Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Hot, Hot, Hot

Here we go again.

I swear to you while my back was turned tonight filling the trough, Aztec stepped into and out of the pool, for the first time with me around.  The water was good and cold.  When I turned around 20 seconds later, she was standing alongside the pool, not in it.  Maybe she is finally going to copy her mama.

The birds were miserably hot, but these especially so... they were in their hot little hutch when I got home.  Everyone got good, cold water as soon as I could get the hoses cleared out and pumping.

Some animals were smart enough to stay in the shade!

And some weren't. 

One more day of triple digits, and then the weekend should be fine. 

Please join us in prayers for those who were devastated this past weekend by Hurricane Irene and her tornados and rainstorms inland.  We know they are not going to have a good Labor Day, or end of summer, and we are sorry for their losses.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Tuesday Night

So tired last night I could not sit and post, and almost that tired tonight.  The heat is on, again.  We are expecting upper nineties the next two days, with heat indices in the triple digits.  So tiresome after a few weeks of good weather.  In fact, it's 8:05, almost dark, and I am going to go out and turn the hose on and soak my flowers, just in case.  I passed a friend on the way out of the office tonight, and she said "I didn't water this morning because it was supposed to rain"... and I said "I didn't water either!" .  Needless to say, we will both be, tonight.

Here are our swallow babies, looking down at us from their nest above the door.  There were only three, and they are all still alive!  They come back to the nest at night to sleep.
Taken this afternoon.
This is priceless enjoyment for us. The nest is built directly over the front door, and despite our comings and goings, and the dogs barking, etc. etc., the parents raised their clutch of three successfully!

The Real Reason there is never any feed in the frisbee.
As you can see, there is a feeder in the cage, but I was still putting some feed in the frisbee. How funny that I caught the little hooligans dust bathing in it!  I've wasted probably a 50 lb bag, which at prices today, is a shame.  Starting tomorrow, I'll put some dirt in the frisbee for them, and they can take a real bath.  Soon they will be out with their mama, but the fact is, something has tunneled under the little pen in the henyard, there is quite a large hole behind it.  There was a brown egg back there, and now it is gone.  Hmmmm.  Whatever got that egg could get those babies.

There is a large snake skin on top of the closet of the big henhouse, or I would let them stay in there with their mama.  Maybe they will just stay in the cage a while longer.

Gertie Lou, almost asleep while we watched "The Closer" last night.  Two more weeks to go.... who is the snitch in the squad room????  That is "Gertie's Pillow", by the way.

Four walls are up, and you can see one window partially framed.  The other is the open space to Keith's left, still to be framed.  He worked until dark in the humidity.  Next on (besides the top row of boards on which the roof supports will rest) will be the sheathing and siding.  Before he finished for the night, he put a bracing board between the two far walls (north and south) to brace the structure in case of wind.  It can be unscrewed easily, much as the two braces you see on the front, which is sheathed.  We are still planning on using it this winter.  In talking to Keith while he worked, I suggested we cover the yard with netting, and he had already thought of that.  This way it will keep out the little wildings, the starlings, the owls, and the other predators. 

Construction Supervisor Lilly Ann was out there guarding her Daddy from any possums that reared their heads.

A spider that caught a spider in it's web in the porch of the big henhouse.

Why there are so many baby grasshoppers around here!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Sunday Thoughts

At church this morning, our pastor apologized because he could not leave the altar as usual, since his lapel mike was broken. Instead, he was stationary at the altar, speaking at the podium that the lector normally uses.  He aplogized for the inconvenience, and in the course of the sermon, talked about someone who  had to use "email" instead of Twitter or Facebook to communicate something rapidly.  Hasn't our world changed?  I remember when there was no such thing on your desk as a "PC"... and not dreamed of by the normal person. Dating me, I guess, but there's still life in the old girl yet, and this proves it:

Here I am trying to get out the pophole of the little henhouse this afternoon. Keith was laughing and took the picture... and no, I don't ALWAYS wear that blue blouse for chores.  I'm pretty dirty, as you can see.
I had to go roust these three:

