Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

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Some of the chickens came up on the porch in hopes
of getting some of the pumpkin brains and to watch Kristine.
But then just as I was going to take a lot of photos Morgan showed up.
And she shooed the chickens away. Morgan wants her dinner not pumpkin.
This year Kristine made a smiley face pumpkin.
One year she made a dragon that went all around the pumpkin.
But we couldn't find a camera and there are no photos.
TaDa! And here they are in all their splintery wonder. My planter boxes are actually together. Well, to be truthful each board has only one nail on each end. Tomorrow I need to drill some more holes and use the power screw driver and put in a bunch of screws to hold the boxes together securely. Also, since there is still a lot of wood laying around I think I will look around and see if I can't build something else in the garden. Then I won't have to haul it away.

Kristine brought home pizza for dinner. Yea!

[3 eggs today]

Kristine will carve the pumpkin when she gets home and I'll post a photo of it and a photo of how far I have gotten building planter boxes. The other night she carved the apple with her teeth. Pretty cute! An apple pumpkin. Well, the battery for the drill finally charged and I have no more excuses. Back to work.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Help! I'm Surrounded By Lumber!

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Looking at all this lumber I was feeling a little overwhelmed. Yikes! What have I got myself into. Maybe I should have started making a small planter box instead of this big thing. Well, one step at a time will hopefully get me there. That's what I tell myself anyway. First I measured and cut the corner posts. Then I measured and cut the rest of the wood.
Big box cut and ready to assemble.
All cut except for the corner posts for the small box.
Then I took a break and went to see where the chickens were and found them digging holes looking for good things to eat. When I started to take this photo the Wyandotte was scratching around in the hole to the left, but when she saw the Orpington eating something she scurried over to share in the goodness. Opportunist!
I did try to finish the box before I ran out of daylight, but I finally had to call it quits. Just two more boards on this side and then I can start putting the other box together. I should know and plan for everything taking longer than I think it will. I think I will cut some wood to cover the corner posts and I need to remember to find the level. I wonder if I should level the box or leave it on the slope. I'll have to measure and see what the difference looks like.

Kristine came home and told me to quit. Of course I did what she said. She even made dinner. When I came in, she had hot dogs and the fixings all ready. How 'bout that! Such a deal! She's a treasure! Called my brother and Sandy and wished them a Happy Birthday! Then I tried to talk them into making a blog. I'm so bad. They could make some awesome posts about life in the desert with some terrific photos. And Sandy could make wonderful posts about her stained glass work and her great recipes. She is a great cook!

[3 eggs today]
One in the morning for breakfast.
The other two were in time for dinner.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Tricky Chickens

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Spent most of the day looking for and carrying wood. The wood I moved the other day and stacked under the tree turned out to be mostly too short. I finally found enough pieces to put together some boxes. By the time I got all the lumber assembled I decided to wait until tomorrow to do the measuring and cutting. I'll look around some more tomorrow and see if I can find anymore long boards. I'd like the sides to be higher. And I'll need the miter saw. I don't know how long my saber saw will hold out cutting this thick wood.
Ah ha! Those chickens were being sneaky and eating out the pumpkin from the back side. Every time I came to check I only saw the front and the little holes I made. This is a funny face. A one eyed smiley pumpkin. Silly chickens. They tricked me!

[3 eggs today]

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Brick Puzzle

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Setting the bricks is like putting together a big puzzle. To lay bricks correctly you are supposed to use builder sand and compact and level the surface, etc. I'm not going for perfect. This is an old place and I'm going for an old weathered uneven look. After the bricks are down, I shoveled some dirt on top and worked it into the spaces between the bricks by hand and with the broom. I would use sand if I had any. I found a break in the chicken wire in the corner and fixed it so the critter that ate my rose bushes can't get in that way again.
All done. I will need to repeat this dirt step several times after it rains until the cracks fill up. I moved that white brick around to mark where the sunshine stops. The sun is higher in the summer so I think the sun will shine on all the area in the box. The sun has to make its way through and past a lot of trees. Some of this area gets morning sun when the sun gets high enough to shine over the roof. The rest of the time it is shining through trees.
One planter box seems like a good idea, so why not two?
I dug up the green stuff and moved it to places that were bare. Tomorrow I can start the fun part and get out my power tools and start cutting wood. I enjoyed moving the bricks around.

