Friday, July 29, 2011

The Tale Continues....

I am hoping that if you are reading this post, you have read along all week.
I thought I might tie up a few loose ends.

First of all....number six.
Has continued to spend his days with the gals,
his nights back with the frat pack.


He is one happy rooster.
Has he told the rest of the Frat Pack about the girls?
Not on your life!!
Look closely, you'll see him winking!


Ole Roy called a meeting with the gals at the upper chicken house.


From his perch on the fence he began, "It seems, girls, that there is a new rooster
in these parts.  You'd be wise to avoid him....he's trouble." Ole Roy continued.
As you can see, the girls paid him no mind and walked away in a flutter.

"Looks like you have trouble on your hands, Ole Roy!" said Guido,
who had also taken up his perch on the fence.


"You know," Guido continued, "for a little extra scratch, we can take care of your problem."
"We can make that new rooster disappear, " he whispered with a snicker.

Guido's sidekicks soon joined them.


"That's right, boss....we can rub him out....like he was never here in the first place,"
they chimed in as they all pretended to be grooming themselves.


"Hmmmm....." thought Ole Roy, "tempting!"
But the idea of it sent a shiver down his spine.


"No!" he said. "You guineas are big trouble."
I'll handle my gals by myself.
"Thanks, but no thanks."


To Be Continued....

I thought I would give you a peek at the new chicks.
They are growing like weeds and getting quite showy
with their new feathers!
Happily, 26 arrived in the mail 3 weeks ago,
and 26 remain healthy.

I also wanted to share with you a sneak peek at my next project.


"What is it?", you ask.


No, it's not a perch or a bed for Bobby.

It is the box in which I am going to plant a fairy garden.
It will have tiny plants and tiny tools and a tiny house with a tiny fence...
just the right size for a fairy.
This six inch deep box is 2 feet by 1 1/2 feet and two feet tall.
I will share pictures with you as soon as I finish it.

I suppose you are wondering why I am building a fairy garden, aren't you?
Because......
"if you build it, they will come!"

You'll see.....I'll show you!



Thursday, July 28, 2011

Fraternization

Well, the day has finally arrived.
I knew it would.
It was inevitable.
Things couldn't continue as they have this past year forever.


The frat pack has spread its wings....
broadened its horizons....
found....

THE GIRLS!!


And life will never be the same again!

For the past year, ever since they were old enough to leave the nest,
my six Ameraucana roosters have lived the bachelor's life
in the small chicken house up by our log home.

I pass these fellows on each trip back and forth to the barn.
They are always together, strutting and crowing in a constant display of male prowess.
Yesterday, however, there were only five.


Hmmmmmm.....I am always fearful of "fowl play"
(see yesterday's post)
and worried that perhaps a predator had taken one Roo hostage.
I continued down our driveway and turned onto the lane through the orchard...


no sign of him anywhere.


Arriving at the barn, Jim met me
 (Jim does my Wednesday farm chores - giving me one day off each week)
saying, "Hey , I noticed there were only five Roos up by the house this morning!"

"Yea", I said, "I couldn't find number six either."

I stopped in the henhouse to chat with Barbie.


"I think I lost a Roo", I told her.
"Don't worry" she said, "Roos can take care of themselves.  He'll turn up."
And then under her breath I heard her sigh, "Unfortunately!"

All of a sudden, outside the barn in the dry lot I heard Monique (Fifi's cousin)
cackling and exclaiming, "Un homme!  Un homme!  Un homme Americain tres bel!"
(The Marans speak French, of course!...." A man, a man, a handsome American man!" she exclaimed!)


"Well, I think you found your rooster" said Jim.


Sure enough, there was number six beneath the picnic table
showing off for all of the French ladies outside the barn.


It's all my fault, you know.
It's because of that sign.
You know the one...
"you are here!"

I knew I shouldn't have advertised where the hens were.
It was just a matter of time until the Roos read that sign.


It will be interesting to see if the rest of the Frat Pack makes its way up to the barn.
OR...
Perhaps number six will keep this a secret.
After all, there are 26 young French gals just waiting for his next visit.

"Hey guys" he'll nonchalantly say to his friends, " I'm going for a walk."

"Where ya goin?" they'll ask.

"Nowhere, just for a walk through the orchard," he'll say, the big grin on his face well hidden.
"Life is good!" for an American in Paris!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A Day of Tales

Yesterday, on my way out to do afternoon chores, I was met at the garden
by Bobby, the most adventurous of our barn kitties.


Quite pleased with himself, he told me a tale of how he had
chased two bunnies who had come into my garden for a nibble.
He had gotten so close to one of them that he had snagged that bunny's shadow.

"Piffle!" I laughed and said that was "impossible."


But Bobby insisted it was so and led me to the evidence....


He HAD snagged that bunny's shadow, indeed!
Well, like Wendy did for Peter Pan, I guess I will need to find that bunny
and sew his shadow back on him!

A little further down the lane, I was met by Tom and Chuck.
They were searching for Edith, who had disappeared hours earlier.


"Where could she be?" I asked the birds who had gathered round.

Guido and the guys weren't talking.


I feared something "fowl" had happened to Edith.

I asked old Roy if he had seen Edith, but he just shook his head and walked away.


A couple of hens started squawking...
"We know where she is!  She went to the Spa!"
and they proceeded to show me the way.


Before I could follow, out walked Edith.


Apparently, she had taken a little "girl time" and spent the afternoon
luxuriating in a dust bath, here.....


What, you have never had the pleasure of a dust bath?

You really must try it!
There's no better way to control mites than a dust bath...
and so cool on a hot day.

