Monday, February 29, 2016

New Beginnings

About a week ago, I started a new venture: Button quail.  These are the smallest creatures I've ever been responsible for.  If you stuck two bumblebees together, you'd just about have one of these!

So far, all six are doing very, very well.  They've been growing wing feathers (which makes their wee wings look ridiculously long compared to their bodies) and eating and pooping and peeping and doing all the things healthy young chicks should.  Their beaks are so tiny that I have to grind the chick starter kibbles in my mortar and pestle to make it fine enough for them to eat.  And eat they do--a surprisingly large amount for such tiny bodies!

As soon as they grow more feathers, I'll be moving them out to a modified hutch on the porch.  There, with any luck, they will grow, and lay eggs, and multiply...and in time, perhaps supply me with the means to become the Quail Egg Mogul of Prairie Farm.  These eggs are ridiculously expensive and in demand in posh restaurants, just imagine what cachet organic ones will have!  (I wish I could say they'd be free range, too, but at one pound and mildly stupid, these wee creatures would be predator fodder in no time!)

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Monday, February 8, 2016

Dreaming of Flowers

It's officially February, snow and cold winds everywhere you look, and here I am, dreaming of flowers.

I blame it on the seed catalogs.

But whatever the cause, it's got me thinking about what flowers I want to grow in this year's garden.  I know I will have my usual volunteers of cosmos, chamomile, campanula and morning glories, because by now, they pop up in random spots having spread themselves to various other places in the gardens.  I'm hopeful that poppies will come up, but if not, I have some seeds in reserve and will plant out more.  My usual plantings of sunflowers will go in, and I plan to sow lots of marigolds around and about.  For my new flowers, I'm envisioning drifts of dianthus, clouds of violas, batchelor buttons blooming, and with any luck, asters to linger into the fall.  One of my favorite things about my garden is mixing flowers with vegetables, like little pockets of jewels amongst practical garments. Everything grows so happily together, layers of layers of layers, all hidden under the buzzing of bees.

It was a happy thought to bring
To the dark season's frost and rime
This painted memory of spring,
This dream of summertime.

Our hearts are lighter for its sake,
Our fancy's age renews its youth,
And dim-remembered fictions take
The guise of present truth.

--Flowers in Winter, John Greenleaf Whittier 

Friday, February 5, 2016

Meet the Freeloaders

No eggs.  Only golf balls.

Yes, my chickens have yet to lay.  It's been forever since I had home-laid eggs.
Aren't they beautiful, though?

They aren't the most friendly chickens I've ever had, but I appreciate their independent spirits and cautious natures.  I just adore their coloring, too.
Mister, my gorgeous rooster, has really come into his own.  From his proud upright comb to the silver saddle on his back, to the iridescent green tinted tail feathers, he's a prime specimen.
As for the ladies, the penciling of their feathers is so intricate.  They are very sweet natured (even though they don't want to lay eggs.)
I just love my little flock.  Now, if only they'd repay me for the hundreds of pounds of organic feed that I've invested in them, with a few eggs in the nest every day...

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Coop Repairs

Ah, the coop.  The time has come to build Chickenopolis 2.0, but for the duration of this winter, the current coop needs to make it through.  I always have issues with the door freezing in place, so I decided: enough is enough.

So I took the door off the hinges, and broke out my hand saw. Off came four inches of the lower doors, and tah dah...
A door that closes, and opens, and doesn't freeze in place.  (I can only suck in my gut so far, and it's been a squeeze the last couple of days...)  It wasn't even too hard to rehang.  The chickens thought I was weird, but then again, I think they think that most days.

One job done!