Who could have guessed that the chickens would grow so huge in just a week and a half? They are 'monsters'! Even little Peep who I hatched myself is a big girl now. Though she is black and white stripped like the Barred Rocks, it is a very distinct pattern. She's calmed down quite a lot too and has now allowed me to pick her up.
Henrietta (Hen for short) is still our favorite. She routinely decides to roost on our arms or shoulders. She's definitely a 'people person'. I was potting up some hanging pots yesterday and she jumped / flew up to the top of the potting bench to watch me, then onto my wrist she fluttered. Trying to get her down is difficult, she likes to be with us.
Isn't she beautiful!
Barred Rock Cock
Barred Rock Hen
Compare the Barred Rock pattern to that of Peep shown here - Peep is a Cuckoo Maran
Mille Fleur Cock - beautiful markings
Hello up there!
We let Rex run free all day long and he's such a good bunny. He comes when I call and lets me hold him all I want. He's only left the yard once when he found a hole in the fence behind the shed. That's now boarded up. George didn't have babies as we thought she would. Her 30+ days came and went with nothing in the nesting box to get excited about. Today I decided to let her run around with Rex in the back yard. She's never been all that friendly, so tonight might become a game of "Catch Me If You Can". I just hope she doesn't dig holes and go through to one of the neighbor's yards.
George in the Garden - isn't she adorable!!!
The ducks are living in a plastic storage container at this point. I had my day with them yesterday and they just weren't sure what to do with me. Should they be afraid or should they follow me? It took quite a long time, but now I'm their friend. They went swimming in a water dish, and again in the bathtub (only a little water) while I cleaned out their pen - a daily chore. They are fine being in their pen, but when they are out, they want to be with one of us. They are noisy when they think they're alone and vulnerable. Kevin was reading up on ducks from some books I brought back with me from Washington - they will be 3 pounds in 3 weeks and their meat starts getting tough after 3 months - so the book advises to eat them around 2 months of age. Lucky little things - they won't be gracing the dinner table.
Beware of WallMart!
You never know what you'll come home with when you go to WallMart... I was in line happily buying rabbit treats for Rex and George when the man behind me asks me if I want love birds too. I told him Kevin will KILL me, but what the heck, they were free. So off to his house where I first meet their dog - friendly and jumps on you - then his daughter and wife. Housed in a coop - kind of like what I built was a separate double decker cage with male and female love birds and 4 eggs. Also sharing the coop was a peacock hen (who also has hatched her babies I'm told - they were not in the coop). I took these little lovelies home, cleaned the cage - (desperately needed it), tossed the eggs - no telling how old they were and got promptly bit numerous times for my efforts. The female is a lot meaner than the male, but I figure I just threw out her babies, she has every right. From what the couple tells me, there will be more! These birds are about 3 years old and live 15 - 20 years.
I chose not to tell Kevin ahead of time. He came home and didn't say hello. Instead he asked in a none too happy tone - "Why birds?" Then he named them. They are Kevin & Lisa. Awwww isn't that cute!
Solar Panels & Sunrise
he solar panels we finished being installed Friday. We were told that it has to stay off until after the *inspection on Monday, but I got the guy to keep it turned on anyway. Kevin got up early Saturday morning to beat the sunrise and with a stop watch was out timing how fast the dial went around. As the sun came up the dial slowed down and at 7:13 am the dial completely stopped and then started going backwards at 7:17 am. That's pretty cool!
Kevin & his Stop Watch
That ol' Palm Tree
So remember the palm tree that we had taken down on July 11th? I finally started getting to the pile of shavings. Grass has started growing up through it - ick. I was able to gather 2 1/2 wagon loads full that we will use in the grow boxes and the rest I'm going to plant a mix of flowers and herbs. All from seed so this will take awhile. The is when being in California is a good thing - the growing season doesn't end.
To the pile of palm tree shavings we added more. Today Kevin climbed on top of the roof to trim the neighbor's tree that was touching the house and shading the solar panels. It ended up giving us 2 1/2 bags full of shavings. This will be great as filler for the planters, mulch for the plants, or even just walkways in the paths.
