Archive for August, 2009

I Am So Dad-gum Easy to Please

Monday, August 31st, 2009

When my hens started going broody back in March, it caught me by surprise. I really did not expect to have broody hens because I intentionally bought what I believed were non-broody breeds. I quickly built a couple of brooders in the coop out of hardware wire. I disliked those brooders immensely. They had sharp wires poking up everywhere and, as a result, I have had scratches and torn clothing all summer. And I always worried that the chickens would get hurt on that wire. I actually suspect that may be where Duke got the foot injury that resulted in the Battle-of-the-Bumblefoot we’ve been going through around here.

So this past Friday, I took the day off work and Bernie and I rebuilt the brooders. I’m much happier with them.

chicken coop

We also put a much steeper slope on the top of the nest boxes to keep the chickens off of it. And we moved one of the roosts to keep the poop away from the brooder area.

While I had the camera out, I remembered to take a picture of a volunteer flower that came up in the strawberry bed. That area had previously been a wildflower bed and this flower is apparently the result of a seed that was left in there:


I honestly don’t remember seeing a flower like that in the wildflower bed. I’m sure I would have remembered such a beautiful bloom! OK, all you flower-name-knowing people, any idea what kind of flower that is? I plan to keep the seeds. That’s one of the prettiest flowers I’ve ever seen! It’s like a bouquet of flowers in one bloom.

I’m not very good at remembering to take pictures so, since I had my camera handy, I took it along when the pups and I went on the mail run this afternoon.

Diesel is obsessed with tall grass and weeds. He absolutely loves laying in it and playing in it. Can you see him in this picture?


Look right slap, dab in the middle. Here’s a closer view:


He finally poked his head out


Which is just what Dolly was waiting for. She immediately pounced on him


And then she ran around with reckless abandon


Until she spotted a bug on the driveway


Hey good lookin’


Dang, I never even knew the boy could move this fast!


Lordy, I do love these pups. And my flower. And my new brooders.

I am so dad-gum easy to please.

This Little Piggy Went to the Market…..

Sunday, August 30th, 2009

Ah, County Fairs. There’s just nothing like County Fairs…… and Greased Pig contests.

There’s lots of running

Greased Pig Contest 2009

Greased Pig Contest 2009

Greased Pig Contest 2009

Greased Pig Contest 2009

And intimidation

Greased Pig Contest 2009

Greased Pig Contest 2009

And grabbing

Greased Pig Contest 2009

Greased Pig Contest 2009

Greased Pig Contest 2009

Greased Pig Contest 2009

And pulling

Greased Pig Contest 2009

Greased Pig Contest 2009

And a little disappointment

Greased Pig Contest 2009

But it’s all good.

It promotes agriculture.

It teaches responsibility.

And it’s entertainment.

All in all, not a bad market day for a little piggy.

Diversifying the Flock

Tuesday, August 25th, 2009

Remember my chicken fried week? And how shocked I was that one of the twelve eggs my neighbor gave me hatched after only three days of being under one of my hens? That poor little baby was very weak when it hatched, and it didn’t make it through the night. Of the 11 that were left, one cracked and rotted and I had just about given up on the other 10.

Well, two days ago, one of those eggs actually hatched out a beautiful little peep! Last night four more hatched out. I’m tickled to death. The peeps are different breeds, colors, and fluffiness than my others. I think they are just adorable.

These chicks are mutts – and my neighbor has no clue what breeds he has. But I *think* there is some Orpington in there. Any thoughts? (Julie, my dear Chicken Crazy Cousin – I’d love to hear what you think!)

baby chicks

baby chicks

baby chicks

Sorry about the blurry picture of the little black one. It was dark in the brooder and I had a hard time finding her to focus on her. I wanted to include this picture though, just so you can see all of them and give me any thoughts on breeds.

Baby Chicks

This little peep is acting very lethargic. I’ve seen her walk and heaven knows her little peeper works (she’s loud), but she lays around a lot and doesn’t go to mama when mama is teaching the others to eat and drink. I’m a little concerned about her. I hope she makes it. I’ve considered bringing her into the house to care for her, but I’m resisting right now. I’ll watch her for the next day or so and see how she does. I’d really prefer to let nature take it’s course – but I’m not 100% sure I’m going to be able to do that. We’ll see…..

