Monday, February 26, 2018

What is a Fart Egg?

Several people asked about the "fart egg" that I pictured on 
Instagram and Facebook yesterday. 

I'll try to explain. 

Here is the picture, as posted: 

I found this egg just outside the open pophole of the coop, yesterday, as I was 
closing up. 

I remembered that yesterday morning, I had heard a LOUD cackle while I 
was clear over on the porch, from a hen who sounded very surprised.  Many hens 
cackle, though, as they lay. 

When I saw this egg, I thought to myself "WOW, was that her first?" 

In December I brought home four cochin hens from the National 
Agricultural Center .  All were just coming into lay, or so I thought, 
so... I suspect one or two has not yet. 

"Fart" or "fairy eggs" are described as thus: 

Image result for what is a fart egg?
Sometimes called dwarf, wind or—my personal favorite—fart eggs, an egg without a yolk is usually a young pullet's first attempt at laying. These oddities are characterized by their small size, round shape and resemblance to grapes or marbles.Jan 18, 2016

That's from Hobby Farms Magazine. 

Here is the egg this morning, on my kitchen table. 

A fairy, or fart egg, is usually defined by the fact that there is only white matter, 
but no yolk. 

How then, do we explain this?  I could tell the egg was heavier than normal. 

If you look at the picture above, you will see the two fairy eggs are much smaller than a regular egg, 
but I did not think to put mine next to a regular size egg. 

I was stunned to find a fully-developed yolk AND a fertilized chick
embryo in this egg when I broke it open five minutes ago. 

What the heck? 

I have never had a fully developed yolk in one that I remember. 

My guess is that one or all of the young cochins is only just coming into lay. 

I hope this answers all your questions about 
fart or fairy eggs. 

Friday, February 23, 2018

The Cold, Wet Week

It has been a cold, wet week here at Calamity Acres, though I admit the temps have not been horrible...
but the thawing ice has begun our Season of Mud, you know... spring. 

Two cardinals were patiently waiting on this red-bellied woodpecker to 
finish his meal yesterday. 

I got about 8 male cardinals in one picture last night, that I have not 
uploaded yet.  They are the last to feed in the evening. 

I finally (today, Friday) was able to chip all that ice in the flat feeder out, and get 
all that wet seed onto the ground.  I am going to have a real mess to clean up next week.  

I never get tired of watching the wild birds.   And yes, I AM spending a fortune on 
bird seed this winter.   Actually, I have bought some hanging feeders, and next year will fill the feeders, and whatever falls on the ground goes to the ground feeders (so I say right now). 
We know how long that will last.  
There are some unusual little birds in this picture. 

A few minutes later, there were some new birds at the top feeder. 

God bless my late husband for building the feeding station for me, because he knew how much 
I loved wild birds. 

Looking down into the pasture was beautiful in the light.  

As were the apple trees as I came in the gate. 

All of this is melting today. 

Of course, there's this....

I tried to back into my parking spot by the house, and felt myself slipping, so turned south and
took a circle around the lightpole.  Ummmmm, I pulled TOO FAR towards the slight 
hump...(remember, this property was terraced for planting years ago) and slid towards the old henhouse.  I stopped right there, all week long they have played on the news you should NOT rock your car to get loose... I might have tried it for a minute.  My son is coming out after work to 
get me loose and parked again, and I feel like a dork for doing it in the first place. 

Lo, through these many years (since 2005) of living in the country...I have worn 
plain green boots.  I treated myself to a pair of "Dipsy Dots" boots at TSC this morning.
They are comfortable, and were the only size 8s I could find.  So I'm stylish doing chores, now. 

It's in the mid-thirties this afternoon.  A few hens ventured out... only 3 came out yesterday and 
stood on the porch all day.  

They do NOT like the ice.  I do not like the ice.  

Lilly fell on it this morning, and I was pondering how to get her up... she was splayed... without hurting her, when she managed to lunge to her feet.  We have been taking baby steps all week to avoid falling, and you know what?  It wears you out. 

