You are currently browsing the monthly archive for June 2012.

June 17 – Ghosts of bacon past…I discovered baking bacon on a cookie sheet and have never gone back to the frying pan.  It all gets done at the same time without me getting spattered with hot grease, and it never gets over done.  I just never noticed the shadows it left til this time.

June 18 – Big thunderstorms this morning.  The lighting is interesting.  This is just out my living room window.  The wildflowers are blooming like crazy.

I put off chicken chores as long as possible, but finally decided those meaties had to eat.

I am so glamorous in my ducky pants and boots.  You might notice the barn door is open back there.  I’ve begun letting the meaties out to graze.  Because I had the fence in front, all the chickens got to know each other and there’s been very little squabbling.  Occasionally a hen will peck one of the youngsters  to put him in his place, but overall it’s quite peaceful out there, chicken wise.  Goose wise is another story.  Henry is something of a bully and thinks nothing of grabbing a chicken, almost any chicken, by its feathers and dragging it squawking.  The one chicken all three geese fear is JuJuBee, the Dominique pullet.  She is the lowest of the chickens in the pecking order and is determined that she is going to be above the geese.  So when she struts over to their food, they make a peculiar little squeak and run away.  The other chickens get a lowered head and hissing.  It’s a very strange thing to watch.

June 19 is sunny and warm.  I had to run into town for chick food and on my way home I stopped at Lake Mitchell to see how the water felt.  I never went swimming in Washington’s lakes because they all felt like glacier melt.  Here the lakes get warm in the summer, so I did a little wading.  It felt good.

June 20 – Four-week old geese.  Their bodies are downy and they have good feathering over their wings and tails.  They are getting feathers on their heads.  Their wings have grown so when they run with them spread out it’s quite the sight. I had never touched webbed feet before and for some reason (probably toys) I thought they would be more solid.  However, the webbing folds up and is very soft and pliable.  Young geese are amazingly clumsy, yet they are getting more control over themselves and can jump up on things now.  Makes getting them to bed easier.

June 21 – So, I had been finding eggs around the yard occasionally and had chalked it up to strange chicken behavior.  Until the day, that is, I saw Sadie walking out of the barn with an egg in her mouth.  She carries them around awhile then leaves them sitting in the yard.  This time she found the Secret Chicken Nesting Grounds (one chicken decides under the tarp is a grand place to lay and before I know it there’s a dozen eggs there before I find them…stupid chickens) and took an egg from it.  She even carried it to the house when I came in to get my camera.  She has a surprisingly soft mouth, and she hasn’t figured out how to get into the eggs.

June 22 – Chickens on the wood pile.  I was surprised how they all hung out awhile.

Flowers are blooming around here.  I went out with my macro lens.  This is a small bright pink climbing rose that was given to me.  I hope to eventually train it to climb the Art Chalet porch.

Deptford Pinks are very tiny flowers – maybe 1/4″ across.  Macro lets me see the details on them.

This was a partial Black-eyed Susan that the sun was hitting just so.

I hope to someday get a true macro lens, instead of a macro filter.  The focus area of the filter is rather small.

 

June 10 – My sage is blooming.  Purple sage, obviously.  The flowers smell sweetly of sage.

June 11 – The garden is planted.  Mostly.  I still have to put in the beans and peas and some carrots.  But I have red bell peppers, jalapenos, red onions, cabbages, and many tomatoes.  I purchased starts, since I was slow on the seed starting.  I’ll get it next year, I hope.  I do have some seeds started, but I wanted to make certain I have many tomatoes to eat and can.  I used up the last jar of the Summer 2011 tomatoes on spaghetti sauce this weekend.  The tomatoes I’m growing out there are a Black Cherry, Grape, Early Girl, Golden Jubilee and Romas.  The smaller bed in front is happily growing rainbow Swiss Chard – time to thin and move those around already.

I went out at night to see the fireflies.  There were so many!  All I can do when they’re around is stand there and grin.  While we have quite a few out in our pasture, there are even more out by the road, so I go out there as well.  I found one perched on a leaf up near the house, so I got to see it up close.  Fireflies make me feel like a young child again.  I was seven when we lived in Florida, and that’s what it takes me back to.   The blackberry brambles in Washington have the same effect.

