Chicken Report

My chickens are growing up! They’re doing grownup things like crowing every morning, and laying eggs. I look forward to finding eggs every day, and I usually check several times a day, trying not to disturb the hens too much. Today I actually stood there and watched one hen lay her egg!!

Here’s my egg washing system. You can see they are still laying a variety of sizes. The big ones are double yolkers.

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And my new pink egg cartons! I have asked people to save their egg cartons for me, but I was worried that I would not have enough cartons so I checked around the internet and found one place that sold cartons at a discount. I have a LOT of pink egg cartons 🙂

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Today I worked in the garden a bit. I pulled up all the mint (haha, I’m pretty sure it’ll make an appearance in the spring…) The chickens love to pick over fresh greens.

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The two big boys. So far they are behaving themselves for the most part–not fighting with each other, not being aggressive towards me, and not bothering the hens TOO much. As long as they behave themselves they are welcome at my farm. They have names: Buddy #1 and Buddy #2.

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The little king. He stays away from the big boys and he doesn’t bother the hens at all. Probably because he can’t see… Somebody pecks his topknot at night, so now he gets anti-pick medicine on his head.

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And Here’s Baby!!!! She is so smart. She might be low in the pecking order, but she just knows how to stay out of everybody’s way, and she gets her fair share of all the treats too.

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Baby’s big sister. She is probably the largest hen, and really she is probably the most outstanding.

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This is a New Hampshire Red. All of the red hens are pretty friendly, and very curious. They always come very close to me, and usually let me pet them.

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Chicken in a Bowl 🙂

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One more shot of Buddy #2. He is really a gorgeous rooster–a Speckled Sussex. You can see his female counterpart in the corner there. Oh, see that woodwork along the ground in the back? The chickens were digging their way UNDER my woodshed. I was worried that the cement foundation would collapse, so MLG rigged that up to deter them.

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Buff Orpington. They are very quiet. I love their soft color.

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Every afternoon I spread a bunch of “scratch” for them. Its like a chicken treat. They look forward to it every day, and always follow me along the fence line to see if this time I will be giving it to them.

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An action shot of Baby–that’s how she does it. Identifies what she wants and finds the most strategic place to get it 🙂

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And that’s the chicken report for now. I wish you all lived closer. I have a lot of eggs to share with people. I had eggs for dinner tonight. They taste good, but I am not a good egg cooker, and they don’t look very appetizing, so no pictures.

 

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Chicken and Garden Report

Baby goes outside! One day I looked out my window (whenever I am near the studio or kitchen window I always look out to see what’s going on in the chicken yard.) I was SO SURPRISED and excited to see Baby out in the yard. She seemed to be enjoying herself, running here and there with her little hitch, checking out the greens I had thrown out there, and mixing in with the big girls. So far she has not gotten picked on–you know, the pecking order. I have a feeling she will know to just stay out of the way. She also has a couple of “friends” who seem to stick close by. And of course, she didn’t know to go back into the house at night. It was so cute–one of the buff orpingtons had settled down next to her in the yard. Anyway, got them back inside and all was well. I think it was maybe a little overwhelming, because she hasn’t gone back outside since then…

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Another day I looked outside and there was something very large and brown standing on top of the bird netting that MLG had put across the top of the chicken yard. I ran outside–it was a HUGE hawk, who was not at all afraid of me, and was bouncing up and down on the netting to try to get in! I was SOOOO glad that I had had MLG put that netting in place. He did a very secure job. If I had done it myself, it might have been much easier for Mr. Hawk to get inside! He hasn’t been back since then, so fingers crossed that he thinks its a lost cause.

Here is the view of the garden that I enjoy when I sit on my fake patio.

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The volunteer petunias have returned, although a much smaller batch of them. along with some weeds…

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Phlox.

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Most of the oriental lilies came back. I had kind of forgotten about them, so that was a nice surprise.

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Mr. Bougainvillea is doing very well, and I love having it.

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Close-up. Aren’t those little white centers a beautiful detail?

