Photo updates

Of course, we’ll start with the cutest!!

Leif had a few bites of rice cereal yesterday, and he downed it!!!

“Hmmmmm, I think I might have a bite, thank you!”

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“WOW!  I LIKE!  Give me that spoon!”

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“Mine!!  ALL MINE!”

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“Yes, boys can too play with Barbies!  They are very tastey!”

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I finally got around to harvesting most of the chard.  I blanched it and stuck it in the freezer.  (There’s no more room in there now, with all the frozen greens and 3 gallons of blueberries!!  A fourth gallon I made into Blueberry Jam and Brandied Blueberries!!)

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I’ve been knitting up a little headband to keep my ears warm this winter.  Kaia wants one for winter and one for summer!  I might use some light weight yarn and make myself one for summer too!

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We have MORE hens!  A friend moved and couldn’t take her 11 chickens with her… so she gave them to us!  That makes 35 chickens at our home!  Some of the babies from the spring will turn out to be roosters and we’ll find them new homes.  But, it looks like we will start selling eggs!  And we need to get on the new coop!

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And here is one of our regal Fezzik

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Chicky baby

Snowflake ended up hatching a total of 4 chicks (out of 8 original… but one was squashed, one was dropped, and two didn’t fully develop). Poor Sparkle didn’t hatch any. I waited until day 23 before I took her off the nest. I cracked open all the eggs and only one had a chick and it looked like it was only 18 or 19 days developed. I think she just didn’t keep them under her enough and they got cold. I’ve put her back in the coop but she still won’t stop sitting on anything she can. I’m not sure how to break her from being broody. I don’t want to put her back on more eggs. I think another 21 days of sitting would be too much for her. She needs a break.

Now, my Buff Orpington is sitting on 12 eggs. She went broody a week ago and I decided to put her in the other side of the broody coop once Sparkle was out. We’ll see how she does.

Here’s a pic of the 4th chick that hatched. Dad is an Ameraucana and mom is a Welsummer;
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With 3 of his ladies sitting on eggs, Fezzik the big rooster is getting a little antsy and has started picking on Poodle Noodle, our silkie rooster. He drew a little blood on his left ‘ear’. I put some blue lotion spray on it so the other chickens won’t be attracted to pecking at the red blood. It seems to have worked, but the ear may be infected. It’s puffy. I’ve put a salve on it… we’ll see how he does.

Still waiting…

The chicks are very late in hatching… normally, a chicken has a 21 day gestation. Our first chick hatched at 22 days, three more hatched at 24 days! I don’t hear any peeps coming from the other two, but they had moving chicks in them last week. Our other broody mama is due on Friday… her batch didn’t look as good. One, maybe two moving chicks out of 6 when we candled them last. (Oh, and another one of our chickens has gone broody, but we don’t have any room for her to sit. So, I’ll try to discourage her :-) )

The arrows are pointing to the crack in the shell where the 4th chick is starting to hatch.
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We have babies!

Well, at least one that I know of. The chicks were due yesterday, but snowflake never hopped off of her nest, so I couldn’t tell if they’d hatched yet. But, just a few minutes ago, I went outside and heard some peeping. One little chick had just hatched (I believe this one is an Ameraucana and Black Australorps mix)! YAY!!! Babies!
You can see her peaking her black head out from under moms wing.
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In celebration of the upcoming hatching, Kaia and painted the broody house and the feeder. I really like the color they add to the yard!
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Candling the eggs

We went out to candle the ladies eggs this evening. I made my own candler with a strong flash light and a piece of cardboard wrapped to make a cone for the egg to sit above. that focuses the light so that it shines through the egg.

I thought it would be a good idea to see how development was going. That way, if there is an egg that isn’t developing or is full of bacteria, I could get rid of it so that it doesn’t explode or contaminate the other eggs. This site has some nice pictures to follow, as does this one. The main thing was looking for the blood vessels. It’s not so easy when you have chicken that lay dark eggs. I checked Snowflakes eggs at 7 days and saw a spot in each of the eggs (the eye of a developing chicken), but couldn’t see veins. Today (day 11) when I checked I was able to see a moving chick in each of the eggs! YAY! You go Snowflake!! she’s on seven eggs.