Smart boy. 

This afternoon. 
Invariably, if I look out... someone is looking back in. 

Also at TSC, but, I will warn you... I got a large and they are cut 
small.  Be forewarned. 

That's about how I feel about it too, while it's so cold and wet.  (And after getting scalped by
Great Clips three weeks ago). 

My big girl is still guarding her long-dead possum. 

A friend contacted me last night to tell me that her neighbor is willing to sell me some pullets that will soon be coming into lay this weekend, they are mixed breed, but I don't care.  Five more will give me a boost towards donating ten dozen a week, I am at about six at this point, and am 
using some here to feed the dogs several times a week.  I would take ten new birds, but it would overload the Hen Spa. 

Somehow this summer, I am going to figure out how to feed the ferals out of the weather next year, 
and take back the old henhouse, and put a few hens in there. 

Heavens knows I have enough room to do it. 

This made me smile.  I had just gone out to the old henhouse to put out the wet food, top off the dry, and make sure there was good water in the bowl.  Here came the grey tabby, from the direction of the 
garage (on my property).  I have looked in there, if he is living in there, he is hidden... but that gives me an idea for next season, I might put some dog houses in there.  ANYWAY.... he was on his way to dinner.  He did not see me watching him from the deck. 

In fact, after thinking about it for a few minutes, this would be a good thing.  I would get the 
feeders away from the house, out of the elements... have to think about how to run a 
heated water bowl, but I may be able to run that from the shop (barn)... 
this may be a solution for next year.  The shop classes at the high school make 
really nice dog houses for 35.00 each, and that would be a good deal.  I could put them at the back of the building, and store the mower, cart and some garden supplies at the front. 

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Suprise, Surprise

I can almost hear Keith saying
"Told you so".... 

We had an ice storm, along with thunder and lightening, 
early this morning, around 3 AM, and then more at about 6.  

I guess those bags of dirt will be there for a few days. 
They are so heavy I can't move them, and my idea was to 
cut them open and shovel them onto the bed I dug up the other day. 
They literally almost killed me to get them off the car... NO MORE 
2 cubic foot bags for this woman. 

I was helped by the kindest couple at Walmart, who helped me hoist them 
into the car... and for that matter, I won't be buying any more 
at Walmart, the lack of help couldn't have been worse. 

I have made three trips out already, spreading seed for the 
wild birds.  Thank heavens I went to the feed store yesterday. 

It's beautiful, in kind of macabre way. 

I left the chickens in the henhouse, they were NOT happy. 

I will make some oatmeal for them pretty soon, I have some dried mealworms and raisins to put in it. 

I thought it was supposed to go above freezing after noon time, but I am not sure that is going to happen now. 

The raccoons dirtied the water in the basin on the deck overnight... and then managed to almost 
dislodge the plug.  I have plugged it in, and there is a little thawed, so that the "porch birds" have something to drink.  I have filled the container in the yard twice, but every time I look out, starlings are drinking from it... they empty it quickly. 

So... this greeted me this morning. 

I think what he was actually thinking was "Hurry UP, Human mom, and leave me 
some food in that bowl on the floor".  I had two cans of cat food with me, thinking some 
of the ferals would be in the henhouse this morning. 

A raccoon had dirtied the water, so I poured it into my bucket, went out to get clean water, 
and heard the sound of a cat jumping to the closet roof from the rafters.  When I went back 
around the doorway, I saw Spooky jumping back up, but he waited patiently. 

Actually, there were several meows, and one HISS. 

I hurried to get his food down and clean water.  I heard him jump down as I left.
So, last night on the critter cam, I got confirmation that three of the four ferals are definitely still here. 

There's Spooky and Harlequin. 

The gray and white kitty from the wild area across the road... my neighbors also leave food out for him. 
I used to feed him at the end of the driveway, but I have stopped doing that, either the starlings ate it, or the raccoons.  He knows where the food is in the henhouse. 

The two black brothers, Inky and Spooky, so I have definite confirmation Inky is still around. 

