Thursday, May 31, 2012

More Strange Phenomena

I took this picture yesterday afternoon, while walking through the yard.  You might think it is just a picture of the grass.

Those leaves, my friends, are from this tree:

This large black walnut is slowly dying, and the trunk is very hollow.  Here is what is interesting... both of our big black walnuts are dropping leaves in MAY.  Normally, they are the last to leaf out... end of March, beginning of April, long after the other trees.  This year, they were the last to leaf out in March... and now, instead of July (which is normal start of leaf fall for them) both are dropping leaves by the hundreds, not just one or two.  The Kansas City Star this morning had a two page article about the strange weather phenomena we are experiencing, along with the facts that the winter wheat crop is in almost four weeks early, farmers are now cutting hay several weeks early, and people have already harvested their spring crops and are putting in summer crops in the garden.  The Star opines that we will be canning, etc. fully a month early this year.  I would have to say, based on what I see in our own gardens, that this is true.

I planted this stand of Achillea last summer... it has far surpassed anything I could have imagined.  In fact, there is a daylilly to the left that is almost buried by this stand, and I'll have to move it this weekend.

If you biggify this (by clicking on it) you will see that the buddleia blooming has beautiful blossoms on it. (say that fast!)

Daisies, phlomis, and catmint are also blooming.  The larger buddleia to the right is not blooming yet.

I wonder if I will have any flowers left for the rest of the summer?

We will leave soon for the funeral this morning.  There is an 80% chance of rain, but I am glancing out the window now, and the sky appears to be lightening.  After the funeral will be a lunch served by the chuch ladies, and I am taking my camera so that I can take pictures of some of my relatives to use for pages. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Tuesday, the Calm before the Storm

Somehow, I have to get through the next three days.  Everyone please remember me in your prayers, won't you?  It's going to be an ordeal, I can't say why.

Just some observations tonight:

The grass in our yard has begun "crunching" when we walk through it, this is how badly we need rain. At this point, June will see the yard in dormancy, long before it normally is.  Rain was predicted for this week, and even for my sister's visitation and funeral, I wish we would get some. 

Here is a line from an ad running in Kansas City Craigslist tonight :

"POA Brood mare 8 years old Blue roan, very genital. Will let you come up to her in the field, and put halter on." 

Don't know if we want a genital mare around here, it could get pretty rowdy.

And from the same ad:

"Non of these ponies are broke to ride, they have all been used for beading."

I keep envisioning a pony sweatshop! 

As it happens, I love ponies, and always have.  I know people think they are a pain in the neck to care for, but I always wanted ponies, and was so lucky to have Beau, the best pony in the world. 

Keith's shoulder is slowly coming back to normal, so with Chris here this weekend, he is going to try to work on the roof of the new henhouse again.  I asked him to please get the boards ready and ATTACH the equipment this time so there will be no fall from the platform. 

Here are the llamas, enjoying their breakfast in the early morning light.  It was a beautiful day here today, and did not get terribly hot.

You can just see the three turkeys in this shot. As normal, Clarabelle (aka Sherman) is patiently waiting for me to finish chores.  They had already had their treats... there is still a little bread on the ground, and Rambo and the hens are eating.  Annabelle is under the tree, and Jackson by the ramp to the pophole. The girl turkeys are bedeviling some of the hens, especially Buffy, the poor Polish hen.  I am trying to sort things out.

Tomorrow I'll take some pictures of the garden, and do a "State of the Garden" post.  Should be interesting!  Am not sure what time I will get the post done, as the visitation lasts until 8, and then I must take someone home.  I'll try to get it finished tomorrow night.

Until then!  


Monday, May 28, 2012

Monday Night

I'd like to tell you all about my little sister, but it will take me a day or two to get things together, and do a piece that does justice to her, so please bear with me.

Here are some pictures from around the place today, the only place I went was to the cemetary in Kansas City, Kansas to see my mom and dad/grandpa and grandma... and to the cemetary in Tongie to see my great grandpa/grandma on my dad's side. 

