Friday, May 28, 2010

Guest poster (partially): Ulani: BISCUIT!

I don't see what anyone's interest is in the cruel teasing I endure in order to "earn" my food.  Please do not watch this video.  It only encourages Johanna.



PS -- if you watch it, it will drive your dogs crazy.  Serves you right.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Snake in the...!

After hurriedly filling the duck pool this morning, I raced into the barn to let the chickens and duck out for their daily romp.  And then I let out a gasp because I was met by this:

Actually, the snake was curled up in front of the coop door when I walked into the barn.  But I truly did gasp aloud.  Yikes-o-matic!  What to do now?

First I spoke to it.  I said "Snakey, could you move over so I can let the birds out?"  Then the snake curled itself up tighter.  When I moved a bit closer, it struck out at me!  Yikes-o-matic again!

I retrieved a snow shovel and attempted to encourage Snakey to run away.  I felt a bit safer behind the wide blue shovel end of this implement.  And good thing, too, because Snakey hissed and struck out at me again.

The forecast was 85 degrees today.  I did not want the birds to be stuck in the barn all day, but I sure as sh#t was not walking past that snake!  Not when it was clearly unhappy with me!

 So I spoke to it again.  I said "Snakey, you are welcome to all the barn mice you would like.  In fact, I encourage you to hang around and have a feast.  However I must admit that you make me seriously uncomfortable, and so I respectfully request that you move your snake ass over so I can get in the coop and let the chickens out.  What do you say?"

Snakey thought it over.  I moved in a bit with the snow shovel, approaching his personal space.  A very effective method of dog training, put pressure on the personal space until you get what you want, then back off.  And guess what?

Snakey ran off!  "Yes!" I exclaimed!

And the chickens and duck were able to run out and enjoy the sunshine and fresh air.

The end.

PS, I truly would welcome the snake to hang around if it eats rodents, because there are plenty of those in the barn.  You might remember a couple of years ago I was greeted by a snake in the zinnias.  That snake eventually met its maker under the lawn mower.  I cried when that happened -- felt terrible to have killed it.  And figured I'd eliminated a very valuable pest-eater, too.  And my sister reminded me of the snake-toad incident just this spring!  I don't think of toads as pests, so I was unhappy with that snake then.  Was it the same guy?!

But snakes do creep me out, and I'd rather it not show its slithery face to me!  Is that so much to ask?

Monday, May 24, 2010

Are you ready for your close-up?

The irises exploded this week into their glorious blowsiness!  Look at this blue with a bit of pink undertone.  Gorgeous!

Purple with purple beard -- these absolutely fill the center of the bed in a cool pool of purple loveliness.

 And how about these inky beauties?  Nearly black, except when the sun shines through them.
I wanted Iris Beverly Sills for years -- finally found her on eBay!  Isn't she just the greatest iris?

There are other blooms in the perennial bed.  Here's a lovely digitalis.

What a terrific color, and those great freckles spilling out of the flowers just fascinate me.

Hey!  That's no flower!

And coming soon...  Papaver Princess Victoria Louise!  Can't wait!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Passages: Dolly Parthen

Dolly Parthen died last night.  You might remember her.  She was the chick with the overlarge crop in the First Foraging Foray.

She lived well for her fourteen months.  She strolled in the grass and basked in the sunshine.  In fact, last month she stayed out all night!  From time to time her crop gave her troubles, but for the most part she was a happy chicken.

In the past couple of days, however, her crop grew hugely distended.  I tried various ways to relieve the pressure.  I think perhaps she just decided it was time to go to the Big Coop upstairs.

I will miss her pleasant nature.  Rest in peace, Dolly.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Oskar's Mischief

Oskar will be 12 in August.  He's my steady-freddy dog, dependable, trustworthy. 

