Sunday, June 29, 2008


ZOO News

Our city zoo is awesome. I have been involved with the Potter Park Zoo for several years now and love how they reach out to children and give them a deep love for wildlife. I recently received an email from one of the docents there and she wants to give me some chicks! I have too many already, but who can resist? They are giving me three Buff Orpington pullets and a matched pair of White Japanese Bantams. Ooooh baby! Of course, you will stay tuned for Ruth's pictures when they arrive? The Orps are four weeks old and the Bantams hatched June 28.

Nest Boxes

The green barn in which these nestboxes reside is over 100 years old. I am not sure how old they are, but they have been here for a long time. I have been tossing ideas around in my head and am coming to a conclusion. I have been studying nestboxes and looking at many different kinds, including Amy's at Twelve Acres. I love hers and if I didn't have these, I would copy hers. However, since I have these in place, and there are about 25 individual nests, I am going to make do with what is here. Besides, I love them. Should I paint them? (whitewash ala Tom Sawyer?)

Hen Pecked

As you can tell by looking at them, the hen would be pretty much out of sight, and who wants to stick a hand into these dark, mysterious nests to gather eggs every day and meet some very crabby broody hen!? Check out the video Farmchick Paula has of one of her broody hens.

Open Sesame!
My plan is to remove the top half of the face boards so that the hens will have privacy, but they can still be seen from the front. So, if I get hen-pecked, I'll at least see it coming!

Chickens and Roosts (An original Aesop's Fable)

The Bee and Jupiter

A bee from Mount Hymettus, the queen of the hive, ascended to Olympus to present Jupiter some honey fresh from her combs. Jupiter, delighted with the offering of honey, promised to give whatever she should ask. She therefore besought him, saying,"Give me, I pray thee, a sting, that if any mortal shall approach to take my honey, I may kill him." Jupiter was much displeased, for he loved the race of man, but could not refuse the request because of his promise. He thus answered the Bee: "You shall have your request, but it will be at the peril of your own life. For if you use your sting, it shall remain in the wound you make, and then you will die from the loss of it."

Moral: Evil wishes, like chickens, come home to roost.

Tribute to Stiggy

That heading sounds like he kicked the bucket, but no, he is alive and well. I named Stiggy after an Englishman who has a great flock of his own as well as a great flock of well-loved children. Stiggy is a Buttercup rooster and is still the top roo. He has some future competition in the form of a Cuckoo Maran, who is twice his size, but is at the moment quite docile.

Stiggy was strutting around yesterday, picking up sticks and rocks and clucking up a storm. This must be a tough guy thing to do, because another smaller rooster started doing it too and Stiggy proceeded to chase that rooster all over the run. This went on for a few minutes! They were both running, open-beaked, and obviously getting tired! I wish I had it on video. Finally the pursued rooster ran into the coop with Stiggy hard on his tail. I expected to hear lots of squawking and noise, but it remained quiet. After about ten seconds they both came out the little door and acted as if nothing happened. They bellied up to the outdoor waterer, (chicken bar), got carded and bought each other a drink, and then went off to scratch around in the grass.

Life is Great

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Summertime is Here!

Cutting With Some Teeth!

I bought a new chain for my chainsaw and wow! what a difference. My 18" Poulan zips right through this fallen maple. I cut and Ruth loaded the chunks into the truck. Later, we tossed the wood into the corn crib where we will stack it and let it dry all summer. We'll be toasty around the wood stove this winter. But I do miss my bee tree. The bees have flown the coop!

(P.S. Several of my good friends have commented on my lack of safety gear and they are absolutely correct to point that out! I have the gear, but I am sometimes lazy and don't wear it. Thank you for showing your concern!)

Beaver Teeth Leave Their Mark

My dad found this log floating in his lake and knew I would want it for my classroom. I like this a lot! Notice how the beaver scraped long lines in the wood. The sides of the log are full of little tooth marks where the beaver stripped the bark off for dinner.

Olive Tomatoes!

I didn't even know they were this far along until Ruth showed me this photo. I'm ready for some garden fresh tomatoes.

Jungle Gym
Our ancient apple tree blew over this past winter and I cut this chunk off to put in with the chickens.

When I put it in the enclosure, they all beat it into the coop. One by one they came out and with a little scratch for motivation, they began to feel more comfortable. Now they are climbing around like little chicken monkeys.

Here are a couple of the girls pretending to be princesses and lording it over everyone else. Nobody paid any attention to them, except Ruth.

Bad Hen is showing everyone how brave and tough she is. She got to the top and slid down like a little moon walk and then promptly fell off. She made an odd sound and left in a huff. Cackles all around!
Pilates anyone?
Floozey and Honey aren't too sure of the new contraption. They think somebody is going to get hurt.

