Monday, June 30, 2008

Earplugs aren't really working for him

Well, one of my blogging pals, Twinville, from Laughing Orca Ranch keeps asking. She's really very nice about it, but she's persistent. In a number of comments to me, she has repeatedly inquired about the rooster situation here at Critter Farm.

It seems she actually remembers one of my much earlier posts where I stated that a NO ROOSTER promise had been made prior to me getting our chickens back in March. That NO ROOSTER promise was originally extracted from me because my husband is very sensitive about his sleep. He just knew, despite never having had one before, that owning a rooster would mean bad news for any hope of him ever sleeping past dawn again.

Until now, though, I haven't been ready to respond to Twinville's queries, mostly because the two proprietors of Critter Farm have been trying to "work out" the, um, situation.

Let me just say - in my defense - that this NO ROOSTER promise was made before I ever knew just how cool roosters really were. And, more to the point, said promise was made before that generic idea of a rooster became who we know today as Roopert:

and Pip:

In my heart of hearts, I actually hoped and believed that once Jim had spent time with the chickens that he would fall in love with ALL of the chickens, like I had. This love would allow him to overlook the small aspect of Roopert's (and occasionally Pip's) crowing. It helped my cause that, in the beginning, the crowing was very cute. It was even cuter that Roopert seemed to be on a 10:00am and 6:00pm crowing schedule. "This can work", I kept saying to myself.

Alas, this is no more. Roopert is now a 5:15am on the button rooster. And this really upsets Jim.

So I sweetly ran out and bought my guy a box of these:

but he says they hurt his ears.

Ever anxious to please, I rushed back out and obtained a package of these:

You'll notice that this box hasn't even been opened. Jim made it clear shortly after I brought these home that this really wasn't the solution he was looking for.

So, here's where Roopert has spent the last couple of nights:

This crate is in our lower garage, a separate building from our house, and a good 100 feet from our bedroom.

This hasn't stopped Roopert from crowing:

but it does make him a bit cranky the next day.
Better him than my husband, though. And that's all I'm gonna say about that.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

It's how hot?

I wouldn't know....exactly.

As some of you have heard, my husband is a bit of a weather nerd. His dream gift this past Christmas was a weather station. He loves to know the precise temperature, the wind speed, the amount of rain fall and, of course, the minimums and maximums of them all. So, we have a lot of different devices for reading temperature and all that other stuff around here, some of which are high tech, some of which are not, but the devices are everywhere.

Since Friday, Oregon has been in a rather sudden heat wave. Yesterday was absolutely sweltering and I decided to check the temperature.

I looked at the kitchen thermometer. Wow, that's hot:

But wait, there are two other thermometers right next to it, all reading different temps. Now I'm confused:

It's clearly HOT, but just EXACTLY how hot is it?

I thought maybe the dresser thermometer would narrow it down a bit.:

But no. None of the thermometers said the same thing.

There's still the thermometer under the eaves to check:

Holy cow! THAT can't be right!

Now, see? Sometimes too much information is a bad thing. If there were only one thermometer, I'd take it for its word, but with so many, I'm now on a quest to find the truth. What's a girl got to do to find out the exact temperature?

I decided to head to my most trustworthy source. I go ask the chickens.

All signs pointed to "very hot" down there with them, too. There was a lot of standing around under the tarp, wings held out, and mouths panting:

There was also a significant amount of activity around the water cooler:

Still, no one would tell me the exact temperature.

Pip, for example, just kept saying the same thing over and over: "Hot, hot, hot":
Rose-Uppity couldn't remove her head from the water pan long enough to even mumble an answer:

Even the coop thermometer was acting all wobbly and imprecise:

There was obviously no sense in even asking the donkeys. They were too busy baking in the sun:

So, I'll leave you with this and we all have to be good with it: It is very, very hot here right now.

While I took the advice of one of my commenters NOT to plant anything new during this heat, I was able to harvest something new: yum...English shelling peas:

Friday, June 27, 2008

Critter Farm Garden Report #2: Vegetables

Following yesterday's blog on the various fruits growing at Critter Farm, today's report is all about the veggies I'm trying really hard not to kill. I'm not quite ready to resign myself to the fact that I may be better with animals than I am with plants. But, I'll let you be the judge.

