Saturday, December 07, 2013

Egg Watch 2013 :: Day 3

We had a false alarm this morning. Geoff and I exchanged glances... the look of two people who think they recognize the tones of an astonished hen: Egg! we exclaimed. But. No. It was not what we thought.

Even as I entered the run, and heard a rustling sound in the hutch, I thought this is it! But then Kamen stepped out squawking about something. She doesn't lay eggs. And she doesn't normally hang out in the new chicks roosting dorm... odd.

Then I noticed spots on the straw... blood spots. I followed a trail back into the cottage where the nest box showed signs, not of nesting, but a chase and upset, maybe? So, I am trying to figure out who, what, and where, and I am inspecting hens that are milling around me, and checking bunnies, who look fine. And the drops lead me back to the hutch, and Kamen.

Oh, Kamen... poor girl. What happened to you?

She has a wound on her left foot... looks like a toe injury. It's not bleeding much, and there's no sign of swelling. She isn't limping, or keeling over. Unless I can catch her, this is as much as I can deduce. I'll keep an eye on her.

Friday, December 06, 2013

{this moment has gone on long enough!}

It was funny. It was cute. It was a special moment... but this moment has gone on long enough, thank-you-very-much. He's a lurking menace, a tree terror. We can't put up lights, never mind ornaments! He is repelled by the smell of mint, like freshly brushed teeth breath, so we are going to give the tree a healthy spritz of peppermint. Hopefully he'll go back to climbing the walls, and leave the tree alone!

Egg Watch 2013 :: Day 2

No eggs today. Not from the goats. Not from the bunnies. Not even from the chickens. We aren't harassing them, not yet, but we are on a countdown. Hens will lay when they are between 20 and 24 weeks old. And we figure ours are about 22 weeks old. So. Any day now!

Do you have a sliver of soap at your sink, in a drawer? Bring it out, and find a window pane to frost. I suppose much of the world doesn't need to pretend their windows are frosted! I saw {another} inspiring craft on Pinterest, and it's so simple, and pretty! I jumped right in, and tested it with a big-fat-hen on her nest. Maria practically launched out of her seat when she saw me playing, so I handed over the soap to her. With a damp paper towel she could correct any errant lines, otherwise it's an easy and satisfying activity. And it bodes well for clean windows... someday!

Just draw with the edge of the soap. I traced her hands to make mittens, and we made a snowman, too. I may be through wishing for a visit from Jack Frost... nah, I'd still love to see real frosted window panes!

So far, there's only one big-fat-hen on a nest~

{this moment}

A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment.
A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

:: Inspired by Soule Mama ::

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments, for all to find and see.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Garden Journal

Seeds and sprouts, harvests and feasts~
A record of what's growing on in our Bird House Garden.

Thursday, December 5, 2013
Partly cloudy, 57/43F. Rain forecast for Saturday.

Bed 1: cilantro seeds, carrot seeds

Bed 1: Spinach, carrots... coming along slowly. Strawberries did not transplant well, but still looking like they could rally. Basil still producing.
Bed 2: Carrots growing
Bed 3: Pole beans twining, slowly... may be getting too cold for them to progress and mature
Bed 4: Garlic, and potatoes going strong, and lots of nasturtium. Very few coriander seeds sprouted.

Harvested: All of the tomatoes, and guavas are done. Lettuce will be ready, soon. We have plenty of radishes, but no fans of radishes besides the rabbits. Beets look good, too.

Our lettuce looks beautiful, and I am tempted to pick it now. It's early, but I feel like I am tempting fate by waiting. I don't want to lose our small crop to bugs or birds! In the corner you see our radishes, which I've been sharing with the rabbits. I feel a quite sheepish admitting this, but I have never been a fan of radishes, or arugula, or any of those veg that are described as "peppery." Probably because they are "peppery."

We still have basil, and I really should make and freeze pesto. It's hard to imagine the basil will be this abundant in February.

Should I try tea sandwiches... radish slices on buttered bread? I do like buttered bread!

Another confession: I do not know where these darling flowers came from. Someone must have brought them for us, and I discovered them wilted and forlorn in their little pot, so I hoped to save them by putting them in the flower bed. Lo! They are coming back! Thank you, mystery flower gifter!

Last admission, today... sometimes I am so enamored of a plant in the garden that I am loath to harvest it, or I wait too long and it goes to seed! Am I the only one? Seriously, I should just start eating some of this beautiful lettuce now, and appreciate it's beauty in my salad bowl.

Happiest plants in the garden? The weeds. Definitely, the weeds. Especially those awful clover-like oxalis plants that spread like mad... err.. hold on a sec... seems it's called "sorrel" and "... wood sorrel is an edible wild plant that has been consumed by humans around the world for millennia.[2] In Dr. James Duke's "Handbook of Edible Weeds," he notes that the Kiowa Indian tribe chewed wood sorrel to alleviate thirst on long trips, that the Potawatomi Indians cooked it with sugar to make a dessert, the Algonquin Indians considered it an aphrodisiac, the Cherokee ate wood sorrel to alleviate mouth sores and a sore throat, and the Iroquois ate wood sorrel to help with cramps, fever and nausea." Well. Maybe not actually "awful." I'll have to reconsider my relationship with this abundant weed. (Thank you, again, Wikipedia.)

