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Archive for June, 2010

Freedom… at last!

Well, today was the big day.  After spending a week inside the coop making sure they knew it was their home, I opened the door to the hen yard and let The Girls out for the first time.  At first they were quite apprehensive… What’s This??  I stood out in the yard with some fresh greens and tried to coax them out.  My favorite Girl “Little Red” was the first out the door, mostly because she follows me everywhere; slowly the others exited one by one.  Once they realized that they had more to do than just scratch around the floor of the pen, they started flitting about everywhere!

And now, of course, my anxiety sets in.  I keep walking to the window counting to make sure they’re all still there.  Today I need to leave for a few hours and I’m already worried much in the same way as I did on my children’s first day of school.

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Millie and The Girls

I must have made at least ten trips to the barn today just to sit & visit with the chickens.  Everyone has told me that the way they will bond with me is by the sound of my voice.  There is just no way I’m going to start calling “here chickie, chickie” so I’ve decided to walk in and say “hi girls, hi girlie-girls” instead (in a very high pitched voice, of course).  So far, they seem to responding well… they provided me with three beautiful eggs today!

My first eggs

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Chick-chick-chickens!

And they arrived today!  One red, one white, one black, two grey, and one speckled.  I thought about sleeping in the barn with them tonight (sort of a bonding thing) and then realized that it was a very city-ish thing to do.  I’ve decided to call them The Girls.

Chickens Arrival

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Gophermania

At first I really didn’t think they would be much of an issue.  I mean, they have to live somewhere, don’t they?  A few mounds of dirt here and there… nothing much to worry about.  Until the day I realized that mowing the weeds in the orchard was just a few steps short of starting my own private Dust Bowl!  And to make matters worse, my sweet little Corgi has figured out that there are critters living below the surface so walking through the orchard was like walking through a minefield.  A gopher mound here, a doggie hole there… you get the picture?

And then there was the morning I woke up to find a trail of dirt mounds on my garden lawn… and it became all out war.  I started my gopher research and found that the most effective thing to use was a rather frightening little piece of hardware called a Macabee trap that looks like it was invented by none other than the Marquis de Sade himself!  Fortunately, a sweet young clerk was willing to teach me the tricks of setting the thing without losing half of my hand.  After heading back to the front lines, I set the trap, tied it to a string, tied the other end to a metal stake, and made a mental note to put Caddyshack on my Netflix list.

Next morning I peek out the back door to see if my trap had any action during the night.  Success!  Yes (the Macabee did the trick) and No (the rodent was alive).  When reasoning fails, I defer to my gut reaction:  stick a flower pot over its head and wait for it to die.  Next morning, it’s still breathing and flies are starting to gather.  And that’s when the metal stake became a lethal weapon.

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Fragrance surrounds me these days as I step through my garden.  Waterfalls of honeysuckle and jasmine cascade over the fences; the act of opening a gate creates an aroma that is beyond compare.  Clusters of drying oregano hang outside the back door; the essence of lemon balm releases itself as my clothing rubs against the leaves.  The lavender below the front porch fills the warm afternoons with sound and smell as the honey bees stop along their journey to partake in the calm, soothing flowers.

As I write this, the night blooming jasmine drifts through the open windows of my kitchen and, once again, my decision to be here is reaffirmed.

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Progress!

The lovely lilting lavender garden is finally taking shape.  All of the dolomite (translation: white rock) arrived yesterday in a big dump truck and is now sitting on the edge of my driveway.  The soil has been leveled, the brick edging is in plate, the weed cloth is on the ground and the plants are itching to get out of their pots.  Tomorrow may be the day they hit the ground running; mine will be late bloomers… the norm for Millie’s Farm, it seems.

And then there are the animals.  My friends showed up this morning to start the work on the little barn and, by this evening, I had a stall for the sheep (which are yet to arrive) and the walls of Chicken Central are now in place.  A little hole in the wall and some electricity and soon the farm will be home to a fine feathered flock.

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