Saturday, June 4, 2011

early bird

The egg that pipped and is now hatched and out in the brooder. He has been in the incubator hatched out for 24 hours! Nobody else has pipped yet so I opened the incubator and broke out the brooder equipment. He has a deluxe suite. Problem is, he is lonely and is peep-peep-peeping. I can't really hold him, because I don't want him to chill. So poor lil' chick is all alone. The camera flash gave him hope and he has been peeping for awhile now! He is a good strong chick. Just early. I figure I will see some more eggs pipped in the morning. I candled the eggs and all looks like a go. The chick and I are waiting! That's the part about hatching that teaches one patience.

I also started some new eggs in the incubator a couple days ago. My neighbor Shirl gave me some more freshly laid eggs, plus I had some and I didn't want to wait to set a new batch. So, I will have a hatch, then clean out the incubator and then have another hatch. The eggs can stand a few minutes out of the heat. Better that, then wait and have the eggs get old. The fresher the eggs, the better odds there are for a hatch.

Here is the little guy.

early bird

I wonder if he is looking for his Mother. I wonder this to the tune of - All by Myself in my head.  His Mother is perched high in the barn. His Father is in Rooster Jail for crimes against little chickens. Well, he is just being himself and trying to establish the flock as his. But he has been getting more aggressive, and now that I have my teenagers out in a pen, I don't want to risk it.

Meanwhile, the other young roosters are acting up. Each of them are now trying to establish a group of hens to dominate. Not nearly as bad as old Meany Pants, but they are starting to chase and are getting a little cocky. I am sure the word "cocky" was inspired by roosters. It is not bad, just too much, is simply too much!

Sling Blade the pig has now busted through a fence in the name of a kiddie swimming pool (which belongs to the ducks) and the bowls of flock grower food. No matter how much I feed that pig, he acts starving. Ravenous is more like it. He is happiest while eating. When he is not eating, he is rooting for perhaps a speck of cracked corn he may have missed. He is getting so big. The bigger and stronger he gets, the more of a pain he is. He can smell food from far away. I can't even sneak it in to the rabbits or chickens without him squealing like he is being skinned alive. He goes crazy when I milk Deer, the nanny goat. Really Sling... milk? As soon as I enter the fence he slimes me. Big, wet, muddy pig snout on the leg. He knows how to block me when I do have food and he turns his body into an old oak tree. I am finding myself getting exasperated with him.

Earl the donkey can make that piggy move. I have never seen a pig leap and run so fast. I quietly thank Earl for making him get out of my way. Even though Earl's tactics border on bullying. The results come as such relief for me.

So yes, I am milking Deer, Momma to little Oprah the kid. Oprah get the one side, and I milk the other. Right now I am giving the milk to Sylvia's beagle pups and to Sylvia. The cats love it too. Soon I hope to make herbal goat's milk soap. It makes the best soap. Very moisturizing and other good things that store bought soap does not have. Store bought soap is really just detergent. I would also like to have my hand at making some goat's milk cheese. I mean, I get a half gallon from my nanny-goat every day and that is just one milking  one udder. When she is through nursing her kid and I start to milk her twice daily on both sides, I am sure to get a gallon. Goat's milk is super healthy to drink too, compared to cow's milk. Plus, there is no added hormones and other undesirables present. There are procedures to keep everything sterile and safe. It is a good source of protein. My nanny loves it because she get to eat sweet feed mix with corn, manna and sunflower seeds while I milk her. I feed her quite often as well. She like things straight from the garden. her favorite is broccoli!

Little Oprah the doeling is spunky and joy-filled. Next year I will be milking her as well. Goats are a lot of fun. They are curious by nature and make really wonderful pets as they can be both playful and gentle. Except the buckS. I have my buck up for sale. I now have two dairy does and another buck is coming. Yes, I am buying two more kids. They are already born and are a little older than Oprah. They are TN fainting goats. Registered by the Myotonic Registry

Here is the link. They are still with their Mothers. The two that are on hold are:

Get a load of those ears.

