Tag Archives: dogs

Olio – October 17, 2015

Olio: A miscellaneous collection of things.

This week has been busy and atypical.  Last Sunday, I drove Son #1 and Grandson #1 back to Northern Virginia from a weekend visit with us.  The plan had been to work on the staining of the south and west walls of the house, but again, it rained.  This gave them some much needed down time.  Son #1 and I did succeed in getting the leg leveling hardware on the extension ladder.  I had twice decided to do it myself and the first time I was too foggy headed with a cold and the second time, realized that because the rungs of the ladder extended through the fiberglass uprails, that it wasn’t as straight forward as hoped and I didn’t want to ruin the ladder.  It turned out that we had to go to Lowes and buy more aluminum metal strap to make spacers as the package did not come with enough to do the job.

They took a hike in the drizzle and fog at the top of the mountain and took Grandson that lives with us too.  They came back wet, tired and just in time for a dinner of Empanadas and Yellow Rice that always pleases everyone.  I used some of the last of the tomatoes and peppers to make a homemade Pico de Gallo with black beans and Daughter made a roasted Tomatillo salsa that was very tasty as toppers.

Son #1 and Grandson#1 took a mountain bike ride on the neighbor’s hill and up the gravel road off of which we live.  Sunday, before we left, Son #1 and I took down a dead tree and he started cutting it into firewood lengths.  I hauled loads up in the back of my car and in the tractor bucket and now I need to split  and stack it.  He will finish cutting it up when he comes again, maybe over Thanksgiving weekend.

Monday was spent being Grandmom in charge in Northern Virginia as Grandson #1 had a Columbus Day vacation from school.  We took the Metro into D.C. and spent some time in the Q-rius lab in the Natural History Museum.  That is quite a set up and Grandson #1 loves it.  We also walked through the history of the earth, erosion, meteor impact and minerals areas which he also enjoys.

Tuesday was travel back home with several calls from Mountaingdad that the roofers had showed up to realign and refasten the gutters, fix the leaking vent stack and attach snow guards to the front and back roofs.  This brought to our attention another less than stellar installation by our original contractor in that the metal roofing was not fastened down with enough screws and some of the screws were not even secured into anything when they tried to tighten them down.  We now have a second contract with this roofer to come back and make our decade old metal roof more secure.  We do now have snow guards to try to help prevent the snow from sliding off and taking out the gutters and making snow drifts across the front of the house and piling up on the south deck.

By Wednesday, they were beginning to threaten us with our first freeze due tonight, tomorrow, and Monday, so final harvest was undertaken.  The 5 gallon bucket of peppers that I brought in are all in the process of being preserved.  Three more pints of Jalapenos were pickled.  A quart of hot pepper sauce (mostly Tabascos, but a few Habeneros added in) was made and canned in 8 ounce jars. The smaller green bells sliced or diced and frozen for winter use, the larger ones will be stuffed with rice and ground meat and eaten for dinner this weekend.  The first two pans of Anchos are in a very low oven drying now and the house is filling with the spicy aroma they are emitting.

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There is a string of ripe Anchos hanging in the breezeway south windows and at least two more pans full to oven dry.

The potted herbs and houseplants cleaned, pruned and tucked in corners and window sills to try to get at least a few more weeks of fresh herbs from them.

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The garden was turned over to the laying hen flock and they are quickly cleaning it up.  They have revealed many more pumpkins that I will harvest before tonight’s frost.  If you look in the picture above, you will see our grass mowing neighbor, on the other side of the garden and chicken pens, she pays us daily visits.  I don’t generally mind her visiting, but yesterday, she came right up to the house and left two large gifts that cows tend to leave.  The dogs went straight to one and the German Shepherd did what dogs will do and rubbed her face and side in it.  That prompted an afternoon bath as it was too cool outside to hose her down with cold water.  While she was wet and wrapped in towels, we pinned her down and cut her nails.  She really gets frantic when you do her nails and it requires three of us to do her.  I ended up getting bitten before I got her head pinned down with a towel and my forearm.  The other two dogs and Daughter’s two cats also got theirs done while we were at it.  It is nice to not hear the click, click of them walking on the hardwood.

