Archive for July, 2009

Fashion Runway

Friday, July 31st, 2009

Today, Duke is modeling a faux denim leg wrap, accented with a small band of waterproof adhesive tape.

Silver Gray Dorking rooster

Nothing screams “Masculinity” louder than a faux denim leg wrap baby!

Mystery Squash and Glamor Shot

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

Bernie and don’t plant squash in our garden. Bernie does not care for squash – although he recently told me he does like Acorn Squash. Geez, the things you learn after 20 + years of marriage. At any rate, he doesn’t particularly care for squash and I’ve learned that people who grow squash are usually eager to share it, so I count on the generosity of others to supply a fresh squash once or twice a year to satisfy my taste for it.

So, when a volunteer squash sprouted up next to the tomatoes this spring, I was pretty darn happy to have just one little ol’ plant that would likely produce plenty of squash for the one person that eats it around here. I figured it was a seed from some Zucchini Bernie’s mom and dad gave us a couple of years ago. I remembered throwing the ends of the Zucchini in our compost pile, and we used the compost pile in the garden this year.

As time went on, this squash really started getting big. It began sprawling outside of the raised bed it was rooted in, and before too long it choked out the vegetables I had growing in straw bales.

Squash

This wasn’t especially upsetting to me because I’ve been very disappointed in my experiment with straw bale planting – but that’s another story for another time. The squash plant began to bloom and I began to get excited to finally see what the heck kind of squash we were growing. And this is what we’re growing:

Mystery Squash

OK, so all you squash experts out there – what the heck kind of mutant squash are we growing around here? And will it stop spreading or do I need to call the National Guard?

I ran out of gauze wrap, so I cut up some scrap material to make the wrap for Duke’s leg. This morning I wrapped it in baby blue bunny print fabric.

Silver Gray Dorking rooster

Fortunately, he’s so fat he can’t see his feet. Unfortunately, all the other chickens are laughing at him. He hasn’t spoken to me all day.

Bee Free,
Penny

Great. Another Resume Entry.

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

Well, along with routinely sticking my finger up hens’ butts, I can now add performing minor surgery to my ever growing Chicken Ownership Resume – and to the list of things I never thought I would do.

A few days ago, I noticed poor Duke’s foot appeared to be a little swollen. Not the entire foot – just the bottom pad of his foot. He didn’t seem in any pain and he walked and ran as usual. But the next day, I noticed that his swollen pad seemed to be getting a little larger. I picked him up and examined the pad of his foot and found exactly what I was hoping I would NOT find. A small black scab in the middle of the swelling. Duke has Bumblefoot.

Bumblefoot is a type of Staph infection on the pad of the foot. Apparently, fowl, Guinea Pigs, and other creatures can get it. I’ve read many posts on the Backyard Chicken forums about chickens that got Bumblefoot but, to be honest, I never really paid a whole lot of attention while reading them because this was outside the realm of anything I had experienced within my flock – and ever hope to.

I decided to google Bumblefoot and treatments and interestingly enough, the Backyard Chicken (BYC) forums provided the most detailed information. Especially this information by Eggcentric. I am extremely thankful to Eggcentric and others for providing so much detail about diagnosing and treating Bumblefoot. If you own chickens, I believe you will find BYC an invaluable resource.

Although I was very unhappy to learn I was going to have to cut into Duke’s foot, I did feel confident that I knew what I needed to do and, in the end, Duke was going to be better off. I will mention that I spent some time calling every vet clinic in this area begging for someone to handle this for me, but each phone call ended exactly the same. “I’m sorry. We just don’t treat chickens.”

[NOTE: I am NOT going to include any graphic, nasty pictures. But I am going to discuss how this little surgery went. If you are extremely queasy, or eating as you read this, you may want to navigate away from this post right now. I honestly don’t think the description is disturbing, but I don’t want anyone hating me for not telling them I was going to describe a little bit of cutting and pus. And, lest you think I just enjoy writing about gross things, let me assure you that I am posting the below in the hopes that chicken owners who have never treated Bumblefoot may gain a little insight from my experience – which is, of course, different than the experiences I’ve read about because my chickens do NOTHING by the books.]

So, I went out at daybreak, grabbed Duke off his roost and said “Well, boy. It looks like we’re going to spend some quality time together this morning.” I won’t repeat his response.