In Sparkle’s eggs, it wasn’t as easy. She’s only been on her seven eggs for 6 days. I found three that had obvious blood vessels and 4 eggs that I couldn’t tell. I’ll candle hers again at 11 days to see if I see any moving chicks.

We tried to take pictures, but our camera sucks! Here’s the best one we got. There was a moving chick in this one. You can’t see that, but you can see the air bubble that develops along with the chick.

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What are we going to do with all these babies?? We need to build a larger coop!

Our Broody Ladies

Well, they say (who ever They are) that Silkies often go broody and make great mamas. So far, They are right. Both my silkie ladies are broody. Snowflake started sitting on eggs this past Sunday, and Sparkle started sitting a few days ago. So, Toby, sweet construction man that he is, made a broody box for the ladies. He constructed it so that two chickens can use it at the same time, without getting into each others business. I’ve heard that once the chicks hatch, the mamas can get violently defensive. So, we didn’t want to risk that by having them sit in the same area.

Each ‘pen’ is 3′ by 18 inches, making a 3’x3′ box. They have an area for sitting and a space to eat and stretch their legs a bit. The top is hinged so that we can get in and out without too much interruption to the ladies.

Here’s my hotty husband getting started with the box.
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Putting the box into place, just outside of the main coop.
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Looking into one of the ‘pens’
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We moved them in tonight, once it got dark (it seems to bother them less if you move their nests at night.) Snowflake (sitting on 7 eggs) settled right back down and Sparkle (sitting on 8 eggs) went to check out the grub.
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Hopefully, in early May, we will have some babies.

My Child is driving me crazy!!

sdlkrnyiod!! ltionadfshlk!!! Did you understand that??? NO!! That’s because it is crazy language! I know, all you parents out there are saying “yeah, I know what you are going through”… But OH NO! She is driving me up the wall, out the window, and over the yellow brick road!! How can a 5 year old have such control over my emotions? I truly believe that at the exact moment of her birth, the stars aligned to create a mother-daughter relationship that would encourage me to bang my head on the wall… or the floor… or the door…

Example 1:
“MOOOOOOOOOMMMMMM! (said in a loud, whiny voice) YOU WOKE UP BEFORE ME!!” (I’m sitting in bed, not yet having opened up both eyelids!)

“MOOOOOOMMMMM! WHY DID YOU CHANGE LEIF’S DIAPER WITHOUT TELLING ME????!!!” (Oh, I didn’t know I had to inform you of my every movement!!)

“YOU CARRIED MY SIPPY OUT TO THE CAR, SO YOU HAVE TO CARRY IT BACK IN MOOOOMMMMM!!! (While I stand at the door with my hands completely full with groceries and a baby, and she carries nothing)

And as I try calmly to tell her why she needs to help carry things from the car, she puts her hand to her ear pretending to talk on the phone, holds the palm of her hand up to me, and turns the other way! OH no you didn’t just tell me to ‘talk to the hand’!!

Oh My God, child! Get over this phase fast, will you please!!!

OK, end of rant! Momentary sanity has returned…

In other news, we had our house featured in the New Life Journal again. It’s a great article and makes me feel very proud. Though we certainly didn’t build our house to get recognition, it’s certainly nice to get a pat on the back for it!

One of the bee hives survived the winter and one died… I think they starved. But, the hive that survived seems to be going strong. I went into them today to be sure they weren’t getting ready to swarm… but no signs of swarm cells. They were actually very calm and it was nice to work with them without feeling intimidated. This is the first time I’ve gone into the hive by myself.

Two of our hens have gone broody… our silkies. We built a little make shift broody nest for the first one, but now that two are broody, Toby is working on a little broody house for them. He should finish it tonight, so I’ll take pictures and post them.

