Monday, October 13, 2014

My Egg Customers Are the Sweetest of Peeps

My egg customers are the sweetest of peeps.  Just look at the sweet gifts I have been given recently when folks came to purchase their fresh eggs from me & my 'girls'.

This beautiful ceramic tile with a colorful Rooster designed with a cowboy & bandana theme and the words "Western Omlete" came from Louise, a sweet lady who always slips me an extra dollar when she pays me for my eggs.   I keep telling her that she gave me too much money, but she refuses to take the money back, saying that the eggs are so delicious that its worth that much and more.  Last time she picked up her eggs she gave me this lovely gift.

Another super sweet lady, named Helen, always returns her empty cartons, but they are never empty...she always puts jelly beans in the carton.  Today she handed me the carton but there was no familiar rattling noise, and I noticed the carton was not completely closed.  Inside I discovered this cute little Chicken...that was hand made my someone from clay, then hand painted.  It is so cute, and because it is a cone shape I am calling it my 'ChickCone' and I'm proudly displaying it with my other fun Chicken knick-knacks.

When you have meet the sweetest peeps!

Keeper of 1 husband, 3 dogs,
3 cats, and 16 Chickens!
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Friday, October 10, 2014

Agressive Javelina's Charging At My Dogs Through the Fence -Video

Here in Arizona you are familiar with the nasty critters to watch out for and avoid such as rattle snakes and scorpions.  Another critter that we try to avoid is the Javelina, but in all my years of living here I didn't really consider them an extreme threat.  I have had them come right up to us to get a treat like a tossed strawberry (or stale cheerios in the case of my grandkids). I watch them each morning and evening as they make their way west then east in their daily travels.

Credit: Photo courtesy of the Arizona Daily Star
When I go out to my chicken run I sometimes find a group of Javelina's hanging out in the yard between the back door and the chicken run, but they will usually scatter as soon as they see and hear me coming.  The only time I hesitate approaching them is when they have new babies in their group.  They get very protective when they have little ones with them.  But even then, I have never had them get really aggressive with me, they just tend to stand their ground and expect me to give them extra time to disperse with their babies.

However this morning I was caught off guard by their aggression.  I looked through the window of the door before letting my dogs out into the fenced back patio and saw the Javelina's wondering around the backyard outside the fenced in area.  I opened the door and let the dogs out.  As is usual, the small dogs run to the fence barking frantically at the Javelina's and typically the Javelina's will scatter.  But today they did not.  They took a few steps away, then turned right around and came back towards the fence.  My puppy (8 mo old Rottweiler/SharPei) ran towards them but didn't bark, she wanted to play with them.  She jumped towards them and lowered her upper body like she does to instigate the dogs or cat to romp and play with her.  The Javelina's jumped towards her with their hock hair standing erect, huffing and snorting, clacking their sharp tusks in chomping motion as a threat to her.  Miss Hollywood was oblivious to any threat.

This was totally unusual behavior from what I have seen by Javelina's in my nearly 2 decades living here in Arizona.  I grabbed my video camera to record this because no one was home and I figured no one would believe they were acting so hostile this morning.  There were no babies in this group.  They all appeared to be full grown adults, perhaps they were all males so that sparked it. 

Watch (and listen to) the video below to see how they not only charged at Miss Hollywood, but also at my Boston Terrier Pickle as well.  One even tried to nip at Pickle through the fence (3/4 of the way through the video).  Note, Pickle only has one eye, so she has issues with depth perception...I don't think she thought the Javelina was that close.  There were about 5 or 6 of them circling around the fenced area.  They did not even seem to notice me, a human, standing right there video taping them.  -Scary! 

Keeper of 1 husband, 3 dogs,
3 cats, and 16 Chickens!
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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Surprising Update On My Last Season Volunteer Tomato Plant

I told you recently about my little late season volunteer tomato I discovered just shy of one month ago.