All I can say is that I really wish Duke and his Bumblefoot had read the information on what a Bumblefoot “core” is supposed to look like and how it’s supposed to behave. After a long time of digging out the scab with an Exacto knife, the “core” I expected to find and easily remove was not there. Instead, I found strands of rubbery pus. Lots of strands of rubbery pus. And blood.

I have to believe the strands of pus were indeed the “core” I have read so much about – but it was not the single mass that I expected. Each time I inserted the tweezers into the opening, I would pull out another strand of rubbery pus. Eventually, I could find no more of it. And trust me when I say that Duke would tell you I really tried to find more. Poor guy. He did amazingly well and only jerked his foot a couple of times. I was very proud of him.

OK, so we got all the nasty stuff out of the foot. And then I was supposed to fill the deep hole with antibiotic cream. There was only one slight problem. There was no hole. What probably should have been a hole was filled with blood and nothing I could do would change that. So I blopped on a big wad of antibiotic cream and then gently pushed some of it into the blood filled hole with the tweezers.

Then I placed some sterile pads on the bottom of Dukes foot and bandaged his entire foot and leg. I was careful to wrap the bandage in between each of his toes so he can still walk and roost. I also hoped it would leave his foot feeling somewhat normal so that he wouldn’t pick the bandaging off.

I decided to keep Duke in a cage in the chicken run until he heals. I really have no where else to put the cage because I’m afraid it’s too warm in any of our outbuildings. Keeping him in the house is a definite no-go. We’ve tried that before. Apparently, when Duke gets unhappy about being in a cage, he crows. Loudly. Morning. Noon. And. Night. Even in pitch black darkness, Duke crows when he is in a cage in the house. So keeping him in the house is not a good idea.

But with all the pecking order issues we’ve got going on right now, keeping Duke in a cage in the chicken run didn’t work out very well either. Bobby Lee tormented poor Duke unmercifully. He ran around and around the cage trying to peck Duke through the cage bars and when I finally had enough of Bobby Lee’s aggravation, I let Duke out of the cage. I’ve been watching him all day and he’s not picking at his bandages. He kind of walks a little funny now, but I’m not sure the foot really hurts him as much as the big ol’ bandage annoys him.

If you look closely, you may be able to see Duke’s bandaged foot in this picture:

Silver Gray Dorking rooster

It was raining and I didn’t want to get my camera wet, so I had to rely on a zoom lens.

I’ll re-wrap Duke’s foot tonight and make sure it looks OK, and then check it in the morning again. I may have to repeat the procedure a couple of times to make sure all the “core” is out. Oh – and if anyone can send me the formula for figuring out how many CCs of Pen-G a 9 pound rooster needs and dosage info, I would really appreciate it.

And, finally, speaking of roosters, here is skinny little Bobby Lee enjoying his Reign of Terror:

Phoenix rooster

And see the pullet in that picture with him? That’s one of Duke’s babies. She’s a White Faced Black Spanish mixed with Silver Gray Dorking. She is a HUGE girl – and definitely has Duke’s eyes, as well as his five toes. She’s from the hatch that we had about 4 months ago. I’ve had a hard time coming up with a name that suits her. Any suggestions?

Jethro is one of Duke’s boys from that same hatch. He’s a Silver Leghorn crossed with a Silver Gray Dorking. He is the spitting image of his father when Duke was that age.

rooster

And this is Pico – he’s a White Faced Black Spanish crossed with a Phoenix. Bobby Lee is his daddy:

rooster

And I’m going to stop there with the pictures of the boys. You should be very thankful. There are actually eight more cockerels out there now. Can you believe that? You would if you heard the crowing around here all day – every day!

I’m hoping my Chicken Ownership Resume doesn’t get much longer. I would be happy if the only thing on it said “Happy chicken owner. I know how to feed and water chickens. And I can feed them treats and scoop poop from the coop. The end.” Seriously. I mean who would ever actually APPLY for a job where knowledge of sticking fingers up chicken butts and cutting on chicken feet was required? If you answered “Me!” to that question – have I got a job for you!

