Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Hello From the Farm

It seems that lately my camera has been on video rather than still shots. It also seems that the animals sense that they are being captured on "film" because they are always ready to ham it up or investigate.

The latest news at Bee Haven Acres is the 26 chicks that are now living in Mike and Becky's basement. (You might remember that Becky is my hubby's sister (A Veterinarian) and they built their log home on BHA also.) Mike moved a horse tub into his downstairs bathroom to house this adorable mix of tiny chickens until the weather is warm enough for them to move outside. By that time they will be large enough to move into the henhouse. There are chicks in every color combination...unfortunately, I did not have my camera with me when I went to see them. Pictures to come....

On order are 8 peacocks (male and female). You might ask what we are going to do with EIGHT peafowl? I am not sure, but they do look pretty and will have plenty of acreage to roam. They, along with the guineas will be allowed to free range all over the farm (and I am sure will make frequent visits to the neighbors...thank God we have tolerant neighbors!)

This past weekend we had visitors. My daughter Jenn and her other half, Bryan and his son Hunter spent the weekend with us. Hunter helped with all the farm chores and especially liked feeding the goats and gathering the eggs. He was a bit wary of the horses...but soon realized that they are all just big, gentle sweethearts with a fondness for peppermints! Jenn and Bryan brought their new puppy, Rocky, who is a boxer and replaces the two dogs that they just lost at the beginning of the year (very sad story). Rocky is nine weeks old and just adores our Newfie Maddie as you can see in the next video....

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Housing Inspector

Apparently, Mr. Squirrel approves of the job we did getting the bird houses cleaned up. He spent a bit of time on this roof chattering and shaking his tail. Perhaps he was trying to lure a mate with this piece of freshly renovated real estate!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Cleaning House

Well, it is the middle of February and soon time for the Eastern Bluebirds to return for nesting. We spent a part of this morning cleaning out all of our nesting boxes in preparation for their arrival. Old, dilapidated boxes were replaced with freshly painted new ones, and the rest were swept clean and checked for stability.

Over the years we have created a bluebird trail on our farm to encourage the repopulation of this lovely species. The bluebird used to be quite a common species, but loss of habitat, insecticide use and predators have decreased their numbers significantly. Their chief predators are the sparrow and the starling. The sparrow will move into a bluebird house and break the eggs or peck the chicks. They have even been known to peck the adult birds to death.

Bluebird boxes should be hung 3 to 5 feet from the ground and placed no less than 100 yards apart as these birds are territorial. We have hung our boxes on our fence posts and also have had extra fence posts placed at intervals along our woods. It is a good idea to have other housing available close by for tree swallows. Tree swallows can keep other competing birds from inhabiting the bluebird houses. It is especially good to have plenty of berry producing growth closeby as this will serve as a source of food in addition to the insects that these birds consume.

Besides being a beautiful bird to observe, the bluebird can help decrease the flying insect population in your yard.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Feathered Friends

We have become quite fond of bird watching at Bee Haven Acres. We keep our bird feeders full and provide nesting boxes for the bluebirds. Quite often we will stand inside the front windows with the spotting scope or telephoto camera lense focused on the bird feeders hoping to spot an unusual visitor. Most of the time we are visited by the same few species, cardinals, tufted titmice, nuthatches, black-capped chickadees and finches. Occasionally a bluejay or downy woodpecker will stop by. This seems to be the routine lineup at the feeders in the winter months.

Besides keeping an eye on the wild birds, we also monitor the activities of our own birds. Although the guinea fowl don't seem to appreciate winter, they continue to run amuck, yacking from sun-up to sun-down and are a constant source of zany antics. The chickens seem to be holding their own these days. Since we covered their yard with bird netting, they have been safe from predatory birds such as hawks. Egg production has slowed as can be expected in winter months and we are awaiting delivery of 26 new hatchlings. We have 2 new additions to our duck pond. Besides the domesticated ducks that we raised from ducklings, we now have a lovely pair of mallards. Time will tell as to whether they have taken up permanent residence or are just passing through.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Cold, Quiet Mornings

There is something so peaceful about morning in the barn. The air is crisp and cool. The animals have just woken up and are quietly waiting for hay. Morning is my favorite time at the farm. After taking hay to the goats and horses, feeding the chickens, guineas and ducks, and making sure everyone's water is plentiful and not frozen, we start the task of mucking stalls. The work is purely physical, leaving much room for quiet contemplation. I start about the task of sifting through the stalls and am surrounded by the sound of horses chewing away at their breakfast. The birds begin their wintery song and all seems right with the world.


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