Sunday, June 29, 2008

Ad I Saw On Craig's List

I saw this ad on Craigslist and loved it so much I had to post unknown

Ok, so I was a wee bit ambitious when I ordered chicks from McMurray. Twenty five chick minimum order- no problem I thought even though I really wanted only 2 or 3. Why not get a rainbow layer assortment, pick the ones I want, and then sell the rest? So I did, but there were a couple of problems with this plan: 1. McMurray sent me 30 chicks (sure I agreed to take a free rare chick, but what were the other 4, stowaways?) so now I definitely have WAY too many pullets, 2. I am new to chickens, and therefore somewhat clueless when attempting to determine what breeds my chicks are. So, with that in mind, I have the following for sale. All pullets were raised on organic feed, vaccinated for coccidiosis, and given chick-quick vitamin for the first 3 weeks of life. They are now 6 weeks old, eating organic grower, and longing for the great outdoors. Ten dollars each or 3 for 25 (If you think this is too much, you try running around town tracking down organic chick start, changing water 3 times a day, making sure your girls are at the proper temperature, and dealing with tons of chick doodle, before you judge me).

1. 3 white ones (Brittany, Paris, Nicole). 2 big ones (I think white rocks) and 1 smaller one (pearl leghorn?).

2. 2 black ones (Little, Big) Not sure of breed, maybe black minorca? I think they are too small to be Australorpes, but could be sexlinks. One is much larger than the other.

3. Can’t decide between black and white? That’s ok, cause I have 3 Silver Spangled Hamburgs (Gretchen, Heidi, Trudi), that are BOTH black and white! They also have lovely blue legs- just like grandma.

4. 1 Egyptian Fayoumi (Fatima). Unique and lovely but like Greta Garbo, she wants to be left alone.

5. 4 Buff larger chickens (Kim, Beyonce, Jennifer, Gwen). Big puffy butt chickens. I think 3 buff orpingtons and a buff rock (legs look yellow)

6. 2 buff smaller chickens (Jennifer and Courtney) Less junk in the trunk than above- buff minorcas?

7. 1 Cuckoo Maran (Collette). She’s pretty, she’s French, and she’ll lay chocolate colored eggs! Does it get any better than this?

8. 1 White Crested Polish (Christina): Girl with a perpetual bad hair day.

9. 1 Naked Neck (Vulture girl). She’s big, she’s all black, and has attitude. If you want to scare your neighbors with a chicken that looks like a freak of nature, she’s your girl. A perfect match for a home with a Chinese Crested or Mexican Hairless dog.

10. Big white breasted brown chicken (Americauna?) (St Mary of Espresso- she looked she had a cross on her breast when younger).

Cash only please. These are intended to be LAYING chickens, who aspire to happy and productive lives in the backyard providing entertainment for your cat and manure for your garden. I’ve attempted to raise them humanely, though I confess in an effort to get them used to voices, I have let them listen to KOMO 1000, so they have been listening to Mariners games which some might consider a form of torture……

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Lives With Eagles

Twenty three years ago Hubby and I were out driving around looking at houses. We had just sold our house in town and were looking for my farm. Driving down a road we hadn't been on before, nature called. Hubby that is. And when nature calls he has to listen. We saw a For Sale sign on a vacant house and stopped. He ran into the woods to call nature back and was surprised to see this humble little house was on the water. Returning to the car he told me to get out and take a look. As I came around to the front of the house I saw a lovely little bay that I never knew existed. On Golden Pond. I said to Hubby, "We can't afford it. It's on the water." Hubby said "Let's make an offer." We made a ridiculously low offer and they accepted. They even had an offer much higher from a builder but they sold it to us. It was an estate sale and they wanted our small son to grow up here.
The house was born a cabin. A cabin for the Strom family. It has knotty pine walls and cabinets. At one time it was a fun retreat (the evidence was all the beer bottles I dug out of the yard) but in the later years it was a neglected rental. We saw past the dirt and grime and just kept our eyes on the beautiful scene outside the window. It wasn't my farm but hard to pass up. The farm could wait.
The first morning we woke up in our new cabin the sun was shining. I got up before Hubby, put my 8 month old son in this backpack and went down on the beach. Walking up the creek I could not believe my eyes when a huge bald eagle soared over my head. I had no idea that eagles call this their home too. I thought I had died and gone to heaven.
My mother, on the other hand, thought we were crazy to take our baby and go live in the woods. But this was just like camping only better. We had all the comforts of home. The huckleberries were ripe so I made huckleberry pancakes that first morning. It had the smell and feel of a vacation. Remember going to a relatives cabin for the weekend in the summer? The smell of the campfire and the beach. We had it every day. We were in heaven. Sadly, the area has grown and gotten busier. Most of the weekend cabins have been replaced with full time residences but our little bay has gone relatively unchanged. A few new houses across the bay but other than that for the last 20 years we have enjoyed our privacy.
One of the unexpected surprises of the place were the abundance of eagles. They are everywhere. My mother-in-law, the keeper of old wives tales, used to warn of them carrying off the baby if I didn't watch out. I was more worried of them carrying off the dog.
This year the eagles have been thick. We have quite a few large fir trees in the yard and they sit up there and look for salmon. They are on the beach pulling fish out of the water right and left. The eagles around here are as common as robins. At any given time there could be fifty or so cruising around. The other day one flew through my back patio area. It was a young bird and a bit confused. The sound of those six foot wings up close is something to behold. Got the dogs' attention.

