Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Bits and Pieces

 Happenings on our teeny tiny farm.

In random order.

Our friend, Jan, gave me the secret to his cherry tomato success a couple of years ago.  Info on the two varieties he cultivated and where he bought the plants.  Honestly when he'd offer us some I'd eat them like candy.

Backstory: we had given up planting tomatoes a few years ago.  We tried in a bed and the plants withered.  Rick's sister diagnosed it as a virus in the soil.  Then we tried in large pots with new soil.  Same thing happened.  No more tomato plants for us.
Then this year someone told me about an Earthbox.  The real thing that intrigued me was the inclusion of a material that covered the soil.  Kind of like a hair net but clearly denser.  I thought if spores of some kind were drifting in from the woods into the soil, this might help stop them.  So I ordered one, went to the local farmer's market and purchased one plant of each variety.

Holy smoke.

They are now going gangbusters.

 This is from about a month ago before they turned into a total jungle.  I also planted three full size plants in those same pots I mentioned with new soil.  The cherry tomatoes in the Earthbox are doing much better.

Allow me to model the new apron I discovered at an Artisan Market in Ann Arbor (about an hour south of us) with friend Bev.  It was labeled a craft apron but with its multitude of pockets it's clearly an egg apron for me.  I always need pockets when I go out to tend to the critters and sometimes a pair of shorts (or jammies) lets me down and is pocketless.   

Remember at the beginning of the summer I put an old wooden ladder in the chicken run with some branches arranged for the hens to perch on.  And no one was buying it?  Well, what do you know the little girls started trying them out once they were integrated with the big girls.  The big girls still ignore my creative handiwork.

For a brief moment we're moving from chonkey-land to our house.
Our living room was waaaay overdue for a paint job and for the first time in 35 years we hired it done.
ta-da...  Wow, I could get used to someone else doing all the work!

Before this most recent hot spell we had some beautiful weather.  Dry, not humid, mid-70's.  Kind of perfect.  It was a good opportunity to sit out on the driveway with the donks to let them munch on long grass from a different vantage point.  They loved it.

Gabby has been bugging me since to do it again but for the moment it's just too darn hot.

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Say Yes
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Can't remember how I happened upon someone's suggestion for a sweet potato smoothie, but whatever it was I was prompted to search for a recipe.
This is darn darn good.  And filling.



Monday, August 16, 2021

Goldie Crosses the Rainbow Roost

 I'm so tired of reporting yet another death on our teeny tiny farm.

We lost Goldie sometime overnight on Saturday.  

And of course I have been plagued with the woulda, coulda, shoulda's.

So many darn things can go wrong with these little hens that I feel overwhelmed with storing all the scenarios in my head.  

On Saturday night when I locked up I saw she had deteriorated significantly through the day (we had been out of town for about seven hours) and was afraid she might not make it through the night.  And indeed she did not.  When I entered the coop on Sunday morning all the girls were abnormally subdued.  Those who have been long-time readers may remember when Dottie was fatally attacked by a hawk, I came upon the scene with the remaining girls encircling her.  All quiet.  Clearly the chickens have their own way of dealing with death amongst their flock.  

Goldie was one of the four girls we adopted through the Michigan Humane Society in August 2019 who had been rescued from a hoarding situation in Detroit.

Golda-mold (my pet name for her) had appeared lethargic in June and we administered an epsom salt soak and wormer.  She pepped up and I happily noted she was talking up a storm on a daily basis. 

Clearly we didn't fix the problem.

She was always somewhat of a loner, although she'd hang out with Fluffy (also one of the four) from time to time.

But always snuggled up with the rest of the big girls (next to Sweet Pea she was physically the largest girl in the flock) when it was time to get ready for bed.

On Saturday night when I returned to the house, in my upset state I said to Rick that I would not continue with chickens past the current group.  Done.  Tired of seeing them die.  As of this writing, to be honest I don't know if I've changed my mind.

Monday, August 2, 2021

Violet Becomes a Love Muffin

 First and foremost I'm happy to say integration of the little girls continues to cruise smoothly, mostly.  There's a bit more bickering than usual, but keep in mind there's always bickering.  You all know where the term "pecking order" came from.  And when it comes to food, nobody likes to bicker better than a bunch of chickens.

Violet is turning out to be a little love muffin.  She likes to be around me, often underfoot -- literally.  I have been put off balance on more than one occasion when she appears directly under my foot.  Amazingly she tolerates me picking her up and stroking her; this has been unheard of with our other chickens until they've been well established.

Violet and Sweet Pea are turning into my two executive assistants during morning chores

Two nights ago when I tucked everyone in for the night, the three little girls were in their chosen spots for bed and I was giving Violet a little lovin'.  Whomever was next to her apparently felt I was taking liberties and pecked me!  I had to laugh.  Don't know if it was Jewel or Henrietta.  By the way I think I'm getting better at telling the three girls apart.  Mostly by the amount of white on their tails.

We had a brief visitor to the house recently.  A friend, who happens to be a monarch butterfly expert, brought me a chrysalis that she expected to a transform in a few days.  I had it in the kitchen window to keep an eye on the development.


My friend told me what changes to look for and gave me a timeframe, but I wasn't seeing it.  Suddenly yesterday the beauty appeared.  From a simple photo my friend identified her as a female.  I took her outside where she tested her wings, then was still, then tested her wings again.  I was worried because it was going to dip down to 50 degrees overnight.  This morning she was still clinging to her little stick.  I'm guessing it was about 24 hours before I saw she had disappeared from our deck, launching on her new stage of life.  It was surprising how protective I felt after only having her in our "custody" for a few days.


And now for your amusement, I give you Sugar's version of intermittent windshield wipers.