Friday, January 19, 2007

As a cage is full of birds...Jeremiah 5:27

We went and got all the supplies for the chicken tractor early in the week. It was c-o-l-d outside so I also bought a tarp to put on the living room floor. We got home from Home Depot and brought all the wood, the circular saw, and the drill inside. The kids were eager to help mommy make a mess build a chicken tractor in the living room.

By the next morning the basic framework was done and we moved it outside while I thought it would still fit through the door. Unfortunately I overestimated our doorway and a bit of disassembly was required. We carefully moved the creation to the front porch and the rest of the frame was completed on Monday.

Tuesday we went and purchased chicken wire and fence staples. I figured out those staples were too big when they started splitting the wood. A trip to the local hardware store on Wednesday got me some appropriately sized staples and two new drill bits. I had broken two on the project (user error) and thought that two more should be sufficient. Thursday we got the rest of the chicken wire fastened around the sides and top. We left one end open so we could attach it to the doorway of the current chicken cage.

We're leaving town on Sunday for the Pastors' Retreat at the conference camp. We wanted to make things as easy as possible for our critter sitter, so this morning M and I temporarily attached the chicken tractor to the cage. The sitter will just have to put food and water in the tractor and open/close the door between the coop and the cage. When we return, we'll turn the tractor back into a tractor and move it around the property.

I've got to go now. We have much to do to get ready for the weekend and our trip...and for some reason there is a layer of sawdust on everything in my living room...

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Fear not, little flock...Luke 12:32


The Man, M, and J were returning home from a funeral (how fitting) yesterday just in time to see one of our resident hawks attack another chicken. They came running into the house, quickly changed clothes, and went back to the orchard to shoo away the hawks and retrieve the fallen bird. Yes, it was already dead, but that didn't mean the hawks would get to eat it.

It was late enough that M went ahead and put the chickens in their coop for the night. This morning he shut the cage outside of the coop so the chickens couldn't get to the orchard. That meant they had to spend the day in the coop or a 4 x 8 cage. That is 32 square feet of outside space for 23 chickens. Not good, but safer than being pastured. As we were driving by the orchard coming in from church today we could see the hawk sitting on top of a tall pine just outside the orchard. Waiting.

For those that haven't seen our chicken set-up, you really need to come visit! We have a fenced orchard area. A few years ago we dragged an old building next to the fence. A chicken wire partition was put in that to confine the chickens to half the building. Old kitchen cupboards that were in the barn were put in there to use as nesting boxes (eggs can be retrieved by entering the building, but not by stepping in chicken waste) and an old door was installed so M can clean out the chicken area on a regular basis. Attached to the building and the orchard fence is a 4 ft wide x 4 ft high x 8 ft long original chicken tractor I built in the spring of 2004 to house a batch of baby chicks. That's where the chickens lived (in the orchard) prior to the building move.

Since The Man attached my tractor to the building and fence, I had to build another one the next year to house our next batch of chicks until they were ready to move in with the big girls. I built that one 4w x 4l x 2h to make it more moveable. That one is currently in the fenced garden area. Tomorrow M (and J and S?) are going to move 8 of the chickens to spend the day in there, returning them to the coop at night and rotating 8 more the following days until we get the safety situation handled.

About the hawks...they are protected, so getting rid of them isn't an easy option. Besides, we like having the hawks around, except when they're eating our chickens. I'll put in a call to Fish & Game on Monday. They may have suggestions, but now that they've killed two chickens in less than a week, I don't think it is safe to allow the chickens free range of the orchard.

I've already sketched out plans for a new improved chicken tractor. Since The Man is working in the ER tomorrow, the kids and I will go to the big, big city to get supplies to build it.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Dead things...Job 26:5

Another morbid post. You'll thank me for not including photos.

As we were leaving this afternoon I noticed something red in the driveway. I stopped and got out to investigate. At first I thought it was another part of our flock. Nope. This one had teeth. I stood there in the driveway until The Man drove down the driveway (we were going the same place, but had to drive separately since he had other appointments later). I wanted to make sure he saw it also. He likes those sort of things. When we reached our destination I asked if it was from a deer. With mountain lions practically living in our backyard it is not uncommon to find dead deer and other parts on the property. He thought so, given the teeth that were still present, but he will investigate it more thoroughly later.

Does it bother anyone that I can look at a small piece of bloody skull and know that it was from a deer? Yeah, me too.

After losing more chickens than I can count, various other pets, all the wild things The Dog has dragged home, the dead skunk M dragged in from the field (which started the rule that all dead things or parts of dead things must be kept in the shed), and our found-in-the-barn owl pellet dissections (Do not, DO NOT, get them wet no matter what the instructions from the internet say unless your smell-gag reflex is under control) I suppose I'm not as disgusted by disgusting things anymore. But I'm still glad that M takes care of the mousetraps in the garage.

Monday, January 08, 2007

The hawk...Job 39:26

Can you see it? It is right there in the middle of the trees. That big blob. Yes, a hawk. That's as close as I could get before it flew away. I turned and got another picture of it. It was very far away and I'd already maxed out the optical zoom on the camera. That's it in the upper left, flying with its wings outspread.
Does it look fat? It ought to. It ate a whole chicken this morning.

