New things! New things! – Greenhouse Rearrangement

 I got some more work done in the greenhouse.  Specifically, I untied all the strings crossing the top third, that suspend tomatoes in the summer. 

You can just see the strings in this pic.  So I’m taking them down and crochet looping them  up to decommission them until next year.  The guineas will be able to fly around in the upper third of the GH again.

This festooning makes sense to me.

Then the irrigation came out, and the pool went in, and coops were shifted – oh my!  When HW was yanking out the irrigation tape, he exposed a nestful of a family of shrews or voles that ran scurrying, and the chickens leapt into the air and screamed like little girls!  Which made the whole room erupt, and they talked about it for quite a while.

The Silkies noticed immediately that their dust bath was refilled:)  by immediately I mean seconds.  About ten.

Yep, that’s four Silkies going to town in there.

Cleopatra wants in there SO bad.  So bad that I was able to catch her, the notorious escape artist, and take her jacket off- she’s all regrown.

Ketchup’s elbowing in there

Everyone wants into that dust bath.  So much so that there was an invasion from outside:

Ahhhh, finally got that coat off!

A half dozen chickens that don’t belong hopped into Silkieland to use their fridge-drawer baths (how rude), all the while ignoring that they have a new grand bath of their own:

It’s garnering mild interest
Nosey, of course.

There was so much upheaval – wood chips and hay and coop movement and the addition of baths and overturning of turf, that the roosters were bleating about “New things! New things!” for about 20 minutes straight.  Other than that it was very, very quiet.  All must be investigated.

I’m gonna stand on that.

This little adventure chicken got in on the action when I went to hang some long poles for perches at the opposite end of the GH from where the guineas now roost.  First, I rested it on the coop.

Whitey got aboard.  More impressively, stayed on and rode the pole as I tied up the opposite end at 6’ish, then came to the coop, raised that end and tied that up. 

Whoa – whoa!   (It swings)

  What are you gonna do now, little bird? 

That should keep them entertained for a couple days.

cheeks and the baked goods

Cheeks having some lap time, and a foot bath.
She likes having her neck stroked
zzzzzz…

All very peaceful, until a croissant comes out.  First it was pie crust, similarly discovered by accident – I was eating it within her reach, and she stabbed out her beak- I’ll have some of that!

Multigrain croissant has proven to be such a huge and lasting hit, that I’m like Ok, eat some more of your grains, and then you can have croissant.  She’s like I’ll wait.  I can carry a box of them through the room, and her little head periscopes out of her banana box, following me. 

She gets a wicked glint in her eye when the croissant comes out, and she attacks! I used to break up beak sized pieces for her, but she prefers to rip her own bits off of the source, getting her whole body involved.

Why does she like it so much?

Attack!

We don’t know, but at least she’s got an appetite.

magical christmassy snow

There was an unexpected veil of snow settled on everything yesterday (I wasn’t expecting it).

It was warm, too, and that kind of snow that falls in huge, feathery flakes gets heavy.  Awful to drive in.  It’s very hard on my bird protection

Surprise, no birds are outside!  I have to untether the netting when it snows like this and drop it down inside the fence.  I’ve learned to tie quick release knots, so it’s not much slower than walking around the garden.  Then I hoist it back up when it melts.

A very small rabbit has been passing the deck. Recently; the snow is already filling its tracks.   That’s nice.  There’s one large rabbit around, but it’s nice to know there’s a new generation.

The blue jays have resorted to the suet.  I can tell they don’t like it that it spins around when they get on.  The birds have a bit of a harder time in the “deep” (deep for them) snow.  The grosbeaks are still here in huge numbers, in the morning. 

Oh great, it’s time to move blog platforms again

I’ve been blogging here at WordPress for nine and half years, and I was perfectly delighted with it for eight and a half.  I’ve never had so many problems as I did this year.  Coincidentally, this year is also the first time I’ve paid for the top tier account, for extra storage (nine years of images, yo), and to keep my blog free of annoying ads. 