I am telling you, silkie and silkie crosses are the broodiest hens on earth!
Before gathering the eggs, I had been working on this:

Part of that is a straw bale left out to decompose, and part of it is from here:
This was taken before I started to excavate with the pitchfork. The llamas use the barn during the summer during rainfall, otherwise they are outside.  I filled the larger of our two yardcarts, and then pulled it across the yard to the new garden bed.  I also worked in the current garden bed, and cut down spent monarda flowers... they smelled so good as I chopped.  I am going to dig the monarda up as soon as I have prepared the new bed.  It got WAYYY too big for it's place in the current bed. 
While I was doing that, Keith was doing this:

Yes, as you can see, the walls are going up.  We were up very late after his daughter's wedding reception last night, (for us) and I don't know where we found the strength... oh, wait a sec... while waiting for pictures to load in this post, I FELL ASLEEP IN THE OFFICE CHAIR.  I'll be working on that garden bed all week!
After I worked for a while (and then sat and talked to Keith for a while as he worked), I went over to the chicken yards to do chores. 

Here is what we have decided about the chicken houses. 
The little henhouse on stilts is needing modification.  It does not have an easy way to get eggs... and as you saw from picture one, I have to crawl in there when I can't roust the hens out with the every-handy mop.  We want to open the sides and make nest boxes that can be added to it, and checked from the outside, thereby freeing me from having to crawl in unless there is an emergency.  Today I got "stuck" in there and it is NOT pleasant. I had to call Keith on my cell from my pocket to come and rescue me.  It is also hard to heat in winter, we have to run a line from the big henhouse to it, and prop it up to keep a heat lamp going.  Last winter we did not have a base waterer for the water fountain, because I got shocked the year before and I admit it, I'm scared.

So.... what we will do is this:
The flock from the little henhouse will move to the new henhouse INCLUDING the roosters, when it is ready.  For the time being, it will be a regular henhouse with hens and roosters, instead of the laying house I envisioned.  That will come.

Second step:  fix the big henhouse.  We adapted that building from a living quarters/babysitting nursery for the pickers who used to work on the strawberry farm.  The eaves have rotted and we are invaded every winter by starlings, who poop over everything, not to mention bringing disease into the henhouse. It needs re-wiring and a thorough cleaning.  The current flock will stay in there for the winter, or move to the little henhouse while we work on it, we aren't sure yet.  Anyway, we envision (and Keith admitted this) that we are going to have three henhouses in action.  The little henhouse will either end up a breeding yard, or be the rooster yard, we aren't sure yet.  I am going to be busy in my retirement.
I had fun finally, just sitting for a while and watching the birds.  The ninety degree heat turned to windy with clouds, and a few sprinkles, so it was nice to sit relax.  I realized I was way too tired to go back to the garden.  In fact, I still need to go out and get the loppers.

Here is one of the two golden cochin pullets... isn't she pretty?

Boots and Baldy, the little Mille Fleur pullet who was attacked by the three Brahma roosters in the spring. Her feathers have grown back in spottily on her head.

This is the lesser of the two Partridge Cochin roos that I ended up with in the spring hatch that I bought. The sturdier of the pair is in the other henyard.  He's still a very beautiful boy, and Rambo does not beat up on these little roosters, so I am content to leave them be.

While Keith was working, I came in to take a breather at one point.  As I looked out the door, I saw hummingbirds on the re-blooming butterfly bushes.  I moved the hummingbird feeder out to the garden after re-filling it.  I don't think they like this feeder, however, as I have never seen them use it this year.  I am going back to the old ones.  Along with the hummers, I saw many beautiful large butterflies.  Here is one that wandered over to the large henyard.

 I am not sure what it is, but it's GORGEOUS.
And last but not least, here is Teeny, with her babies who are getting huge!

