Wednesday, April 30

I have 11 moody tweens in my basement. They are the most skittish group of chicks I have ever raised and since they were from the "assorted pullet" tank at Tractor Supply, I am not sure of the breed.
As far as appreaence goes, their feathers are coming in nicely and they are starting to show some distinctive markings. I can tell a few of them apart and I have picked out two that I am definitely keeping. (I am raising 8 for my flock and 3 for a friend's starter flock.)
This girl is a keeper. I love her black and white speckled feathers.

Sometimes I feel like I am taking chicken mugshots.

Thursday, April 24


If you stand outside in my yard after dark and look toward the house you would think that something not quite "on the up-and-up" is going on in my basement. Those grow lights could lead people to believe that I am up to no good instead of starting the plants that will help feed us over this coming summer.
And in certain circles I would be considered, not a law breaker, but a some sort of quaint oddball.
Here it is just about food. About no chemicals and not paying a fortune at the grocery store. 
The tomatoes are all doing very well and this year I am getting serious about thinning. I hate to do it, but I want a good number of healthy, strong plants. Not a ton of weak ones.

I am very happy with the peppers this year. I started them very early and used a heat mat to speed germination.

Wednesday, April 23

Better late then never - spring is finally here in upstate NY and as proof I offer you these crocus photos. Here they are, in all their sun speckled glory, giving my yard the only bit of color it has seen in many months.
It was short lived however, since the next day it was snowing and the blooms just couldn't take it. So many people have said it, but this has been the strangest spring in quite a while.

The snowdrops lasted a little longer although they looked quite depressed under the snowflakes - hanging a little lower than usual. They are gone too now, but so many other things are coming up. The long-awaited warmer weather is finally here.

Tuesday, April 22

The Desert....

I didn't realize how much I miss visiting Nevada until I got to spend some time at the Highland Park Conservancy a few weeks ago. We were there for a wedding in the greenhouse and it was just beautiful. They had sections for different species of plants and the largest one was devoted to the cactus.
Some of these plants were huge - taller than the little man. We spent a great deal of time in this area since it was just so amazing, and because the wedding was taking place on the wooden bridge over the turtle pond in an adjoining section. I had to keep both kids corralled until the ceremony was over.

Friday, April 11

They Figured Out How to Fly.....

My new little chicks are no so little anymore. And the fluffy coated darlings have just about lost most of that fluff and replaced it with new-chick feathers - awkward looking but beautiful at the same time. I am getting a better idea of what they will look like as adults and I have already picked out two that I am definitely keeping.
I am very happy with how these chicks have filled in.
On a sad note, I did find one of the chicks dead yesterday morning. She must have passed on sometime during the night and there were no signs of injury. I know that this sometimes happens and that there is no explanation but it is always sad when an animal dies under my care. I removed her, checked her over for any clues as to what may have happened, and finding none, I took her outside and under the row of heavy pines.
These girls still look a little awkward in the transition stage....
The eleven chicks I have left are getting bolder and they have figured out that they can get airborne for a few seconds if they try hard enough. I have put some old window screens and some large pieces of cardboard over the top of the pen to prevent any escapes - accidental or intentional.
They are getting so big, so fast.
Also in the basement room are the seedlings which I am happy with so far. I have germination and good sprouts on all of the tomato varieties and all of the peppers. I was struggling with which watering technique I would use this year - comparing water usage, which was most time saving, etc. but in the end I just went with what I usually do. No set method, just the daily 'look and see'. I found that watering only from the bottom did not seem to be providing even soil moisture so I began gently watering from the top with the watering can for a couple of days, then switching to the spray bottle for the tops. I found that after germination the roots of the sprouts did a better job of pulling water from the reservoir below and I do not have to spend so much time with the spray bottle.
But, given that I am using the old stand-by 'look and see' method, I check them at least once a day and if they seem dry I give them water. if they are evenly moist, I don't. Not very scientific, I know, but I never liked science class very much anyway.

Will They Make It?

I am currently addicted to a series of books called 299 Days by Glen Tate. It is a ten book series with book #8 just being released a few weeks ago. Unlike other collapse fiction, these books are not an in-your-face total breakdown zombie apocalypse explosion. They are more subtle, realistic and deal with a more credible, partial breakdown scenario.