Speaking of pictures, we spent Wed. afternoon getting family pictures taken. The man who took pictures of my earth belly offered to take family portraits in trade for my time posing for him. Of course we took him up on it. He is such a great photographer, but also a really nice guy! It was fun spending the afternoon with him. Here are some of the pictures… there are a bunch more, but he hasn’t posted them yet. I’m not a fan of the first picture, but that’s my own vanity finding fault with my double chin and squinty eyes… I love Leif’s smirk in the second picture, and Kaia and Leif’s twin stares in the third… and the fourth one just melts my heart!

Vera’s new apron!

I took Judy’s advice and went on the internet and found a really simple pattern for a chicken apron :-)
Here are two simple patterns… I used the second one. Chicken apron 1 and Chicken apron 2 (Scroll ~3/4 of the way down).

I had some extra green fleece from Leif’s leaf blanket, so I just cut an 8×8 inch square and cut two holes in it for the wings. She doesn’t seem to mind having it on.

Here’s her poor back:
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And here she is modeling her new and stylish apron:
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I guess I’ll just take it off to wash it occasionally, and once her feathers come back, maybe I’ll take it off for a little break…

Rooster picking favorites

Our pour hen, Vera, is a little worse for the wear since we got our rooster. He really seems to favor her and now she has no feathers left on her back. His spurs have been cut, so he’s not hurting her, yet. But with no feather protection from his feet, I’m sure it won’t be long until she gets injured. I know that there are ‘saddles’ to put on chickens to keep their feathers from falling out, but that seems like a bit much for a hen to wear 24/7. What do you all do?

Spring’s a comin’!!

Though we had a big snow fall this past week, the chickens are telling me that spring is on its way! They have really picked up their laying and our little Welsummer, Rosie, laid her first egg today! It’s the dark speckled one… isn’t it pretty?

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The top pink egg is from our Easter Egger, Biscuit, (supposed to be an Ameraucana). Clockwise, the next egg is from Buttercup, our Buff Orpington. Next is the small pink egg from (I believe) Vera, our Salmon Faverolle. It’s a really small egg, but I don’t think our silkies are old enough to lay yet, and I saw Vera sitting on one of the small ones…
The fourth, and largest brown egg, is from Rudy, our 2 1/2 year old Black Australorps. The 5th egg is Rosie our Welsummer’s egg. And the Blue one is from our 2 1/2 year old Americauna, Sweetie.
We’re still waiting on the two silkies to start laying… probably in the next month or two.

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These are from the last snow we had… aren’t the icicles lovely!
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And Leif in his starring role as “the Littlest Gnome”
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Introducing the new recruits

Fezzik (the gentle giant Ameraucana Rooster, 8 months old) Isn’t he lovely?
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Buttercup (the Buff Orpington Hen, 10 months old)
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Rosie (the 4 month old Welsummer, dark egg layer)
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So, we are back up to 8 hens, and have 2 roosters now. They are all getting along wonderfully! (Oh, well, that’s mostly because we gave cranky Honey to my brother-in-law after she pecked a nasty wound into Sparkle’s (our baby silkie) neck. She just doesn’t like little ones and if we are going to hatch our own chicks in the Spring, we can’t deal with cranky ladies.) The two roosters are just fine with each other. The Ameraucana is definitely the head honcho, even after just one day. The little silkie rooster is so laid back, he doesn’t care. Though our silkie would crow at 7:15 am on the dot every day and that was it. He was very kind to let us sleep in. Fezzik, on the other hand, began crowing at 5:45am this morning and again a little after 6am (what is he thinking???), again at 10:30 and 1pm…. I don’t think he cares about the sun, he just likes to show off his great crow.

They are so much fun to watch!

Poodle Noodle’s girlfriends

We’ve added some ladies to our chicken family… two silkie pullets. One is white (“Snowflake) and probably about 3 months old. The other is blue (I think) and ~2 months old; her name is “Rainbow Sparkle” but Kaia has agreed that it is ok if we just call her Sparkle. They are total sweeties! Sparkle likes to be held and petted. She was getting really picked on by Honey, one of our older Ameraucanas, so we had to separate the new little ones from the rest. Hopefully just for a little while.