Egg Watch 2013

"Good farmers," I imagine, record specific details about their flocks, and herds, and flamboyances. They must document dates, hatching days, and birthdays, so that they can keep track of their tribes, litters, and confusions. Then, they might have a better notion of when to expect... oh, say, eggs from their chickens. For instance, if I could recall the date when our chicks, from July, hatched, then I could calculate, with greater certainty, whether it's too soon to expect those big-fat-hens to be laying eggs. They certainly look ready to be laying.

Roughly speaking, our chicas hatched in July. Early July. And chicks need between 20 and 24 weeks to mature and begin laying... excuse me a moment... (takes off shoes so she can count fingers and toes).

Aha! This is week 22, since their hatching. More or less. And so, I really shouldn't be too insistent with my big-fat-hens about eggs, not just yet.

Henceforth, I will revise my expectations, lay-off harassing them for ovum, and just continue enjoying the hens for their company and charms.

Good morning, chicas!

Oh. Did I say "charms?"

Hmmm... well, I cannot say what I find charming about that wicked, hawk-eyed gaze, but nonetheless, for some reason my chickens do charm me.

Life in the open air barn is interesting.
Inara Rabbit was licking Mako's tail feathers.
I have no explanation for this behavior.

Also weird.
I have no explanation for this, either. But I do love my goaters.

Good morning, Liberty Cuckoo Maran. You are the smallest of the big-fat-hens, and you are pretty, and you do not have to lay an egg today.

Good morning, Mako Ameraucana. You have an Alaskan Whaler's beard, which is soft and darling, and you do not have to lay an egg today.

Good morning, Lilikoi Buff Orpington. Oh my goodness are you a plump and darling feathered big-fat-hen, and though you love to peck my back and feet and knees and fingers, I love you. You do not have to lay an egg today.

Good morning, Thomson Cuckoo Maran. You look like Thompson, and Tamsyn, and you are always the last hen to come in after free-ranging in the yard. We will not ask you to lay an egg for us, today, nor tomorrow.

No nesting. No laying. No eggs. Not yet, but soon.

The truth is I am not all that concerned about eggs, or dates. I am a happy farmer, a silly and amused, sometimes bemused farmer. It's enough, for me, to sit with these freaky-feathered fowl, and note their activities, observe their habits, and enjoy their behaviors. I love chickens. And goats. And rabbits.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

What Lies Ahead

Last week, before Thanksgiving, and school breaks, before a Piratical birthday extravaganza, our dining table, aka Maker Center, was brimming with activity. And Mister Foo, being a Maker Cat, was really into it. Literally. Into the paints, into the thread, into the brushes, the Legos, the wool, the tools, the butter (oops), into the boxes.

He is a dextrous cat, a grab-it-and-dash cat.

Now the brushes are cleaned, the paints are packed, we saved the butter, and put away the tools. The vest is finished. And, I guess, I am just catching my breath, gazing into the future and focusing on the days ahead. It's important to sit quietly, reflect thankfully, and breath deeply when contemplating the future, especially a future that includes Christmas, baking, lights, living trees in the house, church, wrapping packages, plans, parties, and hopes, and wishes, and stories, and grace, and peace, and love, and joy! Oooh... it's dizzying. In a good way.

Good thing I am getting my ducks in a row.

Did you see what I did there? Ducks in a row. I can make myself laugh... an endlessly invaluable gift.

Geoff and I compared calendars, then Alex and I compared calendars, I ran some dates by Ruth, and confirmed our annual city holiday plan, and I even dashed over to Anna Banana's house, where we did more calendar work together! So many ducks! So many hopes and sugarplum visions! Anna Banana and I set dates for MNO, for making tamales, and for watching Elf. We have the Zoo on our calendar, making gingerbread houses, and more baking. There will be a second annual Solstice party. And Max and Alex have outlined unequivocal plans for their ideal Christmas... would you believe they say "no food" on Christmas? Apparently eating interferes with play, slowing you down, making you too sluggish, and that their energy comes from the pure pleasure of Christmas joy. They have other points and philosophies on the matter of opening presents, spending the day, appropriate attire, etc. It's oddly fascinating.

Fascinating and a teeny bit daunting, all these dates, appointments, and sugarplum visions. Best take my vitamins, and maybe take a cue from The Foo...

Naps. Definitely need to add naps to the calendar!

Monday, December 02, 2013

Five Good Things

School break, and Thanksgiving, warmth in the storm, food, friends, family, sleepovers, The Nutcracker, a birthday, play and bouncing, and laughter... oh, it's been a wonderful week! I love Mister Foo's mellow and reflective posture... such a cool cat, even as we scramble to return to "normal." Back to school, back to the office, back to... no, wait, more fun awaits! It's December! Shake a leg, Washburn Foo, we've got halls to deck, cookies to bake, and parties to plan!

Good Things:

1. Leftovers.
Oh, my yes.
Thanksgiving parts one and two and three.
Thanksgiving the Sequel.
Thanksgiving: Return of the Turkey!
I love it all!

2. It's a good thing our hens are so good looking, because, so far, they're no good for laying eggs!

3. A birthday party with friends and family who bounce in and join the fun... Maria is still bouncing for joy!

4. Bambi dancing in the Nutcracker. Her strength, beauty, and grace are breathtaking.

5. Geoff repaired our guest room shower-water spout. Small change... Huge difference!

I need a moment to recover from so much fun, and there's so much fun ahead! How are you holding up? What's good?