Let me tell you a story

Once upon a time (this morning)…a young (lol) lady woke up and heard a squawking chicken in her yard. Not thinking much of it, assuming the hen was just proud of having laid an egg or some such silliness, the young woman looked out her window. And saw feathers all over her yard. And a huge fox by the fence getting ready to run off with a chicken.

One imagines the initial meeting went something like …

Related image

Related image

and then quickly escalated to this…

Image result for fox and chicken cartoon

The young lady hurried downstairs as quickly as possible, calling for her trusty k-9 companion. She slid open the sliding glass door and said, “Get ‘im, Monty!”

Alarmed by his normally demure (ha) mistress’ loud tone he made this face…

Image result for funny chocolate lab

and ran in his crate to hide.

The fox turned, looked at the young lady and ran off over the fence.

Gathering her pride (and pants) the young lady went to check the damage.

Buff Orpington feathers were strewn across the yard, but as luck would have it she could account for all of them. No sign of Chicoletta or Little Red, though.

Poor Hurt Chicken. This being the third time she was the victim of an attack, she was now missing most of her tail feathers.

Assuming that Chicoletta and Little Red had flown off to safety and hoping they would be in the yard when she got home from work, the young lady continued to get ready for work. Again, blessed by good luck, both hens were waiting at the fence before she left for work and the flock was reunited, if a bit worse for wear.

Aaand, as a final F U to the fox, Chicoletta, laid her first, itty bitty, adorable (white) egg.

So, that’s the story of how two tough birds bested a mean ‘ole fox.

Chicken Low and Chicken High

The low came Sunday evening as we were getting ready to leave for church and we were trying to round up the chickens, hoping to convince them to go to bed early since we knew we’d be home after dark.  I didn’t see Fancy but eventually found her under a parked car. I instantly knew something was up.  After I retrieved her from under the car with no protest from her, my fears were confirmed.  She had very labored breathing and kept closing her eyes.  Her comb had turned very pale and she looked near death.

Josh tried getting her to drink and then tried giving her a vitamin supplement that sent her into convulsions.  He ended up putting her out of her misery.

She seemed just fine at every point up until then, and apparently Sudden Chicken Death Syndrome is a thing, usually heart related.

Fancy got her name because she had pretty gold feathers, a large comb, and no matter how many times we clipped her wings she would still fly over the fence just to show us she could.  We joked …”oh, she thinks she fancy!” and that’s how she got her name.

She will be missed. She was the last remaining hen from the original chicks and the only one who laid white eggs. Poor Nolan cried when I told him she wasn’t going to make it and exclaimed “Now, I’ll never see a white egg, again!”

We don’t know what caused her death, but we’ll keep an eye on the rest of the flock and start giving them some various preventative things and hopefully all will be well.

RIP Fancy: 2016-2017

The high came last night. I came home and looked around the yard and saw a missing Buff Orpington.  A few minutes later I saw her sneak out from the shed. I glanced under and didn’t see any eggs. After dinner I went out to close the coop and that dang chicken was gone again.  There she was, under the shed. She’d gone broody. Meaning she was sitting on eggs expecting them to hatch. Um, no, honey, that’s not how nature works when there’s no rooster.

I managed to use a stick to convince her to leave. I didn’t want something getting her in the night.  She was not very happy with me and I could hear her squawking from the coop for a good 5 minutes.  Meantime, I knew there were eggs under there because that’s what broody hens do. Sit on eggs. I used a rake to pull them out.

Ya’ll.

YA’LL!

There were 23 eggs under there.  I did the egg freshness test…

and they all passed!

There were no white eggs and we’ve been getting about one white and 1-2 brown ones/day in the nesting box for a week or two as things warmed up, so my best guess is that two of the older Buff Orpingtons and Fancy were laying in the nesting box.  That means that our younger hens, Chicoletta and Little Red, must have started laying in addition to the broody Buff. I mean, how else do you have 23 still fresh eggs out there!?

Craziness!

I’m was feeling pretty disheartened about the chicken situation after Fancy and the egg find helped a little. I’m hoping to build them a new coop and run in a couple of months as it warms up and we hopefully will be putting a little less $ and energy into the rental house we’re getting ready to list.

I’m thinking something like this, with a little supervised free ranging most days.

So, that’s the latest on our ongoing chicken saga!

Mae Mae and Friends

So, how are the chickens doing?

Well, our flock currently consists of these three Buff Orpingtons.  None of which have names except the one in back that we call “hurt chicken.” She’s fine now, but got a bit messed up by Monty (our dog).  He knows better now, but thought he was playing with her and ripped some feathers (and skin) out.  After she molts in the fall we won’t be able to tell the different between these three.    None of these are from our original chicks.  We drove out to Windsor and got these after we were down to two or three.

Fancy, the one with the large comb in front, is the only original chicken left.  The two Rhode Island Reds are very new and young.  The one in front is Mae Mae and the one in back is Lil’ Red.  The White Leghorn is named Chick-O-Letta (everyone with small children will understand the reference)

We’re not getting many eggs right now.  I locked them in the fenced in area for a few days to remind them where to lay eggs because I’m sure they’re laying them somewhere, I just can’t figure out where. These ladies need to earn their keep (the three young ones aren’t of laying age, yet).