After these five hatched, I removed the mama and babies put them in a brooder. I put another broody hen on the remaining five eggs. I’m hoping those hatch out as well.

These sure are some cute little peeps. I know all peeps are cute, but just look at those fluffy little butts! Makes me want to just kiss those little beaks right off of them.

Poor Duke, Rose Combs, and Piggy Back

Monday, August 17th, 2009

Poor Duke. He just can’t seem to catch any slack. A little while ago I noticed his upper beak seemed to be curving in an odd way, and his mouth did not close as it should. The top beak began to grow longer and curve downward. A few days ago I noticed he had a hairline crack in his upper beak. A day or so later, I noticed it was looking like a crack. Today, I was actually outside watching him when he pecked the back of a hen and the crack in his upper beak broke off. It’s a little shorter than his lower beak now, and he is having some difficulty eating.

Silver Gray Dorking rooster

He’s trying to peck at food, and acting like it’s a little sore. I am praying that within a day or two he can start eating normally again. Poor guy. He’s really been through the wringer here lately. Please send some good thoughts his way.

While I had the camera out, I took a few pictures of some of the other chickens. This girl has some amazing markings on her:


The picture doesn’t do her justice. Her chest looks like it has the markings of a Golden Penciled Hamburg, and her legs tell me she’s got Phoenix in her. Golden Penciled Hamburgs have a Rose Comb though, and this girl did not inherit that trait. The head of the hen in the foreground is that of a Golden Penciled Hamburg. Notice the flat comb?

Well, this boy is definitely a Golden Penciled Hamburg/Phoenix cross. Just look at his Rose Comb:


Lordy, I do love roosters. I wish this boy could stay. Just look at how pretty he is:


But that boy (and 7 of his closest friends) is supper. There’s just no way around it.

On a happier note, my latest mama hen’s babies are one week old today. She’s now taking them out into the coop. And she’s giving them piggy back rides:



She’s a sweet little mama. There are three more mamas setting on eggs right now.

Lordy. I think I’m beginning to get over-run with chickens. But don’t tell Bernie. I honestly don’t think he wants to know anyway. He no longer asks how many chickens I have. When I come in from tucking them in for the night, he simply asks “Were they all there?”.

After 20-something years, my man knows how to keep peace in this family.

Sunday Stroll

Sunday, August 16th, 2009

I’ve still got that list of a hundred things to do this weekend – and I’m still refusing to do any of them. Instead, I talked Bernie and the pups into a walk through the woods.

Dolly immediately picked up the scent of something.


She tracked it down in no time.


And she tried to get a little close up sniff of it. She really did.


But this guy was just a little too scary.


Diesel was totally uninterested in that turtle.


He was just busy making sure he looked good for the camera.


Cute little bugger. I could just kiss that nose slap off of him.


Odd Veggies, Greenhouse, and Bumblefoot

Saturday, August 15th, 2009

Remember that mutant squash thingy that’s taking over my garden? This is what it looked like the end of July:

Mystery Squash

And this is what it looks like today:


I believe this is The Great Pumpkin!

And look what I found in the garden today:


Who knew tomatoes have noses?

And speaking of tomatoes, our greenhouse tomatoes are doing pretty well in there.



So are the bell peppers.


The fig trees daddy rooted for me are looking pretty good.


You can see some tomatoes coming up in the little pots next to the figs. I’m going to stagger the tomato plantings in the greenhouse to see if we can manage to get tomatoes late into the fall.

And just look at these pretty Canna Lilies mama brought up for me:

canna lily

canna lily

I have a million things to do today and don’t feel like doing a single one of them. I did actually take the time to open up Duke’s bumblefoot again this morning after I gave him his Pen-G injection. I’ve known I’ve needed to do that for several days now, but was hoping the Pen-G would take care of the problem. I didn’t really plan to do it today, but when I removed the wrap so I could change it, I noticed the scab on the bottom of his foot was lifting in one place. I took an exacto knife blade and lifted the scab a little more, and the whole thing started coming lose. This time it had the “plug” I’ve read so much about.

