Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Tuesday, no Monday, no Tuesday!

Do you ever have so much to write about that you don't know where to start?  That's what this weekend was like here at Calamity
Acres... just so many things going on our heads spun.  We ended last night, tired to the bone, but I am sure many of you are like that at this time of year!
I'll take some time this week to show you some of the ongoing projects.

Tonight we had spring salad for dinner... spinach and snap peas picked from our own garden... with some red onion, sunflower seeds, and fresh strawberries cut up in it, and  real bacon cooked crisp.... with a homemade dressing of canola oil, mustard, and sugar mixed together with a little touch of salt.  I was out of croutons, but we had nice dinner rolls to eat with the salad.

Last night, I put the six smallest chicks in the rabbit hutch in the big henhouse so I could clean the "nursing cage" they have been in for a week.  Here they are in the rabbit hutch, and I gave them a pile of grass clippings to keep them busy.

As you can see, the old hutch is getting raggedy.
These chicks are 3 Ameracaunas, and 3 porcelain D'uccles.
Tonight, I came home, went in and fed Hannah by hand, and then went out to check on everyone. 
I found the six in the corner by the waterer.  There was a big snake on top of the hutch.

So, I reached in and got the six, and put them BACK in the nursing cage.
and convinced Mr. Snake to vacate the top of the cage.  I was convinced that no snakes could get in there, because I closed all the openings you see under him with rabbit wire.
When I went back to the cage to clean it out, here is what I found:

Yep, HE was IN the nest box side of the cage, the reason the babies were all by the farthest corner.
Good Gravy GERT.

I gave up at that point.  I went about my chores, and watered and fed everyone. 

When I came back in the henhouse, he was gone. 

Tonight, as it got dark, I took the six babies and put them with the juveniles.  It was in the upper 80's here today, and the temps fell rapidly at dark, so they are having a chilly night. However, they nestled amongst the bigger chicks as soon as I put them in the cage with them.  Yes, that pen will be crowded for a few days, but I am going to get another 4 x 4, and transfer part of the chicks to it.  Yes, there is a plan here... we are thinking the new henhouse will be ready in August, and then we will sort everything out.  For now, we'll make do.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day 2011

Lest We Forget.

Please join us at 3 PM today to remember all of our service members
who have given the ultimate to keep our country free.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Another Rainy Weekend

Blog-hopping last night before bedtime, I realized we aren't the only ones dealing with mud and muck these days.  It seems the unseasonably cool and wet weather is blanketing a large part of blogdom.  We did not have direct downpours today, but the swollen creeks around here are running fast and furious.

Last night while grasscutting, I managed to drop out of my jacket pocket and drive over my point and shoot Canon camera.  I am, at present, trying to revive it.  If not, it will be another camera purchase unlooked for and unbudgeted for, I'm afraid. 

I had help today doing water... while his dad did the weed-eating for us, Jaxton helped grandma gather eggs and got to pet a baby chicken and hold it for a while.  He wanted to pet the llamas, but of course, as much as they were interested in him, they did not want to be touched!  We sat down on the ground to tie wrap some wire to an opening in the dog cage that Butch and his girls will go into tomorrow, and the llamas came up behind us to see what we were doing, so Jax almost got to touch one! 

This somewhat blurry picture is the little Mille Fleur pullet that was originally attacked by the Bullying Brahma Boys.  She appears to be blind in her right eye as a result.  Her feathers have not grown back where she was bloodied, but she gets along okay with the other juveniles.  She will never be in a large flock, as the Milles will be in the 4 x 4 together. 

I just went out and collected eggs, as we are going to the TBones tonight.  It is lightly raining, sprinkling, really... so we will take umbrellas and hope for the best.  A fellow blogger, Melinda, of Country Dreaming, will be at the game, so we are hoping to finally meet in person.

I collected an egg that was stranger than I have ever seen before...and will hopefully be able to take a picture of it tomorrow and show you.  I brought it in to keep in the refrigerator to show as an anomaly.

Here are some of the apples growing on one of the apple trees we planted last fall.  We'll plant more this fall.  It's fun to see this little fruit tree bearing.  Keith has worked very hard to get them off to the right start in life, and his hard work is paying off.
I took this picture as I mowed around it last night.

