Thursday, April 22, 2010

Craft time!

At Sugar Hill, and yes, that's still the name since no one has come with anything we like better, we have a little orchard started. There are 19 trees so far. Five were already there. I'm *pretty sure* three are apples and one is a plum. The other is a mystery tree and probably isn't a fruit tree at all. We have added a fig, several apples, plum, peaches and pears. I want to add pecan & cherry too. The nursery tags naming the type of tree flap in the wind, looking ugly and generic. Surely there's something we can do that will label each tree and look cute in the process. Onto craft time!

After racking my brain for a few days in search of a creative, fun and inexpensive project, I came up with the idea of painting little terra cotta pots and hanging them upside down at each tree. Easy and fun! But how to hang them? I wandered around Lowe's with Annaliese for way longer than she wanted, looking for something strong enough to hold the pot and flexible enough to bend into a hook. Finally found the metal stakes that hold yard signs. They were cheap (.99 cents!) and flexible... but would they be strong enough? At less than a dollar, I figured it was worth a try.

Today was our craft day! I spray painted each pot, set out paints and brushes, and wrote the name of each tree on a pot. Then it was time to use our imagination! My first pot turned out pretty well, especially considering I'm not an artist!

Well... it's cuter in real life. You can't see my two apple trees or the flowers on the back! The kids were very serious about their little creations.

In the end, the metal stakes were almost strong enough to hold the pots. They went through some serious manipulation with the pliers, but ended up with the result I wanted. Until I find something stronger, they will do! A little sealer, a little prayer.... and they're up!

They look so cute swaying in the wind! We all signed our little pots, put the date, and they will remain a reminder of a lovely spring day, sitting in the sun, spending time with each other, and marking the beginning of our little orchard. Special, personalized, and less than $2 each. Not a bad day.

Our Buzzards

We have three French Copper Marans and five Ameraucanas. Even when they were little babies, they didn't like me. When I tried to feed them, they would run to the corner of their brooder and stick their heads through the wire trying to escape. My husband started calling them the "Buzzard Birds". Unfortunately the name has stuck and they are still known as the Buzzard Birds on the farm. Slowly....slowly... they seem to be getting used to me a little. And they get prettier by the day! Soon the hens will start laying eggs. Big eggs! My Maran hen will be lay dark chocolate brown eggs and the Ameraucana hens will lay blue/green eggs.

The Ameraucanas have muffs that look just like Lambchop sideburns to me. They all look like Ben Franklin. We have three Blue Ameraucanas and two Black.

We have three Marans, two Black and one Blue. One of the blacks is a hen and she is clueless most of the time. I always find her wandering around lost from the rest of the flock. She has this startled look about her most of the time. But she's really pretty. Her feathers have a iridescent green sheen to them in the sunlight. The roosters are gorgeous! They are the only chickens I have with a big red comb and wattles.

The roosters have not started crowing yet. The hens have not started laying. So far all they do is eat and poop. But they're fun to watch!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The New Toffee... arriving soon!

Many thanks to Bobbi Porto at Indigo Egg. She provided us with our original Silkies. The children are still mourning Toffee, Frosty and the "black" ones. Bobbi is sending us two more Toffee's (same age and everything), a new Frosty and a new "black" one. The children are so excited! Hopefully they'll be here by the weekend. Replacing our lost Silkies wasn't cheap, but it's so worth it! Annaliese sat staring at the chickens today and said in a sad little voice, "I miss Toffee." Hopefully the two new Toffees will be enough. And I'm hoping it stops Annaliese from asking me when God will bring Toffee back to life. I'm running out of ways to tell her it ain't happening. Poor little girl! She loved that chicken.

A few new chicks... of course!

We went to Tractor Supply for some feed for the animals and I was immediately distracted by the bins of chicks. My husband started walking away as fast as he could, in the hopes that I would follow. Of course, I didn't. We left with 7 little chicks which I know are not the Araucanas the girl said they were. Those are rare birds and most likely would not be sitting in a bin at Tractor Supply. I believe they are Easter Eggers which is a mix of Araucanas and something else. Whatever they are, they're super cute and will lay colored eggs!

We took them to Lowe's on an quick field trip and then headed out to the farm. Annaliese is developing a real passion for chickens. She just loves them all! And they love her.

