You are currently browsing the monthly archive for July 2012.

July 22 – I’ve decided I’m going to write cheerful messages on some of the rocks in the driveway and then put them back where I found them.  So far there’s just this one, but whenever it catches my eye, I do indeed smile.

July 23 – My Australorp hen was broody and I let her sit on some eggs.  One hatched!  I discovered this by noticing that the dogs were far too interested in a chicken and the chicken was fighting back.  When I realized it was Mathilda, I ran over to find her protecting this wee one.  Sadly, he was killed in a stupid barnyard accident yesterday.  His mother was trying to keep some of the meaties away from the food I had tossed to her and she jumped at them.  They jumped backwards into a broom and it fell on the chick.  It would be like a tree falling on us.

There have been other chicken deaths lately.  Rose, JuJuBee and one of the Barred Rocks all went missing.  I found feathers from two of them.  I’ll be glad when we get the rest of the fencing up, although it may have been a hawk.  We also lost Reuben to another silly chicken accident.  It looked like he was being chased and he ran between two saplings and got stuck and died in the struggle to get out.

July 24 – Half the meaties went to freezer camp.  We ended up with an extra – the farmer doing the processing called David and said there was an extra chicken, were we sure we had brought 12?  David didn’t know.  When I picked them up that afternoon, they had given the extra to us.  We just had to pay for the processing.  I pointed out there was an extra and the farmer’s wife gave a big shrug and said “sometimes it happens.”    When I got home, I counted and there were 14 left, so it wasn’t ours.  I’m giving the remaining ones another week to fatten up some more, then they’ll be joining their brothers in the freezer.  I’m keeping two hens (who are lean and active and actually can fly) to be the mothers of the future meaties.  Frances, my one remaining Freedom Ranger will also contribute to the cause.

July 25 – I was on my way home and saw this turtle by the side of a very busy road, trying to get across.  I turned around as soon as I could and went back to move it.  Traffic was solid enough to have kept it from leaving the side of the road (it kept sticking its head out and pulling it back in with every car that zoomed by), but it couldn’t figure out to go back.  So I picked it up (wearing a glove) and moved it about ten feet away from the road, facing into the field.    A Google image search indicates it’s an Eastern Box Turtle.  Now I’m wishing I had brought it home and introduced it to my field.  I think our field would be a good turtle habitat.  Then it would be safe from the road…

July 26 – I have been searching for a fan for awhile now.  Last summer I started having the occasional hot flash and this summer has been worse since the temps have been considerably hotter.  This fan makes me very happy.  It kicks up a good breeze AND it has ducks.    I thought I wanted a folding fan, but they don’t kick up nearly enough air.  I found this at a local vintage shop, The Atomic Closet.

July 27 – I was driving up north to see my friend Marcy and saw this on a side road.  The head is about three feet across.  I couldn’t tell if it was made of fiberglass or steel, but it certainly made me smile.

I was going to pick up this!  Our friend Beverly gave it to me – she was clearing out stuff she wasn’t using and remembered me saying I wanted a serger.  I’m looking forward to giving it a test run.  I wanted a serger so I could make one of these sweater coats (I already have the tutorial!)  I even have an order for one from another friend, once I get the hang of it.

On the way home I saw a rainbow.  At one point I could actually see it touch the ground.  I didn’t go look for the pot of gold because it was in someone’s house.  🙂

July 28 – Even though we’re in a drought situation here, my garden is doing really well.  We had a couple days of rain then warmth and things seemed to go crazy out there.  Still no heads on the cabbage, and I have stupid squash vine borers in my zucchini, but it looks like I will get a lot of tomatoes this year.

Today I harvested three large (though not overly so) zucchini and a couple grape tomatoes.  I’m really looking forward to the black cherry tomatoes.  There are a lot of them on the plant but no color from them yet.  I also have Early Girls, Golden Jubilee (a golden tomato that I thought would be pretty canned) and Romas.  My Swiss Chard is quite harvestable.  There are also some tiny watermelons that have plenty of time to become big melons, so I’m quite happy.

