Saturday, July 26, 2008

Yes, more Chicky Pictures

Pretty soon I will have to rename my blog to "Chicky Pics" or something. The garden isn't doing too well this year, but the chickens have been providing enough entertainment to make up for it! And - I have a nicely composting hill of chicky bedding that will help turn this desert sand into dirt (I love hitting my head against brick walls, thus, I married a US Marine and I am gardening in the desert!).

All the chickens are flying now, so I have to wash the top of the dog crate off every day or it will quickly become covered in icky chicky poo. This is one of my orange and black Ameraucanas.
I love the close up detail of their feathers. Remember, click on the photo to see the full sized photos.
Silver Laced Wyandotte and others have discovered the joy of roosting on the edge of an unused flower pot. The photo doesn't show it well, but the rim of the pot is about an inch wide - perfect for young chicken feet to hang on to.
A black and white Ameraucana grooming herself. The chickens spend a goodly amoung of time preening and aligning their feathers.
It's really difficult for me to catch the chickens in flight. I have several pictures that are in better focus, but they either have the head or tail cut off. This is the only one so far, that I have of the whole chicken in flight.

This is their temporary outdoor run located inside the garden fence. The chicken coop is still under construction and their permanent yard is not yet fenced. You can see the extention of the fence past the end of the garden fence - this will be the front of the chicken run. I believe the chicken yard will be about 45 ft x 55 ft with a 16 x 16 ft coop inside of it. The run area will be divided in two so that one side can get a good cleaning, rest and decontamination while the other side is in use. ...At night, the chickies are still sleeping in my laundry room.

The Enemy

Unfortunately this year, hail killed off many of the tomato plants early on, so I don't have any extra "sacrificial tomatoes" this year - thus, these moths were not destined to live - but instead, were destined to become - chicken food. It's the way of the world.

Of course, besides the eat and be eaten rule, there is the "Chickens will trample anything" rule. Thus, since the tomatoes in this raised bed are in with the most delectable zucchinis, there is wire fencing over the top of it. Otherwise, I'm sure the tomatoes would be trampled by worm-hunting chickies and the zucchini plants would be eaten to the ground.
Remember, you can click on the photo to see the full sized picture of this green portrait.
A face only a mother could love.
Feet detail for those of you who are in to feet.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Garden photos (what, no chicky pictures today?)

A garlic "blossom" - really, they are little, tiny bulbs, but it looks like a flower. I'm glad I let one mature it's scapes. Very pretty. The big bulbs of this one are also purple hued.

The first tomato! Still smaller than my pinky fingernail, but a tomato it is! Only the cherry toms will set fruit when the temps hang out over 90*F.

It isn't a very clear photo, but I caught a bee filling up with pollen at one of the sunflowers along the northern border of the garden.

Here's a close-up from the photo - you can see she is not in focus, but I like the photo anyway.
Same bee, but got her walking on the sunflower this time. Look at her hind leg, stuffed with pollen. (Looks like a large, yellow blob slightly above the wing on the left (her right).)
Something laid her eggs on this tomato plant a few days ago. Yesterday they were a jade green color, but it was too windy to take photos. Today they look clear. Could their inhabitants have hatched? They are about the size of a "seed bead."
Corn is growing like a weed. It got a light dose of fresh chicken bedding, and seems to be thriving from it. Too much fresh chicky-poo tends to burn the roots of plants, but I think the corn likes it. The corn is about 18 inches tall in this photo. I still can't believe we may have corn in another month. It is growing several inches a day, however, so I'm beginning to believe...
Eight Ball zucchini baby in bed 3. Got 100 percent germination out of the seed, but the heat conspired to kill several, so now I only have 3 plants - which, since they are zukes, could be a blessing!
Genovese basil front and center, and a little Lettuce Leaf basil to the right. Smells delightful when watering the garden by moonlight.
Dark Opal basil - yes, I know I'm not supposed to let it bloom, but it's just so pretty, that each year I end up letting it go. As a result, of course, the plants aren't as bushy - sending it's energy into flower production instead of producing leaves.
Rosemary, smells so divine. I have yet to find a trailing kind like they have at the Corporate Offices where I often travel to for work. And, I've never been successful getting one to live through the winter - but it's still worth the few dollars I spend to buy a new one each year.

Beans did not survive the heat and the drying winds.

Transplanted bearded irises starting to put on some real growth. Maybe they really will bloom next year.
Ok, couldn't help myself. This is the chicky that my granddaughter has decreed is "The Princes Chicken." We have no idea what type she might be. She isn't anything we ordered - but she's cute and has attitude, so we like her. I wonder if she will lay white eggs?

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Chicks are flying

A Maran watches the coop being built. DSr screwed thin strips of scrap wood across the bottom rungs of the welded wire so that the chicks could not escape their temporary run. Just outside of the run, the coop is taking shape. DSr & DJr hung tar paper and siding on the south side of the building today and also put up two more roof trusses. Starting to look like a building! I think this Maran approves.