By the way, the folks at  Peace of Eden Farm that have my kids have been simply wonderful. They are informative and super organized. I really like their farm ethic. Plus, I have made another WV farm friend!

It's midnight now here in WV, and it is time to go check on everybody, get Bella in (she is out there howling at the night air) and spend some time with my Earl.

While, the early bird and I wait for more.


Friday, June 3, 2011


Well, I guess one of the chickens averted the dog attack by hiding. She came home early evening just showed up. From four reds to five reds, just like that. So now the count will be different tomorrow.

Tonight when I was tucking everybody in, I noticed the President Day chickens had skipped snuggling in on the shelf in the barn and opted for perching high in the barn.

Here ends the age of innocence.

I stroked their feathers with my index finger and talked softly to them one by one. They were still visibly shook up tonight. They just couldn't settle. I hung out for awhile talking and lightly touching them so that they would remember that I am safe. I told them I was sorry they were so scared and that they didn't need to be afraid. I would take care of them. I am not sure if they believed me.

I wonder if I was really talking to myself. Projecting my own unsettled feeling. Trying to convince myself to not be afraid. That fear has no business here.

carry on



Today I lost three of my President Day chickens to a dog attack. It wasn't any of my dogs. I did catch the culprit. This is the same dog that was the perpetrator of was last year's massacre. Not even a "I'm sorry" from the owner and it was owner responsibility, He suddenly decided he would let his dog out. But, that is beside the point. He has to go through life like that. Sad really.

I am very sad about this. Sad is the only word I can come up with right now.

I hatched these chickens myself from my rooster and hen's eggs. Twenty-one days of excitement, wondering, "Can I do this, really?" Yes, I could. I was careful with the heat and humidity. Checking and re-checking. Then the hatch, it was so amazing. Most of you on Facebook shared in my joy as I gave updates and photos and my reflections. You probably got tired of hearing "The President Day chicks" did this or that. I raised them by hand, making sure the bedding was clean, the brooder was at the right temperature and the food and water was fresh. I built a chicken run that I watched over when my chickens were old enough to spend a few hours in the sun and grass. I named them. I sat and watched them for countless hours, enjoying every second. They grew under my watchful eye, until they were big enough to stay in the chicken run. I went out during the wind and rain and a tornado warning to take them to shelter, the barn. They liked it there and they began to free roam. Always together as a group. The flock took over my porch for afternoon rests. Always searching out bugs and grasses and always nearby, close to me. They never strayed away. I would do my chicken call, the same voice they heard coaxing them to hatch. There was a trust there. The flock put themselves to bed back to the barn at dusk and up and at 'em at dawn.. They piled up on a shelf together that they favored instead of the nesting boxes lined up for them.

I was just saying to Rusty last night. I have eleven President Day chickens and eleven ducks. I like the number 11. I also have seven teenager chickens, and the two littles. I would always do a head count, I don't even know how many times a day. Counting. Five reds, four blacks, and two whites. Ok eleven. OCD? Maybe, but I am home always, and mostly I am outside. Working and counting. Keeping my eye out for any signs of hawks or signs of predators of any kind.

I know part of having free roaming chickens is to expect some loss. It doesn't make it any easier.

The attack came this morning. Before Bella and I could get out the door, they were already gone. I have been wandering the property calling for them. Hoping they are hiding in the hollow or under the old Victorian.
Calling, "Chick chiiiiiiiiiiick, chick chiiiiiiiiiiick..."

I only found feathers.

Three Presidents down.


As synchronicity shall have it, an egg pipped in the incubator today. More hatch-lings are on their way.


Wednesday, June 1, 2011


Whenever the temperature hits 90 degrees in Bluefield, WV, the city offers free lemonade. Lemonade Days is a well know tradition that is happening today.  