 

This is an onion that has gone to seed.  Perspective is a funny thing.

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July 15 – I am growing cabbage in my garden.  There are eight of them and they fill up the end of the raised bed.  So far there isn’t much in the way of heads of cabbage but there are many big lovely leaves.  I love the shadings of green and nearly blue in them.  There will be slaw!

July 16 – Self portrait with geese, to give an even better idea of how large they’ve become.  I just love my silly geese.

 

July 17 – The geese, as I’ve noted before, love touching things with their bills.  The springy lanyard attached to my kayak (there’s a whistle attached to it for safety reasons) fascinated them and they sat nibbling on it for quite some time.

July 18 – This is how the meaties spend their days – just lounging around in the shade waiting for the next meal.  They do eat bugs and grass during the day, but lately everyone around here has been lounging in the shade or someplace with air conditioning.  It’s been HOT.  I’m just pleased that these chickens act like chickens and seem to enjoy themselves.

If Phoebe and Sadie get separated (in this case it was the length of the garden) and Sadie is slow to respond to my call, Phoebe lowers herself into a herding crouch and waits for her.  This slows Sadie up further as she meanders up to me, looking anywhere but at Phoebe.  If she makes eye contact, Phoebe will spring into action and chase her.  Sadie seems to enjoy this, though lately she has been having some arthritis problems with her front paws in the wrists.  We have her on glucosamine and it seems to have helped, but running hard seems to really aggravate the problem.  And of course any time there’s a creature about, hard running ensues.

 

July 19 – Today was a big day!  I got my first paycheck (yay!).  Then I drove down to Grand Rapids to pick up my turkey poults.  They’re a week and a half old and they were quite tired after their day of travel.  There are seven of them.  Two Bourbon Reds, two Narragansetts and three Chocolates (the links go to the hatchery pages and show adults of that variety).  I love the color of the Chocolates.  I had ordered four of the reds, but they had hatching issues and I said they could substitute.  I’m hoping I get a male and female of the reds, as I’d like to be able to provide heritage turkey poults to the local 4-H kids.  Heritage turkeys are a little harder to come by – minimum orders are 15 poults at $10 a pop.  I split an order with someone (which is why I drove to Grand Rapids to pick them up).  I guess if I get a mated pair of any of them I’ll be happy.  The plan is to raise my own poults so holiday turkeys get cheaper.  If I had to, I’d mix them up since they’re just for us, but that 4-H plan is in my head.

On my way to Grand Rapids, I dropped David off to pick up our new truck!  Hank now has a friend.

 

David now has a truck of his own.  It will be the winter truck.  It’s a Ford F350 Super Duty with a crew cab, so there’s someplace to put the dogs.  I have a hard time taking them both in Hank.

 

July 20 – The poults in the brooder box.  The tall ones are the Narragansetts.  The white-faced ones with brown bodies are chocolates.  The light-colored ones are the reds.  They’re very sweet little birds.  I did some glamour shots!

 

Bourbon Red.

 

Narragansett.

 

Chocolate.  Those single full-size wing feathers make me laugh.

 

July 21 – I was in the garden watering and the geese followed me in.  I turned the hose on them, and they really seemed to like it.  They lift their faces up and bite at the water.

 

Phoebe smiles.  🙂  She likes lying in the shade of the boat shed, keeping an eye on the road and the chickens.  Oftentimes she will be surrounded by chickens, as they like the shade as well.

I’m a little slow this week as I’m finding even a part-time job takes some getting used to.  I find I’m tired after work.

