Thursday, December 22, 2011

Winter Solstice

One of my favorite times of year. Imperceptibly ~ the days will now start to lengthen.

The dark of Winter makes people celebrate light in other ways--candles, fires, lights. Somehow, someway we need our spirits lifted from the vespers of Midwinter's Eve.

Today most people maybe don't realize the importance of the Winter Solstice. We, for the most part, don't really have to worry about not having enough food, or warmth to make it through the next few months. But, for some reason this day still resonates with me.. maybe it's the gardener inside. ;) I get to look out at the sleeping garden, planning it's design for next year. Seed catalogs will start coming in any day ~ perfect for thumbing through, picking out new varieties to try. My garden clothes are clean for days at a time. It's a period of rest and reflection. Solstice actually means 'Sun stands still'. So what better time of year to do just that.

Amid the hustle and bustle of these last few days before Christmas ~ I hope you can take a moment and pause to catch your breath.

Merry Christmas
Happy New Year

Sunday, December 11, 2011

On Farming...

I saw a man,
An old Cilician, who occupied
An acre or two of land that no one wanted,
A patch not worth the ploughing, unrewarding
For flocks, unfit for vineyards; he however
By planting here and there among the scrub
Cabbages and white lilies and verbena
And flimsy poppies, fancied himself a king
In wealth, and coming home late in the evening
Loaded his board with unbought delicacies.
- Virgil, The Georgics (29 B.C.)

Thursday, December 1, 2011


Voltron II gave up the good fight today. :(

He had been sick for the past 2 months. I think he had continued living only through my shear force of will ;) well, and his too. He did not give up easily.

Anytime one of my chickens is sick and dies I take them to WADDL for diagnostics. I actually took Voltron in this morning before he died, because I was afraid that he was beginning to suffer. Dr. Crespo is absolutely wonderful and extremely patient. I was lucky enough to be able to actually be present for his necropsy. I know this is not the norm for most folks. But--because of my back ground in animal medicine, I think she was gracious enough to let me in ;)

Soo.. what we found out is interesting. Remember he was at the State Fair back in September and it was shortly afterwards that he started showing signs of illness. Naturally I had been assuming the worst and kept waiting for more of the flock to come down with Something. They never did thankfully and Voltron was kept isolated during his entire sickness. At the necrospy he showed no signs of The Biggies (Mareks, etc).. but he DID have a weird looking crop. Upon closer examination it was apparent the oddness was caused by a yeast infection (candidiasis) .. which is very treatable. I immediately felt guilty for missing such an easy fix. Dr. Crespo said "Now wait, it's usually secondary to something else, let's keep looking..." ;) In examining his heart, she found a hole in it, between the right and left ventricles. Very interesting. She is going to send me pictures. :) The stress of being at the fair coupled with a bad heart was enough to let a yeast infection settle in and make him very very sick.

Soo, unfortunately, the candidiasis is treatable but the hole in the heart would have gotten him eventually anyway. Dr. Crespo told me how to check for a yeast infection in the crop by several ways--one is a method anyone can do, the other you would need access to a microscope. If you have a young sick chicken, palpate the crop. You will be able to feel the thickness in it that is the yeast infection. Use your pointer finger and your thumb and run them along the crop. So, first practice on your healthy chickens so you know what a normal healthy crop would feel like ;) I have to say, his crop was very thick and it would have been easy to palpate the abnormality if I had known to look for it. Unfortunately I was just looking for fullness in it. To treat for the yeast infection you would use copper sulfate. The dosing is extremely important so it is something that must be researched before using. As with most anything poultry related, it is all off- label and at your own risk.
mmmph! Chickens! :P

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Back from a WhirlWind Weekend

The trip for the Featherkins actually started the weekend of October 23rd.
I had to take my 3 cochins and 3 call ducks to my friend who would be transporting them back to Indiana for me. Their road trip would last them from Sunday till the upcoming Thursday evening when I would see them again to coop them in for their Big Weekend. They just got home yesterday, November 2nd. Talk about a long trip for them! lol! They were extremely happy to be home, the ducks immediately hopped into their pool to wash the road dust off and the cochins started piggin on the grass in their tractor. They will spend the next two weeks away from the rest of the flock 'Just in Case'. All in all, they made the trip really really well. They were in great hands There and Back again!