And that, my friends, is a heckuva post for the beginning of a four day week for me.
Yee HA!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Our Last Game

Whew. Had a long day on Wednesday, and celebrated my birthday Thursday with our last trip to the ballpark for the summer.  Here we are in our regular seats:

We had a congenial group behind us... it was dollar night, so dollar hot dogs, dollar peanuts, dollar candy... dollar BEER! 
We got to talking to them and we all had a good time that evening. One of them was kind enough to take pictures of us to remember my birthday. As you can see, we were enjoying ourselves.
Our team, the T Bones, had a bad start and were down by five in the first two innings.  They went on to win the game against the Sioux Falls Golden Pheasants.  We were stunned to see some of our favorite players on the team had been traded in the last week of the season! 

Today I went to Tractor Supply, and in the bird seed section began talking to a couple about feeding the wildings.  One thing led to another, I noticed the man was wearing a T Bones shirt, and we ended up analyzying the season while standing in the aisle!  Nice people, too!

Our baby swallows have flown... on Wednesday when I got home early, two babies were sitting on the porch.  Remembering last year's casualties, I dithered about whether to pick them up as their parents dive-bombed me.  In a minute, they flew off to the top of my car.   Thursday saw them gaining confidence, swooping up and down and flying in circles out over the deck and into the nest again.  We were proud like they were our own.

When I left for Keith's daughter's wedding reception 4 hours ago, I tried to load the Avi. video of the swallow babies.  When we got home, it had still not loaded, so I surrender to the fact that Blogger just does not allow Avis.

I hate to think what that has done to our download speed for the rest of the weekend!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Down for the Count

Had to come home at 12:30 today, probably should not have gone in... flu symptoms from the get-go.  Keith even had to do evening chores, I could not stand up long enough to go outside. 

I felt marginally better at 8:30, went out and shut up, since Keith had fallen asleep early.  Muffy is back!!!  She was perched with Bitsy on the door of the little henhouse when I went out.  I don't know where she had been or what adventures she had, but I was glad to see my beautiful little pullet.  It cheered me after a long day.

Here was the other thing that cheered me... these guys flew!
I was so glad to see at least two of them flying along with their parents and at least four other swallows.  One perched on the edge of the nest... and tonight, three were back in it, and being fed by mom and dad.
Even though the weather is supposed to be nice tomorrow, I'll keep the dogs in so that the babies can get launched right. What a blessing it was to have watched for weeks, just over our own door!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Down Two

Tonight, as we walked in the heat towards the henyards, Keith laughed and pointed to the Naughty Girls on the fence top, walking along.  I laughed and talked about how naughty they are, and then didn't think anything else.  While doing chores, I gave the little henyard birds a treat... cottage cheese, which they inhale.  I noticed as I gave it to them, that only one of the Naughty Girls was there... Bitsy.  She has a comb now, almost like a rooster.  Muffy, the prettier of the two birds, was gone.  I looked for her all evening, and did not see her anywhere.  Lilly is in all day, so I was not worried about that.  I went over to the "big" henyard (the smaller of the two) and looked through the ever-growing weeds and realized Speedy was gone, too.  Speedy is the tiny brassy back red Old English Game cockerel.  I really, really like him.  Last week one night, I found him outside, pacing up and down the fence.  He had gotten through, then couldn't figure out how to get back.  I shooed him in that night, so tonight, I assumed he was on the pasture side.  I filled the llama waterer and pool and the waterers for Butch and his girls, but no Speedy.  I was really sad about it. 

Muffy, the Beautiful Naughty Girl

Coupled with this discovery, I went around the back of the little henhouse and opened the door to see a bird laying dead inside.  I had not checked inside this morning, as I was pooped.  I opened the popholes, gave some fresh feed in the outside feeders, checked the water, and went on. There is one cochin hen who NEVER comes outside, no matter how hot, the black.  I thought it was her for a minute, but no, it was one of these beautiful girls:

A gold laced Wyandotte, here shown with two Welsummer pullets.

Last night, I became ill while doing chores.  It was hot, but I was having a blood sugar drop, and was getting shaky.  I finally stopped and went in, and asked Keith to finish up.  I fixed something to eat, and felt better after a while, but right before I went in, I sat down for a minute in my chair.  I looked around at the birds, and noticed out of the corner of my eye a bird crouched down tightly to the ground, with her eyes closed.  It was a Wyandotte.  I thought to myself "Uh oh"... I had not heard any telltale coughing or "barking" like in the spring... but I made a mental note to check her out in the morning.  As I said, I was very tired... and it was she who was dead.

