Thursday, May 19, 2016

Gander Management

The males of the species are all "hormoned-up" this Spring.  Ganders in the chicken house are fighting one another for the lone female.  She has started laying eggs in her hiding place and the guys have made some sort of pact to maintain the peace.  Out at the pond, Honky guards his old Wifey from Baby Huey -- who is wary and makes wide circles around them.

The two roosters have gone at one another even though there are plenty of hens to share.  The first batch of white leghorn chicks have graduated to a coop in the chicken house.  My home incubated chicks are sharing the big brooder with 24 new hatchery chicks.  All seem to be doing fine.

The goats are without a buck until the Fall, when I will acquire one to breed them.  My neighbor and I will go back into the goat business when he retires from his off the farm job in the Spring.  I've been cleaning and fixing in the nursery barns as I have the time now and won't necessarily want to do it in the hot late Summer and freezing Winter months.  I'm using up all the piles of old metal roofing material by lining the walls of the newest maternity barn to cut down on drafts. 

The goose house now has a nifty metal floor made of old sign material and the back is now covered with metal siding.  This has kept rats and other small vermin at bay.  Similarly I've patched up holes in the chicken house to improve the rat- and snake-proofing.

The beautiful red bull has learned to get over fences and electric wires to go pretty much where he wants to go.  It is becoming a problem, as the cows observe and learn from him.  My neighbor owns him but we have combined herds on my land for grazing.  He took the bull across the road to his place in the trailer and put him in a chain link fenced enclosure last night.  We talked at the road for about ten minutes, when I noticed that he was out.  This morning, he was again up at my place.  I'm not sure what the solution will be for him, but am at least hoping to see some of his red haired children among the calf crop this Fall.  I hope they do not inherit his intellectual abilities.

There'll be no peaches, apricots, or pears this year.  The late frost wiped them out.  Apples survived.

The hay is up high but we need the rain to stop for a few days in order to cut it.  That's the normal report for May.

Keep your socks dry.

Monday, April 04, 2016

Pink Blossom World

On Easter, the redbuds were newly hot pink in the fields and hills.  All the fruit trees were in bloom.  Peonies, always a miracle, were up with their reddish foliage.  Some tulips were blooming, lilacs were all budded out and all looked jolly, right on astronomical cue.

As I cleared old dried lemon balm near the house, I accidently found a nest of baby Easter bunnies.  Since then, I've checked each day to see if they're still alive and, despite the recent cold nights and rain, they are!  Just placing my open palm over the place where the nest is tells me because it is very warm to the touch.  Mother rabbit must be secretly visiting to nurse, as they are growing.  She pulled out some of her own fur and lined the nest for maximum coziness.

I don't think I'm getting soft in the head yet, as I still don't love the wild rabbits that eat a lot of the plantings.  As a mammal, I'm just a sucker for cute furry babies.  They'll be gone soon, and I can get back to the gardening.

My deer proofing is being challenged by sustained fifty-mile-an-hour winds for the last three days.  I can confidently report that dollar store whirligigs don't quite hold up.  They've been collected and stored inside until things calm down and I can do some repairs.  One of the nice expensive wind chimes with a solar light has been blown to smitherines and I've yet to find all the pieces.

I guess it's all right, as I was worried that the plantings were starting to look a bit like "crazyland" and I can revise the arrangement after the repairs are made.  The deer WILL NOT deprive me of fruit and flowers this year!

A big group of around thirty wild turkey were walking through the middle of the hay field yesterday morning.  They were all females with their young -- a tribute to good wildlife management and the fact that hunters thinned out the "gobblers" on the last legal hunting day.  If there are too many Toms, they find the nests and break the eggs to keep the females breeding.

Speaking of eggs, I filled the incubator with chicken eggs and it's chugging away with its automatic turner.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Spring Cleaning

I hurt my back shoveling out the goose house after the flood from snow runoff receded.  Now, it is ready for my idea to line the floor with metal to keep varmints from chewing through.  My neighbor says he'll help and will use some of the old flat metal he's collected.  If that doesn't work out, I've measured the old used tin roofing we've got piled around the farm.  This is war! 

I'm also planning on installing metal siding to the back and sides.  YouTube has some great videos which provide instruction in the installation.

Today, I started on the chicken house cleaning.  It was also impacted a bit by seeping water.  Yesterday, I repaired one of the coops that had rusted out chicken wire.  I replaced it with hardware cloth and found the old door for the coop and installed it.  A coop a day seems reasonable until my back heals.

The big barn is next.  All the wasted hay on the floor will be unnecessary as it warms up.  We've had a couple days of unseasonable heat, but I think that will correct itself soon.  Tonight's rain will cool us down and we're sure to get more cold weather this month and next.

I've ordered chicks and need to get the brooder ready.  I've also ordered pullets and have a spare coop just about ready for them until they are integrated into the flock.

The pear trees were growing straight up to the sky, so I pruned all but one.  As I stood on the ladder with my small chain saw, it occurred to me that there was a certain amount of inherent danger of physical injury, so I asked the men if someone would just lop off the two remaining vertical branches the next time they are cutting down cedars and wild cherry in the pastures.

Spring bulbs are emerging and daffodils are ready to bloom.  Trees and shrubs are showing leaf buds.

Thursday, February 11, 2016


The good news for today:  the mud is frozen, so you can walk or drive on it without slipping.

The temps are very low and will be for at least through next week, with snow and sleet in the mix.  I am back to hauling hot water from the old house to the chickens, as their hydrant is frozen.  Egg production is down, understandably.

