Piles of chicks!

In the wall tent, Cream Puff has chicks!  Five of them!

Three little tuxedos and two yellows (there was another dead).  She’s still covering four eggs.

And then, in the other broodery, what’s this?Perchick has chicks.  Sisters to the day, going broody, and hatching.  Fine mothers.  These two just went to the top of my valued chickens “list” (there’s no list).  She has seven, in three colours.  She likes to keep a close eye on me. The newest hatched is like Hey, I’m still damp, I just want to be under someone!She’s still covering her remaining eggs too.  That youngest chick is the one most at risk.  It’s not ready for eating, and toddling around. It’s just trying to get a  nap.

I got faked out.  I was checking on them all, frequently, and surprise, an eggshell!  That means another chick, and…..and then the smell hit me.

She broke a rotten egg, one she’d been keeping nice and hot for three weeks.  Gross! Can’t have that in the nest.

But there was also a wet chick.  Wet as just hatched, although I think it had gotten the worst of the overturned water dish.  It didn’t dry out fluffy though.  It dried out looking wet.  I hope it’s looking better tomorrow.  If it can make it through the first few days….All seven.  They look like bear cubs with beaks.A mama hen umbrella.

Yay!  They were both successful.

Garden chicken

I have accidentally domesticated a chicken.  Well, she’s a very unusually wired, different chicken, to start with, and since I am a softie, she is now a pet chicken, and I carry her around between work sites.

Apples my companion chicken and I have been making garden rounds.  I’m hammering all the remaining warm weather seeds in now that I really believe the frost is over (June 10!).  My hands are sore and I got the backs of my hands painfully sunburned.  That’s a new one.

In the greenhouse, five rows of six are in.  The basil is very slow this year and not ready yet.  The cucumbers are downright sluggish, stalled out for nearly a month since transplant, in this weather.Apples finds a new spot each time.  This time she tucked in against the wall by the cukes for a good writhing.  She’s not exactly outgoing, but she’s not as paranoid as she used to be.

In the second garden (greenhouse adjunct), I suspect she’s not above teasing the roosters, prancing along the fence.

I was planting corn, and the hens outside the fence went nuts.  Excuse me, you forgot to let us in, you are clearly providing a snack!  And why’s she in there?!  The preferentially treated Apples showed actual enthusiasm, chasing the corns before I covered them with dirt, getting a few in her.

In the first garden, she just toddles off, finds some shade.Disappearing into the rhubarb.

snakes in the greenhouse

I’ve got a bunch of snakes in the GH.  Three, anyway.Can you see all three?  They like the corner with the figs.They’re cool.  Relaxed.  But they watch very intently.  Track me around.  I think snakes are very cute.  This one is coiled up in a coconut husk in the fig tree pot that, amazingly enough, I put in there in case a snake would enjoy it.  Wow!  It was just round, and reminded me of a snake basket, but I was still very surprised to see it utilized for exactly that.A vacated snake skin.  Somewhere, there’s a snake looking very fresh. Snakes visiting.

It’s take your pet chicken to the garden day

First I carried my companion chicken (Apples) to the first garden for a while, but not too long, on account of the bugs.  She strode right off across the garden and found a shady spot to scratch in the path.  I wa sexpecting slightly more reaction, since I’ve never carried her so far from home, but she’s just relaxed about everything.

Then I carried her back, we did some potting up, then finished the day at the second garden, where I was transplanting lettuces.  It was perfect, giving her a little socialization, without stress.  She was on one side of the fence, and the roosters were making fools of themselves on the other.  Everybody had to come around and take a look at the new girl.  We’ll do it all again tomorrow.

Water off a chick’s back

Butterfly party by the GH door.  There’s a bit of mud there, and it drew a butterfly crowd (why?) Mama hen and her chick duo slip in and out of Silkieland, but stick close by to it.  They seem comfortable over there, rather than the far side of the greenhouse.  All the chickens could come and go from Silkieland, it’s not a secure facility, but most stay.  They’re a little too crowded for my taste but they show every sign of contentment, so – good enough for now.  When I make the next one the space will be doubled.The little chicks are very precocious, handling the ramp from day 1, making their own decisions.  They aren’t very needy, or whiny.  They still stand on Mom once in a while.They all got caught out in the rain, though.  “Caught” – being out in the rain was optional.  Mom looks like a wet schnauzer, and the chicks look dipped, but they are unperturbed.The other hens all jog off when the rain starts, and hide under a tent.  The last guinea spends all his time with the hens now that he’s alone.  I’m disappointed to mysteriously lose those guineas.  I had a nice, peaceful flock, and they roosted in the greenhouse every night.  wth?  Now have to start over.  I’m thinking of getting keets and hoping this guy can bring them up.  The males are  active parents when the pair is intact; can they do it alone?

Three little pigs

As usual, the new piglets are super shy.  She threw me over her shoulder, and I won’t forget.  I peed on him, hee hee.They snort and dash away to the farthest part of their yard when you even get close.  This is kind of a nice stage, when you can stay clean going in to feed them. In a month or two they’ll be nosing my pant legs and jostling me at the trough.

