Friday, February 16, 2018

Inklings of Spring

Look what appeared this morning!
I have a handful in the yard. Hopefully I'll remember to cut them and take them to church on Sunday. Fresh flowers in the sanctuary are so welcoming in February.
Our outdoors look like this right now:
See how green that field is across the road? And today's high temperature is supposed to be 80. 80!  I can hardly believe it.
I've started some herbs in trays on the front porch/greenhouse: dill, parsley, basil, thyme, stevia, and sage.
My plants that overwintered on the porch have survived. On the left are some mint plants, plagued by bugs. I'll wash them off today. On the right is a mass of tomato plants, bless them.

Left: forsythia. Right: Japanese magnolia

Everything is eager to burst forth!
That includes Adam. He burst forth into the garden yesterday and started digging. He moved the tomato trellis from this bed and turned it over/cleared it out. Then I planted spinach, kale, and lettuce into it. This morning we also have our first asparagus spear up. So exciting!

The window above is the kitchen window. It used to be longer, a standard window. A massive bush obscured the view, so Adam chopped it way back, as you see.
Below is our fig tree, which has been reduced in height over the past 3 years. Now we'll be able to reach all the fruit! The blooming daffodils appeared beneath it this morning.
I decided to let my young flock of chickens out to free range in the yard yesterday. I'd never allowed them to do that before. I supervised them. I'm worried they will flutter into the dog yard or wander into the road.

They were happy to hunt and peck. You'd think they'd want the greenery, but I'm convinced they spend all their time pecking for bugs, little carnivores.
In the photo above, you see the 3 chicks born a month ago. The one on the left is a little cross-beak. Her beak doesn't close properly, and she has difficulty eating and drinking. I don't want to hand-raise a chicken in the house, but I'm trying to help her out. She's smaller and always hungry. I give her some of our mashed sweet potatoes each morning, which she can eat more easily.
And I got a special waterer for her. Hopefully that will help. She may never lay, but she may survive and have a happy chicken life.
Well, the pasture will soon be covered with blooming clover and buttercups. I found the first one:
Some of you are still facing ice and snow and all that entails. I hope this gives you come cheer! 
When our daffodils are gone and our mosquitoes have arrived, you can then share your daffodils with me, and reciprocate the cheerfulness :) If you want to read about our kitchen remodeling, click over to my other blog. There's a link above on the right, on the picture with the sailboats on the river.
That's it from the farm!

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Ripping It All Out ~

Today began the Great Kitchen Redo. We started with the great emptying of stuff:

 We'll be living with chaos in the dining room for a while.
Then we continued with the Great Ripping Out:
Apparently these cabinets were brand new in 1986!

The only thing we actually ripped out today were the two lower cabinets on either side of the oven. We figured that indicated serious commitment, haha! Adam wants to work from the floor up; we'll be putting in a plywood floor, either painted or finished with epoxy.

It didn't take long, but it was exhausting! The kitchen is by far the ickiest room in the house. We've threatened to do this redo for months, and we knew if we didn't give it a good start, we'd put it off again until after the wedding (in June) and after summer, and then after Christmas and .... yeah.

In other farm news:
The three baby chicks are fine. I've named one Applesauce because she has a cross-beak.
Adam has begun cutting down unwanted crepe myrtle trees along the road front.
This tree is now removed.
 And he's building a new fence to divide the pasture in half. It's a natural fencing technique from England in the Middle Ages, used to keep pigs contained.
 A double row of low posts, filled with woodland debris, becomes a thick barrier.
He'll leave a wide gate on the right-hand end and a small gate on the other end by the garden.
Adam has trimmed one pear tree and begun cleaning out the garage too. Much must be done before the wedding in June -- we'd better "get a move on"!!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Triplets in January!

Okay, so I'll go back to December 23. That's the day that Sylvie decided to be a broody hen.
Sylvie is on the left and Lady Grey is on the right. Eventually they decided to co-mother, and they went broody together.
If fertilized eggs began being set on December 23, they should hatch 21 days later, or on January 13, the day of my daddy's funeral. Needless to say, I was long gone to West Virginia by that time, and baby chicks were the last thing on my mind.

Honestly, I didn't think any of the eggs were fertilized. I hadn't seen either Bernie or Arthur pay any attention to their hens of late. I was willing to have Sylvie (and later Lady Grey) set on eggs because I wanted them to be broody. I wanted broody hens in April. I figured when I came home after the funeral, I'd take them off those tired, old eggs, and we'd call ourselves done.

I returned from West Virginia yesterday evening. Adam had lifted both hens from the nesting box on Monday, and seen 4 eggs. I found one of the eggs rejected (one of Ethel's eggs from the other flock). So on Monday morning, there were 3 green eggs under those hens.

The green egg above is Autumn Hen's egg. I put some of hers under the 2 broody hens.

In the end, the broody silkie hens rejected their own eggs because they weren't fertilized. But Autumn's eggs were kept and set upon because Autumn is Rooster Arthur's favorite hen -- so her eggs are fertilized!

This morning, quite unsuspecting, I found three baby chicks in the coop, peeking under their two broody mamas!
 Can you see the little one? The mamas are very protective. Sylvie pecked my hand.
 There are three of them, all black, like their daddy. They were not there on Monday, so they were born sometime Tuesday, January 16. 