First of all, take a good look at that picture at the top. In that very small space we've got, from left to right, snow peas, shelling peas, radishes and potatoes. Yes, that's right...all of them, right there, all smooshed together. A bit more space between the rows will be on my mind next planting season.

On a bright note for me, the snow peas are a success:

The first of them were harvested two nights ago. There were seven, perfect and beautiful pods, but I ate one the minute I got it off the vine:

leaving six that I generously split with my Jim for dinner that night.

The radishes are done. I didn't really take advantage of these. I think I harvested maybe 2 bunches. Their burden was that they became ready about the exact time that the donkeys arrived at the farm and I suddenly didn't care much about radishes anymore:

These will get pulled and sent to the compost bin shortly and replaced with something else. Is it too late for carrots? Who knew radish flowers were so pretty?:

I pulled this big guy out yesterday. Have you ever seen one so big?:

The shelling peas have large pods but no discernible large peas yet. I can't wait - these are my favorite:

Here's the first Yukon Gold potato bloom:

The tomatoes I started from seed back in April are still embarrassingly small compared to some of the pictures I've seen on other blogs. Please don't taunt me because of this. These are cherry tomatoes:

Here are my extremely small yellow pear tomatoes, also started from seed:

These are Roma and Yellow Globe tomatoes (not started from seed). Nice shadows, huh? I did this on purpose:

My sweet red pepper is looking pretty sharp. Can you see the baby pepper?:

The sweet yellow pepper is positively anemic compared to his friend, Red, next door:

The cukes, while healthy looking, are also way behind:

This is my first attempt at a birdhouse gourd. It just sounded really cool:

But, very sad. Part of the reason a lot of my neat veggies are still so small is because they sat like this for a very long time, awaiting my attention:

Those are my green beans and green and yellow zucchini. Hopefully, I can get those into the ground finally tomorrow. It's supposed to be 95 degrees, though, and may not be the most optimum time.

Moving on to herbs...
The basil that I started from seed in April is pretty much the same size as when I stuck them in the ground over A MONTH ago. What the heck?:

The chives are doing well. It's fairly hard to kill chives, so it's a good choice for my garden. Here's a really pretty chive blossom:

I feel my method of growing definitely leans toward the benign neglect method. I love them but sometimes I unintentionally ignore them. They pretty much need to be hearty and take care of themselves for the most part. I will make sure they get water and light, but they can't be needy, troublesome or disease-prone. With that said, let's see how my first large vegetable garden fares from here!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Critter Farm Garden Report #1: Fruits

I've been so focused on my animals, both in person and on my blog lately, I've hardly paid any attention to the beautiful soon-to-be-edible things growing around our place. Here now is an update on what's fruity and growing here at the farm.

Apples are forming:

I have no idea what kind they are, but some have the most adorable blush to them:

The pears are tiny and cute:

Though I am concerned about what might be causing this damage to some of the tree leaves:

The raspberries are working up to an incredible season:

Here's a shot of the right-hand side of the raspberry frame: these canes are healthy and filled with tiny, developing berries:

Left-hand side of raspberry frame: DAMN the deer to hell:

Right side and left side together for perspective. Grrrrrrr!:

The raspberries on the right-hand side will begin to ripen soon if I can keep them safe:

There's another raspberry patch below the deck (Shhhhh...the deer haven't found this one yet):

We are about to be inundated with blueberries. Yum:

Each bush is loaded with hundreds of berries. I'm scanning books and the Internet for blueberry recipes:

We have a total of 14 early, mid, and late blooming blueberry bushes:

Ever-bearing strawberries are attempting to ripen:

The deer really like these babies, too:

This is our first try at growing grapes. These are supposedly Concords. I'll keep you posted:

Look! Baby grapes:

This was also our first year with rhubarb. This was planted many years before we moved here. I had no clue what to do with it, but my sister-in-law did, and harvested a bunch for jam and pie:

Ok, so this isn't a fruit, it's a nut. We've found that there are numerous filbert/hazelnut trees around here:

Tomorrow, I'll share some shots of my vegetable garden. I'm a bit embarrassed, but hey, it's my first try!