Thursday night was stormy in Delaware, OH with rain and not-quite-howling wind. It wasn’t enough to nudge me awake, but the noise did poke at me a couple of times, such that I knew the storm had happened. But today I have a new standard for judging wind: whether it is strong enough to shake the door of the chicken coop/run enough to open the latch. Thursday night it was!
November 2, 2013
October 27, 2013
From the depths of memory arose the phrase “Sunday bath” today. That was partly because it is Sunday and partly because I witnessed the uninhibited joy of bathing outside in the fresh air and sunshine. No, I didn’t actually do this myself and it wasn’t really, totally outside but….read on and you will see.
Chickens take baths in dust! They do this to keep their feathers clean and conditioned. They wallow in dust or litter and work it through their feathers by flapping their wings and kicking their legs. When they’re done dusting they stand up and shake themselves, and the dust billows out. When the weather has been suitably dry, our grandchickens do this outside in the run. When the run is not suitable, they dust-bathe in the shavings and litter inside the coop. We haven’t had enough dry weather to be rid of the mud that hides under the layer of straw outside in their run.
I’ve been away and haven’t been able spruce up the coop for a couple of weeks, until today. The October air was fresh and sunny so I opened the door and windows, raked up the shavings and re-spread them around, and put clean shavings in the nesting boxes. It felt really good to me….but obviously even better to the hens who were inspired to clean themselves and celebrate.
Now, it seems counter-intuitive that anything could get clean by rolling in the dirt. Don’t we say something is dirty and therefore we have to clean it? I thought so until I remembered a product from the past: Minipoo! Anyone “of a certain age” is likely to recall the commercials that sang, “If you can’t shampoo, Minipoo!” You can read about it here:
There is definitely something timeless about poultry!
September 29, 2013
OK, so you may feel cheated by the title. You may even be saying, “Oh, no! Not more about the ‘Grandchickens’….” but bear with me because I want your opinion on something.
When we ordered chicks from Meyer Hatchery <www.meyerhatchery.com> the catalog had divided the hens into Brown Egg Layers, White Egg Layers, and Colorful Egg Layers. Being novices, we decided we would keep it simple and just get the assorted mix of the brown. They were the most popular, most docile, and best producers. I have to admit, it was tempting to go for the colorful eggs rather than the dull brown but we thought there would be time for that later.
The egg basket you see above is full of today’s eggs. They are brown, but each is a different hue or shade with a soft glossiness. Now I know why paint finishes include one called “eggshell.” I wanted to better describe the colors, so I grabbed the hard-copy Roget’s Thesaurus that sits above my desk to find more descriptive words for “brown.” What I found was a list of approximately 100, many of which totally new to me.
Some of the more unusual were:
alesan, anthragallol, Argos brown, bister, bracken, bunny brown, dead leaf, fox, French nude, Havana brown, Italian earth, Mars brown, meadow lark, Merida, mummy, oriole, philamot, resorcin dark brown, Saint Benoit, tenne’, toast, Vandyke brown and a variety of “reddish browns” such as coptic, piccolopasso red and Tanagra.
So, when you look at the eggs pictured above how would you describe them? To me there are at least 3 different shades of brown. Leave a comment.
September 20, 2013
Every day I get gifts from my grandchicks. Some of them are coffee brown, some are darker, and some are a pinkish beige. They are all delicious with a firm golden yolk, tender white and are protected by a hard shell. People have asked me if the fresh eggs taste different from store bought. The answer is that they have a milder, cleaner taste but it is more notable that they never develop the rubbery texture that I get frying the store brand.
It was a surprise to me that eggs can remain unrefrigerated for at least days as long as they are not washed because of a protective (and invisible) coating. It’s very exciting to pick one up and feel its warmth!
A very special gift today was the viewing you will see below. The starring chicken is one of our Barred Plymouth Rocks.
September 15, 2013
September 15, 2013
A blooming waterlily inspired me to blog today after an absence of 2 years! It confirmed a truth that has been demonstrated to me repeatedly this past year: the “life force” is everywhere and persists with all the power of the universe. I have seen it in every plant that pops up in a tiny crack in the sidewalk or a fern that grows in the side of a ravine. It was in my 90-year-old Dad’s eyes when he was seriously ill this spring, only to recover to enjoy his great-granddaughter Rachel. While traveling in Alaska recently, I felt this life force in every animal and plant that has adapted to survive the extreme climate. And on this Yom Kippur, for which I’ve done nothing observant, I am grateful for the lesson that was reinforced by a flower on the cool autumn day that I picked the last weak remnants of my vegetable garden.
For those of you who haven’t visited us at Frog & Toad in a while, you will see that we have made some adaptations, too. A few years ago we lost the magnificent Weeping Willow that stood by the pond. At first we kept the tree stump about 3 ft. high, thinking we could make something meaningful out of it. One year we planted flowers and herbs in the crevices but the deer ate them. In the way the “life force” persists, the tree stump kept sending off willow shoots that, we finally realized, we could root and later plant to replace their ancestor. Now we have 3 saplings growing on our farm. That is what I call Willowpower!
We have done some construction, too. Ron built me a wood-duck nesting box that will be all ready when they stop by next spring. In the meantime, we have had some very confused bluebirds nest in it.
Bluebirds abound here! They also made a home in a decorative, hand-painted birdhouse that my artist/sister Susan gave us when we first moved to F & T Farm. I had just hung it to decorate the pergola we added last year. Since then, it has had almost constant residents.
Adirondack chairs invite us to watch the pond and relax, which we rarely do because…………..
I have saved the best for last. CHICKENS!
Yetta and Rosy
Dearie coming down the chute
Twelve in all including: Goldie, Dearie, Faye, Minnie, Jane, Rosie, Tootsie, Gussie, Fanny, Maxine and Yetta. Some of the divas haven’t selected a name. All are laying hens that we got the day they were hatched (April 23) at Meyer Hatchery in Polk, OH. We found the first egg three weeks ago and today I found four. It won’t be long before they are all mature, when we can expect about a dozen eggs a day! (If you want to get on the “free eggs” list, send a comment.)
And the ladies are very lucky to have the best protection in the world from the myriad predators.
VINNY AND LOLA aka Guardpugs
If you ever doubt that the “life force” is unfathomably strong, just spend some time around pecking, running, clucking, flapping hens who lay eggs every single day without a rooster in the house!
August 3, 2011
If I published pictures of beautiful tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers you would be bored, right? So instead you are in for a few surprises:
This miraculous creature was very camouflaged among the leaves of my tomato plant. For a couple of days I knew she was present, because some leaves were disappearing and a pile of black droppings were appearing in their place. But, I could not find the caterpillar. The first day I spent 20 minutes examining every leaf and branch on the plant and never found her! On the second day I found this beauty and, please forgive me, I asked my husband take her away to squish her out of my sight. How long can I keep believing that he just carried her far away and released her to feast on wild plants???
That story is just to whet (Or is it wet? Help me here!) your appetite! Surprise #2 was growing on my Sugarsnap Peas:
Do you see him? If not, try the next picture.
This awesome little guy is a Gray Treefrog, which may leave you wondering why he is green. He has the ability to change color as camouflage. It’s also interesting that he is the largest of the treefrogs! (He is only about 1 and 1/4 inch.)
Here are a few more cool things growing in and around my garden:
Thanks for reading my post!