Friday, May 29, 2009

Can you love a flower too much?

Flowers. Who doesn't love them?
Especially this time of year, everywhere you look, something seems to be in bloom. From year to year, I've always had a favorite flower...bee balm, alstromeria, tulips, delphinium, but I've found my favorite over the last few years hasn't changed.
I am in love with the simple sunflower.
For some unknown reason, these flowers touch me and make me happier than any other. I smile more when the sunflowers begin to bloom. Their brightness, their beauty, their sturdiness, all of these things, just make me feel very happy.

My love of sunflowers has carried over into the decorating scheme of my home. Here is my friend, the "Cow in the Sunflowers". He lives in my kitchen:

"Sunflower Farm in Illinois" enhances my living room (photo credit: Gnightgirl from This Just In):

An all-season sunflower lives on my side porch:

And if I ever write you a note, it may just come on a sunflower card with a sunflower stamp:

As often as possible, I like to bring the real thing inside:

And, as if this flower wasn't perfect enough, once these beauties are finished blooming, those great big sunny heads will delight the birds, squirrels and chipmunks with their juicy, black seeds:

So, given my love for this flower, it won't be surprising when I say that I am about to plant some sunflowers in my garden. But if you remember my blog post on my garlic planting last fall, where I planted eight different varieties of garlic instead of just one type, you'll know I probably have something similar in mind for my sunflower garden.

I have been collecting various and diverse packets of sunflower seeds for months. And the time is finally's time to plant them.

I have thirteen different varieties just waiting to be planted. My pal, Marcee, even sent me three unusual varieties from her favorite seed store, Johnny's. Though I plan to scatter the majority of the seeds randomly throughout my yard, being a bit of a nerd, I also will be planting a small "test" garden in one spot where I can track one or two of each type and identify each one when it blooms.

That's what these little wooden stakes are for, noting the variety and how tall they should grow:

Picture me smiling right now.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The world's cutest future pickles

I looked outside yesterday was very surprised to find this growing on my Boston Pickling Cucumber already:

Have you ever seen such a tiny cucumber?:

Especially on a plant that isn't even in the ground yet?:

Have I mentioned already how much I love spring?

Sunday, May 24, 2009

A Heart for Wendy

This is a small heart of thanks for my blogging friend, Wendy, a.k.a. Goatgirl from the wonderful blog, Life beyond the Sidewalks.

The furry heart is being sent to her with love from Pete and Reggie, the two most recent arrivals to Critter Farm, my new baby Nigerian Dwarf goats:

But the heartfelt thanks are from me.

Though we've never met in person (yet), Wendy and I hit it off from the start and seem to get a real kick out of making each other laugh. After all, we both like funny. A lot.

Funny-ness aside, though, Wendy has been a regular source of support and kind words to me over the last year, but in the last two months especially, she has been a constant source of goat information and guidance. When I've been stressing, unsure, worried, and had oh-so-many questions, she was always right there, checking in, making herself available, and just plain being a friend.

Because of her, I now have these two little sunshines:

...instead of 300 lbs worth of Nubian/Boer cross goats in my tiny goathouse.

It's because of her, that Roxy has two new pals that tolerate all the love and attention this canine has to give:

And it's because of her that I feel confident to make choices on things that I normally wouldn't have trusted myself to make...and these boys are healthier because of it:

Thank you, Wendy.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

My mom's pup

Today is a sad day for my momma. Her precious dog, Schnauzi, who is almost 14 years old, will be put to sleep today.

Schnauzi has been a very special dog. She has been a constant companion and an unfailing friend for my mom, through thick and thin.

She will be missed tremendously.

If you have a moment and feel like sharing a kindness, please pop over to my mom's blog (the bolded words are a link to it) and leave her a few words.


Friday, May 22, 2009

Not at all like soap-on-a-rope

Now available at an Oregon farm near you:

Goat-in-a-bowl (TM)
(Disclaimer: For entertainment purposes only, not edible)

Climbing in:

Sniffing it completely:

Settling down:

"Hi Mom!":




Pete was not amused:

Thursday, May 21, 2009

A loss on the farm

So, that picture that I posted yesterday about my dust bathing chickens looking dead isn't very funny anymore.

