Wednesday, March 28, 2012

(almost) wordless.

I love living somewhere with weather again!

Monday, March 26, 2012


I know. I've been gone. But I had a good reason for it! I went to Vancouver for my Dad's 60th/my sister's wedding party/a family reunion. It was awesome. We had fun. We drank too much, ate too much, slept too little, all had bad colds, and family members that had never met got to meet. It had been a long time since I had been back on the west coast, and needless to say re-entry is proving kind of tough. I miss my family, the west coast, my family, being able to take vacations, and my family.

And now I'm back to the grind - trying to figure out how to make my family and farm here work around a work schedule and juggle every ball I seem to have in the air at the moment.

I have always had a soft spot for the Aquabus gray and shiny.

While it was in the mid-80's at home, it was in the 40's there. We had snow flurries... but the plum tree decided to bloom for us anyway.

I made my sister a Red Velvet wedding...hat. It was tasty.

Chicago. I got bored on the plane.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Terror from the Sky

So... this past Wednesday when I was attempting to play a bit of catch up and get all my veggie starts re-started, we had a bit of a scare. By we, I mean me and the chickens.

I spent just about all day outside. I tossed the dirty dishes and dirty clothes aside (half figuratively and half literally), and spent the day luxuriating in the sun, dirt, and the feeling of (finally!) getting something done.

Albout halfway through my day, I had to go inside to sort through my seed box and find the seeds I needed to plant. My seed box is a crammed to bursting CD storage box, btw. It's slightly bigger than a shoe box. While I was inside I hear the chickens sound their alarm call. I *thought* I had heard it before. I had not. I jumped up, threw my shoes on, and ran outside.

This is the first thing I saw:
cue panic attack.
I heard Zora barking and turned, just in time to see something escape from her grasp and fly up into the trees. I only saw its back, but jeesh it was big. My best guess is a Red-shouldered hawk - I saw it clearly as it went up into a loblolly tree... and while Red-tailed hawks are bigger, and are actually known to munch on free-range chicken, the coloring on the Red-shouldered hawks fits better. It was such a ruddy brown color that at first I thought it had got a chicken. (But it hadn't.) Zora had gotten to it in time, and pounced on it. (It made it up into the tree).

At this point I still didn't know if one of my chickens had been hurt, so I frantically called them (cheep cheep CHEEP!! If you must know) to no avail. Not a single one of them would come out from under the barn, although Wanda in her infinite curiosity peeped her little face out and stared at me as if to say "Are you effing kidding me?". I got some dog food out and scattered that on the ground. Dog food is like crack for chickens. There is nothing they won't do for it. Cindy will jump up into the air to grab it out of your hand. As will Henrietta. And a few others. I crawled around trying to see all the way under the barn to count them. I finally gave up and hovered nervously around until they relaxed enough to come out.

It took like 2 hours. It felt like an eternity. And I *hovered* for the duration.

Finally - FINALLY! - they came out from under the barn. And I counted all 8 (Big Bunny is still in the brooder/infirmary by his lonesome and was fine. Although he full-throatedly participated in the alarm call). Whew.

Many many chickens get snatched by hawks. Many many. So far we have been extremely lucky. I think most of it is probably due to the fact that the chickens' territory is deeply wooded and they are pretty well hidden from view from the sky. Ah well. There went that plan.

On the lookout. (the barn isn't but a foot behind her)
Zora continues to be my hero. And she continues to be on the lookout.

Lizard eyes. Don't be fooled. She can be 50ft away before you realize it.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012


Remember all my griping about the season being early and me being later than normal? Resulting in my being about 2 months behind? Well. I was so excited to get a day off without rain so I could catch up...

So when I went out this morning I was super bummed to find that not only had my seed trays fallen over in the wind, but my row covers had floated up in some places, and the (damn) chickens destroyed all but a few of the green things.

Chard & Kale

I got myself together and decided that I could still get my plants in - even though my broccoli starts were about ready to go in (I TOLD you I was running late!), I will try sowing directly in the ground and see what happens. If I can get my act together and use shade cloth this year, I might be able to get a few heads in before the heat really sets in.

Assuming we can get the rainwater irrigation system in.

I DID manage to get all the current beds that aren't being occupied (about 5) hoed and weeded, and I put up the deer netting I saved from last year up around them. At 3' ft high, they won't do much against the chickens should they really want to get in,  but at the very least I get the satisfaction of a) having done something constructive, and b) the mental image of them running towards the greens, only to be thwarted by some invisible wall. A la Time Bandits. I love my chickens dearly, but they can be destructive as hell sometimes. And if it stays nice this weekend, I have Saturday open and allocated to figuring out a chicken barrier scheme...

But there were a few survivors... in my hacking away with the hoe, I came upon several carrots, 2 Anise Hyssop plants, and an Oregano plant (3 beds and 12ft away from where I planted seeds last year...). The carrots will be dinner this evening. For us, not the chickens. As for the herbs, I picked them up out of the detritus, popped them in some pots, and hopefully their luck will continue to hold out!

The chickens scratched the mulch up over this little guy... and he escaped the fowl play that got the others...

Whoohoo! There turned out to be about twice as many as this handful. The patch I planted for seed also escaped and overwintered fine. Hopefully we'll be planting our own seeds next fall.

Oregano, and Anise Hyssop x2