Monday, April 25, 2011

Soggy Monday

This picture was taken last night, though, as Keith played with Gertie Lou out in the yard!  Look how nicely everything is greening up, and our neighbor's back five look like a park!
I had a short video of Keith, Abby and Gertie running, but  it won't load, I'm afraid.

Easter Sunday was a revolving door.  Before church I did chores, then changed, went to church, and something told me to check again on the six little chicks in the nursing cage.  I went in the big henhouse, and all electricity was off! When I tried the main, there was a poof of smoke, so I stopped that.  I had the Welsummers and Rocks on the floor, and the six tiny chicks were huddled together in the 45 degree temps. 

We moved them into one of the tubs in the shop.  I was going to divide the Bantam Horde, but simply put them in the bigger tub. (the one the Welsummer Crew vacated).  I put the tiny chicks in the bantie trough, and pulled the light down over them well.

Last night, I moved the Welsummers/Rocks to the little henhouse, and yes, it was with trepidation.  Lo and behold, they are getting along very well in there.  It will be some time before they get their courage up to go outside, so that's fine with me.  They have a dish of grower, and they have access to a lot more food. 

I'll take pictures tomorrow and post them.
I'll get some of the garden, too.  We have been working on the flower beds, and Keith has been making more vegetable beds.  Peas, potatoes, spinach, lettuce and peas are all up and growing!  Spring is truly here!

Sunday, April 24, 2011


I hope everyone is having a peaceful Easter Sunday, spending it just as you wish!
(Card sent Easter, 1908, to Miss Inez Stanton of
Williamstown, Mass. from L.E.C. of
Newburgh, New York)
Bought in Kansas 100 years later!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Good Websites

Lately as I surf the web, I've been trying to keep track of some useful websites.  There are some obvious ones, and ones that many will recognize.  I am trying to keep track of them so that some day I can put a page of links on this website for people to use as references. 

I'm going to get maudlin here for a minute, and say that I blog-hopped last night until midnight and I enjoyed so much reading about everyone else's animals and gardens and farms and travails.  I miss horseback riding, and I saw several blogs where even the kids were riding and happy with their ponies and horses.  It was something I was never really able to give my kids when they were little, so it makes me feel good to know people are still doing it for theirs.  How I envy them!

Right now, it is not ecomonically feasible nor do we have time for another pony or small horse here.  (I miss Beau the Pony).  Maybe at retirement, which is growing ever closer.

Here are some of the links:

Most of the goat people know this one:       Fias Co Farm has a huge website, now closed, written by a very knowledgeable goat person.   A Family blog that I think many would enjoy.  Kelly Morris has written a free 46 page cookbook called "Just Get 'Em Fed" (Simple Whole Food Meals for your Family)  that is available at the website as a PDF, full of good meal menus.   
These two have advertisements, but also some very good articles:

And here's one I bet you aren't aware of:

This is the National Sustainable Agricultural Service.  Oh, my, do they have downloadable literature on everything from planning your farm business, to forms, to how-tos, to horticulture and crop information.  It's a great resource. 

Here are the Plymouth Rocks and Welsummers getting acquainted in the feed room today.  However, I am going to have to move them to the little henhouse, I think, as they all jammed into a hole in the wall, and didn't come out to eat or drink after mid-morning.  They were so hungry and thirsty tonight when I went out and put down their old waterer, that I think I may have to move them again.  I am afraid a snake will roll out of one of those wall holes and get them, OR they will actually be able to get outside, and straight into Lilly's mouth.  As Keith said (several times today).... I should have thought of infrastructure FIRST, and he's right. 

Friday, April 22, 2011

That Time of Year

This is really getting to be a chicken blog, but it's that time of year.

Our chick count in the little henhouse is still only two living chicks.  There were four originally, and now 14 dead ones.  Two living chicks I found dead, and another 12 killed as soon as they pipped.  We tried to save one, but it died during the night.  I caught the same two hens, Snowball and Flora, doing it several times.  Part of the reason for this is the hens that are sitting have no protection from the others in the flock, as there are no real nests in the little henhouse.  We also made it too wide, so we can't reach the corners, and though we intend someday to cut in cleanout doors on the sides, for now, we have only the one pophole in front, and two cleanout doors in the back, where we reach in and put food and water.  (and clean out dead chicks!). 
Here are some of them tonight; there is a group that rarely goes outdoors, including the smallest rooster.

