Friday, May 27, 2011

Grumpy bird

Absolutely disgusted about being confined in the house. Eating well, though.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Everyone wants their picture taken

Does this look like a boy to you? Look at that tail!


Looking for ants on the woodpile

"I want to be an ostrich when I grow up..."

"Well, I'm gonna be a giraffe!"

Creepy crawly, but cool

Yeah, first it was snakes and now it's spiders.  I can't help it.  They're just cool.  Robin, I should dedicate this post to you, unless spiders aren't quite as grody as snakes.  Lol.

I was watching the bees on the apple trees the other day, and noticed one was just sort of hanging there, not moving.  I looked closer, and saw this...

From what I've been able to find online, I think this is a crab spider.  I think.  I was pretty impressed that such a small spider was able to ambush and subdue that bee.  You can guestimate the size by the bee, and the apple blossom the spider is sitting on. 

So, later that evening, I pulled down a lilac branch to take a whiff of the blossoms.  I nearly got a snoot-full of moth.  Lo and behold, another spider.  Now I was really impressed.  That moth was pretty big.

Anyhoo, there's my grody post for the month.  :)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Birds in the house, again

Well, only one bird, actually. We brought the maybe rooster inside this afternoon. He had spent the whole day in the coop, apparently unwilling or unable to come out of the coop. I checked his legs and feet again... nothing I can see that's wrong. In any case, we sanitized the water trough the geese grew up in and brought it in to the entryway. I put him/her down in front of the water and put food down, and he ate and drank like crazy. Guess that's a good sign. We'll see, we'll see. Bird in the house... again.

Limping chicken update

Well, (s)he was still limping yesterday. Not out scratching with the others. Just lying down in the weak sunshine. I'm new to chickens, so I checked the sort of things I'd look at for any injured pet or livestock animal.

Eating/drinking? Yes to both, just prefers to do so from a prone position.
Eyes are bright and clear.
Bird is alert.
Skin/coat- Wattles and comb are normal colors (just assuming that sick bird might have pale comb), no obvious abrasions/bruising/swelling anywhere, feathers have a healthy sheen.

The only off signs are the limping, lying down most of the time, and calmness (this bird is normally very skittish). I went out and caught him last night, and he only half heartedly made an escape attempt. All I got was an outraged squawk. Didn't even peck me. I held him until he was totally relaxed, and checked both legs and feet, though he appears to be favoring the left. Bones seem sound, no abrasions or discolorations. He didn't seem to mind the poking and prodding. He actually seemed to be enjoying the attention. If he is a roo, and he recovers, he may end up a friendly bird. Maybe.

In any case, not sure what else to look for. Any suggestions would be welcome. I'm hoping it's just a sprain or something of that sort. He is going in the coop each night and coming out during the day. If it gets worse, I may bring him in and put him in a crate for a couple days and see if that helps. Ah well. We'll see how it goes.

(update, July 2011... This bird recovered completely, and we never figured out what was wrong with him. Yes, him. He is a monstrously huge and lovely Welsummer rooster.)

More of my favorite goose

Sort of like a feathery puppy, her fav place to curl up is on the lawn chair between my feet while I read my book. This was a fun (not) pic to get, as I was lying on my stomach. Nearly broke my back. :) And yes, I'm wearing crocs. I don't care if they're ugly... They're comfy!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Garden, trees, and more critters

Well, the weekend was even more productive than I thought it would be.

Garden is tilled, and some plants in the ground. LJ got his potatoes and corn in. Big experiment, but he's happy. I got my onion sets in before the rain killed most of our outdoor activities.

LJ bought two more apple trees, 12 raspberries, and 4 currants on Saturday. The two apple trees are planted, but we still need to get the rest in the ground. He also planted the last of his blueberries in his wine cask planters with a mix of native soil and peat moss. We'll see how they do.

