Sunday, April 27, 2008


Chicks Update

They're starting to look like chickens.

OK, I know I am obsessed, but I'm giving an update anyway. Here are some photos taken at three weeks and one day old.

White Polish Crested Chick.

She is so calm. She'll just sit in my hand, or wherever. She is having trouble eating out of the little red feeders I have. Her head and "hair" won't fit into the holes! She looks a little yellowish. Is there a yellow or golden Polish? I'm getting a Big Girl Feeder tomorrow.

Gold Pencil Hamburg and a Silver Polish Crested (I think)

I haven't named any of the chicks yet, (except for the two Splash Andalusians, whom we named "Daryl, and her sister Daryl." (from the movie "Splash")

White Crested Black Polish and the Silver Polish

That is some head of hair!


She is a very pale taupe color, and gets along with everybody. (Hmm, that sounds like a comment on a report card)

Cuckoo Maran

This one is the top of the pecking order right now. She doesn't go around and beat up anyone, but she stands up to all those who try to dominate her. I think she is a hen, due to her dark coloring.

Kid Friendly Place

I grew up with an Uncle Sam who owned a farm up near Loomis, MI. My parents would drop me off for weeks at a time in the summer and I would do everything from ride the calves to pick blueberries for breakfast. It seems like farms lend themselves to childhood joy!

Eli (my nephew's son), returned to the farm this weekend and couldn't get enough of the quail. He carried this one around for quite a long time. It crowed the whole time too! These quail are so gentle and don't seem to mind being lugged around. Eli was very careful.

Aden and Lydia weren't as sure as Eli, but after watching him hold the bird and not die, they decided they could try petting it.

More Quail

Here is grandpa quail with a little cutie (the bird).


I love spring and all the life that comes around with it. Look at Eli in the background. Who needs a jungle gym when you have a good stump?

Balancing Ballerina

Lydia showing her brothers what all of her training and experience are for.

Fallen Apple

Nice spot to get away from it all.

Guitar Hero

My son, Peter, playing his guitar in Ruth's studio. Today the band Meridian, had a photo shoot at the farm for their new CD release. They spent a lot of time in ten different locations around the farm shooting hundreds of pics. Ruth stole this shot of Peter through a window.

Meridian at the Green Barn

Peter's Band

Coop Update

Here I am contemplating the final pieces of the floor/ceiling. I decided to use as much salvaged lumber as I could and then fill in with new. In a few years it'll all look like it's been around. I should be able to put the chicks in the coop next weekend. It was too cold this weekend and I am not quite ready.

My Cathedral


Now THAT is robin's egg blue.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

The Coop, The Veggies, and The Great Escape

I can hardly believe my eyes! The corner of the barn where the chicken coop is, has finally been enclosed. Whew! I need to put some finishing touches on the coop, such as: install windows, repair some stone work, change the nesting boxes, add some flooring to the upstairs of the barn, which is actually the ceiling of the coop, (the coop is in the basement of the barn), and then clean up my big mess. I think one more Saturday and the little poopers will be ready for their new home. They are already stretching the limits of the brooder I have them in. It is almost 20 square feet, but it is shrinking by the minute. The coop is 20 feet by 14 feet, so that will feel like a football stadium to them!


Here is the new exterior door which leads into a small "hallway" and the coop is on the left as you go through this door. Ruth helped me install this by marking hinge holes and shimming the bottom using a crow bar. Go Ruth! What appears to be a window in the upper right corner actually is a window on the far side of the barn, 60 feet away. There is a new wall there now.

The pile of dirt and debris on which I am sitting, will be carted away and a nice pea gravel sitting area will take its place. Don't you just love that old can in the foreground? Somebody was throwing it out.


Last summer I planted some zucchini, peppers, tomatoes and pumpkins. Everything actually did OK. We had lots of tomatoes, both red and also green ones for frying in olive oil. The pumpkins did very well. I think I harvested almost thirty nice sized pumpkins and even froze some for baking. This year I am trying green beans, lettuce, carrots as well as the same stuff from last year. The exception is that I am growing some Cinderella Pumpkins. These are amazing looking! if they grow, I may have a little stand and sell them. I want carrots, so the little kids who come to the farm can go out to the garden and pull some up! (Hopefully not all!)

The Great Escape

Friday afternoon the weather was perfect for taking some chicks out for a little romp in the grass. That was the plan anyway. The white crested one in my hand looked around for a minute and then took off at a full sprint for the woods next to our yard. Ruth was trying to snap some pictures, and then grabbed the two that hadn't run off yet. I came out of the barn and went off to the woods in search for the little Steve McQueenette! She played dodge around a tree and then ran into a thicket. Just then, Bishop the Barn Cat showed up and I was sure she would be able to capture the runaway, so I reached through the blackberry thorns and nabbed her.

No more playing in the grass!

I found a roll of chicken wire and was able to make a little playground but they spent their thirty minutes of freedom huddled together and looking worried.