You can see the silkie influence in this bunch, they are silkie/cochin crosses.  Silka, over on the right, is the purebred buff silkie in the bunch, and you can just barely see the black cochin behind her.
Flora, the light brown bird right in front of the camera, is one of the chick killers.
While outside, the rest of the Little Bunch was eating and running around and preening themselves in the late afternoon sun.

There are some nice Brahma Bantams in the bunch, but there are three roosters and two hens.  My plans are to make a group of the two purebred hens, and the cochin/brahma cross in this picture.
Here is another picture of one of the roosters, a purebred hen, and what I think is a brahma/cochin cross hen:

Sorry my shadow is looming over them.  The rooster is on the left, the hen to his right, and the cross on the ground to their right.  She is a very pretty bird herself.  The person from whom I got them does not like crosses.  I think they can be very beautiful, and as I raise them mostly for eggs and our own pleasure, it does not matter that much to me.
Tonight I have decided that I'll put the bigger chicks who were out on Wednesday in the little henhouse after dark.  I can tell you that tomorrow they will be freaked out, and hopefully will stay in and not be pecked to death by the hens.  If they do go out, I am going to have to net them all, so wish me luck in the very wet henyard.  These are the Welsummer and Partridge Rocks. They are too big for the horse trough they are in, and the smaller bantams are crowded in their trough. 
Keith got home from his week-long trip tonight, and I told him that there is something making noise in the rafters of the big henhouse.  He has gone to Sears for something, but is going to get a four - foot stepladder as he has to look for eggs every night on that section of ceiling still up.  He doesn't want to pull his hand out with a raccoon attached!  I think it MUST be a squirrel, as a raccoon would have been killing chickens by now.
We'll keep you posted!
Linking to Farm Friend Friday and Farmgirl Friday on this Good Friday, at Verde Farm .
Tomorrow:  Helpful Links for Hobby farmers!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Sunny Wednesday

First, I wish everyone would stop and say a prayer or just remember all those who lost loved ones in the spring storms this weekend and early this week in the Southeast.  What a terrible spring they have had!  Today we are in between storms here in Kansas, with some passed on to the east, and others coming our way in waves for the balance of the week and Easter weekend. 

I am off on a vacation day today, so took the liberty of watching what was going on outside, and have been in and out all morning.  I moved the seven bigger 9 week old chicks out to the 4 x 4 pen for the afternoon.  It is still chilly, but they can get in the straw-bedded cat carrier if they are too cold, and they have food and drink.  They have been out there an hour now, and it took that hour for them to come out!

You notice there is poultry wire over the chain link. 
This pen is in the big henyard, and is known as "Butch's Pen", because I used to put Butch in here to get fresh air.
Once the new henhouse is finished, Butch and his three lovely ladies will be moving to it, and their sojourn in the feed room will end (so I can clean it UP!). 
We waste enormous amounts of feed.  I just cleaned out most of the tank that the big chicks were in, and the feed in there was dirty and poop-ridden.  They had pushed it out of their feeder onto the floor.  In the new henhouse, the feeder will be hung from the rafters so everyone has to work for their feed.  No more bowls on the floor!
The bedding of the little henhouse is feed and dust... this is partially my fault, because in winter I sometimes just throw it in and run, but also because I am feeding in fortexes instead of feeders.  Like I said, that will all change.  We are composting the dirty feed.
As I sat at the computer earlier, I saw the llamas run by fast. 
Then I went out, and saw Tony like this down the pasture:

And Inca up on the barn pad like this:

Aztec right at her side.
Here is what they were watching:

Our neighbors had just put four cows out on the five acres just to the north of us. Just to the right of the cows is a tiny black dot... I thought this was their lab.  It was, instead, I think, a calf.  There was something wrong with it... it had an odd gait, and had to almost run to keep up with the cows as they moved away from the gate.  The llamas watched them for a long time, and in fact, Tony is laying out on the barn pad, the highest spot, right now, watching to the north, the east and the south.
Notice how they protect Aztec:

Llamas are wonderful guardians.
Meanwhile, in the big henhouse, this was happening:

