Saturday, September 21, 2013

Feathering out...

The Warner chickens are now officially a bunch of awkward teenagers! Their partially feathered heads remind me of the peachfuzz/beard disaster that happens to most boys around the time their voice starts to change.

Speaking of voices, the noises these girls are making are starting to get a little bit more chicken-like.  There are a few I can identify right away.  There is the SQUAWK! PUT ME DOWN! call,  the WHAT THE HECK IS THAT BUZZZ CHIRP, and the LOOK WHAT I HAVE sing song frantic peeping whilst running around and playing keep away with a tasty mealworm.

These girls are starting to look more and more like hawks with their multi-colored brown plumage.  I wonder if that will afford them and the flock some degree of protection from the actual sky predators...

Shar was out with Frank last weekend for the chicken coop build.  As a lover of all black animals she took an instant liking to the cranky Cuckoo Marans girls and declared that they were not cranky at all.  Turns out she was right, many of them let her hold them and they have been even more friendly since her last visit.

They are also starting to look the most like adult chickens.  This one isn't a great example, but there is one who has feathered out almost completely.  Feathers or no feathers... these girls look like little dinosaurs to me.

I mean come on!  THOSE are dinosaur feet!!!

The Wyandotte girls are just as sweet as ever.  Rarely making a peep when I pick them up and hold them.  This morning Cleo and this girl took a ride on my shoulders around the fields.  Neither moved the entire time and there was no squawking either.

This photo just makes me laugh.  She looks like she is about to eat me.

Everyone will be fine in the brooder for another two weeks or so.  I've installed some roosts so they can get use to sleeping up there.  Most of them still end up piled up on the floor together.

These last two pictures are some of the forage grains I have been picking up for the girls.  On days that I'm off I walk out in the fields picking greens and seeds and the occasional grasshopper, cricket, or slug.  The girls love these little treats.  Hopefully I am introducing them to the outdoors little by little so that their free-range days won't be such a shock.

As Christian left for work this morning and found me walking around the yard with two chickens on my shoulders I can only imagine what he was thinking.  I have to say that I REALLY like chickens.  My mom, a life long self proclaimed bird hater, has always wanted chickens.   I think there is something different about them.   Something special. :)

Friday, September 20, 2013

Around the Farm

Christian and I have been settling in on the farm over the past month and a half.  We've completed some of the initial tasks and decided to have some fun.   When we moved in there was no swing in the front yard.  I have always loved swings and this tree was just begging for one.  As it turns out this happens to be the Snake Tree... so riders beware!

Getting the ropes tied required Christian.  I am not much for tying knots.   I'm glad he humored me and helped out.  He then pushed me on the swing for a few min. :)

This is Poke Berry.  In my research about what plants chickens can and can't eat I found out that they do not regularly eat this purple fruit, but that some people actually make jam out of it! Making jam out of wild berries is akin to serving wild mushrooms on a salad... I think I'll pass.

This is one of the fields that surround the house.  It is fenced on all four sides with very old and over grown barbed wire fence.  The small run-in shed in background has two big turkey vultures living in it. They can be seen standing on the roof in the evenings.

After plowing the field with the vultures in it we were finally able to identify this overgrown structure as the former chicken coop.  There is no hope for salvaging this one either.  Instead we may fortify the fencing and throw in some goats or sheep in the fall.  

The roof in the background of this wild corn picture is the roof to the old milking barn.  Half the size of what it was when it was functional, we hope someday to clean it out and make it an entertaining space.

Growing up in California we rarely find old things just laying around.  Old out-dated electrical especially! Look at these fuses!!!  The fading bits of newspaper on the right hand side were tucked in as insulation.  They date back to the 40's.   In Virgnina, especially in the more rural areas you can expect to find abandoned houses, out-buildings, tools, etc.  This farm has been no exception.

This old bathtub is out in the middle of one of our fields.   Next to it is an iron water pump.  It was likely used to water the cattle that use to live here.  Now, it holds a few frogs.

I just love the green standing seam roof on our house.  It is a look my mom has always loved as well.  It makes the most beautiful sound when it rains... but it also blocks almost all cell phone reception.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Chicken Coop Build!

We originally planned on keeping an existing structure on the property and converting it to a chicken coop.  After we took the siding off, cleaned it out, and started to look at the bones of the structure it became clear that salvaging it would take a lot of money, time, and the finished product would still be lacking stability.  

So... we tore it down!

Then we made a HUGE fire and burned the debris.  The fire was so big it actually attracted attention from the road due to the huge column of black smoke.  Here in Virginia you can burn trash, wood, yard waste, and pretty much anything else that does not release harmful chemicals into the air.  This practice is still a bit weird for two lifetime Californians who were never encouraged to burn anything for fear of burning their entire neighborhood down.   I have to admit to feeling a little nervous about the whole thing even though we had called the fire department (like we were told to do) to let them know we would be burning so they could put us on the "Burn List."  

This past weekend we started off building the coop.  Thanks to Sharlene and Frank, who have so generously devoted many a weekend to helping us get this Farmette up and running, we nearly completed the basics.  

Here are some photos of the day!