Sunday 30 July 2023

Ooops, and a Blogger question

 Every morning, I go out and open up the chicken's little door to let them out in the run, and feed them and do a quick clean up of the inside of the coop where they have been roosting and sitting the night before. Then sometimes I go over to my vegetable garden to have a quick look around. I will also, sometimes, lift a corner of the row cover fabric that goes over my two zucchini plants to see if there is anything to harvest, or blossoms to pollinate. However, it has been rainy lately and the mosquitos are INSANE, swarming me and biting me, so I don't always check for blossoms that need pollinating because it takes a moment to do.

This morning, I found these two:

I guess that teaches me to not ignore the zucchinis, or at least check all sides, not just lift a corner or one edge. The smaller ones were harvested a couple of days ago. You can see my kitchen reading glasses on the counter for a size comparison. Ooops, indeed.

Now, on to the question. I can now only properly comment on people's posts or on my own blog using my blog's name on my old desk top computer. I'm not sure about my laptop, as I don't use it very often. However, on my phone, when I try to comment, it tells me I have to sign into Google to do it. When I click on the icon (?) to do that, it just takes me back around to comments again. I haven't even signed OUT OF Google, so I don't know why it is telling me to do that. When I can comment, it just shows me as anonymous. 

Another blogger, Marty, said she was having similar problems and figured out she was using Firefox (I'm guessing on a PC, not her phone) and when she used a different browser, the problem was fixed. I never use Firefox, but of course, that wouldn't explain the problem when I'm on my phone.

This has been happening long enough that I know it's not one of those weird glitches that sometimes occurs with Blogger and then goes away as quickly as it came. So, if any of you have had this problem and figured out a way around it, please let me know. Thanks! And, does anyone want a zucchini?

Thursday 27 July 2023

From Enabler to Problem Solver

 If you haven't already read my post about Houdini chicken, you may want to go back and do that, in order for this to make sense.

So... the top of the chicken run is now completely secure, no gaps, no parts that need a piece of chicken wire patched in, seams sown together with thin wire. Done. All done.

Yes, for two days, I enabled my insane chicken. I was outside at the time that she was pacing back and forth inside the run, looking for a method of escape (or maybe I planned to be there at that time?). And yes, I opened the gate for her and she left to go in her perennial bed to lay her little egg. On the second day, she heard me approach the coop when she was done and she emerged from the perennial bed and waited at the gate for me to open it, like a cat or a dog ready to be let in. 

I recognize that this is insane behaviour on my part. I recognize that I will most certainly have become a slave to an approximately 8 pound animal. I became an enabler. And I know all about enablers! So, here are the further lengths that I went to. I dug up some daylilies (because anyone with daylilies knows you can always divide them and still have plenty) and quickly "potted" them in some leftover plastic pots from hanging plants. I put them in the front corner, inside the run (at the end of her pacing lane). Why did I not plant them right in the ground? Because any loose soil is met with absolutely joy by a flock of chickens who continue to scratch it up and excavate yet another dust bath for themselves. 

Today I decided to keep busy and away from the back yard for a few hours (i.e. show some tough love to Houdini and exert a little strength on my part). And here is the result.

Here are the hastily potted day lilies (notice the leaves that have already been "snipped" off by inquisitive beaks).

And, when I had a look, drum roll please...

Ta da!! 

I know, I need better hobbies.

Anyway, here is a picture of the completed run.

What's that atop the gate, you ask?

Well, that would be the official supervisor, master of all domains, pool cat Murphy. He thinks the wooden strapping was put there for him, little pathways so he can walk all over the run and end up on the roof of the coop.

Just so you know I do something other than agonize over poultry, here is a tiny sample of current garden harvest. 

The alien looking things are rutabagas that I planted from seed. I've never grown them before and I was curious about what they are like (I'm well acquainted with turnips from my German heritage mother and Scottish heritage father). They were good, but obviously need a bit more growing time. The beets were lovely. 

I was cleaning up the front perennial bed and felt so sorry for the delphiniums that were beaten down by a couple of rains, so I cut some and then grabbed some other flowers and stuck them in a vase. I am NOT a flower arranger by any means, but I like the colour.

I will leave you with these gorgeous, although somewhat invasive, crocosmia. I think they are Lucifer. The hummingbirds love them and they look so tropical! Have a great day, everyone!

Monday 24 July 2023

Little Bandits

 The roof of the chicken run is closed in with chicken wire. This is a good thing because the four red tailed hawks are swooping and calling and having a grand old time overhead and in the general area. 

However, the back corner of the run still has a bit of finishing to do (wooden pieces need to be trimmed off, chicken wire needs to be stapled, and a piece of chicken wire has to be "sewn" in where there will still be a gap. 

