Time to Redefine our Lives in Oregon

Posts tagged ‘Buff Orpington’

Welcome our Guests!!

Have you ever been to Canada?  I have, once, as a child.  I remember beautiful gardens, driving go-carts, the fairy from Vancouver to Victoria, and everything seemed very clean.  In contrast, our current Canadian guests, Fred and Ethel, are really quite nonchalant about their housekeeping.  Please welcome the most recent guests to the farm……. <turn up the volume>

This was the first day of Fred and Ethel’s visit, so I didn’t want to spook them by getting too close.  We’ve had a myriad of ducks on Gloria’s Pond, and have hoped for geese….now I’m kind of wondering, “Why??”   These beautiful pond ornaments are messy, messy, messy!!  I wouldn’t mind so much if they stayed in the front pasture / pond area, but they are branching out.  There is evidence….evidence that is undeniable (I will spare you the messy visual – LOL.)  I’m glad we can accommodate Fred and Ethel’s desire to explore the farm…

Fred and Ethel 2015

….here they are behind the house enjoying the view.  The adventure of their day came at the point that Penni caught sight of them…….honking loudly, off they flew….toward the hills, around the trees, over my neighbors barn, and back to the…..

Fred and Ethel 2015

…solace of the pond.  I told our guests that their accommodations were on the pond side of the fencing….we had an extensive conversation regarding their reservations.  I was convinced that they understood….

….obviously, Fred and Ethel…follow their own rules!!  Despite their rebel nature, I really love our new guests, and hope they stay awhile.  Might we have a gaggle of goslings this spring….I sure hope so!!!  In the meantime, I don’t mind the extra housekeeping…..but I do expect some sort of reimbursement for those services provided.  A few tiny swimmers would be much appreciated, but I will accept a couple of their beautiful feathers in consolation.  Fred, Ethel…..get busy!!!

Thistle Root 2015

I other news…. Ever wonder why it’s so hard to get rid of those nasty thistle weeds…..take a look at that humongo root.  We still have a week of winter, right??  Why are these already threatening to take over the garden??!!  UGHH!!

Claudio 2015

In true form…my girl, Claudio, stayed with me throughout my dig-out-the-thistles afternoon catching any bug or worm that were turned out.  Claudio and I have a special relationship….she knows when I have shovel in hand, goodies follow….smart girl!!

Thank you for visiting the farm today.  I hope you have a wonderful Sunday.

Your friend from Oregon,

Tami   –   P.S.  Don’t forget the green on Tuesday!!

 

The Littlest Hen

The morning was filled with the warmth of summer in late July. Anticipating the freshness of the day, the flock was noisy, calling for their freedom. I pulled opened their door, and quickly, hens rambled outside. Opening the “people” door, I heard that familiar little sound. Although, somewhat muffled, it was undeniable. Peering into the brooder, my eyes landed on the source of the high pitched “peep peep peeep”……

July 2014

…she would have been easy to miss, as she quickly hid in the warmth of Mama Chardonnay’s wings. Out of seven eggs, she was the only one to hatch.

August 2014

The baby chick quickly grew, and became her mama hen’s little shadow. Chardonnay shared all of her food with the chick, always allowing her to eat first. She has always been such a good Mama Hen.

Mama and Chick catching some rays.

Mama and Chick catching some rays.

She grew, and grew.

She grew, and grew.


Corn has always been one of her most favorite things.

Free ranging everyday, she diligently followed Chardonnay, listening, watching, imitating, and learning. She became well integrated into the flock, and was rarely chased or pecked at by the older hens.

September 2014

As is the danger of growing up in the middle of a farm – forest, predators are a real threat when feathers cover your body. The flock works hard to safeguard themselves against these threats, and they do very well. Sometimes their efforts, and our efforts are not enough. Something attacked our littlest hen.

The undeniable evidence.

The undeniable evidence.

I found the evidence yesterday morning…I’m not sure if it happened Saturday evening, or Sunday morning. Usually, I count the flock to make sure everyone made it into their house for the night…I didn’t do that Saturday night. I don’t remember specifically seeing her come out of their house on Sunday morning, but nothing alerted my conscious thoughts to her absence. In any case, she is gone…I wish I knew what got her!

It’s that circle of life thing. The flock knew it and were on high alert all day, hiding underneath things..running from cover to cover to change locations. They felt the loss, and the danger. This is the life of a free ranging chicken. There are real dangers, and in spite of that, there is real freedom….and sometimes, if I catch it just right, I think I can see them smiling!

Sorry little girl!!

Sorry little girl!!

There are definite life lessons that occur in nature, look for them, they’re there.

Thanks for walking through nature with me today.

Your friend from Oregon,
Tami

29 Hours on the Farm

I’ve come to realize that my life is all about the chickens…and of course Sir Benedict.

October 2014

They tell me, under no uncertain terms, when to wake up. On those rare mornings that I have not gotten out of bed before sunrise, Benedict loudly calls from his high roost, and the hens squawk and complain….and poop…everywhere. Since I clean their roosts, nesting boxes, and platforms in front of their nesting boxes every morning…it’s a good idea to get them out just as the sunlight crests the darkness. I fudge this timing, just a little on the weekends, but still need to get out there before the hens have need for their time of privacy.

No more rooms at the Inn!!

This flock dictates how late I can stay out at night…somebody has to close the door to the hen house after dark!! Predators in the forest = a definite need for security.

Moonlit Night Oct. 2014

The flock and I have a symbiotic relationship…..they poop…I pick it up. They eat…I buy more food. They get blown by the wind….I cover up the drafts…. (this will be the last time I do this….more on that in my next post.)

The UPS guy told me that that was the most "Red Neck" chicken coop he's ever seen...hahahaha!

The UPS guy told me that that was the most “Red Neck” chicken coop he’s ever seen…hahahaha!

…..they poop…I pick it up (yes, I said that twice…I spend a lot of time picking up chicken poop!) My flock free range. They follow their natural food sources, and always end up back in their house at night. Sometimes that means this……

Hey, get off the porch...that water is for the dogs!!

Hey, get off the porch…that water is for the dogs!!

….and this…..

Seriously...that is chicken poop...That's ridiculous!!!

Seriously…that is chicken poop…That’s ridiculous!!!