Somebody getting ready to get hurt.

"Nobody will play with me!" Kuifje just figured out how to get up on it and everyone went in.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Chicken Quiz

Help! I don't know what these are!
This is my free rare rooster from McMurray Hatchery. I thought he was a Golden Penciled Hamburg, but now I think he may be an Aracauna or a Buttercup. What do you think? He is a good crower and is the dominant rooster for now. I think one of the Cuckoo Maran roosters is going to take over. I'm open for names for these two chickens! Maybe I'll send you a prize.

Aracauna too?
I thought she was a Splash Andalusian, but now I think she is an Araucana. I'm definitely OK with that as she'll lay the pretty green or blue eggs. Her name is Daryl, (named for the movie Splash, but now she may need a name change!)

Wild Bees are down, but not out!

We had a powerful wind last week that tore our bee tree in half, exposing the poor hive to the elements. I don't know what I'm going to do yet, I sent an email to Professor Huang at Michigan State University who deals with bees to see if he has any ideas. Do you have any ideas? I should be like The Unusually Unusual Farmchick and try to capture the bees and start making my own mead.


I need to sharpen my chain saw for this!


There's probably a lot of honey in there! Don't you want to just reach in there and scoop some of that honeycomb out?! Me neither!! (Well, I sort of do...)

With the plight of honeybees right now, I feel like this hive can teach us something. They have survived for at least five years, all by themselves. No help from farmer Don! Maybe Professor Huang will be able to give me some ideas before something gets into the cavity and cleans house, I mean hive!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Green Barn Happenings

Quick Chick Update

If you look closely, you'll be able to make out the white fence posts that show where the electric poultry mesh runs to create an enclosure for the chickens. This has worked very well as it has repelled Bishop and other predators. It has been interesting to watch the chickens respond to wildlife. A wild turkey walked up to the fence and all the chickens ran inside. Floozy kept a lookout at the door and when the turkey drifted into the woods, she came out and resumed scrounging. A rooster pheasant has been hanging around the perimeter of the fence. I think he's in love.


I think she can kick my &#%. Look at those feathers!


I'm sorry, but I just can't get enough of this. Look at the white outlines of her crest feathers.

Group hug

Only one of these has a name. Lesley (my daughter) asked if she could change this Daryl to Jolie, which is French for beautiful. This hen is the whitest white imaginable.

Bat house

The Brownies Troop at my school gave me this bat house. I hung it on our corncrib and it has 4 or 5 bats sleeping in it during the day. There is also a colony of bats sleeping inside the barn at the peak. Sometimes Peter and I stand in there and look for them. We usually can spot some of them as they move around. I love the idea of bats living at our farm. We watch them zipping and diving and know that they are eating hundreds of mosquitoes each night. We have a small woodland pond and it was full of mosquito larvae. Now they have become mature young ladies, hungry for blood so they can create the next generation of mini vampires. (Can you see the little bat insignia on the bathouse?)


I'm not sure if you call bat poo "guano." But I like the way it sounds, so on the green barn farm, we have bat guano. It burns!

Real Crab Apples

I make tasty jelly with the apples from this tree. It turns out to be the prettiest pink color. This looks like a bumper crop!

Black Raspberries

I love making jam with these berries. I assume the bug Ruth captured is some sort of beetle. I usually get most of the bugs out when I make jam. ;)


These Sunflowers survived the frost and are doing well! They are children of last year's sunflowers. Grow tall and straight! I just found more sunflowers growing in the gravel of the driveway. I'm letting them grow!

Frost Warning

Almost all the plants I covered died from the frost. These tomatoes weren't covered, but survived. All the brighter green leaves are post-frost growth. I think I have 7 tomato plants growing!

Puny Garden

I wanted to put in a garden this year, but haven't had a lot of time. So, I scratched out a four foot by fifteen foot patch, added some good humus and sphagum moss and stirred it up. I planted 8 green bean plants and six died from Mr. Frost. I resorted to planting green bean seeds directly into the soil and they are just now popping up. I also have three surviving peppers, and two eggplants. Lesley and I scratched out some long rows and planted carrot seeds and radishes. Here are the radishes. You can see some carrots mixed in with the radishes. OOPS! Oh well, hopefully this will give the kids something fun and edible to pick during Farm Day in August.

Hen and Chicks

These are my first successful brooding hens! I have these growing in an old bullet-ridden tub. I also plant Zinnias in the tub and they are a blast of color. Unfortunately I like the spot at the bottom of the deck steps for this tub and it is in the line of fire for when we play four square and basketball. It becomes very entertaining when someone dives and sacrifices his/her body to save my Zinnias.