Category Archives: Life: lived

Everyone out!

Everyone found the chicken doors yesterday. I finished tying down the mesh around the fence, so it should be guinea tight.It’s kind of dead and slim pickin’s, but it’s outdoors.   They also noticed right away that it’s quite cold outside, so most of them had a look around, and then went back in to warm up.  Spoiled bunch.They seem to much prefer being in the corn stalk strip. In the open they act nervous, exposed.  Heard some of the most pathetic, unsure, low-volume crowing out of the roosters, too.  Hilarious!  They were so un-confident in the new situation, they were crowing at mumble volume, for a rooster.  I’m a rooster….but don’t take that too seriously, I don’t want to disturb anyone.   Velvet and her friends, the Pufflings.

Hen yard

Another afternoon spent in service of chicken comfort.

I created the chicken yard, finally. The fence was already there, keeping chickens out of my garden all summer, but now they are to be kept in, and I strung up the bird netting to keep the pro-flying guineas in and raptors out.

I imagined that the chickens would come out and enjoy it this sunny afternoon, but instead it was a tedious, cold, frustrating task that I clued up right around the usual guinea grass hour before dusk, when most chickens are on their way to bed, so most of them have no idea about it yet. Inside I cut two upside down T slits in the wall of the greenhouse.  Chicken flaps, like a cat door.  I figure once they get used to them, they’ll have no problem using them.  Surprise, Velvet was the first to stick her beak out. More investigation.The guineas like moral support for investigating.No one went out!  The guineas were miffed at me for not letting them out the door (It’s that time!), and although long necking through the slit, wouldn’t use it.

Then I taped back the corners of the flaps, and that did the trick. Of course, the usual baby barred rock, Nosey, and two other chicks came out too. Tomorrow morning could be exciting, before the rains come again.


#LocktheClock, please!

I HATE time changes!!  I don’t really care for regular time or savings time, for God’s sake let’s pick one and stick to it!  More people agree time changes are garbage than any other issue, so let’s dispense with “War Time”.

Each time change means a week of having half the clocks on the “old time”, to remember when the animals get fed, and doing math, like it or not, all times of day.  Now I feel like going to sleep at 6pm, when there should be three solid hours of work left in the day, and of course I feel like waking up at 3 in the morning, so I can lie there and think about all I have to do, once it gets light!  Hates it!    The sunrise and sunset matter, not the numbers.  Until you have to interact with the world.

Rant over.  Adjustment, not yet.

A porcupine has been at work on this tree.  Like an aerial beaver.It’s very sculptural.

The last chicks?

The last broody hen is hatching her eggs (well, there’s one more broody in the coop, but she doesn’t have any eggs and I’m not letting her have any.  It’s too late for that).  They’re having a hard time too.

Shortly after Brown Bonnet hatched, I came in the morning to find the disgustingly distinctive smell of rotten egg.  This one had an exploded egg under her (so gross, but it happens – instead of growing a chick, it rots, and they’re keeping the eggs nice and hot…so boom!)

Now she has a raised dais of hay.  That’s bit dangerous because eggs can roll out and they won’t roll back uphill, and so can fresh chicks.  But she’s being very good and keeping everything in the bowl under her.  I’m checking on her often.

I had to clean her out, throw away her box, and I made her a thick bed of hay with an inviting dip in it to finish her brooding.  Then I had to get warm water and wash all of her eggs, robbing them one at a time, which were thick in poop and rotten exploded not-sibling.  One of them was just starting to hatch!  It stinks out there.

Later that egg was in trouble, shell broken, but the membrane dried and stuck over the chick’s face, glued to eyelid etc.   All but the little breathing beak covered (This is really the only time helping to peel the chick helps, and it’s still hit or miss).  I dampened it and peeled the membrane back (if you’re doing this at home, it can tear their skin if you don’t rehydrate the dried membrane), dampened and peeled, and it peeped vigorously and stuck out a little naked wing, so I was hopeful and left it to finish.  Later it was almost out but had the shell stuck to it (again) with the dried edge of the membrane.

It seems to have made it.  There’s at least one little brown one under her too, that also needed a little help.  And one perfectly unzipped eggshell came out this morning, so three, but I’ve only seen two.

