Archive for September, 2009

Loofah and Orange Stuff

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

This year I tried something a little different in my garden. I planted a couple of Loofah plants. We had an usually long, cool spring this year, so everything we planted was slow to get going this year. The Loofah was no exception. But, in the past couple of weeks, the Loofah has taken off, and the flowers have begun to bloom.

loofah

The flowers come in pretty little clusters.

loofah

The Loofah is actually a type of squash and, like most other squash varieties, it produces both male and female flowers. The female flowers produce the squash.

loofah

When small, the squash can be eaten. But I planted these Loofahs for two reasons 1) to see if I could grown them in this climate and 2) to let them dry and make loofah soap with them. I know they will grow in this climate.

loofah

But they got a little bit of a late start, and now the weather has turned very cool. I’m not sure if the squash will continue to grow and have enough time for me to allow them to start drying on the vine before the cold weather gets here and kills it.

loofah

I think that the few small squash on the vine will be ok, even if they don’t get as big as I’d like. And next year I plan to have several Loofah plants and get them in the ground a little earlier.

And remember that mutant pumpkin?

pumpkin

Well, the plant managed to put out two more pumpkins for us.

pumpkin

Not as big as The Great Pumpkin it initially gave us, but two pretty nice looking pumpkins, none-the-less.

pumpkin

You know how I am about orange tasting stuff, but so many of you have sent me some really great sounding recipes using pumpkin that I may just end up eating these things this year. Either that, or I’m going to have some orange pooping chickens for quite some time.

Bernie Rocks, Nest Box, Sawmill, and Spiny Things

Saturday, September 26th, 2009

A while ago, The Chicken Whisperer announced he would be giving away a 2-Hole Nest Box to a lucky winner on one of his radio shows. Exactly this 2-Hole Nest Box, in fact. I showed Bernie the picture and asked “Do you think you could make me one of those? They even have the dimensions listed there.” He looked at it a few minutes and, in a very non-committal tone mumbled “Um. Yea. Probably.”

Friday morning was rainy and chilly, and while I was working Bernie walked back to my office and said “I’ll be out in my shed for a while”. Just after lunch he came in and asked me to come out to shed to see what he had been working on. Imagine my joy when I saw this:

nest box

I was tickled to death! It was absolutely perfect! With the exception of one, minor detail.

nest box

Bernie decided the 2-hole nest box on the webpage I showed him just looked too small. So, in keeping with his belief that bigger is better, he built this particular nest box large enough to house pterodactyls. Two. Very. Large. Pterodactyls. The next box was so deep, that it would not fit in the one spot I had available for it in the coop. It poked out so far into the coop that I would not have been able to get inside the door.

So, this morning, Bernie and I spent an hour or so rebuilding his beautiful nest box. We whittled it down to something a little more, um, reasonable. And now the 2-hole nest box is the perfect size for my chickens, and my coop.

nest box

It’s still larger than the one I had shown him, but it’s absolutely perfect and fits exactly in the space I had in mind for it.

nest box

Tomorrow I’m going to hang some curtains over the nest box openings for my hens. They really like their privacy.

nest box

And the best part? It was virtually free. He used leftover pieces of OSB and lumber he milled with his sawmill. Beautiful, functional, and dang near free! Lordy, I do love that man.

Speaking of sawmill, Bernie had a neighbor over earlier in the week to saw up some cedar logs. It was a drizzly day, so I didn’t get a whole lot of pictures, but I did get a few to share.

They squared up the log and then stood around measuring and mumbling about the size of boards they were going to cut.

saw mill

Our neighbor had never used a sawmill before, and he was more than happy to learn how.

saw mill

Look at that baby go.

saw mill

And just look at that beautiful cedar board.

saw mill

The whole yard smelled like cedar. It was heavenly.

You may remember that I make and sell home made soap. Well, for months I have been trying to get nice pictures of my soap for my Penny Lane Bath Products website, to no avail. If I knew how to properly use my fancy schmancy camera, I would not have this issue. But that’s a different story for a different time.

I decided the answer to my nice-soap-picture dilemma would be a light box. And while flipping through a sale magazine that landed in our mailbox, I found one that I thought would be perfect. It was inexpensive and came with free shipping, so I ordered it. I tested it this morning, and I’m pretty pleased.

Asian Plum

Putting it together was a whole different story. It did come with instructions, but my Chinese is a little rusty.

Digital Lighting Studio Kit

And yes, there are English words sprinkled around in there. But, trust me, I was much better off trying to read the Chinese.

Digital Lighting Studio Kit

And by the time I got to this:

Digital Lighting Studio Kit

I knew there was no way those instructions were going to help assemble this light box.

So I looked at the picture on the box it came in which, by the way, did not even slightly resemble the picture on the instructions, and started putting it together. Fortunately, there are not many pieces and it ended up resembling a box. So I declared it a victory and now consider myself the proud owner of a nice light box.

I’ll certainly heed the warnings to not shake and fall down the light at work. And I’m always careful with my spiny thing. Thank you, Chinese-to-English-Translator. But you may want to lay off the booze while working.

Dolly Had a Plan

Thursday, September 17th, 2009

It’s rainy and cold. I can’t get warm.

Pets

Wait! I know where I can go to get warm.

Elvis and Priscilla

Maybe I can just sneak up there with them.

pups

Uh, oh. I think they see me.

cats

Hey! Where’d everyone go?????

pups

Well, maybe dad will get the fireplace going.

pups

Winners, Freezer Camp, Broodies, and Alpha Roos

Sunday, September 13th, 2009

You may know that I listen to the Backyard Poultry radio show fairly regularly. It comes on at noon, Monday – Friday, and I try to tune in while I’m working so I can listen to Andy’s interviews and chicken news. It’s a fun show and full of good info.

Last week I encouraged one of my blog followers, Jamie, to tune in to the show and on the first day she ever listened it, she called in for the Chicken Trivia contest – and won a six month supply of chicken feed! I almost peed my pants when I heard her voice on the radio, and imagine my shock when I heard her ask if she could split her prize with ME! I’m not kidding. So, thanks to Jamie, I will receive three months supply of chicken feed and a coupon for a discount on a future purchase. Woo hoo! Thank you, Jamie! You seriously are a winner in my book!

Yesterday we sent eight of the roosters to freezer camp. I have to give a BIG shout out to our friends, Steve and Louise, who came out to help with this most unpleasant task. While this was NOT something that any of us enjoyed, it went a lot easier than I anticipated and within two hours we had eight chickens processed, cleaned, and in the freezer. I intentionally did not take any pictures of this event, and although Louise did snap a couple, I’m not going to share them on this blog.

One of my broody Hamburgs hatched out four eggs last week – and she has been an amazingly good mama!

broody hen

The last hatches are all getting so big and fluffy – look at these two cuties

Baby Chicks

And for the first time in a long time, I have NO broody hens. As much as I love having all the baby chicks around, I think we’re all ready for a break. I recognize a few more cockerels in the last few hatches and I’m really hoping we only have to experience one more culling this year.

Duke’s bumblefoot continues to be an issue. It gets better, then worse, then better, and… well… you get the idea. His position in the flock continues to slip, and I’m not sure how much longer he will hang on. He seems healthy enough and happy enough for now, so we’ll just play it by ear. Just look how happy he is:

Silver Gray Dorking rooster

Bobby Lee is desperately trying to maintain his Alpha position, but it comes with a cost. His fighting with Pico has left him without his beautiful, long Phoenix tail feathers.

Phoenix rooster

Pico is larger than Bobby Lee. He’s also younger – and determined to take charge.

Pico

Never a moment of boredom around here with these chickens. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.