So, Crossroads happens once every 5 years or so.. give or take. It's a big production and takes a lot to put on.

For me, it was fun to meet people I had only been reading about or talking to via e mail or on the message boards. I resisted and did not bring back any birds but I made a lot of great connections.

There were many people from the PNW there ~ which was pretty neat. We had a good turn out of 'locals'.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

It was a Good Weekend

Getting ready to leave for The Show...
lol~ Don't think we could fit much more in the back of Joe! But we DID fit 15 ducks, 6 chickens and all the survival gear a teen needs for a weekend..... including~~a guitar. ;)

We drove in on Old Highway 30(Oregon side) for a bit. It's SO pretty. We didn't stop though. The ducks were rather displeased with their seating arrangement and pretty much quacked non-stop. We needed to get them into their coops. For our sanity.

Enjoying the view..

Visiting our poultry friends :)

This is the guy you wanna talk to about Iron Work. Very cool stuff. Farm signs anyone?

We heart Daffy!

Egg judging. We last minute decided to enter eggs. Our Aracauna, Susan, lays very consistent beautiful blue eggs. We placed third, one egg was just slightly bigger. It was fun, and will do it again.

Sally, placing Best Variety. The judge had written 'Very Nice' on her coop card. I talked to him later, after judging and he told me that if Sally were just a bit smaller, he felt she was a very good duck. I was super pleased to hear we are on the right track with our calls :) It's always fun to talk to the judges when they are done, I learn so much from them.

Diane, placing Reserve Variety. She is the Grand Dame of Bearfoot Hollow.

(photo courtesy of Bob Anderson PNPA) Mr. Mongold judging Table Top at the Serama Show. He is judging Romeo.

He did well! Champion of Show (Youth) and Champion Cock (Youth). Pixie also did good, taking Champion Hen (Youth).

Cochins held their own. Aria and Izzie taking BB/RB and BV/RV each.

Then we headed home along the very curvy Highway 14 (WA side). Just as beautiful as Highway 30.
Here we are stopped at Cape Horn.

And then home. Nobody captures the joy of Home like a Duck! ;)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Headed to Stevenson

Looking forward to seeing all my chicken friends this weekend! :)

Held at the very very beautiful Skamania County Fairgrounds. If you haven't been, it is well worth the drive. There's LOTS to do, aside from looking at all those gorgeous chickens and catching up with friends. Check out Multnomah Falls... or the Oneonta Tunnel.. actually, the Tunnel is only part of this stunning stop. There are no other signs for seeing the gorge that you will find if you hike a little and follow the Oneonta creek... *warning.. wet and slippery, but OH SO WORTH IT! :)

Oneonta Creek

Brave the log jam, and continue up into the gorge.. I didn't have time, and I had a car full of chickens, so this is as far as the boys and I made it.

Or .. explore any one of the other amazing views.. This area is also the remains of one of my favorite geological events to study.. the Great Lake Missoula Floods that formed the Scablands and Coulee's of Eastern Washington. Did you know that Portland was flooded by the water and the Willamette Valley was also formed by the huge repeated flooding? Pretty awesome stuff. You can just google 'Missoula Floods' and you will find loads of information.

Anyway~Hope to see you at The Show!

Thursday, September 29, 2011


Voltron II has decided his old feathers must go. Unfortunately he was a major part of my entry to the CrossRoads of America Poultry Show in INDIANA~ dang dang dang. I would enter his brother ~ Henry ~ but Henry has been busy messin' around in the dirt and grass, breaking his beautiful foot feathering. I had put Voltron up off the ground on deep shavings (something I really really don't like doing...) in an effort to preserve those delicate feathers for this particular show. This show...It's a Big Deal. aw well.
I do still have a trio of the Calls going anyways.

Look how pretty we are staying!

We are hanging on to OUR feathers, why can't Voltron??

Molt Happens.... at seriously inopportune times.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Summer is done

The colors of Summer have faded..

To be replaced by the colors and tastes of Fall...
Loganberries ripening on a still warm afternoon

Juicy apples waiting to be picked

..and my arch-enemy, lessening in numbers in the garden.. ;)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Champions at Bearfoot Hollow :)

Voltron II and his sister Aria both did really well at the Puyallup Fair.
He got Best FeatherLeg and Aria got Reserve FeatherLeg. I am really really pleased as this is the best win EVEH! :)

Our Standard LightBrown Leghorn also did really well.. but she always does--coming from top lines here in the PNW. She is Son's 4H hen, we don't breed this type of chicken but she is always good for a visit to Champion Row for him. :) She is our one and only "big" chicken, so her name is Big Bird.