    Maran Notes
  • Black with white "dots"
  • Fluffy compared to the others
  • Bigger, faster growing than the Ameraucanas and the Silver Laced Wyandotts
  • First to learn to fly
  • Pink-ish white legs
  • Dark brown eggs - they are known as the "chocolate egg" layers

White Ameraucana looking for bugs. One of the advantages for the chickens for being outside most of the day is that there are a variety of bugs, dry garlic wrappers, sand and various other things to pick at. One of the advantages to the people are that they spread more poop outdoors than in and the house smells better! Some day I will reclaim my laundry room. I did remove the heat lamp today, so that's a start.
    Ameraucana Notes
  • Green legged
  • I have two types - the white based and the orange/brown based
  • They are the smallest of the three types that I have
  • Last to learn to fly, but now that they have learned how, they enjoy doing it
  • Each bird will have her own color of eggs, and as a breed, it could be blue, green, turquoise, aqua or similar colors

Silver Laced Wyandott on top of the dog crate roof. The bottom half is in the laundry room duct taped to some cardboard to make their "indoor" run. The top half is being used for shade in their temporary day-time enclosure in my garden. Most of all of the chickens can fly up on to it now.
    Silver Laced Notes
  • Yellow legs
  • Slightly less fast growing than the Marans
  • Denser body than the Marans and the Ameraucanas
  • Lacing just starting to show up around the neck feathers of some of the birds
  • Eggs are your "basic brown" egg

Look, Ma, I look like a chicken! This is a photo of the orange/brown based Ameraucana. She looks like she is posing for the camera. Since they've been photographed from the time they got here, they are getting pretty blase about the camera.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

A Tale of Two Babies

Developmentally, the chicks are way ahead of my granddaughter, but by noise level and kinetic energy, I'd have to say they are about the same. The chickies being much less exhausting than following around a toddler!

  • While my granddaughter enjoys eating fresh picked tomatoes, she doesn't go completely crazy like the chicks do when presented with a few handfulls of chopped up tomato leftovers.
  • Both child and chicks would probably be perfectly happy bedding down in fresh pine shavings or fresh straw
  • Chickies and child enjoy digging in the dirt and chasing bugs
  • Neither like loud, sudden noises

Roof trusses are starting to go up on the hen house. I swear, the chickens are going to have a palatial coop. It's actually bigger than DSr & my bedroom! Built to withstand 70 MPH winds, insulated against 110*F Summer Days and 10*F Winter Nights... he's also using it as practice for someday building our own house, so it is built "pretty close to code." For a chicken coop. The chickens are definitely not a money making or money saving venture at this point! I've been keeping a photographic record. Someday I'll post them here.

    General Garden Status
  • I am going on a weeks business trip in a while, and I am very concerned that much of the garden won't make it as the trip will probably coinside with record heat temps...
  • Transplanted bearded irises appear to be surviving. The ones that I cut back to 8 inch fans have new growth, but it's more difficult to tell with the ones I did not trim.
  • Basils just starting to take off. One of the Dark Opal Purple Basils seems to have escaped death and I am letting the other one bloom as it is so pretty. The sweet basils and large leafed basils, however, will not be allowed to bloom as I certainly want those for eating.
  • Sweet Marjoram is blooming - I know, I know - I'm not supposed to let that bloom either!
  • Lemon balm has much smaller leaves now that it is getting more sun. And it is spreading. Removing bearded iris competition and shade, however, seems to have removed the environment that the bugs-who-love-lemon-balm enjoy - so now the leaves are no longer bug-bitten.
  • First tomato is forming on my little indestructible Red Pear tomato plant (the one that has survived hail and 25*F nights!)
  • Two sunflowers are blooming. You sure can tell the difference in the ones planted in decent soil and the ones planted in basically pure sand. The difference in the amount of work, however, is worth it. The sand babies are still beautiful. I did forget, however, that all sunflowers face East when blooming, so some of the flowers are going to face into the chicken coop and not towards the garden. Oh well, they are still bright yellow and lovely!
  • Summer squash in Bed 3 are up, and one struggling one near my indestructible Red Pear tomato - but none of the winte squash or pumpkin seems to have emerged yet. I think the summer squash is Eight Ball Zucchini, but due to haphazard record keeping, I won't be able to tell until they actually fruit.
  • Corn is off and running. Some of the larger plants have produced side shoots. I've heard both that you should leave them on and that you should cut them off. Being a fan of Lazy Gardening, I'm leaving them on...
  • Chicky-poo pine shavings seem to be making good mulch. I'm keeping it at least 6 inches away from the drip line of most items so as not to have a nitrogen "burn", and that seems to be working. The corn got a light scattering of it right in the rows and they seem happier for it. At this point, since the chickies (and their chicky-poo) are living in my laundry room most of the time, the bedding gets changed pretty regularly - so I'm thinking the ratio of chicky-poo to pine shavings is rather small. There is no nitrogen in our sand for decomposing pine shavings to rob; if they are going to decompose, I'm sure it will be from using chicky-poo nitrogen.
  • I am covetting a set of real compost bins, but at the moment, my 4 ft tall pile of weeds keeps shrinking down as I add to the top and water. I water the compost pile with dirty chicken water and the water I use to clean out their water and feed bowls. I noticed a definate improvement when I started watering the compost pile. Must be a Desert Thing - never have had to water compost before!