Saturday, February 27, 2010

And so it begins...Growing Season 2010

Northwest Oregon has had an unusually warm and wet winter. Our daily temps have settled into a predictable pattern of highs in the mid 50's:

The crocuses and snowdrops are blooming, the frogs are making an incredible racket outside and my living room table looks like this:

The itch is too great. I can't wait any longer. It's seed starting time! Time to bring my precious box of saved seeds out of storage:

I've got the tomato and veggie seeds that I picked up in Germany last July:

Don't these look like fun?:

New sunflower varieties as well as leftovers from last year's sunflower garden are beckoning:

And I have a variety of other flower seeds that will hopefully bloom in my garden this summer:

I'm going to try my hand at hot pepper growing this year:

Our family adores fresh garden peas, Maestro shelling peas in particular, so I ordered an extra big bag of those:

I have heirloom tomato seeds that I saved from last year and some seeds saved for me by a special friend:

And this little basket holds everything else that I need to somehow find a spot for in my garden plots:

I treated myself to a small indoor/outdoor greenhouse rack last week. My seed trays are just waiting to be filled:

With as tickled as I am, Roxy wasn't impressed by any of it:

Just wait until the peas are ripe, though, and then we'll see who comes a begging!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Why my hoodies don't last

Sometimes he tugs, sometimes he just stands very, very still and holds on tight.

Don't tell anyone, but this is the reason why I've requested a new hoodie (or two) for my birthday. Chester can hardly wait:

I sure love this donkey.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

A tasty treat for Pete

Pete, the goat, is always sniffing around for his next snack:

So when Chester's tail popped through Pete's side of the fence the other day:

Pete gave it a sniff:

And then a little taste. Bottom line, neither goat boy is very picky about what they put in their mouths:

And an instant later, everyone just pretended it never happened:

Saturday, February 20, 2010

"What's up?" "Chicken butt!"

When my kids were little, they used to say this.

My younger sister even said this to me at times.

I had no idea what it meant.

I still don't.

But, oddly, the saying does seem much more appropriate around here now that I've got the girls.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Dottie returns to work

The other day, I read someone refer to their chicken's seasonal time-off from egg laying as a sabbatical. This made me chuckle, because this is an excellent way to describe my White-Crested Black Polish hen, Dottie's, annual "time off". Beginning at the end of summer and running through part of the winter, she takes total egg-free sabbatical.

Since I tend to be a bit of an obsessive record keeper, I am able to look back on my calendar and see that Dottie's last egg was laid on September 9, 2009 (09/09/09 - do you think she chose this purposely?). Now it's 2010, we are well into mid February, and Dottie had yet to lay her first egg of the new year. Last year, she chose Inauguration Day, 1/20/09, to return to work. Well, finally, yesterday afternoon - after five months and one week - when I went into the coop, this is what I saw:

Good girl, Dot! Since she is the sole, white egg layer among my nine hens, I always know when Dottie lays:

1.6 ounces of Dottie joy:

She felt she deserved extra scratch last night and, of course, I complied:

Carry on, girls!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

A heart-shaped nose

From the first day I met Dolly, this girl's heart-shaped nose has made me smile:

It's the very first thing I see when I look at her:

It doesn't matter what she's doing:

Who she's with:

What kind of weather she's in:

Or what her mood might be at the time:

I always see a big, soft, furry heart looking at me:

Dolly the love llama...

I know Valentine's Day is over, but she's like Rudolph with a twist, don't you think?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Would you head-butt a llama?

Having animals of different sizes on the farm can be an interesting balancing act. You always have to keep in the back of your mind who can be together with whom and who needs to be protected from whom. Will the new guy get along with so-and-so or is there a potential for harm?

Pete and Reggie, my dwarf goat boys, are small in size but very big in attitude:

There is no doubt in their minds that they are the priority on this farm and that everyone else is here solely for their entertainment:

In the last few months, since the llamas and donkeys arrived, I've put a good deal of effort into keeping the goats out of the llama/donkey pastures. I'm smart enough to know not to trust the donkeys, but the decision is still out on the llamas and whether they will be friend or foe to the goat boys.

I have noticed, however, a certain intensity in Kai the llama's eyes when she's looking at the goats. It's more than a little unnerving to me:

When all the other "big animals" are off eating and doing donkey and llama things, there Kai will be...watching...

...with a very focused stare:

I've watched her closely, these last few months, wondering whether her intensity is based in curiosity or aggression:

Pete and Reggie, of course, are oblivious to any potential danger:

They think everybody loves them:

....and wants to share their food with them.

They consider a closed door (or gate) nothing more than a momentary inconvenience:

...and rarely think twice before jumping over (or squeezing through) a gate or fence:

regardless of who might already be occupying that space:

So, I've been more than a little nervous for that first face-to-face-with-no-fence-in-between introduction between the llamas and the goats. I knew the day would come when it would happen and I tried to be prepared for it - and ready to jump in to rescue anyone who needed it.

On the day it happened, the goats were following me around the property as I was doing chores. We headed down to the chicken coop. The donkeys were somewhere in another pasture and the llamas were in the pasture we were going into, but quite a ways down the hill.

Funny how quickly those big animals can move when they want to:

And here's how their first barrier-free meeting worked out:

I have to say, watching Kai, she's remains eerily focused on my goat boys, but I don't sense any aggression from her. She is just extremely curious, intent on just staying close, watching and sniffing. Is this a "guard llama" trait? I've never seen anything like it.

(Did you see the temporary fence? Here's a perfect example of one of its limitations: my little orange-twine fence, put up to keep the big animals out, doesn't keep the little animals in.)