Friday, April 29, 2011

Yeah, her mohawk is awesome.

Afro is stylin.

Goslings growing, piggy injury, springtime fun

Not too much going on lately, so not much to post.

Arnold turned up limping a couple days ago. He wouldn't put weight on one hind leg unless he absolutely had to. He was eating well, and we couldn't see any obvious sign of injury, so we gave it a day to see if it improved. Luckily, he was better the next day, and is just fine now. Must've just pulled something trying to leap over a log. :)

The pigs have rooted through the woods to the back of their pen, and many places in between. They're doing a great job of clearing the area out, and must be eating the baby blackberries, as I haven't seen masses of them in the pen (they are nearly everywhere else on the property).

The goslings are growing nearly as fast as the blackberries. They are almost fully feathered now, and getting a bit heavy to lug outside every afternoon for their grazing time. We are going to try and get a fence up around the yard this weekend, so they can start spending most of their time outside. Their oil glands are up and running, but they haven't yet preened themselves all nice and water resistant yet. Still end up totally waterlogged. They've been bathing in a tub every day when we take them out. Afro absolutely loves the water, and totally hogs the tub. She has a mohawk Afro now, as her cheek and most of her neck feathers have come in, except for the top of her head and down the back of her neck. It's pretty funny. The goose babies will soon be spending all their time outside. Sweet Boy has proven that he is willing to protect his girls. He lets them know when he sees a hawk, and even went after the cat (hissing at her). Skid appears to be appropriately afraid of the crazy feathered monsters. :)

Everything is finally starting to bloom. There appears to be some sort of cherry tree in the back yard. Go figure. I guess we'll see if it fruits. My columnar apples are just about to bloom. Hoping to get fruit off of both of them this year. The poor old apple tree in the backyard seems to be doing well. We liberated it last fall from the blackberries that were engulfing it, and cut back the trees that were around it so it would get some sun. Poor thing was covered in moss, had very few leaves, and desperately needed a heavy pruning.

Now, freestanding in the sunshine, pruned, it is covered in leaves and getting ready to blossom. We only saw one little lonely fruit at the top of the tree last fall. Perhaps it will do better this year. :)

Heading to the garden show tomorrow with KT and Paula. Should be lots of fun, and I'm probably going to spend waaaaaay to much. That's alright, though. Not like we don't have the room for more plants!

I'm spending the last bit of my day helping out another department, answering phones. Answering phones, staring out the window, and reading blog posts. Not the worst way to end the week. Not the best, but it'll do. Happy Friday!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Two hours

Yep. Took me TWO hours to mow the lawn at the old house. TWO HOURS! Yikes! The lawn is <1/4 acre and would normally take a little over 1/2 hour. We finally got some dry weather and I thought I'd give it a shot. Some of the grass was nearly to my knee, and I finally had to take the bag off because the mower kept plugging up. Soooo... I am reading blogs on the back patio, and LJ is on his way to town with a rake. :) Sunshine today here in rainy ole Oregon, and it is glorious. So what if I will spend another hour raking grass... It is SUNNY! Woohoo!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Roughing it

The pigs have officially given up the pig hut. They don't need no stinkin pig hut. They're rough and tough farm pigs, as opposed to those namby pamby lazy pigs that live in a barn. Nope, these pigs are wild hogs, rooting through the underbrush, leaping over logs (ok, they don't really leap, but they try) and braving the vicious chipmunks. Brave brave pigs. Good pigs. They've made themselves a nice hollow against a rotten log under the cedars. They stayed relatively dry and cozy through the rain and hailstorms yesterday. Smart pigs. Wild pigs. Not too wild, though, to follow me around or take pear slices from my hand. Piggies looooove pear slices. :)