Here is a photo of one of our Cuckoo Maran roosters. I will have to make a decision one of these days about this fella. I may keep two roosters. I believe I have a Golden Campine rooster!

Here is a picture showing the real blast the chicks didn't have "behind bars".

I ordered a poultry electric mesh which will be installed so the chickens can romp around without fear of dogs, coyotes, etc. I still have to figure out what I will do for the hawks.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Doors and Las Tres Amigas


The coop is almost totally enclosed! The white door is a recycled kitchen door from some old farmhouse. I like the idea of having a door with a window for more light. The large door to the left of the white door used to hang on this barn and I converted it to a wall. My son Peter helped me install these. If you click on his name, you will see his Band with their newly released CD! (He's the one sitting down with the sunglasses).We had a lot of fun chasing the barn cat around and sitting watching the chicks run around. It was so nice outside, we hardly got anything done. There will be an outside wall installed so this view is temporary.


I realized that I didn't have any of these chicks in my collection and I definitely needed the green and/or blue eggs they lay. So I drove over to Mason's farm store and bought these tres amigas this morning.

Ruth had fun taking this picture as las tres amigas were feeling a little shy.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Home to Roost

My cell phone rang at 6:40 AM on Monday morning and our Postmaster notified me that my chicks had arrived from McMurray Hatchery. I have been thinking about and planning for this day for months and I realized at that moment that I hadn't gotten chick starter yet! Hello!! Anyone in there?? Ruth thought I was talking in my sleep, but then heard me say, "I'll be right there!" She knew they had arrived.

Here they are all huddled in their shipping carton. You can see all of the crested chickens, they are the ones with the cotton balls on their heads.

This is a Silver Polish chick. There are four of them. I think they are stunning yet goofy looking! I can't wait to see their little hats form.

Buff Cochin She is such a little cuddle bum! There are four of them.

I believe this is a Cuckoo Maran. I ordered four hens and a rooster. We'll see! They lay the chocolate brown eggs.

I am hoping this is a Golden Campine. There are three of them and they are friendly and inquisitive.

White Crested Black Polish The spunkiest chicks of the litter! They sent six of these.

White Leghorn Rooster McMurray put eight of these into the box at no charge. They helped keep the rest of the group warm, and I don't want leghorn roosters! What am I going to do with eight of these guys??!
Add Image

I have four of the large dudette in front. She is different shades of brown and really pretty! I can't figure out what they are. Do you have any ideas?

There are two more breeds that I don't have photos of, but I will have them in the next post.

The coop is taking shape and should be ready for the big move when they are! I have three White Silkies on order from the local feed store. They will call me if they get some in their next order.

Sometimes I feel like I am a crazy man.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Quail chicks update

The quail hatched on March 26, making them about ten days old today. Here are two photos comparing them.

This is a photo taken on their hatchday. They were tiny, cuddly and downright cute.

Here are the same chicks on their tenth day. Look at the feathers! When we took the photos today, four of them jumped out of the brooder after I removed the lid and actually flew a few feet! They were not easy to catch, but we successfully got all of the vagabonds back into captivity. With all of the owls hooting around, Bishop the barn cat, Kestrels hovering around and other assorted hunters, I think the quail are content to be held captive. I will soon be able to distinguish between males and females. Males have a orange tint to their chest and the females remain white.

The females will lay eggs at seven weeks. They must be teenager quail right now.

The Barn is Taking Shape

Not only is my nephew Paul a great father and role model, he is also a talented and smart engineer. I have been tossing and turning over this corner post (or lack thereof) of my barn for almost five years and finally decided to just go after it. Paul volunteered to come and help but I did most of the helping and he did most of the figuring. By the end of the day, we had the post set squarely and firmly into place, but we also hung "beams" that secured several stringers that have been hanging in the wind for thirty years. Now I can get the chicken coop battened down against all the roaming predators.

Thank you Paul!

Paul (in the burgundy) helping his four year old construction dude use a jigsaw for the first time.

Seven year old Lydia is getting ready to haul some stuff. She spent time reading, riding her bike on the hills and eating pie with Aunt Ruth. She also found some time to haul stuff.

Here is Eli, the four year old construction dude with his tool belt, including helmet! I found some tools in the barn that belonged to his great-grandfather, and we added to his collection. I had a really cool, old ornate hand saw hanging on the barn wall, that was his great grandpa's, which I also gave to him. I wonder what he will cut first with it?

Barn Talk

First we set up a post with a jack underneath it, so we could elevate the existing post and then slide the new bad boy under.

Then we slid the new six by six underneath, released the jack and it was perfect! Hooray for brilliant engineers. (He is a Michigan Tech grad). We stood there grinning for a long time.

This was a dangerous beam being held up by a post that was bowing and getting ready to break. After the new corner post went in, Paul whacked it with one fell blow and it crashed down harmlessly. Yea for harmlessly!

You don't know how happy and relieved I am to be done with that corner post. I am now on Spring Break and have all of next week to get the coop ready for the chickens. They are arriving Monday or Tuesday. I will probably make a new post then to show off my little babies.

Life is good.