Sunday, May 29, 2011


The chickens are now 16 weeks old and we had a big surprise this week - eggs! The hatchery advised that the hens should be laying by week 22. In the photo above, the first eggs are on the right and left, with a store bought (free range) egg in the middle - large, grade A. We were so amazed and pleased with the early production.
Looks like an egg, right? The yolk is a very rich color and when cooked retains the orange coloring. Throughout the week, we've been consistently finding two eggs by noon. Because we had not yet finished the nesting boxes, the first eggs were laid on the floor of the coop and we were pleased to find them before they were stepped on. My husband quickly finished the nesting boxes, we ordered wooden eggs to place in them and we haven't found another egg on the floor since.

The chickens are rather large, and the rooster is being housed separately. He learned a crow a few weeks ago and now crows throughout the day, beginning at 4:40 am every morning. He's segregated due to being a bit rough on the hens. We've no interest in fertilized eggs, so he's getting a bachelor pad extension for the coop.
He is beautiful and seems happy enough living in the playpen until his quarters are complete.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Mews on the Homestead

I'd like to introduce the newest critters on the homestead - Hansel and Gretel (or Eowyn and Eomer). The names are a work in progress.

The kids have wanted a cat for some time and we've been deliberating about caring for an outdoor kitty. We could definitely see benefits in combating mice and voles. We see evidence of the voles all over the property.

Looks pretty cute in the photo, doesn't it? Thriving on mostly plant life, they will certainly wreak havoc on the vegetable garden, bulbs and the herb garden.

I could also see the beautiful song birds that frequent our feeder becoming prey for the cat. However, as cute goes - the cat is much cuter than the vole and we can do our best to relocate the feeder to help the songbirds survive. I wish I knew how to train the cat to be selective in the hunt!

So the search for the cats was on and we first stopped at the local animal shelter. The local government operated facility is most definitely not a 'no-kill' shelter and they are not set up to quarantine sick animals from the healthy ones. We spied a couple of very spunky young kitties, but were worried about diseases, so we left without selections.

We then stopped at a privately operated non-profit shelter. A Time 4 Paws houses as many adoptable cats and dogs as possible, with a long waiting list of critters in foster care waiting for space in the central facility. We found Hansel and Gretel there, 6-8 mos old siblings, recently spayed and neutered, vaccinated and with a clean bill of health from a local vet. They will live solely in the garage until acclimated to us and their home, then we hope that they will have a blast roaming the property daily and hopefully return to the garage for the night. Our Lord of the Rings fans are considering names of the Rohan kingdom siblings, Eowyn and Eomer. We'll let you know!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Spring show of flowers

The first spring in this new home for us has been especially delightful. Besides the normal lift of spirit from seeing green grass and flowers, we have a number of new things in our surroundings.
Dogwoods showed the first blooms early on, along with several forsythia bushes.
Then, a few weeks later, the rhododendron beside the house and an azalea came out with the irises.
Next, the peony bush showed off these large white blooms.
Here's a closeup view of some of the brightest blooms!

I found myself trotting around the house early each morning to see what new blooms were greeting me! Now, reflecting back, the dogwoods, forsythias and most of the irises are spent. What a reminder to enjoy thoroughly what each day brings!

I have a long range dream of spring and summer long blooms blended with an herb garden. I'll have to stay focused as fall approaches to see if I can plant wisely! I want to supplement these blooms that have already shown themselves and add some things that will bloom throughout the summer.