Tag Archives: chickens

The March “Blizzard”

I know that points north of us have gotten and are still getting deep late winter snow.  We only got about 3 inches and the roads stayed relatively clear.  The snow is wet, sloggy snow.  The cedars and pines are heavy with the wet glop.  The snow less of a problem than the ice layer beneath it.  Brushing the snow off of the car revealed an ice glazed vehicle with doors frozen shut and ice glazed windows.

Our local county schools closed for the day, announcing last night, the other counties around us opted for a two hour delay which would have been a better option for here, but the western half of our county may have received more snow.  Granddaughter’s school in the next town was not closed and driving in it was apparent that they received much less than we did, and her teacher said she received even less in the valley.

It is enough snow that the cooped chickens will not go outside their coop.  Though it is not a practice employed often, their food and a bucket of water were put inside for them but the pop door open if anyone gets brave.  The 16 chicks are cozy in their brooder as we fortunately did not lose power.  Tonight we will build fires in the woodstove and fireplace to help take the edge off for the heatpump.

Tonight we are going to have the first of three nights of temperatures in the mid teens (-9ish C),  The ice glaze, snow melt during the day today, and plunging temperatures with more flurries due today, overnight and tomorrow, the roads are likely to be a slippery mess tomorrow, especially the mountain roads to get to the main road that is always well maintained for the truck traffic that uses it instead of staying on the interstate.

This school closure makes one more day to be made up.  The built in days have all been used and they are down 2 days now.  There may be another day or two built into their schedule.  It isn’t common to get much snow this late in the winter, but it is always a possibility with our last frost date not until near Mother’s Day.

At least the garden planning and indoor seed sowing doesn’t rely on what is going on outside, as it continues to flurry.  Of the 4 small sweet potatoes saved from last year’s crop, the two purple one have roots and shoots,  one of the orange ones has roots though the other one got mushy and had to be composted.

Sweet potatoes

As soon as the slips are large enough to root, they will be broken off and rooted.  I guess the orange ones are going to have to be purchased at the Feed store when they come in later this spring.

The birds have found the feeder that was hung earlier in the winter and is now frequented by Tufted Titmice, House finches, an occasional chickadee, and the tiny ground feeding juncos enjoying the spillage on the deck. One of the birdhouses on the garden edge deteriorated and fell apart last year so there was only one.  It  too needs repair, but as we have a couple of families of blue birds each year, we bought another box to mount on the second pole.  With all of the scrap lumber in the garage, I should be making them myself.  Perhaps this one will get measured and a plan drawn before it is fastened in the garden.

Birdhouse

For now, it will be an indoor day with more cancer/heart health garlands being made for the yarn bombing efforts of a knitting group to which I associate.  Breast cancer, heart health, children’s cancers and melanoma sections have all been mailed off.  The skin cancer is about half done, crocheted this time, then on to white for lung cancer and a second skein of gold for children’s cancers.

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A Full Cold Saturday

It dawned clear and biting cold today.  Knowing that we were going to spend more than 4 hours on the road, we went for breakfast, picked up some greens, breads, and granola at the Farmers Market, but didn’t get any meat to thaw out during the drive time and took off for New Country Organics to pick up our chicks.  When the forecast was checked, the snow chance for Monday was all but gone, but it still seemed expedient to go on to get the chicks.  I failed to note that their hours end at 1 p.m. on Saturday and fortunately we got there about 12:45.  Sixteen adorable chicks, 50 pounds of feed, and a second warming table were loaded into the car and we were serenaded all the way home by a box full of peeps and chirps.

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Sixteen little noisy balls of fluff, 4 that look like chipmunks and a dozen little yellow balls.  They are bedded down in the 110 gallon plastic animal water tub in the finished part of the basement with food, water, and two heat tables to tuck under.   The tub has a bent window screen over the top to discourage too much handling and to keep curious cats away if they should get past the gate.

