Monday, December 3, 2007
They still are using the nest they made on the floor of the chicken house, despite our putting warm comfy hay in their nesting boxes and putting in a golf ball. The golf ball is a ruse to get them to think that other chickens have laid eggs/golf balls in there, so it's real nice and they should lay their eggs in there too. Maybe they're smarter than I thought and we need a more egg-shaped decoy...
Saturday, December 1, 2007
Thursday, November 29, 2007
See anything in the hay? And this hen was nervously strutting around inside the coop:
This whole operation may look like a poultry exercise, but actually it is an economics lesson for our children. Lesson one is on Economies of Scale. Egg #1 is a very expensive egg. I think we'll bronze it. Isn't it beautiful?
Here it is next to an officially classified large egg from the farmer around the corner for comparison:
Hens lay pullet-sized eggs (smaller) for the first few weeks, then they get larger. I'd say they are about 75% of your usual supermarket large eggs.
I called my husband at work to tell him the good news, starting with, "Guess what we got today? Something we've been waiting a long time for!" He replied, "My package came!"
When I picked up my daughter at school for an after-school appointment and asked her to guess what came today that we've been waiting for, she answered, "Peter got words!!"
Upon further prompting neither one guessed chicken egg until I made clucking noises. Yup, we're all on the same page around here.
This morning I woke up right before sunrise to go to the bathroom, and I heard stressed squawking from the chicken coop. They have a light in the coop that is on for two hours in the morning to give them about 14 hours of light (so they lay eggs). I looked out, saw the light glowing in the coop window and wondered what kind of party was goin' down. I hoped it was an egg-laying party and not the chicken version of a Tupperware party.
I was tempted to go outside with a flashlight, but my warm bed sounded much better. An hour and a half later I sprang out of bed and went outside to check on the ladies. I opened the back door of the coop and was greeted with 2 eggs! Chickens lay an egg every day and a half or so, and I suspect that hen #1 laid another egg and a new hen started laying. Another possibility is that hens #2 and #3 started laying and hen #1 is still in shock about what happened to her two days ago. If they keep to the day and a half schedule, we should get another egg tomorrow afternoon. We shall see....
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Sunday, October 21, 2007
The good news is that we got a new camera in August, a digital SLR, Canon's Digital Rebel XTi. We didn't get the kit lens, instead opting for an L class f/2.8 24-70mm kickin' lens that was more $$ than the camera body. The thinking behind this is that one may upgrade the camera body at some later date, but good lenses work on any Canon camera. We're still learning all the features, but it takes awesome photos right out of the camera.
At the end of September we went to the Durham Fair, which is Connecticut's largest agricultural fair. Food, rides and animals galore, plus tractor pulls (small, medium and large, including the kids division pictured below) and horse/pony pulls.
We we arrived on a beautiful Saturday morning before the bulk of the crowds. We first hit the animal barns, paying particular attention to the poultry. Our conclusion was that our Barred Plymouth Rocks were prettier, but we're not sure it's worth the trouble to exhibit them. So kudos to those who do.
Peter liked the turkey which was at eye level for him.
Charlotte liked the bunnies. They make me sneeze, however.
Kids could pet this large rabbit specimen, I think it was of the French Lop Eared variety.
We spent a large part of the afternoon sitting watching the draft pony pull. Very impressive, as the winning 3 pony team pulled 7,800 pounds. Since we were sitting there, I took a million photos of the pony teams. The fair has a contest each year for a photo of the fair to use on the cover of their exhibitor guide. I might enter one of the ones below. Which one do you like best? Respond in the comments, please.
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Step 2: And they're off! (hum Lone Ranger theme for the rest of this)
Step 3: Like a good little milling machine, it followed nicely down the driveway. Just ignore the scrapes. They came off during the next day's rain.
Step 4: Pulling got a little rocky with the turn onto the stones in front of the barn, but slow and steady wins the race.
Step 5: And here it comes into its new home. *Sigh* I guess we won't be having any more big parties in here.
Step 6: Did you see him break a sweat? I didn't.
Saturday, July 21, 2007
With a human door in the front and windows in the side of the roost to check out what's happening in there.
Removable nest boxes.
Several perches and a chicken ladder for the ladies to access their evening roost.
And wheels on a scissors jack to help move it around, which you can't see very well in these photos.
Sunday, July 15, 2007
It all started when construction finished on our new barn in mid-January. We realized that we needed to have a big party in the barn before it got filled up with my husband's project equipment and whatever else he plans to put in it.
We were thinking maybe March or early April would be a fun time for the party, before the weather got hot. Well, it is amazing what high hopes warm January weather can create.
Then it got cold, like January and February should be.
And painting, backfilling and those other details John wanted to get done were pushed out to the spring.
Fast forward to May and June. Much painting, a little dirt moving, a little grass growing, a little electrical wiring, a little cement sealing, and many long Saturdays and Sundays made for a mostly-finished barn:
Time to send out the invitations!
And book the band. Wild Notes was great, they were fantastic to work with, they suggested a caller to call the square dances, and the music was wonderful.
The weather cooperated and the guests came pouring in from near and far, including a surprise visit by my parents who drove 1000 miles roundtrip to attend, and a visit from John's sister and daughters from England. A great time was had by all.
And no party is complete without the tiki torches and a hula dancer!
Tuesday, July 3, 2007
Around about February of this year I stumbled across a book called Square Foot Gardening that explicitly showed how to maximize the garden in a small space. Even though we have a large lot for suburbia, most of it is woods, and precious little gets enough sun to support a garden. This was my kind of program. More on square foot gardening in future posts, stay tuned.
In the tomato section, it showed how to prune tomato plants in the clearest manner I've seen. So I decided to introduce some discipline this year. Experts say that we'll get bigger tomatoes, which would be nice, since last year the biggest was probably the size of a small plum.
But first, I have been a bad gardener and I needed to tie up my tomato plants, which were flopped all over the place. Good thing I did because they were thinking about putting down roots from the stems, I could tell.
There, now it is all neat and tidy:
Ok, back to the pruning. Do you see how the tomato plant below has the central stem and another main stem branching off to the left? But looky, there is another stem growing between the main stem and the branch!
Did I hear you say "So what?" Well, according to tomato growers more knowledgable than I, those extra shoots will sprout tomatoes but will result in smaller tomatoes over the entire plant because the plant's energy is spread too thinly. As The Queen of Hearts would say, "Off with their heads!"
Whoa. Did I go too fast for you? Here's another example to help hone your pruning skills. Which stem doesn't belong?
If you said the one in the middle, DING DING DING, you're right! Sorry we're all out of prizes today, as my dear sister-in-law DB will attest because she hasn't gotten hers yet for naming this blog.
And we'll close today's lesson with some lovely cosmos and a zinnia that are staring to come up. Thank you for tuning in to this week's edition of The Quigley Bend Garden Bender with Enders.