Rain day

What a day.  Buckets of water coming down, starting out with slush on the ground, and wind, blowing the cold rain into your face and coat.  All the chickens opted to stay in the greenhouse most of the day, only making brief forays out when the rain abated.

The guineas took one step out in the morning before jumping back in, the chickens got several steps out before pulling their necks back, wheeling around and running back in.  It’s gross out there!

I found it the perfect day for a nap, and that was glorious.  Never enough sleep!

All growth does not take place in sunlight

The best pillow.

I had an epic sewing day, catching up possibly as much as two years of mending and hemming, which put a lot of clothes back into my wearable circulation.

I also made this wonderful piece of embroidery into a pillow (case? sham? cover?  cover.)  — pillow cover, complete with buttons to get it off the pillow for washing, done with the buttonholer!!

 

I went to the library and came home with a chicken

I went to the library bus and while I was in the parking lot, the manager of the liquor store popped outside and waved me down, asking me to come in the store before I left.  What in the world, I wondered, could I be required in the liquor store for?  Who knows, though, really.  It’s a small town.

Well.  It turned out to be about a chicken.  There was a hen that had appeared some days ago and was living in the snow bank and brambles behind the liquor store.  They were feeding and watering her, and she was spending nights 10′ up in a tree.  (This was 3 weeks ago, when there was lots of snow and -15C nights).

Would I bring this chicken to a good home?  First, we had to catch her.  She was nervous and quick, and with the help of passersby herding, blocking, and diving in the snow after her, I caught her, and immediately stuffed her and her cold feet into my coat and zipped her in. (Chickens always love the coat treatment.  Dark and warm – they calm right down(.

Yay, the chicken was rescued, and I was bringing a new girl home.  I had one more stop to make.

I stopped in at the assisted living home, going inside with the chicken hidden in my coat, and just as I was turning to leave, the amusing novelty of being out in public with a concealed carry chicken got the best of me and I turned back, “Hey, you should see what I’ve got in my coat, haha!”  I unzipped enough for her head to pop out, and they squealed, and gasped, “Oh, would you mind showing some of the residents?!”

Thus began a room to room progress of coat chicken show and tell, most of the sick and elderly residents petting her and grinning with delight.  She was a gracious celebrity, quiet, mild, tolerant, poking her head out and “holding hands”.She’s drifting south in my jacket.  Notice  her little foot out gripping my hand.

After a much bigger day than most chickens have before noon, we got home.  I put her in a chickery for isolation and acclimation.Immediately all the old chickens crowded around to inspect.

I put her in the coop at night, then back in the chickery for the day, then a few part days loose.  She had a hard time at first so I’d put her back in her box for a break and a meal.  It’s hard to find one’s place in a big flock.  She’s small, a bantam something, the same size as a few teens, Very quick, high-stepping, nervy.

She’s integrated now!  She rolls with clique #1, the pufflings and the top rooster – a surprise.  She still hops into the open chickery, often in the morning, nostalgic-like.  I used to stay in here. 

 

 

Flyday

T.G.I. Flyday here today.  All my hives are alive, and many, many bees were out flying today in the warmth.

I got to feed them, and replace some straw in the top of their hives; I was happy to find that the wet mouldy straw was only around the top and outside edge – where it was nearest the roof and corners.  Nested around the bottle of syrup and the opening in the center the straw was dry and golden, bees dry.Bees were everywhere, all over the paths, in the chicken bucket, and all over.

The guineas were unperturbed, scritching around right in the middle of the hive while the bees were thick in the air.  They don’t care.  This is the first time we’ve had guineas that come and hang out at the house (thanks to Galahad raising them), which is great, because this is where they need to do their tick-eating thing.  That’s what I hired them for. 

Guinea was here

The snow is almost all gone now, but when it was still here, it didn’t stop the guineas.

They tramped up and down and all around, and made a fantastic constellation of footprints.  They were so pleased to be out, they put up with a little cold feet.

Who says we’re jungle birds?  We’re Canada birds now.I found them at the end of their footprints!

Out on the range.

