Tuesday, August 26, 2014

New Birds on the Farm

A few weeks ago I thought my original flock of chickens was down to two.
Mavis and Louise.
Mable was the most recent to have disappeared.

On the other side of the yard we also had Peepers the lone Guinea that FabHub managed to hatch in an incubator and his little Cochin friend Buddy that we got at the flea market.
Peepers was so small and alone that we looked for another small bird to be in the box with him.
Buddy is the only one we found and is a small bird even when grown, but the two of them stay together all the time.

And then there are these two that also came from the flea market because they looked like they would grow up to be pretty. 
The man said they are Red Wyandotte -- I don't think so anymore.
FabHub said they are roosters -- Probably??
They haven't crowed yet, but the big girls do not pick on them at all, so maybe?
We will have to wait and see. 
I named them Laurel and Hardy because one way or the other there is a joke in their story.

Back to the disappearing flock.
So I was down to two chickens and didn't want to have none.
Then I saw a posting on FB from the source of our original eggs that they needed to downsize their flock either by selling some birds or filling a stew pot.
I offered to take four of them and then became the rescue home for another.

The girls run around the yards and fields all day so they hadn't been keeping up with the weeds inside their chicken yard. The morning we went to get the new girls I decided I better clean it up so they wouldn't wonder what kind of a jungle they had moved into.

So I am pulling weeds and tossing them in a pile...
and then look what I found.

Sitting on a pile of "never going to hatch" eggs.

Actually, I found the lower pile first. They seem to have been the ones she kicked out of the nest.
Then I found her on the upper pile giving me the stink eye look.
I had been missing an egg or two every day for a while. I kept looking for them, even in this yard, but obviously not well enough.

When I got done with the clean up the yard reappeared.
I pulled everything to try and make sure Mable didn't have a nest anymore.
She was mad.

Then we went and picked up the new girls.

These two are so sweet. Definitely used to being handled some.
The one on the left was the rescue. 
I don't know if she is laying eggs, but she is pretty.

We kept all of the hens locked up in the chicken yard for a couple weeks to make sure the new girls know where home is and the whole flock could sort out the living arrangements. 
My yellow girl, Louise, has turned into a big old domineering crank.
Kind of funny since she was the dizzy blonde in the beginning.

And did I mention Mable was mad?
Yes, she lost her egg pile and had to argue over her roosting spot all in a really bad day.
She pulled some feathers out of some butts to share her mood.

Then they all started to tolerate each other so I let them out of the yard.
That all happened in July.

A couple of days ago we risked more bad attitude by moving the other four in with the big girls.
They have been sticking together in their own group. 
We didn't lock all of the birds up again, just figuring the younger ones will follow the old girls.
So far that has mostly worked. 
The first night they tried roosting on the outside of the yard fence.
FabHub moved them inside.
The second night they were inside the building, but not on the roost.
There is progress anyway.

Everybody seems to be happy, especially with some cracked corn snacks.

Coming soon -- Baby Goats!

Get rid of that camera! This is not my good side! -- Little Violet

This photo was approved by Little Violet and her Minions.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Camping with Friends

Our summer vacation this year was spent at Lake Sherwood right here in West Virginia.
We were invited to spend the week with some friends who have an annual family reunion camping event at the lake. We had visited on single day trips during the last couple of years, but this sounded like an adventure so we decided to go crazy and jump right in to camping.

Now, most of the people we were with had campsites that looked pretty normal. There is a tent with sleeping bags, maybe an air mattress, a picnic table, a canopy for some shade, and a fire pit.

Being the cheapskate that I am, I suggested we not buy a tent that might only get used the one time.
We came up with the idea of using our box trailer as a camper.
I called it "Redneck Camping".
Then we had to figure out sleeping arrangements. Neither of us had any intention of sleeping on the plywood floor and an air mattress would still be hard to get up from in the morning. We are getting creaky. So, originally we were going to use a regular old mattress and box frame to sleep on, but I decided that being able to get away from FabHub when he started to snore without his cpap machine was going to require cots.
I got on the Big W's website and found twin guest beds with 4 inch memory foam.
Now we are talking! And sleeping well.
This is the inside of the trailer. I brought the foam padding to protect bare feet from the wood and cold.
The cots are below the side door and our clothes and other things are in the front of the trailer.
I got the "As seen on TV" screen doors at Ollie's. The normal door size for the side door and this big one that is actually intended for a single door garage for the back.
It isn't in the picture, but I had picked up a bag of multi-sized clamps on clearance at work and used them to hang some of the smaller items from the top of the plywood to get them out of the way.
At one point I thought about using the charcoal to filter the air coming from the "brown" side of the trailer, but a shower pretty much solved that problem. 

