Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Comb Says It All

You can tell a lot about the health of a chicken from the look of its comb.


A healthy hen will have a bright red comb...


that stands upright.


A pale comb, or one that lays over on its side is the telltale sign of
a stressed hen.
Poor Mathilda, here, is quite old and has reached the end of her days.
She no longer leaves the henhouse,
and prefers inactivity.


And you can see by her comb, that she is not in the greatest shape.


Some of my chickens are quite old.
And since we do not cull our chickens when they stop laying, but allow them to live out their
natural lives in retirement...
we have several chickens at any given time who are just plumb worn out.

As long as the other hens don't pick on them, I allow them to live out their lives
with the rest of their flock.
However, if I find one being henpecked, they are moved to the barn
(as was the case with Ivanka last summer)
I had thought that Ivanka's days were numbered...
and here she is a year later thriving in the company of the barn cats!


And speaking of thriving...
we have quite a healthy hummingbird population this summer.


At any given time there are several hummers around our feeders...
with the exception of this particular feeder,
which has become a popular hangout for the honeybees.


Free-loaders!

I wanted to quickly show you last night's dinner harvest...


We have tons of carrots right now...of all colors.


And how about these tiny eggplants?
I think they are called bird's egg eggplant.
I just love them!


And do you remember that repurposed chicken feeder that I planted?


Now look at it!


************************
We are in that time of year, here, when we see lots of deer in our fields.
Does, fawns, and bucks with velvet horns can be seen almost
every morning and evening...


grazing in the hayfield.


I never tire of seeing these beautiful creatures!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Of Ducks and Garlic

I have avoided talking about our baby duck situation...
because we lost our entire batch of 17 ducklings.
Unfortunately, Mrs. Waddlington was not a good mother.
She was frequently off galavanting around the farm, 
leaving her babies to fend for themselves.

And now, of course,
she is again sitting on another clutch of eggs.


When these hatch, I hope to be able to keep them in the duck hut
and raise them myself.
I will allow them access to the pond once they are full grown.

In the interim, however, a neighboring farmer dropped off 10 more ducks
this past Saturday.


A mother...
and a good one, I might add....

and her 9 almost fully grown children....


I am hoping that this watchful mother will be more successful in keeping her brood
safe from predators than Mrs. Waddlington was.
She is already infinitely more protective than Mrs. Waddlington ever was....
chasing the other ducks away whenever they swim too close to her youngsters.


I went down to the pond yesterday afternoon to check on the new ducks
and found...


nothing.  There were no ducks in sight.
I looked down the lane... no ducks.


Hearing a rustling in the woods, I sat there for a few minutes.
These four gentlemen appeared....
looking for a free lunch.


Just moments later I heard more rustling
and out of the woods came 19 ducks...
waddling into the pond.


Meanwhile...the four randy roos decided to check out the gator.


I swear they would have driven off with it, if they could have!


And while we are on the subject of hatching eggs...

"Miss Annie... what is that you have in your mouth?"


"Is that an egg?"


"Give Mommy that egg, Annie."
"Drop it."

There was no way Annie was giving up this particular treasure.
It was a tiny chicken egg that Tyler and I found 
in the henhouse on Saturday...


too tiny to sell, but just perfect for a mid afternoon snack for Annie!
How did Annie get that egg?
Tyler accidentally dropped it...lucky for Annie!

It's garlic harvest time!
We harvested oodles of soft neck and hard neck garlic this past weekend.


The hard neck variety will spend a little extra time drying in the cool, dark of the barn.
The soft neck garlic is dry already and will go into storage for use
over the months to come.


I will also save a couple of the largest bulbs to divide and plant in September.


This year... garlic.  Next year... son of garlic!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Blueberries, Turkeys and Tyler

It's Sunday evening.
As I sit and write this, the rain is falling outside.
Much needed storms have moved in after a beautiful weekend,
watering the garden and flower beds...
once again saving me from having to water Monday morning.

It was a perfect weekend...not only weather-wise,
but also activity-wise.

Saturday was a Tyler and Grammie day.


While Tyler's mommy and daddy were kayaking on the river,
Tyler spent the day with Grammie.


We picked blueberries...


and ate as many as we picked!


And then we ate some more...


We had a little help from Tom and Chuck.


Most days, when Tyler comes for a visit, we leave the turkeys in their fenced-in yard.
These big birds, who can run as fast as the gator, are somewhat intimidating
to a four year old.

But since, on this particular day, the turkeys were already out and about,
we decided to tackle fears head-on.
I talked to Tyler about the importance of not acting scared...even if you are.
We discussed the fact that if you run from the turkeys, they will chase you...
not to be mean, but just because they are extraordinarily inquisitive.

So we decided that the best course of action was to stand our ground 
and just talk to the turkeys, or even better... to just ignore them.


I am happy to say that all went well,
and by the end of the blueberry picking...


as we sat in the gazebo and ate them, 
Tyler also fed a healthy amount to his new found friends...Tom and Chuck!


He also dished out kisses to Sammy,
since Sammy can't have blueberries.


We ended our Saturday with some pool time and a cook-out with Tyler's mommy and daddy.

On Sunday, Hubbs and I and took a kayaking trip with our friends, Jim and Kathy,
and Amanda, and the newlyweds Ashley and Andy.
We feasted on fresh produce from the garden
and local chicken which we cooked very slow in the smoker.
Homemade blueberry ice-cream topped off the meal.

It was a perfect weekend...filled with good fun, great family, and yummy food.
And topped off with a gentle, soaking rain?
Who could ask for more?
I am every so thankful for the blessings in my life...
so very evident this beautiful weekend.

Friday, July 25, 2014

I May Have Jumped The Gun

Ok, so I was a bit premature with the "Dog Days" post yesterday.
Wednesday was beastly hot.
And then along came yesterday...another storybook cloud kind of day


with temps in the 70's.

But, still, I wasn't wrong...because, let's face it...
every day is a dog day around here!
(Oh, Sammy....that face...how can anyone believe me when I 
talk about what a rascal you are!)


I know....right?

Sammy and I cleaned the front pasture yesterday morning.
It was gloriously cool and breezy... a perfect day for working outside.


Sammy kept a close eye on the horses, while I scooped poop.


And then, while Sam was off investigating, Ollie did a little investigative work himself.
Hmmmm....guess what I keep in my glove box?


Gloves!


Eventually, Ollie moved on.
I cleaned up the gloves.
Sam returned to ride shotgun.


And, we headed up to weed 100 blueberry bushes.


Actually, I weeded...
and true to form, Sammy slept.


It's a dog's life, I tell you.


And before we part company for the weekend,
I have to share my new found obsession.
Watermelon Salad
(courtesy of Oprah Winfrey...like a couple of years ago...
what rock have I been under????)


Oh, my goodness....this is so tasty, so fresh, so yuuummmmmy...
not to mention, so easy.
One small seedless watermelon, cubed
one red onion, chopped
kalamata olives, sliced
a handful of fresh parsley, chopped
a handful of fresh mint, chopped
8 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
Mix the above and squeeze the juice of two limes over top.

I know...it sounds like a weird combo...but to me it is pure Heaven!!!

Have a great weekend....
I will be stuffing myself with the above salad until it's gone.

Oh, and before you go...
you're the BEST!
Thanks for stopping!

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