After 14 months of joyful, humorous chicken ownership, I have lost one of my girls. Yesterday morning she was fine, yesterday evening she was dead.

I found Coral, one of my Rhode Island Reds, slumped on the ground in the corner of the chicken run when I went to let the chickens out to free range. There was no sign of trauma, no previous illness, it wasn't a hot day, and she had hopped up to the outside roost to happily snag her morning treat from my fingers just a few hours earlier...I have no idea what happened. Her body was still warm when I found her.

It is one of those unfortunate facts of life that things die, but I worry that I missed something, overlooked some sign that I could have acted on. My biggest fear is that she suffered in some way.

I sent an email out to my local, online chicken support group, PDX Backyard Chickens. My friends, Kao and Tonya, are two of the moderators of this group and they have an incredible wealth of chicken-related knowledge that they freely share to any and all who request it. Kao responded in this way to my query on whether anyone else had experienced a sudden, inexplicable death among their chickens:

"We have had a few Production Reds do the exact same thing. Head out, tail up and eating cheerios from our fingers and then two hours later we find them looking like they died in mid stride. Full crop, no sign of damage or anything else. They are great personality birds which have been very missed. Our personal theory is that they are bred for egg production over longevity. We do have a Rhode Island Red that has exceeded the 2 year mark and seems fine just to mess with our theory.
Sorry for the loss.

I may not ever know why my hen died. This morning, I was very nervous going into the coop, fearful that maybe some illness was going to run rampant now in my flock and another of my girls would be gone. But everyone is spunky and fine. Pretty much like yesterday.

At dusk last night, we found ourselves searching our property for an appropriate animal burying place. Every farm with animals needs one of these. We found ours right at the base of this old tree stump:

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Spring Cleaning

It's that time of the year...the weather's right and the chickens are excited:

It's time to clean out the chicken coop:

While the coop has been cleaned out many times over the last year, this is the first intensive, top-to-bottom, hosed-out, everything-scrubbed cleaning that it has received since it was finished being built last April.

A thorough cleaning was desperately needed:

There were many cobwebs:

Dust and feathers:

All the nooks and crannies were needing to be swept out:

So, I took out the windows and made them sparkling again:

I washed and scrubbed their roost:

Boppity had delayed her morning egg-laying and was now quite agitated that brooms and shovels were disturbing her when she had an egg to lay:

Dottie, also on a mission to lay, had to thoroughly inspect the out-going shavings on her way into the coop:

Typical Dot: always thinking the grass is greener over in somebody else's nest box:

Do you notice anything about this picture? Look closely:

How about now? Um, yes...there's Dottie! She was quite certain that Boppity's nest box was better than hers and just pushed her way right in:

The funny thing is, Boppity let her in! Normally, there would have been a tremendous amount of outraged chicken chatter:

Who knows what goes on in this girl's mind?:

Regardless, Boppity had had enough of the nonsense and left the coop in a huff:

Dottie was tickled to win. She never wins:

Now, a bit of time had passed and I noticed it had gotten awfully quiet. Ten of my eleven chickens had all disappeared. I came upon this disturbing scene up by the corner of the house:

It looks like a bunch of dead chickens, doesn't it? Not to worry, they're simply reveling in a barkdust dust bath. Clearly I was the only one doing any work today.

Meanwhile...back at the coop...Dot decided she didn't want that other nest box after all:

Reggie and Pete came by for a look-see:

They gave the coop a thorough once-over and declared it sorely lacking in anything good to eat:

So, there was nothing left to do but start putting things back together. The roost was replaced and dusted with a layer of DE (diatomaceous earth) to prevent mites, reduce flies and act as a chicken poop drying agent:

The nest boxes had been scrubbed, DE sprinkled here, too, and fresh shavings put in:

Oyster shell and grit bowls were scrubbed and refilled:

The feeder and waterer were washed thoroughly:

Everything was sparkling clean and ready for chickens again:

There was some poultry suspicion upon returning to the coop:

I guess chickens don't hold cleanliness as high as I do.