Sunday, December 28, 2008

And the Winner is...

This week I offered my Lucky Horseshoe I have hanging over the door to my chicken coop. I found it on a shelf in the barn basement and hung it up to keep all the luck for my chickens and my barn. In the spirit of the season, I wanted to pass this along.

I had a "random selector" narrow the 31 entrants down to 3 and the winner is...

Congratulations on your amazing, world-class prize!

I want to thank all of you who come and visit me. It always makes my day to interact with you.

Thank you...

Happy New Year to each of you!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Season For Giving

Let It Snow!

School teachers and children both love snow days. Friday (Dec. 19) was our first snow day of the school year. When there is a chance for a snow day, the students at my school wear their pj's inside out and backwards and eat their dessert first at dinner the night before the wished for event. Success all-around!

10 inches of snow

A View of the Corn Crib

Deer Tracks Across The Path

Peter's Car Stuck in the Driveway.
Welcome to the Farm.
Peter has been working in the Caribbean
since August, and is heading back in January.
If you have read this far, you deserve a chance to win this wonderful prize. Can you see the Horseshoe hanging over the door to the chicken coop? Well, everyone who leaves a comment this week will get put into the drawing to win this real horseshoe, which I found in the Green Barn.
Doesn't this sound like a great prize? I can tell you are excited.

The Prize.

Good Luck!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Keeping Busy in the Cold Barn

(I gave Ruth the week off from photos, and stole her camera. She edited them.)

As you can see from the thermometer in my coop, it is about 30° F. In spite of the cold weather, my hens have been laying more eggs than ever! On Wednesday, they laid 17 and the next day laid 19! I already have 14 today and it's only around noon. Up until this barrage, the girls have been averaging 10-12 eggs per day for the past couple of months. I think it must be a combination of the light I am leaving on from 6:30AM until 8:00PM and the maturing of the Polish Crested hens. I am getting a lot of white eggs now since white layers are the majority of the flock.

How did the thermometer get dirty? The same way as the light bulb, I guess.

Free Ranging in the barn basement

Since they can't/won't go outside due to the 8 inches of snow on the ground, I have been letting the chickens out of the coop and into the rest of the barn. The basement is my next project. It has a lot of dirt piled up in it. Why it's in there, I don't know, but it has got to go. For the time being, however, the chickens have been loving their dustbaths.

Look at the two white crested polish hens standing tail to tail. They both just finished wallowing in the dirt.

What do you think of her really bad haircut?

What are you looking at?

Go away, I'm taking a bath.

Nesting Boxes

There are over 20 nice nesting boxes on the walls of the coop, full of clean, dry, cozy straw. However, half of the hens prefer unconventional housing for their eggs. "Monkey see, monkey do" seems to be their mantra. If one of them lays an egg somewhere interesting, others follow suit.

Corner lot, nice views available.

While I was taking the photo, the black crested polish hen, (who follows me around all the time), came over to investigate and began setting on the eggs.

Well, nosey Floozey saw that and came over to see what all the excitement was about and proceeded to kick the black one out.

Now that she was alone with the eggs, she began to adjust them so she could do her mothering thing. She stayed there for about two minutes and then was off to see what I was going to do next. Floozey is the nosiest hen in the coop.

Next, I went to the the overturned feed bucket and there was Floozey, checking out the eggs. She actually stayed there for the rest of the time I was in the coop.

Floozey is a Buttercup hen. Doesn't she have the most interesting comb? It will get twice this size as she matures. She was hatched on April 4, 2008. (my birthday!)

Now here is a fancy place to lay some eggs. Notice that round one? it's a Dunlop.

Newly Named

I leave you this week with the Little Dudes. Gomer and Goober, squaring off.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

I'm for the birds

This majestic elm has marked the gateway to the path for a long time. You can tell it's been in this stage of life for quite a while. It may be my favorite tree.

Our friend Heather told her father how much we loved bluebirds, so he built this one for Ruth, and I just had to put it on this tree. The birdhouse overlooks a large field where there are many tasty morsels for a bluebird. They love to perch on the remaining branch and then swoop down on the unsuspecting bug, and then back up to the branch. The only variation on this theme is when they fly straight to the birdhouse and feed the little bluebirds growing inside.

On the last day of school, we have an assembly to say our tearful good-byes. The fifth graders have a tradition of "willing" parting gifts to teachers, other students, etc. One of my former students gave this birdhouse to me and I have had bluebirds in it every year. That student has kept in touch with me and she is now a junior in high school and thinking about her future. We have had many back and forth emails and I have a lot of fun giving her advice.

I built this one out of scrap pieces and it houses another bluebird family. You can tell it's well-insulated, the snow isn't melting on the roof... ;)

We cleaned out my parents' garage last summer and my mom was going to toss this, so I tossed it right into my truck. A House Wren built a nest in this one. They are non-stop warblers!

The same wren built a nest in this one and raised a brood in here. Baby wrens are too cute!

I am a trash picker from way back. I found these on trash day about a mile up the road from us. One is a bluebird house, the other is some sort of feeder which I will convert into a birdhouse of some kind. They are made out of cedar, so they will last a long time.

This is a birdhouse gourd and has different species each year. Right now the remnant of a Song Sparrow is peeking out.

I never get tired of birds.

We have some with the loudest call, and of course, they do it in the summer starting at daybreak. I just scared off (not on purpose) twelve mourning doves who were feeding on the ground under the bird feeder. Sometimes we have over thirty goldfinches queuing up at the thistle feeders.

The biggest "prize" bird I spotted this past summer was a pileated woodpecker. I surprised him near our woodland pond and he took off and glided across the water, about a foot from the surface, landed on the side of a tree, squawked at me and took off. That was the only time I saw him.

Among my favorite birds is the Indigo Bunting. We saw one on Thanksgiving day in 2003, and I saw another one a couple of years ago, but they are rare indeed!

My goal right now is to see a Scarlet Tanager.

Which bird do you think is the coolest? I like the name Merganser, but for now, I'll stick with the Scarlet Tanager.