More additions... A couple friends would like to pitch in on the turkeys, so LJ bought three more, bringing the total to 8. We also got talked into some Cornish x chicks. I was thinking around 6 or so, as they are an experiment. LJ opted for 12... They are creepy little piggies, and are hefty even as couple day old chicks. Our mixed chicks didn't weigh much at all, but these little balls of fluff actually have a bit of weight to them already. They eat twice as much as the 8 2-week old turkeys (not joking). At least the new birds are temporary and living in the shop. I'm tired of birds in the house.

Speaking of birds in the house, the geese officially went outside for good on Friday and are doing great. They're up at all hours, though, which is weird. I flashed the spotlight out there at around 2am on Saturday morning, and Afro was floating in her goose bath with the others ranged around grazing. Is that normal? Anyhoo, I've extended their pen a bit to give them some new grass (their pen looks like a well groomed fairway) and they're happy.

Last but not least, LJ wasn't fibbing. The Welsummer really is limping, favoring his (her?) left leg. I caught him and checked it out, but couldn't find anything obviously wrong. He's eating, and was on a perch when I went out this morning to open the coop. So, perhaps it isn't anything serious. I'll check on him tonight and we'll see how it goes.

Gonna try and get some pics up this week. Got some cool pics of the funky spiders that are living in the lilac and apple blossoms. I know, first snakes, now spiders. I can't help it. They're cool. :)

Mmmm... Sod

In order to plant most of our fruit trees, we had to cut out a circle of sod. As it turns out, piggies think sod is extra tasty. Sod is a mix of 3 of their favorite things... grassy goodness, tasty roots, and wormy dirt. Piggy paradise!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Methinks it's a roo

So, we may have identified the first roo in our little flock of chickens. The Welsummer, a huge bird, got us thinking about whether it was really a pullet. Its comb is developing more rapidly, and it's a giant. So, after picking it up the other day, and looking at its feathers, I noticed some really lovely iridescent green feathers... growing out of its tail... awfully pointy, and even a little curly. LJ sent me a message today to say that it is limping... I think he may be making up an excuse to cull a rooster from the flock. :) Me, I say let's see how it goes. Would be an awfully pretty roo...

Friday, May 20, 2011

New fruit trees, weekend planning

I have a feeling that my mind will be on the weekend all day today. It was actually sunny and warm yesterday (a miracle), and is supposed to be really nice today (woohoo!). All the mud puddles are gone at the house! We're hoping to borrow a friend's tiller this afternoon and get the garden tilled up on Saturday. The tomatoes, peppers, and cukes need to go in the ground. I've been trying to lay out the garden on paper, with mixed success. I'd like to organize it to take advantage of some companion planting, which is sort of like trying to arrange seating at a large grumpy family dinner... who likes to sit next to whom, and which family members will stir the pot if seated next to each other. Adding to the fun, the garden area we've cleared for this first year is sorta round, a little sloped, part full sun part not. We're hoping to get a better spot prepped next year, as we just didn't get the tractor soon enough to make a difference this year. We need to level some spots, root out some saplings, and move some enormous old logs. Soooo, this year's garden is going to be an experiment. And will probably be arranged all cattywampus. Ah well. I'll just be happy to have something growing that isn't a weed. :)

A local nursery had a sale last weekend, and we went and picked out a mess of bareroot trees. We put in 2 cherries (Rainier and Black Tartarian), a Galaxy peach, 2 japanese plums (Howard's Miracle and Shiro, I think), 2 mountain ash/pear hybrids (Shipova and Baby Shipova) and another apple (can't remember the variety). LJ also got himself an Amber autumn olive, because he thought it looked cool. Apparently, the nursery has extended their sale through this weekend, and LJ wants to go get raspberries, currants, and goodness knows what else. He's a man on a mission.

Gonna be a busy busy weekend. I plan to spend it getting some sun (maybe, if we're lucky), and grubbing in the dirt. Happy Friday all!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Muddy work jeans are tasty

At least the geese seem to think so...

So ugly, they're cute

Well, LJ added to the menagerie yet again. :)

5 turkey poults are in a brooder in the shop. According to LJ, we've got 2 bronze, 1 white, 1 Rio, and 1 Royal Palm. Should be interesting. The chicks and goslings were pretty easy to raise. I've read lots of horror stories about turkeys, though. If all goes well, we'll be eating plenty of turkey this winter. :)

African goose, almost grown up!

