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.