This means that local raccoons can still get into the run at night, which they do. Don't worry, the chickens are locked up tight in their coop by me in the evening. This also means that we had to get out the live animal trap again. For anyone who has a similar problem, the bait of choice is marshmallows, ripped open to reveal their temping aroma. Also, one must block off the sides and the back of the live trap (I used concrete blocks and patio stones) because raccoons can and will reach in with their nimble fingers and extract the bait without going into the trap. As well, a deep container is a good idea (tall yogurt container) to put the bait into which is then wired into place in the back of the trap so they really have to work at getting their marshmallows.

Meet bandit #1:

Meet bandit #2:

The second bandit actually ripped the yogurt container right off the wire. 

Don't let those sad little expressions fool you. They are destructive little darlings who would also kill a chicken if given the chance.  These two were caught within three days.

For each raccoon, we drove them out to a very secluded seasonal road (meaning it does not get maintained in the winter time) which leads into the woods and is not close to someone else's property and released them (both in the same spot, just in case they were siblings). 

I think there is a large mother raccoon still to be caught, but she may be more savvy than her youngsters. We shall see. Either way, a new bait container must be created and wired into place and perhaps three marshmallows with a dab of peanut butter (I'd actually eat that!) might be in order. 

Have you ever had raccoon problems? We've had them in the past a few times, and here is the most recent, if you wish to read about it. Please share your stories. 

Sunday 16 July 2023

Houdini Chicken and a Construction Project

 I spent a lot of time on looking at netting. The good kind that I wanted, that I knew would last and the size I needed was, of course, sold out and unknown when more would be in. Why was I looking at netting? Two reasons, well actually the first reason is more like four reasons. We have a resident family of red tailed hawks. Mom and the three juveniles fly over our property, calling out, throughout the day. They sit on top of our neighbour's roof. They sit on the rail fence that borders our property and stare at the chicken run. Mother hawk (I think) took a swoop down at Murphy! (He subsequently leapt up into the air and tried to get her).

The other reason I was looking at netting was a hen I have named "Houdini chicken". In all the years that I have had chickens, I have never had a problem with chickens flying out of our run. The fence around their run is four feet tall. The only one who ever flew out was a nasty little piece of work Banty rooster named Rusty (yes, Friendly Giant reference for my Canadian friends). 

However, one of the "new" hens, a lavender Orpington, has taken to jumping up on a fence post and then jumping down onto the lawn. We corralled her back into the run several times. I worried about her escaping into the acres of weedy brush to the west of us, or being eaten by a predator if she didn't return quickly enough, so I watched some videos on how to clip wing feathers. It doesn't hurt the bird and it makes them somewhat unbalanced in their flight attempts and keeps them more grounded. After one of her escapes, husband and I caught her and I clipped her flight feathers of her right wing (you only do one side). 

Then, a couple of days ago, husband felt generous with his time and energy and began to build a structure over the chicken run in order to enclose it with a chicken wire roof (better than netting). I helped as much as I could.

Here's a progress pic so far. He had previously built (and refurbished) the chicken coop for me as well. 

Much more work has been done since I took this shot a couple of days ago. You can see the hens eating and scratching around. Please note the one whitish/grey chicken farthest to the right, facing outward. She will feature prominently in the rest of the post.

Let me introduce you to Houdini chicken. Here she is frantically pacing back and forth along the fence line. On this particular construction day, she was acting positively neurotic. Her beak was open (no, it wasn't too hot, no she wasn't lacking water), she frequently pushed her head through the openings in the wire fence, and regardless of wing clipping, she was able to do this:

Yup, with some upward estimating and some good knee flexing, she flapped her way up to the top of the fence post. MANY TIMES. I would turn her around and she would jump back down into the run with the other chickens. After jumping up to the fence post maybe four or five times, I actually held her , stroking her little chicken head, feeling her heart beating out of her chest, and asked her what the issue was. She had a good life here, everything she could want, was it because the grass was literally greener on the other side of the fence? 

Anyway, chicken neuroses aside, husband continued to build and I continued to help, and at one point we were on the other side of the run and Houdini chicken jumped up and out AGAIN and I was just too damn tired of her foolishness to go get her, so we finished up whatever we were doing and after a minute, husband asked where she was. I didn't see her but figured she couldn't have gotten far. We started to look for her and in true Houdini style, she had disappeared. 

I have a couple of perennial beds that are parallel to each other and form a pseudo walkway of grass between them toward the chicken coop. I started parting plants and looking to see if maybe she was hiding in there. And eventually, look what I found:

There she was, tucked under a day lily, contentedly "purring" and not bothered by the fact that I had discovered her. Then upon closer inspection, I saw some broken egg shell under the same flowers. This was actually her nest! She laid an egg in there, popped out of the perennial bed and went straight back toward the fence, whereby husband opened the gate for her and she went right back in as happy as could be. There were, in fact, three other broken egg shells in there. Unbeknownst to us, she had been "flying the coop" regularly, laying her egg, and flying back in. (I'm not sure why the eggs before this were broken, either something had discovered them and eaten the contents, or her first few attempts at eggs had brittle shells).