Happy Friday!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Sneaky jays

Have you ever heard a jay mimic a hawk's cry? The Steller's jays around our place cry like red tailed hawks. I guess it is pretty common for them to do this. The ones around our place will get up in a tree near where the juncos, towhees, sparrows, and other birds are eating from the feeders. They make that hawk sound several times, scattering the smaller birds. They then fly down and eat in relative peace, not being bothered by the little birds. Sneaky jays. I've even heard them whine like my dog and make a sound remarkably close to a pig squeal. Don't know what good those sounds do for them though. :)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Jean Auel book signing

So just recently, the final book in Jean Auel's Earth's Children series was released. I was stoked when I saw that there would be a book signing at Powell's in downtown Portland. Never having been to a signing, or even to Powell's, I asked a book buddy of mine how they went. He said to get there very early and try to sit at the front, because they would do the signing in order of seating... Front row, second row, third, and so on. So, I got there super early (like 2 hrs early) because I figured it would be packed. It is Jean Auel after all. I had already preordered a signed copy of her new book for my mom, but wanted to get Clan of the Cave Bear signed for her birthday as well.

So, get there super early, and there was a bunch of folks ahead of me, but only 30 or so. Powell's hadn't set up chairs yet, so folks were ranged on benches and the floor, waiting. They finally got the chairs out and I snagged a second row seat. Sweet! Eventually, all chairs were filled and people were packed in at the back, standing. I think there was around 300 before Mrs Auel started speaking. She didn't do a reading, instead talking about the research that went into the books, and how she got started writing Clan of the Cave Bear. She was very amusing, and her journey towards the final book was fascinating.

After she'd said her bit, she answered questions, and it was time for signing. Did the stupid Powell's employees get up and make an announcement about proceeding? Nope. They just said it was time for signing. It was a free for all. I got pinned between a chick that was trying to put together her phone (which she had just dropped) and a huge hippie that reeked of BO and patchouli and was munching on a granola bar with her mouth open. So not joking. Needless to say, after all my careful planning, I ended up at the end of the line. No kidding, like 5 people from the end. I waited in line for nearly 2 hours (and the stinky dreadlocked hippie was next to me... I was tempted to tell her that you CAN wash dreads. It won't hurt them. Yuck.) Didn't get home until nearly 11pm.

Anyhoo, I did manage to have Jean sign the book wishing my mom a happy birthday. Can't wait to surprise her with it. The ordeal was totally worth it for that, though I doubt I'll ever go to another book signing at Powell's. Not if they're all that poorly organized.

On a happier note, one of my vendors brought me some homemade strawberry jam this morning. Yum! My vendors are the coolest!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Encouraging the pigs to roam

So. Stupid pigs are on somewhere around 1/3 of an acre. We figured a nice big pen instead of a little muddy pen was better. Well, piggies prefer to hang out around their hut, thrashing the ground into pig poop slurry. So, we started moving their food tubs farther away every time we fed them. Helped a bit. Finally, we started locking them out of their house during the day. Helped a LOT! They have a huge pen full of trees and logs and ferns and good forest duff. No reason to be huddled like little scaredy cats in the pig hut. We made a little more progress when we started chopping up pears and apples and chucking them in the bushes. Still, they weren't quite exploring like we had envisioned. And suddenly, brilliant idea. LJ : "Bet those pigs would like molasses." Me: "Pretty sure I saw a jug of molasses when I reorganized the pantry this morning..." Score!

So, jug of molasses in hand, I tramped through the woods, dribbling stinky sugary goodness along my trail. Oooooooh buddy! Piggies LOVE molasses. :)

The pigs spent all day yesterday tromping through the woods, rooting away. They munched on blackberry and other roots, and seemed to have found a few squirrel stashes. At first I thought they were chewing on rocks. Nope, hazelnuts (and maybe some rocks). They made a couple different beds out under the trees, and even after we opened their hut back up, remained out in the brambles and ferns.

