In the news . . .

July 23, 2010

San Mateo County is re-considering its current chicken legislation. There’s been a lot of buzz among chicken owners around here. It was in the news today, and I thought that some of you might be interested. I’m briefly quoted in the last paragraph.

If you’re interested in reading the article, click here.

The Garden in July

July 22, 2010

I love my summertime garden! July is absolutely glorious. I’ll tell the story with pictures.

I have to start with the girls. Here, they’re going crazy after I’ve turned the compost. Worms, pill bugs, earwigs and beetles- a veritable feast!

The corn is really tall- over my head. The squirrels are already tearing into the ears. If only bee bee guns were legal in Belmont . . . I know, I know, all my animal loving friends- but they’re eating my veggies!

The tomatoes are getting bigger. I’m probably a month away from getting good tomatoes.

Who knew that artichoke blossoms were so beautiful?

The sunflowers are absolutely spectacular. Way over my head- maybe eight to ten feet tall. Why haven’t I grown these beauties before??? I was concerned about the wind toppling them over. But, they’ve done very well!

The green beans are blossoming.

And we’re starting to get a few beans.

Truly, July is glorious- I love gardening!!!

In the Garden

May 22, 2010

Wanted to give you an update on how things are going in the garden.

The bush beans are coming up.

The lettuces are happy.

The artichokes are going crazy.

The corn is shin-high.

The broccoli seems to be doing well.

The peas are blooming.

The tomatoes are deciding if they’re going to behave.

Sally’s still broody– and as nasty as ever. Look at her all puffed up and looking mean . . .

Lest you think that these snapshots of my garden are sort of idyllic and pastoral, just remember that on the other side of the yard, it looks like this. Sigh.

The New Hive

It sounds like a country western song, doesn’t it? I’ll just go with that theme and say “Dang! It hurt!”. I had forgotten how much it hurt to be stung. Not immediately- but within about five minutes. Ouch! There I was, mindin’ my own business, trying to get one of my last two beds double dug. I was about twenty feet from the hive- enough to feel comfortable. But, one of the workers kept buzzing me. I just ignored her, thinking that she was foraging and that she would leave me alone. Bees don’t typically sting you unless they’re threatened. All of a sudden she landed on my neck and stung me. A victim in my own back yard. I’m sure it had nothing to do with the fact that I swatted at her . . . hmmmm.

And then there’s Sally. She’s my only girl with a broody tendency. When hens go broody, they want to hatch a clutch of eggs. They stop laying and sit in the laying box all the time. They lose weight, and they don’t eat or drink enough. Their comb gets droopy. All in all, they get sort of pathetic. It’s a hormonal cycle that lasts roughly 21 days- long enough to hatch a clutch of eggs. There’s a lot of talk among chicken owners about how to break a broody hen. Some measures are pretty draconian. Some will put their hen in a cage by herself and suspend her from the roof of the hen house. Some withhold food and water for a day or two. I’m not really comfortable with any of those measures- so I just let her stay broody and do her thing. It is sort of a pain, though. Like I’ve said before, she gets nasty when she’s broody. She poofs out her feathers to look big and aggressive when you get close to her, and she growls at you when you reach underneath her to get eggs out. As much as a chicken is capable of cognition and emotion, I think that the other girls get sort of irritated with her. They all like to lay in the same nesting box, and when she’s broody, Sally monopolizes it for three weeks straight. It’s sort of funny, though, to see two big hens trying to cram into the same box.

That’s it for now. More adventures from the garden later.

Chicks at Six Weeks

April 27, 2010

Henny Penny

Henny Penny got all the good snuggles- lucky girl . . .

I showed you what the chicks looked like as peeps the other day. Remember how I said that they get big very quickly? See what I mean? They’re six weeks old in these pictures, and they look kind of like scrawny adolescents. You can move chicks into their coop when they are fully feathered- usually around 2 1/2 to three months. But, you have to get them ready for that. Starting when the girls were six weeks old, we took them outside most days to get them used to being outdoors. Think of it as hardening off the chicks. I’ll explain- hardening off is what you have to do when you’ve been growing seedlings inside. You take them outside for a few hours a day for a few days before you plant them. This gets them used to being outside and helps to reduce the shock when they’re transplanted. The same concept applies with getting the chicks ready to live outside. Well, sort of.

I’ll just add that by 2 1/2 to three months, the girls were getting sort of big and obnoxious. I was glad to have them out of the garage!

Little Peeps

April 22, 2010

Here are some pictures of our girls when they were chicks. We got them when they were three days old. You can buy chicks “sexed” or “straight run”. When you buy them sexed, there is a 90% chance that they will be females- yep, they can tell that early. Out of our six chicks, five turned out to be hens. Freddy, our little cockerel, looked very roosterish from very early on. So, I named him Euphegenia after the Robin Williams character in Mrs. Doubtfire. Dude looked like a lady (thanks, Aerosmith). I digress. The chicks were so cute and sweet- lots and lots of peeping. The cute, little phase is brief with chicks- they get big very quickly. While chicks are a fair amount of work, they’re also very sweet. The children spent hours holding them. So magical. My son held Henny Penny every chance he got, and she’s still the tamest of our hens.

Meet the Girls

March 31, 2010

Meet the girls. I have two Barred Rocks, two Americaunas and one Black Australorp. Betty and Wilma, my two Barred Rocks, have attitude to spare. One of my Americaunas is the beauty queen Margaret- she’s difficult because she can get away with it. The other Americauna is Henny Penny, my son’s favorite. She’s sweet and fairly tame, mostly because my little boy held her so much when she was a chick. Then, we have my sweet Black Australorp Sally. When she’s not broody, she’s sweet and gentle. When she’s broody, stand back- she can get quite nasty.

They come running for the worms after I turn the compost- just makes the eggs that much better . . .

Henny Penny

Betty hunting for worms