Monday, July 18, 2011

Lazy Summer, 2011

Oh my, what a lazy summer I'm having.  Partially due to my back, of course, but still, I just don't seem to have much motivation to do anything.

I had a lovely visit with the full moon 2 nights ago.  I sat out on our deck by the pool and watched the sun set in the West and waited for the Moon to rise in the East.  I watched the stars pop into view one by one and waited some more. I began to think I had made a mistake and it must be the new moon instead of the full moon.  I sat with myself and my thoughts and suddenly made a dash into the house for pencil and paper.  I sat there in the deepening twilight and wrote the first spontaneous poems I have ever written in my life.  It was an interesting quiet introspective time for me.  Finally, finally, the moon peeked over the horizon, bright orange, like a child's ball or a big orange eye.  It ever so slowly rose peeking through the spruce trees that line our property as if playing hide and seek with me as it changed from orange to gold to white.  Mr. C finally came out to see if I was ever coming in to go to bed, LOL (we're normally pretty early sleepers, LOL) but that big round moon was really moving slowly that night.  Mr. C stood there watching with me until Mr. Moon finally made it to the top of the trees and we could see him in all his radiant glory with a hazy halo 'round his head.

The next morning I got out those poems I had written in the dark and laughed and laughed, as I transcribed my scribbles into "Word".  Since most of the time I was writing in the dark, some lines were on top of others and some scribbled down the page diagonally and a few words I had to try to recall what in the world I must have written there.  I still like what I wrote and feel good about that time alone, just me and the moon.

Otherwise, this past week or so has been kind of wild.  As you may or may not know, this spring we got some chickens.  They were day old chicks when we got them  (little hands in the photo, we got them while 2 of our 5 grandchildren were living with us and they thought baby chicks were wonderful).  We have carefully brooded them and raised them until they were finally able to be let outside the chicken coop.  We were hoping to have "free range" chickens this time, just because I like fresh eggs and hearing chickens clucking around the yard and roosters crowing (and because I am so very loved and spoiled by my dear Mr. C).

 Last week, though, while taking outside pictures for the slide show on the blog, I suddenly realized we were missing some chickens.  Well, we live in the country and there are foxes, coyotes, and wolves in the area (although some people claim there aren't any wolves in central IL, I know 3 of the animals I've seen were NOT coyotes, they were beautiful wolves).  I don't regret these animals being here, and we knew we might lose one or two chickens to them.  I don't begrudge the fact that they have to eat, too, but they don't have to be pigs.  Anyway, we've also had a huge beautiful red tailed hawk lazily circling our property the past couple of days, but of course I can't seem to get a picture of her.  You see, I'm really torn, I recognize the beauty of these wild beasts and also recognize their right to be here and to eat, yet I want to protect my flock (and tiny puppy).

So, where was I, Oh Yeah, I suddenly realized we were missing some chickens and it was enough of a difference to really stand out.  So I called them over to the coop for some special scratch food (a treat for them) and started counting heads.  Hmmm, only 12, this is odd.  That afternoon, after Mr. C got home from work I told him and we went to look for the chickens and they were all out front (they have never gone to the front of the house!!!)  We went around and herded them back to the back yard and decided to wait until they went to bed (dark) to take a final head count.  We went out to do the head count and three of the pullets and one of the cockerels were roosting on the gate by our house (which is really odd, as they ALWAYS go back to their "safe" coop for the night).  We picked them up and carried them back to the coop.  Headcount showed  now there were eleven.  The next day they were in the front yard again and I spent about an hour and a half trying to herd them back to their coop (by myself it was probably a comedy of errors, LOL).  It was early evening, but with wild "who knows whats" running around my house I wasn't going to be out there after dark by myself in the chicken coop.  Doing a moving head count, there were only 8, now, and they were terrified to go near their coop (even with the enticement of scratch).   I got about half into the coop and shut it up, then went after the last couple.  They went to the gate by our back door again.   One of the cockerels made a jump into a bush by the gate and I managed to grab his legs before he got out of reach and swung him down and under my arm.  Then managed to snag one of the hens off the gate (again grabbing her legs at the last moment).  By this time only the red cockerel was still outside.  I opened the chicken door and he hurried inside, so I locked them up.   Once Mr. C got home, at midnight, we made the decision to fence an area in for them, as obviously something is stealing our chickens.  I found 2 places where they had obviously been "caught" and 2 other places where some were dragged into the corn field behind the house, but I can't for the life of me figure out how something could have taken 14 FOURTEEN at one time (the only 2 scenarios I can come up with are a pack of wolves--probably with pups or a pack of wild dogs.  Foxes and coyotes are usually solitary from my understanding.  The pack of wolves with pups seems most likely, because as scared of the coop as the chickens had become and as many loose feathers as we found in the coop there was something small enough to get through the "chicken door", which was about 18" high by 12" wide.)  So, we spent the rest of the week building a fenced area for them.
We even fenced off the top in case the beautiful hawk has helped herself to one or two (some were smaller than others and could have been taken by the hawk, she's really big).  Since we were now down to only 8 chickens (6 pullets and 2 cockerels) we decided to try to get a couple more to fill the flock out.  We found a lovely lady about an hour and a half away that had some older hens available.

We have Americauna chickens which lay blue to blue/green eggs, but they don't usually become broody or want to hatch eggs and we know next year we will need to replace these older hens we got.

The gal with the older hens also had some Brahma hens which have feathery feet and they are usually really broody, good setting hens, so we got a couple of those, too.  These older gals have really helped our youngsters to settle down, which is good.  I have to laugh, though.