….so, I follow them around picking up their…not so golden surprises. In the end, I believe the flock is healthier (I know we are!) and happier.

If you have 41 seconds….take a look at our little video, 29 Hours on the Farm , …. this is the reason I let this flock run my life ….

….next stop….well, we’re looking at goats (any ideas?), but I think I need a trip to Disneyland first!!! I’ve definitely got the bug!!

Thank you, for visiting the farm this morning!! Have a wonderful Sunday!!

Your friend from Oregon,
Tami

Nope, Not Moulting

You may remember this guy…..

Benedict....our Big Daddy Rooster!! Patriarch to the Middles, and the Littles (aka the Muppets.)

Benedict….our Big Daddy Rooster!! Patriarch to the Middles, and the Littles (aka the Muppets.)

….big daddy, Benedict….our gentleman rooster. Always polite, never asking of his hens without the traditional dance. He doesn’t eat of the discarded kitchen goodies until his family has had the chance to partake. This boy keeps his eye on the sky and warns the flock of any impending dangers…Yes, he is the stud of the farm.

The past couple of months, Benedict has become somewhat of a bully to a few select hens. Oddly enough, these are hens of his roo-hood…the full Rhode Island Reds, all of them…except mama hen, Chardonnay. He will literally chase them down, not necessarily to mate, but often times just to, well…stand on them. Really, at this point, I know the difference..hahaha! Their backs are bare, or in various stages of feather regrowth.

Poor little Reisling's bare back...FYI she had just gotten up from a dust bath, her back looks dirty.

Poor little Reisling’s bare back…FYI she had just gotten up from a dust bath, her back looks dirty.

I’ve read about this. Their feather loss is not due to molting, there are even thick wing feathers that have been broken off, not pulled out. And I’ve witnessed it…I’ve seen the intentional chase..mount..stand, just standing, no rooster duties going on. Sometimes, Claudio, our Buff Orphington hen, gets in the act with Benedict, and will run over and start some weird kind of hen attack…plucking at the other hen’s feathers while Benedict stands on them. Is this common behavior??

Benedict and his harem...including the 4 bare backs.

Benedict and his harem…including the 4 bare backs.

As the colder weather approaches, I’m a bit worried about these girls. At the advice of our local feed store, the flock is now getting supplemented with Purina Flock Raiser which is higher in protein and fat than regular chicken feed (Purina Layena.) It seems to be helping with feather regrowth, and since the cold weather is currently knocking on the door, I’ve made this their primary food. As the feathers attempt to grow back, those thick shafts stick out, and it seems much more painful for them when Benedict does…whatever it is he is doing. I’ve become, Alpha Rooster, and chase him away from these girls when he pursues them…he does seem to be listening. I’ve read about hen jackets that are made for this reason, however, you run a greater risk of a mite infestation with the jackets….I don’t think I want that…but I also don’t want my girls to be cold. The only thing I know is….there’s a lot I don’t know!!!

HEY!!! Get off the porch!!!

HEY!!! Get off the porch!!!

Thanks for checking in on the farm today. When I tell the flock that you’ve been here…they get very excited!!!

Your friend from Oregon,
Tami

An Incredible Find

Have you ever seen the artistry in the routine? Birds nest….an incredible, yet routine event in their lives…

The Muppets hatching.

The Muppets hatching.

Chickens do not really build a nest, they find a cozy, quiet spot. Many of the flock will then lay their eggs in that same location, resulting in this…

Six nesting boxes....this one was the hot spot today!!

Six nesting boxes….this one was the hot spot today!!

….that was all from one morning. Where is the artistry in a nesting box full of eggs? If you look closely, each egg is very different…size, shape, color, decorative “freckles”…they are each very unique….

July 2014

That's one big egg!!!

That’s one big egg!!!

That being said, I think the true artists reveal themselves every spring with the creation of an incredible piece of workmanship. The structure is amazing, and the question that usually arises in me every time I, happily, encounter one of these delicate yet strong, masterpieces of construction is …. “How did the bird build this without the use of hands?” You will not believe the incredibly gorgeous piece of true art that I am so blessed to have come upon while hiking with my Great Dane, Penni.
September 2014

It must have blown out from the trees this past week…. are you ready…..

Look at this closely...

Look at this closely…

So completely incredible...

So completely incredible…

Look at this closely…imagine the time it took to build. The supplies used were ingenious…feathers from the chickens supply softness, hair from the mane or tail of our neighbor’s horses provide structure, and a little peacock feather for a splash of color….completely, insanely gorgeous!!!

September 2014

By the size of it, my guess is a hummingbird nest. Truly amazing…

September 2014

I feel like it is truly a privilege to have found this little beauty, and I’m so happy to be able to share it with you!!

Thank you for taking a walk with me this morning, I hope this little gem of the forest will help to make your day just a bit more special.

Your friend from Oregon,
Tami

My Least Favorite Time of Year

Do you like summertime? I do! I like harvesting, sharing, and eating the beauties from my garden….

Summer Corn 2014

I like the long days that stretch into the later hours…

July 2014

……and the hot summer night sounds from my neighbors Peacocks

I like the warmth of early summer….

June 2014

…..when the ground is still green…

Happy chickens in the warmth of early summer.

Happy chickens in the warmth of early summer.

THEN…..August thinks it can just come along and spoil the goodness of my green summer days……my least favorite time of the year!!

What's that???  Hey who invited, August, to our summer party??

What’s that??? Hey who invited, August, to our summer party??

August brings the heat, and the dryness to the land. It is the time for getting poked from stickers that get stuck in your socks as you walk through the dry grasses.

August 2014

August 2014

Unfortunately, a bolt on the mowing implement attached to the tractor was broken for awhile at the end of June. Burn restrictions went up on July 3rd…since we have rocks, and metal blades against rocks can create sparks…sparks against dry grasses can create fires…mowing season ended earlier than usual. I didn’t have a chance to do the final cutting…so, unfortunately, the weeds are larger, and uglier than I am happy with…

YUCK!!

YUCK!!

The chickens get hot, and scrounge the dry grasses for bugs and seeds. I hooked up a fan in the chicken house for relief of the hens while they conduct their “business”…then I turn the fan in the afternoon toward the roosting boards so they can find some relief as they need it.