 

 

 

 

July 8 – Found myself driving on a two-track in the north woods.  Ended up discovering my alternator was dead when I stopped at a rest stop on the way home and relaxed for a bit while listening to the radio.  When I went to start my truck, it just went click.  I asked a couple people if they had jumper cables but no one did.  Then I was asked if it was a manual or automatic?  I got excited because it is a manual, and I know how to bump start (as David calls it – we always called it pop starting).   The man who asked had to have been in his 50s, and he got his white-haired father to help!  It didn’t take much of a push, as I was on a slight incline anyway.  I was quickly on my way.  However, I was still an hour and a half from home and my gas gauge was getting lower and lower.  When I reached Cadillac, I knew I had to stop for gas.  Normally I would add some gas while idling, since I was rather worried about turning Hank off.  However, my ignition key is my gas key…and when I went to start I got the same dull click.  I tried to pop start it again, as I had chosen a gas station that has an incline in back of it.  I ended up stuck in the dip at the bottom of the incline.  Called for road service and soon was on my way home.  About five miles from home my poor truck started staggering and my speed kept slowing.  At this point I couldn’t stop because my phone had been dead all afternoon (note to self: charge fully before taking road trips!).  As I pulled into my driveway, Hank said he was done and shut down completely.  There was a nasty electrical smell.  David diagnosed alternator over the phone and had me charge the battery overnight so I could get to work.  That worked well and I was able to use my truck the rest of the week.

July 9 – Happy geese upon their release from the mini coop in the morning.  They do this every morning, with full honking as their voices continue to change.   When they run with their wings up, it makes me happy.

July 10 – My butterfly hatched!  Eclosed is the correct term, I learned.  It’s a male monarch – you can tell by the black spots on the lower wings – females do not have those.  I wasn’t expecting him for a few days yet.  After his release I read some more and discovered 10 days is the norm, not the two weeks I was expecting.

 

I always wanted a butterfly to land on my finger!  His colors were very vivid and those polka dots made me smile.  Now I’m wondering if I can find another caterpillar!

July 11 – The baby bunny I wrote of earlier this week.  In looking at my other photo (of the nest itself), I realized there were actually at least three kits in the nest.  I tried finding the nest after a rain, but it is very well camouflaged.  Even though it’s in a space about 10 by 10 feet, I was unable to find it.  I was just a little worried because the rain was quite heavy.

July 12 – I am still amazed by how quickly these geese have grown.  They wander all over the yard looking for grasses.

July 13 – I’m collecting rocks.  I want to lay out a labyrinth to walk out by the Art Chalet and I’m thinking to line the paths in rocks.  It’s going to take a lot of rocks…

July 14 – They are just too pretty to not photograph.  It’s hard to tell them apart now, but I believe the one in front is Henry.  He’s the one that comes closest to me, and he looks stockier and masculine compared to the others.  His neck is a little shorter.  I probably should have banded them when I knew who was who, but I wasn’t sure how big they would get.  Since they grew so fast, it is probably best I didn’t band them.

David fixed my alternator first thing this day and my truck is running much better.  It’s so nice to have a handy man.

Much of the information is on the scan below – this is my nature journal.  Last night the dogs wanted in the garden very very much, so I let them.  Then I hear squeaking and see very-interested-in-something dogs.  I tell Sadie to “leave it” (the best thing her previous owners taught her, I believe) and went to investigate.  Found teeny tiny baby bunny with its eyes still closed.  I put it back in its nest and went to grab my camera.  First thing my mind goes to in most instances.  Strangely, a friend and I had just been discussing where the bunnies live.  I assumed warrens, based on Watership Down but learned that is only “Old World” rabbits.  My Eastern Cottontails live mostly in the open and dig a hole and scrape for the baby nests.  The nest was lined in grasses and fur.  I moved the fur aside to replace the kit and discovered another in the hole.  Then I lock up the garden, go in the house and grab my book so I can write down what I’m about to learn.  Drawing a picture from my photo makes it easier to know what I’m learning about so when I scan through this book later, I know this page is bunnies.  Most important to me was knowing whether or not the mama bunny would go back.  I was relieved to know she would.  The whole idea of a mama abandoning her babies just because we had touched them didn’t make a lot of sense to me.  So, mama will return, babies will live to terrorize my apple trees.  I forbade David to mow the back part of the garden.  I threatened tears if he did anything to the baby bunnies, even knowing they will later be after my trees.  I figure we’ll work that out when the time comes.  Killing baby ones is not how we figure that out.