Spot, the runt that freaked out and screamed if a human came anywhere near him, is now the most friendly of the bunch. He will take pear slices from my hand, and leads the pack running in when we call "hey pigpig!" (aka, come eat). Progress is definitely being made, both at taming the crazy pigs, and at turning them into efficient rototillers. Woohoo!

Goslings are a month old, and getting huge. The two large Toulouse (Sweet Boy and Sweet Girl) have their breast feathers, tail feathers, shoulders, and their wing quills are starting to feather. Little Girl and Afro are a bit behind. We can't wait until Afro gets her head feathers, so we can see if she has an afro with adult feathers as well as baby fluff. Afro was the suicidal girl (aka Stupid) and is very sweet (to people). She's the only one that doesn't squawk and thrash when I pick her up. She's a terror when it comes to the other geese, but only when they're in the tub. Pulling out feathers, mostly. Soooo, the babies spent most of the day yesterday outside. If they saw us walk by, they'd shriek and try to follow us, but after about 5 min would calm and start grazing.

This post is getting a bit long. I leave you with a pic of Sweet Boy and Baby Girl (aka Micro, Little Girl, Runty). Happy Monday!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Finally Friday

Ugh. What a week, and today's been no different.

LJ just had a shift change, which means that I have to take care of the pups in the morning, feeding them and putting them out in the kennel. Yeah, sorta forgot, and didn't get up early enough. Henry did NOT want to get out of bed, and did so only after many heaving sighs and dirty looks (the little diva). Got out of the house about 10 minutes behind schedule.

New gal at the coffee shop totally flubbed my drink, which I didn't notice until I got to work. Nonfat. Yuck. And no peppermint either. Peppermint and REAL milk are absolutely necessary to cover the bitterness of a triple shot. I choked it down because I'm out of black tea, and the company I work for cancelled our coffee service a few months ago. Caffeine, gotta quit this. What a way to start a Friday.

The goslings are growing rapidly, and their feathers are coming in at an amazing rate. Belly feathers, shoulders, and just under their wings are in. Tail feathers are getting longer, and they have big fat quills on their wings. Very exciting, as they get to go outside for good once they've got enough feathers. We're very excited about this, as they've gotten huge and have decided that the middle of the night is the BEST time to stage a mock battle. Thus, we've started unplugging their lamp at night. Helps a bit. They still have the occasional battle in the dark, but not as frequently.

The second batch of chicks is finding their way around the run. They've figured out how to come out in the morning to eat and scratch, but haven't yet learned to go to bed at night. So, each evening at dusk, I'm out there counting chickens as I transfer them from the run to the coop. The Golden Girls look on from their coop perches with what seem to be smug expressions. The buffs, of course, had figured out the routine much more quickly.

Piggies actually come running now for food. They are exploring more and more, urged along somewhat by the apple chunks we tossed in the brambles. I swear they've doubled in size in the last couple weeks. Good piggies.

Weekend... I will I will I WILL get my tomatoes started this weekend, maybe.

Need to broadcast more grass seed in the future goose pen.

Hoping for some sunshine on Sunday.

Rain or shine, I'm so very glad the weekend is almost here.

Happy Friday all!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The rubber boas were out today too

Enjoying the yard. Happy goslings!

Apparently, my leg is the BEST place to cuddle up! We put the goslings outside today in the dog crate. Then, we figured we'd let them out and see if they would follow us around. Ooooh buddy, these babies had fun! They ran after us as fast as they could, and if we sat down, they'd cuddle up or try to crawl in our laps. It was like having a bunch of really devoted feathery puppies. I LOVE these little guys! They had a lot of fun eating grass and chewing on my pant leg. Too much fun!

We also introduced the second batch of chicks to the coop and run, a week earlier than we'd planned. We're very tired of the dust and noise, and wanted to get them out of the house. They're having lots of fun, scratching in the dirt, and the buffs don't seem to be picking on them. Score! We've noticed that the Ameraucanas are VERY loud, and the welsummer looks like a freaking hawk. So, 11 fewer birds in the house. Woohoo!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Nummy num num

Happy piggies!

