Sunday, November 5, 2017

Pretty cool...all three kids in the same performance

A few friday's ago...was alumni night at the Delta High School football game...which meant that Chris' oldest (Hannah) could join in the band performance (she graduated a few years ago).  Was pretty cool to see all three kids on the field.  Hannah (graduate), Isabella (senior) and Isaac (freshman).

That's Isabella as field commander (on the stand leading the band) and dead center to your right of the tuba player is Isaac on the tenor sax and to your right of him is Hannah playing the trombone.

They did a great job playing and marching this night.

Nicely done kiddos!




winterizing...

Unfortunately, it's that time of year here in Northwest Ohio where we must prep for winter.  This means prep for closing all the chickens up together in the big barn.  And currently, there aren't enough laying buckets to accommodate all our hens when cooped up into the same space...so I took some time the other day to make some design changes. 

Still a work in progress (as it takes some time to figure out if the chickens will actual use what you build for them in the way you envision when you build it...always calls for some adaptations along the way). 

It's already dawned on me that I'm going to need to adjust the bottom perch because it's directly under the top perch and I don't think these gals can get to the top row.  See...adapt and overcome on the fly.  Part of the fun of creating solutions I suppose.

I have plans to add a few more of these bucket nests before winter arrives...but at least this is a start.



chick update...

My oh MY how these lil gals are growing up!  I'm not sure if it's just time is flying by...or if these girls are growing up faster than usual because they're in an outdoor pen versus being indoors in the garage during their "growing up" phase.  Regardless...they are soooo colorful and so energetic and playful. 

All of them have full feathers started and tail feathers too...fluff feathers be gone.

And more than one time I've seen one these little gals hop up on mom's back and ride around for a bit.  Cute cute.

As always...more to come.



Thursday, October 12, 2017

New LIFE!! The barn that keeps on giving....

To my shock and surprise the other day...I walked into the barn to do my usual chicken choring...and what did I see??  Momma chicken hen and her FOURTEEN baby chicks before my eyes.

WHAT?  How did I not even know I had a broody chicken?  Never saw a nest of eggs, never noticed little hen sitting for weeks on end. 

Sneaky little buggar must have been laying on her eggs up underneath some shelving where I didn't even notice.

Regardless, young mom...is proudly protecting and teaching her youngins what it means to be a chicken.  And doing it well!

So very fun to watch...cute little baby chickens and how mom "talks" to them.  She seems to be a good teacher.  I'll try to get some better photos as time goes on.  The coloring on these little gals (or at least I hope they're mostly gals) is so unique and cute as a bug.  Some our striped and some are solid.  Black Beard is a daddy!!!  Way to go BB!

The timing is a bit odd...as to why so late in the season...might be a bit of a challenge to help grow these guys up as we enter into the cold months of the year...but...as usual...I'm up for the challenge.

Thank you for this gift of life.  The bad news of our pet losses this year was getting to be too much.  I needed some GOOD news for a change!  Welcome to our little farm little ones.  Hope you like it here.

Ode to Nells...

Our little family mascot Nellie sadly passed away last week.  Who could have imagined that a goofy, spitfire little guinea pig could find her way into our hearts?  From her squealing for treats and to notify us her water or food were running low...from being able to share with her my salad bits, celery and carrots and such....from her mere presence in the corner of the living room, Nellie will surely be missed.

She took up her rightful place in the family pet cemetery last week where we laid her to rest with a reflective goodbye ceremony. Rest in peace Nells.

Thank you for sharing your little spunky, spitfire energy with us.  The corner of the living room will never be the same.







Wednesday, October 11, 2017

A dear dear friend...gone.

It is with great sorrow that I have to report we lost Dodi in May.  It's taken me this long to be able to write this little Ode to Dode.

Our little white Toy Fox Terrier Theodore, aka Dodi, (who we also affectionately called Odie, Odessa and Theodorable) died of complications from Pancreatitis this past May.  He was 6 years old. 

My oh my what a little pack-o-punch this dog was!  FULL of spunk, spit and vinegar, tenacity, yet loyal as a mother...trucker....He was the companion of companions.  Dodi most certainly filled to the fullest the definition of "man's best friend."

He LOVED to swim...kayak, camp, chase mice in the barn (never successful at catching one those buggars though), challenge Reese (our other Toy Fox Terrier) to foot races...which he always lost...but he never quit trying, pushed Reese off her sniff spots, played toy-tug-o-war (if Reese would let him), greeted me with the "happy dance ritual" every time I got home from work and sit in my chair with me to end the adventures of each day. 

We have many many stories and fond memories of stunts and crazy goofy experiences with Dodi.  Like the time he nearly exploded in Chris' arms because Reese, who was on the ground was being approached and sniffed by another dog.  Dode wasn't gonna have it.  He defended Reese to the hilt when it came to other dogs.  And then there was the time that both Dode and Reese took off across the campground one summer...only to return with the "little mutt-of-the-camp-dog" hot on Reese's tail.  Only to be fiercely chased off (teeth and toe nails flying) by Dodi.  Way to GO Dodi!!  Get him.

Needless to say...it's clear that Reese is still in mourning for the loss of her bud and companion too.  Hopefully in time this will pass. 

They were the greatest of travel buds. My how stellar both Reese and Dodi were at traveling in the car together. And on and on the list goes with the memories and joy that Dodi brought to our household.

Naturally, like any dog...he had his naughty side too. He was a grandma biter (NAUGHTY), and among many other things... he was masterful at finding dog treats left in the car if we went into the store...totally devoured by the time we returned, evidence on the floor board...and masterfully he managed to get Reese blamed for the treasonous act.  Hah.  Made us laugh that one.