August 2014

The pond has receded….thankfully it has never gone dry! But this summer…actually, the past two summers, have really tested our little pond….

The pond is way down...this "green" area is usually not as large.

The pond is way down…this “green” area is usually not as large.

See the green ridge above the water line? This is where the pond usually recedes too…the ridge above it is where the pond sits when it full…I call that the NORMAL part of the year!!

August 2014

Saturday, August 30th, did bring some relief…

Fall can’t come too soon!!

Thank you for sharing the first day of September with me. I hope your Labor Day is spectacular….put one on the barbie for me, and I’ll add a burger on my BBQ for you!!

Your friend from the NW,
Tami

Dinner Last Night

There is artistry in the food we eat. I realized this with last night’s dinner. I don’t mean in the way of how it is displayed on the plate, or the unique style in the craftsmanship of the porcelain it sits upon. More and more, thanks to the numerous cooking shows on T.V., I’m experiencing the depth of flavors one can create when the main seasonings go beyond garlic salt and pepper (that’s where I’ve been stuck for many years.) Even this, however, is not really what I’m talking about right now. Although spices add to the complexity and success of the dish, the main ingredients, the stars of the show, are what my thoughts have been focusing on.

OOOOPPSSS...how did those Little's get into the garden??

OOOOPPSSS…how did those Little’s get into the garden??

Dinner last night, the sustenance of nutrition, was completely grown, or raised, on this little beginnings of a farm…right here on Haveadane Hill. Okay, so the spices I used and the local honey were not…but….does that count??? Something to think about…can I grow my own cumin, how about ginger?? Something to definitely investigate!!

Baking chicken on the grill.

Baking chicken on the grill.

This beautiful bird (one of the roosters of the Littles, aka The Muppets hatching) was hatched, raised free ranging from day one, culled by Tony, cleaned and processed by my own hands, chilled in the fridge for a few days, and became the star of the show!!

Isn't that gorgeous??!!

Isn’t that gorgeous??!!


Rooster Aug. 2014

I made a rub of powdered garlic, cumin, ginger, thyme, parsley, salt, pepper, and olive oil. This little bird was well coated and cooked up beautifully!!

Then I chopped up onion, crookneck squash, young yellow bell peppers, and zucchini…all from my garden…sauteed them in olive oil (well..no, I didn’t squish the olives hahaha)…cooking the onions first, sprinkled with cajun spices until well caramelized, then added the two squash.

August 2014 Saute

As the veggies started to release their juices, I added the wonderfully delicious local honey I discovered a couple of weekends ago (I was not at all fond of honey until I discovered REAL honey…not the junk sold in the grocery store.)

The end of the honey drizzle....who wants to lick the spoon??

The end of the honey drizzle….who wants to lick the spoon??

I thought that I had possibly cooked the veggies too much…I didn’t want mushy, but I wanted them to be cooked through. Much to my delight, they still had a nice crunch from their skin due to the just, picked, garden freshness. Next time for color, I may add some spinach at the end of the veggie saute. I think that would be good!!

My completely home grown dinner...delicious!!

My completely home grown dinner…delicious!!

The little rooster was really, really flavorful…and a bit tough. He was a very fit bird, with very little fat. Butterflying the bird and roasting it on the grill breast side up (thank you FoodNetwork – The Kitchen) allowed the spices and the small bit of fat from the skin to permeate the meat making it very moist. The veggies were outstanding, and the sweet honey added to the brightness of the cajun spices really complimented each other. The flavor that stood out to me the most, however, was how absolutely fresh everything tasted…really, it was amazing.

Making chicken stock.

Making chicken stock.

THEN….not wanting to waste one bit of this amazing little rooster, I added water (we’re on a well so again…straight from the farm), carrots and onion (from the garden) and made a wonderful stock.

Stock after sitting in fridge overnight.

Stock after sitting in fridge overnight.

There was so little fat that rose to the surface, that this is all I could skim off….

Rooster Stock Aug. 2014

I’m proud of my little rooster…he was one healthy bird!! He provided my family dinner last night, and will provide us broth for a great soup once the weather turns cooler.

Cooled, skimmed, and ready for the freezer...to enjoy as soup in the cool of a fall evening!

Cooled, skimmed, and ready for the freezer…to enjoy as soup in the cool of a fall evening!

Who would have ever thought that this city kid from the San Francisco Bay Area, who ate in restaurants more than she cooked, could move to the country and raise the meat and veggies entirely on the farm for dinner last night?? I’m so excited to explore what is next for the farm…I keep talking to Tony about a couple of cows…he keeps talking about a couple of pigs….bee keeping for honey is totally on the list…stay tuned, there’s more to come!!!!!

Thanks for sharing my dinner last night!! Have a wonderful, wonderful Sunday!!

Your friend,
Tami

The Cool of the Morning

In the cool of the morning life again starts,
In the cool of the morning nature becomes art,
In the cool of the morning something departs,
The cool of this morning has broken my heart.
by Tami

It started as a normal summer day. By 6:30 a.m. the first of my morning chores were completed…the chicken house was opened and cleaned for the morning’s egg-laying activities…

No more rooms at the Inn!!

No more rooms at the Inn!!

….Benedict and the hens were out to free range for the day, as the patriarch of the flock danced and strutted to remind the ladies of his presence…chicken feed was scattered about to supplement their free ranging…the dogs were fed…and so on, and so on. Finally, it was time to sit with a cup of coffee before starting out for the rest of the morning chores.

As I was pouring my cup, WHAM!!! A loud, familiar, yet more striking, noise came from the windows facing northwest. The man who really tames this forest, looked out and confirmed a bird had flown into the solid illusion of open space. It was laying on a cushion from our patio swing. Any bird that flies into the window is an urgent concern to me. Given time, and the safety of a secluded environment, most get over the confusion of what is probably a massive headache, and are able to be released back to their avian lives. Unfortunately, this beauty was laying on its back, feet curled….lifeless.

As suspected, it was a big bird. Normally the beauties hitting the windows are more like finch size…this one was dramatically larger…and so beautiful!!

A beautiful, beautiful tragedy!

A beautiful, beautiful tragedy!

How gorgeous is this!

How gorgeous is this!

God is quite an AMAZING artist!!!