Once home, half of the adult flock had escaped and several had gotten in the garden, scratching the mulching hay all over the place.  With much effort they were removed from the garden, the temporary gate put back in place, and they were lured back into the safety of their run.  The dogs were let out during their foray to freedom and must not have seen them as no one was chased or caught.

Today’s mail brought the last piece of my costume for spinning at the Plantation.  It is a short gown to go over the petticoat and shift.

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This is about as authentic as I will get for this venue.  Please note that I will remember to remove the Fitbit before spinning there.

While getting the chicks and chickens situated and the costume photographed, the forecast is back to 5 inches of snow on Monday afternoon and evening.  We will see what happens.  Glad we won’t be traveling then.

Busy Day

After a couple of days of winter, staying inside and knitting a hat for the shop, today is almost spring and it is sunny.

After breakfast, the pile of compost in the garden that was pushed aside for the boxes was attacked with a shovel.  Hard work for an already sore back, but it needed doing.  A lunch break and trip to town to get some more seeds for our garden and for son’s garden and back to work, this time with the tractor.  After moving some of the loose spoiled hay, flipping the bale, moving one of the half barrels, the tractor barely fit between the box and fence.  Using the bucket on the tractor, the three boxes were filled, some hand leveling with the rake and shovel and they are all ready to plant.  The tractor was then used to remove wood and rocks from the lower part that was ignored last  year, then the bucket was used to smooth and level that part.

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Son let me know yesterday that his family was going to have a large garden this year too, so fewer tomatoes and hot peppers need to be planted here, making room for some produce that otherwise wasn’t going in this year’s garden.  By clearing the lower garden that still needs a light tilling, a larger corn patch can be planted.  Two more 4 X 8′ boxes still need to be purchased and put in place, but soil for one of them was piled up where it should go.

Tomorrow the onion sets will be planted and covered,  one of the larger boxes and a starter flat purchased.  Some fence adjustment is going to be made to allow for a gate, maybe one large enough to allow the tractor in the lower part of the garden.  Next Monday, we go pick up the dozen chicks.  Spring is coming, grass is greening, buds swelling.  Soon we will have broody hens and more chicks.

A Day Outdoors

It isn’t really here and cold will come again, but yesterday was spring time.  The tractor finally got warm enough to start, allowing  some chores that had been needed for a while.  Haying farmer friend always brings me a couple of bales of old spoiled hay after he takes the new hay each year.  That old hay is used in the chicken coop until it gets too wet to be usable, it also is used over cardboard as mulch between the beds in the garden to help keep the weeds at bay.  One of the bales was dropped where it could be rolled down near the coop, but the second one was too far from the garden.  Our little tractor is too small to load a large round bale and though that ball wasn’t a full bale, it was too large for the bucket, so it just sat.  Now that the boxes are being put in place in the garden and mulching between them is necessary, the bale needed to be moved.  pushing it with the tractor bucket started it to unroll.  Once it was about half of it’s original size, it fit inside the bucket and was dumped over the fence into the garden.  Then the unrolled parts were collected with a hay fork, loaded into the bucket in several trips and dumped over the fence as well.

 

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Now there is a huge pile of spoiled hay just inside the movable part of the fence that serves as a gate.  Maybe this spring, a real gate will be hung. Shortly after moving in, we bought 4 half wine barrels at a winery to use for storing root vegetables.  They were only used for a year or so that way and then two of them were put in the garden for flowers and later for potatoes.  The remaining two were left behind the house and had begun to come apart.  One of them was sound enough to move very carefully yesterday in the tractor bucket and carried into the garden, partially filled with soil to help hold it together.  There are now three in the garden for potatoes.  The fourth one fell all to pieces and needs to be puzzled back together.  It really should be in the garden too.  For now it is a pile of staves, metal rings, and a bottom.

While the tractor was out, the culvert at the top of the driveway received a clean out as the winter rain has caused it to nearly fill with fine gravel again.  Two buckets of gravel, sand, and soil were scooped out and utilized to build up the area in front of the garage door that was forming a pond with each rain.

