Saturday, June 27, 2015

Spring slowly turns to Summer, 2015

The chicks are loaded in their carrier and ready for a new day out in the garden.  Provided that the weather stays mild, we'll head out.  Then, while Mom does her weeding, the chicks can explore and, hopefully, stay out of trouble. 
We're not troublesome...

Getting a snack before going outside.
 And weeding needs to be done.  With all the good rain we've had lately, the garden is lush but the weeds have also had a nice deep drink.  As the unwanted seedlings are removed, I drop them into a bucket and tote them out to Chickenland to provide the Ameraucanas with some extra treats.  They get plenty of greens, but everyone knows the stuff in the bucket always tastes so much better!

Don't think of them as weeds.  Think of them as chicken snacks.
Speaking of snacks, I am periodically reminded that we live in the country and all sorts of wild things creep and crawl around us.  Many people have a fear of snakes but I count my blessings that they help keep the mice at bay and help take care of an abundance of frogs this Spring has brought us.
The orchards are doing well this year.  We've carefully culled the apples and other fruit trees to encourage healthy growth of the remaining fruits.  Those trees that are contained within protective fencing, continue to grow tall and strong.  Unfortunately, those trees that are not fenced have been subjected to heavy browsing by our deer population.  This little cherry tree, for example, the day before was full and lush.  It had all the appearances that we would have some nice sweet cherries in a few more weeks.  Last night, the deer came.  In what only took a few minutes, left the little tree nearly leafless.  I don't know if it will ever recover or suffer from the shock causing it to either die or not produce fruit for a few years.
 Culling apples takes a long time.  We have nearly 100 trees.  Each one is carefully reviewed.  Variety and when planted is taken into account.  When an apple tree flowers, each five flower cluster can produce five apples.  If left alone, the tree will attempt to feed each of these fruitlets leading to stress on the developing tree and small uneven apples at harvest time. 
 By removing four of the five smaller fruitlets, the fruit tree focuses its energies on the single fruit and growth of the tree.  This leads to a healthier tree and larger, more uniform apples.

A lot can happen between now and harvest time.  For now we hope and pray for this year's crop.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Babies' First Day out, 2015

Wednesday was such a pretty day that I couldn't let the chance go by to pack the peepers into their carrier and take them out to the garden for awhile.  At this age, 12 days old, they're still pretty easy to handle and can be rounded up without too much difficulty.  I'm not going to get sassy about this.  I know full well that in just a few days, my bakers dozen can go from very attentive to wildly unruly, so their training needs to start now.
That's okay.  We're fine right here.
Training?  That's right.  The first step to happy chickens has been that I've been handling them regularly and talking with them so that they recognize who I am.  Next is to understand basic instructions such as 'no', 'come here', and, of course, 'bed-bye'.
I don't know.  It doesn't look like carpeting...
 After looking over the garden, I decided that one of the unused raised beds was probably the best place introduce the chickies to the big wide world.  Like a big dirt filled playpen, the raised bed had lots of straw to explore, new grass to nibble, and little crawly things to look at.  Once water and snacks were set in place, the carrier was positioned, and the door was opened.
The first half hour was spent standing firmly just inside the doorway or pecking at the back wall of the carrier (we'll tunnel our way back to the house...).  Finally, the combination of curiosity and bravery set in and a couple of chicks stepped out into the world.
Wow!  This is better than the heat lamp!
I could just hear the comments telling me that it would be the boys who would venture out first.  Remember: when Amy and the three musketeers were this size, they were always out front. I suspect that how self assured one is has more to do with how bold your parents were than whether one is a boy or girl. 
When chicks are raised by Mum, they know to stay underneath her for warmth and safety.  Where she goes, they go.  Mum encourages them to explore (sometimes with a well placed foot).  When something scary happens such as a noisy truck goes by or wild birds sing on the wire high overhead, she spreads her wings and fluffs a bit and all the chicks come running.  Instead of wings to huddle under, the chicks have a carrier filled with soft hay and chips. 
After a couple of hours, it was time to go inside for naps.  A big day out for little chickies.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Four Little Princesses

Short and sweet: soon after the girls were taken out to their pasture this morning, a light rain shower began.  Starting as a heavy mist, it turned to light sprinkles, then showers, then back to sprinkles.  The air temperature is still warm so it's not all together unpleasant to be out in it.  Our little goat girls are not that happy about being out in the rain and as soon as it picked up, headed for their playhouse.  The harder the rain came down, the louder they complained.
Around noon, I finally relented.  Slopping down the goat trail, I headed from the barn to their pasture.  "Come on Girls!" I called and they came scampering. 
All was going well until we reached the spot where a tiny stream sent a ribbon of water across the path. 
They came to an abrupt stop and bawled.  "Help!  It's a tidal wave!  It's a flood!"
"It's a tiny bit of water," I countered splashing through it to show them how shallow the puddle was.  "No! No! No! We'll wash away!" they cried, dancing back and forth.  No matter how many times I walked through the puddle to show them that there was nothing to be concerned about, the more they would have nothing of it.
After about ten minutes, brave little Jellybean came scrampering closely followed by Ms Fluffy.
Franny and Dorothy hemmed and hawed as the rains came down harder.  Finally in a burst of bravery, Franny came racing down the path with Dorothy thundering behind.  Jelly, Fluffy and I waited for the twins by the gate leading to the barn.  Soon as they got to the gate, everyone bounced around in gleeful greeting before racing to their stall.  One quick shake, then four little princesses pranced to the doorway to turn and stand watching the rain.
"That was fun!  Can we have a cookie now?  Did you see me Mom?  Did you see how fast I ran?  I ran right over the top of the river!  I coulda washed away but I didn't cause I'm fast!  Did you see me Mom?  Did ya?"
Never a dull moment.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Happy Hatchday 2015

Little chickies are peep-peep-peeping.  So far there are six eggs rocking, one completely hatched, and a few with little windows (and tiny beaks protruding) pecked out.

Tomorrow we should have an incubator full of little fuzzballs.

...and yes, I know, the pictures are a little fuzzy.  It's not easy to get a digital camera to focus through a window without removing the glass.  Keeping the heat in and the babies safe and toasty, I'll just have to live with some grainy photos.  8D

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Growing Asparagus 2015

Several years ago, on a lark, we decided to plant some asparagus.  We purchased five tiny rootlets and carefully followed the instructions to plant them.  The first year, as expected, we got nothing.  The second year, we had enough asparagus to enjoy for several weeks.
Deciding that they were planted in a bad place, we took the garden fork and dug a few up.
Rootlet (before)

Happy asparagus rootball (after)

The asparagus have been transplanted to a nice, safe place in the garden where they'll get lots of fresh compost and regular weeding.  Maybe in a year or two, we'll start getting asparagus again. 

Monday, June 1, 2015

Turtletime 2015

It's that time of year again when many of the female turtles come out to find a dry place to lay their eggs.  I'm always surprised by how far from water some of them will go.  I understand why: there are many critters out there who would love to enjoy an egg or baby turtle snack.  This probably explains why she lays so many eggs.

I suspect that this big girl is the same little lady that we found laying her eggs here last year.  What was interesting is she dug the first hole about 10 inches to her left, laid her clutch, buried them, then proceeded to dig another hole, filling it in with only dirt.  She made several of these decoy nests.  I suspect if someone came looking for turtle snacks, he would dig into the soft ground expecting to find a treat only to come up empty.  What's the point of trying again if there isn't anything to be found?
Please drive carefully.  Turtles can live a very long time provided that people don't injure them.

To read more, see My Happy Acres previous year's posting, Turtle time.