Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The big picture

We got the good news yesterday that the Baseline Report is finished for the Conservation Easement we are going to get on our property. We go to closing in June. We have been working on this with the Otsego Land Trust for over a year now. We think our land is worth saving, and they seem to agree.

Having a bald eagle nest right across the street from us probably helped to seal the deal!

The red outline on the map is the boundary of our land, which will be divided into Building Area, Open Space Area, and Natural Area. The green shaded part will be retained as natural perpetuity. This is a combination of woods and creek, with a smattering of old apple trees, probably the remains of an orchard from when this was all The Herkimer Farm. We are still exploring back there, with a little help from the dogs, and have found a wide variety of plants, birds, and other critters including deer, coyote, fox, skunk, porcupine, beaver, frogs, toads, turtles, and the ever unpopular groundhog of which we have WAY too many.

Neighbors say there are also bobcats (think I saw one), a mountain lion, bear, mink, weasel, fisher cat, and a wide variety of predators who would love to eat our chickens and ducks—some are already gone—but the little Jack Russell across the road has done more damage thus far than any of the mystery predators.

We also got the bad news yesterday that our neighbor in New Jersey wants to trim back the really old cedar trees on the edge of our property. While I understand her good intentions, I know from back in my Tree Commission days that old cedars are not easily pruned. The only way to get these trees to stop dropping stuff on her car in the driveway is to shear the whole one side. That would kill the trees which we would then have to remove altogether. The easy solution is to take out the trees, but it would cost a fortune and I really hate to see them go.

So we will do the best we can to work with the tree trimmers and simply pray they do not kill those beautiful trees. I don't want to be whipping my property into shape anymore, I want to enjoy it as is. I won that battle up here, but will probably lose that battle in NJ.

Signing off today as the Big Tree Hugger. Wish me well.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Ducks day out, hens have a heyday

Nice sunny warm day—the first time I was able to allow the little ducklings to play in the sun and grass. Their first time out from under the heat lamp in the garage. They were a little scared and probably confused at first, partly because the chickens had to come over to investigate. The chickens are the first other animals they have seen besides us, and the girls were very much interested in the little babies out there. Playmates? Enemy invaders?

We are actually searching for some more chickens. Two of our older ones have gone missing. Of the 7 original Wyandottes (black and white) and Rhode Island Reds, we have 2 remaining. They are the 2 in the photo behind the duck cage, also in the other photo. We purchased 3 full-grown grey/blue hens shortly after that, and all 3 of those are gone now.

And of the last 10 babies from last spring, just in the last 3 weeks we have lost 2 of those to mysterious circumstances.

So we are down to 1 handsome Buff Orpington rooster and 12 young(ish) ladies to keep him occupied and to give us eggs. We are having a hard time keeping our Greek friends satisfied with eggs. The 2 different families, who know each other, still call and tell me to "Save all the eggs for me". And we are still trying to supply enough to keep Anna, who sells them in her shop, happy too.

So we are asking around for anyone who is selling or giving up adult hens. I also contacted the woman who sold us the 4 roosters (that were supposed to be 3 hens and 1 roo). She is getting in some new chicks in June and is happy to give us 3 of them to make up for the extra roos.

And we have one of the Buff hens still sitting on eggs in the coop. She did get up one time and we saw only one egg under her, so there is not much hope that she will succeed in hatching any, but you never know. There is also a small chance that one or both of the hens that ran off a couple of weeks ago is outside somewhere sitting on eggs, but I doubt that is where they disappeared to...

So for now we are happy to be raising 2 little duckies. Can't wait to see if they are boys or girls. My gut says that the dark one is a boy, and the light one a girl, but I have no reason to trust my gut. Time will tell.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Happy Birthday Middle Sis! (OR Sis)

Today is actually your birthday, so here are some photos for you. No more nudies in the sink, but this time, some oldies but goodies from your shower and wedding, and one of your favorite? house. (I might be in there too!)

Were you truly surprised at your shower...or just faking it for the camera?

I know there are a lot of things going on for you, job-wise and otherwise, and we wish you all the best in making those tough decisions.

Whatever decisions you make will be the right ones. Trust me!

As for the sweet little ducklings who could not wait for your birthday, they are doing very well, and are about twice the size they were in the first picture. If they turn out to be a boy and a girl, we will name them Jo and Dan for you.

Warning though: critters don't necessarily have a long life up here, so if they disappear (nudge, nudge, wink, wink) we cannot be held responsible.

Have a great birthday, Sista!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

A pleasant surprise—Duck story chapter 2

I told you around Little Sister's birthday in April that the 2 remaining ducks who were living here at Lester's Flat had ditched us...or were about to. They had stopped letting us close them up safely at night, but were still coming back during the day to hang out with the chickens (and eat the chicken feed). The pictures I took then were probably the last day that they even came back during the day. The neighbor out front said he had seen them behind the barn a few times even a week or more later, but now they have disappeared completely.

I choose to believe that they found the creek and moved down there, or maybe down to the lake to make a happy life together. The alternatives are not pretty.

Early this morning we got a phone call that of the 10 eggs I stole from the nest back in April, 3 of them hatched! I gave them to Elmer, a neighbor with an incubator, just in case they might give us some more duckies. I didn't really expect them to hatch because they had been in the crate outside for several very cold days without a momma sitting on them.

Three hatched, but one of the ducklings was pretty obviously not healthy. He or she had trouble breaking out of the shell, and was all wobbly and weak while the others were moving about normally. The poor little thing died a few hours later.

The remaining 2 are so far, very happy little ducklings out in the garage, under the heat lamp. I will do my best to help them through these difficult first few days.

So adorable! And just in time for Middle Sister's birthday! Happy birthday (almost) Middle Sister!

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Other boys take a rest too

Since Cyrus, Woody and the goat kids have been taking up all of my posts recently, I thought it was only proper to capture a peaceful moment with the cat boys—Willie and MonkeyCat. They were tussling like the dogs when we first brought the Monkey home (video below from October 1) but now they seem to truly like each other. None of our other cat pairs have been so close and comfortable.

Willie is still a bit put out by the fact that Monkey spends so much time downstairs with the dogs. Monkey, the cat ambassador, says "Can't we all just get along?"

The dogs are beginning to adjust...

Just in the past few days I have seen Will come down. He mostly hangs out on the stairs just watching the mayhem. But when the dogs are suitably distracted, or spending time outside on the porch, Will and Monkey will sneak downstairs and go play in the basement. Once they even spent some time with me on the sofa while the pooches were sleeping.

Soon there will be peace in the house. That is my goal.

Wish me luck!

Update: As I was uploading this post, the dogs were sleeping on the living room floor, Monkey on the dog bed. Willie came into the living room and meowed, looking for Monkey. If he had just been silent, he might have gotten away with it...