Oh, and on an egg note, we got our first egg in months, finally! The old girls are finishing up their molt and the new ones hadn’t started laying yet. But, Vera, our Faverolle, laid her first egg today! Yay!

I love their blue ears!

Cock-a-doodle-do

Yesterday morning, as I was getting Kaia up for school, I thought I heard an odd sound coming from outside. We all stopped dead in our tracks and waited patiently to hear it again…. and there it was, loud and clear… ‘cock-a-doodle-do’. Now, if Crowy were still alive, we wouldn’t have thought this odd. But, since all we have is 6 hens, we were a bit surprised! I ran to the window and looked out to the chicken area to see Poodle Noodle, our little black silkie, puff up his chest, stretch his neck and crow a lovely crow. I had gotten Poodle Noodle because silkie hens are supposed to be fantastic moms…. looks like I need to get him a girlfriend :-)

Crowey passed on

Our rooster died. We nursed him for 2 days but he just never got better. The last day he was having breathing difficulty, too. So, we’ve buried him and put the 6 hens on garlic and other herbs to be sure they don’t catch anything if it was contagious. If all seems well in 3-4 weeks, I may get another ameraucana rooster…. or I may get some hatching eggs this spring and try my hand at it. I’d love to have Marans (that lay chocolate brown eggs) and another Speckled Sussex and Buff Orpington (we had some of these breeds initially and they were killed. But, they were really sweet and good layers!)….

After losing two chickens, I’m wondering how strict you all are about cleanliness of your coops…. do you change shoes when ever you go in? Do you let other people, who have chickens. visit with your chickens? Etc…

Sick Rooster

I don’t know what’s wrong with him…. he has the same symptoms as the chicken who died a month ago: lethargy and clear/white diarrhea… but otherwise nothing notable, no discharge, no smells, nothing. So, I brought him inside and made him a warm nest. Every hour I’ve been giving him a little bit of garlic, molasses, cream and water mixed. I also put a few drops of an herbal tincture on his skin. Each time I go in he seems a little more alert and lively, but still sitting down and resting mostly, with his eyes closed. Just now I rubbed an oil similar to this one on his head, nose, and under his wings. We’ll let him sleep for the night and hope things are looking up in the morning.

Progress on the guest house is slow going because Toby only has a day or two a week to work on it, but it’s looking really cute!
This is the view as you drive up:

This is the side view, where the front door will be:

The other speckeled sussex died this morning. We don’t know what happened to her. She was supposed to be a full sized bird, but didn’t really seem like she was growing normally. Her body stayed fairly small, so I thought maybe she was actually a bantam. But, her head just looked like it never got any bigger. Yesterday she was sluggish and the other chickens started picking on her. They didn’t cause any physical damage that we could see, but as the day wore on, she just sat down and stopped moving. She died over night. Any thoughts?

Kaia and I drove up to Banner Elk for the Woolly Worm Festival this past Sunday. It’s a big fall festival where people bring their woolly worms and race them up a string. The winners of the individual heats race each other until there is one final winner, who gets $1000 and their worms color pattern predicts the upcoming winter weather. They haven’t posted who won this past weekend or what the winter prediction is, but supposedly, over the past 20+ years, the worms have a 85% positive prediction rate :-)!
Kaia and I brought our two worms home and hope to keep them through the winter. In the spring they will turn into Tiger Moths. My worm is the one on top of the paper tube… his name is Arnold. Kaia’s is the one climbing in the tube opening and her name is Sunflower. They were both great racers when they were on our clothes, but once they got on the string they kept turning around and going backwards!

Crazy Lady!

You can call me that if you like!

This Sat. Toby helped me finish up a new little chicken hut that I’d started. It’s a 3’x4′ shed that sits at the edge of the fencing of their run. The back side opens so I can put their food and water in. That way, their food and water isn’t sitting out in the elements. It use to be in the coop, but kept getting pooped on when they roosted at night.