Well, while we are on the subject of mysteries....
look at what I found in one of the nesting boxes.
Someone is getting a little lazy and producing very tiny eggs.


I have been finding these tiny dark eggs on occasion.
No one is owning up to this infraction,
so I guess I will have to open a bottle of wine and sit down with the girls.
A little bit of wine, and the girls start to talk...


yadda, yadda, yadda...
 and the gossip flows!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Harvesting Carrots and Squabbling Goats

I am so excited this year by our carrots.
If you remember, when I ordered seeds, I ordered
red and purple carrots.
These might just be my new favorite vegetable!

If you have grown carrots, then you know what a challenge harvesting them can be....
especially when the ground is rock hard from prolonged hot weather and
precious little rain.

You grab the greens and pull.

SNAP!

 The greens pull off the carrot leaving you nothing to grab ahold of.

Getting those topless carrots out of the ground poses a bit of a problem.
If you're not careful, the carrots break... leaving the tips still in the ground.
If you use a tool you risk scratching or gouging the carrot.

I have found that using the jet spray of the hose to blast 
the soil away from the carrot works really well.


If you wait a few seconds until the water seeps into the ground,
you can easily grab the top of the carrot 


and pull it to freedom.


Aren't they beautiful?


These carrots taste as good as they look!


I don't peel away any of the outside....
just spray with the jet stream of the hose to remove any soil,
and eat it just like that.


Last evening I pulled the spent cucumber vines and planted 
another batch of carrots to be harvested in October.
I am learning to get the most out of our growing season,
by planting my boxes twice.


Do you plant heirloom tomatoes?
I highly recommend it.
If you haven't tried them....plan on it next summer.
These German Strawberry Tomatoes are the tastiest, meatiest tomato yet!


With few seeds and juicy flesh, I'd rate them superior!

Yesterday I finished another project...
a directional sign for the corner by the garden.
Just in case you're ever lost...
You R Here!


The "flatlands" (see above picture)is what I refer to our closest metropolitan area 
(nestled in a large valley).
(We live in the foothills of the Blue Mountains.)
My daughter calls the Flatlands "civilization".
We're quite civilized here in the country, so I'll continue to call it the Flatlands.


Lastly, I thought I would give you a little update on T. Donald's move to Fred's pen.
Don't let this picture fool you....

Just a few hours before, they were going head to head
in a rather large altercation over who was going to sleep in the big house.


Two headaches, several faints, and one bloody scalp later it was decided.
"Ok, we'll both sleep in the tiny house together!"


Silly bucklings.
I guess it's the same with brothers of all species!

Well, I am off to harvest some more yummy vegetables.
Have a wonderful day, wherever you are.

PS.... We finally had some rain....4 good showers yesterday,
and things have cooled off a bit.
Thank goodness.... I was beginning to wilt!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Outdoor work is difficult these days.
The heat is oppressive, the humidity high.
I spend my early mornings getting the animal chores done.
My evenings are spent in the garden.
By seven, the sun is behind the woods and the garden is in shade.


Watering and weeding are the nightly routine.

But added in of late is quite a bit of harvesting,
followed by replanting.
The onions that are drying in the greenhouse
have been replaced by tiny beet seedlings.


And it's a good thing, too.
Last evening I was cooking the first crop of beets to pickle,
and got involved in an activity with Tyler....
needless to say, those beets turned into charcoal.
Ooops!

I harvested half of the red potatoes this weekend.
The plants are starting to wilt...so harvest time is nigh.


I will plant a fall crop in this box next week.

The rest I will harvest in the next week or two.
I am going to store them like I stored last year's sweet potatoes...
in a tote filled with pine shavings.


The tote has several layers like this one.
Each layer is separated by shavings so that no potatoes touch
and none are exposed to the open air. 
 But air can still circulate through the shavings.

Last year's sweet potatoes lasted the entire year in that tote...
kept cool in the cellar pantry.


This year's sweet potatoes are still in this box,
beneath these lush green vines.
I will harvest them in early autumn.
Then into the cellar in another tote they go for use throughout the winter.

I am going to try storing my winter squash this way also.


My pumpkin babes are ripening...
I see pie making in my future!


No gardening is complete without a visit from Tom, Chuck and Edith!


And Sammy keeps a watchful eye over me.


In this weather, I keep extra water containers around for the birds
and dogs.


Hubbs and I spent a bit of time on Sunday picking wild blackberries,


dressed in boots and long pants to deter the chiggers.


The berries went into a batch of mixed berry jam.


I also made seven pints of hot pepper relish.
Coughing, sneezing, crying, (yes, and almost peeing myself!)
 I cleaned and chopped several quarts of hot peppers.


Although there is a good deal of work involved in food preservation,
there is nothing more comforting to me than to enter autumn
with the freezer and pantry fully stocked with homegrown goodness!

Can you see why zinnias are my favorite garden flower?


They are just so cheerful!
And a haven for butterflies...


Gerbera daisies...


such vibrant color!


A morning glory vine winds its way around the zinnias.
Soon to bloom, it will add a "pop" of blue to the mix.


Vines are taking over the fence around the garden...
just as I had hoped!


German strawberry tomatoes... just one of many heirlooms starting to ripen.


Cabbage patch babies....


I will have to find some creative ways to use these.
Any ideas??

PS....our little Donald (O'Malley's bucking who is polled [hornless],
has not sold.  It looks like he will remain with the family.
But for the present time, will have to live with the other bucks.
(At least until he is neutered.)
We caught him showing just a little too much interest in his Mama,
and bucklings are fertile at a very young age.
Yikes!
Red O'Malley and her handsome son, T. Donald.

Rain is predicted for today.
Let's hope some temperature and humidity relief come along with it!


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