Tuesday 27 June 2023

I’m Attractive

 … to mosquitoes. I just went outside in the smoke filled air thick with humidity. The rain stopped long enough for me to go out and take my first picking of spinach from my vegetable garden and even though I had earlier spritzed myself with bug repellent, I was swarmed and attacked. 

I have a constant supply of no- name benedryl ( the little pink ones). The itching and swelling I get from mosquitoes, black flies, and deer flies is unbelievable and unbearable. 

We had a good day of rain yesterday and again on and off today. Weeding will be a big part of my life in the next few days. 

My new hens are still very skittish. I think only one kind of chicken is laying so far but unfortunately the eggs have very brittle shells so many of them are unusable. New layers sometimes lay eggs with imperfect shells and I really hope this improves. They receive layer feed which has appropriate levels of calcium in it, so that shouldn’t be the problem. Also, the silly girls sit at the top of a ramp and lay their eggs, thus causing them to roll down the ramp and sometimes break. Ugghhh, can’t wait until they’ve figured out the laying boxes.

Anyway, I am most likely all done teaching for this school year. The final day is this Thursday with Friday being a PD day with teachers in school but no students. 

I’m looking forward to the next two months of gardening, preserving my harvest, reading ( check out my “ reading list” pages), and spending time at the pool. Oh, and collecting eggs, too!

Tuesday 20 June 2023

New Additions

 For those of you who enjoy my chicken posts, you'll like this one. 

A while ago, I had phoned a hatchery to see if I could order "ready to lay" hens. This means they are about eighteen weeks old. Yes, I could order some, but they were sold out of the special breeds that I was interested in. I was put on a waiting list, just in case some people backed out of their initial orders. Instead, I ordered four Sasso chickens in the silver colour. They are a dual purpose breed, meaning they are fine for egg laying or for eating. Nobody gets eaten here, however. 

About a week ago, I got a call from the hatchery reminding me of my pick up date, and also letting me know that the waiting list paid off and was I still interested in the other breeds: Lavender Orpington and Noiran (a Maran cross for those chicken ladies out there). Well, yes I was, but I hadn't intended to buy that total amount, as I didn't think I had proper room for fourteen new birds. I currently only have two old girls, one of whom does not lay at all, and the other occasionally lays a soft-shelled egg. (Remember, nobody gets eaten here).

In the end, I decided I would still get the four Silver Sasso hens, as well as three Lavender Orpingtons and three Noirans. Yesterday was the day to pick them up. I had two cages ready and husband and I took a road trip an hour and a half away to pick up the new girls.

Here are the four Silver Sasso hens. 

In the larger cage were the Lavender Orpingtons (the light grey) and the Noirans (black with copper coloured heads).

When we got home, they were put inside the coop without the two older ones so they could acclimatize and understand that the coop was "home" (although I might be attributing too much thought into a chicken). 

Initially they huddled in a corner, standing on top of each other, being scared. Little by little, they moved apart and spent an inordinate amount of time pecking at the walls. The black hens (Noirans) are the most inquisitive and "smart" and figured out food and water first. They others slowly followed suit. 

Later in the day, I opened their little chicken door to provide them the opportunity of going outside in the run, and for the two older ones to check out the youngin's. That went pretty well, there's always going to be a bit of tussling. 

The older hens (like many who are getting up in age) retreat to their roosts by 7:00 p.m. (even though it is still light outside), but the young ones stayed outside in the run, or moving about in the coop until at least 9:00 but eventually everyone went in. Most haven't figured out the roosts yet. That will come. 

This morning there was lots of squawking going on before I got out to open up their little chicken door. One of the old ones is quite disturbed by the infiltrators now and gripes and complains whenever she gets the chance. Later this morning, as I was going to check inside the coop to see how things were coming along, I was shocked and amazed. 

There was an egg on the floor of the coop, rather small. I think it was laid by one of the Noirans (black feathers) due to its darker brown colour. I wasn't expecting eggs for another four weeks or so, according to their approximate age, so that was exciting. 

So there you have it, chicken fans. I now have ten new girls and two geriatric hens, for a total of  twelve in my flock, with five different breeds. It's a proper back yard flock now!

Wednesday 7 June 2023

Early June Morn

 A June garden makes everything right with the world. 

Here is what is blooming this morning in my front perennial beds.

The first of the delicate very pale pink peonies, which then fade to almost white with pale yellow centres. The darker pinks follow later in the month.

Beautiful purple irises with their golden yellow beards have been in bloom for a little while now. Some have toppled over, but they still provide shots of colour in the beds.

I love these purple Siberian irises so much that they were a part of my wedding bouquet.

Back to the bearded iris, or iris germanica, these pale yellow ones have been around in my gardens as long as I can remember. I'm sure I had them at our house before this one, too. I like that they aren't a glaring, bright yellow, but a softer touch of colour.

If I was going to have only one flowering shrub, it would be the weigela. This one is just starting to open up and is literally covered with buds. I can't remember which kind it is, perhaps Red Prince?

I have so much of this and other cranesbill, that I could literally provide a shovel full of this plant to all of the people who read this blog and still not feel the loss. It fills spaces beautifully, doesn't care about soil quality, never suffers from insects or mildew, just a solid, good best friend of a plant. 

The edges of our property are pretty wild, with grape vine and tall grass and thistles and whatever else encroaches. This is wild phlox, don't know if it has a fancier name, that just grows on its own. It can either be considered a weed, or a free shot of colour and the bees love it.

Lastly, I will share the new arbor that husband built a little while ago. There used to be a flat topped arbor there for years and years, but over time it started to rot at the base and had a pretty scary lean to it. It had to come down last year. He built it with posts and rails that we already had. Handy guy, husband is.

My garden provides me with so much happiness, contentment, exercise (ha ha)... I couldn't imagine having to live in a high rise apartment in the city with no yard, no dirt to dig in. I'd likely fill my windows and balconies with plants. Do you have any of the same perennials?