The Hubbel Hill cemetary in Tonganoxie is very beautiful, there is a section that is very old, from the mid-to late 1800's.  As you can see, when I was there at 2:30, most of the rush was over.  Flags lined each road in the cemetary.

Blogging Buddies Gertie and Abby, keeping track of what I'm doing (always).

Here's Cocky and two of the hens from the pasture pen.  I swear to you Cocky looks 100 times better than when I brought him home on St. Patrick's Day.  His feathers are shining in the sun now.

However, we still only have ONE chick in this pen.  Two eggs have been rolled out the door, and one sounds like it died weeks ago... something dry is rattling in it.  The one chick is being well cared for by his two white mamas, and sleeps between his two brown mamas.

Here are some of the bantam chicks... and in this photo are four of the home breds  The two "blue" chicks in the back are from the chick man (Heartland Hatchery) and are purebred porcelain D'Uccles.
One is a cockerel, the one on the left. 
Unfortunately, two of the homebreds are cockerels, too.  You can see two are possibly purebred Mille Fleur D'uccles, and the other two, probably Japanese-D'Uccle-Silky mixes.

I have some friends who wanted a porcelain cockerel, so he is ear-marked to go to them.

These are the larger, standard chicks.  They are all supposed to be pullets... and I believe all are but possibly ONE of the black sex links.  They are supposed to be black sex links, Gold Comets, and Cinnamon Queens, but we'll see.
This bunch will NOT hold still, either!

I know I was going to print the recipe for Saturday's night's casserole... I'll scan the pictures in tomorrow and the recipe, and post them tomorrow night.

We will be very busy with family matters this week... I want to thank everyone for their prayers and their comments about my sister.  She was a very dear person, but I know she is an angel as I type this.  I'll post as I can because on a farm, life does go on.

Thanks to all those on land, sea and air who are protecting us today, and in the past... with their own lives, and those of their families, offered so freely to the rest of us to guard us from the dangers of our world.

And to my little sister, Kathleen... who left us yesterday afternoon, and is God's newest angel... rest in peace, little sister.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

A Hot, Humid Day

What is going ON with our temps?

I am starting to believe in Global Warming.

On the other hand, I have the air conditioning going, and Keith is FREEZING and just put another heavy blanket on the bed. 

It was in the upper nineties heat index today in Tonganoxie, and I cut grass for a couple of hours with the wind blowing the dry grass back in my face.  Yes, I need a shower.

On my way to the food kitchen this morning with the eggs, I pulled over to take a picture of Tonganoxie's main street... 4th Street.  Not exactly hustling and bustling at 9:30 AM... but I wanted you all to see the beautiful flag display put up yearly.

I just realized this is not the best picture in the world, taken through my windshield.  I'll stop there on the way home from church tomorrow and take a better one.   Before the post office moved out by the highway, there was more going on on Saturday morning.

Here are Bitsy and Muffy, the two Naughty Girls, taken this afternoon.  This has been one of my biggest disappointments... I wanted badly to breed these two with Boots, my young Mille Fleur rooster.  They were all a year old in March... but these two girls are still in with the Little Henhouse flock.  I am going to try to get pictures of the roosters in there tomorrow, to put them up on the bulletin board at the feed store next week. If I can move them out, maybe Boots can move in.

The south end of Inca, who always lays down to eat.  I didn't feed the llamas until evening today... it was just so hot.  As you can see from this picture, Inca needs shearing badly.  Last year we did not get her neck, and now it's matted.  They were to have been shorn last Wednesday, but my sister was so very sick the day before that I cancelled at the last minute, fearing what was going to happen with my sister.  We have not rescheduled yet, as our friend has to come down from NorthWest Missouri to do it for us.  Before you buy llamas, please consider these things... the llamas should be halter-broken and easily led.  They need to be gotten used to having their feet handled, because llama toes must be trimmed at least once a year, and believe me, they are not easily manipulated like goats. They MUST be sheared in hot areas such as ours, because they literally can die of heat stroke.  Inca has a pool which she uses to cool off in... but still, the heat is very hard on them.  If we could have had the pond that we attempted last year, that would have helped them. They also must be wormed, and have shots, which are usually done at the same time as shearing, but this is a huge production every year, and should not be... this is what you get for having llamas not gentled from a young age.