Looks innocent, doesn't she? 
Birdy, named that because Helen, our turkey hen hatched chicken eggs along with her poults, and raised two survivors of a snake attack, named the Birdbrain Twins.  She is the last daughter of our Buff Orpington Rambo, out of one of the Wyandottes, I'm sure. She is also an egg eater, and has taught Ruby, one of the other old hens, to eat them, too.  These two are not moving to the new henhouse.  She has always been a flighty bird, and you would think she never saw me before every day. 
I have seen some great videos on blogs lately... I love cows, so love to read about them.  One of the blogs I follow,
Animal Instinct, had a great video of a herd of cattle being let out of their winter barn in England, onto the green pastures for the first time.  The dairy farmer explained in the video that they were fed ensilage first, to keep them from overeating on the green grass.  To see those matronly cows kick up their heels in delight was really something! And to see the beautiful Simmental cows featured on the Animal Instinct blog is something too!

Copy that and you will see them, too!

And on a more serious note, Sandy, our newest follower from Yellow Knife Farm, posted a video on her website last week that every one should watch once.  It is graphic, but not too.  It was made by a reporter, Lisa de Guia, (I found out after some research) about a custom butcher, Larry Althiser, at Larry's Custom Meats in
Hartwick, New York.  This man welcomed the reporter into his shop, where he calmly explains the entire process, from the entry of the animal - a steer, a sheep, and a hog are shown - how they are put down, how they are skinned, etc., and their carcasses cut up.  Yes, there is some blood in it.  You also see (and it is explained) that in that shop, they do as much as they can to avoid fear in the animal.  It is plain to see that the animals are curious, not scared to death, before their lives are ended decently.  There are three young men working with Mr. Althiser, and they work quickly and sparely to get the carcasses hung and cleaned.  The butcher himself is proud of his shop, and should be.  I wish every end of life experience for the animals we raise could be as good.

Here is a link to this video, and it is worth the watching.
It is almost midafternoon on a beautiful spring day, so I am going to go outside and do the watering, to save myself time for later. 
I hope everyone has a wonderful evening!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Another Conundrum

I was going to write about something very serious tonight, but it is so cold here in Tongie right now that I have had to turn the furnace on again, and I've left it til late to post, so it will be short and sweet. 

I had planned to move the bigger (standard) breed chicks out of their water tank quarters tonight, and into the little henhouse, so that they would wake up in the morning and the other birds not be freaked out.  However, it was so chilly when I got home, and we are now expecting rain for days in a row, that they are going to have to stand their tight quarters for a few more days.  The temps are supposed to come up, so I may try it. 

Once they are moved, the banties can be separated and moved half and half in the two horse tanks in the shop, because they are also getting big. 

And then, of course, I lost my mind when I stopped in the feed store tonight, they had some pullets from Cackle Hatchery there, and somehow, three more came home with me.  They are in with the porcelains in the nursing cage, locked up tight against the snakes. They are supposedly three americaunas but let's just call them two Easter Eggers and what looks like a barred rock pullet.  I let the clerk pick, as I could not bear to look at the ducklings in their box.  So that makes.....28 new chicks Mary Ann has bought, plus the 12 year-olds bought earlier.  Yes, folks, the chicken population is growing exponentially, and I am going to be buried in eggs soon.  Maybe Keith won't notice..... (faintly hoping).......
This weather is also delaying garden work, because it's just too cold to get out there for long... and I've had to unpack the sweatshirts for about the third time.  Crazy weather!
These are the Welsummer and Partridge Rock birds in their tank.  They are almost too big for it, this perspective does not show how big they really are, they are at least twice the size of the bantams.
There are seven of these big birds.

Three more cockerels in this picture of the little guys.  The brown one whose back you can see is one of two Brassy Back Old English gamebirds. 

That's a Mille Fleur on the left, but they are not coloring out as nicely as I had hoped.  There are a cockerel and I think two pullets in the batch.  Once I went to a swap near here (but many years ago) where a guy had a huge tub of Mille Fleurs... and I asked him why he had so many... they were all of his culls!  One of the most agressive roosters I have ever had was a Mille Fleur.
Hopefully the weather will cooperate and I can get the bigger chicks out of the shop and into the little henhouse.  They will probably stay there while all the laying hens move into the new henhouse.   

