Glimpses of My Garden in July

We live in a little valley where two creeks meet. According to the old timers there is an Indian saying that tornadoes will not pass through an area where two creeks meet. So far we have not had a tornado here, so the trees are big and tall shading much of the garden.

our place

In the photo above are the trees that run along the creek, which is dry now. That is usual for the end of July and August. What is not usual is the cooler temperatures we’ve been having that are keeping everything so lush and green this time of year. Today we are expecting a high of 72 degrees and lots of rain, even flash flooding. The rain will fill up the creek.

This year the surprise lilies have burst into bloom in abundance dancing around the wisteria in the midst of the grass I’ve neglected to pull out…

surprise lilies

Here they are reflected in the bird bath…

 

reflected 2

I added them to my most recent bouquet along with gladiolas, phlox, cosmos, hydrangea, sage, purple cone flowers and salvia all from my garden…

bouquet pink

bouquet pink2

I love my blue birdbath. When it broke I replaced it, and my cheffingitwithsarah daughter decided to use the old stand in her kitchen herb garden. So when I walk out the back door this is what I see…

 

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The leaves all about the little bird that look like nasturtium, which is what we thought they were at first, have turned out to be a pesty weed that is taking over this bed called Dollar Weed , but they are edible and supposedly are great in salads, so maybe they are not so pesty after all. In fact, Sarah might use them for pesto… 😉

plant

The cucumbers are planted like a river along side the gladiolas this year…

cukes

We are just beginning to harvest these cukes, as I always plant them late. According to a pumpkin farmer I met years ago, if you wait to plant them after June 1st, the cucumber beetles will already have migrated through, and they will leave your plants alone. So I plant late, and I plant in a different place each year. So far this has been working for me.

My perennial bed with the pergola and strawberry bed in the background…

pergola

Hostas are almost finished blooming now. They have looked beautiful all summer with the cooler temperatures…

hosta

I love hiding little bird sculptures here and there in the yard. Here is my favorite…

bird

And of course there are my real birds…

rooster

We are having a very abundant tomato harvest. I’ll have some pics of those next time…

 

 

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Darcy and His Followers

It has been so long since I posted pictures of what’s going on with my chickens, but that is a good thing, because nothing unusual is happening with them. They are not getting eaten by predators or plagued by diseases, everything right now is going well. And the rooster Darcy is a fine one…he is ever so gentle and caring …

Today I took some pictures to share. I used to let the rooster and hens all free range all the time. That’s probably why I lost so many. Now I keep them in their run until about 3 or 4 in the afternoon, and then let them out…

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They usually come out single file down the little overgrown path that leads to the creek and the pasture…

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Darcy is leading the way…

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He’s always watching…

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It was a hot summer’s day today, so they were ready for a drink from the creek…

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After coming up from the creek I turned on the hose, and let it run a little so they could get more water and cool off their feet…

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Then all of a sudden Darcy heads off toward the coop…

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And they all  follow after…

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And I chuckle to myself as he appears to be standing at attention and counting them as they pass by to make sure they are all coming with him…

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I suppose after the heat lets up in a month or two, it will be time to hatch out another batch of chicks. I hope they turn out as well as these did.

I’m so glad I kept this rooster…  To Keep or Not to Keep

No More Free Range

My neighbor called me the other day and asked me if I had seen the little yapper dog again, because two more of his chickens were missing…just gone…no feathers…no sign. I told him it could be hawks…

933265-chromolithograph-of-hawk-attacking-chickens-in-farmyard-circa-1880-by-artist-giacomelli

Last night before dark I went down as usual to close up the chickens and Mara was missing. She is an old hen and wasn’t laying anymore, but she always was in the coop at night. I looked around and saw these strange markings in the snow…

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I had no idea what this could be, so I looked it up and sure enough they are the wing tips of a bird of prey.   This morning when I went down to the coops I found more evidence…

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These tracks went on for about 20 feet…

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Really amazing when you think about it.  I can picture the hawk flying close to the ground chasing the chicken and then finally capturing it and carrying it off… no sign of the chicken…

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You can see my boot track in the last picture compared to the wing span. Needless to say I have decided very reluctantly to stop free ranging. My last four laying hens are going to be cooped up until I can get a very good run built.  I have 6 roosters and 4 pullets in the other coop that I was beginning to let out for an hour a day. No more…it’s just not worth it.

That’s my take on it anyway after really desiring to have chickens free range. I’m so thankful that the last hen that was taken was the one that was old and not laying.

So, I think these are hawk wings, anyone have any experience in this? Could they be an owl?  I’m thinking hawk because it probably happened in the day time.