[1 egg today]
The chickens haven't eaten hardly any of the pumpkin.
Kristine and I are going to get our hair cut tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Wind and Water Advisory

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Plans changed overnight because of a Wind Advisory (winds over 40 miles an hour) and that oak tree in the middle of the photo. We also got an Advisory that our water was going to be shut off for maintenance.

Yesterday I hauled and stacked scrap wood under that tall scraggly old oak. The problem is that the tree has lots of dead limbs that fall and I don't want to be in harms way, so I didn't build planter boxes today. I wish the wind would knock all the dead stuff down. I don't hear or pay much attention to the branches hitting the house in the daytime, but Kristine says the noise the stuff makes has been making it hard for her to sleep.
Instead I worked in the green garden and pulled up bricks that I had laid a few years ago and made a place to build a planter box. Morgan came by every now and then to eat grass, for ear rubs and to check on me. She would stay for a while and then she would be off to check on the chickens and squirrels and other doggie stuff.

When we moved here my brother had grass on either side of a path of bricks. I didn't want to care for the grass and bricked most of it over. I also built the little deck area out of scrap wood. It's not pretty, but it works as an entrance to a storage building we call the spa house. My brother built it to house a hot tub so the family could use it in the winter. We use the building to hold stuff. Stuff that needs to be sorted through and got rid of. That's another project.
I got this far and quit to make dinner. Morgan is curious about what I'm doing and sniffs around when I pull up the bricks. I think she thinks I'm looking for something. I'm going to lay the bricks in the area behind where they are stacked. I'll do that before I start on the planters. The windy conditions are supposed to ease up for sure by Thursday. I lost most of the day to a migraine. All my fault because I ate a steak covered in all kinds of spices. Bad me.

The water is going to be turned off tomorrow so they can work on the lines. I filled two containers with water and put them in the refrigerator. I filled a pot with water for the chicken's waterer. I filled the tea kettle. And then I filled the bathtub with water to use to fill the toilet tank, so we can flush the toilet.

Happiness is being able to flush the toilet! I remember when we were building a house and finally got the water hooked up to the toilet. Wow! I could flush the toilet. Before, I would have to run up and down the stairs to turn the hose on and off to fill the tank. I remember flushing the toilet a bunch of times just for fun. Simple things. Such a joy!

[4 eggs today]
The chickens ate a little bit on the pumpkin.

Monday, October 26, 2009

New Project

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Morgan is waiting by the door to the little abandoned garden because I shut some chickens in there so they could churn up the leaves and find good things to eat. She will wait there for a while and then she will circle the area. She doesn't like having her chickens out of reach. The chickens haven't been in that area for years. Neither have I. One of my projects for this winter is to make some planter box areas and get this ready for spring planting. Also I need to clean out the greenhouse and fix it up.
Today I went searching around on the property for scrap wood and found enough to make some planter boxes. I even found some 4x4's for the corners. Tomorrow I will look over the different size widths and lengths of the boards and try and figure out what I can make. Hauling all the wood to one location was enough for me today. The wood is laid out at the top middle of the photo.

I have some herbs growing in the small fenced area. Herbs seem to be the only thing that will grow in the crummy soil. If I have enough wood I will cut some planter boxes and move the cut wood inside the fenced area and assemble them there. I tried to grow some vegetables here once, but the soil was too poor and they didn't grow.
I was surprised the chickens didn't break into the pumpkin. There wasn't a mark on it, so I got the garden scissors and poked a lot of holes. Maybe the chickens are tired of pumpkin? Kristine brought home a big pumpkin that she will carve. Tom went down the mountain to town for dog food and to get groceries. Kristine survived her midterm exam. I made her a steak to celebrate.

