Archive for the ‘Chickens’ Category

Bye Bye 2012

The last day of the year is like the last chapter of a book. We read it all the way through and then make some determination of whether we liked it or not.

I think I would choose to give this year a poor review. Foot surgery in January, two injuries during the Summer, and The Girls choosing this Winter to stop laying eggs. And then there were the events in the world beyond the Farm… events that left all of us saddened by the actions of a few.

On a scale of 1 to 10, I’d give 2012 about a 4. The redeeming element? Thriving beehives with delicious honey and a delightful addition of a second Corgi to the household.

Wishing you all a spectacular 2013… the new year holds promise!


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The Boys on the Farm

Love it when kids come to the farm… especially these two!


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I have no excuses or explanations. Let’s just say that my creative writing was derailed about a year ago and leave it at that. But what’s most important is that I’m sitting here now typing as if no time had passed.

Life here in the past year has been filled with lots of ups and a sprinkling of downs. Some new additions include six additional hens, a miniature Tennessee Fainting Goat named Priscilla, a white fuzzy Pygmy Goat named Lisa Marie, two (sometimes three) barn cats simply called One, Two & Three, and a son-in-law named Mike!

This year, I began the day with a cup off coffee, a warm blanket, a writing tablet, my favorite pen and a seat in the barn surrounded by a number of curious animals. Yesterday, one of my new friends, Lorinda, posted this on Facebook: “Until you commit your goals to paper, you have intentions that are seeds without soil” and I was definitely inspired. So I set about doing just that.

I was actually pretty pleased with my progress until Mrs. White decided that she’d like a closer look at what I was doing and jumped up on my lap. (You may recall that my initial flock were all named with the help of my grandson.) She felt satisfied that there wasn’t anything of interest and walked across the blanket to the other side. Shortly thereafter, Little Red decided that she needed to take a peek and took a stroll up my leg to inspect the progress. “Nothing much going on,” she clucked and retraced her steps back down to the ground.

Now I was getting close to having what I would call a rough draft (don’t goals always need more definition?) when my blanket was suddenly engaged in a tug-of-war. Lisa Marie vs Millie! It became clear to me that my presence there in the midst of their barnyard routines had become enough of a distraction that it was time to move my chair onto the porch.

I cherish days like these; they don’t occur as often as I’d like. But to start this new year as I did was enough for now. And did I mention that resuming this blog was on my list of goals?

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Where’s Wattle?

What, you say?  Wattle?  You know those long worm-like rolls that CalTrans places along the bottom of freshly graded hillsides?  Well, that’s wattle and I need some desperately!

The downpours of the past few days have transformed my pasture into a pond.  The creek is overflowing with the most wonderful sound of rushing water and croaking frogs but the chickens can’t quite maneuver in the soggy mess.  The grapevines along the pasture fence may not need irrigation for an entire year if this continues as it has been.

Water has a way of allowing itself into places without waiting for an invitation.  Unfortunately, the creek is right behind the barn so need I say more?  The barn floor tells the story.  I’m hoping that I’ll be able to locate some of the elusive wattle tomorrow and see what I can do about providing the creek with some new direction.   Like most of us from time to time, the creek appears to have lost its way.

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Autumnal Return

I’d like to say that it was a long hot summer that kept me away from writing but to do so would not exactly be the truth.  This first summer on the farm was a busy one with a long learning curve.  Projects everywhere… growing fruit and vegetables is one thing but finding time to do something with the harvest is another.  I lost the war with gopher control and realize that living with these rodents will be very much like living with the demonic deer in Twain Harte.

I did manage to resurrect my skills in the art of canning… pickled beets, strawberry preserves, pickled peppers, and tomato sauce.  During the long winter, all of these will be reminders of the glorious feeling of warm sun on my back and the joy of walking into the garden each morning to see what had ripened overnight.  What I’ve learned is that overplanting can be intimidating when one only has a limited amount of time to deal with a prolific crop.  How many eggplants can I eat in a week??  So my fall and winter garden is much more reasonable for a family of one.

As I became comfortable with caring for chickens, I increased their ability to roam and allowed them to truly be free range.  Unfortunately, they quickly learned how to scurry under the pasture gate and my vertical sunflower garden became horizontal overnight.   The demand for farm fresh eggs has increased so much that I brought four more hens into the fold a month ago.  That was an experience!  Each flock kept to itself, refused to blend, and claimed its own area of the henyard.  Literally lots of henpecking going on as they jockeyed for position within the fold but eventually they became one.  Now, when I walk into the pasture, ten hens start their half-run/half-fly/half-waddle toward me and I feel like a nursery school teacher entering a school yard!

Ironically, as the demands of my farm increased this summer so did my business.  I expressed my creative energy in the form of gardening, planning, and summer living; writing took a backseat.  However, now that the shorter days of Autumn are here and the outdoor work begins to decline, I long for the opportunity to write again…  to sit in the quiet bubble where the words just flow like water.

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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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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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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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Friday on the Farm

Well, it’s almost sunset on a Friday evening and I’m sitting on the front porch sipping a lovely glass of wine thinking about the contrast between 2010 and the history of this area.

My neighbor recently gave me a copy of an 1854 diary of a gold miner who lived very close to “my” land.  And here I am typing this entry on a laptop in luxury when once there was someone who followed his dream of making his fortune in an element as elusive as the spring butterflies.  History and Nature never fail to amaze me!

I’ve laid out the hen yard this week.  The posts are in place & all that remains is the chicken wire and the hens themselves.

The weather forecast is for Spring storms next week and my organic non-GMO seeds arrived in today’s mail.  The threat of frost has past so tomorrow will be planting day for carrots, radishes & beets.  I’ll get them in the ground so that they can take advantage of the liquid nitrogen from the sky.

I never thought I would be in love with an acre of land but I am at peace with this place.

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