They’ve been working, though.  They were here for minutes before they had their faces in the dirt, and dug up an impressive swath of it in their first hour.They’re a tiny bit more reluctant to run away when they’re in their house, and man, do they love hay.  They act like they’ve never seen dirt or hay (I’m sure they have), and they burrow right under it, sleep away the afternoons.   They’re so pink. I don’t see any black Berkshire in there at all, except in the personality.

Do we have to get up and run away?

Move-in day for the bees

Time for the new bees to go from their nuc boxes (temporary housing), to their forever homes.Sheltered from the rain with a hive lid.

These bees were also midnight bees.  They came from a agreat distance, and with the aid of caffeine and chatting on the phone, I did very well on the drive back, until I was 10km from home and the black dogs struck.  At midnight there was no one else on the road so I crept, 40kph the last few klicks.  My theory was if I fall asleep and go in the ditch, I’ll go in slow.  So tired. 

I got home and fell fast asleep in the driver’s seat the moment I shifted into park, sleeping next to the boxes of bees belted into the passenger seat until dawn.  It was really neat, a different, dreamless but not completely unaware sleep, with the light humming of the bees next to me.  Not often one sleeps next to bees, I suppose.

I was annoyed by the ping of rain in the morning, that forced me to move, to put the bees in place on their prepared stands, and cover them for the day’s downpour.

The following day came move-in day.

The four frames in the nuc box get placed into a super, alternating with brood-ready comb frames, and a frame heavy with honey on each side, for insulation.

These bees had built some significant burr comb on the bottom of the frame, so much it wouldn’t go in the super, and I had to slice that off.  While I was doing that, always a delicate job, I did the unthinkable:  I dropped a frame.

I’ve never done that before.  Immediately I heard Klaus’s voice in my head saying to stay prepared (in the event of a sudden sting), and never drop a frame.

I didn’t drop it from very high, it slid before it fell, but with a frame, however it lands is going to be bee side down.

Right away my feet were stuck where they were.  I picked up the frame and there was a pool of bees rumbling around on the ground, all around my feet.  Not to mention suddenly three times more airborne as a moment ago.

I finished with the other frames, then crouched and started scooping bees into my hand with the bee brush, and dropping them in the super.  I got most of them this way, and the rest were forming a group and on the march.  Here they are starting up the leg of the hive.  So smart!

I picked up the straggling individuals until I could move my feet; the group seemed to have it handled.  Amazingly, I did not get stung.  More amazingly, not one bee was killed!  Not one bee body from the drop.  Inside the empty box, the remaining bees are doing the same thing, grouping up, here on the wrong end of the box.  The fallen bees have finished their journey in.  20 minutes later all the bees had found their way inside. The other hive went much better.  Phew!  Nerve wracking, but no casualties.  Moving day never goes all well as you expect.

June frost

The frost looks like lavender.According to my “research” (and I forget my source), in the last eight years it’s only frosted once in June, and that was the 1st.  Here we are in the first week, and we got a doozy.  It’s going to throw off all my planning numbers (this year I planned for a May 20 last frost).

I got to try out the Almanzo Wilder splash the plant with water before the sun hits it thing.  The potatoes were just poking up, and a few of the squashes were frozen in spite of covering, so I ran around with a bucket and freezing hands in the morning.  Everything will live.

Most things are fine, because I covered them.  I’m good and sick of covering everything by now.  Some of the squashes, the ones I put buckets over, took some damage, but the plants will live.  The ones with boxes over were untouched.  The walnut trees took a lot of damage, to the new branch-tip leaves.In the GH, in the chickery, the new chicks are whizzing around.  Two Brownies and two Oreos, one mysteriously tiny – I suspect a Silkie cross.Mom is fierce!  She attacks my hand sometimes when I dare reach in to feed them.  Then all the chicks run and jam their heads under something, and she savages my arm, thumping it with her feet.  She’s climbed it to the elbow.  Take that!  And don’t come back.

I’m back

Blog is sorted out.  I’m working on “optimizations” to make it load faster – I know it’s so image-heavy.

And now I have a donate button.  I’ve already had a donation!  If any of you are moved to contribute to the feeding of the beaks around here (many of them are past-egg-laying freeloaders), and keeping the blog lights on, said beaks and me will much appreciate it!

I’m not really myself right now.  Either the antibiotics, or the Lyme, or the war they are waging between my cells, are making me a little off.  I don’t have much energy, and I’m not too hungry, and yogourt, which I am supposed to be gorging on, tastes like it is definitely not food.

But no matter.  I am making strides in the online world, working and tying up loose ends in the world behind a screen, and my “day job”.

Busted!

I found a little trail of chicken feed on the floor in the middle of the house, and HW told me he’d left it there as an exhibit.

He’d come in, and found a chipmunk in the middle of the room. It had been robbing chicken feed from the bucket (we bring it inside to add scraps during the day).

Busted!  The chipmunk froze, its mouth literally fell open with shock and terror, and then the feed stuffed in its cheeks came pouring out as it raced for the door (it had to pass HW – the drawbacks of raiding a joint with only one exit).

The little trail of grain told the story – a slight zigzag and panicked “drop everything!”, race around the door.  He said it was too cute to even be mad at.  Welcome to the woods.

Happy about living naturally