Summertime!

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Glory be! Its HOT here! I just spent a couple of hours in the garden weeding and checking the watering system, and fixing the timer. Fun times. And here are my words of wisdom for you this week:

Growing old is not for the faint of heart.

And that’s all I got to say about that.

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When its so hot its hard to work up any enthusiasm for going to the nursery, much less actually buying plants and bringing them home to try and keep them alive. So right now I’m more focused on garden equipment LOL. I got a new hose THAT IS AMAZING. I got so tired of the Costco “kinkless” hoses constantly kinking. So I asked Sallye at the garden center if she would order me a good hose. She ordered me the same hose that they use at their nursery, a Gilmore Super Duty Flexogen. It was expensive, but so worth it for the lack of frustrating kinks. And Sallye says it really lasts a long time.

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The chicks are growing quickly in this heat. First I opened up the whole house to them. And then I turned their lamp off when it started getting so hot. They are almost fully feathered now, and look more like tiny bedraggled adult chickens. I watch them closely for signs of rooster behavior (I ordered all hens, but they don’t guarantee 100% accuracy.)

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That one that I claimed was a Rhode Island Red rooster the first week? That is my new best friend. So I’m hoping against hope that he is a hen 🙂 He comes running to the door when I open it, and enjoys hopping up on my hand and getting an aerial view of everything.

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They are fascinated by anything shiny, which I guess includes light spots.

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I was proud that I figured out how to build them a lower perch. And I found scraps of wood to make little steps for their ramp. They would climb up the ramp halfway and then slide back down.

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Of course, its always fun to find a higher spot to roost on…

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And they still do the same thing–“oh look, there’s something fascinating here, come look! come look!”

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And that’s how it goes around here. I am (literally) limping towards the finish line. I guess that’s a good thing. Because if it didn’t hurt to walk, I would probably back out of the knee surgery. They moved my pre-op appointment up a week. It will be good to get more answers to some of my questions.

 

The Chicks, Week 3

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At just three weeks of age, the chicks have entered that gawky teenage stage. That’s what I call it anyway. Feathers are coming in, but not all the way. there are still odd patches of down here and there. Just enough to make them look unkempt. Not so cute anymore. But they still provide me with hours of fun, just watching their antics.

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Look everybody! There’s something very interesting here.

Remember how all the chickens were trying to escape their yard in Chicken Run? That’s what my babies are like. constantly straining their necks to try to see over the top of the cardboard. They “fly” up to the top of the waterer and try to see over the top. They run and flap their wings.

And then this happened:

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Yes, one of them, well, actually several of them, made it to the top of their cardboard surround. So that made my decision a little easier. I HAD to let them out of their cardboard nursery, and out into the big world of the chicken coop.

I still have a cardboard barrier to keep them away from the door, but that will probably go tomorrow. One of them has already flown over the top of it.

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After they got over the shock of their world being made larger (there was lots of squawking and carrying on as I worked as quietly as I could to fix up the coop and take away the cardboard,) they were VERY interested in this big new world.

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They are endlessly interested in climbing the ramp (that will eventually allow them to go outside.)

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They still find “things” to be fascinated with, and they do love scratching in their pine shavings.

My favorite baby is still alive, and she eats and drinks regularly. She just isn’t growing as fast as the others.

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And that’s the chicken report for this week.

The Garden

I imagine that some of you think I have abandoned the garden in favor of my chicken duties. Not so. But the garden seems to be in one of those in-between stages, and there didn’t seem much to share with you. So this morning I headed out with my camera to see what there was to see.

There are some places where I am not fighting mother nature. This little bed has always been difficult to get things to grow in. Some of the fairy impatiens popped up here, and I decided to just let them stay.

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Just above that little bed is the shade garden. Finally, one of my heucheras is doing well. I added a little begonia and am trying impatiens again. I used to have a lot of success with them, but haven’t tried much in the past few years. That is my first hosta behind the impatiens.

