Wednesday, July 23, 2014

New mother and a massive piglet head and oh yeah, #7...

Look who's a new mama...

Charlotte, age 5. She has now hatched out all three of the eggs that were under her and has two yellow chicks and one black. None of them are her biological children! She is a Sex-link hen, a breed meant for egg production (the the stewpot!) All the broodiness was supposed to have been bred out of her, but this month she got all maternal.

And she is an excellent mama. I watched her teach her little ones to drink and eat. Today I took them a few wild black raspberries. Charlotte broke them up with her beak, the clucked at her babies to come eat. It was utterly adorable. My little hatchery hen is turning out to be an excellent mama, and what's really nice is that because she is so tame and trusts me, I can pick up her babies without her freaking out.

It's so touching to so my oldest hen  tenderly caring for her little ones. She has not gone broody once in the past five years. I guess it was time. And she's a natural!

Meanwhile, look what I got in the mail today:

My friend Penny sent me this fantastic t-shirt. Looks just like one of my little piglets. Well, back when they were still little. Now they look like breadboxes on high heels.

And guess what's in our garage? Cat #7. We think she's Emerson's mother, as they are the exact same colour and she shares his delicate features.  We're not 100% sure it's a she, especially since she's a ginger. Orangey cats tend to be males. But she's definitely an adult and has big mitten front paws: polydactyl!  And unlike Emerson, she's totally wild and almost unapproachable. She has been hanging around for a couple of months, but we've only caught glimpses of her in the garden. I had been planning on trapping her to get her spayed and vaccinated, but then she wandered into the garage. I've been feeding her in there and will be trapping her and taking her to the vet in the next few days, something I am not particularly looking forward to, as it will traumatize her further. But it must be done. Afterwards we'll release her here and she can be our barn/garden cat. I think she considers this place home, considering how long she's been hanging around. And now she'll get free meals twice a day!

We have been making the slightest amount of progress in the garage. I know her hiding spot now and can look at her from a reasonably close distance. Today was the first time she looked at me with squinty eyes instead of the usual dilated-pupil pits of terror. But of course trapping her will set back our progess... sigh. She is at least a good eater, and as per my friend Deb's suggestion, I put some logs on the floor of the garage for her to scratch and laced them with fresh catnip. Judging by the amount of bark on the floor, she's been enjoying this very much. And she seems to like the cat toys and treats I've left out for her too.

Apart from that, I've had my head stuck in my beehives a lot lately. More posts to come!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Today's burning question...

So we put up a white board in the barn, mostly so I can leave notes for Gordon on what needs doing for the evening chores. He has taken to calling it the "Gord Board". This is a sampling of what you might find there...


Meanwhile, there are just too many things going on around here!

Mama Emma and nine chicks in the garage. The babies are going off to be part of my friend Pierre's backyard laying flock.

I picked the eggs for this batch. Quite the genetic assortment here! THey are growing like weeds.

Meanwhile, we've had the front  of our bank barn trenched, and gravel and drainage pipes put in. 

Whenever it's wet, we get water pouring through the stone wall in the lower level, That side of the barn was incorrectly buried when that section of the yard was filled in and the ground level raised. We're trying to correct those drainage problems now!

And bees...

This is one of my marked California queens on my friend Pierre's hand yesterday. Yep, she's really from California! And her hive is doing great...

In fact, all ten of my hives are doing great right now. Fingers crossed that it continues!

And in other news, we've been having a pasture fenced for the pigs...

Here's Bert and Findlay putting in the 8-foot gate.

This will be a nice spot for the piggies to hang out.

A view of the hay fields! Not quite finished cutting.

We are building a new pig palace in the carriage shed at the back of the granary above. The pigs will have access to the pasture though a little door we're going to put in the side of the carriage shed.

We will also build them a little shelter for shade outside.

That hill is steeper than it looks. They had a bit of a hairy time getting the tractor and the backhoe up and down there!

That big tree is one of our beautiful black walnuts, around 90 years old now.

And that little tree at the back of the carriage shed, about 1/3 of the way into the photo, is a young black walnut tree that grew by itself while we weren't looking! It was surrounded by sumacs that were cleared out yesterday. The other little tree on the left seems to be some kind of willow.

The piggies will have a nice view from their little pasture.

We used goat fencing!

And this was delivered yesterday for the new barn drainage.

We're going to put some of it in the muddy end of the "aviary" which will mean I'll get some practice using the bucket on our tractor!

Just so long as my fat little pigs are happy!

And of course the turkeys, too. Aren't they looking fine these days? We still need to get them a couple of lady friends!

Hope you are all having a good weekend!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Of beds and boats...

We have some great (if hairy) dog beds from Gertie Gear. The problem is, the cats keep stealing them from Tristan...

So I bought a couple of cat-sized beds, and this is what happened...

Which I pretty much saw coming! But most of the time, the beds are being used by the correct species:

Emily says "Four paws up!"

Alex concurs!

And on another note, we went kayaking last Friday evening on the St. Lawrence River. 

I like to pimp out my float, so to speak.

And I actually was in the Naval Reserve, so the sticker is legit!

Like Gordon's shirt? I got it here. I shudder to think what would happen if we put a cat in the kayak!

We keep our kayaks at Hybrid Marine in Summerstown.  Fantastic marina, and a great place to rent a kayak or trimaran, or send your kids to summer camp!

It was a spectacular evening. Water like glass, hardly any other boats in sight.

We watched the sunset.

It was the night before the "super moon."

Can't wait to go back!

Friday, July 11, 2014

It's that sweet time of year again... and something a little stinky!

The honey bees are in full swing and I will do my first honey extraction next week. The girls were all over my false spirea yesterday:

Busy little things, gathering sweetness. And then...

...there's Stinky! 

This baby skunk spent the night in our garage last night. A local farmer found him starving behind their house and took him in.Turns out another neighbour shot the mama skunk, orphaning four babies. The farmer saw the babies in the field before finding this little one; likely the other babies perished. :(

 Apparently there was some talk of making the skunk a pet,  which is not only a bad idea, but illegal here. After two or three weeks, my friend talked the farmer into handing over the skunk, and I called our OSPCA agent, who collected Stinky this morning and drove him to the Sandy Pines Wildlife Centre in Napanee.

I got an update from them this afternoon. Stinky is in great shape (the farmer took good care of him!) and has been placed with a group of other skunk babies his own age. In the fall, he will be released together with his new little family.

Last night and this morning, I made a nice plate of scrambled eggs (and peas!) for our guest, who ate them all up.

So cute! A happy ending for this little stinker.

Have a great weekend!