He loves to take a walk and see what's up in the neighborhood.  In the past year he's developed some arthritis which has slowed him down a bit, but he's also developed a funny habit of slowing down on the return trip.  Whether we go 1/4 mile out and back, or 1/2 mile out and back, after the turn around his speed drops by half.  It amuses me.  He seems to want to extend his walking time in any way that he can, and he slows down more and more the closer we get to home.  If I make a turn that says "let's go another block" then his speed doubles!

This morning we took a nice mile walk, half mile out, half mile back.  I had my camera along, so I took a few pictures, and a little video.

He's due a brushing, his coat doesn't look great, but you can see I even put his leash over his back and he was so good.  (My dogs were raised in the city/suburbs, so they're usually never off leash outside of a fence.)

When we got home, the light on my pansies was so pretty I wanted to take a photo.  This one.

See Oskar in the background?  Slowly strolling in the grass?  I was about to take one more photo.  This one.

And he was off!  There's a gate there, on the other side of the house, and he perked right up and raced through the gate.

Sorry, there are no more pictures.  I was chasing him into the deep grass that's still flooded from all the rains we've had this past week.  If I'd had the camera on video, you'd hear a fair amount of cursing as the water squished into my sneakers.  And my sneaky dog went around back to check out the chickens' run.

Finally I remembered our obedience training all those many years ago.  "FRONT!" I hollered, and he came right over to me.  Where I could grab his leash, and lead him squish squish squishing back into the fenced yard.

He walked with a happy jog in his step.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Barn Update

What have you got to say for yourself, Mama hen asked the blond.  Where did you get orange legs and white feathers, anyway?

The only roosters in the barn look like the Mama hen.  Stripes.  It is true that the two roosters hatched last Labor Day were referred to as "Mr. Orange" and "Mr. Pink", and both of them had Egglebert as their father.  The leg color, then, must be influenced by the mother's legs.  I think.  So which hens have orange legs?  I'll have to do some research, off the top of my head I don't remember bright orange hen legs.  Then again, I don't have any white hens, either!

I sure hope white baby is a girl!

Here's another look at the curious question of the chicken feet!

The runner ducks are developing their elongated triangle heads.  Unlike a Pekin duck, that has kind of a "stop" like a dog's muzzle, runner ducks have Roman noses -- a smooth line.

How's that for a profile?!  You can see the very first idea of feathers emerging around the eye.  Can't wait to see what color and sex they are!

It's hard not to be the stars!  The dark chick here is the one that survived the massacre.  She's going to be just beautiful in dark feathers with gold stripes.  The other two are sparrow-like Ameraucanas -- I bet they'll lay the best eggs!

We had some flooding from a thunderstorm last night, very soggy lawn.  But the chickens were delighted to be allowed out after dinner.

Egglebert led the ladies for a stroll through the vegetable garden (not much planted there yet, it's too wet).  I tried to get video of Ari Duckass flirting with him, but she was suddenly camera shy!

And that's the update for today.  Hope you're caught up!

Roost Boost!

I'm back from Indianapolis, where my sister is now on the mend.  Thanks to all for your kind well-wishes!

While I'm scampering to get caught up, I thought I'd share a little video of Mama Hen and her two babies.  One of the babysitters reported to me that they'd begun roosting while I was away.  As you'll see, this means flying up to a 5 foot crossbar where they can sleep!  Last night I was in the barn when Mama and the dark baby were up, but the white baby was struggling.  I gave updates to a friend on the phone and observed for about five minutes as white baby grew more and more frustrated.  Finally I could not stand it any longer, and I gave her a "roost boost"!  That's where the video picks up.  More later.  (Bark alert!  Oskar barks in the background of this video -- when I played it this morning, Ulani went crazy!)

Thursday, May 6, 2010

On the road

I am going out of town for the weekend to stay with my sister, who is having surgery on her back.

My very capable friends Elizabeth, Bonnie and Beth will watch over Busy Solitude Farm while I'm away. 

See you soon!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Cecil B.

Cecil B. DeMille stopped by this morning to direct the sunrise.  Sure 'preciate it!