Violet’s first egg!
September 7, 2014, 7:46 pm
Filed under: chickens | Tags: , , , , ,
Violet inspecting her handiwork

Violet inspecting her handiwork

Wow. Hurray! September 7 Violet laid her first egg. I almost didn’t notice it in the nest box, but there it was. So tiny and so perfect. Good job Violet!

She's got some big shoes to fill.

She’s got some big shoes to fill.

It was hard to capture just how small it is. Violet herself is pretty small. She almost seems like a bantam. But her comb was nice and red.

pretty violet

pretty violet

And the other chickens looked so jealous.

Goodge, and Daisy looking jealous

Goodge, and Daisy looking jealous

Perhaps Violet was annoyed that I didn’t notice earlier. She was making a racket today. I was outside moving a bunch of things near the garage. She jumped up on a table I was standing next to, and then launched herself right onto my shoulder. While I was trying to get her down, she walked around the back of my neck and pecked my eye. Yep, that’s right, I got pecked in the eye by the crazy thing. It was so fast–I reacted but she did get me somehow, and the reaction was so quick that the contact popped right out of my eye. Sheesh. Gross story I know. I can’t think about it too much. She’s a real character that Violet.


new baby chicks!
April 28, 2014, 5:18 pm
Filed under: chickens | Tags: ,

Five years ago we drove to Ohio to pick up some chicks. Today we did it again! Five new baby chicks came home with us. A Welsummer, a Barred Rock, a Partridge Rock, a Rhode Island Red and a Golden Laced Wyandotte.

Hey, we're here!

Hey, we’re here!

tiny fluff balls

tiny fluff balls

It took a couple of days, but we did manage to name them. Meet the new five:

Violet (Barred Rock)

Violet (Barred Rock)

Goodge (Partridge Rock)

Goodge (Partridge Rock)

Phillipa (Pippa)

Phillipa (Pippa) Welsummer

Lilikoi (Lily)

Lilikoi (Lily) Golden Laced Wyandotte

Daisy (Rhode Island Red)

Daisy (Rhode Island Red)

I probably need to look them up again, as I’ve probably misidentified them. I’m surprised that the Rhode Island Red has so much variation on the color, perhaps we didn’t get one of them at all? Time will tell!

Daisy is much bigger than the others

Daisy is much bigger than the others

animal friends? chicken and squirrel edition
April 4, 2014, 2:14 pm
Filed under: chickens, farm, goats

Oof. One of these days I might actually have a heart attack when I open that door to the chicken coop. This afternoon, I went out to check on the girls. It’s pouring rain and the run door is open and the chickens are out and about somewhere. So I go to check. I open the door and EEK! Something runs out of the coop. I look over and knuckles is sitting there on the nest box trying to lay, while a red squirrel is in there eating all of her food! WHAT?!! I hopped into the run to see what was going on, and the little dude (trapped inside the run) was really giving me the whatfor. He was hanging on the wall on our new chicken wire wrapped run, chitting and chattering away. Dumb thing. Eventually I let him go and he made a break for the open door.

Between the possums, coons, mice, deer, turkeys, assorted birds and squirrels–the goats and chickens have some fun (and sometimes scary) interactions with their fellow wild animal friends. But seriously, heart attack. Yeesh.

a hard winter
February 22, 2014, 2:49 pm
Filed under: bees, chickens, farm, gardening | Tags: , , ,

Yep. We’ve all heard it. It’s been a hard winter. I believe it! Luckily for us, we were able to escape for a week. Hawaii. Mmm hmm. We were lucky indeed. We’ve never done that winter sun holiday thing, and yes, it was nice!!!

Now we’re back. And without our constant pressure, the wildlife creeped ever closer. They were hungry.

Hard work for naught

Are you hunrgy enough to eat a garbage can??

Are you kidding me? Someone ate a hole into the garbage can?? We’re not meat eaters. We compost. What the heck was it smelling?


recycle bin

Check it out. It even tried the recycle bin. Guess the yellow plastic doesn’t taste as good as the green?

But then I ventured out to the garden. The fenced garden. I am devastated.


a girdled apple tree

My little espalier apples–girdled. I am so upset I can’t believe it! 4 of six carefully planted, pruned, tended, perhaps they might fruit for the first time this year, apple trees. All that work. Good bye Newtown Pippin, so long Duchess of Oldenburg. Nice seeing you Calville Blanc. Whatevs Golden Russet. Blech. Gardening is too hard.

I took a spin out to the back garden just to see what else had been going wrong. The two trees out there are without damage. Sydney’s disaster–aka the Gala apple tree she knocked over and broke last fall–showed signs of animal gnawing on the smaller limbs which are now on the ground. But the other two seem fine.

I heard some buzzing. I looked down and saw a lone bee on a branch. Over at the hive, some signs of activity. Silly bees. It’s only 50. And it’s surely not spring yet! But nice to see some activity there.


A few hardy bees testing their flight legs

In other news, that hungry raccoon gave me a scare yesterday too. Unlike the possum sighting, this time I screamed! I opened the feed room in the barn. Goats were in the aisle, and chickens were crossing the tundra to the barn for their afternoon scratch and peck. I opened the door and a raccoon scurried over away from me. The lid to the chicken food was off. ARGH!!

I rushed to get the chickens back to their safe house. When I returned he was gone. But he’s still around. He escaped the trap last night, but opened up a few bags of chicken food. Yes, you really need to put all chicken food into metal bins. With lids that can be locked. He was a cute little guy. Not one of those huge ones, but not a tiny one either. Poor guys are so hungry out there!