The Bluefield, WV Chamber of Commerce reports that lemonade was first served in the "Nature’s Air Conditioned City" in 1941 and has been served a total of 197 times in the 72 years since then. The tradition has survived lemon and sugar shortages during WWII, criticism from area clergymen, a strike by the lemonade lassies (the ladies who served the lemonade), and some controversy over what constitutes a legitimate lemonade day. One thing has remained the same: Bluefield-ers can enjoy a good old-fashioned cold glass of lemonade during the unusually warm days of Summer. This year it as begun in Spring! It reached 90 degrees in Bluefield yesterday. The Bluefield Chamber of Commerce also reported in the Summer of 2007 proved to be a record-breaking season with 18 days reaching 90 degrees or over. This exceeded the previous 1988 record of 17 times in one year. They also report that there have been 35 summers during which the temperature did not reach 90 degrees! Hence the nickname: "Nature’s Air Conditioned City" .

Bluefield is where I go to do my shopping and get supplies. The city is several towns over from were I live. It is an old city, not particularly large, compared to cities you may live in or shop at. It is a city that holds on to it's traditions, while seeking revitalization of it's coal and railroad heritage. One idea being formulated is a Farmer's Market. I can't wait!  It is a twin city, for right across the city and state border is Bluefield, VA, named after the original. 

View from East River Mountain

The city is located on the East River mountain and is home to Bluefield State College

From The BSC website history page:
"...The history of Bluefield State College is the heroic story of remarkable achievement in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles. The legacy of Bluefield State provides an inspiration and a challenge to those who follow. The creation of Bluefield State College was the product of hard work by citizens of southern West Virginia who envisioned better educational services for African-Americans in the region. The dire need for coal miners created a huge population of black Americans who migrated into America's last frontier wilderness. To serve the racially segregated public schools in the coal camps, progressive citizens of both races worked together to establish Bluefield Colored Institute, a "high graded school for Negroes," in 1895..."
"...In 1954, The board of Education U.S. Supreme Court decision declared racially segregated public education unconstitutional. Soon, white students seeking high quality, low cost, fully accredited higher education opportunities began to attend classes at Bluefield State..."

My daughter now attends BSC to pursue her dream to become a teacher and perhaps some day will go to law school to become a human rights attorney. The school's population has now changed to predominately Caucasian. But the pride of offering higher learning to African Americans was trail blazing at the time and it is evident the school still holds a  great amount of pride for. The College is a great fit for a word wielding humanitarian like my oldest daughter!

There is so much history in that free cold glass of lemonade.



Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Tonight I went to see what Earl does in the dark. I couldn't see him so I called his name. I was up on the porch. He found me. My loyal friend.

Where are the treats?

I had to come down and give Earl some donkey hugs. Then I decided to sneak around and get pictures of everybody sleeping.

Oprah the doe-ling and her Momma snuggled in.
In the coop the ducks and young chickens each have their side.

Earl checks the rabbit hutches

Sling Blade and the Buck like to sleep together. I don't judge.

Tetra, the Tetra Tint Pullet sleeps on the barn door while bugs fly.
She starts to wake. Was it me or that spider?
Henny Penny roosting in the barn, awake..
The President Day Chickens like this shelf in the barn.
More night views to come.

Happy New Moon little ones. I am glad you live here.

Monday, May 30, 2011


I have worked 3 days now with my knee brace on, then off, then on. I have poison ivy all over, and some is located on the inside of my leg, level to the knee. Add the hot weather, sweat, dirt and pain, and it has taken away some of the joy I find in planting.  I am happy to report there was still joy, in the form of satisfaction. I am satisfied of a job well done. I have had a taste of some of the harvest, but the rewards came earlier this season.

We usually buy garden plants at the nursery. But this year I seeded everything. It was, and is, quite an operation. Starting in the kitchen sun-room, the seeds were germinated, then transplanted and moved outside to long tables and then planted in the ground.

The garden is uphill from the house. So I go up, then oops, I forget something, and then back down. Well, you get the drift. Being that we live on a mountain terrain, it makes every little chore that much more challenging. Winter or Summer or the Equinoxes that fall in between, everything takes a bit more effort.

As I was finishing the planting at sunset, the orange glow of light hitting the plants was so beautiful. They looked like they were glowing. I glowed too, inside.


bush beans

waves of lettuce, broccoli and cabbage and the potatoes (deep below the earth)

But on the outside I was dirty.

wash me

Good night from WV,