We also picked our first sugar snap peas today, and some spinach, so tomorrow we'll have a spinach salad with strawberries, and sugar snaps with a sweet dressing for lunch.   YUM!

Friday, May 27, 2011

A Beginning

We have had a dry start to the weekend, but rain is in the forecast, and the skies are clouding as I type this.  I'm trying to find a good recipe this morning for something to take to the picnic on Sunday.  I'm looking forward to relaxing for a few hours. 

I'll let you know what I come up with! 

I have amended this post from earlier today... I tried for several hours to add several videos, and finally gave up and posted just a short paragraph.  After chores and cutting grass tonight, I came in to try one more time.  Here, then, is the video I was able to load.... the cochin bantam and red bantam cockerels in their "chicken hutch" and the biggest of the brassy backs getting a drink.  Look at how absolutely beautiful their coloring is turning out! (the brassies)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

A Start to a Long Weekend

I took Friday off, so I could get a jump on the weekend.  On Saturday, son Jim will be out to weedeat and move some heavier things for us, to earn some extra money.  We're glad for his help, and would rather pay him than a stranger.  I'm going to stop at the dentist tomorrow to have a small filling replaced, and then we are going to have a pleasant weekend.  Yes, we'll work in the garden and yard a bit, but I did get started on the mowing tonight, and will finish tomorrow.  At some point, I'll need to get down in the pasture... but we are actively trying to find someone to come in and do a brush hog sweep before it gets too out of control.

Strange phenomenom .... in March we saw a big snake in the henhouse.  Two weeks ago I almost picked one up getting eggs.  None other has been seen.  Because of this, the mice are out of control, so starting this weekend, we are going to have to poison the mice again.  On Saturday we'll move Butch and his girls out to the a pen in the pasture, and then I'll commence to put poison in the feed room.  We are considering NOT feeding inside the henhouse, and leaving feed outside at all times except in inclement weather. 

Tuesday night I got my cheesemaking kit from New England Cheesemaking Supply.  I stopped at Roxanne's dairy and bought a gallon of goat's milk from her, and it is thawing in the refrigerator now.  I hope to make goat cheese on Saturday.  I will, of course,
take pictures of the adventure! 

If I can do this, or at least make it edible, then I think we will be on our way to someday having our own pair of milk goats. 

If I can get this Moondrop video to load (and I have tried once, and it did not) you can see it change colors at night, after the solar lens has loaded all day.  We love to look out the door and see it changing colors at night! It was a Mother's Day gift from son Jim, and have we ever enjoyed it!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A Soggy Day in Tongie Town

And a very soggy day it was.... we actually had tornado warnings over in the next county where I work, and spent over an hour in our official storm area of the building, waiting for the all clear.  Rain moved in and out in sheets this afternoon, and needless to say, the yard is water-logged.  We did need rain... but whew!

A soggy bird feeding station

Soggy llamas.

Even now it's blowing and howling outside, though they say we will have sun tomorrow. 
I sunk in the stinking MUCK behind the little henhouse tonight, so did rudimentary chores and came INSIDE like a sane person. 

Someone at work asked me yesterday "Do you really do an hour of chores every night when you go home?"... she has a professional manicure and I am sure has never seen a chicken close up.... and I answered "yes".  Her reply was "Oh my gosh, why do you do it?".... tonight is one of those nights you have to ask yourself WHY INDEED????"

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A Big Lightening Show

Dark out there tonight, with much lightening!  Everyone is jumpy here not just because of the tornado in tiny Reading, but the terrible storm that hit Joplin on Sunday and has killed so many.  It will be a while before anyone around here fails to take the weather seriously.  Right now the newsmen are on, talking about the tremendous lightening.

I've battened the hatches down, and Keith is out in the state car monitoring the radio in case he has to go somewhere to help tonight.

I took a few minutes after putting all the birds to bed to take some pictures of the garden bed built last year.  We are building another across the arbor this year, but it is a work in progress.

A certain naughty red girl, who had her shots, her grooming and her nails clipped today, did this!  It was a premium iris, and a large daylilly.  Both should grow back.  Pink poppies also bit the dust, but the orange are blooming now.

There is a group of Iris here, planted high like they like to be.  I'll mulch them Friday when I'm off.

