Thursday, August 29, 2013

Free-Range Flock

For the first time, I caught our keets, Big Red, and the adult guineas traveling as a flock.  It must have been the day spent in captivity yesterday, when I had no adult to help with cooping up, so they were left in a fenced yard.  It's a good thing we do that rarely, as they hated it.

Until next time, remember, this is not paradise.  It's Purgatory Ranch.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Chicken Update

The girls and I have been excited to collect our first eggs from the adopted chickens (not our original Naked-Necks... yet).  Knowing that I may not have to buy many eggs at the store in the near future is a rewarding feeling for all the hard work and trauma we've put into this chickens.

 Dinosaur legs!

The chickens have such different personalities.  We know exactly which two hens will be the last in at night.  Only one rooster (of three) crows of yet, and he starts early in the the morning.  Since their turken tank is directly outside our bedroom windows, I get to hear the symphony!  In reality, the noise is not yet as bothersome as some people make it out to be.  Since nearby neighbors have had adult roosters since before we moved in, the early crowing is a normal noise.

Until next time, remember, this is not paradise.  It's Purgatory Ranch.

Friday, August 23, 2013

YJ Acres

After 21+" of rain since July 14, we are enjoying drier.  I would not wish away any rain God sees fit to send us, but I am glad we are finally able to wade through the weeds and try to tame the chaos!

One of my three new rose bushes is blooming.  I normally don't choose something yellow, but this rose is cheery and bright against the rest of the green path.

The below hill has been a trouble spot for us.  We lost the only tree planted on it last year in the terrible drought.  When my mom and I were planting bulbs, the tree was so brittle that we could pop off large branches.  We planted a sweet cherry tree in its place.  The hill is also problematic because mowing over it, what with the stones and uneven ground, results in excessive need to trim as well as bald spots where the mower has scalped the high spots.  Our solution, over the next several years, will be to gradually kill of the grass and replace it with rose bushes and mulch.  I had to leave behind my collection of roses at our old house, so I am looking forward to choosing all over again!

 I started the spring with a cleaned up front walkway.  Herb plants were planted, weeding commenced, and... the summer and time escaped me.  This week, every time I leave the house to pick up or take the girls to school, I have been pulling a few weeds.  Although there's plenty left to do, I can now tell where the oregano, basil, echinacea, chamomile, sage, rosemary, lavender, and tarragon are... and where they aren't!  I ran out of mulch from chipped limbs, so I may be at a stopping place in this yard improvement for now.

 Apples and peaches are slowing approaching ripeness in our orchard. When we made a trip to Lowe's for supplies for the new and improved chicken tractor, we also splurged and bought several more fruit trees.  Even better, we already planted them!  Another honeycrisp, gala, and Wolf River apples were planted, as well as a plum.  We're looking forward to maturity in a few years!

Until next time, remember, this is not paradise.  It's Purgatory Ranch.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

August 9

August 9 was a bad day here at YJ Acres.  It was James' first day back at school, so I was home alone with the kids and animals.

Around lunch, I went out to check on said animals, only to hear the guinea keets' characteristic "lost" cry.  Upon finding all the babies in a tree and no mama hen (Big Red near by), I began counting... and counted again... and again.  We were missing a baby and a mama.

I went to check the chicken's water and, upon opening the door, discovered two dead chickens.  Oh, did I mention that the Assistant was with me?  Yeah, welcome to farm life!

The Assistant and I fixed up the dog crate and patiently ushered in the lost babies.  After all, wouldn't repeated cries of "lost" call all the predators in the area?  We gave them food and water and settled them near the chicken tractor for company.

I sent James a message asking him to call.  After all, should I leave the chickens?  Bury them?  I didn't want to pull them out and have the dog eat the corpses.  The end result: James sent over a neighbor, who looked at the tracks I had found and declared them to be from a fox.  He helped me bag up the chickens and secure them in the barn until they could be used as fox bait.  Later, I found the hole torn in the chicken wire where the fox had gained entrance and vowed to be more proactive in closing the door to the coop at night.  We had been lax in our security, leaving the coop door open to the enclosed yard.  No more.