I checked all the birds tonight, and there did not seem to be any others who appeared to be sick. Indeed, I got ten eggs from the little henhouse tonight.  I'll keep an eye on all of them for the next few days.

Tomorrow, we are heading up into triple digits again.  Keith will not be able to come home at midday, so I filled all the waterers full and will hope for the best.  The birds and llamas did not seem too stressed out tonight when I got home, and after chores, I cut grass on the mower for an hour and a half.  It was really not bad when the sun began to go down.

Still no sign of Muffy, but when I went to lock up, there was Speedy, running up and down the fenceline on the pasture side.  I was SO GLAD to see the little stinker.  I opened the gate and let him in, and he ran right up on to the duck house, and up into the tree with his buddies. 

If I have not commented on your blog lately, we have had a terrible time with Hughesnet over the past few weeks.  At least, we think it's our service.  On Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, we are unable to open many sites.  We attribute this to large usage... but it may be
Blogger, I don't know.  There are many blogs I cannot reliably get to open, and one I suspect is infected and closes itself constantly.  If I have not commented, it is not for lack of trying.  I am so tired by the time I get home from work, do chores, fix dinner, straighten up... and watch a little tv... that I can't always stay awake (as tonight) and do a little blogging and read some more.  I love all of the blogs I follow, and am always looking for links to more on your wonderful blogs.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Short Monday

Rained like cats and dogs here today, and the heat is back.  We are expecting a high heat index tomorrow.
We got at least two inches today.

Here are Abby and Gertie on the deck yesterday morning, enjoying the sun.

Here is your blogger in the llama yard finding a cache of eggs under the hay buffet. Keith had suggested looking there, and I HAD glanced under there but somehow missed these:
He always gets such great pictures of me.
Can you just see the eggs underneath?

Here is what I found, Eagle's pale green eggs and Reddy's brown ones.  I left one of Eagle's eggs in the nest so they would lay there again today.

Guess what?

They DIDN'T!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

End of a Long Weekend

That should be End of a Long WEAKend, since I have been tired out all weekend.  Two drives down to Garnett did not help, even though it's only 75 miles, 10 of it is through Lawrence, and KU is back in session.  The town is packed, and driving through the traffic is heart-stopping sometimes.  We saw a terrible wreck today when going back down south, and paramedics working on some poor person. 
However, the drive was all for a good cause... this one had a great birthday weekend:
After our movie yesterday, he got a birthday haircut from his dad, they went to a barbecue at a friend's house... their "adopted cousin" Nick spent the night, and the boys stayed up until 2 AM.  They had cake and ice cream after breakfast this morning, before coming out to my house so we could head down the road.
First, we had a walnut-throwing contest:

This one must have gone farthest

I finally got them to hold still for a picture

Jacob, "cousin" Nick, Nate, Jim, and Jax in front, styling for the camera
The dogs love this little boy
He was very brave Friday night.  His parents bowl on Fridays, and the league had it's first night Friday.  While playing at the bowling alley, Jax fell and cut his head open. They took Madison, Jake, and Paiton home, and then took Jax to the emergency room.  For four hours he laid in a big bed, waiting for the doctor to come in.  A shot of numbing agent (and he didn't even cry) he bore the three stictches like a little man, only whimpering a little on the third, according to his dad.  I'm very proud of him!

In other news,
I found these two on the (yes, CHRISTMAS LIGHTS) this morning on the porch, before I even did chores before church. 

Their babies are getting very big, and are almost ready to launch. We have found that they usually choose early morning.  Out of last year's hatches, we lost two out of each four.  The others all flew away fine. 
Here is what the nest is looking like now:

I know it's blurry, but you get the idea.  They are almost ready to take off. Remember, this nest is directly over our front door... we are hoping they don't try to launch when Ranger is laying there.