At the back of this picture is a transplanted Hollyhock, and I am thinking it probably won't bloom this year, but my gosh, it sure took root well.  Just behind (click to enlarge) is a clematis, growing on the obelisk I got at TJ Maxx for 22.00. 

The arbor to the right will have cypress vine again, they reseeded themselves and are already growing at the base.  There is another arbor to the right of this, and I planted thunbergia alata there. 

Across the arbor to the left (the one the rake is leaning against) is the new bed, just as long.  It is still in rudimentary form, and we hope to put the walls up this weekend.  Keith wanted to do stone again.. it's beautiful, but costly and heavy.  I asked him just to do wood, which works just as well and is much easier to handle.  There is a peony in it, and some sedum, but that's it, so far.  I received an offer today at work of a bunch of divided perennials, so it may be put into use sooner rather than later.

I had to shut down in the middle of this piece because the storm got so bad... so I will close now and say a prayer for the other families affected tonight in this wild spring weather we are having. 
One last picture:

Yes, there are gaps, but there are things growing back there, and I want to give them a chance.  I also have two butterfly bushes (one barely visible) and another bush doing very well against the fence. 
Potted annuals have grown so high this year that I am back to planting seed, and having fun watching it come up! 

The storm is letting up a little, so the little girls and I are going to bed while Keith monitors the radio for a while longer.  

Monday, May 23, 2011

A Disgusting Evening

A few weeks ago, someone asked me how Rosewitha was doing.

You see, here at Calamity Acres, the female side of the farming pair jumped the gun when we signed to buy this place, and bought a pair of Japanese white/blacktailed bantams and a pair of  Buff Brahma bantams at auction, and we actually had to board them somewhere until we closed.  That was the first lecture on infrastructure, seven summers ago.

In time, we adopted from Olathe Animal Control a purebred Buff Orpington rooster (our original boy Rambo), and three hens that appeared to be production reds, Helen, Rosie and Ruby.  Of all those birds, Ruby is the only one left. 

These chickens, though the "set" had been bred out of them, proved to be prolific breeders.  Wilma, the first Japanese hen, set a clutch, and from them we got One, Two, Three, Four, Studly and Butch, and another rooster, Speedy, who has been long gone.  We also got a bunch of hens of varying sizes, including the two identical bantam hens Dovey and Rosewitha.  Both were excellent mothers over the years, and could be depended on to protect and teach their babies right.  Dovey we lost during the tail end of winter, she failed and Keith had to put her down. Rosewitha, after raising the clutch with two other mothers in the little henhouse in September, went back to the big henhouse to live in the rafters with the Little Bunch who lives in there.

There's Rosewitha in the middle.

Tonight, I came home from work after a particularly long day.  Keith was playing in a golf tournament and was going to be an hour or so behind me. 
I let the big dogs out, and fed the little ones right away.
As I went out, I noticed Lilly by the henhouse.  Then, a few minutes later, she was out by the shop.
As I started chores, I found this:

Feathers where feathers shouldn't be, at the corner of the big henhouse, in the yard.
Pretty soon, I saw Lilly Ann over by the shop, and yelled to her she better be behaving. 
Oh. Yeah.

When I got over there to do the little six chicks still in the shop, I found another pile.
Right about then, Lilly attacked Ranger up in the garden.  I knew then she had hidden her kill where she had hidden Studley during the winter.  I thought about it for a few minutes and realized it had to be Rosewitha.  How she got on the wrong side of the fence, I don't know.  When she did, she obviously couldn't figure out how to get back, and she was so old she never flew anymore.  No, I didn't beat Lilly but I have been upset with her all evening.  I don't care that it's her nature, I'm tired of her killing my birds.  She has killed three in the last six weeks.  It's tiresome.  This little hen was a good mama and a good layer, and never hurt a flea.  She's in a bag in the back of the truck, and Keith will take care of her tomorrow, we don't want to burn her because we aren't burning tonight, and the ground in the pasture is very hard right now.
Lilly Ann needs to stay away from mom tonight. 
There won't be a gate in the new henyard, it will be entered by going out a door in the henhouse itself, so the birds will not be able to get out.  We are also considering putting a picket fence around it too high for Lil to jump to even come near the birds.  Barring that, she won't go outside unless we are out there watching her. 