This Sunday Toby and I started on our Guest house. It will be a 12’x12′ room with a 6’x12′ loft… a cute little cottage for little retreats. (Our friend who is currently living in a tent will move in there once it’s done in exchange for some help with the land and when the little one is born.) And this one will be painted yellow!
Here’s the location… to the far right of the cabin and storage building, where Toby and Kaia are (can you see them?)-

Kaia helped sketch things out for us on her drawing board-

We built the foundation-

And just like the first time around, Kaia helped Toby put down the flooring-

On Monday, I got out and planted 6 fruit trees… 2 apples, 2 pears, 1 cherry and 1 plum. I wish I’d gotten a picture of me swinging the mattock :-) Don’t worry, I’m taking care not to over exert myself.

Yesterday, I went out to the last hoop jam of the season, and I dressed for the occasion. My hot pants got me asked out! I told him “thanks but I am happily married and expecting my second child”. He said “I don’t care” :-O




Today, I planted 5 more trees… 2 English Walnuts, 2 Persimmon, and one more apple! Wahoo!!! I can’t wait for harvest time!

This weekend, I get to take a wonderful break at the SE Women’s Herb Conference. It’s my ‘ME TIME’ of the year!

Chickens

Things are going mostly well with the new chickens. The 3 older ladies are slowly adjusting to having new chickens in their space. They still don’t mingle at all, and the younger ones often get chased away from the food if the old ladies are eating. I found one of the sussex pullets dead 2 days ago. There was no sign of a fight or disease. We think she might have tried to get on the roost and been pushed off and broke her neck. Creepy thing is that she was the one chicken that hadn’t been named yet.

Anyone know how to get them to go in the chicken house at night? The one sussex left has started going in and roosting on the edge of the laying boxes, but the other 4 insist on sitting on a log outside, even if it’s pouring rain! I have to figure out a way to get them to go in at night before it gets too cold, and just for their safety. I may just put them in there 5 or 6 nights in a row and close the coop up so they can’t jump back out.

Busy week already

This weekend, Toby started working on the front steps. We are putting in 4 steps that come from the drive to the front door. We will also be putting in a little landing-type porch, just to keep the mud and dirt from coming in the house all the time.
Since you always get the butt and back shots of Toby at work, I made him turn around this time:-)

The steps will be filled in with gravel once he digs out a little more clay for a drainage pipe to help divert the water that comes down the stairs.

On Monday, Kaia and I took a little drive to get some new chickens. Our three old ladies are looking bored and seemed like they might need some company. They are also not producing many eggs these days. So, here are the new ladies:
The two small ones in front are Speckled Sussex and they are probably about 3-4 months old (the old ladies are in the background).

This cute little one is Poodle Noodle. She’s our Silkie and she’s also ~4 months old. She will be a smaller chicken, but still lays nice eggs and we just couldn’t pass up getting her.

Here are the other three. They are all about 6 months old. The larger one is an Ameraucana Rooster! I never really wanted a rooster in our bunch ’cause they can be so rough with the ladies, and so loud. But this breed is supposed to be more gentle, and if we hatch any of the eggs he fertilizes, those chickens could lay brown, blue, or olive colored eggs! Cool, eh? His name is Crowy. The whitish lady below him is Biscuit and she is an Ameracana female (so she’ll lay blue eggs). The orange lady is a Salmon Faverolle. I’d never heard of this breed until I went out to get the chickens, but she is very docile, friendly and supposedly will be a good layer. She is also really cute! I’ll have to get a better picture of her for you.

And just for the snuggle fun of it, here’s Kaia and her little friend Max :-)

Time for a bb gun!

