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…

 

 

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.

It’s Snowing…

It’s early…I have to go down and let the hens out and give them fresh water instead of frozen…24 degrees, but tomorrow it’s supposed to be 4 degrees, so hey, I better get out there and enjoy it.

winter

Four inches of snow graced our land last night. A lot of you had much more than that, but for here it’s a lot and I love it. Love the scrunch underfoot and making the first tracks.

Tracks

It’s much easier to do all the chores without the big hens underfoot, so I went to the chick coop first, but something caught my eye… I can’t believe it! What is Uno, my Marans hen with the wry tail, doing out here? She must have spent the night out in the cold below freezing temperatures.

It was dark when I closed them in last night, but she’s never been one to do something like this!

She seems to be okay, but how strange…

Uno

I opened the door to the big hen’s coop…the light has been on since 4 this morning and Mr. Knightly has been crowing a lot, so I figured they were plenty ready to come out…

coop

But they weren’t… They stood there for the longest time.

inside

It’s hard to say if Mr. Knightly is just a “chicken”, or if he is a gentleman, but he definitely was waiting for the ladies to go first…

The creek is starting to freeze over. With temperatures this low for the next week, the snow will stick….

creek

It’s night now. I wrote this earlier today. When I closed up the hens this evening, I counted and guess what, Uno was not there. I found her out in the cold in the old horse stall sleeping on a pallet, and picked her up, and put her in the coop.

I don’t know what is up with this???

Anyone have any ideas?

Mr. Knightly Has a Friend and Giveaway Update…

The weather is just unbelievable here for August… Last night it thundered and rained, and this morning I grabbed my little camera and went out to practice taking pictures of all the droplets of water on the veggies…

pumpkin 1

pumpkin2

And then I saw this…

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Pumpkin leaves trailing like some incredible cascading leaf sculpture. How cool is that?

I didn’t mean to get off on pumpkins and water droplets…what I want to say is that while I was walking and taking photos I heard Mr. Knightly crowing, and then another rooster somewhere in the distance would crow back…back and forth they were talking to each other, never even having seen each other. I got the feeling that they were greatly enjoying this communication…back and forth.

Mr. Knightly now has a friend…a long distance friend… 🙂

And this reminded me of my fellow blogging friends…never having seen each other for the most part…we post and “like” and comment and carry on a kind of long distant communication that we enjoy. Maybe it’s not so unnatural after all…

Thank you all for all your encouragement, advice, and sympathy…Hugs to all of you…long distant hugs that is…if there is such a thing… 🙂

One day more and on Thursday the 15th, I will announce the winner. I wanted to show you the painting in the barn wood frame…

giveaway copy

Until Thursday then… tell your friends, fellow bloggers, and all the chicken lovers you know. 🙂

Comment to enter on this post here…Welsummer Sis Giveaway

Now, I’m off to start some fall seeds a-growing…

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