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The Jackson Perkins rose that I complained about last year. It is doing very well, and I do love the color and the smell of it.

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The hydrangeas are doing well, but I’m a little stumped as to why the flower clusters are so small.

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This is that rose that is grown on its own root stock. Its kind of wild and crazy. I think it might need a little fence support behind it next year. Lots of little blooms.

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And that’s the garden and report and chicken update for this week.

 

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.

 

Garden Report

The cherry tree! I remembered how, when I worked, I would take a walk on my lunch break, and go and stand underneath these two beautiful cherry trees. Those two trees were the inspiration for me to buy this tree. So I went out and stood under my cherry tree and tried to get some good shots. This is a flowering cherry (no fruit) and the blossoms are huge and fluffy. And pink 🙂

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I got a better picture of the fringed tulip. These were spectacular. I will be getting more tulips and daffodils from that John Scheepers company. All of the bulbs I ordered grew and bloomed. The daffodil, Narcissus Golden Echo, lasted forever! I went back and re-read the description, and one of the things they said about it was that it was “incredibly long lasting.”

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Then I walked over to get a picture of the lily-flowering tulips.

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I found a few pansies that Noah had not plundered!

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I turned around and thought that I’d take a couple of long views of the garden to share with you. the Japanese maples just glow in the early spring.

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And lastly, encouraged by Shelley’s new purchase, I bought myself a bougainvillea! Put it in one of my leftover big pots, and placed it near the fence. MLG even pruned up a couple of low hanging oak branches so it could get more sun. It will be an annual here, because it is not frost hardy. We had one when I was a kid in the Bay Area, and it covered our entire porch! I loved it.

Oh, and I couldn’t get a picture of it without the “Pile of things we might need someday” in the background… if the bougainvillea grows well, it might be able to hide that pile 🙂

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And that’s the garden report for the week. A garden this size takes a lot of time in the spring. I have spent a lot of time weeding and pruning and raking in the past few weeks, and very little time planting. I’m definitely getting quite a bit of that functional exercise!

P.S. I have to share a couple of pictures of the little girls. Every day I spend some time in the studio. The girls seem to enjoy spending time in their beds snoring while I stitch. Sophie, Bess, and Chloe got new sparkly collars. I looked at tons of collars, and finally figured out that the customized ones with their names on them were the most economical option!

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Little Fuzz (Zoey) likes to have a bed all to herself if possible.

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A Tale of Two Muffins

A bit ago I was looking for an old recipe in an old seldom-used recipe box. I ran across a very old stained piece of paper, and discovered it was a copy of muffin recipes from the book The 8-Week Cholesterol Cure. Twenty-eight years ago I worked with a young woman whose very thin mother had very high cholesterol, and they were trying to lower their cholesterol with some of the recommendations in this book. She said the muffins were tasty and low calorie, so I made a copy and tried them out. They were good! So twenty-eight years later I made them again, and they are still very tasty. Only about 120 calories per muffin. This book is still in print, but the muffin recipe is all over the internet, so I thought it would be okay to share it with you. I made Banana Nut Bran Muffins, but the book has many versions of different flavors.

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Then, a few weeks ago, I picked up the box of Kodiak Power Cakes mix again and looked at it. Hmmm. 1/2 cup of mix with 1/2 cup of water, and you’ve got pancake mix. The list of ingredients is relatively short, its high in fiber and protein. I succumbed.

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Holy Moly, these are VERY good pancakes. 190 calories for three pancakes with 15 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber. So far I’ve had them with a tsp of butter and SF syrup, and with walnuts cooked in and topped with my banana mash syrup.

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On the box they also have directions for using milk and/or eggs to make higher protein pancakes. And, they had a muffin recipe. One day I decided I could adjust that recipe a little bit, and tried it. These are also very good banana nut muffins! Very different than the previous muffins, which are very much a bran muffin with bananas. These taste more like commercial muffins, light and fluffy, and pretty sweet. These muffins come out to about 150 calories each. My Kodiak Banana Nut Muffin recipe is here.

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