Bee drama

My house smells like a hive.  I have all the removed frames, capped honey, and partial frames in here, because it must all be perfectly dry before storing.  I’ve also got all the unshucked beans and hanging dried herbs in here, so it’s crowded.  But it smells good.

Not surprisingly, there’s the odd bee in here, browsing.  I have to keep the doors shut.

I heard one, screaming, and it was intense enough I had to investigate.  “Screaming” might sound hyperbolic, but it is, it’s a high pitch buzz of panic and desperation.  I know it well;  it’s the sound they make when they get tangled in my hair, just before they sting me on the head.

This time, this honeybee was stuck in a spider’s web, and the spider, almost the size of the bee’s head, was approaching! Dunh dunh dunhhh.  Hence the screaming.  Spiders are allowed to stay around here.  I never kill them intentionally, I just vacuum up their webs when they get messy, make them start over.  In gratitude, they reproduce.  They don’t get to eat my bees though.

I intervened to save the bee.  Then we spent the next three to five minutes together trying to clean the web off of her.  She had two legs, one wing, and an antenna tied up good, and I was working two tiny twigs like a puppeteer, trying to wind up the web strands and give her something to pull against.  She was quiet (no more screaming, time to work the problem), and doing gymnastics on my fingertips tugging and wiping and pushing.  She was most upset with the webbing on her head/antennae.  But we got her cleaned off, and she left.  I need some honey after that.

Pictured is another bee, later, who got a tiny bit snagged by a web in the window.  That spider (smaller) investigated, then turned tail and ran.  Cut the tethers!  Abort!


Serious frost

We got a proper frost last night.   I ate a tomato and it had ice crystals in it (unpleasantly cold first thing in the morning), so lots of tomatoes are frozen on the vine in the greenhouse.  I think the cucumber and melon vines are finished too.  The basil is finished. I worked all day yesterday to prepare for the frost, so it wasn’t a surprise, except I thought the basil would be ok.Mom it’s cold! She’s in her full polar bear.Apples is out and about.  She crushed one of her other eggs, a chick in it that was alive until recently, and the one remaining intact is almost certainly chilled to death, but I tucked it in with one of the other moms.  I poked under Brown Bonnet to see if there was a chick still there and she did not reveal, but there was some tiny peeping.  Apples as mom – FAIL.  That’s disappointing, because she’s a big hen- lots of coverage, and super sweet.  But maternally impaired.

All they needed was a keet ladder

Last night when Galahad and the keets went to bed in the greenhouse, there was a lot of noise, and G was running laps around the greenhouse like he wanted out.   He settled down, but I felt he was distressed, and maybe frustrated with sleeping on the ground.

Tonight after bedtime, I thought the greenhouse was remarkably quiet.  I peeked…and just about died!   In case it’s unclear what you’re seeing, that is one keet perched on Galahad’s back, yes, and all the keets lined up on the (swinging) perching rail, at 6′ in the greenhouse.  They are all very content.This is how they got up there.  I gave them a laundry rack last night (I’ve offered it before as perching media).  I thought it would be a starter perch, and they could probably hop hop hop up and maybe get on their final destination, the rail (in a day or two).  They wasted no time about it!

The before bedtime lounge

Before it’s bedtime, 7-8pm ish, it’s the hour for serious lounging.  The various chicken cliques are scattered around, and more likely to be settled down on the ground than perching above ground.  They just sink down in the grass/weeds (or wherever they are) and have a little lull, maybe even a proper nap.

Two of Ursa’s new chicks came supplied with the most amazing permanent eyeliner.  It’s too bad I used up the name Cleopatra already (although it was entirely appropriate), because these two have totally Egyptian eyes.Mom’s already gone to bed.

I chickened out some pine trees.  I’d given up on getting anything intentional done, so I just did whatever, and now the chickens are getting some new tree forts.  Tomorrow’s going to be good.

The various sized chicks use the main pine tree so much, as club house central.  Now they can branch out.

The process is easy – scythe underneath, prune out all the little inner branches, and throw in some hay. They like visibility, and easy access. I did three trees.  The Family came lurking around, watching what I was doing.BeforeAfter

I’m going to let them distribute the mulch themselves.