Chilly spring!

Ok, perhaps snow this time of year is normal where you are. I was surprised to come out to snow yesterday morning. Only a couple inches, but still. I wonder if the elevation we now live at will affect my growing season... Hmmm. It was below freezing and frosty at the house this morning. Brr!

Piggies are starting to get a bit more friendly. They actually came out of their hut when we called them last night, and came flooding out when they saw me put food in their tub. :) The sliced apple they got for dessert may have won them over. We'll see. Perhaps we can open up the rest of their pen to them this weekend.

Sweet Girl, one of the goslings, suddenly has tail feathers coming in! She's the largest, and the first to have visible feathers, but you can feel the feather pins under the down of the others. A few more weeks, and those stinky babies can go OUTSIDE. Yay!

It is supposed to be spring... I have my doubts, though the lilacs say otherwise. Supposed to get a touch of nice weather today and tomorrow and I'm going to soak up all the sun I can.

Happy Friday!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Update on the menagerie

Yikes! We have a LOT of critters!

Chickens: The Golden Girls are loving their run. They have been scratching away, eating bugs and dirt and god knows what else. We put a couple hollow cedar logs in there, and they have been happily shredding them. I took a chair out to the coop on Friday and sat in the run, reading a book. I ended up with 3 chickens in my lap. Those most developed, the girls with combs that are pinking up and have all the baby fluff gone from their heads, are the sweetest by far. They're even starting to make chicken noises instead of just chick squeals. :)

The 11 assorted chicks in the brooder in the house are spaztastic. Pretty, and psycho. My little Andalusian is gorgeous. Can't wait to see how she turns out. Couple more weeks and the little psychos can go outside with the buffs, thank goodness.

Geese: The goslings have tripled in size in about a week and a half. They are about a foot tall, and we have to use two hands to pick the footballs goslings up. They are still very sweet, and extremely vocal if they know you are in the room and not paying attention to them. They waaayyy outgrew the little 10" tall rubber trough that served as their first brooder. They are now living in a giant rubber water trough (bigger than a bath tub) in our living room. Yes, we have a huge stock tank in our living room. We built a little platform to raise up their water and food, which has helped keep their water much much cleaner. With the new digs, they've got lots of room to run around like idiots. Happy geese. Having added grit to their food over the last week, we gave them a chunk of sod to play with this weekend. Again, very happy geese. Can't wait until those little buggers are big enough to go outside. We replace their bedding constantly, but they are stinky stinky stinky. I have a water trough in my living room... sigh...

Pigs: We picked up 4 yorkshires on Sunday. Little scaredy cats, raised in a pig barn and not used to people. These guys will eventually be on about 1/4 acre, but we slapped together a makeshift mini pen around their hut with hog panels and zipties (I love zipties). We need the piggies to learn where their hut is, where the food and water is, and all about hotwire and why they should stay away from the fence. In a couple days, we'll open the pen up completely so they can start going to work on the brush and berry roots. Heck, they started rooting up and eating blackberry roots and canes within an hour of being introduced to their pen. Woohoo! They're quickly learning that people bring food, the fence is not to be messed with, and their hut is cozy and dry. Current names (which could change at any time) are Spot, Hairy Harry, Arnold, and Gandor (for he is the largest... Loooong story). Should be fun!

Dogs: Henry had a bad weekend. He hit the pig hotwire with his butt and leapt into the blackberries on Saturday. On Sunday, he rushed the chickens and hit the run hotwire with his nose. Poor kid.

Goats: Yes, Paula, goats. One of LJ's coworkers has 5 goats (and maybe a llama) he wants to give to us. Very large, relatively sweet goats. Apparently they really really like brush. And we have lots of brush... We'll see. I thought we were going to think about it for a while, but you know what? There is a new solar fence charger in our shop. :)

Happy Monday!