June 12 – They are looking like geese.  Here they are at three weeks.  Some feathers are coming in on wings and tails.  They know where they sleep, though one of the girls usually fights going in at night.  I give them a bedtime snack and that usually helps.  That same girl seems to love dandelion flowers.  I watched her walk from flower to flower and just gobble them right up.  I hope that continues for a goodly long time.  Henry seems to know his name (geese are demonstrably smarter than chickens).  I’m considering changing one of the girls to Penelope, which just seems like a good goosey name…

Bigger than my foot!  For reference, I wear a size 10.   I didn’t realize I would be so fond of these birds.

June 13 and we had a frost warning last night.  Picture me in the dark covering my newly installed garden with swaths of cloth.  Phoebe knows how to enjoy the sunshine.

A close up of one of the Yellow Goatsbeard fluffs.  They are about the size of a baseball.

June 14 – The meaties are also 3 weeks old.  I had to open up the full front of the barn to them, because they are growing so quickly.  Plus it’s been hot (and cold) so they needed room to spread out.  Feeding them is something I need to video.  It’s like a piranha feeding frenzy in there.  In order to quell it at least a little, I end up tossing some food on the floor in a couple places, just to lure some of them away from the feeder.  I don’t let them have all the food they can eat, as that leads to them growing too fast and their hearts and legs not keeping up.  I feed twice a day, and they are growing quite fast enough.

I took the dogs on a walk but didn’t take my camera.  I had found a dropped pen near the Art Chalet, so I had that when I saw a new-to-me plant, with great big leaves.  It looked like a rhubarb to me, and I wondered if I had hit a jackpot.  David likes rhubarb.  I sketched out the leaf and made these notes so I could look it up when I got home.  The rhubarb leaves were different – on my sketch you can see I placed the veins at intervals and not directly across from each other.  The rhubarb leaves have veins that are directly across from each other.  So I googled “wild rhubarb” and discovered it’s Burdock.  The roots are edible.  However, I now have plans to cut a couple of those big ol’ leaves (seriously, 2 feet long!) and using them to make stepping stones (as seen on Pinterest – how I love thee Pinterest).

June 15 – It was one of those days when I just HAD to get out of the house.  The road construction that has our normally little-traveled road as part of the detour continues and the dogs are barking at many cars going past.  Plus it’s hotter than normal here, in the mid 80s.  Add to that I haven’t been anywhere in quite some time and well, it was bound to happen.  So I drove up to Traverse City.  I went to the cemetery because the last time I had photographed Ida it was a grey day and I wanted a sunny picture.  She’s the grave marker of a young woman who died in 1888 at the age of 19.  I also hit my usual craft stores and thrift stores, as well as the library.  David had told me of a Bob Edwards interview he had listened to where they were discussing the music mentioned in the Little House books (The Pa’s Fiddle Project) and that he was interested in music.  Yay, the library in Traverse had one of the CDs (there are 3).  Interestingly, neither David nor I have ever read those books, and he is interested in doing so.  I checked out a few since I don’t think they’ll take us long to read.  According to the website linked above, Laura Ingalls Wilder mentions 127 songs in her books.  These CDs are the soundtrack to the books.  Me, I love good fiddle music.

In my day out, I also had a quest.  I wanted a straw cowboy hat.  Something that looked good on, that would help keep the sun off.  The other hats I have don’t quite fit my inner vision of me.  I went to Diversions, a hat shop in downtown Traverse City (and also wandered Front Street looking into all the cute little shops there) and after some tryings on and searching, found just the hat for me.  It’s a Stetson!

Instagram photo.  I love my new hat.  Thank you to my mom for the birthday money that bought it.  🙂

June 16 – The Friends of the Library in Cadillac have brought these awesome life-size bronze statues to town for the summer.  I think I’ve seen all 11 now.  This little girl is sitting in front of the library.  Her book, which looks so real, is really enameled bronze.  When I first saw her out of the corner of my eye, I thought she was just a little girl waiting out front.  I’ll have to take a photo walk and get pictures of the rest of them.

My camera has a pan & scan option, where it will take a big ol long picture like this.  This is the view from the front of the garden, scanning around to the chicken fence.  You’ll have to click on the photo to get the full effect.  The layout of the blog cuts it about in half.

June 4 – Released Baby Chicken and the tiny ones into the chicken yard.  My intent is to use the mini coop as the goose house.  Here I’ve been looking at doghouse plans, trying to figure out what to do with the geese and I have a perfect goose house in the yard already.  These three still want to sleep in the mini coop – it’s the only home they know.  So far there’s been no problems between the other chickens and these.  Baby Chicken still steps away quickly when other hens come around, but that’s par for the course for someone low on the pecking order.  The tiny ones make me think of fairy chickens.  SO cute!