Bee Free,
Penny

Simple Pleasures

Sunday, July 26th, 2009

Last week I splurged and ordered a couple of things on-line I’ve been wanting for a while. And then I spent the entire week anxiously awaiting for the package to be delivered. Starting the day I placed the order, I began getting excited each time I checked the mail, anticipating the joy of finding my package delivered. And then finally, the day arrived. I squealed like a school girl.

My new cast iron pizza pan had arrived. And Pizza Night is forever changed on the homestead.

Pizza

This cast iron bread pan ensures that bread making will never be the same.

White Bread

Ignore the funky shape of the top of that bread. I let it rise in the refrigerator and a package of bacon fell over on it as it was rising. Stupid bacon.

And just look at these sandwich rolls.

Yeast Rolls

I LOVE my new cast iron pans. I used to make pizza in a cast iron frying pan, and while it always turned out just fine, the pan wasn’t very large. The cast iron pizza pan makes a beautiful 14 inch pizza, with a wonderfully crisp crust. It also makes beautiful yeast rolls. And even though bread came out just fine when I used my tin baking pan, the cast iron bread pan makes the bread crust perfectly crisp while leaving the inside moist and soft. I found these at Camp Chef.

White Bread

I am not a world class baker, by any stretch of the imagination. And maybe it’s all in my head, but I think using cast iron bakeware has given me some magical baking mojo. My pizza crust, bread, and rolls have never looked so beautiful.

I posted about using my new bakeware on Face Book, and my Blog Buddy, Lilla, (who is also my Face Book friend) asked for my recipes. I’m going to include them below for those of you who may be interested. We have fairly simple tastes around here, so these recipes are pretty basic.

By the way, I’d be tickled if you join me on Face Book. Just add me as a friend by clicking here, and include “Basic Living” in your request. You can also follow this blog and see updates in Face Book by clicking “Follow” here.

OK, let’s make some pizza dough now. This recipe makes enough dough for a 14 ” pizza pan. If you are using a regular sized cast iron skillet, you’ll want to cut this recipe in half.

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
2/3 cup warm water
4 teaspoons active dry yeast

In a large bowl, measure the flour and add the salt. Mix it together.

In a small bowl, add the yeast, sugar and 2/3 cup WARM water. Make sure the water is not hot – just warm to the touch. I like to proof my yeast before adding it to the flour, so I let this stand for about 10 minutes or so. Just long enough for the yeast to start bubbling up. Proofing is not required and if you prefer not to do this, skip letting it stand.

Now, pour the yeast mixture into flour and mix it all together. I just use my hands to do this. For me, 1 1/2 cup flour is exactly what is needed. If yours is too sticky, add some more flour. If it’s too firm, add warm water a tablespoon at a time. And you don’t need to go all crazy with the mixing at this point. Just make sure all the flour you’ve added is incorporated into the dough.

Cover the bowl with your dough in it. I use a wet paper towel to cover the bowl. Now you want to let the dough rise to about double in size. I turn on my oven light and set the bowl in the oven. It usually takes about an hour to rise.

After it rises, punch the dough down, turn it out onto a well floured surface, and start kneading. You’ll want to incorporate flour as you go until the dough is no longer sticky as you knead. Once your dough is elastic and soft, you’re read to roll it out and place it in your greased pan – or just place it in your greased pan and shape it with your hands.

I like to bake my pizza dough for a few minutes before adding toppings so that the crust is a little crispier. I bake it at 450 degrees for 5 – 10 minutes, just long enough for the dough to begin browning. Then I remove it from the oven, add my toppings, and return it to the 450 degree oven for about 15 minutes. If the edge of the crust starts browning too quickly, I place some tin foil around the crust edge. When your cheese starts bubbling, your pizza is finished!

I make my own pizza sauce using the simplest method I could come up with. I don’t have an exact recipe, but I’ll give you the gist of it and you can adjust spices to your liking. I take about 1 pound of diced tomatoes (fresh or canned) and put it in a blender. Then I add a small can of tomato paste, about 1 teaspoon minced garlic, a little salt, a little sugar, and then sprinkle in some spices (oregano, basil, rosemary, thyme). And then I blend it all together until it’s smooth.

The most popular bread around here is plain ol’ white bread. This recipe will make enough for two loaves, or one loaf and some yeast rolls. NOTE: You do not have to use a cast iron bread pan for this recipe. Any bread pan will work just fine. This recipe is based on a 1970 something Better Homes and Gardens recipe.