God is quite an AMAZING artist!!!

She was called a Flicker. She was an ant eating woodpecker. She was a welcomed friend that I would frequently see, and hear on our trees. I marveled at her beauty from afar, and am totally amazed at her stunning beauty at close examination. I will miss seeing my friend in the mornings, and the early evenings. I will miss the familiar knocking that causes me to look up and seek a glimpse of her. I hope she doesn’t have young ones in a nest somewhere waiting on her return, it is later in the season so hopefully her young have left the nest.

Photo by Dennis Paulsen, posted on Slater Museum of Natural History website.

Photo by Dennis Paulsen, posted on Slater Museum of Natural History website.

If you want to read more about her, check out this website… http://slatermuseum.blogspot.com/2012/11/the-ant-eating-woodpecker.html

Goodbye my friend!!

Thank you for sharing my morning!

Your friend from Oregon,
Tami
****UPDATE***** I realize I left you all with the sadness of the morning…let me add a little encouragement with some light-heartedness…how about the newness of life beginning with this cute little critter….

Of Summer and Chickens

A little chicken humor to start your day…

A Pig and a Chicken are walking down the road.
The Chicken says: “Hey Pig, I was thinking we should open a restaurant!”
Pig replies: “Hm, maybe, what would we call it?”
The Chicken responds: “How about ‘ham-n-eggs’?”
The Pig thinks for a moment and says: “No thanks. I’d be committed, but you’d only be involved!”

Here’s something else that I find very humorous….

YES!!!  That's our Benedict!

YES!!! That’s our Benedict!

…Benedict!! Our gentleman rooster kicking back and spending time with mama hen, Chardonnay. She’s been broody lately, but non-committal. She’ll sit for a couple of days, then I find that she has switched nests. I’m fine with that as I really don’t want more chicks right now. I think Benedict misses her!!

With mama hen broody, I don’t think she is laying right now which is totally fine. Out of nine laying hens, eight are very active. I have more eggs than I know what to do with. Here’s a peek into my fridge….

Eggs galore!!!

Eggs galore!!!

…..EGGS, so many EGGS…..they are taking over!! I’m averaging six eggs a day. Once in awhile they all get on the same page, and all eight will give us a beautifully formed gem…

Beautiful golden gems.

Beautiful golden gems.

….with four more hens coming of age (remember the Littles), I’m going to have to open an egg stand at end of the driveway! I’ve read of those farms that will have an “on you honor” system wherein they have a cooler with their eggs, and people just stop and pay for what they take. I may try something like that. I figure, if someone needs to steal a dozen eggs, then they must be really hungry and they can have them for free!!

Speaking of the Littles (aka the Muppets)…..

The Littles

The Littles

…they’re not so little anymore! Can you see the three young roo’s in this bunch? Their plumage is really becoming apparent, yet, at this point, I haven’t heard that tell-tale croaky call that shouts they have come of age. Benedict does do a good bit of chasing them around, so the day of reckoning is close at hand.

Other than that, the flock is basking in the joy of summer. They lay in the sunshine and spread their wings wide, then shuffle, shuffle, shuffle in the dirt allowing themselves a good old fashioned dust bath. In the heat of the afternoon, they find a well developed shade tree, or hang out wherever shade is cast.
June 2014
The flock freely moves about, picking the seeds off the mature grasses, and wait for me to come out with discarded fruit, or leftover corn that may be hanging onto a half way eaten cob. They stay up way past their bedtime, since the sun set after 9:00 pm, and wake up demanding to be let out of the house at 5:15 am every morning. They thoroughly enjoy their remodeled house, and complain loudly when something disrupts their solace. Life is good!

Oh, by the way, they have a new friend who greets them as they enter their house…the first of what will become a collection to garnish the outside perimeter of their home….

June 2014
June 2014

Thanks for taking a walk with me today. Have a great, and wonderful Sunday!!

Tami

“HEY…WHAT WAS THAT CROAKY SOUND COMING FROM THE LITTLES?” Seriously, just right now…..oh boy!!

A Major Remodel

My hens have been talking to me, very clearly. I can hear them, and their requests have not fallen on deaf ears. Okay, before you call a crisis worker, let me explain….

Hey Ma...Can we talk??

Hey Ma…Can we talk??

…chickens have a way of looking at you, an impassioned blinking of their eyes, and a subtle, sweet, higher pitched cooing of sorts that lets you know they have something to say. If you listen, really listen with your eyes, ears, and your heart you can start to understand what they are saying. My chickens were telling me that their home was no longer inviting. Given the addition of the, now-laying four Middles, to the, already six laying Originals,…and four near-future-laying-hens better known as the Littles, three nesting boxes were no longer adequate. The ladies were complaining.

Nesting Boxes

Nesting Boxes

First of all…can you imagine having to wait your turn while needing to lay an egg? I don’t think it’s too comfortable…and neither did they. We had A LOT of complaining going on and rightly so! I drew up the plans, and the remodeling began!

Tony removed the inner wall, which included the nesting boxes, that separated the people area from the chicken area, opening up the entire house…

All opened up...

All opened up…

My idea was to create a tiered nesting box area on the left side, back wall. The bottom level would jut out creating a ladder of sorts for easier access. The top level boxes would sit flush against the wall. My hope in this also was to create a poop protected area underneath the nesting box area for those who might want to snuggle into clean(er) shavings to take a dust bath or just take a nap. I have found that not everyone wants to roost at night, some prefer to nestle in. So, Tony and I…Tony…built three more nesting boxes, and in they went!

Stamp of approval...that's Mama hen, Chardonnay, nestling in.

Stamp of approval…that’s Mama hen, Chardonnay, nestling in.

We had a constant companion helping with the process….

….she supervised the entire project. Even though she didn’t like the sound of the drill, and complained her way through it…she wouldn’t leave..hahahaha!

After the nesting box area was finished, we started on the rousts. We decided to change out the Douglas Fir limbs to wooden planks. I believe they are happier not having to balance all night, and are resting better. I don’t hear the early morning (like 3:00 in the morning) carrying on anymore…now it starts about 5:30. I think we are all happier!!

New nesting boxes + new roosting boards = happy campers.

New nesting boxes + new roosting boards = happy campers.

