Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Rain, Grillo repairs, Fruit trees and a Fresh Egg

We have been busy, it has been an odd spring starting with the fruit trees from last fall blooming in March, way to early and despite blankets we lost the chance of fruit from them. They are doing very well though and have all leaved out. The Keiffer pears are lovely, after looking very tall and spindly, then looking cut off too short after pruning, they now have great leaves and are showing signs of the pretty trees they will become.

The broad beans are up and looking like they are quite happy where we put them, in the house garden, in the area where the corn was last year, the gravel does not seem to bother them.[The old road bed goes through  section of the garden].
 The Blue potatoes we planted out in the west garden are up and look great, we also have a mystery row of potatoes from last year when we simply lost the potatoes to rain and insane weed growth. The scallions will be making their way into omelette's this week and we have just planted all sorts of collards, broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower.

All this was delayed by a trip to Earthtool to get a problem with the Kohler diesel engine on the two wheeled tractor dealt with. The most frustrating thing we have had to go through. The Grillo now is wearing a 13 horsepower gas motor, a Honda. Sadly the kohler diesel with its perfect torque and superb power is not suited to field work. Stationary power sources yes, as in a pump or generator. The dust from farming was playing havoc with the motor. Ralph has found the change good in some ways and frustrating in others. The gas is a very good engine but it simply does not have the torque and power for running the flail mower. The flail mower is a heavy implement and we cut a lot of brush with it. The diesel made light work of it, the gas has to work harder. It does a good job but not quite the same.

The west garden was tilled and furrowed with ease and now it is full of all sorts of things.
FRUIT bushes and canes...we are so excited. Raspberries, Blackberries, Aronia, Goji berries, Gooseberries, Fig trees, Logan Berries, Jostaberries, Strawberries and Blueberries.

The odd shaped corner of field next to the west garden, by the utility building is now sporting the start of our new home orchard.
Bartlett Pears, Montmorency Cherries, Dwarf North Star Cherries, Majestic Peach, Reliance Peach, Red Haven Peach, Yellow Delicious Apples, Red Delicious Apple, Cortland Apple, Honey Crisp, and Jona Mac Apples.
Byron Gold Plums, AU Rosa Plums and I am sure I have forgotten someone.

It is so exciting to walk through the young trees and see our very first potential peaches and plums. There are bees from somewhere and butterflies are flitting about them. The ducks already like laying in the grass around the trees. I have to mow the grass and am looking at a grass mix that will make a uniform pasture to have under our trees.

The Austrian peas Ralph seeded as cover crop are doing amazing things, they have continued to grow and the poultry is still browsing through them. We are leaving them to grow and fix nitrogen along the north section of the west garden, this area will become our fall garden after we work the peas into the soil.

Today we are getting much needed rain, the newly seeded plants will enjoy the cooler temperatures. The poultry is not so happy and as I type I see disgruntled hens staring out of the door of the trophy room. They want to be out gathering bugs and bits!

I should say not all hens are disgruntled. I have a very busy little gold hen at my feet. The House chicks are on their own, they live in the old apple orchard and happily put themslves to bed at night, in their box, in the trophy room. LLFP came home and has started to lay her daily egg in her chair. She rules the house as before and feels relieved to be her own boss.

Now thats about it for our news, all is well and we are looking forward to the next stages of the garden and projects here.

God bless all of you and Have all the blessings at Easter.

Monday, March 20, 2017

The tale of a Chick

Peep, peep, peep...just where was that noise coming from. Ralph heard this sad little peeping on his way to the workshop.There in the middle of the yard was a tiny, yellow fluffball, we had not had truly broody hens and this was a surprise. No one wanted her and no one was on any of the nest boxes, but here we had a chick.
 She was tiny, bright yellow and loud. We brought her in the house and set up one of our bio-dome on the plant mats for her to live in. She ate and drank right away and promptly made herself at home in my heart. I always laughed at people who had chickens for pets until I started to raise this one little chick.

She was super feisty and loud, she would jump up and down in the bio-dome to get me to pay attention to her, but she would sit quietly on my lap as I fed her tidbits. She followed us everywhere given half a chance. There was a continual peeping and chirrping when she was awake!

She was not too much trouble, if we went to town or outside we would put her back in the Bio-dome, listen to her complain until we gave her fresh food, then we would sneak out.
However, every now and then we go on Sunday drives to see the country and Ralph has places he would like me to see from his days as a truck driver. One Sunday he wanted to take me to see the Ohio river and cross it into Illinois and Indiana. Now this is a full day trip and I realized we could not leave LLFP [Little lady Fluffy Pants] alone this long, the bio-dome was getting too small. Ralph said we could take her...I thought he was kidding but oh no.