Ingredients:
5 3/4 – 6 1/2 cups all purpose flour
4 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 1/4 cups milk
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon lard or shortening
2 teaspoon salt

In a large bowl, mix only 2 1/2 cups of flour with the dry yeast.

In a sauce pan, combine the milk, sugar, lard, and salt and stir over LOW heat until the lard/shortening is melted.

Pour the milk mixture into the flour mixture. You need to mix this thoroughly, so there are no lumps. I find an electric beater on low speed works wonderfully for this. Once it is mixed well, I set the electric beater aside and then start adding the remaining flour and mixing it all by hand. You want to add enough flour to make a stiff dough that is not too dry. 6 1/2 cups flour works perfectly for me, but it seems everyone’s kitchen is different, so you may need to use a little less.

Turn the dough onto a floured surface and start kneading, adding flour until your dough is no longer sticky. You’re probably going to have to knead this for about 10 minutes. You want the dough to be soft and elastic.

Now, shape it into something resembling a ball and place it into a lightly greased bowl. Turn it over once to grease both sides. Cover the bowl and let it rise until double in size. Again, I use my oven with the light on and it takes 1 – 1 1/2 hours to rise.

Punch down the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough in half. If you are making two loaves of bread, shape each half into loaves and place them in greased bread pans. If you are making yeast rolls, use the other half of the dough to make small balls and place them on a greased baking pan. I like to make sandwich rolls, so I shape the dough into larger balls and then squish them flat when I place them in the baking pan. Whichever you chose, make the size of your balls half of what the finished product will end up being.

Let bread/rolls rise until double in size.

For bread, bake in a pre-heated 375 degree oven for about 45 minutes, or until done. If the top is browning too quickly, place tin foil over it when it’s as brown as you want it to get.

For yeast rolls, bake in a pre-heated 400 degree oven for 10 – 12 minutes, or until done.

There you have it – basic pizza and white bread dough recipes. Two of my many, simple pleasures.

Bee Free,
Penny

I’m Also Very Helpful

Monday, July 20th, 2009

Amazingly, since covering the floor of Bernie’s lean-to with gravel, the chickens seem to have lost interest in scratching around under it. While that is exactly what we had hoped for, I was absolutely certain it would never work. But those chickens like to keep me guessing, and I suspect they stay out of the lean-to area just to prove they do what they want, when they want. As if I ever doubted that.

We put a metal garage on this property long before we actually moved here. Originally it was used to store the lawn mower, yard tools, shed tools, etc. We didn’t put a floor down for it, we just covered it in pine mulch and, because the ground is not completely level under it, there were many spaces that were large enough for the chickens to scoot into the garage and play in the pine mulch. When we finally moved onto the property, we began actually using the garage as a …. well…. garage. We began parking our cars and motorcycles in it. And the chickens continued to get into the garage and play in the pine mulch. They hid nests in there, and they covered everything in dust with all their scratching. I’m sure you know where this story is going…..

Yes, as you guessed, Bernie was so pleased with the gravel floor of the lean-to that he decided he wanted to put gravel down as the floor for the garage as well. So last week he started by spending a couple of days hauling dirt into the garage and leveling the floor.

When he finished he called me out to look at it. I was so pleased with all his hard work that I blurted out “If you wait until this weekend to bring in the gravel, I’ll help you with it.” And then I immediately prayed that I had only thought that and not actually SAID it. But my fears were realized when Bernie replied “OK.”

Doh! Why, oh why, can’t I learn to keep my big mouth closed?

So Saturday morning we began emptying the garage in preparation of hauling in the gravel. When we got to a corner where Bernie keeps an air compressor for the car tires, he called me over. “Watch what’s under the board this air compressor sits on.” And as he lifted the board, I saw this:

Spotted Salamander

Just look at that cute Spotted Salamander. Could you not just kiss those spots right off of him? My creative juices immediately began flowing, and with every ounce of originality I possess, I named him “Sallie”. Bernie said he’d been seeing Sallie scurry out from under that board for quite some time, so I guess Sallie has declared the garage his official home.