And here’s the result…..

The first night after the remodel.

The first night after the remodel.

…yes, those are the Littles, now totally integrated within the flock. They are finding their place in the pecking order, and are starting to roost on the boards with the older birds. Harmony in the merge?? Not quite yet achieved…but they are working it out! As for the success of the additional nesting boxes…A LOT less loud complaining from the hens…and MAMA CHARDONNAY IS BACK ON THE NEST!!!!!

Nooooooo!!!! Really NO!!! I replaced the eggs she accumulated…. TEN!!! ….with wooden eggs. She is still nesting and protecting her false clutch as she normally would, and I’m supporting her efforts with extra food, goodies, and water. I’m hoping she will abandon the nest at the point where they should hatch but don’t. She is so adamant on the nest, I didn’t have the heart to take her eggs away and push her off the nest…I hope this will be easier for her. She looks at me, and blinks slowly as she tells me she loves her little brood beneath her. She’s a great Mama…thanks to this big guy…

Benedict....our Big Daddy Rooster!! Patriarch to the Middles, and the Littles (aka the Muppets.)

Benedict….our Big Daddy Rooster!! Patriarch to the Middles, and the Littles (aka the Muppets.)

In that vain……our family would like to say…HAPPY FATHER’S DAY!!…to any dads who may be visiting the farm today!! We hope you have an awesome day, week, month, and year!! Take care all!!

Tami

Rude Awakening

It was like any other morning. The air was cool and filled with the melodic symphony of the many different song birds that make their home in the forest. The resident bullfrogs croaked their low drone-like percussion, and the neighboring peacock rang out like the clash of a cymbal, carefully placed within the orchestra. Benedict, our resident rooster, added the occasional trumpet-like excitement as the song continued. There is just no better performance to be heard than this early morning ensemble.

Benedict...the mighty trumpet boy!

Benedict…the mighty trumpet boy!

The flock was happy that morning, the air was cool, but the sun was shining. The hope for the day was warmth to bask in…add a comfortable dust bath, and their day would be awesome! I opened the door, and the flock filed out in line. After cleaning up around around the nesting boxes, and taking a quick look, I left my feathered friends to do their early morning dance as the symphony played on.

The flock during a calmer day.

The flock during a calmer day.

About 20 minutes later, the melody changed. Rather than the calm, continuous song, the tension had risen. Benedict’s trumpet had become urgent, and the hens were now chiming in loudly. The dogs, who were inside the house, ran to the windows barking excitedly. Opening the door, the sound was deafening. I ran out to see what was going on.

As I approached…there it was!! It had already turned to start its retreat. It was close to the house…right up on the chicken house. It was a coyote!! It casually trotted away. I ran out to the flock…yelling and raising my arms towards the retreating coyote…it picked up its pace and ran down the hill toward the creek, and out of site. Everyone was accounted for…and I didn’t see any sign of pulled feathers. Thankfully, I hadn’t let the “Littles” out of their area at that point,

The Littles!!

The Littles!!

so they were still safe in the house. The flock had dodged another bullet!

Free Ranging Littles

Remember these beauties??!!

Chardonnay (Mama Hen), Kermit, Miss Piggy, Statler, and Waldorf!!

Chardonnay (Mama Hen), Kermit, Miss Piggy, Statler, and Waldorf!!

Here they are now!

Free Ranging and feeling great!!

Free Ranging and feeling great!!

The Littles (AKA the Muppets) are two months old today!! Honestly, I did not plan the writing of this post with the date…and I’m pretty sure we’re not celebrating with Twinkies…pretty sure!! 😉

So, as they’ve entered their awkward stage….

Definitely the awkward stage!

Definitely the awkward stage!


Sporting a wind-blown do!

Sporting a wind-blown do!

…..they have also found freedom to traverse around the farm as they see fit. The Littles are very integrated within the older flock and move around and within freely, although, they are the Littles…the newbies on the block…if an older hen wants to stand where they are, or eat what they have found, they do get “run out of dodge” for that moment. The word “hen” doesn’t really reflect the true nature of a female chicken’s attitude sometimes…they can be pretty…uhhmmm…what’s that “B” word??? Yeah…that one!

This Little flock within the flock are a pretty close knit group…..

They love to huddle together.

They love to huddle together.

Now that's a nice pile of Littles!!

Now that’s a nice pile of Littles!!

….and they love piling up next to each other to soak in the warmth of the sun. The older groups do this also…but usually in groups of 3 maybe 4 max.

These Littles…they’re fun…they’re adventurous…and they are very curious…

Penni and a Muppet (not sure which one) ...

Penni and a Muppet (not sure which one) …

…”Hey you, big dog…that’s my bug, go find your own!!”

The good news with this bunch…I have yet to completely identify a rooster (No, I’m not looking under their feathers!!) I have one that I suspect, possibly another, but none are standing out like in the other broods we’ve raised. A couple of the Littles have a bit of a larger comb, but I have had that with hens as well as roos. There is not the usual amount dominance posturing going on…a little, but young hens do that too. I’m just not seeing the difference in tail feathers…they’re mostly appearing like hens. Wouldn’t that be AWESOME!!!

Hoping you will have a wonderful day today! Thanks for taking this hike through the forest!
Tami

A Merging of the Minds

Great News!!…the “Middles” (formerly known as the “Littles”) have had a merging of the minds with the adult flock (the Untouchables) … they are now one cohesive flock with our gentleman Buff Orpington rooster, Benedict, leading the way!!!

The Captain of this ship....the mighty Benedict!

The Captain of this ship….the mighty Benedict!

After much confusion and chaos within the flock …. 4 of the 8 “Middles” were…uuhhuumm…of age roosters,

Two of the young adult roosters of the Middles.  They were really handsome boys!

Two of the young adult roosters of the Middles. They were really handsome boys!


Buff Orpington / Rhode Island Red cross ... a really handsome roo.

Buff Orpington / Rhode Island Red cross … a really handsome roo.