I cleaned his foot out really well, and packed it with terramycin powder mixed with antibiotic cream. The terramycin is a Bacteriostatic Antibiotic – which means it prevents invading bacteria from reproducing, allowing the immune system to kill them. Pen-G is a Bactericidal Antibiotic – which means it kills the invading bacteria. I don’t think it’s usually a good idea to mix the two. From what I’ve read they can sometimes work against each other. But I’m hoping that by packing Duke’s foot with the terramycin this one time, it will help keep any remaining bacteria at bay so the Pen-G can kill it off over the next few days.

I’m NOT a doctor, nor am I a vet. And I’m certainly not telling anyone how to treat bumblefoot. I’m just doing my best to save my cranky rooster. And he seems to appreciate it. Just look how dad gum happy he looks:

Silver Gray Dorking rooster

Chicken Fried Week

Tuesday, August 11th, 2009

Thanks to all who weighed in on helping name this little girl:


Jocelyn from Physical Possum suggested Earlene of Dork, and that’s what I’ve decided to name her. Earlene isn’t a bad name, but it was Jocelyn’s comment that won me over:

I tried reading this, and then my head exploded.

But if I’m only slightly reading this right:
“For example, the Duke of Norfolk is also the Earl of Arundel and the Lord Maltravers. His eldest son is therefore styled Earl of Arundel. Lord Arundel’s eldest son (should he sire one during his father’s lifetime) will be styled Lord Maltravers. However, only the Duke of Norfolk is actually a peer; his son Lord Arundel and his hypothetical grandson Lord Maltravers remain commoners.”

Then I vote for Duke’s daughter’s name to be “Earlene of Dork”

I am still uncertain how Jocelyn made the leap from the Duke-of-the-Earl-of-the-Lord-of-the-son-of-the-peer-of-the-grandson to Earlene of Dork, but the fact that she did made me laugh. So, Earlene of Dork it is! And if you need a chuckle, stop by and visit Jocelyn.

Eggs are hatching, and more hens are going broody. There are five new peeps in the coop right now and two more broodies. My neighbor gave me 12 eggs from his chickens to put under my broodies. I set them Wednesday night. Maybe you can imagine my utter SHOCK when I checked broodies Saturday and found a baby chick peeping in one of the nests! THREE DAYS after I put the eggs in there. Unfortunately, the chick was very weak, and didn’t make it through the night.

I had a chat with the neighbor and he was quite pleased that he managed to surprise me so much. As it turns out, he took the eggs from under one of his broodies to give me. And he has no idea if the eggs are all the same age. Apparently they are NOT. None of the others has even pipped yet. *sigh* I explained to him that there are 11 eggs left now and if others begin hatching the mama hens are only going to set on the remaining eggs for a day or two longer. They will abandon unhatched eggs after a couple of days of the first hatches because they need to get the babies out to eat and drink and learn how to be chickens. Of the remaining 11, I have no clue how many more, if any, will hatch. If they do stagger in hatch dates, I have a couple of broodies I can hopefully stick the unhatched eggs under.

Thanks for all the kind words of concern for Duke and his bumblefoot. Unfortunately, his foot does not seem to be healing. I continue to dress it each day, and on Sunday I began Pen-G antibiotic injections. Bernie is at the feed store as I type this – looking for terramycin powder for me. I’ve read that some have had success mixing it with an antibiotic ointment and packing the foot with it. I hate to put Duke through yet another cutting, but I’m not comfortable that I’ve gotten all I need to get out of that foot. We’ll try it one more time and pack it with terramycin powder. He takes his injections and foot dressings like a real trooper, although I can tell he is beginning to tire of the daily regiment I put him through. I am tiring of it as well. But we’ve got to get past this infection and I am hopeful the Pen-G and terramycin powder will kick in and do that.

As you can see, it’s been a chicken fried week here on the homestead. You know how anal I am with these chickens. You can imagine just what a tail spin the neighbors’ eggs and Duke’s foot have put me in. But it honestly pleases me that my most stressful days now concern chickens, rather than a two hour commute and action packed day at the office.