The load of 'stuff' in the compost wheel is now done. It was done before I went to Washington, but I emptied it onto a tarp yesterday morning. By noon the chickens had scattered quite a lot of it. Today, once the sun goes to the West side of the house, we are going to chop up the contents of the open compost bin and transfer it into the compost wheel. 2 - 3 weeks everything looks and smells like dirt. Healthy, alive and a great addition to the beds we should be making in about 2 weeks. (Hopefully) I'm thinking of starting the border planters this week though, I want vines growing along the fence for privacy.
Waste is not wasted
Okay I did this before I left, but shared no pictures. I wanted to make a trellis with the saplings we have growing out from a tall pine tree that borders our neighbor's house. It's a parasite to the host tree and so it gets cut down from time to time. I could have chipped it up and added it as mulch, but we are in need of trellises and have you priced them? These are pictures of my first attempt at this sort of thing. I'm not totally happy and will probably cut them in half and hinge them so I have an inverted "V". This way cucumbers and such can climb it. I really wanted something for the grapes, but it's too late for that this season I think. Once they are harvested, the vines will be cut way back. I'll put something in place over the winter. For this weekend, the chickens loved it as a roost while they were running free outside.
We picked the last of the plums on Friday when I came home from the airport. They were so good, I'm sorry to see them go. The apples are getting much larger but aren't ready yet. The nectarines however are just at the point where they are ready to start picking. We got about 5 of them today and boy oh boy! are they sweet and juicy! Kevin is amazed - (which is how I hope to keep him). We finish with one fruit and another one takes its place. And I still haven't canned a thing! He keeps eating everything. Okay, so the bounty isn't huge, but last year we had none. As for the nectarines last year I think we had 2 fruits and the birds got them.
It's time to get off my lazy butt and start contributing to the financial end of this farm. (As opposed to the shit shoveling end.) The concession trailer arrived! Finally! Yippee! That means I have to start cleaning it out. Top to bottom scrubbing. It needs to shine. I want to replace the floor - it's tile and looks crappy.
My seller's permit finally came through the mail while I was gone! I still need a health certificate then I'm in business. Better get cleaning fast... (at night when the sun goes down!)
I placed an order with Lil' Orbits for some donut mix and glassine bags. Let's see how I do as a cook.
I still need to get with Emily who is willing to paint a mural on the side of the concession stand. I'm not sure how much that will cost me though so I'm not sure if I can do it at this point. But I'm almost there! Wish me luck.
House in Oak Harbor Washington
While in Washington I did some sight seeing. Not your typical touristy kind of sight seeing, more like the nosy neighbor kind. I love to drive through neighborhoods and just see how other people have their homes. Check this out and tell me if you agree that this place is beautiful.
I decided that it's the flowers that strike me in each of these - I don't usually plant flowers, but that's going to change!
I liked this greenhouse
The white flowers were already there - Kevin had planted them years ago. I bought the hanging pots and flats of flowers and put my own together. They need to fill out a bit, but it's a good start (for me).
Change to the Raised Beds plan
We decided not to use wood for the raised beds after all. I saw on the web where others used cinder blocks. Not only is the initial cost lower, but they are much more durable than wood, and won't need to be replaced in 2 - 3 years. The draw back is that Kevin had to re-think his design. We talked about it last night and this morning I awoke at 6 am to the sound of the saw. He was cutting a board that was 8 x 16 - the size of a block. He then proceeded to lay out posts to see how this would work. I am not able to visualize well, I need to actually 'see', so I had him put string up everywhere outlining the beds. They won't be as wide as is shown here, because each block is 8 inches thick, so this shows the outline, but not the planting size. One neat thing though is that I'll be able to plant in the holes too. Since I decided I'm going to bring a lot more color into my life in the form of flowers, I think this is where most of them will go. Besides, flowers mean bees... bees mean pollination... pollination means more fruits and vegetables. I like bees, always have. I often pick them up when I see them outside, and no I don't get stung.
Oh yeah, we stopped watering the grass a couple weeks ago (back yard only). Since we are going to be covering it all up, why waste the water? It's expensive stuff.
Well, that's it for this update. Until next time...