Here they are next to Lucy, the Dutch Bantam.  They aren’t going to be getting all that much bigger.

June 5 – I took this picture of the Art Chalet so friends could see where it’s situated.  I posted some Instragram pictures (gemmy1) out the back window and they didn’t realize my view would be so green.  It sits right at the edge of the hill – it drops off behind the building into the woods, so I get some awesome tree views.  Everything is very green just now.

Buddha is happy to be surrounded by greenery again.  When I visited Marcy recently, she let me bring home some sedum – she has a whole yard full of it. I just plopped it in the basket and watered it and it seems quite happy.  The succulents I had out there got eaten by my stupid deer, who continue to baffle me by eating things I don’t expect them to.  I am more prepared now!

David mowed our big open field – isn’t it pretty?  I think this will eventually become horse and goat pasture.  Right now it’s like a park.  This is the area behind the barn and garden.

I planted my tipsy pots.  Had to have some marigolds, of course.  They make David happy and they remind him of his mother.  I like honoring his mother because she raised such a wonderful man.  The lobelia is for me – I adore the color.  The second pot from the bottom has some dahlias in it because I love them.  This is right by the front door so it greets us with some bright color when we come home.

June 6 – Nosy Phoebe.  🙂  Well, I made it two days without goose pictures. . .  prepare yourself!

I took them outside for awhile.  They spent some time in the mini coop, but overall didn’t like being away from me yet.  Here they are curled up at my feet – so fluffy looking.

Gosling says “‘S up?”

This picture came out of the camera all bright and pretty like this.  All the color just makes me happy.

Henry, at 2 1/2 weeks old, is beginning to assert himself.  Here he is standing off one of the hens.  She wasn’t pleased, but she did end up backing down.  He has also begun going after the dogs.  This could cause some troubles.

When I try to leave them, they run to follow.

June 7 – the very next day it’s a much calmer procession back to the house.  I swear they’ve grown 3 inches since yesterday!

I saw my first Monarch today as well.  There are also Canadian Swallowtails around.

June 8 – The goslings sprawling in the brooder box.  This will be their last day and night in the house.

June 9 – My how they’ve grown!  They are as big as the lighter-bodied hens, so I don’t worry about them being snatched by hawks.  They’re beginning to get some white feathers.  They spent all day out in the chicken yard alone.  Tonight I plan to put them in the mini coop for the night.

Shortly after I took this picture, Henry walked up to Phoebe and pecked at her eye.  She whipped her head around and bowled him over, then got up and slunk away, giving me a look full of reproach.  She was so certain I was going to scold her for knocking the little knucklehead over.  I just called her over and made sure she was okay.  Henry needs to learn the lesson in a non-violent way.  Hopefully this was a start.  The goslings seem so much smarter than chickens.  They seem to remember things from one day to the next, so the hope is that Henry will retain the lesson.

Oh, and Baby Chicken is now my pet again.  Now that she and the tiny ones are out and about, she is less protective of them and is seeking me out when I’m in the yard with the goslings.  She walks right up to be petted and when I pick her up she doesn’t squawk like some of the hens.  The tiny ones stay away – they lost a lot of the socialization they had at the feed store when Baby Chicken became so touchy about them.  They do come close, but don’t let me touch them.

 

May 27 – My potato farm is growing!  Soon I’ll have to add some straw and dirt to some of the bags and unroll them a bit.  It’s exciting to see this working.

May 28 – Look what David built us!  Three new raised beds, made of discarded bleacher boards.  Some of them even have old gum on the undersides, as well as teenage graffiti with names in hearts.  We’ll have to import some topsoil as that part of the garden, even with three years of chickens on it, is still mostly sand.  Once we get some larger creatures here, their manure will help improve our soil even more.

While pulling out clumps of weed roots, this bug grabbed my finger and gave me quite a start.  I had to shake it off.  Then I stared at it wondering “what?”  Here it is closer:

I was searching to find out what it is (my mind loves classifying) and thought it to be a cricket.  Then I looked closer at this photo and realized it was a beetle and then found it is a Whitespotted Pine Sawyer male (the white spot on its back is the key).  It is commonly mistaken for an Asian Longhorned Beetle.

