Sunday, August 17, 2014

Chicken, anyone?

I took a moment to admire the flock of 14-week-old chickens the other day.

The cockerels are growing black, iridescent tail feathers; their gold-mahogany neck feathers shimmer in the sunlight.

That's going to be a handsome rooster, I think as I look at one.

And that's going to be another handsome one.

And there's another good-looking one.... and another ... and another.

I take a moment to count the cockerels. Eleven cockerels. Six pullets.

Rarely do we have a 50-50 ratio of males to females. This year we have lots more cockerels than pullets, and more ewe lambs than ram lambs.

In the fall, after selecting two cockerels to keep, we'll be eating a lot of chicken.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

I am the Dog

For the past few weeks, I've been without a working Border collie.

My young working dog is recovering from surgery.

My old working dog died.

Tag's afraid of sheep.

I'm afraid to work Caeli on sheep.

Let's just say that it's a lot less stressful for me and the sheep if I trek through the pastures, round the sheep up and bring them back to the barn.

So, for the past few weeks, when I've had to move sheep, I've been the dog.

When you're the dog, you see a lot more tails than heads.

You learn that ewes are easier to move than ram lambs.

The ram lambs often want to look around, to buck and play.

I tell myself I'm learning more about sheep behavior and pressure points and livestock handling.

But I'm really missing my dog.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

All he wanted was a hug...

When Tag reached up for an ear scratch, I noticed the teeth.

"Did you lose another tooth?" I asked.

With Tag, the poster boy for orthodontics, it's not easy to assess.


Years ago, he lost a front tooth while playing Frisbee.

I count his bottom front teeth. Four and one is loose.

Rubbing his head against my leg, he reminds me that he didn't visit for a tooth inspection. And, that in his mind, he always looks like a champ.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Birds in the Yard

On cool mornings, the birdsong in the yard rises above the crickets, the road noise, the radio.

The bird population on our farm has grown since we've moved to the farm. I suspect it's because we've done things that birds like -- planted trees, converted farmland to pastures and hay fields, installed a wildlife strip.

After reading the blog, "Where the Birds Are Is Not Where You'd Think," I conducted a count of the bird species in our yard and adjoining pastures.

I'm sure I'm missing a few, as I'm still learning to identify the birds. The bird species I counted include:

Barn Swallows
Field Swallows
Blue Birds
Gold Finches (these camera-shy beauties love my sunflowers... but fly away whenever they see the camera)
Mockingbirds (who are keeping their song to daytime hours this year. Whew!)
Red-Tailed Hawks (They love perching in the dead tree on the pasture's edge)
Red-Winged Blackbirds
Great Blue Heron (okay, not in the yard, but flies overhead on the way to the pond and river)
House wrens
Buckeye chickens

Sunday, August 3, 2014

If only the rabbits were like Louie...

My grass-growing project is going amazing well.

This morning, I brought the grass container inside so that Louie the Cat could graze.

After Louie ate Lily earlier this summer (click here for blog), I grew a plot of rye and wheat for Louie's dining pleasure.

It sits on the back porch, next to the containers of basil and spinach. Once it grows several inches tall, I bring it indoors and present it to Louie.

Over the course of a few days, he grazes it down to a few inches tall.

Then I take it outdoors where it grows again. We've repeated this process three times in the last month.

If only the rabbits could graze like him.

This morning, I went to water the lettuce I planted a few weeks ago. When I reached the spot between the asparagus and parsnips, I stopped.

Where was the lettuce?

I oriented myself -- a necessity when the sunflowers and tomato plants are taller than me.

Yep, I was where the lettuce was supposed to be. Kneeling down, I examined the ground and found little green stems even with the dirt.

I will have to plant again... or learn to love wheat and rye.