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The front porch got a fall touch, the fall Welcome garden flag and the large Halloween flag hung.

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Girlie Cat (the name she came with), our barn kitty enjoying the warm sun on the front porch.

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Much of our fall color is already gone at our elevation, the trees already getting bare of leaves.  It won’t be much longer before the only color at all is the green of the evergreens, cedars and pines scattered about.

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Though there was some scattered frost lower on the mountain this morning, we ventured to the Farmers’ Market, got what will probably be my last bouquet from Stonecrop Farms for this season and supplied with some beef and pork, greens, beets, carrots, potatoes and green beans to enjoy this week.  We will continue to be able to get some meat and produce at the market for at least a few more weeks before many of the vendors pack it in for the year until next spring.

We love our life on the farm at all seasons.  It is moving into a slower, hunker down and stay warm period of more reading, knitting and spinning and no garden work.  I do still have to clear a bed and plant the garlic next week after our three nights of freezing temperatures and it moderates again for a while.

Olio – July 9, 2015

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things.

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Mountaingdad and an adorable Grand waiting for the July 4 parade.
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Old Cars
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Wagons
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The Village Historian

Village parades are fun.  The local politicians up for election, old cars, all of the village Emergency vehicles, horses, motorcycles, kids on ATV’s, tractors.  If you want to be in the parade, show up and they will line you up.  Most of the floats, politicians, service organizations, and the fire department, all throw candy and granddaughter came home with a whole bag full because she was so cute in her little red, white, and blue dress.  After the parade, there are hot dogs and burgers, salads, beans, and desserts for a donation of your choice and means held on the village green.

After our local parade, we went to the one in the university town nearby and she got more candy, balloons, flags and attention.  Our day ended in the same town watching the fireworks.

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Music, kids playing and finally dark and a fireworks display.

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A poor pup.  She has again developed an infection and she won’t stop licking.  An expensive vet visit and she is on antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, and an Elizabethan collar to try to break the cycle.  She can’t eat or drink with the collar, so we bought this type to use when we are around and can keep an eye on her.  She can still lick herself in this one, but it serves as a reminder, more to us than to her, but she can eat and drink with this one and will go outside to relieve herself.  She has to wear the more restrictive one when we are out of the house and at night.

We feel like we need a boat and the garden is a mess of weeds.  I weed and it rains and they grow some more.  We are getting squash.  We enjoyed the last of the peas, chopped and froze a couple cups of Mammoth Jalapenos.  Today was finally dry, but it was miserably hot and humid and ended with showers and a double rainbow.  And more rain due for the next week.  The ground is saturated, the creeks full and each day of rain produces flash flood warnings.

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Son #1 and Grandson #1 are coming tomorrow night and we are hoping to get the chicken coop for the cull birds secured and will isolate them before the last broody hen hatches next week.   There needs to be some fencing completed so the culls will have a run too.

Chooks and Barters

The chick family ended up with only 6 of the 10 chicks hatched, but they are adorable little yellow fluff balls and Momma Hen is taking good care of them.  Tonight I am a bit worried as it is going down to 40 f, but she had them tucked firmly under her fluffed body.

We had been letting the Buffys and the Americauna middles free range hoping that the pecking order would be established without incident.  Each evening, the middles were always reluctant to enter the coop.  If I rounded them all up during the day to allow the dogs outside time, I would usually find the middles and 1 or 2 Buffys outside the pen within an hour or so.  To try to keep the Buffys from escaping, I clipped the wings on the two that could get out.  I was considering clipping the wings on the Americaunas too until yesterday evening when I found one of the clipped wing Buffys had been caught outside of the pen by one of the dogs and she couldn’t get away.  Unfortunately, she didn’t survive the attack and I am now down two hens this spring.  Today, I left them penned up all day and by this afternoon, a Buffy and all 4 Americaunas were out.  I got them penned up about an hour before dark and by the time I went out to close up the coop, one of the middles was out again.  I’m in a quandry as to how to deal with it.  The run is 4′ welded wire fence.  I can’t put a top on it and still be able to move about in the run if necessary.  I can’t let them free range as long as the Golden is going to chase and catch them.  I am trying to figure the least expensive solution that might also provide some shade as they killed the peach tree that was in their run by destroying the bark last summer.  A hoop house or a 6 foot topped run of dog panels.  I have seen plans for hoop houses made of bull panels, and others made of bent pipe.  Decisions to be made.