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It was pretty quick work to scoop a bucket full from the ditch, drive it down, dump it and use the bucket to spread it flatter.  It only took a few more minutes with a rake to make a gravel area again where it was only sandy mud.  We will see when it rains again if the pond is gone and the water runs around the house as intended.

Some flower bed weeding was accomplished, the chickens loving something fresh and green to eat, the peach tree pruning was begun, but just too much to tackle in one attack.  It won’t produce fruit this year, but will be a much more manageable size for pruning in future years and perhaps the other peach tree will give us some fruit this year.

It was nice to be outdoors in February working in the yard and gardens.  Last year, we had just been plowed out by our farmer friend from one of the largest snows of the winter.

We are still searching for some chickens to increase our flock.  Chick days are about to begin, but that is really not the preferred approach.  Hopefully, the hens will be prolific this year and there will be many homegrown chicks from which to choose.  Their fencing still needs to be removed and replaced with a finer mesh and a top put in place to try to thwart the hawk so that we don’t lose so many this year.

We are toying with adding two piglets, putting them in the lower garden which is a large space.  To do so, perhaps that fencing will be used for the replacement fencing, it is good welded wire fence and just run a row of chicken wire around the bottom of the chicks pen.  We could just use strands of electric to keep the piglets in or put hog panels between the t-posts. More research needs to be done before that step is taken, to see how much a port-a-hut costs, how much feed will be needed, and where and how to get them processed.  It needs to be economical in the long run.

That would be another nice step toward self sustainability.  Still loving life on our farm.

 

 

Olio – February 3, 2017

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things

If Phil had come out today instead of yesterday, he would not have seen his shadow.  It is thick and gray.  It looks like it could snow, but there is none in the forecast.  Even the weekend storm threat has dissipated, so there should be no missed school next week.  It is cold, each day this week has been colder by 10 or more degrees than the day before.  It was near the upper 60’s on Tuesday and it won’t reach freezing today with a low in the shivering teens.  We have had wind this week too, though today is calm.  One day, the wind took out our power for nearly 7 hours before they found the tree on the line and did some major pruning about a mile down the road.

With the lengthening daylight hours, the hens are picking up egg production.  Yesterday there were 5 eggs out of the 7 hens.

eggs

It amuses me to see the variation on the size and color of the eggs from the Buffys.  The top two right and the bottom left are all Buff Orpington eggs.  The top left is the Americauna and the bottom right is the Americauna/Buff Orpington cross.  The seller of the Buff Orpington pullets that were to increase the flock must not really be interested in selling as they have not gotten back with me though they have email and phone number to arrange the sale and pick up.  Hopefully the girls will  be prolific this year and provide us with enough chicks to replenish the predator loss and still give us enough for the freezer.

The Fibonacci Infinity scarf is still growing.

scarf

There is a 13 row white repeat to go, then pick up the blue with the white and finally the blue with the merlot.  It is already as long as my legs and very heavy due to it being a tube.  It will definitely be a warm scarf.  The silk cowl at the top is growing, it is about 70% done, only getting attention when I am the car passenger instead of the driver.

The Leicester Longwood, a bit finer than the yarn for the scarf is on the wheel.  Hopefully, it will make a knitted fabric that is more sweater friendly after a swatch or two trying different needles.  This week, my Spanish Peacock drop spindle went to a new home as it caused too much strain and pain in my shoulders.  The proceeds from that sale bought a new supported spindle and bowl.  That is a learning process and some of the soft California Red roving is being used to learn. This still allows for portable spinning with less strain on the shoulders and elbows.

spindle

 

This is definitely a learning curve.  The spindle spins nicely, but my drafting of the fiber is still very inconsistent and trying to avoid the park and draft technique makes it more of a challenge.

Still loving life on our farm.

