Oh those Wily Chickens

I started raising chickens a decade or so ago to provide us with eggs. With new chicken syndrome, too many ended up here and too many young randy roos, so Son 1 and I learned to dispatch them and put them in freezer camp. I find them too tough to eat but for a few years, he would take frozen ones home occasionally. His situation doesn’t provide the facilities for that to happen at this point and there are several still in the freezer. Over the years, fewer chicks were purchased at replacement time, but last time, they were purchased in February and half died, they were replaced and several died, they were replaced again, thinking I would end up with only the few I started out to get, but ended up with 15, two were roos and dispatched that summer.

With more hens than are necessary, I found a friend that would gladly take a couple dozen a week off my hands. Daughter also welcomes some, but I have found that my priority for the eggs has shifted from producing them for our use to hoarding them all week so friend and daughter get what they want. The current 13 hens are going on 2.5 years old, molt is starting for the first time as last winter they hadn’t yet had a winter as adults and didn’t molt. Their age has also slowed laying. One has taken to becoming an egg eater, though I haven’t caught her in the act to isolate her, just finding evidence later. And I hear egg song, go look in the coop to remove the egg to stop her and there isn’t one there, so they are hiding them.

This morning, I heard egg song from this thicket.

There were three hens in there and rooting around from two sides, I couldn’t find where they might have laid their eggs. Only 4 have been in the coop today. A few minutes ago, I heard egg song again, right behind the house. The walled garden built last summer is pretty overgrown due to patio construction and rocks being tossed aside out of the way until it is finished, so weeding has been sporadic and the vetch and comfrey have taken over. The herb part I have tried to keep clearer, but the deer were eating down a tall flowering plant against the tall wall, so I leaned a piece of old fence there to protect them and the weeds had grown up under the leaning fence. I found this:

Six eggs hidden. There must be another cache somewhere else also. So it seems that they are laying them in the flowers and thickets instead of the coop. I guess they will have to lose their free range time except for a few hours each late afternoon. As they think nothing of going over a 4 foot fence, using electric mesh that can be moved through the orchard to give them fresh grass ever day or so won’t work.

Since my priority has gotten skewed, when these hens are replaced, there will only be 5 or 6. I will stop providing eggs for my friend (she can buy free range eggs from the Farmer’s Market) and will give daughter extras, but our household will come first.

On the plus side, while rooting around in the thicket, I spotted peaches. We didn’t plant a peach tree on that side of the yard, but there must be a volunteer, I have seen it bloom in the spring, but never followed up later in the summer. Maybe the thicket needs to be cleared back so the peaches on that tree can be accessed, giving us two peach trees and more fruit than we can possibly use.

This is the plant the deer eat back, the butterflies love it.

An Interesting Experiment

The garden has never grown beans that were intended to be dried and stored until this year. A 4 X 4 foot square bed was planted with Pinto bean seed. The package said they were not a climbing bean, so no structure was provided. Over the past couple of weeks, the plants were browning out, but this past week, we have had thunderstorms just about every day and more rain a few nights. This afternoon, I went over to see if the green beans had produced enough for out dinner, there weren’t, but it was obvious that the Pintos needed to be pulled. Unfortunately, many had been on the ground as the plants died back and were sprouted or molded. The bed produced about 5 cups of useable beans that are now drying further for storage.

Also a basket of tomatoes, a handful of hot peppers, a couple ears of corn and the Komatsuma thinnings. It took me all afternoon to shell the beans even after spreading them the back deck to dry the pods more. It was an interesting experiment but I think a pole bean that dries off the ground would produce more useable beans. Some research will be done to find one appropriate for this area that will be suitable for the types of recipes we use beans for.

Somehow the deer managed to lift the netting on the grapes and they have grazed off all of the leaves on the woodpile side and have eaten the last remaining bunch of grapes.

Earlier this week two days of canning were done and it looks like another batch of Rotel style tomatoes are in order tomorrow.

Peppers, Tomatillo Jalapeno jam, Rotel tomatoes, and Peach Sriracha sauce were added to the shelves.

This week I added a craft to the basket. Sashiko, a Japanese form of embroidery used as visible mending or as decorative stitchery. I can thank the spindle social group to introduce this one. As hubby playfully calls all of my fiber crafts, sewing, it seems only appropriate to actually have one that is sewing.

These three mini panels are being stitched to the fabric they are on to become the pocket on a canvas tote bag.

For a while, I have been trying to decide whether to cease vending and selling as a cottage business. The tax ramifications cause stress every year, so at the end of this calendar year, Cabin Crafted will cease to exist.

Time wasted and irritation

I don’t like going to the doctor, but who does. When I go, I have to psych myself up and feel like there is a real reason to do so. After all the bee and hornet stings, I was concerned that though my reaction to date has only been a headache, swelling, and subsequent itching, that a worse reaction could occur as allergies sometimes develop later in life. I have always reacted to insect bites and stings more than hubby. And I realized I was out of date of a routine screening that required his signature for scheduling and have recently developed a discomfort in one of my hips, so I scheduled an appointment.

Upon arriving, I was given a packet of 15 pages to fill out asking a medical history that they already had, with absolutely no questions regarding whether I smoked, drank alcohol, used drugs, or regularly exercised. Most of that packet I was told to hand to the doctor which I did. He had not read any of the nurses notes where I explained that I had not scheduled for a Medicare Wellness check, but to address my concerns. He did not even glance at the packet I had been asked to fill out. When I raised my concerns, he basically dismissed them telling me that if I have a reaction to stings to call 911. It is a volunteer organization and would not arrive fast enough if I had a bad reaction, and we live 20-25 minutes at least from either of the local hospitals. I asked about taking liquid Benedryl and what dose, which he did answer. The hip discomfort was dismissed as probably arthritis. The routine screening, I had managed to schedule on my own for them to send him the form to sign. Basically, the visit was a waste of my time, an unnecessary cost to Medicare and my supplemental insurance, and I really have no answers.

I am fortunate to have Medicare and a supplemental insurance, but it is no good if you don’t get answers. Perhaps it is time to look elsewhere.

On our walk today, I spotted this fungi covered log beside the trail. It fascinated the old Biology teacher in me and so I returned after the walk with my spindle to take a photo of it for the monthy challenge. The white patches are dappled sunlight that look like patches of snow on this 90 degree day.