I set up a box with shavings, a dish of food and some water. I grabbed a roll of paper towel and broke the news to "LLFP"! It was really quite ridiculous but what the heck we have never done anything normal so why start now.

She settled in incredibly well and happily perched on Ralph's arm. She would come over and sit on my arm and look out the window, occasionally she would perch on Ralph's shoulder. The trip was very much enjoyed and we saw a lot of beautiful country, shared snacks with our chick and just had a great time.
However, just like any small traveler, child or chick she got tired, really tired, but she tried so hard to keep her eyes open....she failed!

When we got home we put her in the Bio-dome for the night, no fuss, she went right to her favorite corner, rustled down and promptly went to sleep.

As she grew we knew she was never going to be a really big hen but she was going to be feisty hen. She ruled the house and our cat respected her, but they became friends and though, they would never sleep together, could be found together.

LLFP loved it when she was big enough to go outside. We took her with us to the gardens when we were planting and she would stay under the garden cart and eat clover and scratch for bugs.

When we would go back to the house she would run after us and hop up the stairs, marching into the house and looking for her food dish. She was now enjoying both indoor and outdoor life. Getting used to the other chickens and adventuring on her own. She was growing into a sweet hen and still enjoyed visiting me in the morning. She had outgrown the Bio-dome and now perched on the back of an old wing chair we rescued from Goodwill.

Morning often saw her waking before us and coming to the bedroom, hopping on the bed to let us know time was wasting.

She thrived with the outdoor life and rambled everywhere, but every night she would be at the back door, ready to come home for the night. We did have a few issues with the place she waited...yes she flew from the deck to the deck rail, then from the rail to the yard  light. There she would sit until Ralph reached for her and brought her in. Then it was a quick march to her chair.

She did have strange hours for a chicken when winter came along. All the regular chickens would go to bed at dark....LLFP would come in at dark but then would enjoy our company and house light until our bedtime. We think that may have had an influence on her next stage of development.

She had developed into a typical buff hen. The lovely color and fluffy bottom, the sweet and friendly nature [most of the time but she was bossy]. I just loved to see her and was so pleased to watch her grow up.

Then one morning she did not come to the door to be let out for the day, we looked at her chair....

She was tucked in and laying there in a nest she had made. Humn....it seemed she had grown up and yes, she was laying her first egg!

It was a tiny egg and she was very proud of it, her loud clucking scared the cat half to death and even the outside poultry was clucking back!
So all winter, 5 to 6 days a week, we would have one ultra fresh egg. She still loved to go out and every day she would appear on the deck, at the door asking to be let in, she would lay, brag then want out. [Unless it was really cold]. She laid her first egg in November. In Mid January she started to get really crabby. I mean REALLY crabby!

I asked Ralph if she could be going broody as young as she is. He replied...she is a Buff! Sure enough she had raging hormones and decided to set. We let her keep two of her eggs and added more. She was settled in for the duration. Feb 2nd was marked on the Calendar with the 22 to 24th a hatch date.

I fed her boiled eggs, the yolk crumbled up and gave her little drinks of water. She set well, only coming off the eggs for the briefest times.

Feb 23rd we had peeping.....11 chicks were soon hatched, one egg partially pipped but  the chick did not survive. LLFP was beyond proud and so careful!

I have to admit I was really glad we have linoleum flooring. We had a good sized box for the family to begin with, then we turned it on its side when they needed more room. It sat in Ralph's office and the chicks entertained us to no end. We used a small, broad based, cat food dish for chick starter. The chicks could scramble in and eat and LLFP could scratch with out it tipping over. 

They were brave right from the start and ran everywhere. We had to be very careful not to step on them. They soon started to realize how nice and warm the floor was by the stove and we would find the family sprawled out, soaking up heat.

It did not take long before they were far too big to have in the house. Setting up an area in the utility building took no time and soon we moved the family out of the house.

It was suddenly quiet...no skitter of little chick feet, no sound of come to food clucking, no having my ankles attacked if I got too close to the chicks. It had been a very long time since we had a chicken free house. LLFP made the move bravely and now has her rebellious brood rambling all over the yard. She has decided when they are big enough to climb the steps  of the deck she wants to bring them home.

It has been a wonderful adventure with our little lost chick. I hope all her chicks are hens but we know how that goes. There is one little blonde bundle of feathers that I  know is the next generation of LLFP..she is a fierce little thing and just like her mother!

So as I type this I am watching the "Peepster's" as they run across the growing grass and forage, their mother all fluffed up like a basket ball and I miss my house chick. Its wonderful though to see them being real chickens and starting the next generation of our poultry!

Happy Spring and happy adventures ahead with your life and endeavors, God Bless all of you.