I've had my tears, and I guess I shouldn't be crying over an old bird, when so many people have lost everything they own in the tornados of the last month... but she was a good little bird and I'm feeling pretty sad right about now.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

A Great Sunday

After our fun Saturday night, we came home to find the tornado sirens had been blown in our own county while we were "next door" at the game.  The small town of Reading in Lyon County was destroyed by a tornado, and Keith stayed up until 3 on the radio as the Incident Management Team arrived and took over organizing things.  They stay approximately two days, set up support systems, and then turn things over to the locals.  They have access to calling in the Salvation Army, Red Cross, and beginning to organize volunteers.  They also lliase with the state for aid.  One other important thing that many people do not think of is a specialty in Kansas now.... animal volunteers who come and pick up the pets that are dazed and confused and hurt or wandering in shock.  Those pets for the small town of Reading that was virtually wiped out were being taken this afternoon to Emporia's shelter. 

Then, in midafternoon today, another tornado or tornados struck Joplin, Missouri, and the death count is currenty at 24.  Please pray for all those affected by these terrible new disasters, along with those affected by the flooding, etc.  Keith is on call to go if he needs to, tomorrow or Tuesday, so is waiting to see.

In the meantime, he worked very hard on the base of the henhouse.  As he said this evening, it will be strong enough and will have enough windows and a nice door and small porch, that anyone moving here after us can have it cleaned and then let their mother in law live in it!

Of course, I did not take a picture because I helped hold the two end boards.  I'll get one this week.

This morning, we put together the Ware Chicken Hutch that I got on sale at Tractor Supply last month.  It is not a very sturdy little cage, (they make the rabbit version the same way, but the Chicken Hutch has a roost and a small "egg door"), but it is now inside the 4 x 4 pen, and the babies are locked up in it tonight for the first time. 
The Seabright was the first to decide to lay down in it.
It has a door that I can latch shut at night, so tonight, for the first time, I can shut them up outside in the pen. There are tarps over the top of it, and a cement block up against the gate.
When I went out there at 8, they were all bedded down in the straw.  The good thing is, during the day, they are small enough to walk around under it, so they lost hardly any space in the pen.
They figured out how to walk up and down the door quickly, and how to roost.

Here are the two Mille Fleur D'Uccle cockerels figuring out how to walk up the door to the hutch.  There is one Millie pullet with this bunch, the other two are in the little henhouse and getting along fine. The Millie pullet with this group was attacked when in the little henhouse, and she is bald and appears to not have good sight in her left eye, but is healing now and getting along fine.
The buff cochin chick that looked sick last weekend was in the shop all week, and she is doing fine, pooping, drinking and eating well, so I snuck her in with the juveniles after dark tonight.
What a relief it was not to have to load everyone up in their cat carrier, take them in the big henhouse, and then divide half into the nursing cage and half into the rabbit hutch!  Whew! 

Here is a Brassy Back Old English Gamebird cockerel and pullet. You see how tiny and delicate the pullet is, the smallest of all the bantams.  Of course, straight run... I got three cockerels and only ONE pullet.
My eventual plan is to have a pen of OEG's, one of Porcelain D'Uccles, and one of Mille Fleur D'Uccles.  That's the Welsummer cockerel next to them, he makes five of her.  As HE was attacked while in the little henhouse, he is with the juveniles, but the Welsummer pullets are still in the little henhouse.  That will all get sorted out, too.

We spent the balance of the afternoon on the new henhouse, and gardening.  I got almost all of my plants in the ground, but have some iris still to put in in the next two days.  I am going to take Friday off, I hope, and have a four day weekend.

Here is last year's bed, I was filling in holes in it.

And lastly, here are the babies going to bed tonight!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Even Backyard Farmers Need a Break

Keith has been breaking his back on the new henhouse, but today was our first T Bones game, so we called it quits at 3, did chores, cleaned up, and off we went to Granite City to use a gift certificate Keith got when a waiter spilled a bowl of soup on him a few weeks ago!  It was nice not to have to cook, and we finished our dinners and went the two blocks to Community America Ballpark to watch our first game of our eight Saturday night package for the season.