(and I'm telling on myself here, because we did not work with Aztec when she was born here)

What we had for dinner tonight. 

I can't tell you how good this was.  It was a splurge for both of us, I had not eaten much today, and Keith had just picked, too. I will print the entire recipe tomorrow, but I can foresee making this when the kids are here (at double the recipe) so there is plenty to go around.  Briefly, it's a layer of macaroni, a layer of hamburger cooked with onion and I used some Rotel tomatos with green chiles.... a layer of cream cheese, cottage cheese and sour cream.... (the white you see) then another layer of macaroni, then meat, and then on top, grated parmesan cheese.  I did NOT put salt in it, as we are trying to cut down... but I did use Onion and Garlic Mrs. Dash... and let me tell you... it was wonderful!  We each had a second helping... and I am stuffed full.

Time to take a shower and read a good book.  I'm going to work in the garden tomorrow after church... and will take lots of pictures.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Friday Evening

We did not get much more rain than we did last night, despite heavy clouds most of the day.  It's hot... 91... and very, very humid, too humid for the pugs to go out for more than a minute.  I sweated through the chores tonight.  In fact, tomorrow morning I'm going to raise the heat lamps way up above the chicks... they are a month old now, and I think would be fine in the heat of the day without the lights.  Then tomorrow night I'll raise them up higher, so the chicks don't roast.

Butch, my pet rooster, loves to roost on top of the bantam trough where he can keep warm in the light at night.

So far, there is still only one chick in the doghouse in the pen in the pasture.

The two brown mamas moved the eggs back into the corner, but I saw them when they both got up to get some water.  The Mille mama actually went outside to poop and get water, so I have a feeling that none of the other eggs will hatch, for whatever reasons.

Click on this to make it bigger, and you'll see two baby bunnies hiding in the grass!

I know some of you are wondering about my sister.

Kathleen is still with us, but still so very ill.  I am going over tomorrow to spend some time at her bedside, as it is too hard for her to talk to people now.  It is so hard to see her like this,  and I pray that she does not have to wait long to go to her heavenly home. 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Rain, Hallelujah!

Last night in our front yard:

Yes, friends, that's what the ground looks like hereabouts.

Starting to get scary.  Not so long ago, our sump pump in the well house was running up to ten times a day, pumping out excess water to keep the well house dry.  That has stopped.

So tonight, doing chores.... here's what I saw:

I stopped to say a prayer... we need this!

An hour later, we had a good, hard (very hard!) shower, but it only lasted ten minutes.  Right now the sun is trying hard to peak through again.  J and S at Cranky Puppy Farm... it's coming your way!

Here is something else that happened yesterday:

"It" is right of the waterer.  Can you see it?  It is ONE chick, appearing to be Mille Fleur D'Uccle in type, as there are three Mille hens and a rooster in this pen.  Those are my three mixed hens from the little henhouse, moved in here.  There were FOUR mamas on the eggs, which appear here:

That looks like thirteen more eggs to me, and to tell you the truth... I can't handle thirteen more birds.  But I am guessing something...tonight is Thursday, and yesterday one chick had hatched.  Usually, a clutch will all hatch within 24 hours of each other.  My guess is none of the rest of the eggs are going to hatch.
When I got home to do chores tonight, I saw that the lone chick is eating and drinking very well... so I put the waterer in the doorway.  I'll move it just out of the doorway tomorrow morning, so it won't be knocked over.  The two white mamas are up and training, so if any eggs will still hatch, it will be the Mille Fleur hen and Fleura, my silkie/frizzle cochin cross that will raise them.

Here is something else strange:

Mums.  Blooming in May.  I pinched back all the others.  I'm going to dead-head these and see if they will bloom again, they were the HUGE bush that bloomed in October last year. Too Freaky! 

