Sunday, June 26, 2011

Something completely different

Things have been kind of dark here lately. But today was a beautiful summer day and my book group came for our discussion. So I decided to make a vegetarian paella as the main course.

Once the ingredients were lined up on the counter, I began by browning the vegetarian sausages.

Chopped onion, garlic, and three bell peppers.

Then everything into the pan -- peas and artichokes added, too.

I don't have a photo of it completely done.  We sat to discuss the book (American Salvage by Bonnie Jo Campbell) and then devoured the paella along with two green salads.  Delicious!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Egglebert was a Good Rooster

Egglebert was killed last night.  In all fairness, I can't say for certain whether it was the predator that got him, then couldn't remove him from the pen, or if he and the white rooster had it out and Eggy lost.

Eggy was part of my first season of chickens here in 2006.  I ordered four Cuckoo Marans hens.  One of them turned out to be a rooster.  Thus began one of the big story lines at Busy Solitude Farm.

At first he was a big mush.  Kind of girly.  He hung around with the hens as a pal.  Early on we had a season of challenge, me and the Eggster.  It was a summer where I stopped showing my legs because the bruises from spurring were too gruesome.  He was defending his girls. 

I stood by him (broom in hand). 

We went through my misled attempt to add testosterone to the barn with Tweedledum and Eggy survived that.  Then he seemed to be more active with the hens, because we had a number of broodies who hatched an egg or two.  Which led us to the "too many roosters" problem this summer.

I knew that the white rooster had gone after Egglebert.  That was one of the reasons that Eggy started living outside the hen pen in the greater barn. 

I indulged him, and let him have the run of the place.

But when the predator issue rose up, I had no choice but to put them together in the same space and hope for the best.

Last night when it was time to close up I discovered the power to the barn is out.  My vast electrical knowledge extends to check to see if anything can turn on, and check the circuit breakers.  Now I need someone to test and figure out where the problem is.  The barn camera took one photo at 22:39.  Without any additional light, the camera's flash didn't hit anything and the picture is black.

So I can't know if the white rooster won the fight last night, or if the predator killed him and couldn't get him out of the pen.  His body was not near any exit point I can understand.  That points towards the white rooster.  But I can't know for sure.

Egglebert was a good rooster.

Now he's roaming the fields of chicken heaven.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Turmoil in the Barn

Whatever got Ari Duckass has been back, grabbing hens from inside the barn.  Two were taken over the weekend.  I thought I had closed off the entrance route after the first, but then last night it took my Scruffy.  So this morning before work I found the route by the trail of feathers and have done my best to close it up.

I've been visiting the barn frequently to make sure all's ok.  Around 8:00 tonight I stepped out of the house.  Something looked unusual.

Yes, that's right.  Egglebert was perched on the dog yard side of the barn.  Luckily I grabbed Ulani and tethered her before there was another tragedy.

Obviously he is not comfortable staying in the part of the barn where he's been for the past month or so.  And who can blame him, it's the first section the predator enters.

But we know he cannot be in with the white roosters.  So I did some juggling.  Two roosters and nine hens are in the back section of the coop.  The third rooster and Eartha Chick are in the front section.  And that leaves the middle section for The Wacky Quackers, Smokey, Lacey, and Egglebert.  All the chickens have roosts up high to help secure them.  Ducks are the "low hanging fruit", but I did my best to block the door into the coop.  I left a light on in the barn so any approaching danger is not as hidden.

It's going to be a long night.

Friday, June 17, 2011

CSI - Busy Solitude Farm

This is the evidence of Ari's murder.  (Nothing gross.)

Another loss

Someone took Ari Duckass. 

Last night I wanted to go to bed early and the ducks were still outside in their fenced area.  I decided to leave the barn hatch door open so they could come in when they were ready.  This was not the first time I've done that.

This morning the Wacky Quackers greeted me in the barn.  I even thought to myself "see, they come in at night and in the morning they wait for Ari to lay her egg, then they go out for the day.

But as I did my chores I realized Ari was not in the barn.  How unusual for the Quackers to be there if she was laying her egg outdoors.  I didn't worry.  I went about my business.

Just now I went to make sure she'd appeared before I get ready for work.  Still didn't see her, so I went out to look and see if maybe she'd gotten out of the fence.  As I walked the perimeter I discovered a track of white feathers going into the high grass.  And as I followed the track it became clear that something had grabbed her and taken her away.

So Ari's gone.  And now I'm bound to have big trouble with those two boys plus my rooster overpopulation.  So if you have some girl ducks, I am ready to give you the Wacky Quackers.  Let me know.

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Memorial Dogwood

This is the white dogwood friends gave us in memory of Oskar.  
I plan to build out a planting bed between it and the fence so that it will have a nicer background, but that will come over the summer.

In the meantime it's nice to have a place dedicated to his memory.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Hot Day at Busy Solitude Farm

Ulani was feeling languid until she heard the ducks -- then she woke up!

(It was about 92 degrees when we were outside.  You can see the rooster holding his wings away from his body, trying to catch a breeze in the open window!)

Monday, June 6, 2011

How We're Doing

This picture was from Oskar's final photo shoot, on the Saturday before he died.  I'd picked up a couple of fresh knuckle bones from Middlebrook Farm near us, and the weather was decent so Oskar and Ulani enjoyed them outside.

Just look at him enjoying that gristle.  Oskar always enjoyed chewing a good, fresh bone.

People have asked how we're doing.  Certainly I miss Oskar, but I remain so thankful that I know he was doing well right up until the end, and I take great comfort in that knowledge.  There has been some role changing among the house animals.  One day last week Ulani fiercely chased Luke away from her bone -- way beyond what was necessary.  I'm pretty convinced that they all recognize that the totem pole has shifted and they're finding their way back to order.

Oskar's bed from this winter is still on the living room floor.  I'm not ready to wash it and put it away.  And when I saw this the other day, I realized that maybe none of us is.