Today was spinning day with the group.  One of my friends in the group has a little rescued terrier dog that participates in Flyball and as a fund raiser, they put together baskets.  I provided some of my soaps and lotion bars to a couple of their baskets and she, being a very talented seamstress with nice machines offered to make me a needle case for one of my sets of interchangeable knitting needles.  I had purchased one from an Etsy shop that I liked, but saw some flaws in it that she and I discussed when we were sharing a room at the spinning retreat in February.  I bought a couple of batik fat quarters and she engineered the case to correct the flaws.  I love it.

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When I got home to put my needles in the case, I found the cutest little sheep attached to the end of the zipper.

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That was the best barter that I have ever done.  Thank you Lawre.

Rough week on the farm

This week has been marked with disruption and illness. There was no school midweek for a teacher workday then a 2 hour delay that turned into a closed day because of a light snowfall and strong wind on Friday. We have been experiencing cold nights and damp cold days and Romeo, our Buff Orpington rooster, a calm gentle fellow had a serious case of comb and waddles frostbite. He may not be such a handsome fellow by the end of winter.

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This was taken before his frostbite. He is a good guardian to his hens and gentle to them in his ardor. As the days are lengthening, we are beginning to get more eggs, up to half a dozen one day. These are welcomed, with 5 of us in the household now, we use many more than I did before.
Yellow Cat, a rescued barn cat, obtained as a sickly kitten lived out his life this week. We had been told he would likely only live a couple of years as he had feline Aids and it finally took its toll on his fragile immune system. I found him on his bed on the porch yesterday with no life left.

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RIP Yellow Cat.
For a couple of weeks, we have noticed our German Shepherd licking herself more than routine cleaning would require. A vet trip to have her checked out and to get her nails clipped as it takes two people to hold her down while one clips, revealed that she had malformed lady parts that have become inflamed, likely infected so she is receiving antibiotics once a day and pain meds twice. This sounds like an easy process, but she doesn’t take pills, even flavored chewables and you risk your digits to try to force them. She can remove a pill from cheese, peanut butter, meatballs, any trick in the book. Daughter who used to be a vet nurse was going to be the pill giver, but the Vet gave us a can of prescriptive canned food and suggested putting the pill in a small meatball of it and magic, she gobbles the pills right down. A solution to a three year old problem, yay.
I was to leave on a bus today to Northern Virginia to babysit Grandson #1 tomorrow and return home with my car on Tuesday. Last evening, Son#1 sent a text and suggested that I try to change my reservation for the bus as they had a stomach virus spreading through their region and he had come down with it. Not wanting to catch it myself nor bring it back to our household, my car will have to stay for another bit. I hope they don’t all catch and suffer the virus.
Another week on our farm, I can’t believe it is February and in two short weeks, Mountaingdad and I will celebrate 37 years of marriage and in three weeks, our baby will turn 28. It can’t be so.

Late Christmas Surprise

Last night around midnight, I was sleeping and Mountaingdad was watching television and there was a light rapping on our door.  Of course the house alarm, two big dogs went berserk.  The rapping was Son#2, our youngest and his family surprising us with a weekend visit.  We had seen them a couple of weeks ago at their home and thought they were coming in January to visit once daughter and her family had moved up from Florida.  Since Son#1 and his family had left on Christmas Day, I had stripped and washed the bed linens, but not remade the beds yet, so a quick bed making was done, a bit of visiting then everyone drifted off to bedrooms.

