Sunday, July 24, 2016

Death of One Chipmunk, Life of Another

Yesterday when I was picking raspberries I got quite a shock as I reached up to pick a berry and saw the dead body of a chipmunk that had become tangled in the bird net over the berries. He had hung to death in the netting because he panicked and tried to push forward through the net instead of using his legs to push back the way he came. I cut him out of the net and checked the body to be sure it was not a nursing mother that might have left a nest of young nearby. It was a male, so I set his body in the woods to feed some other wild creature, perhaps the barred owl I hear at night. The dead chipmunk stayed on my mind and made me a bit sad because it must have been such a frightening and terrible struggle until the end.

Tonight another little chipmunk let me get very close to her to photograph her. She stayed very still and watched me closely. I wonder if she was his mate. I took some photos,  at one point I apparently got too close and she dashed off. I feel grateful to be left with much happier images in my mind tonight. Thanks, little creature for letting me get so close to you.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Chicken Rush Hour & Fancy Pool Steps

Below is a short video of the girls being let out of the coop this morning. We slept late this morning and they were all itching to get out!

I forgot if I posted photos of their finished run so I will post a couple here. The plan was to let them free range outside of the enclosure during the day as soon as they got used to coming back in to the coop at night. Well they put themselves to bed in the coop like clockwork every night but I am afraid to let them out of the enclosure during the day because of some local dogs that are occasionally allowed to run free in our area. It would break my heart of they were attacked by a dog. 

My legs still are not strong enough to easily use the cheap ladder that came with the pool so we bought upgraded steps that go into the pool and Don put them together today. It's never as simple as you think it's going to be LOL.

 Yup, sweetie, you are my super hero!

 Each side panel needs to be filled with 20 pounds of sand to weight the steps down in the pool

Below is a video of Don putting the steps loaded with 40 pounds of sand in the pool. Ya gotta love when I ask him "Is it heavy?" 

Really happy to see this flimsy, cheap ladder that came with the pool go!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

The 7 Breeds of Chickens in Our Flock

The girls and a couple of roos are growing so fast and their adult feathers are so lovely. Here are some shots of a few of them. The breeds we have include:
Black Australorp
Barred Rock
Silver Laced Wyandotte
Buff Orpingtons
New Hampshire Red

 The Welsummers are absolutely beautiful. I need to get a better shot that shows the coloring and markings on their backs.

One of the Black Australorp girls starting to show that lovely blue/black in her feathers. The Australorps are by far the most friendly and curious in our flock.

Who doesn't love the striking pattern of a Silver Laced Wyandotte

A New Hampshire Red. In the past we have had lots of Rhode Island Reds so this time I thought we would try the NH girls. We ordered a NHR roo too. 

A black Turken AKA Naked Neck. The Turken's are very friendly and curious too.

A Buff Turken - Naked Neck

 This gal is one of the Barred Plymouth Rocks. They are a bit more shy.

 A Welsummer and a Silver Laced Wyandotte

A Buff Orpington having a drink. We ordered to Buff girls and one Roo. We want them for their broody nature to hatch out chicks for us. They are the shyest chickens in our flock. 

 We don't know what breed this one is. It is not one that we ordered so it's a mystery. I think it is really beautiful what ever it is. If you know what it is please leave a comment below. Same bird in the photo below and the color is more accurate in the photo below. More buff than red. 

See note on above photo about this mystery bird. 

 Traffic jam at the door to the coop

 Excuse me! No parking!!

 The girls hanging around the water cooler

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Dragonflies of Henwood Hill

I drove up to the Henwood Hill preserve today and chased after dragonflies with my camera. I got a few shots of a Blue Dasher and a Halloween Pennant. It was incredible windy so even when they landed on a plant or a blade of grass the wind blew it around so much that it was hard for my camera to grab a focus. 

 Pretty Blue Dasher on a blade of grass

Blue Dasher Dragonfly

Blue Dasher on a lily pad

 Halloween Pennant Dragonfly

  Halloween Pennant Dragonfly

 Halloween Pennant Dragonfly

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Salvaging Treasures From a Local Deconstruction

There was a really unsightly cement block building across the road from us. It is the only building that can be seen from our road other than our house and barn. It was falling apart and had become dangerous so the owner of the property decided to tear it down. She is selling a lovely house on the property and the cinderblock building decreased the value. A company called Deconstruction Works came and tore it down and Don bought the hemlock roof rafters from them. Our neighbor Tom bought the balance of the lumber to build a sauna with. 

Don told the deconstruction team that we had a spot for clean fill so they dumped all the cinderblocks in an area by our barn that we are filling in to make a bigger barnyard. It was win-win all the way around and I am so happy that this ugly building is now gone!

Don will push back the blocks and cover them with soil eventually. I imagine we will stockpile some to use for future projects.

These are the hemlock roof rafters Don purchased. He was able to purchase them for less than it costs us to cut and mill our own trees into lumber. 

 In between building a goat barn, chicken coop & outdoor run, tending 36 chickens, putting up a pool, and gathering salvaged goods, it is raspberry season so I've been busy picking and freezing berries. We are not getting as good of a berry harvest as we did last year. I'm wondering if others are finding that to be true this year as well.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

The Chickens First Day Outside!

We FINALLY finished the chicken run today, well almost, we just have some more wire to put on the top to protect them from hawks. It was brutally hot working on the run so we took breaks to swim in the pool and cool down. In the end it was worth it though because it was the girls first day out of the coop and watching them scratch, explore and stretch their wings was awesome.

Hanging with the girls, later in the day, while they explore their new surroundings.The  Black Australorp in my lap is so darn friendly.

 In the morning I was stapling the cleats onto the ramp to give the chickens better footing. It is a long steep ramp. 

 We had started out with just the board on the left but I wanted it wider since it was so high off the ground at the top. That is why that side has double cleats.

They tore down a cinderblock garage next door and we got some of the salvaged hemlock and a ton of cinderblocks to use as fill (More on that in tomorrows blog post). We used the hemlock as cross beams and uprights to support the chicken wire roof on the run.

 Support system for the chicken wire roof that will protect the pullets from hawks. 

As you can see by the sweat on Don's back it was HOT working in the sun today. 

Their first steps out into the great outdoors. First on the narrow ramp and then on the improved wider ramp below.

 It took a while before they were all brave enough to come out. 

 Chatting with my girls

This Black Australorp is so darn friendly. She always wants to be in your lap. 

 Don chatting with the girls

 I even made them a chicken swing and Don tried to get one of them to try it out. 

I loved seeing them all outside

Cooling off in the pool afterwards was heavenly!