Monday, April 18, 2011

A Big Snake

Why do they never look as big on camera as they do in life?  This guy was big around, though not long... and if you notice... he has a film over both eyes.  I am going to have to study this.  Snakes have a third eyelid, I know, but this snake actually looked blind.  He greeted me tonight as I walked into the big henhouse, so thank heavens the light was on!  The three tiny chicks were safe, and I have sealed their cage up even better tonight, so that they will remain safe.  I lifted him up with the plastic pitchfork (so handy for moving straw around.... and big snakes) but we have talked about buying a snake catcher, as we like to just move them out of the way.  If he hadn't kept coiling, I would have gone about my business.  Here he is outside, where I had just set him down in the porch area.

Yesterday we moved the rabbit hutch out of the henhouse, and out into the henyard.  Keith got the drawers out of it, and we found scores of mice in them, including probably 30 pinkies or just over pinkie stage.  The bantams had a hay day, sad to say.  (or good to say for them).  My intention was to put four of the bigger of the chicks I bought six weeks ago into it, but now the weather has turned chilly again, so they are still in their water tank in the workshop for a few days.  I have not seen any snakes in there yet, but we found many huge snake skins in there last fall.  Here is one of the vultures roosters picking through the pile that contained the pinkies.

And finally, Miss Lilly Ann came to protect her mama from the big ole' snake:

Sunday, April 17, 2011

A Short Sunday

Seemed short, anyway.  We actually slept late... I woke up at 7:20, which is unheard of! 

The weather held decently all day, but we are expecting rain this week.  I finished cutting the yard, but did not get the trimming done.  I usually (WE usually) have to push mow the tight spots and then Keith weed-eats the rest.  We didn't get any push-mowing done, and now Keith will be gone for the next four days to Ulysses, on the far west side of Kansas.

I saw this while cutting grass.  If you look closely, you'll see the bee working in the middle.  Be sure to click on it to enlarge it.

These blossoms are on one of our two dwarf apple trees planted last fall.  We also planted two pear trees, and they bloomed in the last week, too. We're so glad they have taken root so well, but Keith carried booster to them and watered them very well.
We are putting in more trees this year, too.  Yes, they are a pain to cut around, but I love them.

I ranted last night about bloggers who leave word verification on, and guess what, people I'M ONE OF THEM!  Thank you for pointing it out to me.... those of you who did.  It is now turned off so that when you are trying to catch up on your blogs, you won't have to sit here an extra minute while your satellite service in the middle of nowhere brings up the word verification.  My apologies to all of you.  You can go into your dashboard settings and turn it off, it's about halfway down the page, and you simply disable word verification, for those of you who want to do it. 

Here at the beginning of another week... Holy Week, too.... are Gertie and Abby, investigating the dead snake that still lays on the ground near the big henhouse, as I can't bear to fool with it right now.  I don't mind them alive, but YUCK.  I ran over a full grown garter snake today while mowing,  and I am SO sorry as snakes are our friends.  Gertie is not so sure about this dead snake, but Abs was VERY interested.

A last note...

Vee, at A Haven for Vee, has been writing lately about problems with Blogger, and has a poll going at her site.  I wish any of you having problems would go there and answer her poll.  Also... Vee, if you read this post... I tried to upload literally a ten-second video tonight of Abby and Gertie twice... the second time for at least 40 minutes... it never loaded.  This is so frustrating, as I have had many videos that would have amused people.  Another night, a ten second video will load in a few minutes, so this problem comes and goes.  It's very aggravating!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

On the Soapbox Again

This may be a two-post Sunday... or Saturday, as it may be.  It's 11:0l PM CST, and I am still sitting here reading and catching up on blogs I have been following. 

First off... I want to thank all our fellow bloggers out there.  I am a homesteader... not in the '70's sense... but in the 21st century sense... we are trying to raise our own vegetables as much as possible, to supply those less fortunate (some family, some our local food kitchen) with vegetables, and keep ourselves in eggs and soon, in chicken, in a serious way.  We live very simply, and we have not had a vacation off this place in several years. (However, we're planning one!  Careful coordination for animal care is required!)

I digress as usual.

