Sunday, September 25, 2011

Polls are closed, names are chosen

Here's a red, white and blue photo (sort of) for all who voted.

It was a tie between Lucy and Ricky, and Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry with 4 votes for each. The Husband always wanted MB and RP, so we are going ahead with those as the pig names. I will probably use a shorter version, like Shelly and Rick, or Mickey and Ricky, or even Piggies! but The Husband prefers their full names and I think they do too.

Whoever they are, they are happy in their new home. We tightened up the fence and finished up the shed today, with 2 little piggies following at our feet, chewing on my shoelaces. Several folks who have had pigs tell us the more time you spend with them, the more dog-like they become. I can see that already as they come running whenever they hear us nearby. We found out today how much they like belly rubs and laying in their water tub, also reminiscent of the dogs.

The chickens are acting like dogs as well, all 8 of them trailing along behind the Pied Piper (my whistling husband) wherever he goes. They seem to like Charlie's barn and yard better than their own, but so far they are pretty easy to call back. Egg production has slowed down—not sure if that's because the days are getting shorter, or they are too far from the nest boxes, or if they are still eating their eggs. Most likely a combination.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Freedom for all, or is that free-for-all?

The Husband is on vacation this week, and he has declared that all our animals must be free. We let the Chicken Girls and Roo out of their little fenced yard for the first time. Other than Roo spending most of the day in the driveway (watch out for the UPS man, Roo!) it went well. The girls stayed close enough to the Chicken Shack that they were safe enough, and Roo seemed a bit less hen-pecked than normal since he was free to escape their constant harassment. He definitely stayed a good distance from the girls, but then he was used to roaming at his former home, so I think he was a bit more brave.

We went to Cooperstown yesterday with Jessica from Shanghai (she works with The Hub). We took her for a stroll around Cooperstown, a visit to the Farmers' Museum, and a late lunch at the Doubleday CafĂ©. We were gone for several hours, and when we came back, Red Piggie had somehow managed to escape the Pig Shed. I had to chase him around the fence in circles, trying to guide him to the openings. Comical perhaps, but not easy to chase a pig on a mission. He cut his cute little piggie nose bashing against the wire fence—at least he was trying to get back in. Little Mama gave him quite the scolding when he did make it back to the shed.

Inspired by Red's escape yesterday, The Hub closed up the fence more securely, and let them roam inside. You will see in the video that they are very happy in their new home, especially now that their home is so much more interesting. You might also notice that The Hub is already calling them Michele and Rick. We're still taking votes though, so keep 'em comin'.

The e-mailed suggestions so far are: Lola and Rojo, Bacon and Sausage, and Oreo and Caramel.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Pigs are here and the shed is red

Piglets arrived today. Both conveniently and cozily fit in the same dog crate that the chickens rode home in, in the back of the CR-V. We spent the rest of the day working on fixing up the shed and putting up the fencing. They don't seem to like the pellet food that we bought for them, but they were scarfing up the apples and tomatoes that we threw in there.

Since the barn red and white shed was winning in the poll, I already committed to painting it those colors. So, we are starting a new poll today: name the pigs. The black and white Oreo cookie one is the girl, red one is the boy. Our first choice is Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry (Mickey and Rick) but there are other options. You can vote on the left, just like in the Pig Shed debate, or if you have another suggestion, leave it in a comment or e-mail us.

Anyone notice the red plus black and white theme going on here? Almost red Sophie with a black and white Lester, red chickens with black and white chickens—need I go on? OK, the cats are non-conforming, but at least Willie is black and white.

More stories later. Right now I am exhausted.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Dave and Hey Willie and the 2-toned egg

<<<    <<<  We are taking votes to the left for what color to paint the shed. Get your votes in now, and maybe I can paint before Saturday!

The chances are slim that the shed will be completely finished before the piggies arrive on Saturday is raining and supposed to continue through the day. If tomorrow is nice enough, I can at least paint the front of it, so that I don't have to move these little monsters out of my way while painting. It is also quite chilly out there for early September, and making me wonder how the pigs and chickens are going to do this winter. We had a few days last year that were -15°. With no heat in either building, will the deep bedding be enough to keep them from freezing? Hoping that I don't have to make a temporary critter shelter in our nice finished basement. What would the dogs and cats think of that if I did?

Big pic is Dave and Willie having a moment of sweetness together—that almost never happens—but they usually do get along pretty well. Willie looks like he's saying "Hey, get out of my face with that camera! I'm trying to be nice here!" He was licking Dave's ear when I took the photo.

The second photo is of my first 2-toned egg. Never seen one of these before. I am curious to know if this is rare, or something that every chicken lover has seen before...

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

More flooded creek, and the purge goes on.

The large photo above was taken on September 10, two days after all the rain. The bottom photo is for comparison, the swimming hole (and my favorite spot) on a sunnier day. You can see the water was shallow enough that even the Diva (Sophie) could "swim" in it.

I've got plenty of projects to get to this week—probably the most important one is getting the pig shed ready for the piggies. We are picking them up on Saturday. The pig shed still needs to be painted, or at least primed before they get here and mess it all up.

<<<    <<<  We are taking votes to the left for what color to paint the shed. Get your votes in now, and maybe I can paint before Saturday!