Good News and Bad News

And isn’t that the way life is?  The good and the bad, we get both together. I’ve had a pretty rough 4 days, and I really didn’t want to share it, but I will… First the moon…this morning at 7. Two views with my little camera and I have no idea how this works. 🙂

moon

moon 2

Light and dark, good and bad…Notice how we can see all the beautiful details of the moon in the darker photo.

I am on watch this morning and so is my neighbor north of us…In 4 days two small “yapper” dogs have killed 8 of our chickens, 5 of his and 3 of mine. These little dogs, one black…one white, both with collars, have become blood thirsty killers. I will spare you a photo of Mr. Knightly. He was taken down yesterday. And yesterday my husband and I were on watch all morning…ready, prepared, but we stopped for lunch and the white dog got Mr. Knightly in those few minutes we were eating. We didn’t hear a thing… I just don’t understand.

The good news is the neighbor got the white dog yesterday afternoon, and now we are watching for the black one.

It started last Saturday. We went to the Gourmet Yarn Co. and out for lunch. It was a good morning! See my post on woven with her hands for that story. But when we got home…

green

… we encountered the two dogs. They had Mara, the old Marans hen down on the ground feathers in their mouths. Shocked…we pulled over, one of us ran up to the house to get the gun, but the dogs ran off. Mara was OK. Going down to inspect the barn yard, we found one hen on a nest (she’s broody), and one up in the rafters. The small chickens had gone up the ramp and were hiding up in their roosts. Smart birds!  Slowly, but surely all the hens and Mr. Knightly came back, except for the old Welsummer, and I have not seen her since.

Every time predators have killed our chickens they have not returned, but this was not the case with these two dogs. We made sure the chickens were all OK and then went up to the house. Keeping an eye and an ear out, we went on with our day. Then my daughter yelled out that she saw a dog, and sure enough they came back. This time there was a pile of feathers…

feathers

Those little dogs running through the field are hard to shoot. It would take a really good marksman to take one down. They got away again. Again we checked out the hens. I was convinced the feathers were the rooster’s, Mr. Knightly’s. He was no where to be found. The hens were in the coop, Emma was crouched down in the corner and when we picked her up we found that her wing was entirely torn off and she was badly wounded. We had to put her down. So sad. She had been such a good hen and an excellent Mama to her chicks… I broke down and cried.

We shut up the coop for the night and set the dog trap. After dinner several of us were sitting around the table playing a game, and someone spotted the white dog by the back door. Again, the guys went out to hunt down those dogs. But to no avail and guess who was in the trap? Mr. Knightly!  My husband put him in the coop and set the trap again.

The next day the neighbor told us that the two dogs got five of his hens. So that brings us to the present of being on watch. Mr. Knightly and Emma are gone and the last of the Welsummers, I have not seen.

It’s left me to rethinking this free range thing. But even with the birds cooped up, we’ve suffered great loss. Or maybe this is just how it is. I wanted to give up raising chickens at first, but I’ve also realized that I really enjoy them, and I don’t want to give up.

How can I leave this on a good note?  LIGHT shines in the darkness!

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men.  And the light shines in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.” John 1: 1-5

“Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that follows me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” John 8:12

There is always hope, whether we understand things or not! And we are just not going to understand everything. That’s just the way life is…

The Coming Out…and the Great Mistake…

I couldn’t wait the 30 day quarantine …I couldn’t even wait until the full 2 weeks were up. I felt so sorry for the hens being cooped up, so in the evening, I let the “wild hens” out, and they did just fine…at first…

coming out

They were looking so much better… a little plumper…a little more content…quite a bit cleaner…

Emma was the first one to greet them…

coming out2

Then Mr. Knightly…

coming out3

So far, so good…of course Mr. Knightly started doing his rooster thing, and I left them to get used to each other…

Later that evening at dusk, I went down to close up the coops. All the “wild hens” were in their coop, roosting up high, except for the white one. I ran around a bit trying to get her to go in, but she wouldn’t. I shut the coop door and let her fend for herself.

In the morning she was sitting outside the coop door waiting to get in to eat. I let them all out for the day and they seemed to get on just fine.

Here’s one of the new hens hanging out by the porch in the heat…

new hen

The second night all were in the coop, but the white hen and her friend, one of the scruffy speckled black and white hens. They were happily roosting on top of the barn roof and I closed the coop and left them.

My husband reset the dog trap knowing that we now have these “wild hens”  roosting all over the place unprotected.