Amazing how quickly they grow! About 8 weeks old in this picture...

Friday, May 13, 2011

So glad we decided to get geese!

Our geese have been an adventure, as neither of us have had geese before. They still live in the house at night (we carry them out to their pen in the morning and back in at dusk). They get attention every day, and we sort of treat them like feathery puppies. They're pets. All of our geese are friendly to some degree. Some would rather not be handled much, and some love attention. They don't intentionally bite, and they don't hiss at us. Their "grooming" can get a little out of hand sometimes, like when they pull my sock down enough to groom sensitive ankle skin. :)

Afro (suicide goose) is by far the sweetest. Most evenings, I will go out and visit with the geese in the front yard. I'll take a book and a blanket or towel and stretch out on the grass for some reading time. Within minutes, the geese are chewing on my blanket, my jeans, my shirt sleeves, and trying to chew on my book. I shove them off when they go for the book, and give my best imitation of an outraged goose squawk. They're starting to totally ignore my book (and my beer if I'm drinking one). A short time later, I'll have a goose snuggled down on my lower back, and the rest ranged around my sides. They like scratches behind the base of their neck, and Afro loves having her breast down scratched. She'll lay down right next to my elbow and talk to me in between bites of grass.

I'm so glad we got these geese. They are way more fun than the pigs or chickens, and I'm looking forward to having them around for many years.

Starting to really look like chickens

The girls are growing up!  We expanded their forage area with poultry netting, and they've been having a blast eating bugs and grass (and snakes).

Little Miss Blue is the best hunter of the bunch!

The Golden Girls are foraging pretty nicely too.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Woodsy pigs

Pigs really DO leap over logs!  :)   I snuck out to their pen to try and get some pics of them out under the trees, and couldn't find them.  I happened to step on a branch, causing a very loud cracking sound, and they came boiling out of the woods.  This log is a little taller than my knee.  There's plenty of room to go around, but they apparently think this is the very best route to the front of the pen.

They're right at home in the trees, and have made many many paths through the brambles.

After all that hard work, they definitely deserve a nap. This particular pic is a couple weeks old, but it's just about the only time I've been able to see where they're resting!

I like to see dirty noses on our pigs.  Means they've been working away out there!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Snake snack

Just a quick post to say that I saw one of the Golden Girl pullets kill and eat a baby snake yesterday afternoon. I think it was a garter snake, and it was so small that we thought it was a worm at first. I tried to get a closer look to see what kind of snake, but she was running around like a maniac, all the other girls chasing her, screaming what I believed to be chicken speak for "Mine! Mine! Mine!". Crazy birds.

Gonna try and get some pics up this week, and log last weekend's activities. We'll see how it goes.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Weekends and growing things, happy thoughts

What a week! My car was rear-ended on Tuesday (everyone's fine, and totally not my fault). Work was SLOW... Lots of filing and forms. Rain started again. I got lost downtown and thus was stuck in construction traffic for an hour yesterday (I despise downtown P-town). It is going to rain all weekend. BUT...

The weekend is here. I'm sleeping in tomorrow. I'm going to cook a ham. Then, I'm going to make split pea soup with ham. Mmmmm... The old beat up apple tree finally has flower buds showing (yay). The columnar buds are getting ready to open. The barerroot trees I planted a few weeks ago are covered in leaves. The rabbits haven't figured a way through the fence around my peas. The juncos didn't eat all the grass seed, as little green spikes are starting to break through the dirt in the future goose pen. The wisteria finally has some buds showing, as do the lilacs. The water is beading up on little goose backs. I'm going to enjoy our most awesome place this weekend. I'm going to plant flowers. Rain or shine. Break time is over. Gotta finish up the workday. Hope everyone has a lovely weekend!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Garden and plants update

Annnnnnnd... It is raining again. We just had a few days of absolutely lovely weather. Sunny, 60-70 degrees, no RAIN. I do feel bad for the folks that are facing drought conditions right now. At least all the weeds and grass here are green, as we just finished one of the wettest recorded Aprils for this area. I wish we could all just get a happy medium. My peas are happy, but I haven't been able to get anything else in the ground because it is still too wet to till. Ugh.