To hell with that.  It’s usually easier to just stick with what you know than do time consuming research and transition, but I’m not thrilled about paying for the suck.  I switched from Blogger in the oughts, it’s time to move again, although there’s some time before my subscription renews.  WordPress fail.  Research ahead. 

In the meantime, chickens.

Puffling is storking.  The Pufflings are laying eggs – green ones!  They are blue egg layers crossed with brown egg layers, and their eggs are almost olive.  I inadvertently created bearded olive eggers.

The Brahmas are giant bird pillows.  So laid back.

Ave MARIAAAAA!

Until they’re not.  JK.  She’s yawning.


Guinea falling asleep.
Am not!

Guinea grazing

We have snow, everywhere but in these pictures where the sun shone.  A light crunchy layer of snow.  It was very nippy today and I thought the guineas weren’t going to even come out for their graze.They’ve taken to climbing up the pile of sticks during their recess.  No grass up there.  Maybe they just want to look around. This little one is the most successful greenhouse escapee.  She darts out right in the middle of the guinea pack so I cant’ turn her back.  Cheeks’ old stunt.  I can preempt most of the chickens, but never this one.  It’s a pain when chickens get out with the guineas, because they’re not on the same schedule.  Chickens will stay out until the bitter end of light, so after the guineas run back in after a graze, I get to herd chickens.  This one’s not too bad at going back in, and makes the cutest little noises, but tonight she was so intent on digging a hole, she kept running around me and back to the spot, and was very displeased to finally have to go in.  Peep peep PEEPpeeppeep!I’ll just have a bit of rest here.

Suet woodpecker

The woodpecker was so absorbed in the new dish at the buffet that he let me get quite close to him/her.  Then, GAH! Didn’t see you there.The suet looks like I’m about to camp-toast some bread.

The new floor chips caused consternation this morning.  I dropped the Silkie ramp and all the hens came pouring out as always, then erkk!  Put the brakes on partway down the ramp, staring down at the chips I’d liberally sprinkled around before opening them.  Traffic stoppage on the Silkieland downramp.  Some of them were just fine with it, but some of them looked like I’d just filled their world with water, and they stuck out their necks, unwilling to jump down.  Funny.  And some of them stayed on the familiar hay, mincing around avoiding the shavings, again like it was water and they didn’t want to get wet.

Let the chips fly where they may

We brought in a quantity of wood shavings today (free for the pickup at a local sawmill).  The chips arrive:  What is it?  Oh, we’re watching.We’re watching intently.Here they come.  A cautious approach. Here comes everyone.First, the investigatory pecks – Is it edible?  They were underwhelmed that it was not. 

Then the whole crowd sort of circled around the mound.  Later, they were up on top of it.  Since I have more birds this winter than last, even if they do have a big yard, I have to make sure to get enough carbon in there to neutralize their nitrogen rich poop.  No poop smells, thank you!  Now it smells like a hamster cage.

Bees Snugged I

The bees are almost wrapped.  They have their foam on, and I think I’ve really sorted out my wrapping method this year.

The hives each get foam on three sides plus tar paper, that wraps the front of the hive too and absorbs heat.  The foam I’ve figured out how to get it on quick and easy.  First, the three sided “box” is made.Look at my fancy two step carving- a nice seal.  Foam is so easy to carve. Then I tape that together with Tuck tape, including a strip up the whole seam.

