Thursday, November 29, 2012

The coop door was left open the other evening, Sunny and one of the boys disappeared that night.  We are hoping that they eloped and are having a good time in Vegas, but we do have our doubts.  We spent a good chunk of the next day searching for them, but there wasn't a trace.

A week earlier we had e-mailed someone on Craigslist about a posting for Rhode Island Red chickens to replace the pullet who died on-route to our house, she finally responded the day Sunny and the boy disappeared.  Two days later (yesterday) I drove over to choose two pullets.  The sellers had their own mix of critters, at least three golden retrievers, one a puppy who walked between my feet tripping me as we headed to the coop.  Their cat was lazing in the sun and their horse hanging out in the small horse barn.  The coop was tucked under the wide barn overhang and didn't seem substantial enough for raccoon protection.    Inside were  fifteen pullets, one was already named by their seven year old daughter, so she was off limits, but I could have the pick of the rest.  Some were dark red and others more blond/buff.  I chose two chicks with dark feathers and mischievous looks in their eyes.  They both had clearly been well socialized by the children, they settled in my arms within a few seconds. They were officially named as they were chosen, the darker one is Scarlet, who despite her name seems calm and collected and the one that is slightly lighter is Phebe.


They bore the ride home well and are now being hazed by the rest of the flock in our coop, luckily they are close in age and size, so they should integrate into the group in a few days.

Now it seems I need to review HTML, because the formatting for the blog is not working the way I want it to.  Please excuse the ill-arranged pictures, but here are portraits of the flock as they look today.  There are no cute fluffy chicks anymore, there are mini-chickens and gawky-ducks who are in large but not all feathered yet.

Lily and a boy

Kiwi hiding in tall grass

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Golden Eggs

Back to the chickens and ducks...Here is the question--How much does it cost to protect $38 worth of ducks and chickens from raccoons, hawks, and opossums?  

The plans for the coop were free, published with step by step instructions in a library book. 
The first trip to the home improvement big box store cost about $170, and we thought we had pretty much everything for the coop and the run would be inconsequential in comparison, ha!  The lumber we purchased did build the coop, but it seemed that we needed more hardware.  Off to the local hardware store for screws of a different diameter or length, latches for the doors, hardware cloth, chicken wire, poultry staples for attaching chicken wire (really if you go into the hardware section they have a box labelled poultry staples), corner braces, you name it.  Oh, and then exterior paint had to be chosen (by my daughter) and purchased.  The woman mixing the paint exclaimed that the chicks and ducks will think they have been transported to the Caribbean, so be warned.   Next more hardware and then even more hardware.  For the last thirty dollars of hardware they gave us an itty bitty bag and as if to make up for the size of the bag, they threw in a bumper sticker that said "United We Stand".  Sigh.

Poultry Penthouse

The benefits for our several hundred dollar investment we will get some of the yummiest eggs available, I don't want to calculate the value of each eggs the girls produce, it would be laughable (or cry-able).  The girls (and Sebastian) are really pets, so they have their little penthouse, where they slept for the first time last night,  Our garage seems lonely.  No nameless boy chicks scurrying about, no Kiwi and Sunny running up to me to seeking some attention, no ducks soaking up rays from the heat lamp with the, "Hey, what's up!" look as I come down the steps.  It smells better in there already. 

There was a throng of excitement as I opened the coop door to put in breakfast this morning, it was intense.  Today their ramp to the outside will be built and they will be able to enter and leave as they wish.  What is now their prison will really be their penthouse.

So to answer my initial question--I don't want to know and I will not add it up.  I will enjoy the antics of the girls and Sebastian,  and savor the eggs produced.  It will be worth it in the end.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Cutting edge, throwback or just plain weird?

Am I cutting edge or a throwback?  What each family does every day is what they consider normal.  In our house it is normal to drink soy and almond milk or goat's milk once in awhile.  In our house pancakes are made from flour, eggs, soy milk, a little sugar, salt, baking powder and the fruit of our choice in an electric skillet (only because it's bigger than any pan I have).  Kids who come to visit/stay with us tell us of how their moms buy them pancakes and they toast them. Pre-teens stare at mac-n-cheese (made with real cheese and soy milk) incredulously, shocked that it can be made without the blue box and that it can be made with whole wheat pasta (which I have learned to overcook for visitors to simulate the texture of white flour pasta). One child was fascinated that her serving of chicken had bones, and dissected her food rather than ate it.  This same child stated that creamed spinach looked like barf (which it does) and looked at each of us as we sat down to dinner at a set table (which is our normal) and said, "Now we're supposed to talk to each other", as if she were interpreting a completely foreign culture for us.  My daughter has taught several friends how to set a table, a chore that has been her's since she  could carry plates one at a time at the age of three. Kids point out that the serving dishes, plates and fruit bowls all have the same pattern on them, it is a revelation.  When one was asked what their favorite vegetables are she listed starches and then added cauliflower which she mentioned that I had served the last time she ate over  (others can't name any).  To her credit, this same child quelled the look of revulsion that crossed her face when she learned that Pecorino Romano is made from sheep's milk, and then went back to eating her spaghetti with a snowstorm of Romano on top. Later, she found a chunk of tomato in the spaghetti sauce and asked to confirm that it really was a chunk of tomato.  Now, I am not talking about kids whose families have no education and live hand to mouth, I'm talking about middle class children with at least one college educated parent.  They weren't raised by wolves, they have the "Please, Thank you, Excuse me" training necessary for everyday life, they are bright chipper active fun-loving kids, but they seem to subsist on hot pockets, mac-n-cheese from a box, hot dogs, pizza (to the point where pizza isn't a treat, it is normal food), chicken nuggets or tenders and hamburgers.  Many seem to grab dinner and go rather than sit down for a meal.  Our land of persimmons, pomegranates, tart apples, turnips, eggplant, curries, rice noodles, foods mixed together, spices, assorted cabbage family vegetables and whole grains eaten at a table and cleared when everyone is finished is a foreign land.  I dread the question, "Can ________ stay for dinner??",  then I hold my breath and  respond, "Does she like West African style peanut stew and greens?"  So, throwback, cutting edge or maybe just plain weird, what do you think?