The birds are all out free-ranging again.  They’re so excited!! Mostly out. They are free to come and go, for the last week or two since the snow has been going.

They are so happy!  All the young ones (1-2 yrs) and the guineas spend all day out, pouring out of the greenhouse when I open the doors, popping back in when they get cold or thirsty, then back out for another shift of foraging.

Inside, the older chickens are less adventurous and content to have the dust baths to themselves.  I can’t wait to move out the Silkies, but it will be cold for another week or so.

Friends

These two were out and about alone, one cold day, without a rooster escort, and were all jumpy and guilty, like they knew they were on the lam.

The birds outside are partly PARTY! Excitement and adventure!   And partly attacking their days like they have a job, and they’re showing up to it late.  Serious.  So much to do!There’s something really good over there! They’re vigorously scritching around in the woods everywhere.  Now that they have the space, I can see the little cliques that have formed around each rooster.  Three good ones.

tap tap tap

The sap is running!  Last year we were largely robbed of the sugar season when winter ended a month early (just kidding!  Catastrophic frost in June!).

I completely failed to get taps in the trees on time last year.

This year, the sugar season is right on time, precisely timing the sugar moon.  I’ve got one tree tapped, the sap is flowing, and I’m even boiling it down!In the past I’ve tapped several trees and collected an awe-inspiring quantity of sap, and failed to boil any because in general I don’t even try to resist chugging it, cold, standing next to the tree (WOW!).

I made kombucha from it (wow), I boiled it to make tea, and soup, but not syrup.

Also I believed the horror stories of dripping walls and sauna reenactments from boiling sap indoors and vaporizing 39 out 40 parts water.  Doing it anyways.  I discovered something, maybe.  I was in and out of the house today turning the stove on when I was in and off when I left (window open), and whenever I returned to the cooled pot, there was a remarkable drop in the high water mark.  It seemed quite a bit was evaporating every time while it cooled, without the burner on.  So perhaps that’s a tiny bit more efficient?

But this time, I have a modest amount collected, (still chugging it from the bucket but with a little restraint), and I’m hoping for a quarter cup of syrup :D.  Maybe a half a cup:)

sprouts!

The year’s first shoots are always exciting.

Reliable, pedestrian kale races out of the gate, germinating in three days and fully unfolding cotyledons in <24 hours (pictured at two days old).

More exciting is licorice:

Hello!

Before too long every windowsill will be full of seedling flats, and I’ll be grumbling at how fast the tyrannical little shoots are pressuring me to pot them up.

I flaked all of February, the early planting, but I’m back on track now with my planting schedule (easier every year as most things are just a straight copy of last year’s schedule).  This week, lettuce and ground cherries.

miracle on banana box st.

Cheeks has been doing very well.  She still lives in the house, as she has for months, continuing to be low maintenance (except for a predilection for beak-sweeping her food); and self regulating, staying in her banana box or on her Rubbermaid (her proscribed territory) and moving between the two on her own.

She has been doing better than ever, although the swelling on the top of her foot continues to grow.  It’s a bubble that looks about to drain every day.  For weeks.

I soak her afflicted foot every day, and sometimes get a little drainage, but in spite of this impediment (literally), she’s in good spirits, relatively active, interested, and talkative.

Exceedingly talkative.  The last few days, she’s become a talking machine, standing up on her box, going on and on.  BrrBRbrbrBRbrBRR, sometimes in a complaining tone, but mostly just a gossipy/lecturing tone.  We’re like, What has gotten into you?  You’ve got things to say!

And then:

What have you got in there?

OMG, is that an egg?!  You laid an egg!

Yep, that’s an egg.

You’d have thought she’d levitated, I was so excited about this egg.

It’s a perfect, pale blue egg.  Unfortunately not fertile, because she hasn’t been on a date for a long time.  I’d love to hatch some of her offspring.

But what it really means is that she’s healthy!  She’s healthy and comfortable enough to resume egg laying, in spite of her foot she can barely use.

Healthy enough that she felt like contributing to the household:)

*She laid another the next day, and the talking decreases dramatically

Happy about living naturally