We got a half-inch of rain by the little yard cart -- it has at least a half-inch in it just now as I went out to lock up the birds.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

And I put my HAND in there!

You did WHAT, Mama????

Monday, May 21, 2012

A Week Later

Thank you all for your comments and prayers for my sister Kathleen.  She is still with us... and remaining about the same... though we had a very bad day last Tuesday.  The family gathered to say goodbye, but she pulled through that crisis and continues on.  Her cancer is so far advanced that at this point, it would be a miracle for a cure to be had.  She is at home, a shadow of herself, but still with us for a while longer.

So, after four days of nursing duty, Keith and I took an evening to go to our first T Bones game of the year.  The T Bones are an independent league ball team, that plays in a stadium about ten miles straight down the road from us.  This year we bought all Saturday night tickets, but for an extra 25.00, we got our same good seats for five extra games. 

Unfortunately, our team is almost totally new... we recognized only 4 players from last season, and three of those were pitchers, whom we don't get to know all that well.

Batter up!
The first pitch of the new season goes out.  The two teams looked almost alike, uniform-wise.. the T Bones, in their tenth season, have changed from their maroon jerseys and striped pants to black jerseys (with maroon numbers) and white pants. 
Unfortunately, we lost.  However, Frank White, formerly of the Royals, is now our first base coach, and tonight, we saw improvement already. 
This was the first of our extra five games.

Keith is on vacation this week, so yesterday afternoon he made something for me.

I separated the standard chicks from the bantams last night, remembering the chick who died in the stampede last week.  The standard chicks had become 2 1/2 times as big as the banties.
Two of the bantams that were born in the Brinsea appear to be either purebred or half-bred mille fleur, and are heavily booted.  I am trying to figure out how to get this little group established with Fancy and April, the two grown porcelains.  It's going to take another pen... and I'm still working on that problem.

Here are the Turkettes tonight up on their doghouse roost.  Clarabelle has a terrible time trying to fly down in the morning.  They really need a proper roost, since they can't fly up to join Jackson on the top of the little henhouse.

We came home at the top of the fifth, it was downright chilly at the ballpark!

Saturday, May 19, 2012


My sister became very ill on Tuesday, and I have been going back and forth to her since then.  We do not think it will be long before she will be another angel in heaven, looking down on us.

Please forgive my absence, this has been a long week.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Turkeys and a Little Chick

We lost one of the porcelain chicks today, and it was very disappointing, because I think I was the reason. 

When chicks are frightened, they pile.  This morning I cleaned the old feed that was mixed with feces out of the trough the chicks are in, and they piled in fright. I obviously did not pay attention closely enough, because tonight, I found one of the porcelain chicks almost buried in the feed/footing.... dead.

An example of "piling". 

Here most of the chicks were about the same size, but the pullets are now twice the size of the bantams. I think this poor little chick got trompled in the dash, and I did not see it was in distress.
It looked like one of the older porcelains, which I got from Heartland Hatchery on April 28, and not the lone purebred hatched here.

Here is a good picture of Jackson, taken this evening.

It shows very clearly his snood, the piece hanging limply over his beak... when he is excited, this snood enlarges and hangs down impressively.  His caruncles turn bright red at the base of his throat, and the head that is blue right now will turn red and then very white.  Jackson is still a pretty young jake, and though he is proprietary of his girls, I still have seen no reproductive behavior, so I don't think all the eggs accumulating in the nest in the pasture could be fertile.  He has also lost quite a few white feathers lately, but he was in a distressed condition too, when we got him.  He still does not display an impressive beard from his chest, either.

I hate to lose any chicks, but losing a porcelain was harder!


Sunday, May 13, 2012

Sundays and Moms

My own dear mother has been gone for four years already, and I miss her like it was yesterday.  The last two years of her life, she was very child-like, and often called me "Mother", in fact, rarely did she call me Mary Ann.

How she would have loved to come out here and sit on our porch and watch the birds feeding, and see the chickens, and laugh at the llamas.  I know someday I'll be with her again, but for now, I'm sending her happy prayers winging their way skyward for Mother's Day.