In garden news…

Here’s the update on the seeds in the house.  Appears to be only zucchini and swiss chard.  I don’t think any of the peppers or tomatoes germinated.  I’m probably going to have to find a warmer place for them.  This room used to be a garage and has a great window for sun, but doesn’t stay warm.  It’s not connected to the central heat.

Look at that beautiful zucchini seedling.  I can’t wait to chow on zucchini boats this summer.

These seeds are outside.  This container I have them in isn’t the best.  They’re angled which gives them a lot of sun, but the moisture and nutrients are draining down.

The broccoli, cauliflower, kale, spinach and such are sprouting.  Again, the tomatoes, peppers aren’t doing anything. And neither is the lettuce, which I’m learning is apparently better as a direct sow.

A little research has shown that I can plant most of my cooler weather crops now.  Kale, spinach, lettuce, onions, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, chard…all of that can go in now.  My main hesitation is that the almanac indicates that we’ll get a snow in mid-March.  I can, of course, cover the beds then, but I had hoped not to have to purchase low-tunnel materials until late summer, early fall.

I received my Lasagna Gardening book on Friday and zoomed through a lot of it before starting my beds on Saturday.

The wind and regular weekend happenings limited how much I was able to get done.  Also, my supply of newspaper.  I really wanted to use newspaper but I don’t have a regular supply of it, so I’ll have to use cardboard to finish up.

My layers are newspaper/cardboard, leaves, compost, hay, compost, top soil (not quite done with that.  Once I’m ready to plant I’ll mulch with either hay or wood chips.  I want to lay everything in the garden around the beds with wood chips, too, but I need a free supply to do that.  I’m also working on a supply of grass cutting from one of the landscapers that works in the neighborhood.

I plan to extend these rows longer, add one on the right and two or more in the back.  I really think this is going to be a perfect spot. Full sun, level, well drained soil…

 

Life on the Farm 

Okay so that may be a bit of an exaggeration. But sometimes between the dogs and the “garden” and the chickens I can slightly feel like we’ve got a little hobby farm.


I thought I’d check in and give you a quick chicken update. Josh got the coop built and they’ve been outside for a few weeks.

IMG_2932
We haven’t put the roosting boxes in, yet, because they’re still months from laying eggs.

Here’s a video of them (and the very eager dogs).

The two gold ones are named Skye and Rubble (from Paw Patrol).  One of the black ones, the one with more orange on her beak is named Phoenix.  She got her name by surviving an attack from Goliath.

We were building the fence and before we could cover the gaps on the ends goliath squeezed through in 5 seconds flat and gave that chicken quite a scare.  She had a gash on one thigh (you know you’re picturing fried chicken thighs) and some feathers missing from her tail.  We didn’t know if she’d survive the stress, but she did so we decided she would be Phoenix.

IMG_2934

We put an old bench out there and it’s very relaxing just to sit and watch the chickens.

I believe it will be September or October before we start seeing eggs.  I can’t wait!

Spring Fever

I can’t believe it’s been 3 months since I blogged.  Crazy how quickly time can get away from us.

We’ve had some really great times this winter, partially due to the crazy back and forth weather patterns.

One day we’re at the zoo in January…

20160116_140858-1-1

The next, it’s sleeting and snowing…

20160117_132311

Snow…

20160215_083548

…then warm enough to go wander around Colonial Williamsburg.

20160130_120757

We’ve even had days like this:

IMG_20160316_172443 IMG_20160316_155419

Well, Josh and Nolan did. I was at work. 🙁

Right now I’m completely over the back and forth, though. We have passes to Busch Gardens and Water Country, we’ve got camping equipment, we’ve got a little johnboat…I’m READY FOR SUMMER!!!

I’ve been working hard to get my garden going.  Trying to do it right this year, by planting seeds and getting things ready early.  I’ve got garlic, onions, green beans, carrots, cucumbers, lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, watermelon, and lots of peppers.  As usual I have no idea what I’m doing, but I’m going to keep trying.  I just wish the weather would cooperate so I could get stuff out of the ground and into the beds.

Zone 8 Virginia Garden Schedule

IMG_20160318_183633

IMG_20160318_183636

We also got chickens!!! Can you believe we finally did it!?

We got 6 hens, the max we can have in our city (no roosters).  Two of them are Buff Orringtons, two are Barred Plymouth Rock and the other two…I honestly can’t remember.  They’re living in the guest room under a heat lamp.  They have to stay there until they get their feathers (about a month) and Josh is working on the chicken coop for when they’re ready to go outside.

Oooooh! And we got a chocolate lab puppy, named Monty.

FB_IMG_1454616807066-1

He was about 10 weeks in the picture above and the one below is from Easter weekend. He’s a little over 4 months now and it’s about time for him to go to puppy school.

IMG_20160326_165229

IMG_20160315_185536

I even got all crafty and made him (them) a dog bed.

20160215_210007-1

Sure, it may have cost as much as buying one, but…at least I have a sense of satisfaction. 😉

The only other development is my obsession with Lularoe (and apparently selfies).

If you’re in the Hampton Roads area, I’m having a pop-up on April 28th.  Use the Contact Me form to shoot me an email and I’ll let you know where.

Hopefully this post will get me back in the blogging groove.  It’s gonna be a great summer and I can’t wait to share it with you!