Wednesday, June 30, 2010

One Stylin Horse

1. (sti-lin) slang. meaning looking good or in fashion. (Urban Dictionary)

I don't know what Pride does to his fly masks, but they end up in pretty rough shape, mostly over the eyes.  Last year I took good parts from one and used it to patch up this one.  This side isn't too bad,

But the other side is useless.

So at the fabric store they had 'pet mesh'.  Not sure what they intended that you use it for, all I could think of was repairing a soft sided crate.  Didn't need it for that, but thought it might be good for a flymask.  And then it was on sale for half price, and you know me and half price stuff....
So I bought half a metre for $4 plus taxes and that was enough for two fly masks.  I had the fur stuff already, and some new velcro.  I used the old one for a pattern, and Voila!  Don't you love that Zebra print:)

The two old guys confer while he gets his morning apple.

And yes he can see through it very well. If you look closely, you can see his eye in this last photo.  It stops the flies from clustering around his eyes, and also shades the eyes a bit.  He is quite willing to have it put on.

Two Hot Chicks

The two little chicks are doing really well, and the hen has turned out to be a great mother.  They are still in the wire dog crate on the back lawn, and I move it once or twice a day so they are on fresh clean grass.  This morning I let them out when I moved it to try and get some decent pictures, but it was pretty hard. You can see that already their bodies are longer and they have little feathers on their wings.

The hen is offering them something to eat, it is probably part of an unripe cherry off the tree overhead.

See how she finds things for the chicks to eat and offers it to them.  After this I managed to herd them back into the crate without much trouble. 

This afternoon Dad came for a visit, but by the time I got the camera, he had had enough.

And then it was time for a little sunbathing.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Off on a tangent

So here's something really NOT gardening or farming related, and only slightly, weirdly, dog related.  Last week I purchased some yogurt.  Usually I don't purchase this type, I just find it rather expensive and over packaged.  But, find it for half price, and that changes it all.  When it's half price, isn't it twice as healthy, half as fattening, and the packaging, well who even notices?

So that flourescent pink sale sticker had my total attention.  What a deal:)

And since I bought it last week, there was still loads of time left before it actually was set to self destruct.  In fact I was so thrilled I bought several packages.  When you have one person that needs things to quickly grab for their lunch at work, another that eats like a horse.... well there was no worry about it hanging around too long.

The first one got eaten before noticing the picture, and it was deemed a bit ....weird.
The second one was eaten by me, who opened the fridge, didn't have my glasses on, and wondered what that dark oval fruit was.
Prune?  What the heck.....
Whose brilliant idea was that?

How appealing is that picture?  In my mind, not at all.  To us dog and cat owners it has too much of a resemblance to something we have to clean up on a regular basis, oh gross...
Can you imagine the poor kid that takes it to school?  He'd probably never live it down.
Not that I have anything against prunes.  I've eaten them and enjoyed them.
If I was wanting prunes for, digestive help, there wasn't enough prune in that tiny container to be of any help, it barely coloured the yogurt. 
Why not call it plum yogurt? After all, prunes are dried plums, but plums are so much more appealing looking.

I'm interested to see how long this flavour sticks around.  I'll bet it won't be long.
And all that cardboard and plastic ended up in the recycle bag.

Off to the markets this weekend.  If you want to read about the Sunday one, I ramble on about it here.
Have a great weekend!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Heeeerrrrre......chick, chick, chick

Yep, we have a couple of chicks.  Remember last week when I mentioned about a hen cackling on the driveway?  Well a few days later the dogs were nosing in the shrubbery close by, and we found a hen sitting on a whole slew of eggs.  Didn't know how long she had been there, so we just left her.  On Tuesday I had a look, and found a dead chick just below the nest.  It was still wet, like straight out of the egg, so maybe it had hatched and had not really been under the hen at that point.  Anyway, did hear another chick peeping, and found an egg with a hole pecked in it.  When I checked yesterday morning, that one had just hatched.  Later in the day there was another chick peeping, and it had hatched this morning, along with another one that was wet and cold when I saw it.  I pushed it under the hen, but despite getting well heated up, it just didn't make it.

You've got to remember here that the mother is from generations of hens that were bred to be good egg layers, and not good mothers, so she might have been a bit lacking in that department.  Also, she started with at least 18 eggs under her, which is too many, so not all of them fit, and some got pushed out, or rolled out, or alternated between being in and out, so some chicks probably weren't in the best of shape either.  Also, we have one little banty rooster to 60 big hens, know... he can only spread himself so far:) so not all the eggs were fertilized.  Anyway, 2 live chicks, 2 dead ones, one egg partially hatched with a dead chick, and a whole bunch of eggs that were rotten.  When I went out for the umpteenth time to check on them this afternoon, the hen had moved, so that meant she had given up on the eggs that were left.  Time to get her somewhere safe.

Now you see it

Now you don't

So into a little dog crate they went, until I could figure out where to put them.

In the end I got a big heavy wire dog crate that had been transformed into a double decker chicken carrying  cage.  I took the tray out of the middle and put it over the top for a roof.  One inch chicken wire went around the crate so the chicks couldn't get out.  There is a cardboard box for a nest box, and food and water and they are set for a little while.  The youngest chick isn't as mobile yet, so it stayed under the hen most of the time.