Earlier in June, Hobie brought in a baby rabbit that was probably twice this size.  Fortunately for me, he is not a kill first kind of cat.  He was carrying the baby bunny by the scruff of its neck.  I made him drop it and that bunny was gone in a blink.  It was out on its own already.

So, that’s how my mind works when I find wee critters or see something in nature that is different to me.  I want pictures.  I want to learn about them (including their Latin name).  I want to document their existence.  So I do.

July 1 – We’ve been having unseasonably hot weather here the past week or two.  Normally we have average temps in the 70s.  This week has been topping out at 95, with heat indexes and heat warnings.  Have to keep the chickens hydrated!  That little brown one there is an Ameraucana/Easter Egger I picked up when I bought some fancy layer pullets.  I chose her because she was sooty grey and black and I thought she’d be pretty.  She is, but she’s certainly no longer sooty colored.  Those EE chicks are funny that way – they look like one thing and turn colors.  Chicks that look nothing alike as chicks will grow to be similarly colored as adults.  It’s a crapshoot.

When I go to take goose pictures, I often get one like this as they come to check out the camera.  Often they will mouth the camera strap and tug on it.

July 2 – Had to go in for a pre-employment physical and drug screen.   This turned out to be a Very Good Thing, as I found my old doctor there (he actually did my physical).  He had left the clinic at which he practiced.  I wasn’t happy with the replacement (though I haven’t met her yet, and now never will because my old doctor will let me establish with him at his new practice!).  So, this made me happy.  I don’t see a doctor often, but I always liked him because he *LISTENS* and lets me talk all the way through.  He lets me have some say in my care and responds to what I say is going on.  I need that in a doctor.  So yay!

Chicken comparison picture.  On the left is Baby Chicken, a fully grown large fowl pullet.  In the middle is one of my fancy egg layer pullets at 6 weeks old. The white is a Cornish Cross meatie cockerel at 6 1/2 weeks.  They grow so fast.  I’m having very good luck with them this year – their feathers are keeping up with their growth spurts for the most part.  Sometimes if they get too much to eat, they outgrow their feathers and run around half naked.  I prefer them feathered.  I do have a couple pullets in the group and plan to keep those to grow my own meaties from.  While the crosses don’t breed true, they still should breed bigger than say just an Orpington, so it will be interesting to see what we get.

July 3 – I found an ice shaver at the Goodwill over the weekend (YAY!) and bought some snow cone syrup.  I was dismayed that they (of course) are made with high fructose corn syrup and lots of chemicals (but they taste soooo good – I love cherry snow cones).   So I googled and found a recipe for homemade syrups.  1 1/2 cups of sugar plus 1 1/2 cups of water, brought to a boil and boiled for a minute, then add two envelopes of kool-aid in your favorite flavor.  So far lemon-lime is winning, though the black cherry is very good.  True, there are chemicals and artificial colors and such in kool-aid, but it was less than in the syrup.  And these taste very good.  Next up will be orange and grape, I think.

July 4 – David was gone and Cadillac isn’t having fireworks until July 7, so it was a quiet day and less quiet night at home.  Henry went after Sadie, and I caught her jumping away.  The dogs keep their eyes on the geese lest they be goosed.  Phoebe can’t get in the pool anymore because the geese have gotten territorial about it.  They also will chase the chickens away from the waterer, so I have to make sure there are a couple options for water in the yard.

July 5 – This strange toad showed up today.  I call him strange because he came in the house and later jumped at me as I was walking past.  Finally I put it in a cool place in the shade.  I hope it stays around.  I like having a toad around.  While I haven’t seen our resident snake, I did find a shed skin today as well, so I know it’s out there too.  I’m glad to have these critters around eating bugs and small creatures.