If you remember, last year we had Friday tickets, and we had one tornado and two severe thunderstorms rain us out!   We switched to Saturday for the fireworks and the fact we didn't have to rush after work to get there by gametime.

The T Bones were playing the Grand Prairie Airhogs.  There is a Naval Air station in Grand Prairie, Texas, and Keith happened to be stationed there when we were married (at the joint installation).  When we left, I left the juveniles in their pen, it was a balmy afternoon, and they were having such a good time I didn't want to lock them up early in the rabbit hutch.  Of course, I fretted through the game, but here are some shots of our great time.... when we left at the bottom of the eighth, we had had a lightening show for all innings, but no rain.  We think the fireworks were rained out, though, because it is raining now, and blowing hard, and we did not see them from our porch. The TBones were ahead 6 to 2 as we were leaving, so we can safely assume our team won!

Here we are going in for the first game:

We got our same seats as last year, behind home plate.

We got there early enough that the Airhogs were still having batting practice. 
Notice how sunny it is, the day was beautiful.
Within an hour, it started to cloud up... the Yoder Curse was active again, (laughing).

Here are the colors being trooped by the cub scouts, and the children's choir from Christa McAuliffe grade school sang the anthem great!
And then it was "Play ball!"
Please note ominous clouds.

And here we are, cleaned up pretty good!
As I said, we left at the top of the 8th, and a good thing, as the storm hit us as we got home. All the juveniles were in their cat carrier I leave in the pen with them, but they were JUST crammed in.  We got them safely into the big henhouse and into the rabbit hutch and nursing cage, turned the lights out, and came in as the rain started.  Keith, who works for the state in emergency management, began monitoring his state radio on the emergency channels, to find that a tornado has hit the small towns of Quenemo and Reading (a large tornado) and was headed to Baldwin City, a college town with old buldings and lovely streets.  He is listening to the radio talk but does not think he will be going until tomorrow, as his boss is on the way there now.  We are praying that no one in these little towns was killed.  We actually had bid on a property down near Quenemo at one point, when it looked like Keith was going to be given that region.
Keith was just in to say that there was a tornado WARNING while we were at the game here in our own county, with the sirens going for almost an hour, but the all clear has been sounded, and I'm going to go to bed while he monitors what's happening. 

  I was unable to post to Farm Friend Friday last night, and I continue to have problems with Blogger.  I had trouble getting  the font to re-size, nor center for the first three paragraphs.  It is very discouraging, because I love blogging and have been advised several times to go to Wordpress and leave Blogger.  I have been happy here so hope I don't have to do that! 

I recently upgraded to IE 9, and it seems like the problems started then... but Blogger is also "saving" literally 3 to 4 times a minute.... and it takes me forever to re-size now!

Friday, May 20, 2011

A New Henhouse

Work is progressing on the new henhouse, and soon it will be going vertical, despite several days of rain and storms this week.  In fact, we expect more tomorrow, but are praying they hold off since our first game night tickets for the Kansas City T Bones are tomorrow night!

Here are some pictures of Keith working on the frame:
and a short video

Linking to Farm Friend Friday


Thursday, May 19, 2011

Ranger Regresses

Since Gertie came in early December, we have noticed that Ranger really likes her.  The juxtaposition of largest dog and smallest dog is a funny one.  He tolerates her jumping on his neck and head, and she likes to nuzzle him and lick at his muzzle.  (sometimes making me cringe).  Ranger is slowing down now, and even with the better weather, likes to eat his breakfast, do his business, and then come back in in the morning and settle down for the day.  Sometimes Lil stays in, sometimes she stays out.  I like for her to be out, because she is actually the one that anyone trying to come on the property should be scared of.
Ranger is probably 8 or 9 this year, Lil will be 6 in July, Gertie is about a year and  a half... Abby about three... and Hannah, around 8 or 9.  Ranger, a big dog, has begun to feel the seasons in his hips and back.  Soon we'll have him xrayed, and decide what to do about medication.  For now, though, he is enjoying playing with his little pal.  We have not seen him play like this since Oscar was alive, his best friend.  I tried to catch it tonight and hope it will load.  That's Keith trying to read the paper at the kitchen table, and Ranger, who destroyed one of their pads tonight in play.... and Gertie playing under and around Keith.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Finding the Key

