Tuesday, May 26, 2009

All Chicken, No Egg

In spite of our heavy losses lately, we are awash in poultry. Right now, as I type this, there are something like 65 birds at my house. There will be more coming in mid-June, and still more coming in mid-July. There are chicks everywhere...home-hatched chicks and hatchery chicks, cockerel chicks and pullet chicks, chicks for meat and chicks for laying, and ducklings...did I mention ducklings? We're apparently quite good at accumulating birds these days, but our egg production is rubbish. Between the two snakes, the raccoon and the skunk, the poor ladies are so nervous that they can barely squeeze out an egg or two amongst the lot of them.

This is NOT good for egg sales. It may be time to change our business model.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Everybody Stand Clear!

I am going to learn to play the fiddle.

That's right. I've never picked up a musical instrument in my life, but I'm going to learn to fiddle. Why? Because I'm ready to learn to do something that's entirely new to me and not simply a corollary of other things I already do, and because I've been reminded that along with every other aspect of our lives, we've sold out our entertainment, too. My generation and those after me are conditioned to think that entertainment is something we must pay someone else to provide. Don't get me wrong, I have the utmost respect for great musicians, and will continue to support them, but I don't want to have to solely rely on them. I should be able to make some of my own music, entirely independent of recording studios, music venues, electronic devices and such.

So, uh, we'll see if I can actually make anything remotely resembling music on this thing. ;-) It should arrive in a week or so, so I'll post and update when it gets here.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Really? Again?

I opened the back door of the chicken house last night to find ANOTHER snake. This one was in the house where the big girls live, and was dining on some tasty duck eggs. My husband tried to pull it out with a hoe, but it went up the wall and on top of one of the nest boxes, where we can't reach. I saw him reach into the access door on the outside of the nest box and come out with a tail. Since there was no other alternative, he just started pulling until the whole thing was out!

It's no wonder the girls looked like this all day:

(These two are hunkered together in the same nest box.)

This snake got lucky and got away with his life, so I suppose we may be seeing him again. We've come to realize that it's just going to be like this, at least during the spring and summer. Thankfully, snakes and raccoons are the worst we've had to deal with. So far.

Friday, May 22, 2009

A Quick Word Of Advice

Be very, VERY judicious about shooting a skunk. Consider its intentions. Consider carefully its proximity to your dwelling and environs. Take a moment to run through some possible cause-and-effect scenarios. And above all, consider what you'll have to do with it once the deed is done.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Check It!

Our first beans!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Shame On Me.

We caught this guy last night, dining at the Baby Chick Buffet. Seems he'd already been through the line quite a few times.

For days now I've been wondering how the chicks have been disappearing, and why they look so...bad. Not only have their numbers dwindled, but they've been really high strung and scrappy looking, and I just couldn't figure out what the problem was. Turns out the "problem" was a 6-foot rat snake living under the pine shavings in their house. Poor babies. Who knew I was putting them to bed with a monster every night?

Now, before you rake me over the coals, I understand that snakes such as this one are generally a boon. We owe them a debt of gratitude for keeping the rodents in check. I'm afraid, though, that even the most well-meaning critters sometimes overstep boundaries, and eating our livestock is one such circumstance. Since a snake can't very well be reasoned with and asked politely not to dine at our establishment any more, he (she?) had to be dispatched. All the same, there's just nothing like finding something like this at 11:00 pm in boots and a nightgown.

Shame on me also for something else. I realized lately that I've begun to only share our troubles on this blog, and neglect to give our triumphs equal time. Good stuff DOES happen here, and it makes us happy. The goats are thriving, Caspian the Bumble has settled into his role as Protector of the Caprines, the ducks are downright adorable, we have beautiful lettuce in the garden:

We ate some of these homegrown baby greens for dinner, topped with homemade, marinated feta cheese. THAT was quite a triumph, and so satisfying.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

This Colony Has Collapsed

My bees finally arrived today. I should note that today was the WRONG day. I was not here to receive them, it was not the day I expected them, and there was a serious breakdown in communication between me and the apiary. I'm sad to say that they arrived like this:

That is what thousands and thousands of dead bees look like.

I have no idea what happened to them. I know that they left yesterday and arrived at my house about an hour and a half before I got home this evening, so they didn't sit in the hot sun all day. I'm so disappointed. Dead bees in a shipment are to be expected. They only live for about 45 days, so a certain percentage of these bees would have been at the end of their life anyway, but this is exceptional. There are maybe 25 bees left alive, out of roughly ten thousand. I'll be talking to the apiary to find out what went wrong and what happens next.