Saturday, April 29, 2017

It's a birthday tradition...

Sort of accidentally started this last year for my birthday...a morning campfire.  Can you think of a BETTER way to start one's birthday??

Here's last years morning campfire.  Taken in Kentucky on our way back from vacation in Tennessee.
Obviously it was a little chilly in April, 2016.


Here's this years morning campfire.  Taken on a mini-vaca in northeast Indiana.
Obviously not nearly as chilly this April.




Yeah for a new birthday tradition!!  The morning campfire! Happy Birthday ME!





 



mail order chicks!

In an effort to continue providing a "friendly" barnyard atmosphere...I decided to stack the deck in our favor for this upcoming summer.  Based upon the experience of having a black australorp hen a few years back...and that she was super friendly and that she hatched and raised two different groups of babies...that set me on some research.  Come to find out black australops are known to be broody (will sit on their eggs until hatched) and are very friendly birds.  Yes please.  And note here I also had read similar info about buff orpingtons.  So why not get some of both?

Back in March when I was looking into this, none of the local feed suppliers had either of these breeds in stock to sell. (March begins chick selling season).  So after some additional research I found Meyer Hatchery located here in our fair state of Ohio. 

After a few clicks of the mouse and some payment info...I had mail ordered 10 black australorps and 10 buff orpington pullets (female chicks).

A few days later I received a phone call from the local post office that our chicks had arrived and to please come pick them up...so off I went.

Seems as if the shipping of baby chicks has improved over the years.  The quality of the shipping box for one had improved...very sturdy...and for two there was a little heating pack in the bottom of the box to keep these young ones warm...hence...alive until we got them.

Was super fun to walk into the local post office and here our chicks peeping around the corner.  The window clerk commented, "I was just getting used to hearing them cheep."

Reese made sure that no one escaped on the drive home.

The sound of little birds cheeping kept Reese's attention the whole way home.  I had to work at keeping her from standing on the box.






Then of course was the "unveiling"...I thought for sure we might have at least one dead one...but no...everyone survived!

It's certainly obvious who's who in the photo below.








This was all back during the first week of April.

My oh MY how fast they are growing!  And I'm very pleased to say so far...all of them have survived and appear very strong and healthy (which usually one or two die in their youngest days...so extra kudos to Meyer Hatchery for healthy chicks!)

Here's the latest picks. So fun to watch them grow feathers and zip around and stretch their wings.






More chick updates to come...


Saturday, March 25, 2017

Mission accomplished!

Like many places in the country...yesterday was gorgeous here in Northwest Ohio.  Sunny and 70!  So what does one do in Northwest Ohio when it's sunny and 70?  Grab the dogs and head to the woods!

We walked and we walked and we walked...so much so...that my mission of wearing out the dogs...coupled with my need to get into the woods...was very successful!

As you can see in this photo below...both dogs are like....pleeeeaaaaseeee can we go home now!  Hah...we still had about 30 minutes of walking after I took this photo.

We're back to overcast and meh today...but...my cup is full for now...and is giving me ample opportunity to update things here on the blog.

Cheers!  Until next time...

Realtime backyard birdhouse laboratory

The backyard birdhouse laboratory!
I built five new birdhouses last year with the intent to sell them to anyone seeking coolio birdhouses...but just haven't gotten around to photographing and pricing and all that hubb-a-loo.

So last night I decided instead to put three of those new five out in my own backyard birdhouse laboratory and "test" the new designs.

Birdhouse FAIL 2016
These three houses are yet another do-over from a birdhouse that didn't function (show above... no bird couple claimed it for their nesting purposes last year which I interpretted to mean ...FAIL).  I figured that wild birds probably must not be real keen on having an upstairs and downstairs flat-mate...so I opted to split this one into three parts.

Here's what the birdhouse above became....I like these much better. Let's hope the birds do.

New birdhouse #1



New birdhouse #2



New birdhouse #3

pecking order adjustment bureau...


If you've followed this blog for any period of time...you know that up until recently we've had no rooster amongst the hens.  It's been a few months since we "fired" all our previous roosters and things have settled in the barn a bit.  Although I have noticed that there has been some fighting in the hen ranks (pecking order adjustments per the unwritten rules manual of chickens).

So the other day I decided maybe we should re-introduce a rooster back into the mix and maybe his presence might settle any differences that may still be brewing amongst the girls.

Craigslist to the rescue.  Found a most beautiful Ameraucana rooster at a nearby farm. Off we went to make the deal and pick him up the first of this week.

He's settling in nicely it seems.  (The photo above was taken moments after we put him in with the girls. He didn't waste any time finding his way around the perches). He is skiddish and shy when I come around (which I'm completely fine with...no sign of him being aggressive or one of those roosters you have to carry a stick around, YEAH!)


I haven't seem him shag any of our hens just yet...that might take some time...and I'm sure they'll figure this out.  His crow is nice and strong but not annoying like some we've had in the past.

Hopefully he will prove to be a nice addition to the barnyard metrics...add some balance and calming energy to the mix...and will inspire a fun name. 

All roosters must have a name of course.  More to come on that...


Friday, March 17, 2017

glad I'm not a weather forecaster...

Hmmm, well...seems as if they've missed the last couple. I'm sure it's not easy calculating a guess as to what the weather may do from day-to-day....but the last couple guesses were big forecasting fails.

First it was that we were gonna get hammered with snow last weekend...when PA and NY got hammered instead and today the guess was freezing rain....with a wintry mix.  Pfffft. Today?  Let's just say SNOW.  About an inch and a half fell in about as much time...an hour and a half.  (which in the big scheme of real snow as in Ohio snow...one and a half inches ain't nothing...but still)

Regardless...it's forecasted to warm above freezing throughout the day...so...with any luck...this will all melt off and we'll be back at our normal driving speeds before we know it.

We all knew that mother nature wasn't through with wintry curve balls...so goes the weather.  Glad I haven't taken those concrete blocks out of the back of my truck just yet...

Another birdhouse do-over

The version that the Starlings claimed



















As I spoke of on my website homepage...I wasn't really thrilled to have the Starlings pick one of my earliest birdhouse creations as home to raise their offspring last year.  So...I'd been pondering on capping the entry to make it smaller...therefore averting the ability for Starlings to enter...and hopefully bluebirds might claim it this season.

Apparently (based simply upon my observations) songbirds return each year to the same place to raise the next seasons young. Who knew?  This does make sense to me since it has to be HARD enough to be a wild feathered flyer trying to raise some of the most fragile little things to adulthood...so why not tweak the deck in your favor and if you were successful the year before...repeat the same exact thing.  Go back to the same nesting spot from the previous year.  Duh.

The new capped version
Well, I capped the house.  (note also that I removed the branch perch...perches seem to allow for other birds to attack into birdhouses that aren't theirs)

Then the Starlings returned.  I spotted them in a nearby tree and on the roof of this house seemingly a little distressed.  Spotted the same Starlings in a Mexican standoff of sorts with the newly returned Bluebirds.  Each perched opposite one another on one of three birdhouses nearby that are within 6 feet of each other. 

None of the entry holes of any of these houses are big enough either for the Starling (designed this way on purpose of course...now that I know this is a pertinent detail to attraction specific songbirds to nest)...although they did try to enter a few with no success.

I haven't seen the Starlings lurking around since all this played out a few weeks ago...but the Bluebirds have been back a few times as if to monitor and secure claim to their nesting spots from last year.

I'm not sure if another bird species will try to nest in my newly adapted birdhouse, since Starlings are known to not be nice to other birds.  Will other birds stay clear of this house because they remember who nested in this last year?  Not sure...but time will tell.  Spring is upon us.