While I was at the cemetery looking for our forebears, I came across a small stone, set in the ground.
On it was written:

I backtracked and took a picture, even though the last name was not spelled right.
When I found the 1900 census records, my great-grandparents were already older, and all their children had moved out and established their own families.  However, there was a third person living in the household, and his name had come up when I first searched for my great-grandfather.  That surname for the person was Angell, and I found that there were several families of Angells in Tonganoxie at the time.  It turned out that the third person was a young boy of 6, and was their grandson. 
Which daughter was his mother?  I have not found out, yet.
When I saw this stone, I was fascinated, and wondered if I had found a clue, because Great Grandfather Marcus and Great Grandmother Katrine (Catherine) had had a daughter Mary.  I still think it could be her.

Directly east of her stone, I found them:

I was so glad to know they were resting in such a beautiful place.  My mother knew my great grandfather, because he died in 1939, not long after she and dad were married. Their graves lie just in front of this beautiful grove of trees.

I am still experiencing problems with Blogger... is anyone else?  I am unable to resize pictures reliably, so apologize for the small ones in this story.

Hubbell Hill Cemetery is full of lovely old peony plants and iris... and still has room in it.  If we had not already decided to be in the national cemetery at Lansing, this would be a good place to rest.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

An Afternoon at the Museum

For many years, I have been interested in our family geneology.  My dad died so very young, at 55, that my sister and I were not even 20 when it happened.  He came from a farm family of Danish descent, from Schleswig-Holstein in Germany.  My mother's family was Irish on both sides.  We children were given copies of our family bible pages listing some relatives, and we had nothing much more to go on.  Neither family took pictures... in fact, I probably have less than 100 pictures of my family as we grew up in the 50's. 

A year ago, I took a class one night at the library in Tonganoxie, and brought home a packet of papers with lots of good information.  There they sat in their envelope, staring at me here in the computer room.  Then, one night, I searched high and low for the papers my mother had given my sister and me, showing what she knew of both sides of the family. 

I joined Ancestry.com.  For those of you researching your families, you know what that did.  Sleepless nights.  Long afternoons, when I sat down to look one thing up, and looked up hours later to see the afternoon had gone.  I am absolutely fascinated by the fact that we knew only my mother's dad.... as the old gentleman who slept after holiday meals.... and rarely addressed us.... and my dad's mom... who was not a cuddly grandma at all, but perched us on little stools in front of her to talk to us.  The study of our family history has brought literally HUNDREDS of relatives to light, and I am only about 4 generations back.  There, I have to stop and go to Europe, so I am fleshing out those who lived in America first. 

When finished, I'll present the findings to my brothers (and their kids) and my sister and her son.  My own kids will get copies.

It's good for people to know from whence they came.

As part of this study, I have stopped by the Tonganoxie Historical Site, (and am going to join the Historical Society).  It is in a dairy barn that at one time was the largest dairy in Kansas... and they also have a lovely church moved to the site, and a wonderful one room school.  I took these pictures there...

Any idea?????  It came from a beauty shop and was used to give permanents! It looks like a medieval torture instrument! All those dangly things attached to your hair and the current was turned on!
This picture is marked "Captain Jim Hoey", "Meanest Man in Leavenworth County".
Hmmmm. He kind of looks it.
This is the Reno Methodist Church, which was moved to the site.  It can be rented for weddings, meetings, etc. and has a kitchen in the basement, along with a meeting room.
And this is the Honey Creek School, also moved to the site, and can be used by teachers for history lessons:
The whole site is lovingly maintained by mostly older volunteers, with donated exhibits and on a strict budget, I'm sure.  It's well worth a visit, and someday maybe I can volunteer there. 

Is anyone else having Blogger issues these days?  I notice slower navigation and difficulty in posting pictures at times.  I am just wondering if I'm alone. 

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Flu Again

 A short video tonight... I have flu-like symptoms again, this is the fourth day, so I am not sure what is going on.

Here are the juveniles enjoying a spring evening in their pen.  Hopefully this week their special little hutch will be put together, and they won't have to ride in and out in their cat carrier every night.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

A Random Sunday

It was cold again today, and never got over 52, so we have had quite the cold weekend here in Leavenworth County, compared to last weekend's 90 degrees plus. 