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I changed out this sun garden. It used to have the big patch of carnations in the middle of it. I think I over-pruned the carnation last fall and killed it. Anyway, I found a small baby’s breath plant for the center, and then got some of my favorite white marigolds. I got a six-pack of pansies called “waterfall blend” that had various blues/violets/whites and planted them in there. And finished off with some new sweet alyssum in a crystal blend. Some of the white sweet alyssums still come back outside the planter. Oh, I also have some columbine planted at the back of this planter. I don’t think they’ll bloom until next year.

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Just above that I have some pansies (Noah seems to have finally tired of eating all the pansies.) I planted a few zinnias in between to take over when it gets too hot for the pansies.

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I’ve gotten a few grasses. I bought a six pack of  fescue grass for the patchwork path, and there were three leftover, so I just popped them in the ground next to the violet path. They seem to like it there.

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I found this fiber optic grass. I had it several years ago and loved it. So I’m excited to have it again.

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Next to the fiber optic grass I planted these Starry Night petunias! Aren’t they spectacular?

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The petunia breeders seem to be having a heyday breeding so many different colors. I couldn’t resist getting this one at the nursery today. Not because I like brown and white flowers, but because it is named Latte! How could I not get it?

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I planted some extra snapdragons in this front bed. See the short ones that are just starting to bloom? That’s because Noah mowed that plant down. There’s something to be said for his unplanned pruning! Oh, and I planted some lupines in here. They are growing well. I’m thinking they are another one that won’t bloom until next year.

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Walking back over to the other side of the garden, I passed the hydrangea bushes. this is the very first bloom just starting.

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And I couldn’t resist including this Japanese maple. It is so vibrant and green. All the plants are loving our wetter climate this year!

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On my very last trip to pick up the last stones for our projects, I let myself buy this heart shaped stone. I like seeing it every time I walk by.

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I don’t think I showed you my newest bonsai tree. I bought it at my last bonsai class a few weeks ago. Its a little elm tree.

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Here is my bonsai bench.

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And here is a new project. One day I realized that I never sat out in my garden. And I thought, the place I really like looking at is right out my bedroom window. That is a nice sized area that is relatively flat. I thought it might be a nice place for a patio. So I talked to J. the Contractor, and sure enough, he has experience doing patios too. He has done colored and stamped cement. So that is a project for next year. I am also going to have him do something with that old cattle gate there–put in some kind of decorative fence and gate. And maybe build some benches for my bonsai. In the meantime, I decided to move some of my chairs out there to see if I would like it. MLG spread some of the shredded cedar there to keep the dust down. It is a very nice place to sit, and the chairs are in the shade for most of the day, which is a big plus!

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Well, how about that. I did have a lot to share with you this week! I hope everyone is enjoying their weekend.

The Chicks, Week Two

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Well, it was a very intense and eventful first week. We had a total loss of four baby chicks. The company was very nice and offered to replace the two that died in the first 48 hours. I was excited about that at first, but when I realized that the replacements wouldn’t arrive for a month, and I would have to do the baby thing all over again, I decided I didn’t want to do that. So I went to the Feed Barn to see if they had some chicks I might want. They did! They had Dominiques, which are a fairly rare breed, one that originated in the colonies. They look similar to Barred Rocks. They were the same age as my chicks, so they fit in without any problems. That black chick in the front (up above) is one of the Dominiques. They will end up black and white striped.

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You can see the chicks are already sprouting quite a few feathers. From my previous experience with baby chicks, these feathers are not always the color that they will end up being as adults.

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This chick (above) is that Appenzeller–the national chicken of Switzerland. They have a little topknot, and you can see that starting to sprout. They end up white with black dots.

Chicks at the feeder:

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You can see a couple of the chicks with feathers on their feet in this picture:

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The chicks are VERY interested in that little hole in the cardboard. If one chick looks at something, a bunch of them crowd around to see what’s so interesting.

