Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Chicken Brain

I've got it bad.  Heaven only knows how long it will stay this way.  I've got chicken brain.  Our new chicks are about 3.5 weeks old and although they are on the cusp of the "ugly" stage (when their down is completely gone and true feathers are coming in), they are still as cute as can be.  I have been handling them and getting them used to my touch and movements so they will be a little more friendly than our current hens. 

Today was the first day I took the new chicks out of the brooder for a little while and put them in a small cage in the yard (Thanks Small Farm Girl for the idea!).  This has got to be the most fascinating thing to watch.  For the first 5-10 minutes the chicks huddled together with only a few of the brave ones venturing out to peck at a blade of grass.  After about 15 minutes, they seemed to muster up enough nerve to check out the new digs.  Shortly thereafter, they were running around, pecking at the grass and everything else, stretching their wings and chirping with happiness.  About 20 feet away, the older hens in the garden became quite interested in the chirps, poking their heads up in curiosity!.

We did have a breakthrough yesterday when we found that one of our dogs, Waylon, is not interested in easting or chasing the big chickens.  We had him out in the yard with the hens while we were herding them back to their pen with bits of bread.  Waylon was more interested in getting the bits of bread than the chickens.  This makes me very happy that at least one of our dogs can coexist with the chickens. 

Kyra is a different story.  As I have said before, Kyra is very distressed with the chicken situation, the herding of the big hens, a chirping brooder in the garage, and now today big chickens in the garden, little chickens in a cage, Oy!  Today I put the big hens in a makeshift pen outside the garden.  Now this pen is big enough to keep chickens in (until they learn they can fly over it), but not strong enough to keep dogs out (i.e. chicken dinner for Kyra if I don't keep an eye on her).  When the hens are in this pen, I keep a close eye on Kyra.  Kyra knows she is not allowed near the chickens, but the moment I turn my back she would be sniffing around.  Good thing she is a decent listener and when I tell her to stay away from the chickens in their pen, she usually does (when I am watching her!).  When she is "forbidden" to go near something she really wants, she purposefully ignores me and that which she cannot have!

Kyra ignoring the chicks in their cage

While also ignoring the big hens in the fence (chick cage is just outside the right frame of the picture!)

I could spend hours watching the antics between the chickens and the dogs.  Although this may exasperate my chicken brain symptoms!  I wonder where people without pets get their daily ammusement! 

If you like funny pictures of dogs and chickens, check Small Farm Girl, she has herself a chicken guarding pup that will make you laugh!

Friday, March 26, 2010

This makes me smile...

I am giddy, excited, and down right silly over the new cuddly, chirpy, chicks....they make me smile!

Meet the new additions to our flock!  Four Buff Orpingtons and 5 Americaunas!  Currently the chicks are in the temporary brooder.  This weekend Dad and I are finishing the building of the new pullet house.  Pictures of that to follow!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Hurry up and wait

This is that time of year in NC where I get to hurry up and wait.  The weather is finally warming up and assuming we don't get any late March-early April freezes (we probably will), Spring is creeping on us!  Red blossoms on the Red Maples, Forsythia bushes, and daffodils are blooming everywhere and the mud pit we call our backyard is finally turning green again!

I tilled the garden this morning to get ready for our pending planting of the summer garden...which will happen after our expected last frost of April 21st.  The yard has been clean and most traces of Fall and Winter in the form of sticks, leaves, and dead branches have been removed only to be replaced by the quick growing weeds that are already popping up everywhere.  It seems like everyday I see something new blooming, emerging and gathering it's strength for the pending growing season. 

We have hurried through the last few months, planting seeds indoor, preparing the garden soil, cleaning the yard, spending hours of physical and mental time to prepare for the planting season.  Now we get to wait, a few more weeks is all it will take to mostly guarantee frost free growing for our vegetable garden.

Other exciting Spring related news...we picked up our bee hive a few weeks ago and are getting ready to paint and set up the hive.  We pick up our package of bees on April 10th.  I can't wait to get this new adventure started!  More on that later!

Now...where did I leave my patience.....

Monday, March 8, 2010

When your hubby informs you he is going to smoke his butt....

You either have a very interesting story to tell, or you are about to spend your Sunday watching your hubby smoke a Boston Butt in his homemade smoker!  Lucky for me, my hubby was doing the latter and we had a wonderful meal to end an awesome weekend.

This weekend screamed Spring here in Central NC.  Saturday was a little cool but sunny and beautiful and Sunday was downright magnificent.  On Saturday, hubby and I finished some lingering yard work.  I planted our lettuce crop and put some finishing touches on the garden fence project.  We also learned a great method of herding the chickens to the garden from their coop and back without stressing them or ourselves (see previous post about me chasing chickens around the garden :-)

Sunday was an early start of smoking, cooking, baking, and cleaning.  Hubby got up at 8am to start the fire in the smoker and I made him some french toast from homemade bread and bacon.  After breakfast, I baked sugar-free all natural chocolate chip cookies (for me) and all-natural peanut butter cookies for hubby and our pending guests for the evening!  After baking the cookies, I started boiling the Northern Beans on the stove and mixed together a baked bean sauce from scratch (an amazing recipe I found here).  By lunch we had baked beans ready to go on the smoker and a Boston Butt well on it's way to perfection!  After lunch I headed out to the yard and picked up all of the sticks the oak trees have been dropping....thinking to myself "this is why our parents made us pick up sticks as kids"....that was not a fun job!  I spent the rest of the day relaxing by the garden fence watching the chickens scratch and hubby continued to monitor the smoker.

The best part of the weekend came on Sunday night.  My folks and my brother, sister-n-law, and their two boys came over for dinner.   We had the smoked pork, homemade baked beans, slaw, cornbread and oven potatoes, cookies for dessert and a whole lot of family fun! 

It was a perfect end to a perfect weekend.  I am happy that I can finally get to work in the yard and start planning more for the Spring.  I couldn't help but laugh as my dad said "love what you are doing with the back forty".  But, even though our humble acre is not a huge farm, I continue to love what we can do and how it helps me visualize our dreams for the future....maybe one day we really will have a "back forty"!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Lessons from a pup...

   There is always a sunny spot....


 Sometimes you just need something (or someone) to lean on...


A smile is worth a thousand words....


Take time to feel the sand between your toes...


Some things may seem uncomfortable, make you uneasy, or seem impossible, but give it a chance, you never know what you will learn, find, or accomplish.... (like finding a favorite napping spot!)


Bluegrass makes everything better!


 Friends are priceless...

 Take time to enjoy the great outdoors....



Always be open to meeting new folks and making new friends...

Always remember the ones you have loved and never forget the ones you have lost....