The little birds were cold out in their pen... I kept them inside until noon yesterday, and they spent the afternoon with feathers fluffed. 

And yes, I'm worried about the little buff cochin in the back... she looked bad today, and is isolated in a tank in the workshop, under a warm light.  As soon as I put her in there, she found the direct heat and nestled into it.  I am hoping isolation and quiet, good food and clean water and some antibiotics for a few days clears up what ails her. 
There are THREE, count them, THREE Brassy Back Old English Gamebird cockerels in this picture. Oh. Joy. 

Today, in the blowing cold and occasional rain, Keith worked on the new hen house:  

And now we can finally see what it will look like size-wise:

I've got my very own Yella-Fella working on it!

And you see it is very, very sturdy. 

The door will be on the east end, and there will be a small porch in the front.  Inside, there will be a door to the chicken yard from the hen house, but not from outside, so that there will be no chance that any of the dogs can get in. There will be a pophole on either side, north and south, as we will allow them access to both sides.  There is room underneath for them to get out of the sun and lounge in the dirt. (I reminded Keith there will be no green grass after a few weeks.) At the old Calamity Acres, I put straw down in the henyards and after the hens had turned it over and fertilized it, I used it on my gardens, and we'll do that here, too.

We're also going to enclose this from the top with netting, we have decided. 

The gardens beds have come along, too, but we have four that are needing to be filled.  You know we are experimenting with lasagna gardening this spring... but we have to say that the peas have not done well.  They are up about 8 inches, but did not climb.  We suspect the top layer of dirt was not deep enough, and the middle of the beds must still decompose.  It's interesting to us to see how things turn out, because by next spring, we think the beds will be perfect. 

This hen, whom I predicted would go about six weeks ago... is not going to make it through the night.  If she does, Keith will have to put her down before he goes to work in the morning. 

She is one of our oldest birds, a Wyandot.  I still have her sister left and she does not look sick.
I am praying that I am not about to have something run through the flocks.  I'll stop by the feed store tomorrow night on the way home and see if I can get some antibiotics and put them  in the water for a few days, so we'll be throwing away some eggs.

And lastly, a sad note.

Three weeks ago or so, before I had to take a blogging break, I had found some great new blogs to read.  I followed several.  Because I had just found them, I had not had time to really get acquainted with them as you do when you have followed for a while.
Last night I tried to catch up... this is the busy season here, as I am sure you all know... and I was stunned to read that the family of one blogger had been devastated by the tornados in Alabama.  Their home, in fact, was completely destroyed, and the father of the family of thirteen children, killed while trying to protect those children when the storm hit their home.  The mother finally was able to write and thank everyone for their prayers and help, and insist that their husband and father was looking down on them from heaven.  I watched a You Tube interview with the oldest son, who professed that same assurance that their father was still taking care of them from above.  My heart went out to them, and to all the other people whose lives have been upended and changed forever by these terrible events.  Our problems here seem petty and small compared the their life-changing events.  We remember them in our prayers and hope that their futures will be returned to as much normalcy as can be possible.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

A Garden Lover's Dream

About seven years ago, when Keith and I were living in Leavenworth (city), we began to talk about a possible move to the country.  I had had a five-acre place in Wyandotte County, to the east of us, and loved living on my little spot with my chickens, dogs, and cats. (and guinea pigs, ducks, etc. etc. etc) you get the picture)

We began to look at little places, mostly as drive-bys.  Keith, however, stopped during the day while out and about sometimes, and looked at places without me.  Most did not recommend themselves to us... either too big... too unfenced... too situated next to dangerous roads.... or way too expensive. 

One day a realtor showed us a ten acre place about five miles farther west from where we are now, on the far side of Tonganoxie.  Truly out in farm country, it was on a quiet side road, and had a house, several good barns and some smaller buildings, along with two good horse corrals on ten acres.  I fell in love with the yard when we pulled up, and thought it was just gorgeous.  The only neighbors were out of sight on one side, and barely seen on the other.  It faced an open pasture. 

There was obviously a gardener living there, as you could tell wonderful perennials were planted all the way around the yard.  Right at the back door had been built a pond, full of goldfish, with a merry running fountain.  It was a very peaceful place.