Don't really need the extra work this is going to involve, and there's a good chance one or both end up being  roosters.  But who can resist that cuteness though:) 

There's a bunch of interesting chicken information here

The hen or hens lay an egg a day, which, if they are fertilized, sit in a sort of suspended animation until the hen goes broody.    When the broody hen sits and stays on them, the very warm temperature created by her body starts the development of the embryo, which will hatch in 21 days, all things going as they should. 

Tomorrow I'll have to see about getting a bit of chick scratch, which is a grain mix that is ground into very small pieces.  The laying pellets I have are too large, although I did take some in later and grind them in the coffee grinder, and they will do for a little bit.

Oh yeah, that shadow that keeps passing over, it's laundry blowing on the clothesline overhead:)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Water fight!

You know all that complaining I've done about the wet weather?  Well it actually hasn't rained for a number of days now.  Some of the days haven't been sunny, or even that warm, so we still felt like we were being short changed on Summer.  But yesterday and today when the sun came out and hit you, it felt HOT!  So now I can complain about it being too hot......yeah, I'm not really a hot weather person.

Since I have seeded some arugula and spinach where the blighty potatoes had been, and it hasn't rained, I had to bring out the artificial rain.

Luna keeps a close eye on the water, to make sure I get it done right.

She follows where the water is landing, to make sure I get the whole bed good and damp.

And then it's her turn!

Let me at it!

Gotta kill that water!

And Calli and Jake get themselves far, far away......

Life and death in the garden

I thought it was time to do a  bit of a garden update.  It's kind of fun to go back and look at photos taken a month or two ago and see how much things REALLY have grown.

A few bug pictures to start

Ladybug (or ladybird if you are british) on the teasel

Teasel was used in the textile industry, and I use it in the flower bouquets

The genus name is derived from the word for thirst and refers to the cup-like formation made where sessile leaves merge at the stem. Rain water can collect in this receptacle; this may perform the function of preventing sap-sucking insects such as aphids from climbing the stem. The leaf shape is lanceolate, 20-40 cm long and 3-6 cm broad, with a row of small spines on the underside of the midrib.

It has it's own little eco system happening in those stem cups.

And it's really too bad this isn't a scratch and sniff screen, as this rather insignificant looking honeysuckle smells heavenly.

I could see this dead bumblebee laying there, and it wasn't until I flipped up the honeysuckle leaf that I saw the spider holding it.

The last peony

An arugula flower.  Sometimes there are flowers included in the bags of arugula or salad mix I take to the market.  I always get a kick out of it when people say 'oh I didn't know that arugula had a flower'.  You can be pretty sure they aren't gardeners, but then that's good, or else they wouldn't be buying things from us:)

Looking north.
Asters in the forground, the two rows of beets, a row of collard greens, then mustard, then three rows of radishes which are all grown into each other and the tops are about 18" high.  Not a whole lot of actual radish roots forming.  Yukon gold potatoes at the back, and kale hidden out of sight behind them.

Looking west.  You can see some broccoli heads in the foreground.
Arugula on the left, and carrots on the right in the next bed.
Then lettuce mix and spinach.
Some pathetic basil under the hoops.  It hates the damp weather, but I am sick of taking the plastic on and off, so now it's a case of sink or swim, or in the case of basil, turn black.
The next bed is a mixture of flowers, and then the one behind is the bed from the previous photo, and the perennials in the last three beds.

Finally this bed at the east end of the garden is looking better

And we are actually getting some peas!

The pototoes haven't faired so well though.  All the rain has blighted the leaves.

So it's time to get them out.  If your new potato was dug up fairly recently, the skin can be just pushed off with the pad of your thumb.

There was enough broccoli to take a few bags to the markets on the weekend.

The broad beans at the top of the driveway are huge, about 5' high.  I'm thinking I might be able to pick some for this weekend.

The other garden in the 'orchard' is continuing to battle with slugs, and rabbits.  Last night we put a little fence of chicken wire around the peas and beans, trying to salvage what's  left of them.  The peas had got about 5" high, and then they were gradually just getting shorter and shorter as the rabbits nibbled on them each night.  This is the first time rabbits have ever been an issue, but then it's the first time we've ever planted vegetables out there, so next year there might have to be a different plan.

Oh, I think I might try picking some currants this evening.  So far they are looking great.  It's a bit of a toss up though, whether to try to wait until they're all ripe, so then they are much easier to pick, you just pull the whole bunch off.  On the other hand, the birds have been taking their share as well, so I should probably get out there sooner rather than later.

And a bit of a surprise this morning under the hedging cedar in the center of the picture

See that tiny little leg?  More to come later.....

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Eau d'agility

Calli likes shoes for pillows. 
Here she is on the dog mat in the basement, and those are the runners I wore to agility last night.  And no, I didn't put them there, she picked them up off the floor and put them there herself.  I guess she's tidier than me.

There's nowt queerer than folk.