Back to "homesteading".... I am so appreciative of the wonderful information that my fellow bloggers are putting out there!  Whether it is just a picture of some project that you have going on, or detailed instructions, they have served as inspiration beyond belief for us.  I have so many good ideas for our new chicken house that I don't know where to even start. (Thank you Paula at Fraker Farm)  Gardening ideas... I get them daily.  I used to look at "house" blogs and "decorating" blogs, but the fact is, I live in a tiny country house with soiled carpets (pugs) and leaky windows.  We have been here seven years now and still don't have drapes in the bedroom.  There is a piece of plywood on our bedroom ceiling.  We spend too much on the outside and not enough on the inside, but WE ARE HAPPY HERE and that's all that matters.  Yes, we get tired and grumpy, and sometimes Keith has to escape to the golf course and I to the antique stores, but for the most part, we can't wait to get home daily and hate to leave.  It's a wonderful gift from God that I found a man in my "old age" (I was 46 when we met) that learned to like the things I did, and is happy here.  And a man who suggested I retire at 62... when I thought I would be working forever after working two jobs for 30 years!  Nirvana!

Having said all this.... Usually, Friday and Saturday nights are my only two nights to sit and catch up on blogs.  Yes, I'm addicted to some TV programs... I grew up in a tv family (unlike Keith, who does not consider watching endless sports to be "watching tv") .... and I love to nestle amongst the pugs and watch my shows.  This will shortly come to an end, the season is ending, and we will be spending mucho time in the yard (on the John Deere!).  People... I beg you... TURN OFF WORD VERIFICATION!!!!  When I sit here for three or four hours, I double my effort by having to type and retype the nonsense words.  It is very wearing.  I bet I have done it 40 times tonight all ready, and the fact is, in almost three years of blogging, I have yet to have even one piece of spam.  Someone said to me this week (a blogger who has closed her blog) that she was afraid of people in other countries reading her blog.  This, to me, is the wonder of the web.... I have traveled to other countries VIA people's blogs.  I love to see the sights in Scotland, England,
France and Australia, and I gladly enjoy seeing how folks live in other countries, which really, is so like we do.  I admit it worried me when I posted pictures of my little grands and googled it next day to find the little girl coming up... but the solution for that is to simply NOT write about them  again.  In the same three years, I have only had one comment that was in the least weird, and when I followed it back, it was to a site, a personal blog, of someone struggling with mental issues, and not a threat of any kind.  If my eyesight - and back - were better, it would not be an issue, but typing the nonsensical "words" is very wearing. 

For those of you posting recipes... thanks... as we are trying to eat fresher and healthier.  I love finding things we can adapt to the way we are trying to eat now.  It is so different from the meat and potatoes way we have been (of course, we had steak and potatoes tonight, but that is a treat now).  I love to cook and bake, and I am getting quite the library of recipes from blogs. 

People with Goats and Sheep:  I thank you!  I am trying to learn about your animals.  No, we are not getting sheep, but they are so interesting.  One week I am Pro-goat, and the next, Maybe-Not-So-Pro.  Tomorrow I am buying goat milk from Roxanne at Screamin' Oak's Farm down the road, to try my first ricotta cheese.  I'll let you know how it goes.  Her daughter Justyne has the most beautiful dairy in Tennessee, so go there to Noble Spring Dairy (google) to see it. 

Several nights this week Keith and I have marveled at the way lives have changed in the last 20 years.  My mother, God bless her, did not understand before she died in 2008.  She would never have understood our blog, or even what it was.  Ten years ago, we would not have.  Now, I enjoy writing daily... and reading about all the wonderful things that people are doing across this nation and world.  I have laughed and cried at the adventures that many of you are having, and taken strength from your advice and consideration.  

Some blogs I follow have disappeared recently, and some have gone on hiatus.  Yes, it's hard to post frequently... some nights I am tired, and some nights I just have nothing to say.  I'm not funny like Suzanne McMinn at Chickens... and not a good photographer like so many of you.  For those of you who have decided to close down, I understand... and those on hiatus, I hope you come back stronger than ever when you are ready.  Do I follow the "famous" blogs... I like Pioneer Woman and am in awe of Rhea Drummond for the fact that she has become a Thing... and will now have her own show on Food Network... I can't get comfortable with Dooce....I hop in and out at Chickens in the Road now, because I think Suzanne has stretched herself thin.  I used to follow a lot of the decorating blogs but no longer do, some are very slow to load and I do not have the patience when blog-hopping.  I like simple things, with people who like to get their hands dirty and their minds engaged.  I love animals, and gardening, and reading and .... blogging. 