Since our usual Saturday routine is to go to the town, have breakfast and then on to the Farmers’ Market for whatever offerings are available, we all went in together.  Being a small town with a large state university, with the students all home for the holidays many of the local businesses take a week off and our first breakfast choice was closed.  We did finally get some food, bought our week’s meat ration and a bit for the freezer and came home to more visiting.  The children are ages 8 and 3.  They both want us to play with them as they don’t see us often.  We enjoy this time but wear out much faster than the kids.

After being intimidated by the big dog at first this morning, the 3 year old has decided that he makes a good pillow and is the gentle giant that he is.

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The other pup, our German Shepherd has hidden upstairs most of the day, totally overwhelmed by the activity.  She better get  used to it as the Florida grands moving here next week are the same ages.

Their visit will be short, they will be leaving in the morning as Son#2 is an advanced life support paramedic and has one of his monthly volunteer shifts to serve tomorrow night, followed by a day of paid work on Monday, so he needs to get home and hopefully get a nap before his shift.

A nice surprise.

Dreariness

It is cold and raining.  Not the biting cold of last week, that is due again tomorrow, but cold enough to make procrastination on outdoor chores inevitable.  I cuddled in bed with my book until the Shadow, the German Shepherd was dancing cross legged by my side of the bed, Ranger, the big guy still lazing on his pad on the floor by Mountaingdad.

It is wet enough that the pups didn’t want to stay outside very long, not long enough for me to finish prepping their eggs, so they hovered around and behind me while I cooked.  The recalcitrant hens producing barely enough eggs to have for home use and as I used one of yesterday’s 3 eggs to make cornbread last night for a meal we shared with our recently widowed neighbor after the Pipeline Opposition meeting, there were only two to cook this morning.  Once I carton a dozen and put them in the refrigerator for neighbors or friends, I leave them alone and only use from the bowl on the counter. This left me with no egg today, but I had leftover cornbread, a wedge lightly buttered and toasted in a cast iron skillet is a treat to be savored, with or without an egg.  The pan was heating to cook the pups eggs, so I got my cornbread first.

With the house critters (including me) fed, it was getting harder to stall about layering up in gumboots, coat and gloves and finally making the wet, chilly walk over to let the chooks out and to feed and water them.  Their sloped run, bare of a single blade of grass and with the hay scratched and washed off was as slick as ice.  It is too wet to uncover the big round bale of hay to throw more down at the gate, hopefully later it will quit raining long enough to accomplish that task.  Their coop hay tossed to loosen it up for insulation and turned to facilitate the deep litter composting that produces heat for them, their feed served in two metal dog bowls to keep it from being trampled into the mud and a quick check of nesting boxes for cleanliness and I found a surprise.

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Three fresh, warm eggs to keep my hands warm as I slogged back to the house.  I haven’t seen morning eggs in weeks and am luck to find 3 or 4 cold eggs in the evenings.  It would be nice to get back to going out and finding more than I can carry in without a basket, but maybe not until springtime.

If it is going to be wet and cold, it should at least be white.  I’d settle for the mountain snow flurries that fall for days on end with no real accumulation, just the dusting on gardens, roofs and cars.  Cold, rainy winters remind me of winters on the coast, you are supposed to have snow in the mountains. I know, I should be careful of what I wish for, we may find ourselves snowed in without power later in the winter and we haven’t laid in wood for the stove and fireplace, having only a bit left over from last year.  I suppose we should set in an emergency supply at least.

Vacation

On July 27th, we packed the pups off to doggie camp, loaded the car with suitcases, guitar and amp, bike, ball gloves and a cooler and headed south.  Grandson and I in the car, Jim on his motorcycle for his first major road trip.  We headed off for a weeklong visit with our daughter and her family.  We haven’t seen them since last Christmas and grandson hasn’t seen his cousins since last August.  We had booked a hotel room about halfway there, a bit over 400 miles.  It took us longer to make those miles than when it is just the two of us in the car as we stopped every 110-120 miles to reconnect with each other and for Jim to have a chance to get a drink and walk around for a bit to give his sore parts a rest.  Once at the hotel, the guys took a dip in the pool, we found a Mexican restaurant catering to the Mexican population and had a good dinner, then back to let grandson ride his bike around the parking lot to let off some steam.

