Halloween Prep Video

[Ganked from one of Joy's blog posts. Remember, Costco is your friend. Thanks, Joy!]

A Round Tuit for the Garden Chores

It's a cheesy, schlocky old-timer joke, and it's ever so applicable regarding the garden projects on the farmette at this time.

We purchased two pomegranate bushes in May, and they're still sitting on the porch awaiting transplant. We've also a third fig, a dwarf lime tree and another fruiting cactus also awaiting transplant.

We purchased cedar planks for making raised garden beds sometime in February, along with a truckload of mixed compost and soil. The soil hill is now half its original height due to rain, settling, pup digging and erosion. The planks were finally cut to size this week.

Some good news, however: we've now money to outfit the Subaru wagon with hitch and trailer, and thusly can tow rental agri equipment to the property. This means we can start machine-digging holes for the orchard saplings, cutting down and chipping the invasive cedars, etc. That is, once I order the hitch, take the car in to be fitted, find & purchase the trailer...

So much to do, and yet I'm so excited to have these sorts of things awaiting completion. It means we really ARE getting the farmette/orchard started, and it's no longer just a dream in the back of my head.

Have a great weekend, everyone... don't know about you, but I'll be busy. :-)

[pic: Our gal Frau. Respect the Frau.]


pics: chicken, chickens, geese and dogs

"Red", one of the Ameraucanas. Spouse took this photo with the new-to-us camera. I call the Ameraucanas our "little bearded ladies":

All of the chickens lined up on the porch railing. A rare event, as Nutmeg is the pecking order enforcer, and usually doesn't hang out with the Ameraucanas for long. It's amazing that birds almost twice the size of Nutmeg will tolerate her bossiness:

For Natalie: the dogs getting their daily goose "massage". The pups will see the geese waddle up, and will then shove their bodies up against the fence so the geese can chew on them, wagging their tails all the while. I guess it's safe to say they've bonded.

Can't wait until we figure out some other way of keeping the pups shaded and kenneled during the day. The shade tent works, it just looks nasty. On the other hand, it's the ONLY shade tent that hasn't blown away in all the high winds we've had around the place. It was the cheapest one, too. Pfft, figures.

Back to full health. Have a happy one, folks!


One of these things is not like the other...

Spouse came singing this tune, waking me up out of a nauseous, fitful slumber*. "Take a look at what I found!"

See the pastel colored egg in the carton? Our Ameraucanas are starting to lay! And holy crap, their first egg is HUGE compared to The Frau's first efforts. [Doesn't matter; ALWAYS respect The Frau.]

Earlier that day when I bent over to pick up Red and she responded for the first time with the "uh, are you a rooster?" crouch, I predicted to Spouse that the birds would start laying within a few weeks. Little did I know that they were way ahead of me...

[*caught some sort of 24-hour virus: nausea, dry heaving, light-headedness, massive headache. Bleargh. Better now!]


Video: Nutmeg growls "back off, I'm layin' eggs here!"

I had never, EVER, heard a chicken growl before. Thankfully, Spouse had recently been gifted a second-hand camera that takes short videos, and he got a short take of Nutmeg telling us to back the h*ll off while she was trying to lay an egg. The first noise you hear is actually one of the geese, but the growling... that's all Nutmeg, our little Cubalaya chicken-dog:

She does this every time we go near the coop when she's trying to lay. I love that little firecracker!



Last night I installed a new replacement awning and repaired another... and as of this morning, both are blown to shreds.

*facepalm* *headdesk* *thud-thud-thud*

Off to spec materials & costs for building a wooden pergola.

Since I don't have a picture of the downed awnings (spouse cleaned things up before I got home), here's a pic of the geese applying their destructive powers on one of the folding chairs:

dog messaging relay team... interrupted

We finally broke down and purchased a training collar for Bandit. She was incessantly barking throughout the night. Corrections and take downs would work for maybe fifteen minutes, then she'd start back up again. [G-d bless the Pyrenees, but they're mule-headed dogs. Uh, not that these two are like their owners in any way... *ahem*.]

Part of the problem is that Every. Dog. On. The. Hillside. is part of that blasted messaging relay team. There sounds to be at least a half-dozen of them baying at any moment, every night. Can't blame Bandit for wanting to join in on the fun.

