Category Archives: Chickens

Flowers, Pollinators, Fungus and Breakfast With the Chickens

Flowers and Pollinators

The hibiscus bushes are blossoming.

There are three bushes in a row. The two on the ends have the deep red blossoms. The one is the middle has light pink/white blossoms.

This year we have an interesting phenomenon. One of the end bushes has both the red blossoms and the pink blossoms. This has never happened before.

The only explanation I can come up with is that these bushes drop seeds every year and small plants sprout each summer. I end up pulling them so I don’t know how long it would take for one to mature. Perhaps a seed from the pink bush grew up amongst the red bush and has become mature enough to produce flowers. So this is actually two bushes that have commingled.

Many of the plants are suffering from too much rain. The oregano leaves are turning yellow and orange. I have been tempted to cut them way down.

But the bees are enjoying the flowers

as are the butterflies, so I will leave them until they are done blossoming.

Dragonflies are not really pollinators but I do love having them around, especially since they eat things like gnats and MOSQUITOS. (Bring on the dragonflies!!!) This one was resting on an Agastache Kudos Mandarin plant, AKA Hummingbird Mint, that we planted this year.

The honey bees were foraging in the anise hyssop.

This patch of wild flowers attracts a lot of pollinators.

Look closely – how many bees do you see on the Mountain Mint in this photo? I see at least 3.

How about this one? (two?)

Honey bees aren’t the only pollinators enjoying these plants. The blue mud dauber wasps like them as well. This is the first year I have seen this type of wasp.

Honey bees like the cone flowers,

and I even spotted some foraging the purple loosestrife. That is something that we haven’t seen in the past.

It took a while but this beauty finally posed for a picture on a marshmallow plant.

Telling it to “hold still” did absolutely no good so I just had to be patient. I think this butterfly is called a Red Spotted Purple.

Fungus

When I did my mushroom post I had forgot about these puff ball mushrooms that grow every year on the hill where we someday hope to build a root cellar. They are well hidden beneath other weeds that grow up around them so we usually don’t even know they are there until late fall or winter when all the foliage dies. By that time they are just large dust balls.

When I first noticed these, a week or so ago, they were bright white. I didn’t have my camera with me at that time and as you can see they have since turned various shades of brown.

Each of these fungi is between 12 and 20 inches across.

Breakfast With the Chickens

Sunday morning I went to open up the chicken coop. When I do this my routine is to first fill their water dish. I then spread some chicken scratch on the ground in piles around the chicken yard, then I fill their feed dish before I open the coop to let them out. I do this because I know that the first thing they want to do when they come out is eat (except the rooster but we won’t talk about what he wants). If I were to let them out first I would likely have the whole flock following me to the feed can, then I would be tripping over them as I tried to the scatter scratch.

As I was filling their feed dish I noticed a deer approaching the chicken yard. She noticed me as well and we stopped for a minute and stared at each other. I then finished what I was doing while she moseyed over to the pile of chicken scratch that was about twenty feet from the coop and began eating. I opened up the coop and the chickens scattered around the area some of them joining her.

I decided to get my camera to see if I could get a picture of this breakfast club. It was still pretty dark in the chicken yard as it is in a grove of large hickory trees so i wasn’t sure how the picture would turn out.

It wasn’t until I got home and viewed the photo on my computer that I realized

that I had experienced an alien encounter. (Where’s Will Smith when you need him???)

Even when she got out in the light her eyes glowed.

Meanwhile the chickens went on their way,

cluelessly searching for worms or grasshoppers and enjoying their worry-free life.

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you have a great week!

It’s Still Winter but…

We have had very spring-like weather this week – so much so that I did some work in the garden. As far a I can remember this is the earliest in the year that I have worked in the garden.

Thyme

After pruning last year’s dead foliage off some of the plants and raking dead leaves from their winter resting place I discover that the thyme is growing green leaves

Oregano

as is the oregano

Sage

and the sage.

It’s not only the herbs that are coming back to life. I also spotted dandelions, winter cress and some other UIP’s (unidentified invasive plants) which means that before long the weeding will commence.

In addition to my work in the prayer garden my husband fluffed up the straw mulch in the garlic bed in order to assist the shoots that are beginning to emerge from the ground. We also raked out the straw that was blanketing the strawberry bed and discovered bright green leaves forming on the strawberry plants.

The chickens have been loving this weather. They spend most of their days out scratching and pecking finding bugs and grubs and bits of green vegetation. They did however think that seeing me or walking towards their coop was their cue to fall in line.

Others came running to greet me.

I didn’t have any treats or table scraps for them but they were satisfied when I scattered some scratch on the ground for them.