And finally, a last burst of color from Daylillies that have already bloomed once.  You can barely see the butterfly bush behind them that is also having a second burst of color.  Behind them is a trellis, up which is growing cypress vine.  We had so much of this last year, and it had lovely little red and green flowers. This year it did not grow until after the heat wave, and has not bloomed yet, but is now going crazy on two trellises.  I spoke with a market gardener when I stopped to buy some corn on the way home, and he told me that his tomatos did not bloom (like ours)... we got very few tomatos, but it was a very good year for potatos and onions. 
By the way, the corn was so tough, even our ears were given to the vultures chickens.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Front Porch Antiques

Of all the malls I like to go to, Front Porch Antiques, in Ottawa, Kansas, is my favorite.  When I go down to Garnett to see grandsons Chris and Nathan, I try to stop in.  I always find some small thing, or a book, that delights me, and it's just a pleasure to walk through the store. 

Here it is:

Not the largest of malls, it's very cozy inside.  Uh, and the two men you see there had been shopping inside just a moment before.

It has always made me feel good to go in there.

It has something for everyone, from lamps, to furniture. to prims, to Victorian decorations.

Love this mantle

Love the green cupboard on the left, and the quilts in the case.
Love this white cupboard, too.  Too bad I don't have a huge old Victorian house!
But what I wanted most was a set of these:

Amongst all the other "stuff" on the front porch, there were three or four sets of croquet mallets and balls.  I would LOVE to have a set to play here in our front yard.  It's the perfect croquet pitch!
Maybe a set will come home with me in the next few weeks, they were reasonably priced, even the oldest set (out of sight).
After I visited the Front Porch, I drove on down to get the
Birthday Boy from Garnett.  Tonight he is staying at his dad's with his brothers and sisters, and this afternoon we went to see Spy Kids in 3 D (with Smellavision, too!).  Unfortunately, Grandma fell asleep during the movie and can't tell you much about it.

Birthday pictures tomorrow!

Friday, August 19, 2011

End of the Week

Rough week at work this week... you all know I work for an international healthcare company and am in the division that manufactures animal health products... but I ran my self ragged at work, and then came home and did chores each night.  I'm tired, I admit it.  It also got hotter than I expected the last two days.  We had a heck of a storm last night, though, so I only did half the water tonight, since we are actually expecting more rain.  I came outside at 11 last night to turn off the fan in the big henhouse.  Above me was what looked like a shelf of clouds with some of the most spectacular lightening I have seen in years!  Some of it was jagged red lines in the sky, it was really something.  I watched three planes coming from the direction of Kansas City International airport who were skirting the edge of the storm and getting the heck out of Dodge (it was coming down from the north, and they were heading southwest).  I had not been back inside for even five minutes when a gust of wind blew into the bedroom through my partially open window, rattled the windows, and then it blew hard for ten minutes at least.  After that, rain, very hard.  This morning we awoke to more branches down, but oddly, not from the older of the walnut trees.  There was a lot of damage across the entire KC metro area, and some schools were out, either because power was out or so much storm damage to the streets around them. It is clear with light cirrus clouds out there right now, but more storms are expected tomorrow.

It is this boy's 12th birthday on Sunday:

Tomorrow, Nathan, I, and Madison and Jake are going to see a movie and then get ice cream.  Nathan will spend the night at his dad's with his brothers and sisters, and we'll celebrate his birthday on Sunday before I take him back down to Garnett.  (I'll drive down early in the morning to get him)  I'm so proud of this boy!

On the way to Garnett, I'll stop at my favorite antique mall in Ottawa, Front Porch Antiques, to window shop.  Pictures to follow.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

More Bits and Pieces

We are seeing quail daily now.  We don't always hear them, but when we look out in the evening, sometimes one, sometimes five or six quail are eating around the wild bird feeder.  Tomorrow I'll go to the feed store on the way home, and get another 50 lb bag of gamebird feed.  I'll mix it good with the economy mix from Tractor Supply (9.95 for 35 pounds) and make it stretch that way. 