That's February for you.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Where the Wild Things Are

Three sweet dreams were interrupted last night by wild animal cries.  Twice, coyotes' howling and once, toward morning, by the high pitched "moaning" of foxes mating.

I've heard the foxes every year, but did not make note of the dates.  Now, I'll be able to compare from year to year.

A very large flock of robins has been in the pines and around the driveway since the snowstorm about a week and a half ago.  I'm happy to provide shelter for them.

The snow is still on the ground, but melting some each day and refreezing at night.

Melted mud is just as slippery as frozen slush.

Signs of Spring:  the peacock has regrown the tail feathers shed in Autumn and was displaying this morning for the chickens.  Honky gander is in biting mode, expecting old Wifey to start laying eggs soon.  We will all make a wide path and try not to set him off.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Bye Bye Birdie

The bird watching was going along swimmingly.  I was enjoying watching the phoebes and juncos at the feeder and a small group of Northern flickers appeared on the lawn.

One morning last week, I went out to take my morning trek down the hill to the barns and I saw the suet feeder on the driveway, metal cage broken apart and all the suet eaten.  The wooden feeder was on the ground minus the seed.  The steel hanger post was bent at a 45 degree angle.

I would not want to meet the squirrel or raccoon that can bend steel.

There were only two plausible explanations:  Superman or a bear!

An Associated Press article in the Sunday paper shed more light on the happening.  It seems that the unusual warmth this December has kept the bears out of their hibernation dens and they are still roaming around foraging for food.  The article recommended waiting until after the snow comes to put out bird feeders.

I will do that.

The summertime peach eating mystery may be on its way to being solved.  It was either a bear or Superman.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

December Warm Spell

A couple of days ago, I was able to walk down to the barns wearing a T-shirt and jeans -- no jacket.  I'll don a jacket this morning, but by this afternoon, a sweater or sweatshirt will probably do.

They're saying that it will be cold tomorrow after the rain, but then we'll warm up again before Christmas.

The trees have all budded out and I see new lilac seedlings leafed out.  This concerns me, because if the fruit trees bloom all is lost for a crop next year.  For all I know, the trees themselves may decline.

This is unusual, to say the least.

The garden clean up is progressing.  I still haven't decided what to do with the space.

I moved the bird feeder up to the top of the hill and can watch birds outside my window near my desk.  Bird identification books and binoculars are in place there.

I managed to see one "falling star" during the night.

There is less and less light as we zoom toward Solstice.

Thursday, November 12, 2015


October's brilliant color is being washed away gradually by November rains and wind.  The hills are slowly turning mostly brown, which will morph into grey as we descend into Winter.

Temperatures haven't been too bad, however.  We had a few cold days, but today, for example, it got up to seventy degrees.  This will not last, as the weather roller coaster takes us up and down and then stops at the low end of the thermometer.

Flocks, large and small, of birds are on the move.  Sometimes the sound of their collective wings flapping make me stop what I'm doing and look up.

I've been working on cleaning up the vegetable/butterfly garden, loading and dumping brush and weeds each day.  I'm going to convert it to some neater area, but it's still formulating in my brain.  As long as the weather cooperates, I'll continue.

'Ran into a Spring bulb sale and 'bought a lot of them.  They are all planted except for one package of forty blue crocus.  I need to decide where they'll go and then that task will be finished.

Friday, September 11, 2015


It is hot and humid.  The weather forecasters promised rain for days, but none fell on this farm.  The front pond is just a damp spot at the bottom of a depression in the earth.

As you can imagine, the geese are praying for rain.

Goats and cows have recently been given entrance to fresh pastures.  There are three new calves so far.  The chickens have picked up on egg production for some reason.

I forage old apples from the trees and tomatoes and peppers from the garden and take buckets to the chicken house.

Yesterday, a pair of green finches slammed into the dining room window one after the other.  I do not know if they were mating or fighting when they met their ends, but it made me feel sad either way.

The always accurate prognosticators are promising cooler weather by Sunday.  I guess that eventually they'll be right as the planet aligns in its Autumn path.  If it happens, it'll be a relief for me and will allow some more physical work outdoors.

Monday, August 24, 2015


A bowl of orange tomatoes and green and red peppers sits on the counter.  It is a still life waiting to be painted.  Large bowls and baskets of peaches, apples, and pears have dwindled down as I've tackled the peeling, cutting up and freezing.  I've squirreled away what I had room for and made a few jars of no-sugar-added jams for the Winter.

There is a mystery regarding the fruit trees.  I had to pick a lot of unripe fruit in order to get any for myself.  At first, half-eaten peaches and their stones were left all over the ground under the trees, presumably by the deer and groundhogs, possums, etc.  I picked as much of the low hanging peaches as I could deal with, leaving the high fruits beyond the reach of deer.  I soon noticed that there were no longer half-eaten fruit and no pits at all under the trees.  No deer were coming at dusk anymore.  However, most of the high fruit was being rapidly and efficiently picked during the night.  Lights and wind chimes had no effect on the thievery.

I wondered just what (or who) was picking fruit during the night.  It was obviously animals who either took the whole fruits away or ate them stone and all.

It wouldn't be turkeys or other birds, because they would, presumably leave the pits.  Could it be bears?  Giraffes?  Troupes of baboons?

Although I could train a camera on the trees and find out, I'm thinking I'll just let the mystery be.  It would be a shame to eliminate the fanciful imagining of night visitors to my peach trees.