Friday, April 29, 2016

End-of-April update

Well, Bambi the sheep is settling in. She likes the pasture. The other big animals tolerate her, and hope that we'll give them all grain because she is so pretty. Sometimes we do.

Walking Bambi to the barn. She thought the halter was totally bogus.

Em, Richard and Liam came up the other day. It was awesome.

I've been potting up tomatoes like crazy for the Garden Expo sale. I visited Barbara, who starts hundreds of plants every year, and bought a few of her sauce tomato seedlings and some of the cups she uses for plant sales. It's genius - she melts drainage holes with a wood-burning tool and the cups fit 12 to a bin. The pots are maybe on the small side for big tomatoes, but you can't beat them for portability. That's Barbara's white duct tape on there for labels.

Dovey's chicks are growing. She's not really pissed off - it's just the big black eyebrows that make her look crabby. Below, Graham says, "Wahoo!" He says that a lot.

And we have wisteria blooming. Always wanted wisteria, but never felt worthy. It was a crappy-looking thing laying flat on the ground when we moved in. The goats "pruned" it repeatedly (and it's supposed to be poisonous). It's sprawled on the ground at the east corner of the building, and it's blooming beautifully. We're planning a rustic pergola.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Oh, my aching road trip

We have a lovely new sheep. That's Bambi (and Beth, who is kindly keeping Bambi from climbing on my head and trying to drive the station wagon right off Sherman Pass).

Bambi has her mouth shut in this photo. I'm not sure how KC captured such a rare moment, as Bambi bellowed a whiney "nyeaaaa" every 9 seconds all the way home. I counted it off... one-thousand-one, one-thousand-two… as if calculating the distance of a lightning strike. It was a very long two-and-a-half hours.

I'll tell you more about it later. 

Saturday, April 16, 2016

In praise of simplicity

C. found Dovey's nest moved a few feet, and a bunch of broken eggs in the old spot. She figured a cat or raccoon had gotten in, and she closed the place off tight. We'd just have to make daily trips with food and water. Meantime, I'm planning ways to move Dovey, nest and eggs over into the main chicken house where we can protect her. We have to do it carefully, or she'll desert the eggs, though. (I'm always messing with these poor animals, trying to save everybody or make their lives more efficient, and driving them nuts. I should leave well enough alone, but can't. It's instinctive. I'm a meddler.)

So this morning C. discovers five chicks in the nest (hence the broken eggshells). Sorry, cats and raccoons, for suspecting you. And Dovey is still trying to hatch out some of the 19 (!) remaining eggs.

I'm so damn proud. Ridiculous, I know. I didn't spend 30 days humped up in the musty old shed, keeping two dozen eggs warm with my butt. New life; it's such a simple thing. But it makes me happy.

The swallows are zipping around, buzzing us in greeting, and darting after skeeters and flies. I know – what the hell else would swallows do in the spring? But it makes me happy.

So it's spring and the chickens are awesome and I'm hobbling around grinning like a fool.

Today was a three-egg day, the first we've had in ages. Check these out:

That's the white hen's egg on the left, call it a medium; the little black hen's in the center, and my favorite new hen Ping's egg at right. Ping is the tiny gold one. These three eggs make me happy.

What is it about country life that is so satisfying? Maybe all the fresh air has made me stupid, but I do find pleasure in the simplest things. I was raking up old hay in the barn, and it smelled all farmy. That's a happy smell. What the hell was I doing living in town for the last 27 years?

In other business, C. planted beets and spinach.

I took some scrambled eggs and spinach over to Dovey for my first look at the chicks. And now there are six!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Sunday, April 10, 2016

So this is spring?

It was 78 degrees Friday, and over 75 this weekend. Crazy, but good. The monsoon season seems to be over, and the garden beckons.