I then went on to gather eggs – a full dozen that day. πŸ™‚

We have come a long way since December when we were getting one egg every three or four days. In November our flock went through a late season molt. I didn’t take any pictures of the molting hens because they looked so pitiful with their half naked bodies and new feathers poking though their skin that I felt sorry for them. Molting takes so much energy from the hens that they stop laying during that time. It was some time in early January when egg production gradually began to pick up again.

In December, for first time in 5 or 6 years, I ran out of eggs. Thankfully in the spring of 2020 my sister and her husband started their own flock and by fall their hens were laying well. Chickens don’t molt their first year so they did not experience the egg drought like we did.

It was strange a strange feeling, and we had a good laugh, the day I called my sister and asked “do you have eggs?” The tables had turned. For many years she had been calling me every couple weeks and asking “do you have eggs?” I couldn’t have been happier when she replied “how many do you want.” πŸ™‚

It is time to consider adding to our flock so that our egg supply will continue through this upcoming winter. Perhaps rather than buy chicks we will allow a hen or two to brood some chicks. I’ll let you know what we decide.

Have you been experiencing spring weather?

A Winter Walk At The Farm

Sunday, February 14th, was the perfect winter day for getting out for a walk. The sun was shining, the wind was light, and the temperature was around 30 F (-1 c). It was also before Old Man Winter dumped 13 inches (with drifts as high as 5 feet) of winter wonderland on us. It’s funny how a snowfall that can be welcomed and appreciated for it’s beauty in December loses it’s appeal by February. This particular “winter wonderland” that came on Monday and Tuesday only has us wondering how soon spring will get here.

As we all wait for spring to arrive I invite you to join me for a walk at the farm.

There were a only few inches of snow on the ground when my husband, who was preparing for the big storm that was in the forecast, put the back blade on the tractor then decided to test it out by making a path around the back field. (The snow that came with the storm was not so easily moved.)

Can you spot Trooper in the above photo (that’s him about dead center)? Ranger is out there too but we can’t see him in the photo.

We discovered several area’s when the deer had been digging to find food (grass) under the snow.

There were more of these areas behind the barn. (I wonder how the deer are faring post snow storm.)

The windmill was mostly still that day.

All of the plant life is dormant this time of year,

but I find the buds on the maple tree encouraging, even if they are long way from opening.

We have two squirrel nests on the farm but I didn’t see any signs that the squirrels had been out lately. No squirrels, no tracks, and Ranger did not pick up their scent.

The chickens were out enjoying the sunshine while trying to keep their feet out of the snow.

My husband had given them some hay to scratch and peck through.

Although the temperature was still below freezing, snow was melting on the top of the barn and flowing from the down spout. Sunshine on black shingles will do that.

My husband took some time to hang out with the boys (dogs) in the van, but when Ranger spotted me he made a quick exit.

He greeted me as I walked up the driveway.

In recent days my husband had repaired the lawnmower that he got from his dad. He couldn’t wait to show me how well it was working. You may remember this post from last year where we determined that my husband might be a little crazy. Yep, he is still at it. LOL!

So I thought we could have a little fun with this photo by offering you a chance to caption it. Please leave your caption in the comments section below.

P.S. We are not easily offended so go ahead and have some fun with it.

Thanks for visiting.

Wordless – Even Though It’s Not Wednesday

Some of the bloggers I follow do Wordless Wednesday posts. They are short posts comprised of a picture or a series of pictures. “Let your pictures tell the story” is the tag line. This morning I realized I had the perfect series of pictures for a wordless post. I decided to post it today even though it is Saturday. Perhaps that’s because of my contrary nature. πŸ™‚

Thanks for visiting and have a great day!

Strawberry Season and Chicken Pics

It’s strawberry season in Michigan and we have picked our first five quarts of berries. πŸ™‚ This years berries are smaller than we have seen in past years, likely because of the dry spell we had as the berries were beginning to form, but despite the smaller size they have the sweet wonderful flavor that we have come to expect from our homegrown berries.

If you live in Michigan and want locally grown strawberries now is the time to look for them.

These are the new kids on the block – the chicks we bought earlier this year. When we bought them from the farm store we thought we bought black Australorp chicks. Instead we got a mixed bag. While the small one in the back looks like a black Australorp, two look like barred rocks and while the one in the middle is a beautiful bird, we have no idea what breed he might be.

You might remember that we started out with six chicks. sadly two of them fell prey to a racoon.

We had hoped to get at least one rooster out of the six and at this point we have identified two which we are certain are roosters and a third which we suspect might be a rooster but are more hopeful of it being a hen.

Recently our evening have been spent around the chicken yard, watching chicken TV, and being on the lookout for racoons. The chickens enjoy the evening visits especially this particular evening when my husband was passing out treats. πŸ™‚

Will you be shopping for locally grown produce this year?