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As the temperature reached 100ºf that day, I’m not sure if he was letting off steam or making steam.

Visiting was active for the three grands, with biking, Lego building, Light saber battles, reading, soccer and baseball, a beach visit, a day at Busch Gardens in Tampa.  The Busch Gardens day was hot and humid, but everyone from the 2 1/2 year old to the 70 somethings found rides to ride, shows to see, snacks to eat.

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Riding a camel on the carousel.  We rode it about 5 times and she never would get on a horse that went up and down.

Sunday we started our return journey home, leaving early to try to miss the afternoon rain showers.  Again stopping every couple of hours to reconnect and spending a night in a hotel a bit more than half way home.  The afternoon arrival was greeted with a delightfully cool house that had been closed up with no A/C on, temps in the upper 70’s, a deliciously chilly night in our own bed.

My stop at the neighbor who chicken sits for us, revealed that she didn’t get a single egg, I’m glad I took her two dozen on our way out and brought her a pound of Orange Blossom honey from Florida.  My visit to the coop, I found a still broody hen on one fragile egg that she broke when she puffed up and tried to prevent me from moving her off the nest.

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This morning, she got a surprise as I removed her from the nest and put re-freezable ice packs in her nest and the next one over.  She is nearing 22 days of broodiness on an empty nest.

Later this week, a delivery of 15 Rainbow Ranger meat chicks will be delivered and we will begin raising them for 11 weeks.

The heavy straw mulch on the garden has kept the weeds down.  There were a few over developed squash and cucumbers that got fed to the chickens, more harvested for us.  Lots of peppers that I need to process today.  Basil that needs to be pulled and dried. Yellow wax beans pulled and dumped in the chicken pen.  Bunnies or deer got in the garden and ate most of the new green beans down.  I will cover them today and see if there is any recovery.  There are three beds that need some fall crops planted before it is too late.

This morning, grandson and I went to pick up the pups.  They seem to be glad to be home.

We have one more week and a half with grandson and I will return him home.  The weeks have gone by so quickly, but it has been a delight having him with us.

Olio – July 25, 2014

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things.

Phone saga continued. . . after numerous visits to the cell phone store, learning that they are retail outlets with zero authority to do anything but make a phone call; agreeing to accept a “Network Extender” refurbished with a monthly discount to help pay for the thing, knowing that it probably wouldn’t work since we don’t have high speed internet with our phone co-op, just DSL; receiving the extender (a new one 3X cost, not a refurbished one) 10 days ago; hooking it up to have service, maybe, if you were sitting right in front of it; receiving our bill (still no reliable service) and there being a charge for a new extender, no reduction of cost; we took both phones, the extender, and a major case of attitude back to the store yet again.  This time, the poor young man on whom we unloaded, was very sympathetic, knew what to say to customer service and finally got our contract cancelled without penalty.  Another couple of hours in the old provider’s store that we knew had service on our mountain and we have new phones, and amazingly, service.

Now reality, this was probably all my fault in the first place.  I wanted an Iphone, the provider we had didn’t have them;  my service with this provider was good here in the mountains, but spotty when I went to babysit in Northern Virginia a few times a year.  I didn’t get an Iphone when we switched, the service was better in Northern Virginia, but the two times we had a crisis here, we couldn’t even call each other within shouting distance if we had both been outdoors.  Back with the original provider, they do now have Iphones and I got one.  Hubby got the next generation of the phone he had and liked and we can make and receive calls on our property, up our road, and in our house.  I will suffer spotty service when I travel to have a phone at home.

Broody hen is still being difficult.  I put plastic buckets in her two preferred nesting boxes, there are still 4 others, so she is hunkered down just outside of the boxes.  She tried to peck me when I shooed her out the pop door and got a swat for doing so.  Our egg production is less than one a day right now.  I know that in a few weeks, we will be overrun with eggs once all 13 girls are laying.