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Here is my favorite chick–the silvery one in the picture below. Of course, there is something wrong with her. I think it is some internal or genetic abnormality. I was sure she was going to die, but in the past few days she seems to be making her way in the world, finding food and water. (This is why I became a neonatal nurse. I am always drawn to the weakest, most hopeless cases 🙂 )

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More feathers. This one in front is a Speckled Sussex:

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Something is happening over here? what is it? Is it food? Is it an escape route?

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If I jump on top of the feeder, I am closer to the top. Something very important is on the other side of this wall!

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Time for bed. The chicks are so funny. It takes them a while to settle down, but then they all seem to agree its time to sleep.

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There is always one straggler at bedtime.

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And that’s week two of the chick report. Soon they will figure out how to fly over the top of their enclosure, and I will have to decide whether to allow them to roam the whole coop, or to put a wire top on their cardboard kingdom.

 

The Chicks Have Landed!!

My baby chicks were born on Monday morning in Ohio! I watched the online USPS tracking so carefully. I was much more nervous about these chicks than I was the last time I ordered them (probably more than 10 years ago.)

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Sure enough, right at 7am on Wednesday morning, I got the call from the post office–my chicks had arrived! I had already been up for several hours, and was dressed and ready to go out the door!

Back in the chicken coop, their light had already been on for a whole day, so their “brooder” was nice and warm. I took each one out, dipped its beak in the water dish, and showed them where their food was. Sadly, one little baby didn’t make it. But that is so much better than my imagination, where I thought that half of them would arrive dead! The box they came in had straw in the bottom, with one of those chemical warmers below it to keep them warm.

See that green stuff there? That’s called gro-gel. Its supposed to help them with electrolytes and hydration–hey, just like the gel things that runners use 🙂 They really liked it.

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Here is my favorite chick–that silvery grey one with feathers on her feet. I ordered some blue cochins. The color blue does not breed true in chickens–some will come out black, some blue, and some “splash”–a combo of black and white. In my imagination, she is the perfect blue cochin (cochins are the fluffy ones with feathers on their feet.)DSCN5154

This shot shows the two Polish chicks–they are the ones who have feather topknots when they grow up. You can see they already have funny little round crowns on their heads.

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I think they snuck in a Rhode Island Red Rooster on me. I ordered three New Hampshire Reds, which I think are a nicer bird–much calmer. This little guy is redder, and very bossy.

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The brown splotchy chicks are Speckled Sussex, and the kind of mottled beige/grey ones are Appenzeller Spitzhauben–the national chicken of Switzerland! They end up white with black dots on them.

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Its been a pretty intense couple of days. I run out and check on them numerous times a day. And honestly I just enjoy sitting there watching them. I brought one of my comfy patio chairs into the coop to sit on. Several of the chicks got “pasty butt.” Its just what you imagine. Their little poops turn to HARD PASTE, and then it glues their little bottom shut, and it can kill them. So all the books say to use a wet cloth to remove the paste. But it is really hard, and of course sticks to their down. I don’t like doing it, and kept thinking, if this was one of my neonatal babies, we’d put something on them to protect their little butts. Well, I called the company, and asked if there was anything else I could do for pasty butt, and guess what?! The lady said to put a little dab of vaseline on there. How about that? As of this morning, all the little pasty butts look like they are cured!

Yesterday we had one more fatality. I checked the chicks–all looked fine and lively,  and then left for a couple of hours to go to the gym and to get the all important vaseline. When I came home, one of the chicks wasn’t moving, and it wasn’t even one of the ones who had pasty butt. I tried to give it a little water, but it died shortly after. That is the way with chickens. Unfortunately, it was one of the more expensive chicks, and one I really wanted (well, LOL, I want all of them.) Anyway, it was one of the Copper Black Marans, which lay dark chocolate brown eggs. I still have two of them, and hopefully they will both make it.