[4 eggs today]
I counted tonight, there are still 18 hens.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Checking On Stuff

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Tom emptied out the wood shed so he could fill it completely with the wood he is stacking. Seeing the bale of straw sitting outside along with other boxes, bags of kindling and stuff. I thought I would top off the chicken's nest boxes with a fresh layer of straw. The broody Wyandotte seems to like the new cushy place she has made. Morgan just wonders what I'm up to and if perhaps there might be anything to eat. Treats are always welcome. I tied up the leftover straw and put it on the barrel where it will be handy when needed. I've given up putting the chicken feed in the barrel at night. I didn't notice any difference in the feed level.

I went through my photo library looking for a picture of the big tree that went down a few years ago, but no luck. This tree went down before we moved here and is so big it is still here next to the hole it left when it fell. It was fortunate that this tree fell in the opposite direction from the house. Today when I was walking around I took photos of some of the tree stumps on the property. I like the looks of stumps, especially the ones that have weathered and have taken on interesting shapes. One of them even has a little tree growing out of it. That's another post.
Tom got the chickens a new pumpkin! I set it down next to the dregs of their old pumpkin in hopes that they would get the idea and work at opening this pumpkin on their own. We don't let Morgan out early because she will bark at squirrels or something she thinks needs barking at and we don't want to bother any neighbors who want or need to sleep. Morgan and the chickens don't get outside until ten or later. So, I like to have something that will interest the chickens and keep them busy. Hopefully, the pumpkin will be a puzzle they will crack.

Kristine has been studying for a test tomorrow, Tom watched football and stacked wood, and I didn't get any painting done. I think I will build a planter box tomorrow. I've got lots of projects that are waiting, kitchen projects, quilting, etc. I'll save the quilting for cold winter days.

[5 eggs today]
I put twelve wooden eggs in the nests.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Overcast Sleepy Day

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I followed the chickens into the woods today and tried to get a group shot, but the hens were on the move. I hope they are finding some good things to eat under the trees. The chickens do a great job of turning over the leaves and churning up the dirt. At least the forest floor is damp now and not the dusty crunchy place it was a few weeks ago. It's nice and cool in there.
Morgan seems to have a limit set for the chickens treat time.
She will watch them for awhile.
Then she is on the move.
Morgan will move through the middle of the group,
and the chickens will scatter,
and a a hen or two might squawk and fly up and flap their wings
and then go back to eating.
There she goes through the middle of the group again.
Then she will go around the outside and stand and watch again.
I think she has a plan, but I don't know what it is.
The pumpkin is almost not there. Tom worked on the wood again today. Kristine came home with a splitting headache, so I'm glad I didn't paint. I'm in slow motion today. I'm not going to stress over the painting. It will get done when the time its right. I hope Kristine feels better soon.

[3 eggs today]
Must get the hens another pumpkin or squash.

Friday, October 23, 2009

First come, First Served

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Not these girls. These hens are the ones who come last when I call the chickens to come for a grain treat. Most of the hens come out of the woods and rush towards me, some flapping, all excited to get to the grain. But these hens come late (or not at all) and will only come up to check for grain after the other hens have finished. So, I went off to the side away from the other chickens and left a "puddle" of grain just for them. It is interesting how the chickens have decided who can go where and do what. Two Buff Brahamas, a Wyandotte and a Buff Orpington.

This is the front path next to the gate. Kristine and I had a discussion about "gophers" making tunnels around trees and on the paths and driveway. After the windy storm, I thought that at least some of these places where the dirt was turned up was made by tree roots moving the soil and was a sign of the tree possibly coming down. Kristine went with gophers. Well, I guess I'll win if this tree falls over. This is one I would like to lose. Correction: Kristine said "moles" not gophers. Oops!

Apples! Nice surprise to see that there were about ten apples on the tree. The last few years we have had some very bad weather that knocked the blossoms out of the trees. The cherry tree didn't have any cherries and I didn't think the apple tree would have any apples.