May 29 – Took the goslings out for some grazing and exercise.  The dogs are endlessly fascinated.  I keep a very close eye on the dogs because they could easily hurt the babies.  They know about chicks and chickens but geese are new.  Phoebe gets close and looks.  She quickly learned that if the geese are doing something she doesn’t like, she should just get up and move.  They do like to come in close and nibble on dog fur, which the dogs do not like.  Sadie keeps walking around them lifting their wee butts up with her nose, sniffing.  She also steps on their feet.  Keeping her still is much harder – she overstimulates quickly and gets frustrated.  Phoebe is much better at controlling her impulses.

They do stay close.  Here they are under my tractor scoot.  Those eyes are a very deep blue.

Here’s the cage they are in.  This is one day’s splashing in their water and making a mess.  The shavings make good mulch for the strawberries.  I’m going to have to do some moving about as they are getting to be too big for this cage.

Henry looks quite wise, doesn’t he?

May 30 – back in the garden again, though my how the weather changed.  Yesterday was quite warm, today I’m wearing a sweatshirt.  Phoebe continues to be fascinated.  The goslings seem to believe the dogs are part of me, the same way the chickens do.  They will follow the dogs for a bit, then run back to me.  The chickens will follow the dogs to the barn, then turn back to me for the food.  Lately, when I arrive home after driving to town, the way the dogs bark alert the chickens I am home and they swarm the gate while I’m trying to get my truck in the yard.  Sometimes I have to distract them with food.  Hank currently has no horn, so I can’t honk them out of the way.

Gardening with Henry.  That ergonomic trowel is wonderful.  Interestingly, I had read that female geese bond easier with people.  For me, it’s Henry who is always close, always talking to me.  I think we’re going to have a fine relationship.

As many of you know, gardening is tiring!  Plus, there’s only so much grass one can eat at a time.

Then we got chilly:

I don’t think they’ll fit in my sweatshirt pocket any more.  Maybe one, but definitely not all three.  We came in to warm up shortly after this.

May 31 – Moved the meaties, who had also outgrown their box.  I cobbled together a space in the anteroom of the barn, using the lids of the brooder box and a screen door.  It’s working quite nicely and they have more than double the space.  This means the brooder box is available for the goslings.

June 1 – It got quite chilly last night and the basil almost didn’t make it.  Then it started raining and raining and raining (2 inches!) and the herbs are quite happy.  I bought full plants of cilantro, basil, rosemary and thai basil.  I have sage from last year and a lemon thyme that is growing in the rock garden.  I plan to transplant some of it to what will soon be my herb garden…just need to dig up some sand and move some dirt.  When it stops raining.

June 2 – I moved the brooder box in during a lull in the rain.  I swear baby chicks and geese are like gold fish – give them a bigger space and they grow like weeds.  Look how much bigger they look already.

Less than two weeks ago I could hold one cupped in my hand.  Look now!  I also figured out a way to keep the water mostly contained.  It involves a bowl inside a bigger bowl.  It’s still raining so we haven’t been back outside.  That means I bring them grass.  I have discovered that goslings, at least my goslings, wake up hungry at 4 a.m.  They start working over everything with those bills of theirs.  I end up getting up to change water, add food, and since the dogs tell me they need to go out as long as I’m up, I grab a handful of grass for the goslings.  They do love their grass.

When I put them in the brooder box yesterday morning, their heads just barely reached the top of the box.  Now this is what I see when I come in from outside.  They can see my chair from their box, so sometimes while I’m reading I’ll suddenly hear whistles and look over to see this.  And I swear Henry is trying to figure out how to get out of the box.  Fortunately, they can’t jump (yet?) but Henry has reasoned that he’s taller when he stands on the water dish, and was trying to use his neck to lever himself out.  I moved the water dish back from the edge.  The box is 2 1/2 times the space they had in the cage, so it will do for a bit.  They are just beginning to get tiny pin feathers.  I’m thinking I may be able to get a heat lamp in the tiny coop, which means evicting Baby Chicken and the tiny bantams.  I think it will work.  Then the goslings will have a house with an attached pen to graze in but still be warm when they want it.  Being in the pen has made Baby Chicken more a part of the flock, so she doesn’t panic when she sees chickens.  The banties appear to be curious about the others.

Special bonus if you read this far!  Here’s a video of how the goslings use their bills on everything:  video clickage.  Perhaps someday I’ll pay for the video embedding.