The training collar Spouse purchased has both a beeper and a "tingler". You can choose which to use. Spouse tested the tingler on himself; he said it felt like being buzzed by a battery. So, thankfully, it's not one of those old-fashioned shock-therapy type collars.

Spouse has used it two nights in a row, with success for longer periods of time. I used the beeper alone (with voice correction), successfully, this past evening. Keeping fingers crossed that there's only a few more night's worth of training left before we can take the collar off for good. I hate the thought of using that thing.

[pic: Bandit getting some "love" from the geese. Rotten geese. Rotten!]


Goose Greetings [pics]

Most mornings, the pups greet me in the driveway. Yesterday morning, the geese were waiting in the driveway instead of the pups, and they decided it was time to give the car a thorough inspection:

[Don't they look so sweet and serene in these photos? Why is it that the camera never catches them with their mouths open, squawking furiously like they usually do when I first come home?]


yoghurt taste test: chickens prefer...

Chickens prefer goat's milk yoghurt over bulgarian-style yoghurt. Throw in some crushed eggshell crunchies on top for the extra calcium punch, and you got some mmm!mmm! good eatin'! Just so you know.

[They also like chopped, slightly overripe tomatoes with their yoghurt. What did you say? What do you mean, they're spoiled?!]

Maker Faire - fun for nerds of all stripes

There was so much to see and do. Live music, local foods, hands-on exhibits, and plenty of unique individuals, all happy to be there and share. Some of the highlights:

1. Robot Wars!
If you ever watched it on television, believe me when I say it's double-plus-good watching it "live".

2. Bicycle-powered rides.
Snake train, big butterfly, and a guitar windmill that played chords as you pedaled.

3. Hands-on workshops.
Sewing, electronics, welding... handicrafts that span the spectrum, and all about hacking your tools.

4. Customized cars: electric, bio-diesel, and artistic interpretations. You were encouraged to poke, prod, ask questions...

5. Local foods pavilion, with an emphasis on "grow your own". There were several examples of growing salad greens in shallow beverage boxes (like ones used for six packs of sodas).

For every person who wants to push their imaginations just a little further, become inspired to take their creativity to a higher level, the Maker Faire is a fantastic place to get charged up.

Short vid on this year's Austin Maker Faire: http://blog.makezine.com/archive/2008/10/maker_faire_video_mindbit.html


pics - dogs issue

Another exhausted end of the week. Spouse is home, so I get to crash as soon as I get off shift today. In the meantime, here's photos of our favorite cows... err, dogs:

Maggie & Bandit, eight months old.

Maggie with the "puppy stoopids"

Bandit having a conversation with Nutmeg

A beer can. One of many that the pups find on the property and bring to our attention.


Soylent Green?

"It's chicken! Soylent Green is baby chicken! And... it's tasty!!"

[Leftover chopped boiled egg with crushed eggshell for protein and calcium. Chickens have no problems eating their own.]


We have a visitor

Nutmeg the Chicken-Dog decided to pay us a visit Sunday around noon. We had the front door open to let in the breeze, but since we have no screen door on it (yet), she felt comfortable letting herself in.

First, she relaxed a bit on the recliner. Then, she hung out with Spouse and watched a little television. Some grooming for the road, then she let herself out.

Glad we could make you feel at home, Nutmeg! Come again!

[That is one strange chicken. She fits in quite well with us, methinks.]


pic: geese and tire changing

The geese were deeply interested in Spouse changing out my flat tire. Then they had to come check me out and what I was driving. I adore their curiosity, even if they ARE spoiled-rotten-cranky geese.

["Give us kisses! Let Mama loooove on you!" "Squawk-squawk-squawk! *CHOMP*"]


Did I say small ponies?

Scratch the ponies comparison. Let's try cows. Or oxen. The pups are now 24-inches high at the shoulder. I've joked with Mom that if she's ever confined to a wheelchair, we'll hook up the dogs to her chair and let them pull her around the property.

[pic: Spouse with Maggie and Bandit. They're "Poppy's" dogs, for sure.]