…it became necessary to calm the flock. During the past few weeks, hens were on constant alert and flight from the rogue, young roo’s, and Benedict was extremely busy defending his fleeing hens from the pursuing marauders. Egg production fell off drastically…not one of our feathered friends were happy. I had grown a little too attached to the “Middles” …. they were our first chicks to hatch on the farm … neither Tony nor I relished the idea of culling the four young roo’s. Our neighbors, on the other hand, were happy to fill their freezer with some additional poultry…so off they went. Even my little, Austin (the spraddle legged chick at hatching) couldn’t stay … I actually kept him for a little while longer than the others … but he was just not having a happy life with Benedict at the helm. Benedict is, and will continue to be, our flock’s leader. The four younger roosters had a good life, a great life really, free ranging as soon as their age and weather allowed … fruits, vegetables, and once even leftover salmon … then they provided for a large family … I feel good about that!

The flock chllin' during an afternoon rain...EVERYTHING becomes a chicken roost.

The flock chllin’ during an afternoon rain…EVERYTHING becomes a chicken roost.

Egg production has risen once again … and the middle hens are now laying!! They are cohesive with Benedict and the other hens…their minds have merged into one flock!! And the “Middles” are now doing this…….

A combo catch from the Untouchables, and the Middles!

A combo catch from the Untouchables, and the Middles!


Who laid the egg on the right???

Who laid the egg on the right???


Newbie eggs are a bit smaller than the more.... sophisticated egg layers!

Newbie eggs are a bit smaller than the more…. sophisticated egg layers!

With all the winged gallinas feeling more relaxed, and the “Middles” now producing… we are now getting 6 to 8 eggs everyday….anybody want a dozen???

Hoping you all have a moment in the sun! Thank you for hiking through the forest with me today!

Tami

Change is in the Wind

These wild Lilies are growing everywhere in the shady/partial sunny places right now.

These wild Lilies are growing everywhere in the shady/partial sunny places right now.

My thoughts have been so distracted as of late. Really!! Can’t the world just step aside and stop threatening to take time from us? Time from the needs of our farm, from being physically present to care for our family, from being able to take the time to grow and prepare our own food, from the ability to write a simple blog post. I’m sure most of us feel this way … this past week has been especially hard for me due to changes at work which will directly affect my position, and my availability for those things I just mentioned. My husband has felt it all along, but he is driven to be a great provider. He, with God’s great blessings, have made this whole farming thing possible…I do not say, “Thank you,” to Tony enough…not nearly enough.

The outdoor brooder...now a roost...maybe we need more chickiepoohs! ;)

The outdoor brooder…now a roost…maybe we need more chickiepoohs! 😉

So life on this farm will be changing, soon. I’m going to have to figure out how to flip-flop some things, how to get ahead of the game on others, and how to get everything done in a timely fashion so that we are not eating dinner at 10:00 p.m. rather than 9:00 …. 7:00 p.m. which was my goal, definitely seems a bit out of the running, but we’ll see. Right now, through summer, the impact will seem less as the sun is up until about 9:00 p.m…it will be the dark, earlier evening hour seasons that will become much more difficult. Maybe this is the incentive I need to kick up my understanding and knowledge of an income producing small farm, and work towards that goal. I think that is a goal worth striving towards!

In the meantime, I must remember that change does not inherently equal a worsening of conditions…it may even result in a more enjoyable life experience (in this case, at work.) And, since I believe that Jesus Christ is the author of my story…the Pilot of whom I seek to follow…the Protector of my home and family…and the Great Counselor from whom I gain wisdom and guidance…my family, myself, and our farm are in great hands!!! Nothing shall befall me that He doesn’t already know, and that He can’t handle!!

Please enjoy this rainy, spring day of Oregon…..

Hoping you all have a wonderful day!
Tami

Growing Season

A farmers delight, a heavenly sight, a mix of sun and rain, a blessing for the growing grain….and weeds, and trees, and tomatoes, and…….. IT’S GROWING SEASON!!

Last year's cantaloupe 2013

Last year’s cantaloupe 2013

Enter the keep-working-till-the-sun-goes-down-eat-dinner-around-9:00 p.m. busy season. Well actually, in about a month it will be 9:00….right now it’s more like 8:15 🙂 I need to get my routine down a little better this year, and head inside in the late afternoon to prep dinner during the higher heat hours of the day. Otherwise, I find myself trying to throw something together around 8 p.m. or later. My goal is to have dinner ready to eat by 7:30 p.m. this summer…that would be a good change.

The early evening hours hold chores. There are dogs to feed, the tidying-up of the chicken house (poop control, new water, food, and shavings in the nesting boxes, sleeping areas (for those who don’t seem to like to roost), and brooder area (if we have chicks…which we always seem to have chicks – thanks Chardonnay…oh and of course Benedict!!) Also, a nice, general tossing of new shavings really freshens up the place.

Benedict and some of his ladies...a little molting going on.

Benedict and some of his ladies…a little molting going on.

I prefer a “clean” chicken house (is there really such a thing) when the Roommies show up for their night’s stay. When the sun rises, it’s out to the let the Roommies roam for the day; a quick look, and removal of any poops in or near the nesting boxes, and a freshening of the brooders water (always seems to need freshening.) With the extra effort, we have very few eggs with any soiling on them.

WOW, did I ever get distracted!!! This post was supposed to be about this year’s vegetable garden 8)

So, here it is…so far. For the most part, we’re using planter tubs again this year. Hopefully by next spring we will have a proper fence, better gopher control, defined planting areas, and a more defined watering system. I’m hopeful!!! In the meantime, here is what has been planted so far…

The Douglas Fir mulch lining the garden.

The Douglas Fir mulch lining the garden.

Cantaloupe, and Strawberries

Cantaloupe, and Strawberries

That empty container is waiting for watermelon.

That empty container is waiting for watermelon.

Sugar Snap Peas, and regular pod Peas

Sugar Snap Peas, and regular pod Peas

Cabbage, zucchini, broccoli, yellow onions

Cabbage, zucchini, broccoli, yellow onions

Grape tomatoes, Roma tomatoes, etc.

Grape tomatoes, Roma tomatoes, etc.

Russet Potatoes and Red Potatoes

Russet Potatoes and Red Potatoes

I'm getting quite used to using one of these.

I’m getting quite used to using one of these.

Well…it’s not fancy, but the veggies and fruit will be awesome nonetheless. I still have a few more things to plant, but it’s finally coming together!

Catching Up…

I really dislike it when “life” gets in the way. There is a lot to update on the farm…I will let the pictures do the talking.