Morgan was all tired out and I guess this was her way of cooling off next to the slider. Morgan is such a good dog and cute too! Tom brought in a box of kindling for the wood stove. Next he will burn the box. Or take it out and fill it up again? We had some more wood delivered today.

[no eggs today]
It is supposed to be 75 tomorrow.


Thursday, October 22, 2009

In The Works

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While Morgan was waiting for me to give her some doggie treats, the chickens were eating some lettuce I'd tossed on the porch. The chickens get excited over their treats and run and flap around. If I leave Morgan on the porch with the chickens she gets excited and and runs around and then the chickens run around even more and the lettuce gets trampled and I have to tell Morgan to stop. Not a big deal, but this way is easier on my nerves.

Those are a couple of the kitchen cabinet doors that are waiting for screws the right size and for me to finish painting the cabinets. I put on more joint compound today. It is going to be in the 70's the next couple of days and Kristine is doing better, so maybe I can paint? Maybe? Kristine says "whatever" "paint if you want to"... argh! So, so, I don't know... I guess I'll paint?

The chickens have churned up this area where I dumped some of the leaves that I raked off the driveway. I think I might use up some old wood and build a big planter type box thing here and use it as a leaf dump. The chickens could play in it and eventually I could plant something there or just keep it as a place to put the rakings. That looks like a Wyandotte and an Orpington.

Since the weather has brightened up I moved the feeders outside. The chickens have cleaned out the inside of the pumpkin and there is only a thin shell left. I suspect they will finish the whole thing off in a few days. I added pumpkin to the grocery list.

The pen was empty when I started messing around in there, but some of the hens came back in the pen while I was hanging up the feeders and taking photos. I thought they were hungry, but when I left to take some photos of the pen from the outside, chickens came flapping and running out the door and across towards the woods. Whoa! The pen was empty! Kristine says she thinks the chickens are curious and that they do the same thing when she is out there. Gee, and I thought the chickens wanted to be with me because they liked me.

The Light Brahma that has done a major feather dump seems to be growing her feathers back in almost as quickly as they fell out. I noticed today that she has new feathers sprouting.

This is great! Some of our hens have taken six months or more to grow back their feathers and have had to wear duct tape over the bald spots. This hen seems to be well on her way to regaining her feathered splendor.

Today I made biscuits again on the wood stove and burned them. They still tasted great. We just pulled off the bottoms. I set the timer for ten minutes and should have checked them at five minutes. Note to self: check biscuits more often. And I think I got the pan too hot before I put in the biscuits. Cooking on a wood stove must have been a real art. I bet women knew exactly how many pieces of wood and what size to use to cook different foods. I'll keep trying my experiments. I would like to figure out how to make cookies on top of the wood stove. That would be so neat. Biscuits and cookies! Two of my favorite foods.

Congratulations, Tanya! You did a great job.
DIY is fun!
I always figure that if I can imagine how to do it
then I can do it myself.

[1 egg today]

P.S. I couldn't publish this post earlier or even get to see my blog. I searched around and found this site and clicked on "Something is Broken."
Once I found out there was a problem with blogger I relaxed and waited awhile until they fixed the problem. I bookmarked this page and will check here next time there is a problem. I really didn't like thinking that I did something wrong, or that my computer or browser was at fault.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Iron Biscuits

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Curly, the Cochin, then a Light Brahma,
a Buff Brahma, an Orpington and a Light Brahma on the old horse feeder,
(oops, Kristine just told me that it really is a planter box,
but the horse did nibble on it)
the black Australorp and another Buff Brahma
When I go out to the coop in the late afternoon, the hens that are already in the coop for the night hear me coming and some of them hurry outside and come towards me hoping for treats. Today when they noticed I wasn't carrying anything, they stopped and then I stopped and took a photo. The Australorp was getting ready to turn and head back to the coop. I put the blue lid out so the rain could wash it off. Lazy me.

