Sunday, August 7, 2011

Happenings Around Our Homestead

Creature in the garage update:
Caught- an army of ants eating the peanut butter, they cleaned it to a polish, and didn't set off the trap.
Other traps- moldy peanut butter
Plan C- re-bait all traps with cheese

Our rooster is favoring one hen out of four, to the point that she was terrified of him and would not come down off her roost in the morning. The second she did, she was in submission stance and the rooster servicing her. He has tread on her back so much that her back is bald and her downy white feathers are coming out. There is risk that his talons can cut her back and wound her. This continued for several days (or more), until on Thursday. She actually hid in the weeds. All chickens come home to roost, so finally, she made her appearance. We got her in and isolated her in the adjacent pen so she could have a break from him, and have time to heal. He went ballistic! The second her saw her in the pen, he paced and crowed and flapped his wings, and made cackling noises, and paced some more. He wanted her! Too bad, buddy. Maybe he should be in the time-out pen.

He is a barred rock and he is BIG. He has also gotten very aggressive since we put the pullets in with the main flock of 5. He flaps his wings, crows, and will come after you when you go out to feed. In our flock of up and coming pullets, who should start laying late next month, there appears to be one Buff Orpington that is larger than the rest, with a slightly larger comb, and some inkling of tail feathers appearing. Buff Orpington's are a gentle breed, or at least supposed to be. My only concern is that you should have a ratio of about 10 hens per rooster, and we will have 21 hens. But, I think you know what I'm thinking. Dinner!

Oh, by the way, we had oysters on our trip to Oregon. We saved the shells and smashed them up to give to the chickens. They have calcium and help keep the egg shells firm. No point in paying for oyster shell when you can make your own.

Looming House Projects:
We have a never ending list of projects to get done.
Here is our list:
Peel and paint trim on house
caulk around door frames
re-caulk bathtub
clean out office, put in more shelves, and TV
measure for tin on roof so it can be ordered, repair skylight- skylight in kitchen to be salvaged, skylight in bathroom to be boarded over
stain fence railing
stain deck (doubtful this will happen)
fix the barn door

Cooper is our 4 year old golden retriever. Over the last 2 years he has matured and developed into an outstanding member of the family. He is a great mouser, a sounding alarm when someone is venturing down our driveway, a help with chicken herding, a protector against aggressive roosters, and an egg collector. Let me explain the last one. Once we moved the pullets in with the older chickens, the enclosed outside pen didn't allow ample free range for 22 chickens. So, I started keeping the gate ajar against a rock so there was enough room for the chickens to get in and out, but not enough for the horses to get in. I had noticed recently that Cooper had brought an egg or two up onto the front porch and left it there, unbroken. I figured since I was leaving the gate open for the chickens to get out and forage, that they were laying eggs on the ground in the barn and not in their boxes that are in the pen. One day I was in the outside pen with the gate closed and Cooper with me. I turned around and Cooper wasn't there, but for some reason I didn't pay attention to where he could possibly be, since the only opening is the gate, which was closed. The next thing I know, here Cooper is next to me with an egg in his mouth. He had somehow managed to squeeze himself through the little chicken door (we're talking 6"x 8") that goes into the chicken barn! That's where the boxes are and where the hens lay their eggs. Yeah, he is retrieving eggs now, true to his breed. He just stands there and waits for me to take the egg. It was so funny! Well, now I catch him retrieving eggs all the time, so I had to close up the gate a little more so he couldn't get through. What a great dog!

Our wind break trees have been ravaged by scale the last couple of years. This year we have sprayed malathion 3 times, but we are still losing trees and branches. The nurseries around here have been of little help. Has anyone else battled scale and how did you resolve it?

Our Garden:
It has been a peculiar year. Very cool with an extended wet spring. Our 70 potato plants are down to 69, due to some insects and blight, I think. Or some other potato disease. But they are hanging in there. Last year our zucchini foliage was so large I was ready to order some Agent Orange to combat the jungle that it created. Seriously, it was all you could do to try and work your way through the leaves and stems to find the zucchini. And then, when you thought you had them all, there was that one GINORMOUS zucchini of all zucchini. This year, another story. The leaves are so small, there is no shade for the plants at all and I have harvested 1 zucchini. I have a couple 3-4 more total on 3 plants. Can't figure that one out.

Tomatoes are finally starting to flower, but no fruit yet. Peppers are just starting to show signs of flowering, maybe this week. I have harvested one cabbage, and have enough broccoli to have with dinner this week. I hope to harvest enough pea pods to serve peas as well this week. Got some pickling cukes, and the butternut squash hasn't flowered yet. My spinach is, um, I'm not sure. My romaine has bolted. That's about it for my garden. Strawberries are harvested and got 3 qts. in the freezer and made jam. Our raspberry plants we planted last year have a total of 5 berries between the 2 plants. We are hoping they are putting energy into growing this year and will produce next year.

Just trying to maintain and keep supplies built up. Need to go out and get some target practice in, hopefully this week.

That's about all that's going on around here for right now. How are things in your neck of the woods?


  1. I think you rooster may be the reincarnation of my ex-husband. Except he hasn't died. Yet.

  2. Cooper is a beautiful dog. We have a lab and we love her. Retrievers make great pets.


Your thoughts are welcome!