Category Archives: Life: lived

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.


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

Guinea falling asleep.
Am not!

Lap chicken

It’s nice to have a house chicken to hold.  It’s like a cat.  I love cats and their hot water bottle properties, and I can’t have one, but a chicken will have to do.  You think they’re all sharp beak and talons, but chickens are pretty nice to hold.  They’re soft, plush, and very warm.  They burn hot, like a cat.

Cheeks can sit on me for a solid hour, and she doesn’t even peck my keyboard.  She hasn’t pooped on me either.  Apples was not so polite. I haven’t reached her lap limit, as so far I’ve had to put her back in her box and move on, before she grows restless.  She probably thinks I’m warm too.It started with holding her for a bit after the uncomfortable dropping-pills-in-her-gullet procedure that we go through twice a day.  I wanted to give her a little social contact.  Everything needs touch.  Then I thought, hmm, can I work while we’re sitting here?  I can.  She snoozes.  Pops her eyes open at pings or unusual sounds.  Sometimes worries at my sleeve or a button.Chickens are funny- what they can adapt to.  They complain at first about newness, but the next thing you know, they’re totally at home in a box and unblinking at all the slamming, banging, clanging, beeping human sounds.

Look out, chickens are the new purse pets.

Accidental lanterns

I was having fun with the partially frozen linings of 5-gallon buckets.  They made lanterns!  The ice cylinders looked so cool I had to put candles in them.  I got four came out of the bucket intact.Cheeks is doing well, although all she wants to eat are sunflower seeds.  The guineas have stayed inside, and none succumbed to exposure.  There were more than 70 grosbeaks here this morning – that’s as far as I got before they went airborne – they’re very touchy.

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!