The third night only one hen was in the coop, probably the one pictured above. The other hen that looks very much like this one was in the Tack Room coop with all the Marans and Wellsummers. She seems to have assimilated very well.

So there were 4 hens out this night when I shut the coop door. A little frustrated with this whole thing, I muttered under by breath that I really didn’t care if they were there the next morning, or not. Aren’t I awful?

One of my daughters came home late that night and said she saw two hens trapped in the dog trap. I just figured that at least they would be safe inside the trap from predators, so I left them in there for the night.

At 1 o’clock in the morning, my other daughter heard a dog barking and growling down by the coops. I slept right through it, and  she didn’t wake us up.

In the morning the dog trap had been pushed over and the hens were clucking away inside. They probably had a rough night, but they were not hurt. The other 2 hens that spent the night out were  sitting by the coop door waiting for me to open it so they could get food.

This was it for me! These 4 hens were looking wilder and dirtier and they were not assimilating!

This is not what I want for a flock of hens…I don’t care if they lay or not!  I left the hens in the trap, gave them some food and water throughout the day and when my husband got home, we caught the other two “wild hens” and put them in the trap, and he transported them over to our neighbor’s house who was happy to have them and keeps them inside a large coop and run all day.

Yes…my conclusion is that this was a bad mistake…a GREAT mistake and I won’t do it again.

On the positive side…I did get 2  nice hens out of the deal that lay pretty light green eggs.

new hen 2

Now Mr. Knightly is another story.  We tried to catch him too and give him to the neighbor.  I’m tired of having to look behind my back all the time and carry a stick or shovel around with me to ward him off in case he attacks me. My husband ran around with a net trying to catch him, and ended up breaking the net, and Mr. K ended up sopping wet  in the creek trying to get away. We laughed at him…he deserved the dunking and  we gave up. But he has been pretty good ever since. And the hens just love him so…

Mr. K2

I guess he can stay until he misbehaves…

Mr. K

The Farm Keeps Going On…

So sad what is going on…the Boston Marathon Bombing… the West, Texas Explosion… my prayers go out to these families, and those injured still in the hospital.

It seems so trite to journal about what is going on here, but that is what this blog is for…a journal… and the farm keeps going on…

Tomorrow, we are expecting another freeze, a late one here in the South, so I’ll be covering up the hostas and the tomatoes in our new bed…

tomato bed

These milk cartons with the bottoms cut off are excellent recycled cloches to keep  tomatoes nice and cozy warm until the weather gets more tomato friendly. I always keep them on until the tomatoes start growing out of the top. But I didn’t have enough to cover all the tomatoes, so I used a plastic tarp for tonight…

tomato bed 2

A little peek inside this minnie greenhouse…

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Still have some tomatoes inside…

tomatoes

And peppers…

peppers

We have our first asparagus shoots today. Had them for breakfast with some really good fresh farm eggs. 🙂

And…they were so sweet. I’ve never tasted asparagus like this…

asparagus

Have to update on the chickens too…

Mr. K and Emma

Mr. Knightly and Emma…still hanging out together…

Hens chatting…

hens

Copper is definitely the head rooster…

copper

These chickens are all doing well…it just seems like they act more like spoiled French aristocrats than healthy barnyard chooks…   No matter what time of day it is when I go down to collect eggs or make sure they have water,  they all just act like they are starving and want to be hand fed…

waiting

But I do know they spend a large part of the day foraging for all the wonderful spring greens and tasty little bugs and worms.

That’s it for today… Hoping for a better tomorrow…especially for those in great trials today.

For the LORD comforts his people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones. Isaiah 49:13

Another Surprise in the Barn

My husband asked me the other day, if I thought all 6 hens were laying. It was the day we got zero eggs. The day after that I got 5 eggs and I very excitedly told him that this meant all 6 hens were laying, because Mara’s lovely dark brown copper egg was not in the bunch.

This morning we took off for a nice long walk at the nearby lake and on the way home, I remembered to ask my husband if he would look at the water spigot that I use to fill the chicken waterers…

He’s such a great guy, by the way, and very observant and as he was inspecting the spigot situation he found this…

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Hidden behind hay bales in the barn…a nest of 8 eggs.

As he began to pick up the eggs, Hendrika showed up and started making such a fuss about us finding the eggs.

Hendrika

At first I thought they were all hers, but on closer inspection, I think there are 3 different kinds. So my guess that for some reason they decided to lay over in the barn instead of in their nests.

The eggs were cold…There is no broody hen and I do not think any of the roosters are fertilizing yet.

So, how does one go about getting them to lay in the nesting boxes?