Today I wanted to give you an update on his progress...because he continues to progress in spite of lots of things working against him.  The first thing working against him is the fact that it is now October -I would have already cleared the plants from this summers garden out by this time.  But this little guy is a survivor and really wants to continue to grow.

That was proven just last week when we had our last heavy rain of the summer monsoon season, and I made the mistake of sitting this Alaska Grow Bucket too near my rain water collection barrel.  I don't have an overflow system on this collection barrel, so when the heavy rains filled the barrel to the top, the rest poured over the edge and into the Alaska Grow Bucket with such force that it washed the soil out of the bucket, leaving the tomato plants completely uprooted.  I thought, "Well, that's it for this little guy." But I couldn't just let it die that easily, so I pulled some of the soil out of another bucket that wasn't used, and tried to gently place the soil around the roots of the tomato plant and filled the bucket back up to the top.

A few days later I checked on the tomato plant and it was doing just was standing tall, with strong stalk and stems, and no limpy leaves even.  And guess what?  It now had four little flowers.  Since it is way so late in the year there's was no hope of any bee's coming along to pollinate it, so I hand-pollinated it myself.  See instructions here on how to do that, it's really easy.

I wasn't optimistic that these flowers would actually become tomatoes, but this little plant wasn't giving up, so how could I?   Two days later I was checking its water level and look what I found?  Look closely there (see the pink arrow) and you will see a tiny little tomato bud right behind that drying is growing!!!

[Volunteer Tomato plant blooming, pollinated flower growing a tomato. Plant is now 27-30 days old.]

Here is what the whole plant looks like now.  He is just thriving so nicely!

[My volunteer tomato at 27-30 days old.]

Keeper of 1 husband, 3 dogs,
3 cats, and 16 Chickens!
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Monday, October 6, 2014

Molting Season...I'm Collecting More Feathers Then Eggs These Days

[Goldie (Buff Orpington) in molt, new feathers coming in and old ones falling out.]

With the days growing shorter and the girls all over 1 year old, its raining feathers around here.  I could seriously stuff some big pillows, but they would be a little pokey.  The girls look just about your worst hair day!  This is our first molting since the girls are so young.  Thank goodness I've studied up on chicken keeping because I didn't remember it being this bad when I was a kid.  Of course as a kid I probably just had fun catching the feathers blowing all around.

Just look at these girls...awful!

[Barbara (Barred Rock in center), Buffy (Buff Orpington in back), Snowball's butt (White Rock)]

Talk about bad hair day...look at Barbara with feathers falling off of her everywhere. Her head is looking so much nicer as the new feathers come in.

[Barbara (Barred Rock). See the loose feathers everywhere?]

Buffy is nearing the end of molting with just her butt bare, but with new feathers sprouting there...

[Buffy's finally down to mostly just the butt area in full molt.]

If you look closely at Goldies butt...yeah I know you probably don't want to but look anyway...she has a bunch of new tiny feathers poking out all over.  

[Goldie has a bunch of new feathers poking out of her bare rear-end.]

My poor girls are still laying, but they have slowed way down.  I swear I find more feathers then eggs in the nest boxes every day.  I just keep picking them out when I collect their eggs.

[Egg production down, feather production up!]

To help the girls ease through this phase without completely depleting them nutritionally, I have upped their protein.  We are still getting about 6-8 eggs a day from my 16 girls, so I can't complain.  The neighbor down the hill from us isn't getting any, his chickens just stopped laying all together.

I've had to put a halt on selling eggs to anyone other than my long time regulars, because there aren't many left after we have our breakfast.  Just this morning I was short an egg for breakfast so I had to go out and steal one hot off the presses, the bloom was barely dry when I grabbed it.  Talk about Fresh!!

As I said, I've upped their protein by adding some dried split peas or wheat berries to their fermented feed.  They also get some dried meal worms in the afternoon, and of course they get to come out and hunt down whats left of the grasshoppers and other critters before they go to bed for the night.  How are you helping your girls make it through the molting season?

Keeper of 1 husband, 3 dogs,
3 cats, and 16 Chickens!
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