And that’s the chicken report for today. I’m sure there will be another update soon 🙂

Noah’s Turn

HELLO TO MY WORLD WIDE FANS! I heard that a few of you were concerned about not seeing me in the blog world for a while. No worries, no worries. Its just easier for the lady to take pictures of the pesky mites because they stay in the building 99% of the time.

THIS is my kingdom. The entire outdoors. What more could a big dog want? While the self-appointed Queen scrambles to keep her inside kingdom in order, I have the outdoor universe all to myself.

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I keep a close watch for enemy activity. There is particularly suspicious activity in this direction.

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But I also keep watch the other direction as well. You never know where an enemy attack might come from. MUST BE ON ALERT AT ALL TIMES.

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Ha! Sometimes I watch from my camouflaged location.

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The lady provides fresh water in my favorite king-sized bowl.

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OH! Excuse me fans! What seems to be going on over there??

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The viscous pugs have decided to play!!

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Maybe I’ll join in the activity!

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Oh. That ended quickly. They’re back to the inside kingdom.

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And here, folks, is my magnificent sleeping room. Complete with full sized sofa for winter lounging.

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The best of both worlds. When I feel like it, I just come inside. My favorite thing is to plop down between the two chairs. The pesky mites are afraid to go by me. Its quite amusing. HAHAHAHAHA!!!

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When its really hot, I can stretch out on the cool floor.

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But my favorite spot, and I must admit, that as I age, I spend an inordinate amount of time here, is my summer throne! Its just perfect. And the lady has located it so that I can still keep an eagle eye out for possible enemy attack.

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Thanks for your continued interest and adoration. But no need to worry about me. The pesky mites have to fight for lap time from the lady. All I have to do is come and lean against her, or put my big head in her lap, and I have her complete attention.

All my love, NOAH the MAGNIFICENT!

This Week in the Garden

 

Well, lets start out with the biggest change in the garden this week–the new drip/watering system! After MLG installed it, I played with the settings, and got them all set to go off in the three different areas of the garden at 8 am each morning. So each morning I scamper out to stare at the little mini-sprinklers and see how they are doing. It will take a little time for me to learn just how much water each area needs. I have already found a few places that need more sprinklers.

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The foxgloves are just crazy big and tall and wonderful this year. In the past I have had to stake them up, but I haven’t done a thing with these. They seem to be holding their own.

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A close-up of their wonderful coloration:

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The new old iris!

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These pincushion flowers are doing well. I have a reader to thank for telling me to mulch them over the winter. All three plants made it through and are doing so much better than last year.

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This is the rose I got from J&P last year (that I complained about so much.) It seems to be very healthy and growing well. It smells delicious, and is pink. What more could I want?

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The Grocery Outlet roses (paid $3-5 for them.)

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These campanula are small but make a big impact with their big volume of blooms! I have them in several places in the garden.

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So. Last year I bought a nice little compact plant at the nursery with pretty pink blooms. But it was about done blooming and that was it. This year, in the same place, this multitude of single stems grew up. I really was not sure whether they were the same plant or maybe some weed. Turns out they were, and I am going to get a ton of blooms from them, if the buds are any indication. They are Mexican Evening Primrose. Hmmm. Just read up on them–can be aggressively invasive. They will fit right in with the violets and the fairy impatiens 🙂 Snapdragons in the background.

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This is the rose I got last summer in a four inch pot. Its on its own rootstock, not like most roses. I took this picture so you can see the multitude of blooms that it will have. Also, you can see some of Noah’s hair there…

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Back to the other side of the garden–this is the same rose that I showed at the beginning of the post, but now at the end of its bloom–still beautiful.

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And a last shot of the foxglove flower bed.

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The garden is good for getting me outside a bit every day, and getting in quite a bit of functional exercise. This morning I swept and then washed down ALL of the stone paths. And that’s the garden report for this week!

P.S. My baby chicks have been shipped!! I will be back soon with a different kind of report :))