Michigan needs to take its weather back

This weekend it was over a hundred degrees outside and nearly a hundred percent humidity. It rained in south of us and north of us, but not on us. So we had all the icky sticky factors of rain, but no actual water.

The chickens had a unique method of dealing with the heat.

Chickens 20140907a_

I’m having to chicken-proof everything. They eat just about everything. I planted some beans recently and one afternoon saw one of the chickens running around with sprouted bean plant in her beak. We bought several rolls of chicken wire this weekend and it’s going up around everything I don’t want eaten by chickens. Which is

I totally didn’t think I’d be right about that

A couple of weeks ago, when we found dead finches in the yard two days in a row I told a friend we were having a bird plague. She thought I meant we were being plagued by birds and I had to explain that no, the birds have a plague. I really didn’t think I was going to be right. I really, really didn’t want to be right.

Reading Cornell webpage was very enlightening. And I saw some hints that the CDC was looking at this as an opportunity to study the way disease spreads. But they ran out of money for the study and stopped. That seems like such a wasted opportunity to me. We have so little real information on the way diseases spread. I’d think any opportunity to add to that knowledge base would be important. I know the data wouldn’t be perfect; data is never perfect and never free of bias but every little bit of information we get fills in a little bit of the big picture. Imperfection just seems like an excuse to do nothing.

I’ve been worried about the house finches

And it turns out that there’s good reason to be worried. This
is happening. All across the US. And the disease originated with chickens and turkeys. Don’t want to, but it may be time to stop feeding the birds. This explains so much that I’ve seen over the past couple of years. Birds with swollen eyes. Dead finches in the yard. The link is to a study that’s been halted for lack of funding. I also found the art of one of my favorite bloggers with the article.

I’m really kind of horrified. It doesn’t surprise me at all that it originated with humans. We keep breaking the world in ways that we can’t fix. It worries me a lot.

Working away

Chickens20140814a

Life with chickens continues to be a work in progress. We keep trying to refine care so that it goes as smoothly as possible. They are fun to watch though. It's a whole set of animal behaviors that I've never seen up close before. I still think three would have been a much more manageable number, enough to get a reasonable number of eggs, but not so many that it's crowded.

Monarch20140729b</a

We’ve had a lot of monarchs this year. I’ve been doing my best to encourage them. I pretty much let the milkweed come up where ever it wants; it shows up everywhere. There’s one plant near my chair that’s been chewed to twigs three times. I cut it back, and it sends up new growth in a matter of days and the whole thing starts over again. I think having flying flowers in my yard is worth a few unsightly plants.

>Monarch20140729a

A few months ago I had three types of hummingbirds in the yard. A male Anna’s hummingbird laid claim to it and chased most intruders off. Now the only ones I see are rufous hummingbirds. They’re even more territorial than the others. I think they may have a nest in the macadamia nut tree. I’ve been trying to get a picture, but haven’t been successful at all. I can barely get the camera up before they buzz away. I’ll keep trying.

Continued Changes

I’m continuing to move pots into the planters. I have to admit, having a bit more room is nice. Although it’s kind of getting taken up by chicken paraphernalia. The Wonderful Spouse and I have pretty much come to the conclusion that we’re crazy for keeping chickens. They do require quite a bit of maintenance and just getting them set up so that things run as smoothly as possible is a challenge.

We’ve got the cleaning bit set up pretty well. It only takes a couple of minutes to pull the paper through and sweep up. I figure the key to keeping chickens in a suburban landscape is making sure that they hear them as little as possible and smell them not at all. That makes life more pleasant for us as well.

I do enjoy watching them though. Evenings on our patio are quite lively between the cats, the chickens and the tortoise. Not to mention wild visitors.

I pulled a big geranium out of the front yard. Not that I expect that to be the end of the story. I pulled it out once before. It grew back and then some. I just have to be diligent about pulling up sprouts. Gardening. It’s never done.

Moving things around

Been moving the pots in the yard around. I’ve wanted to have more pots planters. It’s hard for plants to thrive in our planters. They’re less than two feet wide and the soil in our area is clay. Pots let me have better soil, more controlled watering and the ability to keep the plants out of the mouths of tortoises and chickens. It does cause other problems. The planters are in the shade for most of the year, so it makes growing more vegetables difficult. And that is really what I’d like to do. I want it all! Vegetables and flowers. Food for us and food for wildlife.

The chickens had a field day when I moved the pots. There were all kinds of crickets under them and they scattered, with the chickens giving chase, every time I moved a pot. It’s worth moving the pot just to watch them hunt. While I doubt we will never have none, I can tell that the cricket population levels are going to take a nose dive. I’m going to start moving the pots just to watch the fun.

We tried painting the foot of the chicks with latex paint so that we could tell them apart better. Most of them had the paint off by the first day. There is some difference of color between them, but most of the time they’re moving so fast I just can’t tell them apart.

I finished my first two cloisonne pieces and am pretty happy with them. I can see doing a lot more of theis in the future, but don’t have that many ideas lined up yet. Got to have input to have outgo, and things have mostly been outgo lately. Days seem to spin by faster and faster between work, my jewelry, pets, eating, sleeping, gardening, etc. There’s barely enough time in the day. I don’t know how people with children manage.

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