July 6 – First Farmers Market tomatoes!  Since mine got a late start and are still growing, I picked up a small box of fresh tomatoes because I was craving a BLT.  The BLT represents a huge departure for me from my childhood eating habits.  Before, the bacon was the only thing I would eat.  That lettuce would’ve been too green (I only ate iceburg), the bread too brown (white bread only), mayo was icky and raw tomatoes were a big NO.  Now I can’t think of anything better at this moment in time.  Isn’t that a pretty sandwich?  I was sorta planning to make some bread for it, but it’s too hot still.  I understand the garden fresh tomato thing, and this year I may even be one of those folks who stand in the garden and eat one out of hand…

July 7 – This morning I was getting the kayaks out of the barn AT LAST, and noticed this on the lattice chicken gate.  Wolf spider with many many tiny baby spiders.  I was quite fascinated.

You can see her eye!!

Lots of tiny baby spiders.

And later, while hanging laundry, I found this tiny yellow spider on a clothes pin.  I have taken a picture of such a spider before, but this one appeared to have a face on its back, so I needed a new picture.

What appears to be a fence post is the end of a clothes pin.

So, I got the kayaks out so we could go watch the fireworks from Lake Cadillac.  Yay!  We think they’re the best seats in the house.

I also got a very nice picture of us on Instagram and I think this link will take you there.  I’d download it from my camera, only I don’t have the cord with me.  The water was a little bumpy so my long-exposure fireworks photos all turned out squiggly – colorful but squiggly.  It was a lovely evening and this is now a holiday tradition for us.  Picnic dinner on the lake while watching the fireworks.  This year they had live music (a Bob Segar tribute band) again, but it lasted longer into the evening.  We also got to have dessert with friends because I texted her we were on the lake and she invited us over (Thanks, Candy – that lemonade cake was the bomb!)  I was able to get out of my kayak at a dock, which was an achievement.  David then lifted them straight out of the water, which I don’t think I could’ve done.  It was just a lovely lovely evening and I felt full of love all through it.  The fireworks finale made me happy because at the end there was a round of cheers and applause from everyone on and around the lake.  Good times.

Also, more video bonus reward for reading this far!  The geese getting happy in the kiddie pool.  You can see them here!

Halfway through the year already???  How is that even possible?

June 24 – This year I have day lilies!  The deer have not eaten them just before they open!  They evidently changed their track through our yard and instead browsed all the leaves from my new apple trees.  I finally know that in order to get these apple trees to live through the deer and bunnies, I have to wrap the trunks in tree wrap and the leaf canopy in deer netting until they are three years old…They’re going to look like some strange mutant lollipops.  I’ll show you once I get them done.

June 25 – Personally, I can’t get over how much they grow so quickly.  Even the turkeys didn’t grow this fast.  This is Henry at 5 weeks.  I’ve been trying to get Phoebe in each of these pictures to show the true size.  She’s keeping an eye on him because Henry likes to use that bill of his.

The meaties are out with the other chickens all day.  On hot days they go up under the mini coop and stay in the shade, which is sort of contrary to some people’s experiences with these Cornish-cross chickens.  If they are kept penned up with food, they will stay at the food all day, not even bothering to move to get water, and thus can be lost to heat stroke.  For me, treating them like the other chickens and feeding twice a day keeps them acting like other chickens.  They range around the yard, eating bugs and grasses, run to greet me when it is feeding time, stage mock rooster fights and keep themselves hydrated.  They’re rather fun to watch.  Because I left the front of the barn open with the fence keeping them apart, when I did remove the fence there was no unpleasantness between the regular flock and the meaties.  They do keep to their individual flocks, but when they gather at the water everyone is there together.  They, too, are five weeks old, and nearly as big as the layers already.

I had a job interview today.  Spoiler alert:  I got the job!  I’ll be working for the MSU Extension office, doing secretary stuffs and answering questions about bugs and plants and what-have-you.  If you’ve read my blog at all, you know this is a great fit for me!  I’m really looking forward to starting next week.