I don’t know what else to do! About a month ago, with in a week, two of our chickens disappeared. First it was Ralph, so I thought that maybe she had gone broody again and was just laying on a clutch somewhere. But then Spike disappeared. I had a weird feeling that it was one of our neighbors, so Kaia and I went for a little hike down the valley. Suki came with us and ran ahead. She came back up from his house with Spike’s wing and dropped it at my feet. Then we found some feathers. I think one of his dogs came up on the property and got them. So, the four chickens left were put in the coop area and were no longer free range. But, today Faye was killed. From what we can tell, a dog pulled her head through the fencing and took it off. It tried to dig a whole under the coop, but didn’t get all the way in. Now I don’t know what to do! I’ve never seen them up here. Usually Suki keeps them off the property. But she comes inside now and then to cool off when it’s hot, and we don’t hear a thing. We may need to move the coop to the front of the house area, but I really don’t want to have to go through all that trouble if there is another solution. Electrify the fence??? We’re down to three chickens!

All is well

Sorry for the slack in posting. All is well here.. just busy. We are settling into the house and really enjoying the space and amenities! Kaia and I are especially having fun cooking together (something that was really hard to do in the little cabin). We ate so poorly the past two years. I had no desire to cook and PB&J was often a main meal. So now, I’m trying to get back on track with healthy, whole foods and lots of local fresh fruits and veggies. I’ve singed up for a weekly recipe mailer through Cooking Traditional Foods. Every week she sends 6 recipes and a dessert, shopping list for those recipes, and when to prepare stuff in advanced. Her site also has recipe and discussion forums, and the recipes are loosely based on Weston Price’s ideas. It’s been really helpful in getting back on track with cooking. I figure I’ll do this for a while until I get into a good rhythm. My only objection is that 5 of the 6 recipes include meat. That’s a lot of meat for me (and gets expensive), so we may use bean and other substitutes.

The animals are doing pretty well. Ralph has decided she has had enough of being a mom and got off the nest. So, no chicks from those eggs. (We can’t invest in an incubator right now.) The cats are all adjusting really well. They have already started snuggling up together, which is really cute. Suki went to the groomers last week and when I picked her up they said a lot of her hair was falling out and she had redness and bruising on her skin. She looked almost bald in patches. I took her to the vet the next day and the blood work showed that her clotting time was a little slow. They think that she either had a really bad allergic reaction to something or that she may have gotten into some rat poison. So, she is on some Vitamin K to get her to stop bruising and increase her clotting time (this is the antidote for Rat poison, too). Her skin is looking mostly better already.

Business is going well for me. I’ve got as many clients as I can handle right now, which is nice. I’m excited to have my office space set up in the cabin. It will be so nice to be able to hear the frogs and the birds during my consultations and not the 18 wheelers rolling by. I’ve had to cancel a few appointments this past week, cause my forearms and hands are covered in poison ivy. Because of the pattern on my arms, I think I might have gotten it off of Suki. I don’t think I’ve ever had it this bad (I usually only get a blister or two). Both arms look all bumpy and scaly. I’ve been using high dose licorice powder (as a paste on my arms, and as a tea) to decrease the swelling. It works well.

I’m giving an herb walk this weekend at the LEAF festival. I got a free ticket the the festival in exchange for the class. So, Kaia and I are going to spend the weekend playing, dancing, swimming, hooping, and having fun!!!

making nests of all kinds

Toby built his first top bar hive today. It came out really nice! Robbyn, he didn’t really follow any design. He mainly talked with a few friends who have built them before and put together what he thought would work well for us. It’s 12 inches deep and long enough to fit 28 frames. It has a partially screened bottom for ventilation, and a tin top that you can lift off to check on them. We had some small cell beeswax, so we cut strips to put in the frames for the bees to build on them. The frames are 3 sided without a bottom, so the bees will probably make more of a rounded comb design.


He drilled some entrance holes for them, too.

I don’t know if we will collect honey from this hive or just let them be. Right now, it’s sitting on some concrete blocks and nicely viewable from our kitchen window. We expect we will have another swarm from our other hive, so we’ll put the swarm in here.

While he was doing that, I closed off a section of the chicken yard and built a little brooding box for Ralph. She wasn’t too happy about being moved at first, but she quickly found her eggs and went back to sitting on them.

