Saturday, July 29, 2006

Everything is Coming Up Chickens

For almost two weeks our now five week old chickens have enjoyed the good life in their new chicken coop.

Kurt really did a good job. I added a couple details however, like this rustic chicken playground.

Okay, it is only a couple of fallen branches, but it gives the chickens a place to climb and roost. I also made a PVC roost for inside.

This is only temporary until someone can construct one from wood. I hope that someone will be Kurt, but he has such a full plate all the time. If only he would let me near his power tools.

Gabrielle loves to hang out in the chicken coop with the chickens.

She will pick grass and grass seed heads for the delighted chickens. They will then delight her by climbing all over her.

Lately though, their pecking has become a bit too enthusiastic for Gabrielle.

It makes her a little more nervous around the chickens.

She still loves to hold them and pet them. I try to explain chickens are food, not friends, but she doesn't believe me. The ones with the fewest feathers seem to be the friendliest.

It probably didn't help that I stirred up a feeding frenzy by throwing a couple of tomatoes on the ground.

The chickens remind me somewhat of cockroaches the way they will swarm a tomato or other treat.

Our Polish crested chicken seems to be a bit of a ditz. (Insert blond joke of your choice here.)

He is often in a world of his own.

His top hat is feathering out quite well causing him to look downright silly at times.

We have quite a variety of chickens between the various Americaunas, the Polish and our Barred Rocks.

Most of our Americaunas are red heads.

We do have a couple of blonds though.

And a couple of brunettes.

We are able to tell the boys from the girls better now.

Some of the roosters have very red combs and wattles. Someone is trying to crow too. I just can't seem to spot him while he is trying.

We are starting to harvest our garden.

We had some of Gregory's corn on the cob for dinner one night. We've had lots of dishes using the banana peppers.

Today I picked a bunch of banana peppers. Using a recipe for jalepeno pepper jelly, we intend to try banana pepper jelly.

Michael is now ten months old. We are introducing him to grown-up food.

A few days ago I let him have rice flour waffles with the family. We use real maple syrup so they aren't too unhealthy. It is probably a good thing most of his waffles ended up on the floor and in the high chair because I suspect Michael experienced his first sugar high.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Of Chickens and Gardens and Karate Testing

The chickens are three weeks old today.

Unfortunately, they are still living in the dining room. However, the chicken coop is really starting to look like one.

Kurt, Gregory and I painted it Victory Red today. I love the name of that color. The name is one of the reasons Gregory and I picked it. It reminds me of the victory we are praying for Dale. Whenever I see the coop, I shall remember to pray for her now. I told Dale when she was better, we would have this place "countrified" and she could visit. She likes the idea of living out in the country.

I can finally see us finishing this coop. I'm hoping by tomorrow enough will be done that we can transfer the chickens to their new home. Of course, I know how Kurt is. Once we transfer the chickens, I will be hard pressed to get him to finish the coop.

I think Kurt is turning into a redneck. I'm sure his neck is sunburned and what is up with using his pick-up truck for a saw horse?

This morning I noticed some of the chickens' combs had taken on a rosy hue.

I'm guessing these are our roosters. They are getting big fast. Some of them are even starting to roost.

Roosts are rare in the swimming pool, but the top of the slide provides roosting room for up to two chickens.

Often the chickens will pounce on each other to steal the roosting space. They have also become quite good at using the slide. Whereas at first, chickens who slipped down the slide would flap wildly, they have now started to pull in their wings and legs in order to gracefully slide down the slide. I suspect some of them of doing it on purpose. A quick slide puts a chicken at the top of the slide napping heap.

They are still napping a great deal. Of course, unless it is time to eat.

The chickens are learning I am the bearer of food and treats and at least some of them have started to come over to see me when I approach the brooder.

This is my chicken buddy. She (?) will come right up to see me and has even climbed up on my hand.

Other brave chickens will simply come over and greet me looking for food. Or peck me in some cases.

I never imagined chickens would have such diverse personalities.

The waterers are another favorite roosting spot.

Naturally this means battles are fought throughout the day for this valuable space.

Of course the rewards of victory are sweet. There are not many places for a chicken to get some privacy in the brooder.

I've been surprised at the different rates at which the chickens grow and get feathers. They are all the same age.

Some have barely any feathers at all, while others are covered with feathers.

We've all been working hard for these chickens.

Gregory spent a couple of days attaching chicken wire to the coop. I too, put in some chicken wire time this week. I'm also cleaning the brooder daily so we won't have any smell and so the chickens will stay healthy.

Gabrielle has helped me feed Michael a couple of times so I could clean the brooder. She loves the chickens.

Gabrielle picks grass seed heads for the chickens almost every day. She loves to feed them by hand.

We started a new project this week. I am going to put a better fence around the garden. Of course the chicken coop project has prevented me from doing very much with the fence so far. But I am sure tired of feeding the rabbits.

Fortunately, rabbits don't seem to care much for hot peppers. We've got lots of those growing.

We have a couple of plants with a different variety of peppers too. I sure wish the other plants were producing as well.

I had great hopes for the cantaloupes because they produce so many flowers. If you look closely, you will see the beginning of a cantaloupe. Unfortunately, this is as good as it gets. Either rabbits or bugs get the melons at this point and we never see them again.

Gregory's corn looks good despite the weeds.

We even have some ears of corn ripening.

The cucumbers, carrots, watermelon and weeds are growing quickly. I also have some artichoke plants that are growing very slowly. They tend to get squished by the rabbits.

I spotted the strangest bug in the garden today.

It looks like something you'd expect to see in the sea. It kind of looks like a dandelion seed, but the white tentacle things move independently. I have no idea what it could be.

I wonder if it eats baby cantaloupe.

Gregory and Gabrielle tested for their white - yellow belt in karate on Thursday.

They will find out the results on Tuesday.

This first test is a "gimme" according to the teacher.

However, Gregory did a really good job. Gabrielle is having fun and isn't quite as focused.

The kids are really enjoying their karate class. Apparently their teacher is one of the best in the country from what I hear.

Gabrielle looks so cute.

Gregory looks pretty tough.

He wants to get a black belt.

I believe he is serious enough to stick with it and do it.

I'm so proud of the way he practices at home.

He already knows more than some of the other kids testing for higher belts. When sparring, he is often matched with kids at a much higher level.

If they pass on Tuesday, it will be a couple of weeks before they get their new belts.

They are really looking forward to getting their white-yellow belts and don't know how they can possibly wait that long.