And that's the gray tabby. 

I am still not sure if I have seen the other black and white neutered female, Tippy, from the original litter of four.  

And then, there was this guy. 

He left the water filthy.  I had filled the dry food all the way up last night, 
so there was plenty for everyone, and indeed, there was some left this morning. 

I had food outside, too, and I suspect it was fine until the storm came. 

Paiton and Jax spent part of the day with me yesterday, as they were on 
their end of term break... and they got up this morning to find that 
they got an extra day (they are home with brother Jacob) because of the weather. 
I am glad they are safe under their parent's roof in this bad weather. 

Friday, February 16, 2018

A Balmy Day in February

February 15... who would have thought???

64 degrees!

As Keith would have reminded me, winter is not over yet. 
It's 25 with a "feels like" of twelve right now on Friday morning. 

Here I am on the raccoon cam yesterday morning, 
headed out to do chores in CAPRIS in February, and 
my oversized Mona Pants tee shirt. 


I am back in Cuddl Duds and a sweatshirt and jeans this morning. 

So, I got started... slowly.  

I had lots of help every step. 

I had to watch everywhere I stepped, because spring is springing. 

Every five minutes, I had to stop... dig out a sapling... 
and cut it underground.  Some I was actually able to pull 
out by the roots.  Others were just too thick. 

There is yarrow in this bed at the back, and a 
patch of nice iris.  I left them alone. 

I unearthed some lily corms and could have slapped myself, I 
buried them again, but I think I had better invest in some new lillies

I moved over to the vegetable beds to do some 
cleanup.  Remember, I am still experiencing muscle weakness, so 
I go very slowly for the time being. 

Four of the eight beds are in pretty good shape, but I will add
manure and dirt to them. 

The other four need to be dug out. 

I also have a big problem in one of the vertical beds. 

It's a rugosa rose, well established.  
I did not plant this, it came while we lived in the big house. 

I am going to carefully start cutting the canes, which have 
wicked, large thorns.  Then I'll start working on the base. 

The vertical panels tie together at the top bar, and I want to 
use these beds again for climbing flowers.  

I pulled all the canes out of the middle area yesterday.  The far bed 
needs to be dug out, too. 

I'll have the yard service keep all this area cut down this year, when Keith and I 
planned this garden, we did not do enough thinking about keeping the paths clean. 

Beyond that bed lie the "bones" of my 
hoop house.  Some way, some how, I am going to get it 
resurrected.  It may take another year, I have to have 
someone to build the ends again.  Beyond the 
hoop house there are two beds that have iris in them, but 
also formerly, hollyhocks and sedum.  I am going to dig those beds
out and hollyhocks are coming back to Calamity Acres. 

I am never alone.  See that blue thing on the 
ground?  I am still picking up random pieces of plastic that 
appear everywhere.  In fact, this morning, doing chores, I 
picked up another 4 pieces.  Where do they COME from???

Four years ago, when we moved to the big house, 
my friend Georgie sent me some marigold seeds from Oregon. 
I planted them, and every year, saved the seed.  

I pulled this clump from the tomato bed yesterday, 
and I hung it in the henhouse for the time being. 

There will be a full bed of bright red and maroon 
marigolds again this year, descendants of 
the Oregon marigolds.  

This group, and the ones on the deck, will not be filled 
and planted until proper planting time, because of the hens, 
who love to jump in them and DIG.  I'm also 
going to have to put netting on them until the plants get going. 
The alternative is to fence the hens into their own run... but I hate doing that. 
They are happy running all over the yard, and I am dealing with the Poop Factor. 
That's starling poop on the deck, though, they hang out in the big maple off and on. 

As soon as it warms enough, the starlings will be gone to the fields for the summer. 

My daily reward for letting them roam. 

I took this as I gathered eggs last night. 

We see you. 

This is what raccoons do to the water in the henhouse. 

Feral Spooky waited while I cleaned the water and opened a can of 
food for him this morning, he is a smart boy.  I always leave a container of 
dry food, but I put wet food out in the morning and the evening. 