June 26 – These three are very inter-dependent.  If one gets out of sight of the others, there’s quite the consternation.  It doesn’t happen often, but usually involves the barn (one goes in to filch chick food) or the gate (one or two figure out how to get out and the other(s) don’t).  Chickens and geese have a lot of trouble with the concept of gates.  Unless they watch someone using said gate, they will pace back and forth in front of the fence trying to get to whatever has caught their interest.  This week it was a chunk of watermelon.  I have to stand in the gate and call them, and even then it can take awhile.  Sometimes I herd them through, just to save the time.

I believe she was actually looking at the grass under the glass, but it surely made for a pretty picture.  One day in the not-to-distant future, that glass will become a greenhouse!  Then I’ll be starting my own plants early and having longer lettuce harvests in spring and fall.  I am so looking forward to that.

June 27 – I finally found a Monarch caterpillar!  I’ve been keeping my eyes open because I have seen the butterflies and the milkweed is going gangbusters right now.  I found this one and brought it in the house.  It’s in a half-pint wide-mouth canning jar, with a square of toilet paper as a lid being held on by a canning band.  I went to this Monarch site to learn how to care for my caterpillar.  It told me that this size (2″ or so) is when they pupate, so I was doubly excited.  I had never seen a Monarch caterpillar, nor a chrysalis.  It’s munching on milkweed leaves.

June 28 – I also have orange day lilies!  Still!

June 29 – This morning my caterpillar was hanging upside down in a “J” shape,  just as the Monarch site said it would.  Two hours later I looked at it and it was already a chrysalis!  It’s not the best photo of it, but it’s there, hanging from the lid!  It’s very shiny and a lovely shade of green.  In two weeks it will be a butterfly!

I bought the geese a larger water dish, thinking this might happen.  They appear to take turns climbing in and bathing as best they can.  The ones on the outside will often submerge their heads while the third is in the pool.  They seem to really enjoy it with the heat we’ve been having this week.  I want to build a small pond for them now.

July 30 – Barring a pond, I pulled out this kiddie pool I bought two summers ago during a heat wave.  As soon as the water was a couple inches deep, Phoebe was in there.   She doesn’t like deeper water, but loves it when it’s  shallow.  When we were in Florida six years ago, she would go wading every morning to get her belly wet, then would retreat to the shade under our bus.  Midday, she’d be back in the water to re-wet herself.  She actually surprised me by jumping right into the pool.

I put Henry in and he seemed to like it a little, but he mainly just stood there.  I put the others in and they pretty much panicked and actually leaped straight up and out.  Didn’t realize they could jump so high.

Edited to add this picture.  Two of the geese now have this pattern balding look to them.  Henry has a smoother head as he’s growing fastest.  This is the smaller girl, and to me it looks like a monk’s tonsure.  They are  just so pretty.

So this morning (Sunday) I went out to feed and water and Phoebe jumped right back in the pool.  The geese seemed interested and were investigating the sides of the pool by working it with their bills (they work everything with their bills…it still doesn’t hurt when they grab my fingers, but it’s close).  After a couple minutes of that, one of the girls walked in (the sides push down very easily) and she plopped down in the water and started grooming.  The other girl joined her and also plopped down.  Their bottoms were waggling and they wiggled their shoulders into the water they way bathing birds will.  Henry stepped in but he remained standing.  The water isn’t quite deep enough to float unless they really kick their legs back and one of the girls figure that out.  She started scooting around the pool and got very excited.  Her excitement transferred to the others and suddenly they all jumped out of the pool and ran around the yard with their wings up, calling loudly to each other.  I just stood there and laughed at them.  Their voices are changing so their little whirring cries often end with a soft honk now.  I’m hoping they figure out the pool and enjoy it.

Still no kayaking yet this summer.  I am disappointed.  Looks like I’m going to have to take myself if I want to get out there.  That said, the fireworks are next weekend (instead of on the 4th itself) and David should be home and he knows how much I enjoyed being out on the water for them last year…  so hopefully next week will have water fireworks pictures.