Wednesday, February 25, 2015

more winter pics

From last week's ice storm: (Broken off the hen house; left a good 2" in the chicken wire next to the roof)

17" icicle
The dogs weren't too crazy about the ice last week. Buster enjoyed running and sliding some, but Little Dog stayed in the insulated dog house most of the time. The snow was a different story, however. Both dogs played and played and played. The funniest part was when I threw a stick, and Buster actually got a mouth full of snow picking it up. He had the strangest look on his face, chomped his jaws a few times, bent down to pick up the stick, dropped it, and repeated the above process. 
What? You're going inside? Already? I've still got three more sticks and two tennis balls!

Once the chickens realized the snow wasn't the same as ice, they headed out. I don't know why, but their prints always make me laugh.



And amidst the melting snow, flowers are coming up.
(The small ones in the middle are bulbs I planted this fall from a friend).

and the newest shoots coming up, also from the fall bulb

and one of my two lavender plants is still living!
Planted these down by the pond where the dogs hang out. I've read they're supposed to repel ticks.

 The drain to the pond has been either temporarily stopped or totally stopped since the beginning of January. (We've occasionally had a trickle going through.) With all the rain we've had this year, the pond has consistently stayed at a high level - high enough the spillway has seen a fair amount of action, which seldom happens. Above is the duck house. For those who've never been here, there's a walkway on the left and a small boardwalk on the right, as well as a platform in front and behind...all under water.

 And the water is now to the bottom of the pier. At one point when the pipe was totally stopped, it rose even with the floor of the pier. A neighbor was has been regularly working on it and was able to get a trickle streaming through again. With that and the spillway, it helped bring the level back down.

 I know everyone keeps saying this is the coldest winter NC has had in a long time, but this is the first year the pond has not froze off an on all winter. Last week was the first time it started freezing. I love this pic cause it shows the layering of the ice (not sure if that's from the wind blowing or the depth of the ice).
 This shot is close to the edge. It's quite thick here (at least two inches), but you can see the water underneath and where the water is beginning to crack the ice underneath.

 Cracks further out in the pond.
 I made this picture larger. See that pole out in the pond? That used to be a foot or two from the edge (about calf deep).  Not anymore! There also used to be a small island and a creek that are now flooded.

And the view facing the dam. Those white spots are the geese on top of the dam eating the corn I put out.

It was so nice out this afternoon and almost all the snow is melted. It's hard to believe they say more snow/ice is coming tonight.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

snow day!

I had set the alarm this morning so we could take my car to the Honda dealership to replace some parts that have been recalled, only to have my husband inform me we weren't going anywhere. We now have a good 2" of snow on the ground, and it's still (as of 4:54pm) lightly falling. I've not looked at the weather forecast, but I think there may be more on the way in the next two days.

The chickens are treating the snow the same way they treated the ice last week...mostly staying in. The dogs are liking the snow (they tolerated the ice and slid around some for fun) and have continued their daily ritual of chasing each other. They're not happy because I won't go outside and play, and Buster recently started chasing all the birds eating seed off the ground. I guess he's bored. FedEx and UPS haven't been to our neighbors today, and he loves to race the trucks (inside the fence line).

Meanwhile, I've done some family research and baking. No sewing yet today, though maybe after supper I can. Meanwhile I'm off to feed the chickens and check the mail. Last Thursday when it was so bad our mail didn't run, and we're joking that she may not come today either. There was once before that she left a note and didn't deliver a package because "there's a dog and it's raining." But realistically, I don't blame anyone for not coming down our road in inclement weather.

Monday, February 23, 2015

disgusting irony

Saturday night a movie came on about the beginnings of Facebook. I had read some of the controversial reviews while it was in the theaters, and was curious to see what it was really all about. Many parts of it were very disturbing for various reasons, but there was one stupid part that made us laugh. One of the characters was a pledge for a Harvard fraternity, and one of the things he was required to do was carry a live chicken with him everywhere he went. He was in the cafeteria, and the only thing they were serving that day was chicken. He "had" to feed his chicken, so he cut his meat up into small pieces and put it in the chicken's cage. The chicken ate it. Some students saw it and became outraged that one of the Harvard Facebook founders (it was then for Harvard students only) was encouraging cannibalism and animal cruelty that it created quite a rift between its founding partners.

We laughed over that for several reasons. One, the boy wasn't smart enough to go purchase what the bird needed to eat. Two, anyone who has had chickens for a while know that they DO have some cannibalistic tendencies.  Have an injured bird? Some birds will peck at it until it dies. Flies swarming over an injured bird? They'll stand around eating the flies off of it, injuring it more in the process. Have an egg that's been rolled too hard in the turning process? (Hens use the same nest and will kick the eggs around with their feet to make things more comfortable, or if they're nesting they do it to rotate the eggs and change the amount of heat the side of an egg is receiving.) When that egg cracks, the chickens will devour it...yolk, shell...all of it. Many old time farmers save the shells of eggs that they've cooked, let them dry, then grind them up to place into the hen feed as a layer nutrient. Otherwise you buy ground oyster shells and sprinkle it with their feed mixture to give them the calcium they need. Without it, you'll get a weak or shell-less egg.

So with that in mind, I come home from church Sunday to find that a hawk has feasted on one of our hens...the Welsummer to be exact (my one and only dark brown egg layer). After examining the crime scene for a little while and debating with Bobby about whether or not it actually was a hawk or the coyote the dogs were barking at the other day, we determined hawk and I grabbed a shovel to toss him in the woods. Bobby laughed at me for coming back to get the remainder of his insides (GROSS alert: hawks tend to pull out a bird's intestines and put them to side, one of the clues it was a hawk killing.) He said, "You know, the other chickens will eat that if you leave it for him." And then we both remembered the movie and started making cannibal comments. I didn't leave it there. And the reality is, they most likely would have eaten it (a chicken was already pecking the ground in that area by the time I put the shovel up).

I find it disgustingly ironic that some of the brightest and best were protesting "forced cannibalism" when any chicken owner knows chickens CAN be cannibals. It's been a while since I've been to the forum at www.backyardchickens.com , but there used to be a thread about how to deal with chickens who consistently ate their own eggs.

Lately I've not been refrigerating the fresh eggs, so I could still incubate the two remaining dark eggs I have. I really don't want to pull the thing out and start the process, but it would be neat to have at least one of its offspring. And we did buy an egg turner a few years ago, so I wouldn't have to turn the eggs 3-5 times every day. That makes the process a LOT less arduous.

So you've probably learned a lot more about chickens today than you ever cared to know. And the fact that I can not only do all this but actually write about it and not feel squeamish tells me I'm not as citified as I used to be. :)