Here are some pictures of events around the campground.
Setting up the big canopy as soon as possible turned out to be pretty important.
Most of us were prepared for sunburn, but rain and frostbite were the biggest concerns.
Turns out this trip happened during the  2014 Summer Polar Vortex that you may have heard about.
This is what the mornings looked like.
Most people (always an odd one in a crowd) wearing pants and jackets in the morning.
FabHub and some others got coffee going right away and then we huddled up to the fire.

Some of the days were pretty nice though.
This is part of the walk coming from the beach side shower house.
Very pretty all the time, but really nice in the early morning.

Views of Lake Sherwood.
This one from the island.

This is from the boat dock.
There were no boats for us to rent this year due to an issue with the contractor who used to handle that.
Also no ice machines, firewood, or snacks at the boat house.
So we saved some money, and still had fun.

This is the bridge to the island. I love the colors. Everything is so fresh looking.

By the way, since this lake is in Greenbrier County, WV and the Green Bank National Radio Astronomy Observatory is only about 40 miles away -- there is very limited cell phone service.
Certain people were observed standing on a picnic table near the lake trying to "reach" a signal.
For many others there was this option. 
For our younger readers this is known as a Pay Telephone.
You put money in it - or use a credit/debit card.
I actually saw a line of people in cars waiting their turn one afternoon.

We brought our dog Jake along on this trip.
He is 13 years old and does NOT like to be left at home for days at a time.
He is a good dog so we took the chance. He did well and everyone seemed to like him.
This was one of his more famous poses,
Hello! Pet me or give me food. Your choice.

This is his other position. 
Due to the rain and chilly air he did most of this one in the back seat of the truck on his bed. 
We let him sleep in there so that he knew we could not leave him behind. 

Sunny times were spent by the kids (and an occasional Mom) at the beach and collecting anything they could catch in a net.

One morning we went on a hike around the lake.
The trail itself is 3.7 miles.
Add in the extra bits of road and it was an easy 4 mile walk.
It was a well marked (blue on the tree) trail with good paths.

We even got the guys to go with us.

This is from the backside of the lake looking at the island and beach on the left side.

There is no way Jake was staying behind.
He protected us from all sorts of wildness.

Like the 400 pound beavers! That is what the kids heard anyway,
There were a lot of tree stumps that had clearly been chewed off by beavers.
Here a young man surprises one at work.
How that beaver chews on the tree with no front teeth is a wonder to us all!

The girls are providing size perspective for a beautiful rhododendron in the woods.

FabHub kept asking me if I had fun.
I was relaxed and read a good book, "Shutter Island".
I was just happy to see he got to do nothing.
Well, playing a LOT of corn hole isn't exactly nothing, but he sure had fun.
They played for hours. Even in the drizzle. They have requested that I make new corn bags.
I saw that coming. I also got an order for another set.

Since there was no one to sell them firewood there was no complaint about the guyd collecting their own downed trees. The first day that they cut wood it was with a bow saw, a battery operated reciprocating saw, and anything else that would cut wood. They collected a nice pile of wood.
The second time they cut wood they had more help.
 Did you know that an electric chain saw sounds like a mattress air pump from a distance?
It worked pretty well. 
Luckily FabHub had brought a couple hundred feet of extension cord (hoping to plug in his cpap machine) and the guy who brought the chainsaw brought another hundred feet or more.

Another lucky moment was when a chopping maul got added to our trailer.
Doesn't this guy look lucky the maul came along?

All that work made for a nice pile.
It lasted just long enough to finish out the week.

Then everyone started tearing down the tents.
Notice it isn't raining. Great. Better than packing wet I guess.

The trailer is all loaded and ready to head home.
By the way, that isn't all just our stuff. A family of four is included in the package.
Two sets of corn hole boards, a full size grill, about eight coolers, two cots, lots of blankets, a tent, canopies, and if you look real close you can see at least one of the multiple Thirty-One bags in the pile. 
(That comment was for my sister the 31 Lady)
So we had a week in the woods and liked it enough to plan on going back.

Thank you for allowing us to be part of your family reunion.
We hope to see you all again next year.