Sunday, October 28, 2007

Chicken Update

No eggs yet, but we hope to have some in November sometime, even though it is getting darker and egg production goes down in the winter months.

The movable chicken house is more permanently moored in the back yard so we can easily watch them from the kitchen window over the sink. We were letting them out during the day if we were home, but they were wandering into the neighbors' yards a little bit, and although no one said anything and they didn't wander far into other yards, we don't want to ruffle any feathers. Lately we just let them out around 4pm, that way they don't wander far before they come home at dusk and they go check out their favorite spots, starting with the rhododendron behind the garage.

Also -- and this shouldn't be news to anyone who has been around large birds, including Canada geese -- chickens have big poops. When they wander, they poop on the front sidewalk, the driveway, the yard, in the garage if someone's left the door open and wherever. Not fun to step in. And they scratch in the grass and dirt, usually not in the direction you'd like the mulch to fly, more likely throwing the dirt onto the grass or sidewalk.

Our yard is far from manicured, but we had to draw the line somewhere. We're planning to make a large fenced area for the chickens behind the barn, and as an experiment to see if they would fly over the 4 foot wire fence, John made a pen for them. One "flew the coop" their second day out, but then spent the rest of the afternoon wandering up and down the outside of the fence trying to get back with the rest of her flock. And one afternoon last week I heard a funny scratching noise out the window and saw this:

Charlotte shooed her back into the pen. I think there is one adventurous one in the bunch. Overall though, the fence seems to be working.

At dusk they go into their coop and like to perch on the tippy-top perch at the peak. Our 13 year old neighbor was taking care of them when we were on vacation in August, and he was alarmed when he checked on them one evening and they were nowhere to be found. He brought his dad over to help look for the missing chickens, then was quite startled when he stuck his head inside the coop and realized they were above his head. I've experienced this, and it is quite disconcerting because their feet are above your head at the door, and they poke their heads below the perch level, peering down at you like some kind of vulture. You know you're invading their space.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

And Now Back to Our Regularly Scheduled Programming

Ok, I fell off the blogging bandwagon. Went on a vacation at the beginning of August to visit my parents, then went to Maine on a family vacation, then school started, the computer went into rehab, blah blah blah. So any hope of developing a blog readership flew the coop, so to speak. But now I'm back, turning over a new leaf. I hope you one or two readers (hey, I'm optimistic) will return.

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.

Photo #1:

Photo #2:

Photo #3:

Photo #4: