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Personal blatherings, living simply, gardening, cooking, canning, dehydrating, knitting, spinning and more.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Vegetable Fuzzy Chickens

Bwhahahahahaaa... The "title" covers everything below and is downright silly. I am on a personal mission to find the humor wherever possible. In the area where I live, people smile and laugh a lot. People are pretty happy. That makes it easy, as long as I avoid watching any of the Propaganda Ministers on TV. That is easy, too. I prefer to read, anyway. I guess I am a tad of a Luddite, too? laughing... Anyway...

The most important thing to say first is Happy Birthday, (oldest grandson's name goes here)!!! No, only those who know me has my family's names. Nothing personal to others. He is now 12 years old and a good 5'1" tall. That is 5 1/2" shorter than I am! He is going to be tall, most likely. He is a math and science wizard. I hope jr. high works out for him. The odds are he will go into home-schooling if not. He needs to be in advanced schooling, home-schooling is the only way for us working folks to give them top schooling because we cannot afford private schools. Intelligent children are not appreciated in the public system, I guess. The current curriculum is the most inane thing I have ever seen. Check it out if bored, sometime. (shaking head...)

We had a deer get into the garden. My fault. I had not put up the fishing-line barrier this year. The darn thing ate the blooms on one-third of the cranberry beans and lentils area, a few leaves and blooms off some Jacob's Cattle beans, most of the pole beans and ALL of the blooms off the potatoes. Whether we get potatoes or not this year is up in the air. I do not know if it makes a difference. So... I put up the fishing-line barrier. A few days later, we find hoof-prints to the line, veer off, and go all around the garden area, then go under the saw-horse Himself put up, thinking the deer would be too lazy to go under. Wrong. The deer ate a few more beans, (never ate the pods/beans themselves either time), and one large tobacco plant. The deer have never ate those and they work as another barrier to the garden area in our large meadow. Not this time. One plant with 12" leaves was eaten down a bit. The deer never came back. Either it killed it or gave it such a headache and stomachache it may never come back? Himself still put up a bit of tall fencing as a "gate", just in case. I do hope we do not have to fence that area. 8' deer-resistant fencing is expensive. So is losing a good amount of our food, too. Prices are skyrocketing with a dizzying pace. We are trying to be as responsible for ourselves as possible.


I did get my first harvest off my bush green beans and the peas. Once I start picking, the green beans start coming in heavy for about a month. (Click on any photo for closer views.)










The peas, about 2 weeks or so longer. This first picking gave me 6 pints of green beans and two half-pints of peas with one half-pint of peas/green beans mixed. I am the one who likes peas the best, except Sally. Putting them in small jars is perfect.





I gathered three bags of Sally's combings and carded them. After I was done, I took the photo. (The tin shows a size comparison.) I went into the craft room to put away my carders and found one more bag. sigh.... I carded that up, then sat down to spin. In all, I got 312 yards of yarn. Though I weighed up the fuzz and divided it evenly, I still ended up Andulean-plying the last bit. I do the wrap around my left hand to get to the end of the bobbin of yarn. I take the end to where the plying stopped and finish plying off my hand instead of waiting to have enough fuzz to add to the empty bobbin for plying. I know, clear as mud. I do wish I had had the groomer save her combings when she was groomed. I would of had just as much. As it is, she is way over-due to be bathed and get her toenails dremeled. Next month, for sure.

Because I tend to spin thinly, I will have to rework the recipe I am going to use the yarn on. What am I making? I am making Sally a dog sweater. Her tummy gets cold in the winter when she goes outside. I like the Lion Brand Yarn Francesca pattern, (pattern number 90125AD). It buttons on the sides, making it easy to put on instead of pulling Sally's head through the sweater. It will be rather funny- a poofy Sally with her middle smooshed into a sweater. We shall see.





It has been very hot lately, too hot to take the chickens out in the tractor for more than a few hours. I water down the chicken yard first thing in the morning and again throughout the afternoon. I also attached one of those snake mister things to send a cool mist to the chickens during the hottest part of the day. We put their temp fence around the coop so they had a bigger area to wander around in during the day. The plastic fence is 3' or 4' tall. The first few days, the chickens were happy. Then, the now-dubbed Stew escaped. We could not figure out how, except some of the fencing bent in the heat. We tightened it up. He escaped again. And again. And again. Fine. Fishing-line 6" above the fencing so he bounces off it. He cleared it with ease. Darn it!


We removed the ghetto wire from the tops of the garden beds, (no pine cone bombs this time of year), and attached it to the top of the fencing until we can afford metal fencing that is taller (tomorrow). We did put a strip up that made it only 5' tall instead of 6'+. So far, he has not discovered it after bouncing off the fencing that was a good 6' tall. 6' tall, it is. I watched Stew go around the fence for a while, turning his eye towards the fence, looking for a spot to jump over. We won this war. The improvised gate is a pike-thingie woven through the fencing mesh that I sink into the ground to keep it closed. It was impossible to improvise the taller added bit to the gate, so I have to duck when entering.

Of course, one day I must of not sunk the pike deep enough. "Honey!!!" There are NO chickens in their yard or their coop!" It turns out Elvis was on the ramp and started crowing like crazy when we came outside. He was the Good Guy. The rest was down the driveway, pecking all over the place. At least it was not one of the garden areas. We lured them back with dried meal worms. Well... all but two hens. Himself picked up Dumpling, the one that talks to me when I come around and follows my every step. The other hen was having nothing to do with the rest, running around the perimeter of the chicken yard to avoid being put in. I finally got her inside with gentle shepherding and still not letting the rest of the flock, who were all bunched at the gate watching, from re-escaping their yard.

Did I mention we have FOUR cockerels?!?! Did I mention how bad this is?! The cockerels are randy, pushy to the point of violence. The pullets are having nothing to do with it. The cockerels are resorting to pinning them down and chomping on the hen's necks, trying to "get their way"  with them. Oh no they won't. Elvis intervenes as best as he can. We are now letting the cockerels down in the morning. The pullets get freshened crumbles, yogurt, water and other treats after I shut the trap door. They also get some safe rest and napping if they so choose. I leave it up until 10 am to 11 am, to give them privacy. We had tried shutting Stew in the tractor after escaping every few hours. That prompted the others to peck the crud out of him, not that he did not deserve it. Yet, we do not want Elvis and the hens to be estranged. The hens also need their time to peck around. We have resorted to listening for any trouble. Elvis can only do so much to protect his girls. We dash out and grab the ready hose with a nozzle set to firm, full flow. We squirt the heck out of the randy bast..., er, randy booger to get him off the pullet. Hearing a pullet scream, or huddle in the corner of the coop because there are "sharks"  below will not be tolerated. Pullets first.

This is a photo of sweet Dumpling, taken a few weeks ago. She has already changed. Her comb is getting redder and she is getting her wattles. I know, close to egg-laying time. We did make boxes, but I will save that for another post. When the new fence is put up, by this Saturday, we are going to put in a divider with a separate gate for Stew, The Combover (aka Floppy Comb), and Percy. Percy is somewhat sweet, yet he does not stand up for the pullets and has gone after them more than once instead of backing off when rebuffed. I am looking for a large dog "igloo" for them at night. I hope to find one soon. The igloo is hard to get on top of, giving height for escaping. At first, they get a new roost, their own water and food (of course), and a tarp over part of it for extra shade. It will not be as secure as the coop, but what else can we do? They are not big enough to go to Freezer Camp yet. They would be the size of Cornish Game hens, at best, under all those feathers. Oh yeah, the largest pullet, Biscuit (dark on top, pale on bottom, like a biscuit), grabbed a hold of the Combover's tail feathers when she had enough of his stuff and pulled them ALL out. He has nothing to point up right now. heh...heh...heh... Another pullet, (not yet named), has learned how to walk up the sides of the coop, standing on the metal peak cover of the coop. She tried to repeat her "skills" this afternoon. There is nothing but 1/4" sq. hardcloth covering the coop right now for optimal air-flow. It also gives purchase to chicken toes with the need to copying mountain goats.

Who, (whom?), ever thought chickens were boring never had them. woof...

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