Saturday, September 24, 2016

Visitors,vacation, tweedles, chicks and Charlotte fixed

I've  been thinking about this blog for  about a week now. Its been such a crazy busy summer  with lots of visitors, a vacation  and some  work  in between.  I almost posted 4 days ago but then I cut my index finger doing something stupid.   I took the band-aid off this morning so I could type and now my finger is sticking to the keyboard. Such has been my world for the last 3 months.
I'm going to start this with  an update  from the long ago last blog.  The pullets are no longer pullets. They are full grown layers now and their eggs are very popular in the neighborhood.  Mostly because they are cheaper than  free range eggs in the stores and  fresher as well.  They are laying enough  to  supply  our household needs and those of egg customers and some for the local  foodbank.  Our community building experiment with the chicken feeder went well during the summer but it is definitely dropping off  now that the light is going away and  the kids have gone back to school.  I'm on the fence  about pulling it for the winter.  Its kind of a pain to lug it up and down the hill everyday   and when we get a downpour  its kind of messy (I need some sort of rain hat for it)  but I don't want to disappoint the  4 people  that come by every week   like clockwork.   And I don't want to have to retrain the chickens in the spring, to run to the fence.  So I gotta think about this one for a bit.  Jimmy says I started it and I need to keep going. Kenmore is in the middle of a lot of changes right now. Tons of development  going on and to be perfectly honest the stuff they are doing downtown is  oppressively  over crowded and looks like  Halloween colored, post WWII ,European reconstruction housing. Jimmy  affectionately calls them " Tomorrows ghettos ... Today!".    So, our community  kinds of needs a gentle  activity right now.  That alone might keep me trudging out there twice  a day even though it feels  like a  Sisyphean task.
Canning and winemaking  got put on the back burner  because of all the chaos  around here. While the kids were here for three weeks the DIL and I did manage to get in a little jelly making and we spent an afternoon  getting the  dried herbs  ground  and into jars.    The  4 year  granddaughter was a delight.  She was so excited to  work 'on the farm' and participate in the grownup activities that she took every single task very seriously.  She carefully spooned ground sage,thyme,rosemary and tarragon into  jars.  She fed the chickens every day and gathered eggs  religiously.    Together we made enough hawthorn tea to last the winter and we even did a couple of  very simple sewing projects.   She also fixed Charlotte.   It took her a few days to  get comfortable  with the idea that she could pick up and carry a chicken (Charlotte is so TAME).   Then I began to worry for Charlottes safety.   The kid was relentless! After a few days of  being targeted by a 4 year old, Charlotte began running from her on sight (unless she had food)   running ,not limping.   Just when I was going to intervene on Charlottes behalf  I realized  that  our little crippled chicken was getting  a form of  PT that I never could have provided her with and that  my coddling of  her had done more harm than good.  I decided  to let their relationship continue to build  with some judicious monitoring.   The granddaughter left a few days ago and Charlotte  has been missing her constant companion (and  endless food source) And I miss her too.
We have new additions to  the  menagerie.  While we were on vacation someone tiptoed into our yard, in the middle  of the night, and  put two  coal black Cayuga ducklings into our chicken coop.  The house sitter LOVED that one.  Jimmy named them 'The Tweedles'  We introduced them to the pond outback and  they have happily integrated.  Two days ago  they filled my heart with joy. They were up by the house ,in the garden area, slurping up one giant slug after another.  Once again my Grandmother was right. She said 'ducks or geese will solve your slug problem'.
I also need to say thankyou to a couple of  generous neighbors who  provided me with fresh tomatoes and cucumbers  that they couldn't use.   We got 13 jars of pickles and will have quite a bit of tomatoe sauce   when I get them done.  The freezer is full of fruit that needs to be turned into something delicious so I guess the next couple of weeks are  already scheduled for me.  I just hope I have enough jars!

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Hindered by love,Chicken business, community building, shaded garden, too many passengers

Its been so long since I wrote you  that I had to reread  the last  couple of blogs to remember  what I said.   I will try to pick up where I left off.
On chicken business...The feeder  is doing well.  I'm not as close to a million dollars as I thought I would be by now  but its  at least paying for the chicken feed. So, mission priority accomplished.  Turns out  it is also a good community builder.  It helped that one of the broody hens hatched a chick.  (out of nine eggs she only managed to get one chick) .  The first day  mamma hen brought the baby out created a spontaneous happening.   Once they were sighted together it didn't take long for a group to  form  that was  leaning on the fence sighing and cooing quietly. Charlotte  is a p.r.  dream.  She has no problem with being petted and will eat gently from any hand  full of treats.  I still worry about her. She has a permanent limp  and is still very small.   After hashtag I said I wouldn't get  attached to any single bird again , but she chips away at my resolve daily. She visits  the house on a regular basis. If I'm not  outside she knocks on the door until I answer.  She doesn't have the respect or fear of  'the big coop" like the other  chickens do. If the door is open she just limps right in for a visit.   She has developed an even  more worrisome habit. She recognizes  the sound of the car now.   Instead of running away from it like the other birds, she runs towards it.  So does the dog.   Our ingress and egress from the property is hindered by love.   I suppose I could take the time to pen  them both up and then park the car,  but its  just faster and less complicated to put them in the car and drive the last twenty feet  with a chicken on my lap and  a dog on the passenger seat.   I had to smile a couple of days ago when Jimmy got home from work. I looked out the window  in time to see him  drive in with Charlotte on his lap. The neighbors must think we're nuts!  They're probably right.
Gardening lesson.  We had one of the warmest Aprils on record  so  we planted early this year.  I'm not going to do that again. Yes it was warm and sunny but for vegetables  the light wasn't  right. It wasn't the right kind of light at the right angle. The cabbages  and a few other things got 'leggy' and I had to replant. I just have to admit that we live to far north  for early planting.  We have a different kind of light up here in the Pacific Northwest than  folks in the southern region. I've had a few other light issues  with my garden as well. The first couple of years we were here  the garden location was ok.  Did anyone here know that trees grow?... a lot?  One of the willows   has grown to enormous proportions since we've been here and  is providing  a lovely shade...for my garden.   A few days ago I  traded off a couple of jars of jam for someone to  trim it enough to get some light on  the snow peas this year. Next year I am probably just going to move the beds. I like having the garden just outside the kitchen  door. .  But I would have to cut down three trees  to keep it there.   I cant do that to the willow. The thing is turning into a monument  to all things PNW.  I did keep the branches though. I'm going to  strip the bark and dry it   and try to make a willow bark salve for aches and pains.
Raspberries. They came in early this year and went out early. I  have about 20 pounds of raspberries in the freezer just waiting for baby Sis ' visit in July. I don't think I'm going to let little Sis bully me into making 82 jars of jelly in one day this year.  I think this year I will hold her hostage for a weekend and we will spread it out over two days.    It shouldn't be too painful for her though. I turned the blackberries she gave me last year into   three gallons of wine. I'll just keep her glass full and she will never even notice  where the time went! If she does catch on I will  subdue her with  some of the raspberry vinegar I started last week. 
In the meantime...I am waiting for the pullets to begin laying ...any MINUTE now.....ok Would be a good time....are we laying yet?.... ok NOW!