Well I have written and rewritten a post about the reaction to this blog when I cross posted it to an agility forum.  I've decided that I'll probably just leave that post as a draft, and it just made me feel better to write it. Kind of a Dear Diary sort of thing. Let's just say that the reactions to that blog post were....interesting, and not what I expected.  It was an eye opener in many ways. To quote an old Yorkshire saying  'There's nowt queerer than folk'

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Journey, and Some Sidetrips

This video is from Susan Garrett, one of the leading dog agility competitors and instructors in Canada.
She was the keynote speaker at a banquet at the Agility Association of Canada's Agility Championships in 2008.
Enjoy, and if you are like me, you might need a kleenex....

And to keep in the agility theme, the final results of our Regional Agility Championships have been posted.  Jake's agregate score was 8th out of the 24 dogs in his division. Don't know where I got 32 dogs from in my previous post, but 8th out of 24 doesn't sound quite so good:)  On a more positive note though, turns out he was FIRST in his jumpers class on Saturday:)!!  And I 'm pretty pleased with his fourth place in that class on Sunday, considering that I fell while on course.    There are 15 divisions, based on the dogs height, age and handlers choice.
Apparently Shaw Cable has a segment on the Regionals.  The info is here

And a chicken update.... Well there was a hen wandering around this morning when we went out there, so she must have been roosting somewhere outside last night.  Then this afternoon one was cackling away on the driveway outside the gate, and from the way she was acting she has got some eggs hidden away somewhere that she is trying to hatch.  So maybe we are only down three hens.... which is much better than I had first thought.

Another miserable wet day out here.  Just that light misty rain that keeps everything dripping wet.  Only a few days until summer is supposed to start, and tonight we lit the woodstove, as it was darn chilly in the house.

And is anyone watching The Flight of the Bumblebees, I mean the World Cup?  Are those horns annoying or what?  Do they all go to the stadium wearing ear plugs, and leave with a big headache anyway...?

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

For some reason, the comment option does not seem to be showing up.  As far as I can tell the appropriate boxes in the settings are checked.  If you want to comment, or read the comments already there, click on the actual post under the Blog Archive on the right, and then the comment option will appear at the end of the post.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Death's Follower

There was a lot of cackling going on in the north chicken field this morning.  I had noticed at one point that most of the hens seem to be hanging around close to the coop, and I heard a raptor call close by.  This time when I looked I could see some dark silhouettes in the cottonwood tree right behind the coop, and when I got closer, I saw this:

And this...

In fact there were 5 Turkey Vultures, three in the tree, and two on fence posts close to the coop.

The ones on the fence post flew off when I got close.  I got to about 50' away from them.  They have a big wingspan, but aparently they are not strong flyers.  There's lots of interesting information about them here.

The only time we have ever noticed turkey vultures around here is when there is something dead.  Once, for some unknown reason, there was a dead deer in our back hayfield, and the trees along the edge of our bush were just loaded with vultures.  A couple other times there has been a dead calf nearby.  So I knew there was something dead close by.  I have never seen them hanging around when there has been a dead chicken, but that is what I found.  I'll spare you that photo, it wasn't pretty, and fit the description of the vulture's eating habits perfectly.  But...what killed the hen in the first place?

So a little wandering along the fence line found this hole...

And then this hole.  Why two holes, I don't know.  Maybe the first one wasn't big enough, as it was right next to the trunk and roots of the cottonwood. 

Maybe the coyotes were now too fat from feasting on our chickens, so needed a bigger hole. It looked like it has been there a while. The dirt was packed down on the other side of the hole. This is the same fence line we worked on way back in January. We've made it difficult to get over the fence, so now they are going under.

We wandered around and found a few piles of feathers.  We can only hope that they all came from the same hen, but I doubt it.  I'll do a head count tonight to check the damage. 

We filled the holes in with some big rounds of firewood, and we'll have to try remember to do frequent checks of the fenceline. The grass has got so long in that field (damn rain) that we can't really see what is going on out there.

Larry got the weadeater out and did along the fence line, and then got on the tractor and mowed all the grass.  At least now we'll be able to see things better out there.

Tonight's update.
Unfortunately that chicken coop didn't get closed up last night.  I thought Larry had done it, as he kept talking about how there were still some hanging around outside, so I just assumed that he would shut the door when the hens were all in, and for whatever reason, it didn't get done. So now we are wondering if something actually went into the coop during the night.  The door is very small, but a coyote or raccoon could have squished in there.  The reason I am wondering that is that an awful lot of chickens did NOT want to go in the coop tonight.  A whole bunch of them were planning on roosting in the evergreens along the fence line, and a few were perched on the top of the sheep barn wall.  There were a few that refused to be herded to the coop.  It was really weird.  Anyway,  we managed to knock all that we could see out of the trees, and carried the rest that refused to be herded to the coop and shut the door.  I counted them and there are five missing from what we  had in there a month and a half ago.  We might have missed one tonight, so will see if there are any wandering around outside in the morning, and will check the fence to see if there was any new action there.  Sometimes this whole free range ( and ours really are free range) chicken thing can be just really frustrating, and expensive both material and time wise.