Day to day

Every day, hubby and I take a walk. We aim for 4 miles and enjoy walking outdoors when the weather allows. If it is rainy, we do have a 1/9th mile track in the local gym, but 36 laps gets boring quickly. Generally, we walk one of several sections of the Huckleberry Trail, a rails to trails paved path that covers about 15 miles in the county adjacent to ours. One of our walks takes us through part of the Virginia Tech campus and through the Hahn Gardens on campus. The gardens have been beautiful with flowers, shrubs, trees, and art displays that can be voted on, some sculptures, some hanging banners in the trees. When there isn’t an event going on in the gardens, the Pavilion is open with restrooms and a water fountain.

Today while crossing the creek in the gardens, this display of mushrooms was found beneath a tree.

And just on the other side of the creek, a display of ceramic mushrooms.

The bees are being fed 2:1 syrup to help them prepare for the upcoming winter. Two quart jar feeders were placed in each hive about a week ago and today a gallon of syrup was carried down to refill the jars. Three of the jars were mostly empty, one still had a few ounces. The bees were very active around the feeders, but these are the most gentle bees ever. I did wear my veil and gloves, but didn’t remember to put on my boots with my pants tucked in, yet there was no aggression.

While refilling the syrup feeders, I added the sugar trays which give the jars a little extra room, they are the narrow box just below the top boxes under the lids. When it gets too cold for the syrup, sugar bricks will be placed on the sugar trays on top of the top box of frames to give them more help through the winter. If we end up with a week of single digit weather with sub zero temperatures like last Christmas, I may take a couple of kid size sleeping bags we have stored and wrap the hives. So far they are successful this year and it would be nice to keep it that way.

This evening, I had the opportunity to teach a hand’s on soap making class at the museum where I volunteer. Five folks worked to learn to make traditional Lye soap, of course with a bit of history on Colonial soap making and we even melted the lard in a cast iron spider pot on a small fire in the yard.

Fun, a new skill, and great folks enjoyed the evening.

It is working

Yesterday, the Hatchlings and the Orphans were playing nicely together so I let the most gentle Marans out of “Time Out” to join them. She was very kind to them and last night she perched on one end of the perch, the Hatchings and Orphans on the other end after hubby and I had to catch the Orphans and send them up the ramp.

Today has been extremely wet, but the hen and the pullets came out, mostly staying near or under the coop during most of the day. Late this afternoon, Mama Hen was let out of “Time Out” and she is no longer exhibiting the mama behaviors. She didn’t try to separate the hatchlings from the others, didn’t hover around clucking. Tonight, all 5 pullets cooped up and perched together on one end of the coop the two hens together on the other end of the coop.

Tomorrow, another hen will be released, and if things still seem calm, the remaining hens will be released one at a time, hoping for peace in the yard. The orphans seem less intimidated each day.

It looks like one of the hatchlings might be a little roo. Not a very pretty bird, but a rooster here as long as it is only one would be welcomed. They do help protect their hens from hawks and showing them treats.

After some frustration with this experiment, it looks like we may have added 5 more birds to the 6 adult hens. I hope egg production picks up.

Life and Death on the Farm

Twelve years ago, we began talking about adding a dog or two to the farm. Hubby wanted an English Mastiff. I had no idea what they were, but he found a litter due in December in Pennsylvania. When they were 8 weeks old, we drove up and picked up our 22 pound puppy. Two weeks later, driving up again to purchase a beautiful German Shepherd pup. They were best buddies, but unfortunately, the German Shepherd, who we later found out had come from a disreputable puppy mill, developed Canine Wobblers and at 16 weeks, due to her paralysis and a heart murmur, she had to be euthanized. Later that summer, we purchased another German Shepherd pup but they never truly bonded like the first one did.

Today we had to say goodbye to the big guy, he far outlived the life expectancy of a giant breed and was the best gentle giant in the world.

It is such a tough decision to have to make, but this was the last gift we could give him.

Life on the farm continues with the saga of the hatchlings and the orphans. The orphans have been in a wire dog cage in the coop for a couple of weeks and in the cage in the yard during the day Yesterday, I left the hens penned in the run and let the orphans out into the yard. The hatchlings can still escape the run and the 5 of them played nicely all day, but if the orphans got near the run fence, a hen would lunge at them. Today I repeated the same procedure and decided that the best option for now is to put the hens in purgatory, AKA the chicken palace, AKA timeout. I left Mama Hen with them and she promptly separated her littles from the orphans, but didn’t attack the orphans. Tonight the 5 littles and Mama will have the coop and for a while, the run of the farm without interference. Eventually, I will release the hens one at a time to rejoin the littles in the coop. I hope it works. Egg production is minimal right now anyway.