Did get a lot done over the weekend. After the garden show on Saturday, I went by the old house and loaded up the mower and all the potted plants we still had there. The Japanese Maple was LOTS of fun to get into the bed of a full size truck, let me tell you. I dug up a grandbaby of a thornless blackberry that was given to me by a dear friend who passed away a year ago. It had come up from the roots of a start he'd given me from his plant, and I couldn't bear to leave it. I also dug up and brought home some surprises from my old raised bed. I had planted two parsleys and one chive start last spring. Well, the utterly neglected parsley overwintered in the bed, and each is now the size of a basketball. Go figure. The chives had come back up and are nearly as large. They are all now happily transplanted to the corner of the new house. Yay!

KT, awesome as she is, gave me a lilac and a hop that she had started from her own garden, as well as a bit of bachelor's button, three african violets that she no longer had room for, and a 3' Doug Fir that she'd gotten as a plug from the garden show a few years ago. I can't say no to new plants, especially when I've gotten better at not killing them! KT ROCKS!

Garden show, goodness. I spent waaaay too much money as usual, but that's ok. I came home with 6 assorted pepper starts, several tomato starts (mmmm... pineapple tomatoes), some spanish lavender, two grapes, a bay laurel, 6 very young apple trees (which were only $5 each. Score!), and a fairly large jade plant and a cascade hop for LJ. I also bought a couple yummy smelling purple flowers that I can't remember the name for, because my memory is crummy. :) I think that's everything. Probably forgot something. Ah well. The only items in the ground so far are the 3 spanish lavender. It is either still too cold for other items, or we just haven't decided on where to put them. Soon, soon.

We've been working to level the new garden area, even if we can't till yet. Got a bit more done last night before the rains came back. LJ dragged it with the tractor and landscape rake. The rake picks up the brambles, roots, and sticks, and helps to grub out the blackberry roots. We've been pulling rocks, some so large that I can barely tip them into the tractor bucket. The amount of glass I've found out there is ridiculous. I don't understand the folks that lived there before. We keep finding piles of broken glass, cans and bottles, random trash and bits of metal. Like they didn't have garbage service or recycling. All that property, and we found a couple old Christmas trees tossed into the brush 30 or 40 feet from the house. Just don't get it. Anyhoo, we're still finding little surprises like these, and cleaning as we go. Lots and lots of work left to do!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Apple transplant, beautiful day!

So, I have two columnar apple trees. I bought them bareroot around 3-4 years ago, and got my first apples off of the Golden Sentinel last year. I'm hoping the Northpole will fruit this year. I had them in large plastic pots from Home Depot that turned out to be the crappiest pots on the face of the earth. The pots weathered quickly in the sun, and went to pieces. One of the pots had crumbled well past the soil line. Soooo, I wanted to repot, and we bought a couple wine half casks. The trees have quite a few leaves, and lots of buds that haven't yet opened. I didn't want to disturb them so close to blooming, but they desperately needed new pots. So, I bit the bullet and went for it. A couple whacks with the shovel, and the pots disintegrated. LJ and I managed to wrestle the trees into their new homes without too much difficulty, and without knocking off any of the pending blossoms. I was pleasantly surprised to find that they weren't rootbound. I couldn't see any roots around the outside other than a few thread thin bits. Good to see, as I hopefully haven't disturbed them too much by repotting. Fingers crossed! We placed the new planters out near the big apple tree, and perhaps they'll help each other out.

Was a beautiful weekend. I went to the spring garden fair with Paula, KT, David, and Mallory. We had a great time, and I'll detail later what I brought home. Got the lawn mowed this weekend, and the front yard is now fenced for the geese. They're loving the chance to stretch their legs and munch on some spring grass.

Anyhoo, time to get some steaks a grillin. Lovely weekend!