Then, coming out the front door, I discovered Big Red, missing half her feathers.  We followed her for a while, making sure she wouldn't run away from the yard, and finally released her babies to her.  They reunited happily.

For the rest of the day, I could not help but go outside frequently, paranoid that another bird would die if I stayed in for too long.

That night, James and Neighbor P set a live trap for the fox, complete with chicken corpses.  James also picked up four bedraggled hens from a too-crowded coop and replenished our flock.  (It is too bad that two of the hens, both grey, are meaner than the day is long.  They might become stew.)

Until next time, remember, this is not paradise.  It's Purgatory Ranch.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Canning Exploits

A long day was had by all at our house yesterday.  It began with defrosting three gallons of skinned tomatoes.  They bubbled away most of the day to join herbs, lemon juice, and salt for 15 pints of tomato sauce.

 Meanwhile, culled tomatoes from Tuesday's picking extravaganza (3 1/2 5-gallon bucket loads) were skinned, cored, and chopped to make 5 quarts of salsa.  Everything but the cilantro was homegrown or in the pantry!

We also had some cucumbers that needed attention, and we've been running low on pickles.  I love that my girls like "our" pickles better than store bought!

See how happy they make her?

We even ended the day with a decent plan for dinner, all the dishes washed, and the bedrooms vacuumed, thanks to my mom!

from the room of Zana's Ninis,
katie z.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Weekly Rundown

The Bradford pear that sustained so much damage previously lost another 2/3 of the remaining... so James will be cutting the entire tree down tomorrow.  It will be replaced with either a fruiting tree or a maple.  Something that doesn't stink in the spring, preferably.

We've had 19.8" of rain since July 14.  Just shy of the 20" mark, which is insanely wonderful!
 Ah, the troubles of our chickens... Another keet gone.  Two chickens slaughtered by a fox.  Four new chickens (given to us by an acquaintance with too many).  Maybe we'll have eggs soon, maybe not!  A live trap is now baited for the fox, who had been left alone until (s)he began preying on our animals in broad daylight.

 Almost-all homegrown pico de gallo, a request by my lovely husband.  Next year, if I remember to plant cilantro, it will be all homegrown but the lime juice!
Until next time, remember, this is not paradise.  It's Purgatory Ranch.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

It's Been a Little Rainy

With the rain still falling last weekend, it's getting a little wet.  We aren't complaining (thanks be to God for the rain!), but the pond is a little full...  Just Saturday I took pictures of the pond.  This is Sunday.  The pond rocks are almost completely covered.

1.5" of rain will do that.
 There's nowhere for the chickens to go that's dry!
The driveway is in rough shape.
As is the only road into our neighborhood.
 Bridge out!
 This fellow thought he could go through.  He drove in to his wheels, and finally stopped.  I was afraid he'd keep going, and the water is at least 6' over the bridge in the middle.  Stupid, stupid, stupid.

What will tonight bring?  More rain, of course!

Until next time, remember, this is not paradise.  It's Purgatory Ranch.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

From July 13 through August 2, we have had 16.1" of rain.  That's a lot of rain.  Rain for which we are grateful, as there is nothing like drought to make you appreciate a downpour.

With rain predicted in the next three days, James and I are a little worried our pond might leap the bounds of concrete stones and spill into the yard and drainage ditches.  The roads have also been exciting, with a significant amount of gravel from our driveway and road ending up in the neighbor's field.  The access road to our neighborhood becomes the crossway for a stream, and, baby, this stream is wide.  Hydroplaning is always a breathless endeavor.

The keets and Big Red aren't sure what to make of the mess, but they are growing apace.

We lost a significant portion of a Bradford pear in the high winds of a 4" downpour.  Fortunately, most of the debris is cleaned up, and none of it hit the house.

Until next time, remember, this is not paradise.  It's Purgatory Ranch.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Beautiful Hope!

Our valiant, loving dog, who even lets the baby tug on her face without fussing, has been a great contribution to YJ Acres.
You can see who loves her!

Until next time, remember, this is not paradise.  It's Purgatory Ranch.