Updates and random happenings since my last Around The Homestead. Most of the titles link back to the original posts.
Chicken Hawks - We've lost three chickens to hawks, 2 of the Buff Orpington chicks and one of my Welsummer hens. We have numerous hawks, so it could have been a red tail, red shoulder, broadwing, or Harris. We've seen them all. We rerouted the chickens' grazing grounds to where there was more brush cover. The chickens, though, wouldn't leave their yard or the coop for days. About the 2nd week of October, the chickens headed out to the pasture and we haven't seen nor heard a hawk since. We must be in a migration route. We'll have to keep our eyes peeled come spring.
|Waiting for some scratch|
Sometimes I think this is going well, other times not. Most of the chicks are now roosting in the coop, except for a random few that still want to sleep in the goats' hay rack. The other chickens seem to accept them pretty well, except for the two at the bottom of the original pecking order, who absolutely refuse to let any of the newcomers rise above them. On occasion Lord B, our rooster, will chase and pin down one of the cockerels. I can usually distract him, and fortunately no one has been seriously injured so far.
Cockerels & Pullets - My best guess is that of the remaining 12 Buffs, I have 6, probably 7 cockerels. It's hard to count because they don't keep still. That will leave us about 5 pullets. The home hatched, purebred Barred Holland is a pullet, but her half brother is a cockerel. On these breeds at least, it's been fairly easy to tell because of comb development.
Critters under the house - I didn't notice this until I pulled out almost everything from my zinnia bed in front of the house.
|Not noticeable at first......|
I had seen a young ground hog in the front yard before, and assumed it was responsible for eating my echinacea and chicory plants. I found an opening under the front porch, which Dan blocked with bricks. That seemed to resolve the problem until the other day, I discovered this.....
|.... but there's a critter cave under our front porch|
The bricks had been pushed aside and the opening was evident again. I put the bricks back, but when I checked again later that day, they were pushed aside again. Must be time to get a live animal trap. We do not need anything spending the winter under the house.
Critters in the house - Are snakes critters? Well, we had one in the house, a juvenile rat snake. Katy found it and I might have stepped on it because it was just sitting there on our living room rug. It was quickly removed to the woods, where it can hopefully make a better living for itself than in our house. The cats also found a young chipmunk in the house. We think it might have been there for several days, based on the cats' behavior. They treated it like a toy and chased it all over the place. Finally Dan had to catch it himself.
We suspected Katy might have brought these in through the kitty door. I know she's brought butterflies and grasshoppers into the house (I find the miscellaneous parts). Our suspicions were confirmed the other day when she caught a bird, and we found her and Riley admiring it under the dining room table. I put the terrified but otherwise unharmed bird back outside and told Katy to stop bringing critters into the house. Do you think she'll listen?
Critters in the garden - That would be deer.
|Deer tracks in the demolished beet bed.|
One day I discovered about a dozen beets pulled out of the ground with most of the tops eaten off. And deer tracks all over the place. We've seen deer from time to time since we've been here, but this is the first time they've invaded the garden. I've taken to covering the beets at night, wondering what they'll move on to next.
Kitchen Remodel - We've been focusing on the electrical upgrade, so we haven't done much on the inside. Once the circuit panel is moved, we can gut the kitchen including the wall the panel has been in. This is an exterior wall, which needs insulation as well as another new window.
On rainy days though, I work inside getting ready to do some painting. That means stripping 90 years worth of previous paint jobs. Obviously much of that is lead based, so the going is a little slower to deal with it according to removal and disposal guidelines.
|At least 5 layers of paint: 2 golds. 2 greens & white|
I thought about taking it down to bare walls and leaving them natural wood, but that would be too much work and the effect too dark. Instead, I'm just aiming to be able to apply a new coat of paint, an off white.
Bread Machine - Remember when I blogged about Small Appliances I Have Known & Loved? Well, I found a barely used bread machine on Craigslist and bought it. It's not the model I originally had my eye on, but it was $100 cheaper, which recommended it highly! I've also decided on a much more affordable toaster oven, which I can really use once we finish gutting the kitchen.
Frozen Eggs - Last summer I froze about 13 dozen surplus eggs, thinking I would use them last winter. I didn't, because we still had a steady egg supply. My layers are moulting now, so I've been digging into the freezer to get those frozen eggs! I'm so glad I have them, as I'm down to about one egg a day for the time being. I was concerned that a year in the freezer might be past their limit, but my husband, who has a keener sense of taste and smell than me, thinks they're fine. Honestly, you'd never know they were frozen. I will use these up now though, and freeze fresh dozens next time we have a surplus.
Saturday's post will be my food preservation totals for the year. Click here for that.