The community that has formed around these books and the author is amazing. And they are now trying to reach a wider audience to spread the message by producing a movie based on the books. Their kickstarter campaign is up and running.

As of this posting, they have raised just under $40,000 for the project but they need more to meet the goal, which ends on May 2nd. I encourage you to watch the kickstarter video for the project and see if it is something that appeals to you.

Wednesday, April 9

These past few days have been full of bad weather, sickness and stress. For weeks now, I have been waiting for a break in the weather - any sign that spring might be here. It has been too cold, too windy, too wet or a combination of all three and any type of yard or garden work has been impossible. My yard is a boot sucking mess of mud and standing water and everything smells of damp and rot.

So I am restless for spring weather and property repair and all of the 'to-do's weigh on my mind and cause me stress. The only times I have been able to get outside are to take the kids to their given activities and to purchase groceries and overnight diapers for the little man - which always seem to leak and make more laundry for me.

The other day as I was taking the little man to his martial arts lesson I was struck by the unusually high number of road kill specimens both in the road and on the side of it. Yes, I am used to seeing road kill and, sadly, I am used to passing the occasional smushed opossum or deer off to the side. On the way to martial arts I counted a total of 13, including a heron. How could someone possibly hit a heron? And it was raining a cold, hard rain and it was windy. Add the two teenage boys walking down the side of the road in black hoodies who just looked to not be "on the up and up" and my mood was just about as low as it could go.

We have had a round of strep throat here at the house, the kids are restless and want to get outside as much as I do, and there is so much on the calendar that I am hard pressed to find an open white square that is just that - open.

Oh spring, where are you?

Wednesday, April 2

Mud, Broccoli Sprouts, Chicks and More Mud

As I sit here writing this at the kitchen table I can hear the water dribbling into the sump pump tank in the basement. Every 10 minutes or so the pump will come to life as the water limit is reached and it will send a torrent of water shooting out the side of the house through a black flexible hose.
I know exactly where Seamus is too when this is happening because his new favorite game is to watch the water slowly run down into the tank, and the little bits of dirt and debris that go with it.
All this water is from that melting snow that came from that freak storm last weekend and dumped upwards of 6 inches on us. As if trying to rake dead leaves and clearing out the rose beds wasn't depressing enough for me before that, I just wanted to sit down and cry when I saw that snow fall.
I was outside last week trying to rake and feeling quite sorry for myself in that half of the leaves were still frozen to the ground. This weather is bringing out the worst in me and I wonder if spring will ever get here. I did manage to find a few snowdrops sprouting which made me feel a little better but they are now buried under what is left of that 6 inches and I am in a bad mood again.
At this point, I don't even want to step foot in my yard since it is an awful, muddy and puddle filled mess. Everything looks dead. Mud is everywhere. The grass that is showing through in some spots is pitiful to look at. I slog through it twice a day to complete the chicken chores and the rest of the time I try to ignore it and stare it my sprouting seedlings in the basement and try to improve my mood. They are green and growing and I didn't even feel bad for thinning out the broccoli starts yesterday.
I gave the trimmings to the new girls in the basement under the heat lamp. They are about 3 weeks old now and they are growing so fast. Most of them are showing quite a few feathers and they are getting more daring, inquisitive and fast. I can not catch one of these girls without a huge effort which just leads to scaring them. I don't want to give them a complex so I leave them alone but I talk to them and try to get them to like me. When I first got them I was dealing with about 3 cases of pasty butt per day and they were easier to catch then. After about 4 or 5 days, there were no more signs of pasty butt and they all started gain weight, height and attitude.
The new girls - about 1 1/2  weeks old

Taken today - about 3 weeks

The black puffy ones have started to get some nice dark feathers

These girls have such pretty coloring. I like this stage in that they still have some of the soft fluff but you can see more of what their feathers will be like.

These girls are fast. I can not catch of the lighter colored ones and I can hardly catch one of the black ones anymore either. The black ones were the only ones that had the pasty butt problem.