Now, before you start feeling too sad for M and his flock...we kept what was left of Ms. Chicken. Beak, skull, neck bones, a few wing bones and just a few wing feathers are all that remained. Although M was sad about the loss of the potential egg money, he thought the remaining bones were neat. The hawk picked it pretty clean.

We probably would never had found the pieces had The Man not called on his way to work this morning to inform us that the hawk was sitting on the fence post feasting.
M and I went down to the fenced orchard to search for the remains and found nothing. I had to go back to the house and call The Man to find out exactly where we should look. I guess we wouldn't make very good crime scene investigators.

The hawk may have been wise to get such a big meal in one swoop, but it will be pretty stupid if he tries it again. Mr. Rooster is not too happy right now.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Down to the floor...Ruth 3:3

Tonight I decided it was my turn to mop the floor. Since the former owner used a walker, there are parallel tracks worn in the finish of the linoleum. Every few months the floor needs more than the kids can handle to clean up those paths.

After I put the kids in bed The Dog hid in his crate. I started cleaning the kitchen/dining area floor about 8:30. Three hours later I was done. Sort of. Vacuuming the floor, mopping the floor, going over the worn spots with a Magic Eraser, and finally a coat of Future.

In the morning I'll move the table to the other end of the room and put some Future in that area. I need to call The Man in the morning before he leaves the ER to ask him to bring some more home from the city. I'm not sure there is enough left in the bottle to finish the area under the table. I've never used Future on this floor before, but the finish is pretty much gone.

The Dog is hiding in his crate. I got one of those combs the other day that is supposed to drastically reduce the amount of hair that he'll shed. I tried it out for a few minutes the other day and he didn't complain about it. He rolled over and let me brush him, but as soon as I paused he ran to his crate and wouldn't (willingly) come out for anything. I put the comb away and spent the day calling him to me and petting him. He is still leary, but he is coming around a bit.

Oh, we got snow today. It's been raining for the past day or so. This morning it turned to light flurries but the temperature was about 34 and nothing was sticking. About 3:00 as we went outside to do some chores I noticed the temperature had dropped to 33. The light flurries turned to near-blizzard conditions. By the time we came inside at 4:00 the snow had stopped and we had over an inch of snow on the ground. It was a lot prettier than the mud!

Off to check if the floor is dry so I can get to the utility room to throw some clothes into the dryer before bed. Good night!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Come with me...2 Kings 10:16

We started back to school yesterday. I need to find more things for A to do during our school time. She quickly finished her things and ran off to play. When she was bored with that she sought out The Dog.

After playing with A for awhile, The Dog retreated to the safety of his crate. The kids are not allowed to bother The Dog when he is in the crate. He spends quite a bit of time out of the crate, but he wants to be alone he heads for the crate.

In between lessons this morning I caught this picture.
A is silently imploring The Dog to come out. Yes, she was still in pajamas. No, I hadn't brushed her hair yet. She is dressed and properly groomed now. Really.

It is raining today. I need to run up to the city today to do some banking, shopping, and browsing at the library. The Man will be home to stay with whichever kids don't wish to go with me.

Monday, January 01, 2007

I am a child...Jeremiah 1:6

It was decided that J needed to do a bit more work on his new rocket before it will be ready to launch, so he suggested that everyone make their own rocket to launch today. Tin foil, construction paper, bits of cardboard, yarn and drinking straws were used to assemble their creations around the engines.

These are the four rockets the boys made. From left to right are J's, M's, S's (on the launch pad), and The Man's is the tiny one behind the big rock.

This is S adjusting his rocket. His went up a little ways and landed safely.

M's launched straight up (relatively) and then shot across the creek. The nose cone came off at the launch site.

J's went up, then crashed and burned.

Here is what was left of The Man's. His consisted of little more than the engine to begin with.
Said at supper tonight by a child who does not wished to be named: "When I was a kid I remember that...but then when I turned seven..." I hope they do have wonderful memories of being kids.

By the way, The Man said he should start his own blog. No, he doesn't have time for that, but he says he would like to post about not being allowed to have a motorcycle when he was little. He's heard that might be a good way to get one!

Every perfect gift...James 1:17

Happy New Year! From all of us, we hope you had a wonderful holiday season.

Our big plans for the day include taking down the tree and shooting off rockets (again). We'll do that later this afternoon after The Man awakes. He just got home and went to bed because he's been working in the ER since last year. That means he hasn't slept since last year. He usually gets adequate sleep during his shifts, but last night being what it was, he didn't.

We had an enjoyable Christmas with family. There was way too much food, but at least we didn't have to visit the grocery store last week. We also received many wonderful gifts from friends and family. The one I've used the most is what I found at toe of the stocking from my parents.

Apparently my mother read this post. It is about 30 years late, but still much appreciated!

After making sure all my posts here were backed up, I just upgraded to the new Blogger. I'd put off making the switch because I just didn't want to deal with all the changes, but now is the time. I may get around to categorizing my posts.
Considering I've made less than 30 posts since starting this blog, it shouldn't take me too long to categorize them all. However, considering I've only had time to post less than 30 posts since starting this blog, don't hold your breath waiting for me to find the time to do it.

Here is one of S's gifts before its maiden voyage last week. It survived.