It was mild and cloudy/sunny today, and I had a nice long visit from the grands and their mom and dad,
Paiton, Jaxton, Madison and Jacob.  I didn't think to take any pictures while they were here, but we had fun looking at and holding the new baby chicks, and seeing the other chickens, and chasing the turkeys.  After the chaos in the pasture, we came in and had cookies and milk.

A little later, I went out to do the chores.  I worked so hard Friday and Saturday, and then went down into the pasture with our little yard cart hooked to the tractor, and raked two big loads of hay to put on the new compost pile.  Then I called it a day and did chores, and came in and read for a while.
For me, a perfect day.

Here are two little farm dogs that helped:

These two little girls have become very good friends.  Abby can't keep up with their younger legs.

This is a remarkable picture, because it features five of the boys from the big henyard in it.  Rambo (Baby Rambo) on the left, the last son of our Buff Orp rooster Rambo...and King of the Big Henyard.... and George, the partridge cochin in the feed bowl... Boots, the Mille Fleur rooster, and Speedy, the Brassy Back Old English Rooster.  That's Jackson having a siesta in the background.  Jackson likes to lay down where he can see me when I am doing chores and take a little snooze, I notice now that he does this daily.

Here were Turkettes Annabelle and Clarabelle taking a dust bath while I sat for a while.  You can see from Anabelle's underside that they still have not grown back any feathers.  Their feathers, you see, were complete rubbed off on their chests and undersides when I got them from their previous owner.  They were in a pen with a lot of chickens, and the pen had literally a sink-mud-hole in it, and the two girls, for the three days I went there to get birds, were in that mudhole every time I went, pacing back and forth. They are slowly coming back to complete health, and I hope their feathers will re-grow to cover the bare spots.  They are lovely turkey girls, and very calm, unlike Helen, our first Turkette.

And to close the week out, a totally gratuitous picture of Splash, my favorite of the new hens.

I hope everyone had a happy Mother's Day 2012!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

The New Garden Bed Week Three

Three weekends ago... the weekend of the Big Fall, as I like to call it... when Keith fell off the scaffold... Chris and Hayleigh had begun preparation of the southern half of the new flowerbed started last summer.  This bed had been allowed to grow up to weeds over the mild winter, because we put paper down and then didn't secure it enough, so that over the course of weeks it had come up and been ruined.  So Christopher weed ate the bed down to the ground, and we put some wood on the thistles growing in part of it, and then, three weeks ago, Hayleigh and Christopher spread Max Mix and peat moss and straw over new landscape paper to make the base of the bed. 

Here is the northern half of the southern bed, that we started planting last summer:

I have never planted kniphofia (Red Hot Pokers) before... this is a huge plant, and I love it.  The achillea behind it has also grown huge.  I must say that the layering of the beds really pays off.  Yes, there is some grass I need to get out... there is a bed behind it that is not prepared yet, and I need to root all that grass out as it is invading, but, overall... this bed is beginning to look good.  Tucked back behind that kniphofia is a white lilac bush, about ten inches tall.  I'm going to carefully dig it up and transplant it somewhere where it has room to spread it's wings.

There is another kniphofia in the north bed, at the far end, where it has a lot of shade from the big maple... it is not even half the size of this huge one!

Here is the bed looking to the north (the south end of the south bed)... where you see dark dirt, I planted purple coneflowers, and then white coneflowers, having been given seed by a friend at work.  I also have black eyed susan seeds to plant.  Behind the butterfly bush, hydrangea and clethra is a row of sunflowers of all kinds and colors, now well-started up from seed.  I love coneflowers, and hope these get started well. 

And here is a new compost heap started.  We had great luck with an old heap we had... the one year we had stellar pumpkins, they were volunteers from a compost heap much the same as this.  You see our bins to the south of this heap, which is grass and cleanings from the llama yard.  I didn't get a picture of Lil rolling in the llama poop.  (There is also a base of chicken house cleanings under all this)
I have a lot more grass from the pasture to put on this heap, if I can get our little cart hooked up to the tractor tomorrow.  I can't push the big cart up and down the pasture hill when it's full. 