We went up to 97 degrees today, and that should be the hottest day for at least the next five.  I felt badly this afternoon, I had so much to do at work today that I left much earlier than usual, and forgot to go out and fill Inca's pool, which I found this morning with hardly any water in it.  We suspect there is a hole, either made by her, or worn out, since this is the second season we have used it.  Tonight when I got home, she was laying in it, and there was only a tiny puddle.  I started the hose to fill it before I even went in, since I knew Keith had let the dogs out to go to the bathroom when he got home.  Sometimes she doesn't quite make it in it, and we suspect that is tearing the pool up, too.

Why the pool leaks, sometimes she doesn't make it all the way in!

The molt is in full sway here.  Reddy and Eagle, who live with Butch in the pen in the pasture, have hidden their laying spot from me, so two weeks of eggs have gone to waste. 
For two days, I've found Ruby, my old production red girl, who by rights should be long past laying, in the feed room.  She walks across the rafters, and flies down to lay by herself.  The spot she was using is not very big, and there was no egg in there last night or tonight.  I looked high and low and could not find them, so maybe she just came over and changed rooms on a whim. 
Buffy, the Polish girl, is no longer laying after her injury.  She formerly gave us a beautiful white egg daily.  Birdy, the crazy last daughter of Old Rambo, is four and quit laying long ago.  I'm of several minds about these girls.... with the price of feed going still higher.  I'm going to dig out some old receipts tomorrow night and compare what we are paying today and what we paid when.
Here is an example of the molt:

The mighty Rambo has lost his shakin' tail feathers

By the bye, I saw Rat Cong in the henyard last night when I went out to close popholes.  They are not Norway Rats, but they are fat rats, and this one was like a baby piglet!   I should let Lilly loose in there for a night.  If the little chicks would JUST GO INSIDE, I would.
Yes, they are still roosting in the tree.  We are expecting thunderstorms tonight, so I hope they can hold on tight.  I found this one in the pasture today, pacing the fence and unsure how to get back to his buds:

Speedy Gonzales, the littlest rooster, he's one of my favorites.

I'll close for the night with a short video of the two Naughty Girls. They flew up to the fence in the little henyard and proceeded around to the farthest corner of the big.  As Lilly was lurking just outside the walk gate below them by the llama tank, I was praying they would not fly down, though I read it in every wing movement. 
In fact, I have no clue if they took themselves back around and went in for the night.  The way they were looking at the roof of the big henhouse, I suspect they might be up there, or in the walnut tree.  It was too dark to see when I went back out to lock up. Muffy and Bitsy are the Wild Children. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

All Chickens

Here he is, Fancy Pants
King of the Mountain
As Woodstock (canary from Peanuts)

As Batman

Seriously, this little porcelain rooster and his two girls have totally gone bananas.  They either spend the whole day in their increasingly-too-small rabbit hutch, or up on the roof of the little henhouse, in the sun, with no water or food.  Where once Fancy would fly to me on seeing me, now he is freaking out if I try to reach out for him, though the two little girls still come to me to be put in the hutch at dark, and one actually flew down from this fence to my shoulder tonight.  I put them in the juvenile 4 x 4 pen for one day last week, and they freaked out at that.  Since the other juveniles love that pen and hang out in there and the big henhouse during the day, I hated to take it away from them.  I think there was probably a mishap with these three one day in the last two weeks... either Brutus, the Welsummer rooster got them (he is a bully) or Barney, the brahma... who is the real bully.  Anyway, they are too scared to stick with the rest of the flock.  

Here is another interesting thing:

Here are Teeny's teeny chicks, getting bigger.
I think the one on the right is a cockerel, we shall see.
However, the interesting thing is that the chick in the front, a pullet, clearly is part Japanese Bantam.  See the upright tail and the hanging wings?  She has the shape of One, Two and Three, my five year old sons of Fred, our purebred white/blacktailed bantam that was killed in the dog attack.  Fred was such a good rooster, he took care of all the chicks born while he was alive. 

Tonight as I finished chores, I saw probably 100 dragonflies all darting every which way, but staying together in a huge circle.  It was fascinating to watch.  I tried to make a little movie twice, but all you can see are figures darting through the camera's vision.  They were unreal, though, whizzing this way and that, and some quite large.

Big day at work tomorrow, so need to hit the hay on time tonight... time to round up the pugs and get to it!