Sunday, October 26, 2014

Riding Miss Gwenevere

I've been riding Miss Gwenevere! Yes I have!

After cutting down a thousand trees, mowing and waiting for the horrible biting flies to go away, I was able to start riding again. Yippee!

I've been able to get on Gwen about twice a week for the past two months and she's doing really well. I'm also doing really well. I'm happy to say that I'm no longer nervous/scared/anxious about climbing onto her back. I tack her up, walk to the mounting block and just get on. It doesn't seem like much but to me it means a LOT.

Anyway, she's been working on moving her hindquarters, her shoulders, walking figure eights. She even got in a few steps of shoulder-in the other day. Progress!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Chicken keeping for beginners

One of the perks I was looking forward to after purchasing our home was getting chickens so, as is my fashion, last spring I placed an order for way more chickens than any beginner should have.

My wee chicks arrived in the beginning of April and I excitedly set up a brooder for them in the basement. About a week later this turned out to be a very bad idea, I had no idea how much dust 27 chicks can make! There was dust all over the floors, the walls, everywhere! Even though I moved them outside as soon as they feathered out, mopped and vacuumed the basement as thoroughly as possible (including the walls), my husband still complains that the basement smells like chickens.

4 day old chickies

1 week old chickies

Lesson 1: Brood chickens outside.

I ordered an assortment, so I had no idea what breed most of my chicks were, or their sexes. It's been really fun to watch them grow up and see how they turn out... until the roosters start coming into their own. You don't want a lot of roosters; they fight each other, they gang up on the girls and they can start to turn their aggression on you.

There are four roosters in this photo

One of my Easter Egger pullets

two silkie roosters

Lesson 2: Don't order a straight run of chickens (where you don't know what genders you're getting) or have a plan ahead of time for processing your excess roosters.

Fortunately, my husband does some work with an organic farmer that processes chickens and agreed to help mine through their life "transition." Thank goodness, I tried to do one myself and it didn't go well, it's a complicated process if you don't know what you're doing.

Now I'm left with three roosters, chosen for their gentler dispositions. I probably still have too many roosters, I can see the leghorn chasing the hamburg around my yard right this moment, but I'm hoping that my 22 pullets will keep them living together in reasonable peace.
brown leghorn


silver spangled hamburg
Aren't they handsome?

Lesson 3: Be prepared to get smitten with your chickens.

I got my chickens to provide food not to be pets, so I didn't handle them when they were chicks and I don't handle them now, yet every time I go outside I end up with a flock of birds swirling around me. I feel like the chicken whisperer. They also decorate my yard quite nicely, with all their different colors and shapes.  Speaking of that, they also decorate my egg cartons quite nicely; I have white eggs, brown eggs, pink eggs and blue eggs. Chickens are also super easy to care for, at least mine are. I let them out in the morning and close them up at night, make sure they have food and water, check for eggs twice a day and turn over the coop bedding once a week or so.

I'm going out to check for eggs right now!