And here is the house so far. They need to do all the trim work, but the main body color is done. We were supposed to have a creamy yellow, but the painter called me the night before starting and said he really didn’t think the yellow was a good idea. He said yellow is the quickest color to fade and doesn’t cover as well. He had mentioned this before, but I really wanted to have a yellow… but when he stressed this again I felt like we needed to go with something else. So, we picked out a grey/blue that looked really nice on paper. Unfortunately, I’m really not that happy with how it turned out on the house. I was wanting a cheery, light color that would stand out from the green around it, but still look like it belonged. What I got was a cold color that sticks out like a sore thumb. It’s not a bad color, I just don’t feel like it fits. I know it will look much better once the trim is done. When we get screens, I may paint the frames with a pale yellow or something to lighten up and warm the house color.

Inside, we are done with all the messy work, so we are trying to get things moved in. Then, we can take care of the other little details while we are living in and enjoying our house. Here’s how the kitchen counter tops turned out. We just need to put up a back splash. (I know, it’s hard to see ’cause of all the crap all over them… I’ll take more pictures soon)

Broody lady

Ralph, one of our Black Australorp hens, has gone broody. Since we don’t have any roosters, and thus no fertilized eggs, I got 7 fertilized eggs from my brother-in-law. We marked them with a big “F” (fertilized) and slipped them under Ralph. She settled back in and happily covered them all with her wings. She’s keeping them at a constant temperature and humidity, and turns them 3 times a day to make sure they develop correctly. From what I understand, broodiness has been breed out of chickens (’cause if they are sitting on eggs instead of laying them, they are not a financial benefit to big chicken corporations). Have any of you ever hatched chicks from a broody hen? Tomorrow, Toby is going to build a top bar hive for our bees and I think I’ll build a little nesting house for Ralph. That way, her nest can be on the ground, where the chicks won’t fall out, and we can separate her from the other chickens. In 3 weeks, we might have some little baby chicks!!

house progress

Why is it that when people come out to visit they feel as if they have to tell us how much longer it will take to build the house?  “Oh, ya’ll will never be done next month!”  “Whew, this is gonna take you guys a while to finish up, isn’t it?”  Ahh!  I feel like saying “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all!”

Anyway, this past week we made a lot of progress on the cordwood.  The two walls in the kitchen are completely done, inside and out!  I just need to clean up the kitchen floor and we will be ready for cabinets this week!

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We also worked on the walls by the front door, and we put our fishy in!!!  Isn’t it awesome??!!  So, we have 2 walls completely done, 4 walls that just need a small amount of interior work, and 2 walls to finish 1/2 or less in wood.  Maybe 3 or 4 more days or cordwooding!!  Wooohooo!!

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While we worked this weekend, Kaiaflower entertained herself by opening up a Chocolate Lounge and making us all pies!
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We found a great serving hutch (use to be used for silverware) that we are going to use as our vanity in the lower bathroom.  We are going to put a 2 inch slab of oak on top and set the sink in it.  Hope to work on that this week… I’ll post pictures.
We also redid the chicken coop.  We took all the trashy chicken wire down and put up 5 foot fencing, made a great little gate, and clipped the chickens wings.  Hopefully this will keep them in long enough for me to get some clover seed growing in the field.  (I also have some oats to seed so I can harvest them for medicine)

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chickens out of the garden

OK my chicken friends…

So , I need to throw some seed down on the dirt yard, but I’m thinking the chickens are going to be having a field day with that. Any advice? They don’t stay in their coop even if I close them in (I have crazy jumping chickens!).

I was also wondering what to do when I plant my garden. I really don’t want to have to fence the whole thing in, but won’t they eat up the seeds and seedlings? I seem to remember some of you have free range chickens that have access to your gardens. How does that work?

Thanks for any advice!

The ladies

It’s been a while since I’ve posted pictures of our chickens, and since they have molted and gotten their new feathers (and are looking so pretty), I thought I’d show them off.