 

Winter Work Day

The calendar says it is winter.  It was gray and bleak, but 55ºf and much to do outside before the heavy rain started Saturday night and continues through Monday.  We have already been issued flood warnings along the creeks and rivers.

At the beginning of fall, after the garden was bedded down, I opened the lower end of the garden, that I had never gotten a handle on last summer, to the chickens.  For spring, I want that area to be sowed with oats and flowers to attract bees and Monarchs, so the afternoon was spent working outdoors.

A bale of straw had been purchased after our Saturday morning outing to breakfast and the Farmers Market.  There are still vendors with meat, bread, pasta, coffee, and one vendor who actually had kale, collards, Asian greens, salad, turnips, beets, and carrots that were growing in his gardens and greenhouses.  It was nice to get some fresh greens this time of year. We got some pork, bagels, soft pretzels, and a loaf of sour dough bread too.

Once home, some of the straw was added in a deep layer in the coop that had been cleaned on Friday.

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I closed off the back of the chicken run so they can no longer get into that garden area as they have stirred up the surface with their scratching.  I will go into that part of the garden and pull out the old rotting row markers and planting boxes,  weed the blueberries and re-mulch them and then run a tiller in there in the spring.  Once it is warm enough, I will seed it with the oats and flowers to keep the weeds down and hopefully attract some bees and butterflies. The oats will be useful for the chickens next fall with the sunflower seed that  I will probably mix  into that blend as well.  A mulched path to the blueberries will be left unseeded.  The oat straw can be used in the coop  once dry next fall and the patch reseeded with oats or another cover crop for next winter.  Maybe that area can be reclaimed for garden a bit at a time.

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Confused chickens wondering why they can’t get through there anymore.  They are 30 feet away from me here, so they still have a 10 foot by 40 foot run with their coop in the corner.

The cull coop run never sprouted grass after we killed the chickens at Thanksgiving and the straw that I had scattered over the bare spots was mostly gone.  I started breaking up what was left of the large round bale of spoiled hay that was near the coop, scattered a new layer over the bare muddy ground, hoping to stop or at least slow erosion there over the next few days.

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Fence lines above the garden were heavily mulched. Each layer of hay pulled off the bale revealed more grubs and the chickens were having a feast as I tossed them into their run a few at a time.  They soon forgot that their run was reduced.  More hay was added in their run, taking it all the way back to the new barrier. Pear and apple trees were pruned.

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But there is still this peach tree that needs a lot of attention.

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You can see the dried up peaches that we never saw on the tree last summer.  It is too tall and too thick.  But that is another day, after the rain and when it is warm enough to erect a ladder and attack the tree with a pruning saw and shears.  Maybe we will actually get some peaches next year after a severe pruning to get it more manageable.

The rain began as predicted right after dark.  The dark rainy evening was spent making a seed order and tweaking the garden plan.

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That is what winter nights are for.

The Curious

Chickens are funny birds.  I do not attempt to domesticate mine to the point of being able to pick them up and stroke them, they are egg and meat producers, not pets.  They do learn who you are though and will come out of the coop in the morning when I am standing there, will come running towards me if I go out with the compost bin or a scoop of feed or treats.  When they are out of their fenced in area, being allowed to free range, they will come running and follow me into the pen like I am the Pied Piper if I shake some scratch in a bucket or scoop and make noise.  And they are curious.

the gang

Gathering at my feet for a treat.

Last week they were penned inside the coop with food and water for three days due to the single digit temperatures at night and the low teens during the day, plus there was snow on the ground for a couple of those days and they just won’t set foot outside if the ground is white.  Then the temperature soared, rarely going below freezing at night or if it does, just into the upper 20’s, and climbing into the 50’s, today actually broke 60ºf.  This produced a situation that could not be ignored.  There are only 8 adult birds in the coop at this time. But…

