Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Graduates

The Class of 2008
My first class of fourth graders in 1999-2000

In the fall of 1991, I started my third or fourth and final career (?) by going back to Michigan State University as a non-traditional student at the age of 36. I, at long last, went back to what I started in 1973 at the University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh: becoming a teacher. I had the good fortune to do my student teaching in 1998-99 at a wonderful school which actually hired me for the following year. Another good fortune that year was getting the incredible group of students pictured above. We had a little too much fun that year!

The boy standing directly in front of me was the class leader. He still is a great leader. When he was in my class he injured his ear and had stitches. This required a large, globby, white bandage to be placed on his ear, and by the end of the week half of the boys had some sort of bandage on their ears!

Now I am going to their graduation parties. Seeing young faces turning into adults. Remembering names, moms, dads, siblings, stories. What fun! What a nice re-connection. I feel refreshed this evening. Filled up by the past which has come to the present.

At the second graduation party, Megan, the graduate, mentioned that one of my present students lives directly behind her and that he wants to come to the party when I arrive. He came and the three of us stood together talking about school and comparing 1999 to 2008. Oh the things we remember! Megan remembered that she told me on the first day that she hated math and that I told her it would be her favorite subject by the end of the year. She is attending the University of Michigan this fall and will major in engineering. I think it's in her genes, as her two brothers are both at U of M, one becoming a medical doctor and the other getting a PhD in mechanical engineering.

What a nice look back today was.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

First Day in the Chicken Run

Fat Boys Move-In Day

No, Peter and Lesley are not the "Fat Boys!" I have 26 three week old "broilers" and today we created a place in the coop for them to stretch their legs. Lesley and Peter are working on installing a new post and fence to keep the fatties separate from the hens. The hens are quite taken with these chubby dudes.

Round Up Time

Lesley and Peter helped with the setup of the portable electric poultry mesh. It is designed to generally keep the chickens in, but more importantly to keep most predators out. I'll let you know how it goes.


At first the chickens wanted no part of going outside. We literally had to capture each one and carry it outside. They huddled together for a while and then started acting like chickens in tall grass. As we were putting them back in the coop, several escaped through the mesh and had to be tracked down. I wish I had some pics of Ruth chasing Floozey into the woods with Bishop the Barn Cat chasing Ruth!

Peter, Chick Magnet

Lesley and Honey

Lesley and Peter gave Honey a haircut today as she literally could not see due to the length of her "hair."

She Crowed

Aha! As I walked into the coop this morning, this one crowed, revealing her true identity! How do I decide which roosters to keep? I don't think I can put Cuckoo Marans into the soup pot. Does anyone want a couple of Cuckoo Roosters?

Gotta Dig the 'Do'

Meet Dahlia.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Summer is on the Horizon!

We have the privilege of sharing a cottage with our extended family. It is called Hukilau after a name the previous owners found in Hawaii. I know summer is just around the corner when we have our spring workday. This year we had a great turnout and worked, played and most importantly, got re-connected with each other after a long, cold winter.

Phlox Rocks!
Each year we chip away at doing things to improve the place. Wilma is a great flower child, she sticks these little surprises around.

Lydia, the Dutch Cleanser
Even the walls get some TLC! The cottage was built sometime in the 1920's.

Quail Keep Producing
I am getting five or six per day on average. Sometimes I get nine! Sometimes I get three.:(
Ruth successfully bartered some quail eggs for Jerusalem Artichokes, which were very nice in our salad, (along with some very cute and tasty boiled quail eggs). I like having something with which to barter. What will you trade for these?

Growing Up

Buff Cochin
Here is a photo update on three of my chicks. This one is a Buff Cochin, whose origins go back to China. She is one of two Buff Cochins in the flock.

Cuckoo Maran
This is one of the three boys. I understand that the boys are lighter in color, so I assume this is the lighter version as there are three much blacker birds. The hens will lay chocolate brown eggs!

Splash Andalusian
I am 85% sure that this is a Splash Andalusian. I can't find any other light colored chicken with greenish blue feet. The other one is almost pure white, with no other colors. What do you think?

On Deck
(Baseball term for the next hitter, for non-Americans)
My next project is the vegetable garden. I have plans for the usual suspects: green beans, zucchini, tomatoes, yellow, red, green and chocolate bell peppers, cinderella pumpkins, regular pumpkins, white pumpkins, various gourds, carrots, and other as of yet unknown edibles. If you have suggestions, I will plant them and think about you, my friends, as they grow!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

For the Birds

"'Mr. M' will know what to do with it!"

I teach at an elementary school, and last week some students burst into my room during recess with a big dilemma; they had rescued a blue egg from a dangerous predator, a first grader. They then proceeded to let me know that everyone on the playground had decided that I would know what to do. Hmmm. If you recall, I have a photo of a robin's nest with four blue eggs in it and told them that I would take the egg home and place it in the nest with the four other blue eggs. I assured them that if the egg hatches, the robin will treat the chick as if it were her own. Hopefully, the baby will like worms!

I realized when I went to put the egg into the nest that it was both larger and a different shade of blue than the robin eggs. I put it in anyway. I then googled for other birds that lay blue eggs, and the only possibility I could find is a starling. Are there other birds that may lay an egg like this?

Friday, I checked on the nest and the four robins had hatched and Ruth snapped this picture. You can see the egg I put in there peaking out from under the babies. I'll keep checking!

Bishop meets chick

My dad has chickens in his blood. He has countless stories from his childhood about chickens. He also introduced us to chickens back in the early 1960's. When he found out I was getting layers, he suggested that I get some fryers and he would butcher them out with me. Well, after the layers were out of the brooder, I went to the farm store and bought 26 Vantress X Arbor (AA70) Cross chicks. These are supposed to be ready in 6-8 weeks.

I think Bishop would like to have a play date with this youngster! She was quite calm and gentle. I don't know if that attitude would last if left to their own devices!

Samuel Beckett Reincarnated?

Deceased Irish writer spotted being pensive in the Green Barn. (White Crested Polish)

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Chapel Opens in Basement of Cathedral

The 34 chicks made their big move today from the brooder to the 15' x 26' coop. I want to sit in there and watch them run around. They have been confined to a 5' x 5' brooder and now they can flex their wings and legs a little.

A white crested, black Polish and Floozy the Golden Pencil Hamburg, getting a sneak preview of their new digs.

The straw man cometh.

Ruth thinks, (and I agree) that the stone wall in the background looks like something from Europe. I'm OK with that.

The chicks are in this thing together. Most of them have been spending their time in a herd exploring the new environment. Some of them break away and run like a spaz and then come running back to the group.

They look (and are) so tiny! I built the roosts today, using an old and very long sawhorse. You can see it on the left side. I'm planning on doing something different with the old nest boxes. I like how they look, but I don't relish the thought of reaching a hand into those boxes and being greeted by an ornery hen!

I found two quail eggs Saturday, and two more today! Five weeks and three days after hatching, the quail are laying.