Wednesday, April 27, 2016

And the fog is rolling in

Not especially typical weather for up here—a cold start to spring after a mild muddy winter. Yesterday it was raining and chilly, until I left for work when the sun came out and the fog rolled in.

The fog probably came from that bit of sun and warmth hitting the cold water in the lake and creek. The lake is off to the right, and the creek runs left to right through this photo. The construction equipment (middle right) is stored in the Firemen's Field while they are replacing the bridge over the creek on Rte 28.

I also updated the header photo at the top of the page. You can see the new red goat shed in front of the old one. The goats are so far enjoying their new digs. They will be until David Bowie gets old enough to have his way with the girls, and then we will have an all-girl goat shed (the new one) and the smaller buck shed for Bowie, Jack and Rico.

This same day I was out at the chicken coop filling their water and giving them some cracked corn (or is it corn crack?). I took advantage of these few minutes of sun (with fog in the background) to snap some pics of the 6 new girls we got from our Greek friend Joseph. There are 2 Buff Orpingtons, 2 Silver Laced Wyandottes (black and white—only 1 in the photo, the other not feeling photogenic), 1 Golden Laced Wyandotte (black and gold), and 1 Black Australorp. The other light colored hen in the 2 photos is one of our blue eggers.

I am still missing the ducks. So is Cyrus.

And this photo is from the little Civic that could. Just coming home from work in Cooperstown, it hit 200,000 miles. Go Civic!

Monday, April 25, 2016

And then there were none

A Duck Story

We were down to 3 remaining ducks, all drakes. I was thinking about finding them some girls this spring, but Cyrus was just so crazy over the ducks, and making me crazy, that I put them on Craig's List for sale. There was someone interested, but he could not pick them up until May.

Right about this time, the 3 boys decided they wanted to be free. They stopped coming back to the duck house at night. The first or second night they were out, something got the grey boy. A few weeks later, this past Friday night, something got the black one (the Cayuga). Only the Mallard-looking one was left. He allowed me to capture him yesterday morning. In the same crate that all of our ducks and chickens and even pigs have been transported in, we carted him off to a "farm in the country". I know someone who has a 300-acre farm, with ducks, right on the Susquehanna River.

We were both sorry to see him go, our last duck, but it was only a matter of time before he met the same fate as all of the others.

A Duck History in Photos
April 2013: Purchased the first 8 mystery brown ducks that were supposed to be Cayugas.
October 2013: Not Cayugas, the first 8 were 5 males and 3 females, and the poor girls were getting beat up by the boys.
July 2014: Purchased 2 female mystery grey ducks to even out the numbers.
August 2014: One of the original brown girls disappears and comes back with 8 adorable babies. You can see the back of her neck is all scarred from being one of too few females.

April 2015: Somewhere in between the last photo and this one, we sold the original 7, keeping the 2 greys and the female with her babies. Everybody was happy until something killed all but 2 of them. The remaining 2 were a drake from the babies, and one of the grey girls. They were a good pair, but decided about this time that they didn't want to live with us anymore. They came back for food during the day, for awhile, and eventually stopped coming back altogether.
May 2015: I took some of the eggs from the pair as soon as I realized they were not coming back. A neighbor hatched 3 of them in his incubator. One died right after hatching, and the 2 remaining were both drakes. These pics are from hatch day and 10 days after.
July 2015: We purchased a pair of (filthy, smelly) pretty Cayugas—the kind of ducks I always wanted. They are native to NY State, mostly black with an iridescent beetle green/blue hue to their feathers. Somewhere a few months after we got them, Cyrus killed the female (and 4 chickens) and that brings us back to the beginning of the story with the 3 boy ducks.
So goodbye for now my ducks. We hope to get more some day, but not until the big black dog gets over himself, and I can finally catch up on my sleep...

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

A funny story and a funny egg

It's just a coincidence that Woody is the star of this and the last post. The other animals are equally interesting, he is just more available, and he does enjoy posing for me.

The funny story: At the end of March I was on eBay selling a rifle bayonet that used to be my grandfather's. While I was checking on the auction, I also decided to look for a piece of fabric to replace the cushion on the chair in the living room. The dogs, with their big long toenails, sit there more than we humans with our cushy butts. The material was wearing thin. I found a perfect color and nice strong material to match the pillow that is on the back of the chair. This was a chair that I trash-picked from my neighbor in NJ. He had put it out to the curb because there was a problem with it (tiny worm holes in the wood) and the place he had ordered it from just sent him a new one. He kept the removable back cushion just in case he ever needed a replacement.