Imagine our horror, then, when we opened the back door to find that the bathroom was almost falling off the house, that the whole thing was heated by a woodstove in the kitchen, and the rooms were very, very dark and dreary.  Whew.  The boards in the kitchen floor felt almost like they were giving way, and almost every window had at least one crack.   There WAS a newer bathroom in one bedroom (the "master") but upstairs were two tiny eaves bedrooms, both hot. 

After we talked about the pros and cons... we decided this project was going to be too much for us.  Oh, stupid us.... because today, I went to buy some iris from a lady about whom a story was written in this week's Tonganoxie Mirror , Mrs. O'Hare.  The only directions were:  go out County Road 16 past Hubbell Hill Cemetery, and at County Road 30, turn right and go to the third house.

As I got closer, I began to laugh. 

Here is what I saw:

The central part of this house was the house we looked at, which at the time we suspected was a "push-over".   As you see, it is absolutely LOVELY.  The O'Hares put on the sunroom in the front, and the lovely picture window in the kitchen in back.

The beautiful backyard, with all the little buildings that would have been mine, mine mine!!!!!!  There was also a very nice two stall horse barn, and two very large fenced corrals. 
The largest has been turned into this:

Mr. O'Hare is into "show cars" as he explained to me, so the only animals on the place are cats.  They have benches sitting everywhere so they can sit and enjoy the fruits of their labors.  I have seldom seen such lovely iris. 
If you double click the pictures, they get bigger.  The front yard in the distance was gorgeous, with hostas and iris under the trees, and a swing in the shade to enjoy it all.

This is one of the darkest purple..almost black, I have ever seen.
I bought some whites, some yellows, some showy wine-colored ones, and some old-fashioned pale blue/yellows. 
I may go back tomorrow after church for a few more.  They are reasonably sold at 3 for 10.00, you can't beat that anywhere!
I had a good visit with Mr. and Mrs. O'Hare, and told them how very wonderful their little piece of heaven looks after the six years of hard, hard work they have put in!  What a wonderful credit to their work and ingenuity!  I so enjoyed seeing it again, and in it's beauty and wonder!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A Sadness

I hurried to do chores tonight, as we were expecting storms.  Even now, at 8:38, there is thunder and lightening, but, as yet, little rain. 

I found a chick peeping in the little henhouse, near a hen that just started setting.  When I reached for it, it was the little yellow one from yesterday, pecked almost to death.  It curled up in my palm, thankful, I think, to finally be at rest and not attacked.  I ran with it to the workshop and put it in a box with a warm light on it, but it was almost gone.  I went back to the henhouse to pull all the eggs finally, and heard cheeping again. There was ANOTHER tiny yellow chick, also had been attacked terribly.  I got it and took it to the other.  They peeped weakly to each other, but when I went back a third time, the second chick was sitting up, and the first appeared dead.  I dipped it's little beak in some water, and set the warming light over it.  Keith is out there now in the shop... he says the first chick is dead, but the other is still moving around.  It doesn't look like it can see. 

I went back to the henhouse a third time, crawled in through the back (NEVER will I have a building I can't reach into if I can't walk into it again) and pulled EVERY EGG from under EVERY hen I found.  Some felt heavy with chick, as if they were ready to hatch, but it doesn't matter.  They all went.  No more scenes of death and destruction when I get home from work, and today's was particularly gory.

I am posting a note at the feed store tomorrow to move the Brahma Bantams out.  The two hens are older, and the three roos.... attack everything that moves.  I've never had such feisty ones.   I'll move the Brahma/cochin crosses, too, if I can, and the two killer hens.  I'm not selling these... I'm giving them away.  I'm hoping someone who truly likes bantams will want them.  Eventually the little henhouse will be divided into breeding pens (two) for the silkies and the brassy back OEGs after it has been blasted out and cleaned good.  Ugh.

Here are the eggs I pulled today, overall 4 chicks lived, but two were subsequently killed, one, deformed, died, and 19  pipped but were killed as they were born.  I have ONE living chick from this whole fiasco, the likes of which I have never had before. 

These are the pulled eggs, but one, on the left, was just laid today.  Many are full of unborn chick, though.
Here are some of the birds who are hopefully going:

The blue silkie roo stays!