I almost forgot to mention that the Butterscotch's did alright too :) One of the Junior girls (I didn't take a coop picture!) got Reserve Variety. So here is a Junior girl.. enjoying some sun. ;)

It was also the first ever Tabletop Show for the Serama here in the Northwest. It was really fun, controlled chaos, as it was a first for everyone. Once we got going, everything went fabulous... Our Judge --Don Nelson, was very relaxed and super nice. He made it easy to come up to the table with our birds. :) Then, it was just like hanging out playing with our chickens with our chicken friends! Nothing like a little friendly competition amongst your buddies. Our Seramas didn't place, but it was still a great experience and I am looking forward to the Fall show in Stevenson, as that is the next Tabletop competition.

It's almost my turn! eee.. nervous!

Romeo REFUSED to stand on the carpet..he squatted down and wouldn't really move. Judge Don said to make sure to train him on GREEN CARPET! ;) TT's will ALWAYS use the green carpet.

a cute little frizzle--not ours

and a GORGEOUS boy --also not ours. I WISH!

Stop over at our Facebook photo album to see more pictures.. :)

Thursday, September 8, 2011


The garlic I planted early this Spring was ready to harvest. I could tell because all of it's leaves had fallen over and were beginning to turn brown at the tips.

So, what to do with it? Braid it of course!

How does it go from this,
freshly picked

to this,
cured for about 3 weeks in the garage

And now
cleaned and ready to braid..

to finished....

It is actually not as intimidating as it looks, if I can do it--so can you! :) Mine is a very simple braid, some people braid colored ribbon and other goodies into it (like hot peppers, etc--you may have seen those at Pike's Place). This was my first attempt, so I kept it easy.

I started by gently cleaning the dirt, loose paper and leaves off, then trimmed the roots to look neat. I also dampened the dried and cured leaves in a moist (not soaking) towel, so they were nice and pliable, not so brittle. Don't soak them, you want them to dry quickly--no mold in your braid! It also helps to use a small bit of string or yarn to tie your very first 3 cloves together to hold them steady.. do this right at the top of the cloves, leaving the rest of the leaves loose for braiding. It will be hidden almost immediately as you start the braid.

Then you just braid! The only difference is that you will be adding a stalk at each OUTSIDE throw of your braid. It's a little like french braiding. When you reach the end of your garlic and want to finish the braid..use a piece of string to tie the braid together. Make a small loop with the string at the back of the braid so you can hang your artistry on the wall :)

I have not found ANY pictures that easily show how a braid is accomplished, but THIS VIDEO does a pretty fine job.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Butterscotch male in Eclipse molt

I thought it would be fun to show you how much a boy will change during his molt..
This is Lucky in Nuptial plumage:

Here he is again in Eclipse... at this point he would be hard to tell from the females in the group. He will stay like this for about a month or so then start to get his Man colors back.

The females also go through Eclipse, although not as dramatically as the males. The hens here are also molting. They lose their eyeliner and most of their general markings.

It is important to note that during a molt they are flightless. It would be especially important to keep them safe from predators.

There are feathers feathers EVERYwhere in the chicken yard right now, everyone is molting, chickens included. It is because the Fairs and Shows are coming up of course, so some of our best show poultry will be standing out as they get their new shiny feathers in ;)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Welcome to the Slug Saloon!

I have been battling slugs in my potatoes.. they LOVE the leaves! So Dad made a Slug Saloon for each of the potato corrals. He made openings towards the tops of a quart sized yogurt container.

And I put beer in them....

and nestled the little saloon down in the dirt. Easy to toss the drunken (dead) slugs out, and refill. So far it is working fabulously. ;)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Meandering.. a photo stroll around the Holler

The Alpines are trying to make a come back ~yay~
their suffering happened while we were on vacation a few weeks ago...

Waiting to bloom into splenderiferous color!

I love bright colors ;)

Slick is ALWAYS good for making me smile...
(she is one of my pet Silkies)

Flower jewels... nice sparkles.

Fabulous Mt Rainier in all of his late afternoon glory

Gandalf wants to know 'What's up?'