Five of the six Originals

Five of the six Originals


Riesling and her man Benedict!

Riesling and her man Benedict!


Jag....one of our Buff Orphington / Rhode Island Red mixed roosters...very handsome!

Jag….one of our Buff Orphington / Rhode Island Red mixed roosters…very handsome!


The Muppets and Chardonnay!

The Muppets and Chardonnay!


Benedict checking out his progeny!

Benedict checking out his progeny!

As the sun came out, so did those who inhabit this hilly forest…..

The Muppets, testing their feet on the green grass.

The Muppets, testing their feet on the green grass.


Not too sure about this...

Not too sure about this…


Hey Ma!!!  It's still a little cold out here!!!

Hey Ma!!! It’s still a little cold out here!!!


Penni watching over the youngest flock.

Penni watching over the youngest flock.


The Muppets following mama with no boarders!!

The Muppets following mama with no boarders!!

…and the trees decided it was time to make their long awaited appearance….

The first Cherry Blossoms!

The first Cherry Blossoms!


Apple trees

Apple trees


Beautiful Pear Trees

Beautiful Pear Trees

…but the Chestnut trees are still in that “groggy” state right before they wake up! The first pasture’s grass needing to be mowed down is completed (only 8 more hilly acres to go…uuggh..but also 🙂 …..

The back hillside is mowed....to be repeated at least 4 more times this season....

The back hillside is mowed….to be repeated at least 4 more times this season….

….producing this lovely, lovely product….

All these cuttings and not a single goat, cow, horse, or rabbit to feed it too...

All these cuttings and not a single goat, cow, horse, or rabbit to feed it too…

…hhhmmmmm maybe we need to rethink this……

Our neighbor's horse!

Our neighbor’s horse!

…but I don’t think we are quite ready yet…the good extra work of spring has worn us all out…

Tired old Tucker

Tired old Tucker


Karli catching some rays in the warmth of a beautiful spring day.

Karli catching some rays in the warmth of a beautiful spring day.


Hank, the cat, kicking back on Easter.

Hank, the cat, kicking back on Easter.


Tito and Lilly

Tito and Lilly

…but the epitome of being worn out due to excessive spring-like-I-can’t-believe-the-sun-is-out behavior goes to….Penni!!!

What a day!!!

What a day!!!

I hope you all had a wonderful and blessed Easter!! Enjoy the burgeoning springtime!!!

Rain, Rain, & More Rain

When did this last string of rain start? I don’t remember…I think it has been the long side of a week. There are a few breaks here and there, but for the most part, big, fat, juicy drops have been falling constantly from the sky. Everything is soaked!

We're starting to float!!

We’re starting to float!!

The new hatchlings are toasty warm thanks to Mama Hen, Chardonnay, and a handy dandy heat lamp. The Littles, who are not so little anymore…

Not so Little anymore!

Not so Little anymore!

…are getting drenched. Although everyone enthusiastically shares the chicken house at night…there is still some intimidation going on by the “Elders” towards the Littles during the day. This teenage flock are gaining in confidence, but are not quite there yet. During the day, if the Elders are in the house, the Littles stay out. They haven’t yet learned of the different areas around the farm to find shelter besides one,…

Trying to keep dry from the sideways rain doesn't work to well when there's only one wall.

Trying to keep dry from the sideways rain doesn’t work to well when there’s only one wall.

…and if rain is going sideways, it doesn’t keep them as dry as I would like. In a huge desire to freshen up the chicken yard, unfortunately, I dismantled their outdoor cabana a little too early.

Wish I hadn't taken down the cabana yet....well, at least the Lowes boxes are still one...hahaha!

Wish I hadn’t taken down the cabana yet….well, at least the Lowes boxes are still one…hahaha!

The Elders are much more refined in their rain behavior. They find good cover, and stay pretty dry…..

They're a bit wet from all the rain.

They’re a bit wet from all the rain.

…so compare these two Littles, Pontiac (closest to front) & my man Austin, to Benedict and Claudio above….

These two little roosters do not quite know how to manage all of this rain.

These two little roosters do not quite know how to manage all of this rain.

….who do you think are more rain-challenged?? Everyone gets a good supply of cracked corn in the early evening to hopefully help them have a warmer night. Here’s a quick little video…it’s really quick….hope you like it.

And the Muppets continue to grow.

Kermit takes a ride!

Kermit takes a ride!

WELCOME SPRING!!

WELCOME SPRING!! You’ve been asleep too long!!

Penni relaxing in the warm 58 degree sunshine!

Penni relaxing in the warm 58 degree sunshine!

Old Man Winter is keeping his finger on the temperature controls a bit longer…we are still waking up to temps in the twenties…28 degrees at 7:00 this morning. The afternoon temps are getting into the high 50’s so we are totally warming up!! Driving around the lower elevations in town, and out to Salem, trees are in various stages of bloom. Daffodils are blooming like crazy in some places, but up on our hill…we are just now seeing the first brave Bulbasaurs (couldn’t resist that…my son grew up as a big Pokemon fan.)

Our first Daffodil blossoms

Our first Daffodil blossoms

Our young fruit trees that were planted this past fall, are just now starting to swell…sooooooonnnnn to be blossoming!!!

The Pear trees show the most spring-like activity.

The Pear trees show the most spring-like activity.


The Chestnut trees are trying hard to be part of the big spring show!

The Chestnut trees are trying hard to be part of the big spring show!


"I'm Here," shout the Cherry trees!!

“I’m Here,” shout the Cherry trees!!

It’s great to know that these young trees survived the harsh cold, and unusual large snowfall that hit us in January. These beauties are shouting their presence and eagerly waiting to spring forth into the 2014 growing season. The roadblock in front of them are the freezing temperatures we are still experiencing in the early mornings. There is still “frost on the pumpkins” and cars, and rooftops, and ground. We may still be three weeks out before that ends, meaning, sadly, our garden has to wait awhile longer. Although the Giant Sequoias experienced a little frost burn on their tips, the branches are still green and pliable…WHEW!!! That is good news. On the 300 Douglas Fir saplings…we may have lost half of them due to the big snows. It may not be as bad as it appears, but on numerous saplings, needles come off in our hands…not a good sign. In normal conditions, we would loose many of these trees, one reason why you typically plant so many, but this winter was definitely NOT normal!