Homeschoolers... I salute you!

It's now 11:31, and I have been sitting here blog-hopping for 3 hours.  Keith is snoring in the bedroom (along with Abby and Gertie) after digging and pouring cement for the footings of the henhouse.  This week he will be away at a training course, and I will be guiding our fortunes here at the homeplace, but we will be together in spirit, and that's what it's all about. 
Do I want to quit sometime?  Sure.  I get sick of carrying water in the winter, slipping and sliding across the sloping yard.  I get tired of cutting grass and weed-eating and pulling weeds and getting chicken doo doo all over me and cleaning up after the dogs, etc. etc. etc.  We all do.  Sometimes I think it would be easier to be living back in town with just the dogs, and cutting a small yard again with a push mower, and fixing up a small old house to be our cute nest for our senior years, but the fact is... one step off the porch in the morning reminds us daily why we are here and why we love it. 

I hope the full moon is shining down all you all tonight... that your snow is melted, and the winds have stopped blowing, and your animals are safe and snug in their houses.  Thanks for all the inspiration and laughs, and I hope we have many more.

Calamity Acres farmhouse, when we first moved here... no deck, no cross-fencing.. just a house and beautiful land....

And we fell in love.

A Cold Saturday

Today started out wet and cold, after the wind blew hard all night.  It was amazing how the whistling of the wind literally woke me up from a deep sleep... I got up to look out and make sure everything was okay.  Keith was so tired from the week that he slept right through it. 

Today, I bought three more chicks from Heartland Hatchery at our favorite feed store, Valley Feed in Bonner Springs, Kansas.  I have traded there for about 16 years, and I like their milled feeds, packaged under the Kaw Valley brand.  I managed to close my eyes to the hundreds and hundreds of cheeping chicks... I hate how the hatchery man throws them around like peanuts.... and bought only three Porcelain (color) D'uccles.  These are like Mille Fleurs (called Millies here) only the porcelain or bluish white color pattern.  Angel is one of these.  Our original plan was to take the two living chicks from the little henhouse, and candle the eggs left to see if any had viable chicks, then move Silka and those eggs to the nursing cage in the big henhouse.  Of course, we never got to it, so the three little chicks are alone in the nursing cage.  We are hoping it's too cold for the big snakes to wake up tomorrow.
Those mouse holes are on the other side of the wire from them, but the snakes use them for access, too.  I'm praying the steel wool I stuffed where the snakes came in prevents them from coming through again.  In the new henhouse we will have a better brooder cage.

 Here I am getting ready to make the first part of the first cut tonight after a wonderful steak and potato dinner Keith fixed while I was at church.  Notice I have the lovely Army sweatshirt on again... it was cold today.  Though I usually wait until Easter afternoon to cut, I could not do it this year, the pugs were having the grass-surf, and I was tired of stumbling on the huge patches of grass. 
Keith snapped this without telling me... I only cut part of the yard so the little girls could go out and run for a while.
I'm weird, I love to cut grass, which is good, because Keith doesn't.
He likes to build, though...

Here he is working on the fittings of the new henhouse about 7:30 tonight, already worn out from the cement-lifting.
He had to re-dig two of the holes, as our neighbor did not get them accurately two weeks ago, so there was quite a bit of concrete that had to be poured.

Yes, this henhouse will be enough off the ground that the mice cannot dig through, but will have to gnaw through rabbit wire to get in.  The chickens will be able to get underneath it to have shade from the hot sun of summer.  The white paint is preservative on the wood piers.
We're both good tired tonight, Keith especially.  He has bought me a new weed puller so I am going to get busy on the flower beds tomorrow and get those dandelions PULLED!
Night-Night, Bloggers!