So the funny part (at least I think it's funny) is that I reupholstered the seat cushion with the new fabric just about 10 days before Jim decided to send me the back cushion with the old fabric on it. I have had this chair about 10 years and he mails me the big cushion all the way from Virginia just after I change the fabric. Luckily the pillow cover I had on there pretty easily fit the new/old cushion. Conveniently, the old pillow that was inside was pretty much near death, having been a present from Mom when I went off to college... No need to tell you how long ago that was!

So Jim, this post is for you. Thanks for reuniting the chair with its cushion. As you can see, Woody is quite pleased.

The funny egg is just a mystery. How does a blue egg shell completely wrap itself around a brown egg laid by a different chicken? Some crafty hen with a glue gun?

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Spring back, shed here, sunny days and shrubs

April: snow, cold, warm, snow melts, cold, more snow, more sun, snow melts... As of today we have sun and green grass again. Happy Woody pics from today, snowy shed delivery from last Wednesday.

The Husband wanted a bigger barn for his recently increasing herd of goats. Maybe we should have just waited for a really big barn, instead of adding smaller ones... I'm just sayin'... So that was his birthday present to himself. He is a happy farmer, for the moment.

We are participating in a program called Trees for Tribs (tributaries). We now have an official date of May 11 for delivery of 440 trees and shrubs! I thought it was going to be 200 in April, but apparently things have changed. The last pic is of the area we had mowed in anticipation of the planting.

I believe it is a State-funded program to help stem the erosion along creeks and rivers that feed into the Susquehanna River. We had just enough flooding in our basement 4 years ago that we want to keep the creek on the back 40 as much as possible. It may (eventually) take away our view of the creek from here in the house, but that view will be obstructed by white pine, river birch, elderberry, witch hazel, red twig dogwood, blueberry, and other plants and trees I don't remember but am happy to have here to replace the goldenrod and burdock.

I don't have numbers yet, but we are also in the process of having our taxes completed by the accountant. The good news is that we would have owed about $3,000, but because of the conservation easement we signed with the Otsego Land Trust, we are taking a deduction both this year and next that might just earn us a refund. That would be a first for me. Being self-employed and not so good about paying estimated taxes, I always owe money in April. That's why I always let my taxes go to the last minute. The Husband will get his first refund as a married man! At least that's what I am hoping for.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

So this is spring!

Pictures with wind, and without.

I really wanted to take some photos of the 6 new hens that our Greek friend dropped off last week, on Easter Sunday, but I was waiting for a nice sunny day to do so. We have had several nice sunny spring-like days this week, but I never got around to the photo session. Today, when I have all the time in the world, we have had a little return to winter. High of 28° today. Good reason to get the woodstove going again. I took these photos from the living room window.

So, Joseph our Greek friend showed up last Saturday to buy some eggs. The girls have gotten back to laying, and we are getting about 10 eggs a day. We sold him 4 dozen and the larger of the 2 roosters that was born here. Young roo had been beating up on our favorite roo, the Buff Orpington who is his sire, so off to Joseph for chicken dinner. Big Roo is much happier not being chased away from his food and his girls. His comb was turning black from the stress (really!). I can't kill my own chickens, but I can give the bad ones to someone else to kill.

The littlest roo born here, the one who was rejected by both mamas, is still behaving himself.

So Joseph mentions that a neighbor of his wants to sell him 15 hens for meat. He says they are young, beautiful egg layers that he doesn't want to kill. We couldn't take all 15, but agreed to take 5 or 6. Without any further discussion, he shows up early Sunday morning and drops them off. Later in the day, we spent several hours chasing them back home from the horse farm across the street. Even one of the horses joined in the chicken-chasing game. We were finally able to lock them up in a pen where they could learn where home is. I think they have it figured out now, and we are starting to let them loose again.

21 chickens total now: 2 roosters, 19 hens. Pretty soon we will be getting more than a dozen eggs a day. Good thing we have interested buyers!

And goat-milking season is about to start as well. I think we need another fridge!