All that crap needs to come off the hive first- the strap holding the supers together (in case of wind), and the scabs on the eke, and the arms that hold the lighting board.  Nothing screwed into the hive parts any more.  Then the foam hugs the hive, right up to the bottom of the outer cover, and two straps of Tuck tape right across the face of the hive hold it on – avoid the handles and openings so nothing sticky is accessible.  Done.  The tar paper will be next stage, but in the meantime, they just got a big R-factor upgrade.Naturally, I did this one after dark,  with a headlamp, because temps were falling, and I forgot the critical step: sealing the bees inside the hive, temporarily.  I was hugging the hive, jostling the foam into snug place, and then bzzzzz!  What’s going on out here?  My sleeve came away from the upper entrance with eight cranky bees on it, and more came out the bottom door.  Then I had to be very patient (I was in no mood to be patient- in the dark with a headlamp in falling temps), while each bee decided there was nothing to be concerned about and wandered back inside, one after also exploring the inside of my sleeve.  I did not get stung.  After they went in, I sealed them in and finished up.  They all have absurd and excessive extra “coverings” at the moment because of the forecast rain and snowstorm (right now hammering down).  It’s important to not get any water down between that foam and the hive, soaking into the wood, before I get the tar paper wrap, and I want to wrap them dry.  It’s very wet right now.  My lids all need a rebuild before they’re winter ready too, so in the meantime- draping.

My big idea this time is to wrap the tar paper in such a way that I can still get the lid off.  Then I can feed them through the winter, and monitor the moisture in the straw.  If we get wild episodes of warmth like we did last year, I’ll be able to take those lids off without unwrapping them.  We’ll see if I can do it.

Puffcheeks’ genes are showing

The Pufflings are getting their venerable cheeks and beards now they are almost completely mature.  Oh, this was funny.  Chickens like caves and tunnels, to hide or escape from other chickens, if only temporarily.  This is Chris and C.P’s coop, elevated to make a tunnel, and the (teenage) chicks love hiding under it.

I brought in a bunch of kale for the birds, and one of the chicks grabbed a big clump of leaves and pulled it under here.  Other chicks tugged on it but couldn’t get it away as chick 1 was standing on it.  Planning to break it up some to share the enjoyment more widely, I pulled the frond of  kale away, but the chick didn’t see me do it, and angrily pecked the chick standing next to it, who squealed indignantly It wasn’t me! It was a fresh layer of hay day in Silkieland, and all the birds piled in for a lie-in.  Cleopatra has all but moved in too.  She spends most of a day in with the Silkies, but still sleeps in Bravo coop.  She needs her jacket off, but she’s very hard to grab.  She and Ketchup are the only ones tolerated in Silkieland.  When a teen or a guinea “falls in” by accident, it’s clearly a mistake they’re never going to make again.Usually it’s the five little chicks that snuggle up under the coop ramp, but today it was the place to be.

 

Havoc in the henhouse.

Ok, it’s officially December now.  It’s not time to be broody.  But I’ve been having a battle of wills with four broody hens, the most determined of which is Ursa Minor, and the peckiest is Fiesty, predictably.

Then I open the coop to this.  This.  And this.Not ok!

That’s seven.  Seven.  Seven broody, growly feather pancakes sitting on eggs.  I didn’t have seven broody at once all summer.  This is bad.  Maybe it’s contagious.

They win.  They are sitting on eggs, and since they’re not going to give up, they can keep them.  Likely, chicks will die right and left, because it’s not the right time or place to reproduce right now!

Jeez.  I can’t put them in nurseries in this weather.  It’s super cozy in the coop full of fur chickens all night, but if I isolated the broodies the way I normally do, for the safety of the chicks, the hens would be at risk of exposure.  They can die trying to heat their eggs in cold temperature.  They’re going to hatch in the coop, and then the moms will go right down the ramp for a meal and a dirt bath, and the chicks will die unattended.  That won’t be fun.  Only the bright, lucky or strong will survive.  (Ursa says: If you’d just let me keep the first eggs, they’d be hatched by now!)

I’ve got quite a number of eggs from them from taking them away, but I can’t sell them, because someone might have started baking them.  Therefore, I resigned to the will of the broodies, and went through and carefully marked every single egg, and now if I go through twice daily and pull out the unmarked eggs, then I can get the freshly laid ones out.  What a bunch.This little guy just hopped up to watch the proceedings.

Now all the hens are on edge when I lift the lid, because they know I’m going to lift them up and rummage through their eggs, and they hate that.  They all bristle and growl, and most peck, and then they indignantly readjust their eggs after I’ve been through.  Grumble grumble.

Happy about living naturally