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!  

Monday, April 25, 2016

Chickens, gardening,chicken business and berries

The warmest April I can remember...ever... inspired Jimmy and I to  get our garden in early.   I wasn't sure what would happen because a few years ago we were also inspired to  put in our garden early and then it snowed on us.  Not this year.  Over the last week  pretty little greens popped up in every bed and  all the beans  broke through the soil. We should have snow peas by the end of May. 
I spent one of our sunny April days  with a pitchfork doubling the size of the  squash bed and moving all the sod to a different location. (it hasn't died yet so I have a hopeful heart) We will be putting the squash and tomatoes in in about two weeks. 
The biggest challenge as always is keeping the chickens and wild rabbits out of the newly planted beds so everything is netted and safe. Just in time too as a whole warren of bunnies has been running through the yard. We have also had deer sightings this  year and  we have been adopted by a mated pair of mallards. Those two are something else. I first met them when they came to the kitchen door a couple of weeks ago quacking  and demanding to be fed. They were almost in the kitchen proper  before I figured out what they were doing.
We are crawling with critters around here. The new chicks are doing well...all except one.  Little tiny Charlotte  was not developing as well or growing as fast as the others and then she started limping so  we brought her back inside and put her back in the brooder with special feed and a lamp. She is alert and she looks like she is growing a bit but her limp isn't any better.  I don't want to lose her, she is the sweetest and tamest of the run.  Her run mates are beginning to look and sound like  grown chickens  so I hope she catches up. Her run mates are also enjoying the feeder. When I first put it in I had my doubts but this week it seems to be coming together.  All the chickens have learned  that that is where food comes from. Instead of disappearing when someone walks by they now run up to the fence and  give strangers  their best hungry orphan  look. I'm not sure yet but I think they have a  guard rotation going on. One of them is always  in the area of the feeder and  when someone comes along the  one watching gives a squawk and they all come running.  The best thing about the feeder is that it keeps the chickens off the front porch and out of the garden.      So far we have two toddlers as  regular customers. They come by with their dads and  gleefully shout bock bock  and clap their hands as dads pour quarters into the machine. Best customers EVER!    There is a real difference in the way Moms and Dads  treat the kids at the feeder. Dads shovel in quarters until they are all gone, filling up cupped hands  to overflowing each time.  Moms put in one quarter and  meet out tiny handfuls of feed to the single child. If mom has more than one kid they each get a quarter (or maybe two)  and then mom says "That's enough for today. We will come back again".  Dad's (and granddads) appear to be one-time big spenders but Mom's make for  good repeat customers.   So, the Mystic Cedars chicken business is off to a good start.
With the garden in and the feeder taking care of itself, I feel like I can get some artwork done.  I needed the break anyway because I had a  studio full of wet oil paintings that I kept bumping into .
Maybe next blog I will report on the massive amount of berries  we are seeing bloom this year.  The storms took down low hanging branches and Jimmy cleared a ton of brush when he cleaned up the debris. It opened up hawthorn, elderberry and currants that hadn't seen sun in years. Cant wait to see what wine and jelly making season  bring this year!