On Tuesday, both pups had a new vet visit.  When we first got them, we took them to a vet in our county, but it was 18 miles in a direction we rarely go.  We tried to switch to a vet that was much nearer us, but they didn’t carry the Trifexis that we had the dogs on for heartworms and fleas, so we switched to one about 18 miles away in a direction we do travel, but he is nearing retirement and has a new younger vet part time in the office that we did not care for.  During the time we were using him, our pups decided that they wouldn’t willingly take Trifexis.  Surprisingly, the big guy, the English Mastiff would let me force feed his, the much smaller German Shepherd would have no part of it and nothing I did would trick her into taking it.  During this 14 months or so, the vet nearest us retired and the two vets that took over his practice, are great as well as doing house calls if necessary.  They switched the pups to Sentinel and Nextgard and both dogs will take them willingly.  Win/win!

The garden is more or less stalled due to the hot weather.  There are lots of tomatoes, but none of them are turning red yet.  There are some peppers and I will likely have to pickle another jar or two soon.  Chard is thriving, but grandson doesn’t like it.  Berries are done.  We don’t like the yellow wax beans and the green beans are just sprouting.  There are a few white scallop squash and an occasional lemon cucumber.  There will be dozens of small Seminole pumpkins come fall and it looks like a stellar crop of yellow and white sweet potatoes.  Two beds are awaiting some fall greens in another couple of weeks.  This fall, the raspberry bed is going to be dug out, a reasonable number of shoots moved to the orchard and that bed prepped to return to part of the vegetable garden, there just wasn’t quite enough space this year with blueberries, raspberries, and grapes occupying about half of the garden beds.  The huge multibin compost structure is coming down, it is actually falling down, so it will be pulled down, the compost spread and a compost pile initiated.  That area will continue to be utilized for the vegetables that spread so viciously throughout the garden.

Any photos that I had taken are on the SD card of the old phone and haven’t been transferred to the computer or the cloud to add to the new phone and blog, so just words today.

Broody Girl

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On July 3, Brown Dog, belonging to our neighbor feasted on two of my United Nations flock of cull chickens, after causing significant damage to the chicken tractor in which they were housed.  On July 4, eldest son and I killed the remainder of them and frozen them for stewing chickens plus 1 rooster, the Buff Orpington, the King of the Domain.  He had gotten too aggressive toward the hens and toward us.  Neither of the then 14 month old hens was showing any signs of broodiness though I really had wanted a self sustaining flock and hen set chicks.  The next day, Brown Dog managed to scare the teenagers enough that one flew out of the pen the dog couldn’t get in and he trotted home with a young Buff Orpington pullet in his mouth.  Brown Dog hasn’t been seen since then, and the Buffs are maturing to a point where I expect the 3 that are 22 weeks old to start laying very soon and the 20 week olds to begin within a couple more weeks.  Since July 4, we have averaged only 1 egg a day from the two adults.

Beginning night before last, when I went to check for eggs and lock up the girls, I found one of the mature hens sitting in the nesting box that they both use.  I chased her out, took the egg and closed them up for the night.  The next morning, she didn’t come out to eat with the rest of the girls and sure enough, she was on the box again and puffed herself all up at me.  I chased her out again and found her there again last night, this morning and this afternoon.  This evening, though there are no eggs to collect, I put an upside down bucket in that nesting box.  She is quite indignant with me, puffing up and trying to peck my hand when I shoo her away.  She probably won’t be too amused to find the bucket in her space, but now that Cogburn is in freezer camp, it is pointless to let her continue to be broody as there are no fertilized eggs for her to sit.  Silly chicken.

I have 15 Rainbow Ranger chicks due here the end of the first week of August to raise in the second pen and chicken tractor and I don’t need Buff Orpington chicks in the coop that won’t mature enough to put in the freezer this fall.  Perhaps next spring I will replace Cogburn with a new young rooster and let one or more of the hens go broody and see if we get chicks in the coop.  For now, I just need to break Buttercup’s heart and her broodiness.