Ouch! follow up

Billy-Bob's wound appeared to be bleeding once more. Took him into the vet at the first available appointment the next day (sleep? who needs sleep?). The wound had stopped bleeding overnight, and after a thorough exam the vet gave him a clean bill of health. It looks like it was a puncture wound. Two possibilities come to mind: either Billy-Bob ran into a raw fence edge, or Maggie put a strong paw on him (grrr... puppy stir-fry is still a distinct possibility with that girl). In any event, the vet prescribed liquid antibiotics that I'm to syringe into Billy-Bob's mouth once a day for five days. Umm, yeah. Wish me luck on that.

Two days in a row with so little sleep is making for a rough night at work. Off to brew another pot.

[pic: Bob giving me the Evil Eye at the vet. Oh, and farm mom? Yep, he crapped all over me again.]



I noticed a bit of blood on Billy-Bob's feathers, peeking out from under his wing Sunday morning. At first it didn't look like much, but when he moved his wing, the slightly blooded area looked suspicious. Against our usual inclination towards self-preservation, Spouse and I decided to tackle Billy-Bob for a closer look. It took both of us to get Billy-Bob cornered to be picked up. The first failed attempt earned me a wing-beating and a bruise upside the head. The second grab attempt netted us the goose, and we quickly hustled Billy-Bob indoors and onto the kitchen counter to check him out.

Spouse and I carefully moved Billy-Bob's wing aside and checked the bloody area underneath. We freaked: under his back feathers it looked like a huge mess, and on a Sunday when no avian vet was open, of course! After calming down and cleaning the skin & base feathers off with a washcloth and spray bottle of clean water (plus a bit of calendula homeopathic remedy throw in for good measure), the wounded area was looking much better. The wound itself - which might have been a yanked out feather - appeared to have been already on the mend. Whew!

Although Billy-Bob was quiet and looked very calm while on the kitchen counter (probably scared out of his mind), once we carried him outside he immediately crapped all over me, wriggled out of my arms and then got the rest of the birds riled up into a HUGE ruckus. Spouse and I got our butts back inside the house before the geese started searching for the torches and pitchforks. Suffice it to say Billy-Bob and the rest of the gang are royally pissed off at us caretakers. It's going to take a truckload of tasty greens and several days before they'll forgive us for manhandling one of their gang.

[But Mama loves her geese, yes she does! Give us kisses!]


Chicken Ball!

From the department of "you gotta see it to believe it": Nutmeg the Chicken-Dog and Maggie, playing with a large, pink plastic bead (far left towards bottom). Yes, it really happened. Maggie would pick up the ball and throw it into the air, and Nutmeg would chase after it. It only lasted for about a minute, but I do believe a breakthrough in poultry/canine relationships was reached.

[and I caught a photo of it!]

On an unrelated note: Spouse baked two gluten-free baguettes yesterday afternoon. I'm currently at work, eating warm baguette slices with butter and black cherry spread, along with a piping hot cup of café-au-lait. It brings back memories of Paris and the cheap (but tasty) petit déjeuner the youth hostels would serve in the morning. I'm a happy, happy girl. Cheers!


Chicken Co-op

This video shows what a whole bunch of chickens just like our Frau would look/sound like. An army, if you will, of Frau. Respect the Frau!


Urban Homesteading: City Chickens!

Spouse is home this week, which means I get to sleep for a straight eight hours during the day (yay!). That also means, however, that he's the one getting to enjoy all the critter drama, so I've no stories to tell at this moment.

[Well, except that he called me at work at 1:30 AM to complain about the pups practicing - incessantly - for the dog message relay team. Dude, I feel your pain.]

So in the meantime this week, I'll scour the web for cool tidbits on Urban Homesteading. Below is a short vid featuring the chickens being raised in a Pasadena suburb by the PathToFreedom.com folks, the Dervaes. The site has lots of cool videos on the Dervaes' efforts to homestead in the city. Enjoy!


pic: the three head honchos

The mavens of the chicken haven, the bosses of the flock (from left to right): The Frau, Cinnamon, and Nutmeg the Chicken-Dog.

Frau has been laying an egg a day, like clockwork. Cinnamon and Nutmeg trade off days, once in awhile both laying on the same day (and usually in the same laying box as well). The eggs are getting bigger, and are still d*mn good eating.

Spouse is home, so I'll run errands this morning and then get a straight eight hours of sleep this afternoon. A rare treat on a weekday!

Of Mice and Various Snakes and new Duck Feed Station

As mentioned in the previous post, our region is experiencing a near-Biblical plague of mice. "It's due to all the moisture we had...