We ended up putting Sallie in a shoe box because he nestled himself into the corner of the garage and refused to leave while we were working. We started putting gravel down at the opposite end, and when we got to the end where Sallie was, we put him in a shoe box so we could finish up.

Spotted Salamander

He didn’t seem particularly crazy about the shoe box, but I was very pleased that he curled up in a corner and didn’t try to get out for the short time we kept him in there. And after we finished putting down the gravel, the first thing Bernie did was put Sallie’s board back down in the corner of the garage. And Sallie seemed pretty darn happy about that.

Spotted Salamander

And then I took a picture of our beautiful, graveled, garage floor.

garage

And now, when we close the garage doors, there are no longer any spaces the chickens can scoot through to get inside the garage.

garage

When we were finished, I took the pups down to get mail and to look at what’s left of the ton of gravel we had delivered.

gravel pile

My muscles go into spasms every time I look at that dwindling pile of gravel. Just looking at that pile and knowing how much work Bernie and I had done wore poor Diesel slap out. He sat at the edge of the woods by the cabin recuperating for quite a while.

pups

And Dolly offered quite a bit of sympathy.

pups

And then they forgot all about the pile of gravel and hard work Bernie and I had done and told me it was time to take them home and feed them. Which is exactly what I did. Just because I’m just so dad-gum helpful.

Bee Free,
Penny

Dang, I am a Good Wife

Sunday, July 12th, 2009

There are about a million things I love about Bernie. The fact that he very rarely complains about my chickens is at the top of my list. And I will be the first to tell you that my chickens can be extremely annoying. So, despite the fact that Jethro spends the majority of his day crowing from the hood of Bernie’s back hoe, and Bernie has had to put fencing around every living plant in this yard to keep the chickens from annihilating them, he rarely complains about my chickens.

But there is one thing my chickens do that is particularly annoying and, although Bernie only occasionally mentions it, I know it bothers him.

My chickens love to dust bath under Bernie’s barn shed lean-to. They. Love. It. And, in addition to covering everything under his lean-to in dust, they leave dust bath holes. Really big dust bath holes.

lean to

And they seem to especially love dust bathing around a couple of the support poles.

lean to

So, being the wonderful wife that I am and, knowing that the future of my life with chickens may depend on it, I volunteered to help Bernie remove everything from under his lean-to, fill in the dust bath holes, and cover the whole thing in gravel. And yesterday morning, that is exactly what we did.

As we began working on it, Bernie left to go into the garage and get something. A few seconds later he yelled “Penny – come quick.” I could tell by the way he said it that there was something he wanted me to see, so I grabbed my camera and ran over to where he was, at the back of the garage. And this is what he wanted to show me.

rat snake

Another rat snake! And he wanted inside the garage – so that is exactly where he went.

rat snake

He also decided to check out the under side of Bernie’s motorcycle.

rat snake

And when he got tired of me following him around with camera and Bernie herding him with a broom, he slipped outside and headed for the woods.

rat snake

Good bye, Mr. Rat Snake.

rat snake

So, with a gratuitous shot of Bernie’s cute little behind…..

rat snake

we got back to work fixing up his lean-to floor. After much shoveling, gravel hauling, and raking, it started looking much better.

lean to

And so, even though every single stinkin’ muscle I possess is screaming in agony, we finished re-doing Bernie’s lean-to floor.

lean to

Shhhhhh. Don’t tell Bernie, but the chickens immediately began checking it out.

lean to

When we came inside, Elvis and Priscilla were extremely interested to learn what we had been doing, and they hung on my every word as I told them.

Elvis and Priscilla

And they agree that I am, indeed, a good wife.

Bee Free,
Penny

Honest Scrap

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009

Angie from over at Home Grown presented me with the Honest Scrap Award. I don’t normally like to do these sorts of things, but I really like Angie’s blog and think a lot of her. If you’ve never visited Home Grown, I suggest you do so. It’s chalk full of information, humor, and great “how to” articles.

OK, so here are the instructions that came with it:

  • “The Honest Scrap” award is not one to hold all to your self but it must be shared!
  • First, the recipient has to tell 10 true things about themselves in their blog that no one else knows.
  • Second, the recipient has to pass along this prestigious award to 10 more bloggers.
  • Third, Those 10 bloggers all have to be notified they have been given with this award.
  • Those 10 bloggers that receive this award should link back to the blog that awarded them “The Honest Scrap’ award.

