Friday, July 22, 2011

The Chicken Corner

Melon vines and corn sprouts

~July 13th. (I'm behind posting things.) G says we have a WALL of tomatoes getting ready to ripen during the week next week. Oh yum!

The new balloon flower, marigolds, etc

From ~July 13th.
A few photos of the lovely things G has been battling to keep alive with hoses and heroic effort. The new soft pink balloon flower. The marigolds that I planted as seeds. And ditto, nasturtium sprouts.

165 drops of rain

Wednesday evening--yes, a few more drops. Enough to texture the ground and wet the leaves under the trees. More, please! More...

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Scarlett - Leghorn - Hatched ~ 10 May 2011

From the very beginning, Scarlett was extremely curious and independent. Had plenty of spirit. And was neurotic about pecking anything and everything.

31 May. She looks awful. Not only because her feathers are coming in and they all look scraggly, but you can’t tell—her crop is bulging out. We spent nearly a week bracing ourselves for her to die at any moment.I massage it. Dip her beak in olive oil several times a day. We feed her boiled egg and flax meal and yogurt and worms—anything we could think of to keep her going. She had plenty of spirit through the whole thing, except for that first couple of days (over a weekend, right?) ... she did look miserable (might have been in the early stages of starving?)

3 June she is still scraggly; looks like she may have been pecked and be a little bloody. But I think we wiped it and—though we’ve heard horror stories of chickens shredding each other—this was the last we saw of it.

13 June – still has a huge bulge, but we’ve stopped thinking she is going to die any moment. G has done some reading; they make hen bras!

She who Should Have Been Queen. She will tell you—just ask her. If she hadn’t had been stricken with whatever it was, she’d have been Top Hen. As it is of course, we’re just glad she’s alive. She continues to be a solid third smaller than everyone else. But she has tons of spirit and tons of personality. She might be the runt, but she insists on respect. She’s smart as a whip. She was able to fly up on top of the roost box the other day, where she found some extra food! She continues to be more agile than everyone else because of her small size—so she has made full use of that.

Where do crickets come from?

Gloria purchasing 10 small ones at 7-cents each for chicken entertainment begs the question. Where do crickets come from? The person at the pet store said he was going to get a shipment of larger ones mid-week, did she want to wait.

Shipment of crickets?! (Oh Mr Google?!)

136 drops (a tiny bit of rain)

For the most part the clouds are still taunting us. In truth, we're grateful for anything we get... Saturday late afternoon: 36 drops. Sunday afternoon: 136. Yesterday: 10. We have high hopes for today--50% this afternoon into this evening. Other parts of the state have gotten lots of rain, and are now facing flash flooding dangers, particularly the areas that have been ravaged by fire. As Gloria said, the last month has been one disaster after another--Get the fire hose/ get the fire hose quick/ No, wait--get your canoe. We're going to be carried away on the flood waters! The temperatures have subsided at last; that is SO merciful. Back to the low 90s instead of busting 100 every day.

Have Lost Track of Time
At some level I knew this was going to happen: 'you think you will remember but you don't.' How many GROWING SEASONS does this make? I want to say 4...

Yard and Garden News
We tend to run late in almost everything we do. So true to form, we snuck in some late season zinnias, planted a package of mixed coleus seeds (a handful have finally poked through and are starting to swell a little), ditto some dark red ("mahogany") nasturtiums, and Osuna nursery actually had a few (sort-of small, over-priced) balloon flowers. We bought a lovely pale pink one; went right home and got it into the ground up front by the choke cherry and big mound of catmint. The sunflowers and bachelor's buttons on the west side along the fence are looking great. G put in bee balm--it is huge and has gorgeous flowers. The climbing rose has gotten huge in just 2 seasons, even with our brutal winter. The trumpet vine is blooming. The desert willow, the rose of sharon, the lilacs, and the chaste tree all came back. The red bud, the butterfly bush and the bird of paradise were all badly damaged but survived. (The volunteer "tree" has grown like a weed. We continue to be amazed by it.)

G has gotten several cups of blackberries. (That damned spiky thing. But boy are they tasty.) Our potatoes and corn are coming along. And the tomatoes are predictably exploding: covered in tiny, drought-defying yellow blossoms and as of this morning, dotted with young fruit that was finally big enough to spot without squinting. Gloria handed me 2 or 3 tiny orange cherry tomatoes Sunday afternoon... so I guess without a lot of ceremony, we've eaten our first tomato of the season. On the whole, it's a great relief to get past the planting and weeding phase of the summer and ease into the growing phase. We were almost giddy last weekend when we realized we could do something for fun--that we could take half a day off from tending the garden and chickens!

One last tidbit--think we are finally bonding with the tiny new solar pump I ordered to replace our last one (RIP). This one has battery and a ring of little led lights that came with it. We initially thought the lights were hokey, but the last several evenings we have sat outside on the bench watching the wind through the trees and enjoying the relative quiet that falls after dusk. We have turned on the fountain and plugged in the lights, burying them at the back in the rocks. It's lovely. A play of quicksilver in tune with the lazy splash of water. *Oh, and on my second try, I finally was able to plug up the bottom of the clay bowl so that it will fill. If at first you don't succeed...*

Odd music question:
Roughly speaking, what is chicken tempo? Yes they are thriving! More on that presently. Yesterday G went to Clarks and bought crickets for them. The 4 big girls were terrified--their chicken eyebrows flew up and they literally jumped back in alarm. Scarlett the gimp on the other hand, spotted them in the bag and was poised. She dived on them instantly, and crammed as many as she could fit into her beak before sneaking off to devour them properly. G says she was bristling with legs and antennae. Non sequitur: Gloria found a list of plants NOT to give chickens. We were a little disappointed to find that morning glories are NOT good for them. (I had hopes of using those for shade and color. Oops. Will probably concentrate on bean vines instead.)