Definite signs of spring on the farm…starting with our most welcomed tenant, GLORIA!!

GLORIA!!! Our little wild duck that migrates back to the pond every spring!!

GLORIA!!! Our little wild duck that migrates back to the pond every spring!!

The first dandelions of the season!  My flock is very happy!!

The first dandelions of the season! My flock is very happy!!

We've hung the wasp traps to capture as many queens as we can when they emerge from hiding!

We’ve hung the wasp traps to capture as many queens as we can when they emerge from hiding!

I know it's spring and not summer 'cause the Barn Swallows have not made their nests yet in the barn.

I know it’s spring and not summer ’cause the Barn Swallows have not made their nests yet in the barn.

One side of the wood paddock has been burned through the winter.

One side of the wood paddock has been burned through the winter.

The ultimate of ULTIMATES!! The frosting on the cake! The sure sign that spring has sprung…..
Welcome to the farm…to havadanehill….WELCOME THE MUPPETS!! First one hatched, Kermit…March 21, 2014…

Welcome little Kermit!!!

Welcome little Kermit!!!

…three more hatched on March 22nd…Miss Piggy, Statler, and Waldorf (after the two old guys who sit in the Muppets Theater Balcony)…

Chardonnay (Mama Hen), Kermit, Miss Piggy, Statler, and Waldorf!!

Chardonnay (Mama Hen), Kermit, Miss Piggy, Statler, and Waldorf!!

……I could feel three more eggs were cracked under Mama hen yesterday…she hasn’t shown me the new little ones yet today, so I’m not sure how many more have hatched…but I will update soon! She had 10 eggs under her before hatching started!

Sweet Sorrow

Good night, good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow, that I shall say good night till it be morrow.
William Shakespeare

Little Don John...one of the four Untouchables!

Little Don John…one of the four Untouchables!

Adult Don John

Adult Don John

I let my chickens out this morning as usual, everything seemed normal. I don’t usually count them, they just come running out and I say, “Good morning” to the flock. However, I had an unfortunate surprise when I checked in on my flock this afternoon. Sweet Don John, one of the 4 originals…the Shakespearians (named after Much Ado About Nothing), the Untouchables, was lying face down in the hen house, under the roosting area. (Warning – the following pictures show a dead chicken.)

Oh no...what happened?

Oh no…what happened?

I took her out and laid her down on the grass so I could look her over. She had not been acting oddly, or sickly in any way. I checked her for apparent injuries, no wounds. Her eyes, nose and beak were clear…no sign of any discharge. The only thing that resonated any thought of possibility was her right chest was soft and maybe filled with fluid. Maybe that’s normal, she had been laying chest down….and isn’t that the area that gets swollen when chickens have a big meal? In any event it was soft and pliable while rigor mortis had obviously set in.

Something remarkable happened while she was lying on the grass…at least I thought it was remarkable. The three remaining Shakespearians (Benedict, Claudio, and Don Pedro) came over to check on their 4th partner in crime. They checked her out, and Benedict wouldn’t leave her side. He even did his rooster dance around her, I’m assuming to get her to stand up. It was sad, heart warming, and completely amazing! I love that big ol’ rooster, Benedict.

Claudio saying goodbye to her friend, Don John

Claudio saying goodbye to her friend, Don John

We buried her on a nice gentle slope, in soft dirt, amidst newly planted Douglas Fir saplings.

Her final resting spot.

Her final resting spot.

We’ll miss you Don John!! You were a nice hen. Thank you for all the eggs you gave us, and even though you didn’t like to be picked up, you always ran up to greet us. And now there are 15….but wait….

Chardonnay is on the nest again!! Hatchlings due around the 28th of March!! What the heck am I thinking??

It’s Springing Like Crazy!!

Contrary to popular belief…I haven’t yet lost my marbles….well maybe not all of them. :o) I know it’s still winter, and much of the country is still experiencing the freeze from the polar vortex…

Amazing images from NASA!!

Amazing images from NASA!!

….but I’ve learned that once these guys come out from the mud….

…Spring is springing, spranging, sprunging…it’s knocking, loudly, at the door!!! I recorded this frog song last year in April, so right now they are not singing as loudly, or voraciously, but the brave have emerged and are singing in the early dusk evenings. It’s very exciting, and hopefully, encouraging to my friends out in the Mid-West and on the East Coast…especially to the amazing dogs (Great Danes) and people of the Service Dog Project in MA ( servicedogproject.org ) whom, btw, you can watch live on Explore.org!

OKAY...ENOUGH OF THIS FROSTY, WHITE, COLD STUFF ALREADY!!

OKAY…ENOUGH OF THIS FROSTY, WHITE, COLD STUFF ALREADY!!


Photo by Mark Arimault

With this being our third “emergent of spring-time” season, we think we have discovered a pattern with the onset of the frog songs. They are like our groundhog…our indicator to start planting seeds in the greenhouse (okay, we don’t have a greenhouse yet…but when we do…) and then into the ground in six weeks. We started hearing the frogs about a week ago, so we are going to mark the date of Feb. 23rd, count forward 6 weeks to April 6th, and ready ourselves for planting into the ground during that week. Since the growing season in western Oregon is at least a month shorter than in the San Francisco Bay Area, timing is crucial. My garden of 2012 suffered a lot of damage because I planted just a week or two, too soon. Frost killed much of my garden, and I had to replant which, of course, meant double the costs. My garden wasn’t huge so it wasn’t a big loss. I wrote off the cost of that garden to a very well spent Pacific NW Gardening education…of which, I’m still trying to earn my degree!

Looking forward to these little beauties again!

Looking forward to these little beauties again!

In the meantime, I’m enjoying our mildly cold, rainy days, watching and listening to the amazingly poetic sounds of numerous types of birds in the tree canopies, and watching the green of the pastureland become more vibrant as everyday passes. This is beautiful country, God’s country, and I am so thankful to be living within it!! When I take the time to sit, look, watch, smell, and listen, I can feel Him, hear Him, see Him…my God, my Savior is here He created all of this, and it is good…it is very good!! Just listen to Benedict…he’ll tell ya!!

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