Friday, April 15, 2011

A Wet Friday

Here is what met me at the gate this morning as I was leaving:  
God's Cleanup Crew were taking care of a dead possum in our road the last two days.  There is nothing left of him now.  These birds fascinate me, instead of scaring me... they provide a very needed service to us, and are amazing to watch as they swoop and swirl in the air.  They waited patiently for me to leave.
On the way home, I saw these laying in the rain in the field down the road from us:

They were at the farm of the pond man, who tried to put our pond in for us last week.
And when I got here on the cold, wet evening, I saw this:
Aztec is back behind his mom and dad.  I hope they aren't telling us that we are going to have a late April snow!  They have not used the barn since really cold weather. It's in the low 40's right now, we have had crazy temperature fluctuations this week.

Linking to Farm Friend Friday and Farmgirl Friday at Verde Farm. If you haven't hopped over to Verde Farm to enjoy this on Fridays, you will be surprised at the number of folks just like us who are having fun in the country, and raising and preserving their own food, and enjoying their own animals.  Come on over and take a look and be amused and amazed!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A Short Night

Storming out there tonight at Calamity Acres, not a strong storm, though the wind came up.  A gentle Spring storm, and we needed the water very much. 

We did chores together tonight, Keith and I, mostly so we could talk.  Next week he will be gone to a training far from here, on the Colorado border.  Tonight he carried water for me, and asked me how I would do it next week, with my bad back.  When he isn't here, I only fill the buckets a little, and make more trips.  It takes longer, but it gets the job done.  There is lots of lightening out there, so I am going to make this brief, and then get to bed early with the little girls.  (pugs!)

Here is Keith collecting our eggs from the ceiling tiles:

I got lovely eggs from the big henhouse, both large and small.  I found a beautiful egg from my Polish girl Buffy in the nest box, but when I picked it up, I realized it had been broken.  I think the two red girls are eating eggs daily, I am not finding their own anymore.  I am going to have to clean the nest box out, as it is smelly from the cracked eggs. 
Here's is today's haul:

Large and small, we love them all!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

And still more Garden!

Keith hurried to finish some garden beds tonight before the storms start tomorrow.  Last night, in fact, he watered the vegetable beds because it has been so dry here.  The ground under the little henhouse is all cracked open now. 

Here is one of the beds, just as he started the layering process.
You see that there is straw, grass, and dirt being put in it.  Underneath them all is a layer of garden paper.
Here is a bed that leaves are being layered in:

We are fortunate that a co-worker of mine gives me bags of his shreded leaves... these are doing the beds wonderous good.
We have also found a man a few miles from us who has a pristine lawn, and he has told us to take as many bags of cut grass as we want.  We brought six home over the weekend.
So here is a finished bed, waiting to be planted:

The plan is that all the surrounding ground... you see grass growing there.... will be mulched too, and covered with a weed cover so we are walking on mulched aisles and don't have to mow.  We know this won't happen in two shakes of a lamb's tail, so we are being patient. 
I also got something today that I was very glad to get:

This is a scented Martha Washington geranium.  I stopped in a nursery at lunch to just take a look at shrubs, and found this beautiful flower.  It will go in a shaded bed with the hostas near the big maple by the deck.

Keith also set two more post footings for the new henhouse, so things are progressing there!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Tonight, Tuesday

Lots of things are blooming at Calamity Acres now.  Some of my favorites are the tulips, and several varieties opened today. 
The purples are looking good, too...
You notice I have not cut grass yet... Keith did fire up the John Deere last night.  It was serviced several months ago and is ready to go.  The pugs are having to surf through the grass at present, so I need to cut in the next few days.  I know it's crazy, but traditionally, I have cut grass the first time after church and dinner on Easter.  It's kind of like a tradition for me.  This year Easter is awfully late!

The peas are lookin' good

And the potatos beautiful!

Keith has been watching their beds daily for sight of them, so was glad to see this.

This is something I saw in the big henhouse tonight:

All God's creatures gotta drink!

He was on the feed room side, where Butch, Reddy, Angel and Eagle live. 
I'll be so glad when those three girls and Butch get to go out into the new henyard. 
And lastly, I threw two more eggs out of the little henhouse tonight. Silka was hunkered down over most of the remaining eggs.

Enlargen this picture by clicking on it to see the look of disgust in her eyes at the two young mamas, seen below leading their two lone chicks around the henhouse.