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My layer coop is a commercial structure 5 X 8 feet, about 2 feet off the ground on skids and about 5 feet at the highest point inside.  The area under it has fence wire on the door side and the egg door side as those two sides are outside of the fence and underneath around the perimeter, inside the leveling cinder blocks on which it sits, there is about a pick up truck load of medium to small rocks to prevent the hens and rooster from undermining the cinder blocks as they quickly started to do.  There are two windows that can be raised above the nesting boxes and a long narrow drop down shutter with hardware cloth on the opposite side.  That window does not shut tightly, so there is always some air flow and quarter inch holes were drilled in the peak on both ends to also facilitate air flow.  In good weather, the windows are opened to allow the coop to air out, but if the temperature is too cold or if it is precipitating, the coop remains shut except for the pop door that they use to enter and leave the coop via a ramp.

Normally, I utilize a method of deep litter in the floor of the coop that composts down during their scratching and additional straw or wood chips, dry leaves, or whatever bedding is available is added on top throughout the season.  The coop is thoroughly cleaned out in the spring before brooding and in the fall before it gets shut up for the winter.  However, with the fluctuation from frigid to spring like temperatures, I could smell ammonia when I opened the egg door.  That is a bad sign and can result in respiratory issues with the birds, so today once the rain stopped, the temperature a delightful shirt sleeve afternoon and the run a muddy mess, I grabbed my trusty multi-purpose tool, the snow shovel (we haven’t needed it for snow this winter) and decided that the coop was going to get cleaned out.

The litter was scooped out one shovel full at a time and carried into the run, laying down a path as I went.

curious

The birds all ran to the garden end of the run until I had put down a good layer of soiled wood chips and straw, making traversing the run a bit safer for me and back they all came to see what was going on.  Something new to scratch through, and activity in the coop to explore and investigate.

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It then got a good spritz with a solution of apple cider vinegar, lemon, tea tree, rosemary essential oils, a tablespoon of Neem oil and warm water, followed by a new layer of wood chips as I forgot to buy a bale of straw today.  They will get a layer of straw tomorrow to scratch into the wood chips.  The coop smells cleaner, a few sprigs of fresh rosemary were tossed about, it is the only herb growing this time of year and they will have to start the compost cycle again, hopefully before the weather turns too cold again as it helps heat up the coop. Windows will be opened tomorrow, but everything will be locked up again for the heavy rain due Sunday and Monday.

at rest

 

Everyone resting together under the watchful eye of Mr. Croak in a clean, fresh smelling coop.

Olio

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Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things.

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Now that the silk is spun, plyed, and ready to knit, I have returned to spinning Priscilla. She is a Leicester Longwool sheep that belongs to a friend, owner of Sunrise Valley Farm, raised locally.  I stumbled upon her delightful wool at our Farmers Market one Saturday morning.  I purchased a small bag of 8 ounces of the roving and fell in love. At the time I didn’t know it came from Priscilla, but after I bought the second 8 ounces, I was told and I asked for more.  I have spun many ounces, dyed some with Annatto seed and with Country Classics wool dye.

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The yellow gold and the lavender are some of what I dyed and the white is the natural roving.  Initially, my plan was to knit a Fair Isle pull over sweater to wear on a ski trip to Colorado this winter.  Those plans have had to be aborted and the yoke of the sweater was so heavy that the yarn was pulled out, rewound, and is now being worked into a Fibonacci Infinity Scarf instead.  You see the beginning of it in the photo above and more of it below.

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I am working the third sequence at this point and will switch to lavender and natural at the end of this sequence.  I am much more likely to wear the scarf than a very heavy sweater.

That said, I have enough of Priscilla to still knit a sweater for me, but I will use a different pattern and larger needles to make the fabric lighter and more drapey.

I have hopes that this spring, once the lambs are born, that I may have the opportunity to drive to the farm and see the lambs and perhaps finally meet Priscilla.  I was invited last year and never made it over.

Night before last, another friend, a country neighbor that is the lead blacksmith at the Smithfield Plantation House where I sometime get to spin, came over with his wife and he was able to straighten the metal crank part of my antique spinning wheel so that the vertical part of the footman no longer walks off when I treadle it.