We got awesome news – Liam the grandbaby gets to come home from the neonatal intensive-care unit tomorrow! He was born by emergency c-section on March 22 (his dad's birthday), and he and his parents have been working hard for this. He can finally eat and breathe well on his own. C. is going to spend a day with him this week, and help Em with diapers and fussing. I'd post a photo if I could get it off my bloody cell phone. (I know – I'm old. But I wasn't so old until I tried to make the damn thing perform. Frustration ages one.)

Is other, minor, good news, Dovey is found! I know she wears way too much eye makeup, but we love her anyway.

She appeared in the chicken yard this morning, harassing the new white hen. She looked huge, all puffed up as she strutted importantly around the yard, no longer timid. I followed her back to a secret nest in the old lean-to on the barn. It's full of junk out of the barn attic, with some straw and nest boxes from years ago when it was a chicken house. She had a very large, cosy nest. And when I peered underneath her, I found 25 or more lovely blue eggs. So our chicken numbers may be going to explode. I'm just pleased she's alive.

We introduced the three new healthy hens to Graham and the guineas yesterday.

They were surprised.

              Johnny & Edgar made a play for them, but Graham kicked his feathery butt. 

I found the four of them dusting in a corner of the chicken yard today, all dug into the dry earth, kicking and flapping it around in chicken contentment. Bonding successful.

The other two hens, the ones with the leg mites, are quarantined in the rabbit yard for a week or two. I know I shouldn't have brought infested birds home, but we can treat it, and their former owners weren't going to. They are nice little birds. You can't tell from this photo. I thought it was funny.

So the weekend is winding down. No more chickens in the bathroom (Smokey the rabbit is pleased). We got the outside faucets turned on. C. planted a bunch of peas. And Liam is coming home!

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Glorious spring weekend

Finally, a sunny, warm weekend. It was beautiful out, and we worked in the garden and puttered around. I tallerized the snaggle-tooth fence with a spool of electric-fence wire and 2x2s. It's meant to keep the goober goat brothers out, and deer as well. C. has planted Virginia creeper vines along it, so it soon should be looking more charming than decrepit. That's the plan.

My portable fencing toolkit, with the spool of wire on a piece of rebar so I can
pull wire off and feed it through holes in the posts. It's way too warm for a flannel shirt!

We didn't get to see the new grandbaby this weekend. He's 11 days old and still in intensive care. His mum has a cold and his dad has been exposed to it, so they can't visit, and no one else is allowed in without a parent. They've been spending hours there every day, until today, and Em is really upset and missing him. He's a big strong 7 pounds, and we know he'll thrive once he gets his basic systems working better and can come home.

So we stayed home and gardened. C. found some pieces of old curbing down by the lower gate while she was looking for Dovey, our last and lost hen. We hauled it out of the bushes and plan to use it in the garden in one of the low terrace walls. We're pleased to find anything from the old school days, and  to be able to reuse it in interesting ways. Maybe because we're hippies. Or history buffs. Or weirdos. It is amusing to think of past owners hauling stuff off and dumping it in the ditch, and us coming along and digging it out and using it again.

Chunks of curbing being hauled from the car to the garden.

One flat of my tomato seedlings, with big beautiful plants, was moved to the greenhouse, ready for repotting. The other flat is a dud, with sparse spindly plants. Must have done something wrong.

C. is brushing Mo the goat. He's the one with the sensitivity to goat lice, and we've tried a couple of different treatments. I think we're winning, but his coat is still patchy. Keeping goats is so educational.  Just think – I could have gone my whole life without meeting any goat lice.

C. brings bunnies one at a time into the living room for brushing and plucking. Here's Crystal looking sleek and squishy.

We're getting to know Graham better, since he is our only chicken and considers us his girlfriends. He's always cooing at us and showing us choice bugs and tasty seeds. It's kind of pathetic.

His feet are very weird. He's half silkie, a fuzzy-footed five-toed chicken, so he has this freaky double-toe thing going on. That's his spur there at the right.

So other than worrying about the baby, it was a most satisfactory weekend. Sunny and warm, after weeks of dreary cold rain. Worked hard. Made brownies. Ate same.