Friday, February 20, 2009

Storm in the Coop

The atmosphere can change in a heartbeat. Just when all is calm, a storm breaks through.

This morning all was fine in the chicken pen. Around lunchtime I went out to gather eggs and noticed that Egglebert was alone in the dog kennel. Sometimes a hen will go in there for privacy, but I never saw him go there alone before. Still, he seemed ok from what I could see, and so I did not pursue it.

Around 2:00 I went to sit outside in the sunshine with the dogs. The Dutch door to the barn is open to let some sun and air inside, and so we can hear the chicken sounds in the yard. Suddenly an unusual cackle rose up from the chickens, one that brought both dogs racing to the door. I decided to investigate.

The chickens' pen is a former 10 x 10 box stall. I built the door from an old piece of plank fence, and the way it closes leaves about a 1-1/2 inch gap along the latch side. When I looked at the door, Egglebert had jammed his head through the gap and appeared to be stuck. His comb bled.

At first I couldn't get the hook unfastened. Normally I give the bottom of the gate a hard shove and that loosens the hook, but in this instance that was not an option. When I did get it opened, Eggy allowed me to pick him up without problem. He'd clearly been fiercely pecked on his comb by Tweedledum (who has blood on his chin). What to do?

I returned him to the dog kennel and closed its door. Then I brought hot water, washcloths, and antibiotic ointment from the house. He did not resist at all as I gently sponged away the blood until he was mostly clean, and applied the ointment. In fact, he leaned his head into me as if he was comforted by my care. Once I finished, he seemed to stand with more strength. I let him look around for a minute before closing him back in the kennel. He'll stay in the kennel for a day or two until his wounds are reliably closed.

But the question is, what happened? I know he had frostbite on his comb that was close to falling off. Maybe it did and bled some on its own, attracting Tweedledum's interest and aggression? I would rather that were the case than to think that Tweedledum has snapped and become like his evil alter-ego, Tweedledee (remember him?).

Nature so quickly altered my peaceful afternoon, focusing my attention and emotions on the flock. I guess it has many ways of making you sit up and take notice.

Monday, February 16, 2009

This is it! The very Snowy Owl living on Kruger Road! I did not take the photograph, it is by Josh Haas and you can see his blog entry about finding the owl and view more of his wonderful photographs here.

Over the weekend I had the wonderful experience of seeing the owl three times. The best was on Valentine's Day morning. En route to breakfast with friends, I drove slowly across Kruger Road, scanning the now snow-less fields for a blog of white. I read that Snowy Owls prefer to stay close to the ground, so every lingering pile of ice appeared a likely candidate. I came over the top of the hill, looking to the right where I had seen people with binoculars searching across the field into a large stand of pine trees in the distance a few days earlier. No flash of white.

My eyes came across the road (I was still driving, after all, had to stay safe!) and I realized that the owl was perched atop an electric pole maybe 50 feet from me. Slammed on the brakes and the car stopped just across the street from the pole, so I was peering straight up at the owl, peering down at me. We shared our amazement for what felt like a full minute before another car approached and the owl dove off the pole, swooping across the fields to put distance between us. What a Valentine!

I caught him again on Saturday late afternoon in the same place, and so Sunday morning I took my camera and sure enough, he was there. Apparently he's grown tired of celebrity, though, because as soon as my car slowed he flew off. Luckily I had opened the window and turned on the camera before coming over the hill, so I caught a view of him flying away. What a magnificent sight!

Thursday, February 12, 2009


Please won't you be my Valentine?
Our friendship makes life oh-so fine!

I've made you a cookie
in place of some nookie...
But you must enjoy it online!

Roses are red, cookies are crumby,
you can't eat this so I will...yummy!

Have a very sweet Valentine's Day!
xo, Johanna et al

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Price of Fifties in February

That's the main door into the barn. Every day I go back and forth to feed the chickens, collect eggs, check water (plenty of that!).

Now I have to stand about a yard away from the door, stretch to pull it open, and then jump to the concrete threshhold to avoid the big splash.

This spring, I believe I will dig out some of the dirt and fill with pea gravel so that at least it won't be such a muddy mess.

And speaking of muddy messes, look at the flooding around the vegetable garden. This is the reason for the raised beds. The winter after my first, terrific vegetable garden here, this plot stood under a couple of inches of water for a few weeks. The soil stratified and in the spring the top layer was like cement.

I found a guy to till it with his old Farmall. Last summer I only got half of the raised beds built before I put my back out. This year I am very eager to put all ten raised beds to work. I might even move my gardening tools into the old rabbit hutch so that it gets some use.

If April showers bring May flowers, what do February floods bring?