It’s nice and sunny and warm today, but we hear that winter is coming back this week. Oh Hawaii, yes we miss you already!

the curious way we think of animals

Today Pittsburgh is honoring a lost comrade..in a big way. Rocco the police dog was stabbed in the line of duty and ultimately passed away. He’s getting a big deal funeral, and police from all over the state are attending. People are alternately confused about the expense and trouble, or moved to tears about the story.

I guess I fall into both camps. Definitely moved to tears by the story, but also a bit confused about the big deal from a culture that doesn’t do much normally to honor animals. There was another sad animal story this past week, which was quite horrific. A large “egg farm” caught on fire. No the eggs don’t just produce themselves–there were around 300,000 hens in the barn at the time. Can you imagine? Horrific in death and in life. Apparently this farm keeps 2 MILLION hens. Sheesh. All those little lives. That brings many tears to my eyes.

Especially as I tend to my two spoiled egg laying (sometimes) charges. Knuckles and Bubbles have the cabin fever. They’ve been so cold this winter.

Yo, how's about you turn the heat up?

Yo, how’s about you turn the heat up?

Here they sat one morning last week, up on the roost right under the heat lamps. They were actually shivering! Poor chums. But at 20 degrees they’re ready to party. I head out to the run and they’re at the door waiting to break loose.

It’s very icy on top of the snow, and I can’t actually open the back door of the barn (which I usually leave open so the chickens could return home if they wanted). SO….yes I give them a free ride to the barn (their little chicken heads bobbing, sometimes telling me a tale).

One at a time, I carry them across the frozen yard to the barn, where they can spend the afternoon scratching around in straw and enjoying themselves. Yes I’m that person, some kind of crazy chicken lady. Not sure how it happened, but at 4 pm, you can find me, carrying a chicken back to the coop, hoping that she enjoyed her day out on the town.

I’m happy that a police dog is getting a big fancy funeral. I see lots of changes out there in how we treat our animals. Sure there are many many contradictions in how we do it, but as long as we are generally moving towards a greater appreciation of life, it’s good, right?


goats in coats 2014 edition

This morning we woke up to this:

looks like minus 10!

looks like minus 10!

This am, both of the goats were shivering. Time for the coats.

sydney can't believe she got the coat too.

sydney can’t believe she got the coat too.

We checked on them later, and alas, the Dongo was still shivering. Time for a new tactic. Enter the sweatshirt.
(Note for Mom: for Christmas next year, Roppongi probably takes a large not a medium, but maybe with 3/4 length sleeves!)

she probably takes a large--but with 3/4 sleeves!

she probably takes a large–but with 3/4 sleeves!

She looks a bit dashing in that shot, don’t you think?
But no, she was glum. This pic captures her mood.

we probably should have trimmed the sleeves for her.

we probably should have trimmed the sleeves for her.

She knew what was coming, the big blue sheet went on over top of the sweatshirt.

We did manage to cheer her up a bit though, with her favorite winter treat–hot molasses water. Mix about a tablespoon of molasses into about 3 litres or a gallon of water. Some people say that their goats really like the water hot and not warm. Today I tried that, and sure enough, Roppongi drank most of the bucket. They love it, and it’s a nice energy boost and vitamins for them.

In other winter news, note to self–this is why they made plastic chicken waterers.

galvanized waterers are not practical for winter!

galvanized waterers are not practical for winter!

I always wondered why people made the plastic ones, the galvanized ones would seem to last much longer. I like this nice big one in the summer in their run. It’s big so I don’t have to keep refilling it. Our plastic one was leaking last night, so I had to use the galvanized one, and lo and behold–you can’t get the frozen ice chunk out of it in the morning. ARGH. So we went out and bought a new plastic one today.

Other than a few small gripes, we’re all doing ok in the big cold. Just waiting it out until tomorrow. The kids had no school today, and they’re on a two hour delay tomorrow. But it should be up to the 40s maybe by the end of the week. Whew!

big surprise in the coop: possum!!
January 5, 2014, 6:06 pm
Filed under: chickens | Tags: , , , ,
ugly guy

ugly guy

We’re waiting for that big freeze, but today was pretty mild. I wasn’t that surprised to see that the chickens were at the gate and wanted to go out of the run for a tour around the farm. I let them out, and then decided to take a look at the coop. I opened the door to see this surly bugger!!

Ok so he looks a little less frightening in the coop.

little drowned rat-like thing

little drowned rat-like thing

He wasn’t moving too fast, so I closed in the coop and then got my camera! He showed me how he can climb.

dude you missed the door

dude you missed the door

Chased him out of the coop and he headed up to the corner of the run.

Up the fence he went

Up the fence he went

He can fit through a teeny 2 x 4 inch fence. With some coaxing he showed us how…

squishy but he made it.

squishy but he made it.

I couldn’t figure out how he made it in in the first place. But then I noticed the tracks. Along the side of run, must have come through the fence at this roost. Walked across the roost and then jumped down and made his way straight into the coop.

Litte feetprints in between my boot prints.

Litte feetprints in between my boot prints.

We think he’s rooming under the woodpile near the coop. His mother or father was probably the killer of poor spanky. Poor chickens have seen so much. Good thing is that apparently possums don’t carry rabies too often, though they do carry a disease that is bad for horses and birds. They don’t hibernate, and we have seen them occassionally in the middle of winter.

You just get the sense that we’re constantly beating back the wildlife around here. Earlier this winter we ended up killing some mice in the barn. And we trapped groundhogs and raccoons. It’s just a constant struggle to keep everyone safe.