Alas, for those of you forward thinkers, we realize that the chicken run will very soon be enclosed from the top with sturdy chicken wire. I am already anxious about Houdini chicken's future stress levels. (Yes, I know I have a problem). If I am home and in the yard and I see her pacing, I will just open the gate for her, let her out to do her thing, and then let her back in. Others have also suggested I transplant some daylilies in the run for her to lay her eggs in there, but for anyone who has ever had chickens, we know that chickens love nothing better than to scratch, dig dust bath holes and generally decimate all plant material in their runs. Eventually, I suppose, she will just have to suck it up and use a nesting box in the coop like everyone else, but it would seem she has some pretty strong "wild chicken instinct", escaping and finding a protected little hidey hold in which to lay her eggs. Ahhh, my life.

And on a different note, yesterday was my birthday and here is the cake that daughter and boyfriend arranged to me:

Isn't that a hoot! It was delicious! (carrot cake). 

Do share your own neurotic animal stories and the lengths to which you have gone for your own furry or feathered friends. (So I know I'm not alone).

Wednesday 5 July 2023

Those Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer

 It's July the 5th and it feels like summer and I love it. As I've said before, you will not hear me complain about the heat. I have very distinct memories of sub zero wind whipping snow into my face and the cost of heating this old house during those long winter months. 

They are definitely hazy days of summer, with the humidity and some lingering smoke now and again from the fires (many caused by arsonist humans by the way). However, they are not lazy. Husband has a list as long as his arm and every day he is doing something by way of fixing, building, improving, investigating... Currently, he is trying to figure out where the last little leak is happening in the pool situation. He's already done a bunch of work on the skimmer. Ahhh, pools. They are fun, and the "fun never ends", there's always something that needs doing.

Our resident pool boy, Murphy, thinks that the pool area is his own personal oasis. He has been supervising all the work that husband has done. 

As well, he continues to insist upon his almost daily floatie ride. Yes, he's the one who wants it. He will come to the edge of the pool and meow, or if the floatie is on the deck, he stands on it and meows. He is an anomaly of a cat.

On the other hand (paw), this is about as close to water as Scooter is going to get. He rarely comes onto the pool deck, and if he does, he hurries briskly to disappear through the fence. 

My new hens are keeping me busy. They are very, very slowly figuring out the place. Night time is a process where almost all of them go into the coop by 9:00 p.m., but there is still one silly girl who sits just at the bottom of the ramp to go into their little chicken door and I literally have to pick her up and stick her inside. 

Here is some of the flock. The very dark hens are laying, although still sometimes on the floor of the coop instead of in a nesting box and one almost always lays a brittle shelled egg ON THE RAMP inside the coop, where by it rolls down the ramp and breaks. (Yes, they have oyster shell for added calcium). One of the grey with darker head hens is also laying, but I don't know which one.

It is somewhat hard to tell, but the lighter egg is much smaller than the others. New layers often start out laying smaller eggs, or sometimes double yolked eggs, which we've already experienced.

My vegetable garden is growing well, with rutabagas being a real winner. 

They were an experiment this year, so who knew! I have a resident rabbit (or rabbits, because quite frankly they all look the same, so I might be seeing a different one every time) who is being a bit of a pest and the garden covers that husband made for me years ago have come in handy to cover young plants. In fact, I could use a lot more. 

The cover in the above picture is over top of beets. I have other beets that weren't covered and when I chased Peter Rabbit out of the garden, he honestly had a beet leaf still in his mouth! 

The monstrosity covered up in the same picture by row covering is a couple of zucchini plants. I have been so disappointed in the past few years with zucchini, cucumbers and pumpkins being decimated by squash beetles (little yellow striped demons) that I swore I was never going to plant them again. Then I purchased some row covering from Amazon and bought some zucchini plants. I've kept them covered, watering as needed, and even pulling back the cover to perform pollination (getting quite good at it and have a few close to harvest size). I now realize I should have cut a larger size of row covering and may bring out the large piece I have left over and switch it up. 

I know that I have the dastardly beetles because in my "compost garden" (where plants just grow from things that have been thrown into the compost and I let them thrive there), they are attacking the cucumbers that are crawling their way around the compost bin. I shall let that happen as a diversion in the hopes that they never discover a sneaky way to get under the cover on the zucchinis. 

So far, I have harvested different kinds of lettuce, arugula, and spinach for salads. With this heat (currently 28 degrees, feels like 33) and the sprinkler put on late in the day, the garden should continue to explode over the next few days!

We've also had some fun, with the kids at the pool and camp fires in the evening. This picture only captures three of us. 

It's hard to get good camp fire pictures. If there was "scratch and sniff" with blog photos, this picture would smell like wood smoke and bug spray!

To finish, here is a close up of some spiderwort and spirea Antony Waterer which are both blooming right now. The bees are loving it.