Oh how I miss this little white buddy of a dog.  Rest in peace Dode.  Come around for a visit any time you wish.  Thank you for sharing your joy with us.  You made us better people because of it.  Who knew a dog could teach you what unconditional love is.




Saturday, September 23, 2017

Thank you for a fantastic garden harvest!

A very special thank you and shout out to mother nature and nature's oversee-ers for a very successful and rich garden harvest!!

We had two "beef" tomato plants, four zucchini plants, two cucumber plants, various herbs and a cherry tomato plant.

For the first time we can remember...in a VERY long time...the tomatoes are SO very tasty this year! The flavors back!!  We have dozens of cucumbers, dozens of zucchini and buckets of tomatoes.

We have given many fresh garden gifts to others...so we weren't alone in experiencing our harvest.

I've even been able to make not one...but TWO...zucchini pies!  Yum!!  (Thanks mom for the recipe!) Zucchini pie is sort of like a quiche ...has chopped zucchini, onion, shredded cheese, oregano, basil, egg and mustard...all sauteed and poured onto a homemade crust. Then baked for 30 minutes.

Next year...I think I'll also try planting some sweet corn.  I also have plans for growing broom corn too.

I'm going to try and save some seeds from these tomatoes and create a do-over of this great variety next year.

Thank you mother nature for sharing your bounty with us!

the passing of a barnyard legend

Such a bummer to report that in July we lost our legendary male turkey...Tommy. (Yes, not the most original name for a tom turkey ...noted).

Tommy was approaching 5 years old...which for a turkey I imagine is a pretty stellar life!  He started to show signs of his aging...he developed a cataract in his left eye which eventually covered that eye completely...and it began to effect his ability to navigate around the barnyard.

July 4th I walked in the barn to feed and water everyone...and found him face down on the floor in the straw...as if he just layed down and that was it.  I worried that some predator would take him down...so I'm at least happy that he passed peacefully...and simply from old age.  He was always very healthy and spry...until his final months when his eyesight started to be effected.

We miss seeing him poof and gobble around.  We also miss the wild male turkeys that used to come around and hassle him in the Spring in a effort to gain courtship rights with Tom's female turkey (Sugar Pea...she passed in 2016).

So...rest in peace Tom.  He's now a member of the pet cemetery...with his own solar light.

introducing....Leg-o-Lot

We inherited a new rooster some months ago. He joined our flock primarily because he was young...and needed a home.  (He's one of those roosters that got caught up in the city ordinance scenario...sorry folks...you can't have chickens here (city limits)...especially roosters...so he was gifted to us (country life).

I named him after the Lord of the Rings character Legolas...adapted to reference his incredible long legs...tada...meet Leg-o-Lot!

At first he was shy...and stand-offish.  But it didn't take him long to learn his role of "protector of the realm".

He wasn't competition for the older rooster (Blackbeard) because they were in separate partitioned chicken runs. I did worry that Blackbeard might jump the fence and then pirate pummel Leg-o-Lot...which turns out that did happen...but only once...so they must have worked things out amongst themselves.

Now some months later, Leg-o-Lot jumps the fence and visits the "cougars".  And Blackbeard jumps the fence and visits the "college girls".

Two roosters are plenty to balance our flock of 35 hens. So if you're looking to re-home your rooster...you'll have to check with another farm. We're full up.


Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The chicks aren't so little any more

from chick to pullet to...

They've started laying!!!

It always make me smile when young chickens start to lay eggs.  They start out really small...the eggs.  Just a little bit smaller than a golf ball usually...then...over time...the eggs get bigger and bigger.  Sometimes they go through a short double yoke stage too before they settle into "normal sized" egg layers.

It's a fun process.  So long as I can keep the predators at bay...but that's info for a different post.  I'm in the process now of "integrating" the old girls with the youngins in preparation for winter...when they have to be kept all in one barn together (because of the cold temps and snow).

So far so good...they all seem to be adjusting to the reordering of things.

I'll be posting here soon about our new rooster...who you can see in the background of the below image.  More soon...

all grown up

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.

2017 Great Backyard Bird Count loads of fun!














Here's my official backyard tally from February 18, 2017 between 4:35p-4:50p ET.

3  Morning Dove
2  Black-capped Chickadee (shown above)
2  Easterm Bluebird (1 male, 1 female)
1  Field Sparrow
2  House Finch
1  Hairy Woodpecker


Since February other songbirds that have returned or that's I've spotted around our backyard feeders or in our general area since February are:

Red Robin
Red-winged Blackbird
Tufted Titmouse
Cardinal
Downy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
American Crow
Starling
Junco
Turkey Vulture
Red-tailed Hawk
Killdeer

Welcome back feathered friends!!!!
And now to watch the nesting boxes and see who claims which ones.

More updates to come.


Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Join the 2017 Great Backyard Bird Count!
















So here's a cool thing I just stumbled upon.  According to http://gbbc.birdcount.org/about/

"Launched in 1998 by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society, the Great Backyard Bird Count was the first online citizen-science project to collect data on wild birds and to display results in near real-time.

Now, more than 160,000 people of all ages and walks of life worldwide join the four-day count each February to create an annual snapshot of the distribution and abundance of birds."

And anyone can participate! Here's the scoop...

The Great Backyard Bird Count
February 17-20, 2017

For at least 15 minutes on one or more days of the count, February 17-20, 2017, simply tally the numbers and kinds of birds you see. You can count from any location, anywhere in the world, for as long as you wish! Then submit your info to eBird.

Click here for more info on how to get started.

I'll post here what I count from Feb 17-20.  All winter we've been seeing lots of titmouse, black-capped chickadee, various woodpeckers and all sorts of other cool birds!