with that, I'm full of Nyquil and going to bed.

"Bigify" to see him standing there with a piece of weed hanging from his mouth, waiting for his dinner!
He looks like the Pushme Pullyu!

And a Calamity Acres hello to all the new blog readers.. we are so glad to have you!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

A Soggy Sunday

Outside, it looks like this:

While oldest grandson Chris stayed here to work for us, Nathan went to their dad's for the night.  I had gone to Garnett to pick them up, but I can't do the trip in less than two hours, so that was four hours out of work time. 
Chris did a huge amount for us, pulling weeds, and cutting down saplings along the fence lines.  This was Day One of that project, there are many more to come.  I told him to pace himself, because it will take several months of coming up on the weekend to accomplish the removal of the saplings.  This morning is wet, not particularly cold, and only dripping now, so soon I will roust him out to pull the last of the cut saplings into the yard by the burn pit, and dump dirt on my garden bed for me, since his back is so much stronger than mine.
He cleaned a bed out that we did not plant this year... into it is going dirt and manure and humus, and then a sack of purple and white iris given to me by a friend at work this week, and then the remaining hollyhock, liatris and bunny grass on the front deck that have been waiting to be planted.  On the porch are going the dead zinnias in the laundry planters, and being replaced by red mums.  Keith was kind enough to get me a bale of straw, so the porch will be decorated before the end of the day.  Chris will haul my box of fall decorations out before we leave. 

The center of this bed was taken over by a nasty weed that prickled and hurt, hence the leather gloves Chris is using.  He has the strength to pull them out by their tap roots.

Chris is working to earn some money for something specific, and also because a new video game is coming out this week.  He sold his stack of video games for credit in order to get the new one.
We have plenty of things for him to do that we can never get to.

We notice with the balmier temperatures, we have tomato plants blooming again in the garden, and many, many green tomatos on the plants.  We also have scarlet runner beans finally coming in.

I love this time of year.... I don't have to chore quite so intensively, and it seems calmer and more peaceful than the hot summer months. The birds are sure enjoying it better, as are the llamas, who are growing more playful by the day.  Keith and I will start buying hay now, to stock up for the first part of winter. The llamas eat a leaf a day of hay.

We pay about 5.00 a bale for brome here, and I saw a website Friday night where farmers were glad to get small bales at 10.00 in Texas.  I would be ashamed of myself if I were profiting from the hard luck of others that way.  I guess it is the law of supply and demand, though. 

Friday, September 16, 2011

Roosters Part Two

Earlier this week, I wrote about our roosters, of whom I'm very fond.

Here are the rest of the boys:

The lesser of the two Mille Fleur D'uccle boys.

Boots, the greater (they are both about 1 lb each)
and Fancy, the Porcelain D'Uccle

(Not that he's one of my favorites or anything)

Brutus, the Welsummer cockerel... is a Big Dork

While Handsome, the partridge cochin (bantam) is ... Handsome!
He has a twin in the big henyard.... looks just like him, so I won't post his picture. 

Speedy, the Brassy Back Old English Red gamebird is maybe a pound dripping wet, and the smallest of all of them

Rocky, the Gold Penciled Wyandotte cockerel, is going to be bigger than all of them, including Rambo. He is a gentle soul, though, and particularly likes me.  Keith just noticed him for the first time tonight, and exclaimed what a beautiful rooster he is! He is gorgeous and healthy, and another favorite. 

I've missed one... Red, the little red cochin cockerel.  He is a nice little bird, but I got three cochin cockerels with the group that I got at the feed store in March, and he is just one too many.  I am trying to find homes for him, and for the "other" partridge cochin. 

I want to apologize if I have not commented on your blogs lately... I am behind in reading, and hope to catch up this weekend.  Tomorrow morning I have to drive to Garnett to get the oldest grands, and return them Sunday.  This trip takes me three hours, so that's six hours out of my weekend of productive time in traveling.  Chris is going to do some heavy weed cutting and pulling for us, and some weed-whacking, thank heavens.  Nathan will visit his dad and stepmom Amy.  I am going to read some blogs tonight, I have missed your exploits and hope to read as many as possible. 
I am going to try to match this up with the new Fall Farm Friends that is hosted by Verde Farms, so I'm about to give it a shot!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Madame Argiope

We have a plethora of Argiope spiders here lately.

I know this picture is a little blurry, but it shows the zig zag in the center of the web so well.
I talk to this girl every day, going in and out of the big henhouse.  The pump is just to the right of the web, so every day I am careful to not bump the web as I raise and lower the pump.
These are the common black and yellow garden spiders, where you reach into the middle of a tomato plant and almost close your hand on the spider!  Their bite will not hurt you.  The females breed, and then kill their mates.

I think they are a beautiful spider.  There are other webs in the enclosed porch of the big henhouse, Beau's old yard stall... but they are more common varieties.  I actually have a photo somewhere of the duller male, dead in her clutches. 
Here is a direct quote from Wikipedia (What on earth did we do before Wikipedia???):
"The white patterns are called stabilimentum and reflect UV light. They have been shown to play a role in attracting prey to the web, and possibly to prevent its destruction by large animals."

They are also the kind of web you can WALK RIGHT INTO if you are doing chores with your eyes almost closed in sleep at 6 in the morning!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A Mighty Victory

Okay, it SEEMS like a mighty victory to me.

Note:  The Captives, I mean, the Outside Sleepers.  By some miracle, when I came home tonight and started to talk to the other birds who were hanging out inside, the little bunch all came running in.  I noticed that one of the Ameracauna girls was already up on top of the closet, and going up to the rafters with the bantams.  I threw some bread out to keep them busy (after work is treat time)... and went around on the pasture side of the building, in through the pasture gate to their yard, and SHUT THE POPHOLE.  There!  They were all inside!  They are now spending their first night under cover since they left the workshop!  It's a good thing, too, because temps are going down to the lower 40's tonight.  It will supposedly not be over 65 tomorrow!  I'm hoping once they see that it is not so bad to be warm and dry, that they will come in every night, as we are supposed to have rain the next 4 days.  I really don't want them wet and cold, they are nice little birds. 

The Teeny babies are doing fine, there are two in this picture, and yes, the little buff cochin hen is still setting on NOTHING, you can just see her in the nest box.

My hyacinth bean vines superceded all predictions. (Ignore large weed in bottom of picture please)

The cypress vines, on the other hand, had to be planted twice, and then went nutso... they are eating the butterfly bush on the left.

Here is Keith plugging away at the henspa.  I put the camera down then and held the piece up for him so he could screw it in, just having come along at the right time.

And here it is from the other side. It's really starting to look like the building it will be.

I will look again tomorrow night for my notebook with the feed receipts in it.  I read an interesting article today about feeding the flock.  The author said that unless you have enough pasture for the whole flock to be supplemented, they still need protein (pellets or crumbles) some grain (scratch) and some oystershell or grit.  I agree.  I know several people who feed only scratch (and their birds do not go outside) and several who feed a mixture of scratch and wheat, which is not a complete diet, either.  I feel sorry for those birds.  Ideally, our big henhouse flock will be back out on the pasture soon, as they always were until I put Butch out in his pasture pen with his girls.  Butch and Rambo fight... and Butch, blind in one eye, is no match.  I talked to Keith tonight and if the problem continues, it may be Rambo who must go.  If we need to, Butch can spend this winter in the feed room again, safe and warm.  He did not do badly last winter at all.  His girls will be integrated with the flock in the new henhouse, and Butch eventually will be the only rooster over there, so Nirvana awaits him.  Then Rambo can lead his flock around the pasture again.