Well, I honestly can’t think of 10 things about myself that NO ONE else knows, but I can think of 10 things that many of you (other than my family) may not know about me. So I’m going to share those.

1. I was in the U.S. Air Force from 1978 – 1982. I completed Tech School in Pensacola, Florida after boot camp in San Antonio, Texas and was stationed in San Vito, Italy for 1 1/2 years, and then finished up at NSA at Fort Meade, Maryland. I had one of those “My job was so secret even I didn’t know what I did” jobs, so I can’t talk much about it. But I loved being in the Air Force and I’ve never regretted it. It was a defining experience in my life and taught me many life lessons that I carry with me today.

2. I am a Master Gardener. Seriously. I took the course and passed with flying colors many years ago in another county. I’ve not been certified in the county where I currently reside. I don’t share that often because of my embarrassment of never being able to remember the name of a flower. Plus, everyone else’s gardens look better than mine.

3. I was born in Savannah, Georgia. Although my father was in the military while I was growing up, due to his “unaccompanied” tours to Viet Nam and his tours at Fort Stewart, I rarely lived outside of Georgia. We did live in Germany twice. When I was between the ages of about 3 – 6 years old, I spoke fluent German. I don’t share that very often because now my German is limited to knowing how to ask where the bathroom and Bahnhof are and singing the “Eins, zwei, g’suffa” song. Oh, and I can order a beer. Which is required before singing the “Eins, zwei, g’suffa” song.

4. When I was a child I had a pet mouse named PoPo. I loved that little mouse and used to beg my mother to let me take him to church with me. He was a little gray thing and very sweet. Everyone loved him. I cried for days when he died.

5. My little sister passed away in 1994 at the age of 31 from Cystic Fibrosis, and I’ve never really recovered from it. I list this as number 5 only because it’s something I still have a difficult time discussing. She was full of piss and vinegar, had a will of steel and a wonderful sense of humor. She continues to be an inspiration to me today. I still dream about her and wake up crying.

6. I don’t care for any orange vegetable that is cooked. I love raw carrots, but do not like them cooked. I also don’t care for cooked sweet potatoes, pumpkin, etc. If it’s orange and cooked, I won’t usually eat it and if I do, I hold my nose.

7. I’m a sap and cry at those touching cat food commercials. I also cry at those touching dog food commercials. I cry during every movie/show I watch if an animal does something cute or gets hurts. I don’t watch a lot of “Chick Flicks” because I cry during those too. But not as much as I cry over those touching cat food commercials.

8. And just to prove what a sap I am, my family went fishing when I was about 10 and I got so excited when I hooked a fish that I yanked him out of the water so hard that the force slammed him to his death on the boat ramp. I cried for days about it and, in an attempt to console me, my family held funeral services for the little fish – complete with prayers and everything. We buried him in the backyard, where PoPo would one day end up.

9. I once wore a pair of mismatched shoes to work with a dress. One shoe was black with a high heel, and the other was black with no heal at all. It took me four hours to figure out why I was walking funny. And no one ever said a word. Jerks.

10. As much as I appreciate Angie thinking of and “tagging” me for this, I really don’t like these “Tell people some things they don’t know about you” deals. I’m a pretty boring person and I think most people have figured that out without needing even more proof!

Hello? *tap* *tap* *tap* Are you still awake? OK, good. Because I want to tell you the bloggers I’m going present the Honest Scrap Award to. And I have to tell you, just picking 10 was difficult for me. I follow so many blogs and they are all so good. Anyway, here are the 10:

NatureNut4
Making it Our Home While Here
Me and My Chickens
Me and My Girls
Physical Possum
Rhymes With Vanilla
Sparrow Haven
The Delaware Curmudgeon
Fancyin’ the Farmlife
My Little Bit of Heaven

OK, and here is what I’d like to ask you to do – please visit each of these blogs and take a look around. Find a post you’d like to comment on in each and let them know Penny from Basic Living sent you. Add a link back to my blog if you can. You’re going to be doing yourself a favor by reading some good stuff, and you’re going to do each of these bloggers a favor because bloggers LOVE comments. Love, love, love comments! We just love to know that we’re not typing into cyberspace. Nothing makes a blogger happier than to log in and find comments on a post. So, please, comment!

