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.

Soup

My sister posted a picture of some albondigas soup that she had at a restaurant recently and it inspired me to make some of my own. I looked at a couple of recipes on line and made a batch of my own using ground turkey instead of ground beef. It really turned out well. I can add that to the ‘what’s for dinner’ rotation. Didn’t use a recipe, so I may never be able to make it the same way again, but I can always try.

The chicken experiment continues apace. I swear they’re bigger every day. We’re talking about adding on a screened in bottom level on casters, to give them more room and make it easier to clean. We set up a roll of paper and just pull out what’s underneath every day when we let them out to run around. The cats are finally starting to get used to them. Ash just can’t help herself sometimes when they dart around, but mostly she just sits and watches. They’re getting to be a size where they’d be a little much for her anyway.

Poor Ash has another bladder infection. I’m taking her to the vet this afternoon. Both of us hate that. I just have to keep a supply of the cranberry extract treats on hand. Guess I should put them on an Amazon subscription so I always have some. I’m hoping that the vet will have some suggestions.

Been working on some new pieces using silver clay photopolymer molds and making cloisone with resin. I’ve got one piece almost finished and I’m pretty happy with it. I’m working with a new kind of resin and I’m pretty happy with that, too. I’d been buying two part resin from Rio, but had problems with it not curing. I only have that problem with this stuff if my attention wanders when I’m weighing. The new stuff cures more quickly, too, which is a definite plus. I have to let each color cure before i can lay in the the next one. It’s a tedious process, but it looks pretty cool when it’s done.

Rain in July!

Not much, just a sprinkling last night. But enough to get the ground wet. And there were lightning strikes at the beach yesterday. Several people struck and one actually died. That very seldom happens in Southern California. No way you can tell me that our climate isn’t changing. I’ve lived here long enough to know that it is.

Been putting the chicks in the atrium most days. They love it. But they are making a mess of it. They scratch everything up and chicken poop is fast becoming an issue. I think today I’ll let them out on the patio for a bit today. Let them make a mess there for a while. Give the atrium a chance to recover a little bit. I really don’t want to let them out unsupervised. We do have raptors in the area and there are a couple of outdoor cats in the neighborhood.

Worked on some new silver pieces this weekend. Finally figured out what my problem was. Old silver clay. I’m guessing that the binder in some of the older bits has disintegrated. Pieces made out of it have a rougher texture and don’t hold the detail I need for my molded pieces. It’s still usable for other things, but not those. So I opened some new packs of clay this weekend and most of my problems disappeared. I’ve been trying to do resin cloisonné, but the dyes dilute the resin too much and it runs. It’s also hard to control in quantities as small as I’m using. I’m looking into powdered resin dye and a two part resin instead of the uv cure. Going to take a while to get all the materials around. I hate having unfinished pieces laying around. I feel like the ideas are trapped in my head and unable to get out. I know what I’m trying to do, I just haven’t been able to get there yet. Oh well, I’m nothing if not persistent.

Strenuous Dreams or Do you wake up tired too?

We’ve been re-watching “The Walking Dead.” The makes would be proud to know that the shows are just as nightmare-inducing the second time around as they were the first time. I’ve had zombie dreams for the last three nights in a row. Does it ever happen to you that you’ve had a night full of dreams where you’re running and chasing and hiding and you wake up feeling like you’ve actually done all those things? That sure has been the case for me the last few nights.

On an entirely different subject, the chicks are fast becoming chickens. We moved them out to the coop last weekend, so they’re outside birds now. They have a tiny bit of chick fuzz on the back of their necks, but are otherwise pinfeathers and dinosaur feet. I’m hoping they don’t grow into their feet. They’re a little bit larger than a dove currently, but have feet the size of velociraptor.

The Wonderful Spouse’s hops are doing pretty well this year. We’re definityly going to have a lot more than we had last year. We might have had an ounce. I’m hoping for three or four ounces this year.

The adventure begins

So this happened this week:

BoxOfPeeps

That is a box of peeps. Peeping away as I drive them home from the post office.

OpenBoxOfPeeps

I now officially own chickens. I’ve been excited about it for a while, and I still am. What I wasn’t expecting was the associated level of anxiety. I’ve been worried about everything. Now I always worry about everything, so it’s really nothing new, but the quantity of things I was anxious about is just stupid. I had dreams about the quantity we got. In one it was eight, in another it was three. In one they were all dead.

The first night, when we set up the box and put the heating mat under it, set to the appropriate temperature, I kept having visions of cooked chicks. I wanted to get up and look, but didn’t want to wake my husband.

Now that we’ve had them for a few days most of the anxiety has dissipated. Looking forward to getting the coop assembled and them being big enough to go outside.

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