And I like chicken fried stuff.

Bee Free,

Hard Working, Homeless House Wren

Friday, August 7th, 2009

Do you remember last May when Bernie found a House Wren nest and an egg in his sawmill? Well, he succeeded in causing the wren to relocate – right to the engine of one of his lawn tractors.

House Wren Nest

Each week Bernie lifts the hood of his lawn tractor, and each week he finds one of these:

House Wren Nest

The nests are really well built. The twigs are weaved into a perfect little dome. They never have any eggs in them, and I think I now know why. I found the below on a Pennsylvania Game Commission web page.

Wrens in general:

Some wrens nest in cavities; others build roofed structures out of plant matter. The males of several species build “dummy” nests, preliminary nests placed in tree cavities, woodpecker holes and nest boxes, and less frequently in odd enclosed spaces such as tin cans, pockets of clothing hung outdoors, hats, boots, flower pots and drainpipes. Later, a female will choose one of the male’s dummy nests, finish its construction, and lay eggs in it.

House Wren:

Males arrive on the breeding grounds in late April or early May. They establish territories of one-half acre or larger and advertise for females with a rich, liquid song. Males build dummy nests out of twigs in tree cavities, nest boxes or hollow fence posts; one male may construct up to seven such nests, defending them and the space around them. When building dummy nests, house wrens may destroy the nests and young of tree swallows, chickadees, bluebirds and prothonotary warblers. Females either arrive later than the males or stay hidden in brush until they begin inspecting the males’ territories. If a female finds a territory to her liking, she will finish one of the male’s dummy nests by adding a lining of grass, plant fibers, rootlets, feathers and animal hair.

I really wish that little wren would find somewhere else to build his nests. He doesn’t stand much of a chance of scoring with a female wren when his nests keep getting destroyed each week. He can thank the mice for Bernie’s diligence in checking under the hood of anything around here before he starts the motor. Those mice taught Bernie a lesson the hard way on that subject.

Anyone got room for a hard working, homeless house wren?

Prison Wine Revisited

Wednesday, August 5th, 2009

If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you may recall the Prison Wine I made two or three years ago. If you haven’t been following this blog that long, well….. I made Prison Wine two or three years ago.

Prison Wine is extremely easy to make. Here’s the recipe, if you are interested. I made my first batch with apples, but you can use any fruit. If you’re using berries, just squish them up a bit before you measure in the six cups.

Not only can Prison Wine be fairly potent, it can also be VERY sweet. I experimented using less sugar and ended up with a couple of batches of vinegar. I was able to successfully cut the amount of sugar down to about 5 cups, but there was frankly little difference in the sweetness.

This year I decided to try making some Prison Wine out of the raspberries we picked in June, and I decided to do something a little different. I used our beer making buckets, instead of a gallon glass jar. This allowed me to add more water – plus the bucket has an airlock, so I didn’t have to worry about the wine bubbling out when it got to fermenting or about it getting too much oxygen. I ended up using 10 cups of smashed raspberries, 6 cups of sugar, and 2 gallons of water. It fermented for about 6 weeks. And this past weekend, we bottled it.

Prison Wine

I like this batch MUCH better than the previous ones. It’s not near as sweet. And it kind of tastes like a Merlot – well, at least like I imagine a Merlot would taste if it was made in prison using only smuggled fruit, stolen sugar, and some kind of water.

But just look how pretty this stuff is:

Prison Wine

And the really cool thing is that one of our neighbors traded me a bottle of that wine for a dozen fertile eggs from his chickens! So I’m going to stick those eggs under yet ANOTHER broody hen and see what hatches.

Oh, for those of you keeping score, I currently have three more broodies – two Phoenix’s and one Hamburg. The Phoenix’s are due to hatch theirs out next week. The Hamburg went broody this week, and it is she that is going to get the neighbor’s eggs tonight.

That makes a total of nine broodies this year. Two of them have gone broody three times this year.

Thank goodness for Prison Wine. I think I need it right about now.

Bee Free,