Every day I am so thankful that nature called.....and Hubby listened.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Good Good Pigs Go Bald

I haven't posted many pictures of the pigs lately. Especially not Fiona. They are going bald. Pot Bellied Pigs have lots of coarse hair all over their body....well most of the time. Daphne and Fiona are losing their hair and have dry flaky skin. They look awful and I am embarrassed for anyone to see them. Thinking they had mange (because I know next to nothing about pigs and they did have mange before) I have been worming them with Ivermectin horse wormer. Ivermectin is the treatment for mange mites. Now worming the pigs is no easy task. The easiest was when my son flipped them for hoof trimming and I shot it in their mouth. But the son went back to LA and I had to worm them about 9 days later. I put some wormer in yogurt thinking surely they won't know. I was half right. Daphne slurped hers down and begged for more. Fiona took one sniff and turned it down, insulted. So I hollowed out a strawberry and put some in. Daphne once again inhaled hers. Fiona snatched it up and spit it out and then squished it into the ground. I have tried peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, apple sauce and molasses. Nothing works. I decided to do what I always do when I don't know what to do. I emailed a couple of people that I have "met" through the wonderful tool called the Internet. Cheryl in Bakersfield is someone that helped me through the teenage years of the pig girls and Marcie from California Pot Bellied Pig Association (that's her kissing the pig in my previous post) and they filled me in on what's really going on with the crusty girls. They have summer baldness. Now doesn't that sound better than mange? Summer baldness hits Pot Bellied pigs this time of year. They lose their hair and get dry flaky skin. Cheryl said she thought it was summer baldness and that losing their hair was natural. She said I could brush them more often to get the flakes off. My pigs hate brushing but love a good back scratch. Marcie told me it wouldn't hurt to worm them again but she looked the pictures all over and didn't think they had the M word. She too thought it was just summer baldness. Marcie said I should use Ivermectin cattle and swine injectable wormer next time and that a jelly filled donut hole might do the trick. First you toss them one blank, then another blank, then a loaded one, then another blank, then a loaded one. I can't wait to try this out on Fiona. If I were to bet I say she will know.

I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Trouble With Free Range Chickens

Everyone has their own opinion on the subject of free range chickens. To free range or not to free range. I am here to tell you that free ranging is not all that it is cracked up to be. I have been letting the girls out to wander around the pasture about every day to pick up bugs and grass. So far it's been quite easy to round them up and get them back in when I want. The trouble is they are so darn friendly that they want to be where I am. That would be fine if they didn't leave behind "presents" (that's what I call poo) And it is poo times ten. There is poo in front of the hay shed, there is poo under the carport that houses Hubby's motorcycle trailer, and there is poo on the bottom on my shoes. If they would stay out in the pasture where they are suppose to be that would be great but I have created such dependent hens that after they are done making the rounds they spend most of the day in front of my small barn, fluffing and dusting and POOING. And now that I have let them out they expect it. When I go down in the morning they are right there at the door wanting out. Hurry hurry let me out I have to POO.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Dog Days Of Summer

Another year has come and gone. School is out for the summer and I couldn't be happier. I can't imagine having a job where I had to work in the summer. The summer is my catch up time. Catch up on my house work, catch up on my farm work and catch up on my reading. Don't get me wrong I love the children. There is nothing better than arriving in the morning to your job and being greeted by happy kids tumbling off the bus like a litter of puppies let out of their pen. But I'm a homebody. I love being home and doing stuff around the place. You would never hear me say that I had to work because I'd be bored if I stayed at home. This job is the best of both worlds. It was great when my son was in school because I had the same schedule as he did and now that he is off on his own I just can't give up my summers off. Sure I could make more money somewhere else but I won't give up my summer break. Or my winter break. Or my mid-winter break. Or my spring break. See what I mean.
I am going to miss my new friend Meredith. She is off to a new position at a different school. She was a breath of fresh air in our room of 3 women in various stages of menopause. She is young and funny and full of life but has decided to tailor her schedule to spend more time with her new baby boy. I wish her the best of luck but will miss her next year.
I won't miss the petty grumbling of too many women in one building. It is like being back in high school. I have tried really hard this year to rise above it but failed miserably at times. I will try harder next year. That's the good thing about school, there is always next year. And summer to cleanse the palate.
This summer we will be moving our son to Colorado. He will be going to the University of Colorado Boulder graduate school with his lovely girlfriend. In spite of the cost of gas, we will drive from Washington to California then to Colorado and back to Washington. What a road trip. I am so excited because I have never been to Colorado before and hear it is beautiful. They will be there for about 5 years so I am going to see a lot of Boulder before it's over.
So here's to long hot days, lemonade, bonfires, mosquitoes, long road trips and a sunburned V on my chest.

