Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Did Someone Say, "Chicken Fingers"?

Tonight we went to check on the chickies in their new 'luxe digs. (They were moved to the outdoor coop over the weekend.) I talk to them as I approach to let them know it's me and not a predator. I petted them some, much to their dismay. "Just hand the food over!", they said non-verbally. Not one to be a pushover I continued to pet them. One of the three white chicks decided s/he would show me: s/he bit me! The surprise hurt more than the chick's grip but, as I reassured my husband that it didn't hurt, the little bugger kept on biting me and grabbed on really hard to pinch my finger. Okay, now that hurt!

Quickly I grabbed some crumbles in my other hand and the other chicks gathered around. The Biter realized s/he was missing out and ran to join the feasters. My standard routine is to feed them with one hand while petting them with the other in order to get them more used to human contact. Apparently the Biter was still riled up because s/he resumed nipping me! When I held my arm up so it couldn't reach it, it started going for my leg. Okay, now that does it!

I searched my mind for the appropriate response to a misbehaving chick and came up with a big goose (pardon the pun) egg. Nada. Grasping for the worst chick punishment I could think of, I told my husband, "Its name is Dinner!"

So, pretty white chickie, they name is Dinner, and you had best be hoping that we don't run out of chicken fingers any time soon.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Deluxe Accomodations

With spring we have been so busy that I haven't been able to keep up with posting about the chicks' growth. This is a post I've been working on and have downloaded the accompanying pictures.

April 7th:
We expanded the cardboard box accommodations to a second cardboard box by cutting a doorway connecting the two. In this picture hubby is trying to coax the chicks out of the corner with some food.

Finally the chicks begin to wander over toward the open doorway. This one looks in but doesn't want to be the first to walk in.

One of the three suspected leghorns is the first to go into the new room. (Excuse the shredded paper in the water tray. We had dumped shredded paper into the box in an effort to quickly fill it before the chicks went in the open doorway. Little did we know they would have to be coaxed! )

The picture below was taken April 10th. The chicks mostly run back into the original box when we come to see them. This one does not. Look at those long feathers at its tail. Is it going to be a rooster?

For size reference, that is a quart jar being used in the waterer. They are growing so quickly. We still have no idea how many of the 9 chicks are hens and how many are cockerels. Anticipation is mounting as we care for them without knowing how many will become our egg layers.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Flush

I'll bet you're wondering what this post could be about with a title like that. Actually I was wondering too, since I had saved the title and subject on Sunday as a reminder to myself of what I wanted to write.

One of our dogs is a beautiful runner. To watch her run is to see poetry in motion, and the absolute joy on her face when she runs is beautiful to behold. I think I enjoy watching her run as much as she enjoys the activity of running. When she is finished she comes back to me and is so happy, both for the run and for the praise she knows she is going to get for returning to me.

So where does the flush come in? This weekend I took her out for a run (remember, she does the running, I merely watch) and she took off. She disappeared into a grove of trees and I admired the beauty of nature while waiting. Suddenly something moved out of the trees and I was stunned. It was a very large white-tailed deer! Molly had flushed out a deer! It happened so quickly I couldn't even get the camera out of my pocket. Molly's white head popped up over the (rather high) grass and she looked at me as if to say, "Do you see that?? What in the heck is that??!! Can you believe that??!"

No, I couldn't believe it. I don't know how many hours my husband spent out there "hunting", aka waiting for a deer to cross his path. All he needed the whole time was to take Miss Molly with him and let her run. She'd flush out any deer, lol.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Organ Pipe Mud Dauber

I've been cleaning out a shed and have taken down a number of old mud dauber nests. They don't cause any harm so normally I'd leave the nests alone but I'm trying to clean out the shed to turn it into a chicken coop. The nests have always been interesting to me because of their shape, and they are even more so now that I have seen what they look like from the back.

From the front:

These are called pipe organ mud daubers because of the shape of their nests. There are other types of mud daubers, I have learned, and their nests do not look like this. (This picture is actually not from the shed because I'd already knocked them down. We have the nests all over the place so I was able to find another one to photograph for this post.)

From the back:

The individual cases look like black capsules.

Below is what the capsules look like after they have been released from the nest. Okay, they looked like black capsules once I got over the initial, "Where did the scat come from? It wasn't here a minute ago" reaction, lol. I'm breaking it down and changing the order of the pics for this post. One minute the nests were on the wall, the next they were on the ground and I saw what looked like scat. How had I not noticed that in the shed before now? Then I looked for the source of the scat/capsules and slowly broke open another nest. Understanding dawned.

The unbroken one must not have hatched. Pretty neat, huh?

It's fun not having to go to a museum to learn this kind of information. Science 101 in my backyard!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Learning the Hard Way

This is our first spring in the country so we are learning a lot. Sometimes we are learning the hard way. The recent freeze after planting some of the garden is one example.

We knew the freeze was coming so I hit the thrift stores and bought sheets in preparation. We covered the plants and anchored the sheets with bricks. We were good to go, right?

Not quite.

The weight of the sheets appears to have been too much for the young plants. Apparently we needed to put something out to keep the weight of the sheets off the plants. Oops. Next time we will put something out to support the plants. Lesson learned.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Found Another Praying Mantis Egg Case

Whenever I'm walking around now I am usually scanning for more praying mantis egg cases. It is becoming more difficult to find them because the trees have leafed out but I found this one last weekend. In reading about praying mantis on the internet, I have learned some interesting facts. A single egg case can hold anywhere from 50 to 200 nymphs(young). They cannot distinguish between beneficial and harmful insects; they see all of them as prey. They also will eat other praying mantis. They have two compound eyes, and then three smaller single eyes between their antenna. They are certainly interesting creatures.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

"Monk" Much?

Tonight my husband asked me in a serious tone: "I wonder if the cat has OCD. She licks herself three times every time."

My serious reply, "But if she doesn't know how to count, how does she know it's three times?"

His next question was, "Is that a requirement?" and then we burst out laughing.

Clearly we have watched "Monk" a few too many times.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

The Feline Face of Pleading

"Please, please, please let me investigate those peeping, cheeping creatures. I won't eat them all, not in one sitting. I promise!"

Yeah, that's what we thought too. :)

P.S.--She has crystal blue eyes but they always show up with red eye. One of these days I'll have to learn to photoshop them out or something.