Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Hen vs. the Human

The Buckeye hen senses that is is spring and time for chicks. Every day she lays an egg in a nest in the hen house.

When I realize she's gone broody, I give her a few extra eggs and let her sit.

She takes her job seriously and turns the eggs daily so that they chick doesn't stick to one side. Once a day, she leaves the nest to eat and drink.

I, too, sense it's spring and time to incubate chicks. I collect eggs and place them in a carton in the workshop. I elevate one side of the carton and turn it every day.

Until one day, when I'm not paying attention, and I drop several of the eggs.

But I am persistent and go about collecting eggs.

When I've collected 30 eggs, I add water to the incubator and plug it in. The perfect conditions are 100 degrees and 58-60 percent humidity.

It reaches 99 degrees. I put the eggs in and turn the temperature a little higher.

I planned to go back and check it again. But I'm distracted by the garden, the horses, the sheep, the lambs, the cats. Hours later, I go to bed, tired from an evening spent outdoors.

In the morning, I remember the incubator.

The temperature reads 104 degrees.

I fried my eggs.

I've resumed collecting more eggs for the incubator. Meanwhile, the hen sits, waiting for the peeps that indicate she has chicks.

Monday, April 25, 2016

The Spring Sweet Spot

For a few weeks in spring, the grass is green, the air is warm, the birds are singing, and those flies, mosquitoes and gnats are still sleeping.

For those few weeks, I enjoy long dinners on the back porch, hanging out in the barn, and planting in the garden.

Yesterday, when the temperatures climbed into the 70's, those few sweet weeks of spring were over.

A few flies landed on the sheep. I found a few more around the horses' eyes. The mosquitoes are sure to follow.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

A Yard Solution?

Some people have their ah-ha moments while in the shower. Mine happen when cleaning horse stalls or mowing.

The longer I'm doing one of those tasks, the better, or more outrageous those ideas become.

Our house is surrounded by pastures and fields of hay, soybeans and corn. Because we don't like stepping outside and into a corn field, it has a large yard.

Over the years, we've planted trees, which provide windbreaks and shade. They also lengthen the mowing time.

Last fall, while mowing and battling pine needles and cobwebs, I had one of those ah-ha moments.

What if we turn the sheep into that section of the yard?

The electric fencing netting arrived this week.

Time will tell if it is a brilliant idea or a big fail.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Llama Love

When we were considering a llama as a sheep guardian a decade ago, people advised to get one llama, not two.

A single llama will bond with the sheep; two llamas will bond with each other.

For a decade now, Llambert the Llama has watched over the barnyard and pastures. He's learned who belongs and who doesn't. He raises neither a lip nor twitches an ear when he sees our dogs in the yard, but a visitor's dog sends him into alert mode.

And, he's learned to tolerate the Buckeye chickens who roam the farm and think nothing of hopping on his back.

Or maybe they've come to an agreement: a soft, warm roost in exchange for a back massage.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

The Roosters

I'm spending a lot of time walking backwards in the paddock and pastures these days, keeping my eye out for attacking roosters.

It is springtime, and the two Buckeye roosters have become quite territorial. While they're fine with the llama, sheep, horses and cats around the barn, they've decided I'm a threat, even though I feed them morning and night.

And yet, I keep them around, because I love hearing their crows morning, noon and evening; and I'd like chicks this spring.

And I keep them because, when I'm not fending them off, I find myself stopping to admire their feathers shimmering in the sunlight.