I will close with some pictures of my summer colleagues. Ruckus

Miles, the wonder dog

My salad garden

What! A garden can be a colleague

Penne Pasta

Solomon, my second son

so what if I'm turning into one of those old ladies that treats her dog like a person

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Honey We Need A Nursery

After years of living in bliss with my small herd of small goats inside a field fence, along come Cora Belle and Filbert. Experts in the art of fence flaw finding. They can't help it, it comes naturally. Descendants of a long line of fence flaw finders. They can squeeze through the openings in the fence and tend to do it when the horse farmer next door is feeding his horses. They run crying to him like he is their long lost owner. Filbert is even smart enough to squeeze his way back when he's done. So I have been trying to get Hubby to find the time in his busy schedule (motorcycle riding!) to help me build a nursery pen. This will have the proper 2x4 inch openings that are made for small baby goats with big ideas. We started it this weekend. So far we have the holes dug for the posts. It is slow going because we also burned and mowed........and hubby rode motorcycles.
We will need about 150 feet of fencing. I know this because hubby walked it off. Now two of the sides are already fenced with field fence. So hubby starts out and walks the other two sides then he looks at me and calls out a number. I say"Keep going, we need to do the other sides too." He says, "What" and looks at me, with mouth hanging open, pretending he didn't hear me but really he did but is just hoping the answer will change in the meantime. I say "Keep going we need to do all the sides in 2x4 fencing." He gives me a pained look and counts on. 150 feet. When all is said and done the nursery will have a nice stall with a door that opens into the pen and there will be a gate to the main pasture.
Should be done next long as there isn't another motorcycle ride. I'll be screening his calls.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Fence Etiquette

Somewhere it must be written, the rules of a fence. Like this one- If you go through a gate, close it.
Or- No climbing the fences, it tears them down. What every farmer knows. Rules to live by.
There is nothing I like better, and I mean nothing, than a good fence. I have been known to ask for fence posts for a gift. My hubby knows the way to my heart involves a post hole digger.
Just the other day I about swooned when I went by my neighbor's new fence. 40 acres worth. Notice the beautiful rails and the no-climb fencing on the inside. To die for!
So let it be known I take my fences seriously.
Almost 20 years ago we fenced our property with a fairly nice fence. It was a little like the Red Hen story. None of the neighbors at the time wanted to help or share in the expense. So we did all the work and bought all the materials and worked our you know whats off fencing the property for our animals. But that hasn't stopped all the neighbors over the years from enjoying the fruits of our labor. The neighbors on one side have used the fence as their own. They have tacked their electric fence to it not to mention various fencing and gates, only to run through those gates and tear the fence down. They plant rose bushes to crawl along it even after I explained why that is not a good idea. And do I have to go tell someone not to hang Christmas lights on a fence that keeps horses and goats in?
On the back side of the property I have chose to ignore the rope and buoys that adorn my farm fence. And all the junk that lines it.
That leaves one more side that has a neighbor. This neighbor graded their property so far down and so close to my fence that now my poor fence has a permanent lean. Then said neighbor asked me if we wanted to redo our fence because it wasn't looking so good. They too have tacked on their electric fences and various gates etc......and without even asking. Not to long ago I noticed some plants dying only to discover that they over sprayed their weedkiller into my pasture of weeds. One person's weeds are another person's goat food. But the last straw was when I went down to feed and I could hear the distinct popping of an electric fence grounding on something. I walked over to the fence and saw that they had grounded their fence on the wire of my field fence. Actually taped it to the fence. Electrifying the whole thing for me to innocently come along and touch. So once again do I have to tell reasonably bright people to take their electricity off my fence? Yes I do...and did.
In a nice way.

I think if you put a fence around your property that it's your fence. If the neighbors want a fence to use and not just look at then they need to put up their own and not use mine. Don't tie, lean, paint, hammer or electrify anything on my fence. I am very territorial.

But maybe I'm's been known to happen.

Monday, June 9, 2008

My Nature's Recipe Boy

He once sang to goats..........
Then traded a goat for a guitar. Now he plays "Stairway to Heaven" for his aunt.......

They grow up way too fast. Love Ya D.

Saturday, June 7, 2008


Here are a few pictures I took this morning while doing chores. I have been letting the hens out to peck around while I am out there to chase off anyone that fancies a chicken dinner.

I have one hen that has a deformed beak. She leans her head to the side to pick up goodies on the ground. Chickens are smarter than they look.

Here is a picture of her back. She is very pretty and sweet with her crooked smile.

Ramona the Brave is first to come out the door and first to come running if one of the other hens has a problem. She is my favorite.

One of the Light Brahma chicks. I have moved them into the chicken coop with the big girls but due to the age difference I put them in a cage so everyone can get used to each other. The hen with the crooked beak loves to hang out with them. The Speckled Sussex chicks are still in the chicken tractor. I may leave them there, I may not.

One of "The Ladies" after she laid an egg in the goat stall and is telling the neighborhood all about it.

This is huge for Koo. He use to be deathly afraid of the pigs and would not get anywhere near them and now is not so bothered by them. It makes things a lot easier.

Passing out carrots.