Monday, April 11, 2011

A Chick Story

We're down to two chicks only in the little henhouse, and tonight I threw out four eggs that had been rolled out of the nest and abandoned.  Two felt very heavy.  I found another dead chick by the waterer, so that now makes about seven that did not survive.  I suspect three reasons... two inexperienced mothers, born last September themselves, too many roosters, and too many birds.  Silka is valiantly sitting the rest of the eggs, and tried to roll several underneath her when the two young mamas got up to feed and water the chicks. 
Somehow I have to move some roosters out, as much as I like them.  We just have too many. 

Look what's blooming in the garden today:

Sunday, April 10, 2011

A Sunny Sunday

Didn't quite get to the blog last night... I got a call Friday evening from my son Jim to see if I could watch his two youngest (my youngest grands) kids, Paiton and Jax, so he and Amy could go out for a while in the evening on Saturday.  The thing I like most about Jim and Amy is that they enjoy simple pleasures... they bowl regularly, and go to the Moose Lodge to relax with friends, and Amy loves bunco.  Nothing fancy, just regular - everyday- people fun things to do with their family.  Oldest son Jacob is involved in sports, as is Madison, but the two little ones are just still being kids.

I hurried during the day to finish the Saturday errands, and in the afternoon, Mr. Calovich came to seal up the pasture again.

He was very, very fair with us on the cost that he incurred, and we are grateful for that.
We will be buying seed this week, and starting the re-seeding of the pasture area that was disturbed.
Then it was on to Jim's, for the evening.

Jax at three is a typical little boy.  He will be four in October and 
is the only grand who likes animals like I do!  There will be a pony again at Calamity Acres in a couple of years because of this little blond boy.

Paiton is a girly-girl, but also very strong-willed.  She stayed up to wait for her parents, despite Grandma's finally having to put her in her bed at ten-thirty PM in hopes that she would drift off!
We had fun watching Yo Gabba Gabba!, Blues Clues, and other shows on Nick Jr., singing along with the characters.  I also got to meet Woody and Buzz, their guinea pig pets that they got a few weeks ago, and who have a big cage in Jacob's room.  Buzz talks to you when you pet him, he's very nice!
Up early this morning to go to church, and now home to clean this house that has been sorely neglected the last few weeks.
The flower garden is looking wonderful:

See that Big Old Dandelion in the middle????  It's being dug out this afternoon, along with all it's buddies!

I thought it was funny that the llamas were so unfazed by the pasture work that Aztec stopped for a spin at the Mom Milk Bar in the middle of the earthmoving.  I finally had to lock them in the corral, as they were so interested in everything going on they were in the way!

Friday, April 8, 2011

A Big Disappointment, but Life

Today the pond man finally came, and we were very excited that we were finally on the way to getting our pond begun.  His son came with him, with a smaller caterpiller, to help shape the ground. 

A short while after they started, they called Keith.

Here is what the pasture looks like:

A nice bowl was taking shape.

And the pasture above it was being contoured.

Until they hit this.

Yes, it's limestone shale.  It's deep and wide.  It's the reason, we know now, that the little four foot deep pond that the geese and ducks used always seeped at the east side.  Mr. Calovich explained that the amount of limestone in the soil meant that in order to make a real pond, he would have to break through the ridge running under the pasture, and then bring in enough soil to make a good dam.  Hundreds, and hundreds of dollars over the pond estimate.  He said even then he did not think the soil would hold the water right.
We have decided that tomorrow, the two gentleman will put the dirt back, try to make it as "normal" as possible, and then we will reseed the area for the llamas. 

No pond for the llamas to wade into during the hot summers, and even more importantly, no pond for geese and ducks to come home to here.  We have tried sinking a pre-formed pond for call ducks, and had to bail it out once a week, a nasty job.  With my back the way it is, that won't happen in the future.  I had always had a dream to have a pond with the stately geese swimming on it, and frogs singing on it's edges. 

Keith has said we will have a pond in the garden one day, fenced to keep the dogs from tearing the liner, so frogs will live here again.  In the meantime, we can hear them sing from our neighbor's big ponds so close, yet so far from us down the hill. 

We think maybe God has a plan, and we don't know what it is, for this dream to go away.  Maybe that money earmarked for the pond is meant to be used in some other way.  For now, it will stay in the bank, after we pay Mr. Calovich for the work he did. 
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