Isn't he lovely? 

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Back to Normal

I promise to start posting again. 

There, it's official. 

I took this in the doorway (the porch) of the 
old henhouse when I went in to clean the water bowl a
bit ago.  There was something coming up from underneath 
the ground, I thought it was something iron, like an old tub. 

Notice my assistants helping me. 

In a house in which my mother and I lived years ago (many years), 
I unearthed an old iron clawfoot bathtub in the back yard, I don't 
know if some one had used it for planting at one time, or what. 
It was completely buried, and no, I didn't dig it all up. 
I thought that is what was happening here. 

But, on closer inspection... I realized what it was. 

We bought this place in 2005.  The very first project 
Keith did was fix up the building that became "The Old Henhouse"... it had been 
used as a baby-sitting place for the kids of people who came to pick at the old strawberry farm here. 

He laid stepping stones across the yard, so I would not get my feet wet.  I had totally forgotten them, 
and most have sunk into the ground at this point.   I think there was one in the doorway of the henhouse, which later became our pony, Beau's, stall.  I suspect that is one of them. 

I'm probably going to have Chris dig it up, so I don't trip over it. 

I ran this bucket from the pump by the Hen spa.  You see the sediment? 
It has been strong since the well froze last month. 

I am not drinking the water currently... and am thinking 
I'll have to start filtering again, I did not have a filter put on 
after I moved in.  I do keep bottled water to drink, but use this 
for everything else.  We did have the well tested before we 
rented the place, and I have never had one qualm about drinking it (always did, Keith 
didn't.)  My sentiments are purely because of the sediment, I am not worried about the purity. I am blessed to have a 120 foot deep well. 

The maple tree is budding out big time, and still looks pretty good. 
I am calling an arborer to come look at it, and at the old walnut. 
I would like to keep it if I can (it is not bearing)... but... 

(and I just realized you can see Troy's house in the above photo... from the front door, I can't see it behind the barn at all!) 

It's trunk is in bad shape.  This does not give the true perspective, it's a massive 

Another view.  If you saw the next side, you would know how hollow the trunk 
really is, our renter poured a bag of cement in there to stabilize it, I believe. 

I suspect it is going to have to come down. 

That's my mulch "pile".  Thanks, girls. 

And speaking of mulch and gardening...

I dug a test hole in the south flower bed just out of curiosity this morning. 

I was actually going to have this bed all torn out, the landscape timbers 
Keith used have all rotted, and this was terribly overgrown the last few years. 

It was never properly planted.   HOWEVER... when I saw how nice the dirt looked 
underneath, I had second thoughts.  I am now planning on either trying to dig it out 
myself, or have it dug out.  In the old days, I would have been out there all afternoon with 
the digging spade, but right now, I am not capable of it.  

You long time readers will remember that Keith and I made these beds according to the "lasagna-gardening" method, we used newspaper, straw, manure, and good topsoil to build them. 

So, then I went over to the north bed... 

It was considerably harder to get the spade in there.  You see, the 
north bed was completely planted, and phlomis grew up in this area and took 
over everything else.  I want it gone, actually.  This clump I finally got up is full of 
roots, so I suspect I am going to have to remove about half this bed, and 
replace the manure and topsoil.  It will take all season, but next year I should have 
a wonderful perennial bed. 

I am guessing I need a little tiller again, though I would like to practice 
no-till.  I just don't know if I'm capable of it at this point. 

There are a lot of nice iris in this bed, and also, some lovely lillies, still. 

Here comes my boy up out of the pasture this morning, he LOVES to go down in the pasture and 'splore... but I usually try to keep an eye on him.  Unlike past years, I have not seen any 
coyotes lurking in the daylight, but I know they are there, I can hear them. 

'Splorin makes you tired

My girl likes to snack on cat food from the critter feeder. 

My "Valentine flowers" from my kitchen windowsill. 

Hope everyone has had a lovely Valentine's Day.