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It still requires a leather washer, but each repair gets the wheel closer to being a working wheel.  The parts that I had to ship to Bobbin Boy have been repaired and are in the mail back to me.  I had hoped that they would have arrived today, but not yet. The split in the upright that hold the wheel has been glued and if that doesn’t hold, I will try some lashing near the point where the shaft of the wheel hub rests.  The last resort will be to ship that off to Bobbin Boy to have a new piece manufactured by them.

Today is another day of mud and gloom.  The prognosticators indicate that it may partially clear off this afternoon, but expect heavy rain on Sunday and Monday.  The chicken pen is a muddy mess, the coop not much better.  I think a bale of straw is needed in the coop instead of the pine chips I had to use last time I cleaned it, and a heavy layer of spoiled hay around the outside of the coop to try to tame the mud and muck.  To walk into the pen is taking your life in your hands right now as it is sloped, slick, and soft enough to suck your boots clean off.  Most of the spoiled hay that was put down after the snow has been scratched into the mud.

No more mice have been caught in the car fortunately, but with the wet warm weather, they are trying to get into the house now.  The utility room trap has been busy of late. This morning, after dropping granddaughter off at preschool, I stopped to get the oil changed in my old lady.  I’m really trying to keep her going over 200,000 miles and we are getting close to that.  She will be a dozen years old in a couple of months.  The mini lube place that I took her always try to sell you more services and when the guy brought the cabin filter in for me to see, it was truly fowled between the dusty road and driveway (when we aren’t in monsoon season) and the contributions from the mouse that I caught earlier in the week in the car.  They did vacuum the cab and remove the last remnants of the little mouse’s nest that I had removed prior to setting the trap.

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The young Buffy roo is testing his voice. I don’t name the hens, but I do name the king of the coop.  He is replaced each year or so as his spurs get long and dangerous and he gets more aggressive.  There is always a new cockerel out of the hatchlings that can be put in with the girls after breeding season, and the old tough guy goes to the stew pot at son’s house.  We have had B’rooster, Cogburn, and a couple others.  This guy is Mr. Croak.  Maybe his voice will mature, but now he sounds like an adolescent male whose voice cracks.  He is about 7 months old, beginning to show spurs, has a nice plume of a tail and a funny voice.

Anticipation

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As we fall deeper into the full of winter, so far it has been mild.

clouds

We wake to frost and ice on the windshields and the water dishes for the animals, fog and low cloud layers in the valley behind the house, but mild afternoons, even a bit above normal.

Most of our precipitation has been liquid not solid, though we know that we will see a few snows before spring.  This is the time of the year that the seed and hatchery catalogs begin to arrive in the mailbox to peak the anticipation of spring to come.  So far I have gotten Territorial seed, Southern Exposure, and Maine Potato Lady catalogs to look for the seed that I want to try that I haven’t previously tried.  Two hatchery catalogs have arrived, one going straight into the recycle bin as they do not have the breeds that I want to add.  Soon Tractor Supply will have live chicks and ducklings. Though they will also be breeds that I do not want to add to the flock they are adorable to watch.

birds

I am toying with adding to my heritage flock of Buff Orpingtons with some fun birds.

 

The Buff Orpingtons are a good dual purpose bird, laying generously, nice brown eggs.  They make good mother’s and we are hopeful to both increase the flock and have enough cull birds to put some meat in the freezer.

To add interest to the egg basket, there is an Americauna that lays blue eggs, and a young Americauna/Buff Orpington cross that lays small green eggs all very muddy right now as they track mud in after all the rain.