I am thrilled, of course! I did not expect chicks this time of year, from such a young roo and young hens. With two mamas, the chicks have a good chance of survival against cold, and they take care of all the instructions - how to eat, how to drink, where to hide. Arthur went in today to see his babies. He seemed pleased.

For the first time, I've had success in increasing my flock - finally!

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Thank You, Canada!

Here comes the Arctic blast! Are we ready?
*Put straw in new chicken coop for insulation and to eliminate drafts
*Build door on farm dogs' barn bay
*Install heater in farm dogs' barn bay
*Cover eucalyptus tree with hoop house plastic
*Give Sylvie more straw under her broody eggs
*Close off spare rooms in the house and crank up those space heaters!

Yessiree, the cold air is acomin'! Monday night's low will be 16 degrees, but it will feel like 7 degrees. I know that's nothing unusual to some of you tough Northerners, but to us wimpy Southerners, that's bone-chillin', teeth-chatterin', move-me-to-Arizona weather!

On the front porch greenhouse, I eat a little cherry tomato nearly every day. My 3 tomato plants are quite happy.
I zoomed in to photograph this female cardinal outside my window.
 Then Adam hung two bird feeders there, so I can see the birds better, take their pictures, and perhaps include them in future stories.
 Isn't he sweet? All I did was say something about watching birds, and boom! Two bird feeders appear.
The cold weather gives Beau some staticky hair.
 I started my Winter Journal. I tried stitching a snowflake on it, but I'm not quite sure it's a snowflake ....
 I painted this mouse, just for practice. My new story is about a mouse family.
 Speaking of stories, I mailed out three copies of the Punkin story today! I'm so, so excited. I now have 13 copies promised to friends. It's just so fun to share one's creative pursuits.



Finally, I'm weaving again. I warped in a selection of gray/blues and deep reds, with some sparkly yarn thrown in. The weft is a smoky blue. The photos don't do it justice -- this one was a surprise. I pick out yarns, and I load the loom, and I begin weaving ... and that's when I find out if my selections were mediocre or magical. This one is magical for some reason. It is brighter, sparklier, and more rustic than the photos.

Well, stay warm out there, folks. This next week promises to be a doozy. We will be inside, eating soup, thrusting our toes toward the heaters, and going a little stir-crazy. Cheerio!

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Sylvie Goes Broody!!

 We are excited on the farm. Sylvie Hen (on the left) appears to be BROODY! I've never had a broody hen before, but I'm hopeful she will stay on those eggs and we may ... we may ... have some baby chicks! Here's Sylvie's tail feathers from behind:
 In this particular coop/run are Arthur the Roo (who was rather aggressive with me today), Lady Grey (who is darker), and Sylvie.
 The other hen there is Autumn.
Sylvie has wanted to sit on some eggs for several days. Today she wouldn't get off. Autumn and Lady Grey will go in the box and lay eggs, and Sylvie will snuggle them under her feathers and sit on them too.
When Arthur got aggressive today (perhaps because he had a broody wife?), I kicked him a bit across the chicken yard. One must be assertive with a roo. I also put food and water right next to Sylvie so she feels free to stay on those eggs!

One day last week I got these four eggs. The green one is Autumn's. The two larger brown ones are the silkies' eggs. And that teeny-tiny egg? It was the very first egg that Ethel laid, after her molt. It's so ridiculous! 
 Ethel and Punkin are quite unpredictable in their laying now, but I feel more certain their eggs are fertilized. So I might sneak their eggs under Sylvie to be hatched. Could be fun!

Here were my feet a few days ago.
 We've had some sunny days, and the ground feels great on my feet. I enjoy walking around the herb gardens, removing dead annuals, weeding, and otherwise tidying up the beds.
I'm still processing my loofahs for sale at the market. They have sold well for only $1 each.
 Adam made this fine set of concrete leaves to sell to the coffee vendor at our market - we swapped in part for a 5 lb. bag of whole bean Carolina Pecan coffee -- yummy!
 Here are Arthur and Autumn, enjoying a dust bath together one day. She's his favorite hen. I do hope we can successfully temper his aggression, because without him there will be no little chicks.
 This past week Adam finished clearing the orchard and began the next big project: clearing the fence line.

He overdid it a bit, and wrenched out his right shoulder. It's a bad shoulder and needs rotator cuff surgery at some point. He'll take it easy on the fence clearing for a while. He had his two burn barrels ready. Swinging the machete is what did him in.
I do enjoy balmy days in early winter, here in the South. They are a blessing. Our front porch, wrapped in plastic sheeting and quite toasty in the afternoon, warms the house.
Today I cleaned all the dead basil bushes from two beds, removed the last tomato plant, stripped the loofah vines from their fence, and dug out the overabundance of oregano in the herb bed. It was quite satisfying. Adam is cooking and baking for our Christmas visitors: Julia and Anna and Anna's boyfriend, Gramm.
 Gramm is delightful and a wonderful conversationalist. Don't they look happy?
Julia is a master of face-making, so we don't even let it bother us anymore, haha!
She's just teasing :)