Saturday, November 21, 2009

Christmas Came Early

My Christmas cactus turns out to be a pre-Thanksgiving cactus! A few weeks ago I noticed it was covered with buds, and this past week it burst into magnificent bloom. I moved it from the south facing window where it is normally at home in hopes of prolonging the show.

The blossoms are like feathers, gorgeous colors blending into a flashy display. The pistil shocking pink, the stamens like antennae. Everything about this plant says "look at me right now!"

For the next couple of weeks, the cactus will sit on the kitchen half-wall where I can see it from all directions. Then, as it fades back to normalcy, Christmas decorations will take over the flash and splash.

What's not to love about Christmas coming early?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Jewels in the grass

Come along as the chickens go for a walk through the green grass. I wish they could spend all of their outdoor time in the grass, but when I am at work they are restricted to the area inside the wire fence. It keeps them close enough to the barn to make an escape from a stray dog or other predator.

So I try to open the gate to the yard for them to get some good scratching and running time in.

It doesn't take long for them to spread out like jewels in the grass, sharing willingly when they come upon some tasty morsel. All of a sudden I hear the deep, happy cluck that says "over here -- this is a really great spot!" and the hens all wobble over to see what's to eat.

Egglebert took some of the hens (and the new "chicks", near the gold hen on the left) to visit what's left in the vegetable garden. Mmm, how about that cabbage?

When the chickens are restricted to their fenced area, I try to toss them good healthy treats. This particular day I pulled up a leftover purple kale plant and threw it in. Everyone races in and tears off what they can grab, then races away to try to hide and eat. But of course there are always disputes, chickens drop what they've grabbed in their beaks and other hens swoop in to take it away. Here's a quick video of one of these encounters. Watch the two young'uns -- about ten seconds into the video one gives the other a swift peck as if to say "why'd you let that other hen get our kale?!" (I also love the sound of the Ameraucana hen coming down the ramp near the end!)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

In Memory of Lucca

This is Oskar and Ulani's breeder, Veronique, hugging Oskar's littermate Lucca (Can/Am Ch One Man Band de Guerande TT HOF). Lucca died of cancer yesterday, age 11. I am really sad about it. When I got Oskar, Veronique had held him and Lucca back trying to decide which one she would keep. Oskar was natural earred, Lucca cropped. Otherwise they were very, very similar. I've always felt there was a connection between them, though I never saw Lucca in person again after I went to Montreal to get Oskar.

"Grieve not,
nor speak of me with tears,
but laugh and talk of me
as if I were beside you
I loved you so
'twas Heaven here with you."

Isla Paschal Richardson

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Soon, soon, soon

It was a beautiful Indian summer Sunday morning. Enjoying my coffee while surveying my estate, I thought to myself...

Soon the neighbor farmer will cut down the cornstalks, and once again I'll see cars approaching on Pardee Road. And that's alright, because in the winter we need as much company as we can get out here in the middle of nowhere.

And soon the leaves I've piled almost three feet deep in the reformed rabbit run will begin to decay, preparing themselves for next year's garden.

And soon the garlic will sleep under its cover of straw, holding tight to the soil with the roots it's already put in. I look forward to five varieties of deliciousness from this bed next July!

Soon whatever lives down these holes in the cabbage patch will go to sleep for the winter. Won't it? (By the way, if you know what lives down holes this size and builds up little "volcanoes" around the entries, please let me know!)

Soon the flowers on the septic prairie will fade and lose their color, but the seeds they leave behind, and the grasses, will feed the birds all winter long, attracting them to the yard so we can enjoy their colors and songs.

Soon the final cabbages will be pulled from the cabbage patch and tossed to the chickens, roots and dirt and all, for their very own Thanksgiving feast.

And soon Luke will prefer sleeping on the couch to sleeping on the yard steps.

But today, in this beautiful Indian summer weather, we did our best to enjoy all these things that the summer brought us. Thank you summer!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A Cautionary Tale

Perhaps you other chicken people will recognize yourselves in my cautionary tale.

I have been having major pain from my spine through my shoulder to my funny bone. After about four days of suffering, I made an appointment with a chiropractor for before work. I woke up, did my chores, raced out of the house almost an hour early to make my appointment. (Here in the country, everything is 30 miles away!)

The chiropractor welcomed me, had me change into a gown, returned and cracked my back and neck, then left the room. And that's when it happened...

I looked at the stool I'd just been sitting on and on the floor in front of it? A big clod of chicken poop and straw! As I glanced around the room, two more clods that had obviously fallen off my dirty shoes! Horrors! Luckily there was a handy box of tissues nearby, so I quickly picked it all up, hoping the chiropractor had not seen what a mess I was!

I know, I know, I should have a separate pair of barn shoes. But I've never been able to make that work -- I always end up having to dash out there for something, or not being able to find the right shoes for the right place. Any help for me?