Other fun projects to choose from this week: unpacking, purging, cleaning. The basement has become the home for about 30 boxes that are either holding potential yard sale goodies, or waiting for the next round of purging. The basement is also the home for all the beds, chairs, bookcases and books that simply don't fit upstairs. And the tools, extra food, dog food, cat boxes, etc. Oh, and don't forget the art supplies and leftover paint.

I really wanted to sort through everything back in NJ. I really DIDN'T want to just fill up the basement with what will probably end up in the trash, but life doesn't always work out the way you planned. The purge goes on.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Color choices for the Pig Shed

Jim in VA asked to see the color choices for painting the Pig Shed.

It is situated much closer to the house than the Chicken Shack, so it kinda makes sense to paint it the barn red color like the front door, with white trim. Plus it is, in some sense, a barn.

Or else we could just make all of our "outbuildings" the cool yellow-and-turquoise color scheme in honor of the gone-but-not-forgotten 1959 Detroiter mobile home, otherwise fondly known as The Dump.

Taking votes, folks! Look in the sidebar (left) to place your vote.

Lester's Flat survives Irene and Lee

There has been major flooding for the past 2 days in the Mohawk Valley. These photos (right) are from the normally tiny Herkimer Creek in our backyard—you know, the place where Lester does all of his best swimming. From the looks of it, he won't be swimming again for at least another week. This is also the site where we had installed the dock (remember the dock?). Good thing we gave up on that idea.

The Husband gets all the credit for choosing the house site (top photo). The goldenrod is at least 4 feet tall, and you can see the house rises above that several feet further. Where I was standing to take that photo is about halfway back to the creek. Not even a drop of water in our basement, but the creek waters rushing out back made it sound like we were going to be swept across the road and into the lake (by those foggy mountains in the background).

I can't tell yet if the trees that came down were from our property, or washed up from somewhere else. People are comparing this to the flood in 2006, which was so bad that it washed away 4 lanes of highway on Rt. 88 in Sidney, NY, swallowing up 2 tractor trailers and killing the drivers (last photo). This is the road that we would have been on, just 2 days later, coming up from NJ.

We were very lucky, in 2006 and 2011. The creek will eventually go back to being pretty again, without any help from us.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

It's been raining dogs (no cats)

The weather has not inspired any photos in the past 2 days, so I am reaching back to July 30 for a few more "dog in creek" photos. I know how boring they are to most of you, but I am thinking that this 13YO Lester doesn't have too many summers left for swimming. You can also see how much Sophie does not love swimming. She gently treads in the shallow water, my little diva.

The Husband picked far too many tomatoes this weekend, because we are starting to lose them to groundhogs and splitting from the lack of rain/too much rain. I am still not a believer in the theory that tomatoes have all of the flavor they are going to get on the vine by the time they are half-red. So far the ones that have been ripening on the windowsill are not all that tasty. Probably it is just me, still recovering from my loss of South Jersey's fantastic tomatoes and corn.

We went to Tractor Supply yesterday for some pig feed and feeding trays (also not inspiring any photography). And we need to finish cutting 2 pieces of the T111 siding for the pig shed while we still have Steve's circular saw in our possession, but the cutting and subsequent painting will have to wait for a break in the weather. I am torn between painting the Pig Shed to match the Chicken Shack (light yellow and turquoise) or barn red and white like the front door of Lester's Flat. I'll take votes if you want to leave me some comments. Now that summer is officially over, I want to see some comments here. I need to know that someone is still reading all of these hugely interesting posts, or at least looking at the Lester-in-the-creek pictures...

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Building a better barn than the one behind them

Steve (The Husband's friend from work) and his daughter Valerie kindly donated their services today to the construction of a little barn for the soon-to-arrive piggies. We needed Steve for his experience in building—he built his own beautiful house pretty much all by himself. They've been out there working all day in the hot sun with very little help from me (or the dogs).

Lester and Sophie have been doing what they can: raiding the tomato garden, swimming in the creek, helping me make sandwiches... At least they did a pretty good job of posing for their fall portrait. The mums came from visiting relatives (hi Bets!), and the pumpkins from The Husband's garden.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The guilty party...or at least one of them

My sweetest chicken of all, the friendly one who always greets me at the door, the one who sticks around for company even when I am not bringing treats, the one who always lets me pet her and pick her up—SHE is eating the eggs!

Yesterday I spent very little time with the girls, and only got 3 eggs because of my neglect. Usually we get 5 or 6 eggs from our 7 hens, and there was some evidence of broken eggs in the nest boxes. So today, I waited while Sweetie and Big Mama were both in a box. Ahhh, the miracle of life (sorta). As soon as the eggs appear in the box, they both flip their heads around and look for it. I didn't wait long enough to see if they were going to eat it, but I think I know what the outcome would have been. Not my Sweetie! How could you do this to me!

I came back again later and watched while another black girl and another red one were laying, and they did not seem interested in eating their own eggs, but I also didn't give them much time to think about it.

Bad, bad girls. Just what am I going to do with you? We aren't getting enough eggs to sell, but we have been fairly successful in giving them away for free. We always have at least a dozen or 2 in the fridge, no matter how many we eat, and no, I am not tired of eating eggs yet. Just wait till we get those pigs, then we can really have a farm-fresh country breakfast!