Kitchen update: This is how far the cabinets have come because I can't do any painting until Kristine is doing better with her cough or until I can leave the windows open for a couple of days. I did get the drawer fronts attached to cover the openings where the drawers used to be. I painted the cabinet doors and the drawer fronts before I brought them in the house. I'll go ahead and cut and attach the kick boards and trim.
This was a learning experience. I thought I would try out making biscuits on the wood stove. First, I heated the empty iron fry pan and lid up on the wood stove before I put the biscuits in and then I let them cook for about ten minutes. Kristine carried the pan back to the stove so we could flip the biscuits over. I put the paper plate over the biscuits and then Tom turned the whole thing over and the biscuits came out on the plate. Then I slipped the biscuits back in the pan with the cooked side up so the other side of the biscuits could cook. The biscuits would have slid off easier if I had floured the paper plate first. Note to self.
The leftover stew is heating up on top with the big pot of water that helps keep the air from getting too dry. I think the trick to getting the biscuits to cook on top of the wood stove is to get the pan and lid really hot before I put in the biscuits. It will also work out better next time I make them if I don't goof up and put an extra cup of flour in the bowl. I used butter instead of shortening and I did not grease the pan. The wok holder thing the pan is sitting in keeps the bottom of the pan from touching the stove. I'm going to keep making biscuits or corn bread on the wood stove until I figure it out. Next I'd like to try baked apples on the wood stove.

[3 eggs today]

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Chickens Carved A Pumpkin?

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Since Morgan had to go to the groomers today the chickens had to stay in their pen until she came home. I went out to the coop this morning hoping to find fresh eggs for Kristine's breakfast and I took along my camera (and some lettuce for the chickens) because I wanted to get a picture of the pumpkin. No photo, but I took the video below. And, lucky for Kristine, there was one egg in the top nest box.
When Morgan got home I let the hens out and gave them some cantaloupe.
Since it was such a nice day I decided to spend some time raking my paths and managed to get a quarter way around the three acres. I did get a photo of Morgan practically glowing in her clean bright white coat. Morgan divided her time between watching the chickens, checking on me or on Tom cutting wood, and herding squirrels from tree top to tree top. I wonder if she thinks she is getting them to move or if she is just following them? I call it squirrel herding.
I won't be raking any more leaves for awhile. When I was raking, I heard stuff falling out of the trees now and then, but didn't go investigate until I quit. These limbs fell where I was raking the other day when I raked the driveway. The limbs are over six feet and I sure don't want to get hit with anything like this.

I was telling Tom about these limbs falling here near the motor home and while we were talking another large limb fell out of another tree. Falling trees and limbs are one of the hazards of living in the forest. I'm staying away from the trees for a bit. I would like another big windy storm, please, to come through and knock down and out all the trees and limbs that are ready to fall. We have had some huge trees go down in past years. I'll see if I can find photos to post another day.

The hens pecked at the places where I punched small holes in the pumpkin yesterday and they "carved" this pumpkin with lots of big eyes. Kristine looked at this video and said that the chickens sure sounded mad. They do sound a bit ticked off with me for not letting them out.

[two eggs today]
Second egg found under a cranky broody Wyandotte.
She pecked the egg when I picked it up, brat.

Monday, October 19, 2009


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I went to check on the hens before I left for the dentist to see how they were adjusting to the new ground cover in the pen. Wow! No muddy feet. Pretty neat. But they were unhappy and wanted out even though it was raining off and on. I told them they were good girls and I'd let them out when I got back, but they weren't impressed. The molting Light Brahma is in the upper right corner. Poor thing. She doesn't look any better.
On the way home I took this photo of the clouds moving through the canyons.
Pumpkin? The hens are not too sure what to do with the pumpkin I got them. They would peck at it and then go away and then try again, but they finally gave up. After they left, I poked some holes in the pumpkin so they would get a clue about it being a food item.
The hens were more interested in being outside than playing around with the pumpkin. Pumpkin was left all alone. Morgan was glad to get out of the house. She doesn't like it when we leave either.

[5 eggs today]
Very glad to find eggs today.
They were clean!
I usually find muddy eggs when it rains.