And... the main reason I'm not using the compost bins at the moment.  I threw a two year old gourd in here a few weeks ago after Ranger played with it for weeks and finally chewed it up. 

Look what happened!

Thursday, May 10, 2012


He's baccckkkkkkkk....

And he was on the hunt this afternoon when I got home from work.

I had no sooner taken this picture and turned around to start giving the chicks fresh water when....

He had silently come clear across the henhouse along the wall, and suddenly appeared almost at my feet... near the trough with the chicks.  The top shield is held down by two boards, the one on the other side is larger and heavier.

I finshed inside chores and went outside to get started, and about 20 minutes later came back in to get something... and literally almost stepped on Mr. Snake in the doorway... he ducked back under the storage cabinet.  Heavens knows there are so many mice in the henhouse, he shouldn't need young chick.

Meanwhile, out in the pasture pen... there's a hen party going on.

That's right, four little hens think they are all incubating the eggs NOW under the mille fleur on the right.  As she is my favorite of the mille fleurs in this pen, I'm cool with this.  In fact, I'm going to ask Keith to please finish the brooder box, because Mama and babies will need to go into it, so that the babies are not hurt after birth by the adults.  Remember, last year we had 21 of 22 chicks killed by other hens.

I'm not sure which of the mamas will get the honors to set the eggs.  They are about two weeks in at this point. 

Here's Aztec, at a year and a half.
Next Wednesday is Llama Rodeo Day, and the matted wool you see on Azzie's back is going to be removed.  She had only a partial shave for her first time last year.

More is blooming in the garden and around the yard now. 

We have several mulberry trees on our property, and I love mulberrys.  They are the only fruiting tree (besides walnuts) that were in our yard when I was little.  Actually, the tree was in a neighbor's yard, but it's branches hung over ours, and I loved picking and eating them.  I love to drive under the hanging branches and eat them while I'm mowing now.  These are ripe almost a month early.
I also found out that Chris had trimmed this tree back hard, and only this branch is hanging where I can reach them now.  Luckily, there is another tree with huge berries about ten feet from this one.

The llamas have trimmed our two mulberry trees in the pasture back so far, that I can't reach any on them.

Baby apples are forming on our apple trees, but I'll pick them off tonight.  We need to wait another year before letting them bear fruit.

Here is the bird feeding station, with the niger seed feeders hanging off to the left.  A lone sunflower is blooming here, wayyyyy early.  It's important to still feed the wild birds during the spring, as their feed in the wild has not matured.  Besides, I love to watch them.  As you can see, the row of irises that have given almost a month of pleasure are finally dying down.  The bed to the left (behind the overgrown grass) needs severe weeding, I noticed it last night when I was mowing.  I'll work on it tonight after I mow the last of the front yard.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Mixed Up Tuesday

We're about to move on from irises in the garden... but I hope all these early blooms don't mean that there will be no flowers this summer.

The beautiful red snaps in the middle were bought at the end of the season at Howard Pine Nursery in Lawrence (Ks)... the little lady at the counter told me "They will reseed themselves"... Man, did they EVER!  And, as you can see, they are beauties!  Red cup and yellow eye, very bright and cheery.  The mums in the middle are slowly getting crowded out.  I need to get in there this weekend and work in it some more.  I never seem to get caught up when the kids are here. 
Tomato "Parks Whopper" in the hoop house.  I have grown this tomato for years, and Keith picked it up this year without realizing that.  It is probably four feet high at this point.

I do not know the name of this pepper plant, but I'm staking it tomorrow night, though it's stem seems sturdy.  It's getting awfully tall.

Here is something we learned about the hoop house...we should have put a gravel base in, or sand.  Grass has grown up around the planters, and it's a pain to keep down.  We'll know better next year.

And here are two of the four romaine lettuces.  It appears two rotted out at the roots... overwatering?  We aren't sure, but we are noting all this.  The outside romaine is still half this size, and these are heading up.
That's another pepper plant next to it.