Bee Free,

Penny

Well, For Goodness Snakes Alive

Tuesday, July 7th, 2009

In my earlier post, I showed you the hidden nest that a couple of my hussy hens have taken to laying eggs in by the edge of the woods. I’ve found hidden nests in the past, and I’ve destroyed them, but ended up regretting it. Because then the little hussies just make another hidden nest that takes me forever to find.

So this time, I decided to play it smart. I removed all the eggs from the nest and laid a fake plastic egg in it, with the hopes that they would continue to lay eggs in that hidden nest and I wouldn’t have to find the “new and improved” hidden nest they were sure to construct.

Well, earlier today I went out to collect eggs and decided to check the hidden nest. As I bent over to look in it, I saw something in the nest. And it was most definitely NOT one of my hens. It was a snake! I am not kidding. And the snake had a huge lump about 1 inch down from it’s head that looked very suspiciously like the outline of an egg!

I ran back to the house as quickly as I could and grabbed my camera but, in the short time it took, the snake was gone. And so was the fake plastic egg. I bent down and looked under the brush that covered the hidden nest, and I saw the snake! Well, part of the snake. It was all wrapped up in the brush. But I did get a picture. It’s not a great picture, but you can see it really is a snake – and if you look closely, you may even be able to see one of his eyes:

snake that ate the egg

After I took that picture I poked him gently with a stick in the hopes of getting him to move so I could get a better picture of him – but he zipped down a hole that was right under where he was laying. Smart little bugger to make his home a place where his meals were delivered right on his front door step.

Bernie was in town when all this happened, but when he returned I told him about it and showed him the picture. He said “That’s just a little rat snake.” OK, I’m no snake expert, but I can tell you it was not little. It was a pretty good sized snake. Big enough to eat the fake egg, which is larger than any of the real eggs my hens lay. Needless to say, I destroyed the hens’ hidden nest and will now have to search for their new hidden nest laying grounds.

I googled rat snake and I was not happy to learn that not only do they eat eggs, they will also eat baby chicks! I immediately went outside and told all my baby chicks to be on the look out for rat snakes. And I suggested they steer clear of the woods for a while.

They immediately ran into the woods.

Am I the only one whose chickens refuse to take them seriously?

Bee Free,
Penny

Hussy Chickens and Greenhouse Plants

Sunday, July 5th, 2009

One of these things just doesn’t belong here:

Hidden Nest

No, it’s not that rusted truck tool box I once used as a brooder and has now been banished to the edge of the woods. Look a little closer. To the left of the box, under that pile of brush:

Hidden Nest

And look what I found when she got up:

Hidden Nest

There were nine of those eggs in that little hidden nest. They’ve got another nest or two out there, and I’m going to find them, dammit!

Golden Penciled Hamburg

And don’t you look at me like that, you little hussy.

I want to show you a few things in the greenhouse. We’re doing a little experiment and growing a couple of peppers and tomatoes in the greenhouse this year. We’re hoping they do well and have an extended season. So far, so good:

vegetable

vegetable

And look at this pretty little Colorado wildflower (thanks, Lilla!):

Wildflower

This little wildflower came from the seeds I brought back from Nebraska:

flowers

So did this Morning Glory:

Morning Glory

Mom brought me a bunch of flowers and plants when she came to visit last month. I have no idea what this one is, but it really has a beautiful bloom:

flowers

And one of the pots she brought me had some little rogue Impatiens in them:

flowers

The Basil is starting to grow now.

Herbs

The Oregano is getting a little crazy.

Herbs

And the Thyme is doing great. My dear friend from Texas brought me the pot it’s in when he came up to visit a couple of years ago. I love that little pot and it makes me think of him and smile every time I look at it.

Herbs

Oh, and look at these fig trees my father started rooting for me and brought up last month:

fig tree

I’m hoping to get them planted next spring. Maybe if I put chicken wire around them and then fill it with leaves and straw in the fall they will make it through the winters up here.

OK, speaking of chickens, I need to go hunt for some hidden nests. I really don’t like doing that. Not only do I rarely have luck finding them, the hens laugh at me while I’m searching.

Little hussies.

Bee Free,
Penny