This is all of them (L to R): Ralph (Black Australorp), Faye (Speckled Sussex), Rudy (in the back is another Black Australorp), Spike (Buff Orpington), Honey and Sweetie (Americaunas).
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Faye probably has my favorite feather patterns on her. I just think she is beautiful! (That’s Honey, the Americauna, next to her). Faye is the chicken that survived Suki’s (the dog’s) attempt to carry her to the front porch so we would know she had gotten out of her coop.  Now they are completely free range, but they still lay in their laying boxes since that is where they learned to lay their eggs.  They also put themselves to bed every night!  Very easy chickens!!
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Matilda

Matilda arrived on our doorsteps today.  She needed a place to stay, and we have a little more room, so we’ve decided to invite her to join our family.
She’s a lovely lady and seems to be getting along well with our other ladies.  She’s settling in very nicely.  Kaia has taken to her immediately and follows her everywhere.  We hope she will become a part of our cordwood wall and stay with us forever!  Thought you’d like some pictures!

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Happenings at the homestead

Animals

The chickens are doing well. Still laying a bunch. Since they got use to laying in their boxes, they still go back their to lay even though they are completely free range now. No problems with predators, but we’ll see how that goes once the cold weather comes along and food gets more scarce.

Our two new hives are doing well. They seem strong. We’ve started feeding them their winter sugar syrup. They had a huge field of ragweed and goldenrod to gather pollen from, so they should have enough protein to last them through the winter.

House

Things are moving along well at the house. We are working on getting the stairs in (with the funky angles in our house, this is a bit of a chore). They are made of Oak and Ash and I can’t wait to try them out. I know Suki (the dog) will be happy that she can finally explore the upstairs too. The plumbers are coming out tomorrow, and we hope to do the electrical at the end of the month!

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I’ve been having fun scrolling through Ebay finding lights, sinks, faucets, etc. Here is the sink I got for the master bath. It’s a glass vessel sink, so it sits above the counter. Cooooool, Eh???
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This is the sink for downstairs… it’s a hand painted mexican Talavera drop in sink!

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I’m also making some hand made paper sconces for a few of the rooms. I bought a pretty cheap glass sconce, traced it to make a pattern and added a few inches to each side to have room to fold the edges over. Then I used a spray adhesive and attached the paper, leaving the top rough and unfolded. Then, I used some dried curly willow branches and glued them (with a craft glue) onto the paper.
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Here’s the final product… Cool eh? I thought these would look nice in our bedroom, and maybe in the from hall as you walk into the house.

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Cordwood!! Wild foods and Chickens.

Toby laid down our first cordwood pieces today! Very Exciting!! Here he is, putting in the first piece!!
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This is our friend Eden who has started helping us build. She is working with the mortar here. It is a mix hydrated lime, water, and sand, and should be a nice white once it is dry. That will help to brighten things up inside (as opposed to a dark gray mortar). this wall will be a part of the mechanical/mud/laundry room.

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Here is the same wall from the outside.

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I also ground down all the plants that I harvested a couple of weeks ago. I don’t know if it is worth the effort. The Lamb’s Quarters only made 6.5 ounces of flour, the Aster 5.5, and the Yellow Dock ~4.5 ounces. The Thistle I had to trash because I couldn’t grind it up fine enough and I was worried about getting little sharp thistle pieces in our food. So, for all the effort in gathering, drying, and grinding them, I think it may be a better idea to gather a little each year and use the wild green flours to supplement and increase the nutrients in the ones we buy.

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Have I mentioned that Suki (the dog) and Sweetie (the Houdini chicken) have come to an agreement? I don’t know how or why it happened, but Sweetie, who continues to escape her coop, roams all around the yard and Suki doesn’t bother her. She hops back into the coop to lay her eggs and then gets out again! So, we decided to try to just open up the coop, during the day while we are here, and let all the chickens roam around. Suki seems to be fine with it. She will occasionally give chase to one of the chickens, but there have been no casualties and the chickens love it! In fact, when we don’t open the coop up early enough, all the chickens are trying (and often succeeding) to get out! They have even been going back to their boxes in their coop house to lay their eggs! Crazy chickens!