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I want more color in the basket, so I’m toying with adding 10 straight run chicks, half Aracaunas and half Cuckoo Marans to increase the green, blue, maybe pink, and chocolate brown colored eggs just for fun.  I really don’t want to have to put the mother table in a brooder in the garage and spend 5 weeks raising chicks, knowing that about half of them will be males and will end up in the freezer, but I want the egg color.  The Buffy’s will be allowed to hatch chicks and we will keep a few pullets from them to increase that flock that way too.  Currently there are only 7 layers, due to some predator loss late summer and two of them are going on 3 years old, so their laying is off and they will likely be replaced, making them stew birds at the end of this summer. I would like to get my flock back up to about a dozen hens and the rooster.  With three coops and assorted pens, I suppose I could keep a Cuckoo Maran roo and raise them as well, they are also a dual purpose bird and all could mingle except during the period where I was trying to breed pure chicks.  Ideally, there should be at least 10 or 12 hens to a rooster and other than raising for meat, i don’t keep that many at one time.

It is still too cold, especially at night to start buying chicks or seed, but I can sit here cozy in the house and dream.

 

 

Olio-December 2, 2016

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things.

The winter is setting in.  After much very dry weather with burn bans and hardly a sprinkle, we had two days of fairly continuous rain, much needed, but none the less uncomfortable to have to be out in taking grands to their bus stops or preschools, running errands, etc.  It wasn’t a warm spring type rain, it was cold, blustery, and wet.  It is the rain that helped the Amherst County and Tennessee fire fighting effort.  Living in a rural area with tree covered mountains around us, we fear fire when it is dry.  In 1902, the community that provides our zip code was virtually destroyed by a sweeping wildfire that consumed all but a small handful of now historic buildings and homes.

The rain helped relieve some of the tension that the very dry period had caused, though the heavy downpours gouged out gullies in our unpaved state road again and swept the leaves that had filled the ditches into mounds in the road and along the sides of the narrow road.  After the first day of heavy rain, I stopped and hand cleared the leaves from the ditch just above the culvert that runs under our driveway so that the rain could flow freely through and down to the run off creek.  Our driveway is pocked with run off gouges that will fill back in as we drive it.

The chickens never have started laying again since their molt, so I am getting 1 green egg from the Americauna that didn’t molt about every couple of days.  The Buff Orpingtons will generally lay some during the cold weather, but they have not resumed. They enjoy the sunshine when it is out and forage through the lower garden that is theirs for the winter at least.

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Every time I have planned to plant garlic in the past few weeks, I have been distracted from the task by other chores or the weather.  This morning, I got my bi monthly newsletter from the host of my garden planner and it indicated that it was not too late.  After picking granddaughter up from preschool, I bundled in my barn coat, muck boots, a knit hat and toughed the cold blustery day to get the job done finally.  I knew that if I did not do it now, that there would be no homegrown garlic next summer and fall.  A 4 foot square cedar box was planted with about 90 cloves of garlic to provide the heads for next year.  There were two kinds saved for planting, Redneck Riviera and German Red.  Next year, I think I will also locate and plant a soft neck variety too.

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The first box of the new garden plan is planted and mulched.  My purchase plan of two boxes a month has been put on hold until after Christmas, but there is a stack of cardboard in the garage to use as mulch base between the boxes once they are purchased.  I still have plenty of spoiled hay to use on top of the cardboard once it is in place around the boxes.  I probably should place a layer below the second box in the above picture before the weeds decide to move in.

Once back in and thawed, I resumed plying the 4 ounces of Alpaca and Merino that I have been spinning for the past couple of days.  I had about an ounce on one bobbin and needed to finish spinning and plying it so that I have the bobbins free for this weekend.  It ended up a beautiful 250 yard skein that will be so warm and cozy as a cowl or hat with the 70% alpaca content.

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I will be spinning in the historic Smithfield Plantation House during their Holiday event this weekend.  Their theme this year is based on products that they produced such as hemp, honey, and fiber.  I am taking some washed unprocessed Dorset wool and hand carders, as well as some already processed Dorset wool roving to spin during the event on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.  This is the last of the events at the site until it reopens in the spring.  I have enjoyed my afternoons volunteering there this late summer and fall.