They have bright red combs and wattles and they are chubby old gals, LOL, Mr. C saw them sitting on the ground (they can't get onto the roosts, they're too tubby, LOL) and he promptly labeled them the "Red Hat Hens".

Then he laughed like crazy as he reminded me to tell my Mom about the "Red Hat Hens" as she's involved with a Red Hat Ladies group.  Of course I can't get them to all hold still for a group portrait, LOL and my camera doesn't take good night pictures, which is when they are still.  But here are two of the Brahma, Red Hat Hens, see the feathered feet?

Here is one of our remaining cockerels (on the right) with 2 of the Americauna Red Hat Hens.

Here is a better picture of my prettiest cockerel and below that is the red cockerel.

Our young pullets aren't laying eggs yet, but these Red Hat Hens are laying some.  Not too many, because they are older hens, they are stressed from moving, and from the heat.  But, they WERE giving us 2-3 a day.  Then suddenly it was only one and then the past 2 days NONE.  Today when I went out to take these pictures, I found out why. . . it's not that they aren't laying eggs, but apparently they don't like their nest boxes on the floor (we'll raise them tonight, LOL) so they were laying them on top of a rabbit/chicken carrier in an open bag of pine shavings, and one of the hens has been hiding them from us and setting on them.

 Sad thing is, our cockerels aren't old enough yet, so none of them will be fertile, but since they've been there more than 12 hours I threw them all out (the egg picture above is of the eggs she was hiding).  Here's the culprit on top of the carrier, I already removed the open bag of shavings, poor old gal, LOL.  She's half Americauna and half Brahma and has a few feathers on her legs, but lays blue/green eggs.  

There hasn't been much else happening this week, although my back is now enough better I was able to help with the mowing again.

We had our first 2 handgun classes last week; between the wild animals and the 2 legged varmints casing our house this summer, I guess it's about time for some safety intervention/preparation.  We still have our home security classes to take and we hope we never need to use them, but I'm out here alone enough that we'll both feel better knowing I'm able to protect myself.

My garden is growing fantastically (I haven't had a garden in years, but wanted to have one this year).  Mr. C and son, N, made boxes for me to do some square foot gardening, as that seemed to make sense to me.  My peas were fantastic, although I only was able to cook one batch (I ate about 2 batches raw, straight off the plants, LOL).  The carrots and onions are getting bigger every day.  My spinach did rotten.  The strawberries are ok, but not great.  I think we got a bad batch of bean seeds, so I got another package and am trying for more of those, as I love fresh green beans.  We've had lots of lettuce too, although Mr. C. says, "Next year, no lettuce, it's not worth the bother."  My broccoli did great, EXCEPT, I didn't know if it was ripe or not and the next day it had all flowered out :-( , so I didn't actually get to eat any of it.

 I've got a bunch of baby watermelons and other melons coming along.

The cucumbers didn't seem to be doing anything and then suddenly sprouted up and started climbing their fence and then from somewhere a HUGE cucumber showed up, in fact two of them, about 16" long and bigger around than my fist can reach, LOL.  We don't know why we never saw them until they were that big, but we got a big laugh out of them.

The tomatoes are taking over everything else though, which is good as Mr. C loves tomatoes (I don't, and I'm slightly allergic to them).  Next year the asparagus should be big enough to actually harvest and since I love fresh asparagus and creamed asparagus, I'm looking forward to that.

I just went out to take some pictures of the garden and look, look, at this picture I got for you as I returned to the house.  Yes, I know they're pests, and they have dug tons of holes in our yard (at least now we know what the culprit probably is), but isn't he/she cute???  Shhhh, don't tell anybody, but I just threw some puppy food out for him/her, LOL.

So, that's enough blather for today, I guess, just didn't want anybody to think I fell off the edge of the earth, again.  I'm still here, just having a "lazy summer"!!!  Hope you're having a good one, too.  Smiles  Sue C


  1. Hmm, Maybe felt lazy compared to some times, but I think you have been plenty busy! ILY! Gail

  2. Is that a chipmunk??? I love it!! I agree with you about the animals. They were all here first and have to eat. We have neighbors who killed a opposum because it was "ugly". Ughhh, makes me hopping mad. I told them if I ever found out they killed anything again, I would report them. Good for you for having such a natural place to live. I love it!

  3. i want him/her it is so cute...

  4. At Bear Lake, where we love to go camping, the chipmunks climb the pine trees and yell at us in their little chatterey voices and then throw pine cones down on our tents and trailers. I think they are cute, too. Love your chickens!!! Lucky girl. Beautiful Garden, our winter lasted so long this year we have not yet harvested anything. However, our zucchini plant has a few little ones on it now. YES, it is awesome to know that even on the other side of the country, we were looking at and admiring the same full moon. It was truly beautiful.

  5. Wow you are WAY busier than I am, Miss Busy-ness. What a fun read I had about the chickens and the garden and all of that. Sorry about the varmints who took off with your varmints! Glad you're figuring out how to keep them safe as well as yourself. Big hugs!!!! Your canes are awesome. Jackie

  6. Tracey, we call them chipmunks, but they are actually something like 7 lined ground squirrels??? I just think they are so cute. Smiles

  7. Sarah, that's so funny, to throw stuff at you. Don't you wonder what is going through their little heads? I didn't think we'd get anything from the garden, the weather has been so weird this year, but then it just took off. Smiles

  8. Thanks, Jackie, I try to keep busy, and I can't wait to get back to caning. I've been keeping a list of ideas. Smiles