These little chicks are such a pretty color and they have beautiful markings. Some of them look just like little chipmunks. I can't wait to see how they turn out!

Now that's it warm, and we thankfully have a heat light in the coop, the decision was made to leave the chicks in a coop.  They have been living there happily for the past week.

Yesterday we took out the eight chicks we hatched over the last two weeks. Living on the farm in a big, cozy coop has to be more fun than living in a mail bin on the dining room table! Plus they have seven new friends! Everyone is getting along great. Eventually they will have to part since the Easter Eggers will be MUCH bigger than my little Cochins, but for now, they are having a big Chick Party in the coop.

They are all so cute! How can you not love chickens??

The chicken run is almost done! I'm so happy! Annaliese and I planted some roses and other flowers around it. When we finish it early next week, expect lots of pictures!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Here a chick... There a chick... Everywhere a chick, chick.

It's hatching time at our house! We had two little chicks born last week and 5 born in the last day. All are well, healthy, loud... and black.  Four more eggs are still in the incubator and if viable, should be hatching today or tonight. I'm not sure how we'll tell them apart but since my daughter wants to name them all Gumball, I guess it doesn't really matter.

All huddled together, sleepy and warm. I may need a bigger dining room table if this keeps up! The first two chicks are (hopefully) frizzled barred Cochins. Well, they're definitely barred Cochins. I'm hoping they are frizzled. We have two frizzled chicks on the farm right now, Butterscotch and Puff, and I'd love more. They are beyond adorable! The others come from parents that are Silkied Cochins. They have all the features of a Cochin but the breeder said they have feathers like a Silkie. I can't wait to see what they look like in a few days!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Is this us?

Our new issue of Hobby Farm magazine arrived yesterday in the mail. This magazine always has great articles and information for a new farmer like me, so I always look forward to it. On page 20 of the current issue is an question and answer column entitled "Accidental Adoption". This page caught my eye because it had the words "South Carolina" on the first line.

I read, "My husband and I just purchased our dream property in South Carolina." I thought, Wow! Just like us! Maybe I can find out who this is and email them. The next line said that the farm is 108 acres with three stocked ponds. Hmmm.... so is ours. Then it talks about how this couple ended up with 7 goats, 2 donkeys and a mule when they bought the property. Okay... now this is really getting strange. So did we! The next line clinched it for me, "I have a 5-yr old and a 9-yr old..." I quickly scanned the rest of the article and realized that I would not be emailing this couple who have just bought their dream farm in South Carolina because this couple is us! Sadly it took a whole paragraph before I even recognized myself but the fact that I was reading it in a magazine kind of threw me off.

I ran downstairs to show my husband while my son danced around screaming, "We're famous!" I wouldn't say we're famous but it was kind of cool! Thinking back, I remember posting something at when we first bought the farm and I was hoping to figure out what to do with these animals. I guess someone read it and decided to use it in the magazine. Fortunately, they included a great answer about what to do and thankfully, most I have already found out on my own or we have taken care of already. Must be on the right track!

Check out the new issue... page 20 in particular!

Tragedy on the Farm.

I know that losing animals is part of farm life. But I'd rather if it didn't happen to me.

We came home from the wedding to the death of nine of our sweet Silkies. Unfortunately they were killed by one of our dogs. This dog is currently on my Bad List (even though my husband keeps telling me that he only did was seemed natural... at this point, my dog can go live somewhere else.). It was a horrible, unfortunate accident and the fact that the nine who died included the four chicks that my children absolutely love just makes it worse. Many tears and attempts at cheering them up have taken place over the past few days, and everyone seems to be coming to terms with the loss.

I am currently on the hunt for "the exact same chicks". Apparently this is the only thing that will make my children happy. Luckily the breeder I purchased the originals from may have some very similar chicks that we can buy. Fingers crossed! In the meantime, the chicken run is under rapid completion so that our chicks can happily and safely enjoy the outside. Should be done tomorrow!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Life...busy, busy, busy

No posts = busy life. Between trying to build a chicken run, fix up the farm house, raise two kids and everything else that's been going on, we're having a blast but the days just fly by. We have two new chicks that recently hatched and are living on the dining room table. Nine more eggs in the incubator and I just said good night to them and found that one is starting to hatch. May have a new baby in the morning!

This past weekend was spent in beautiful Charleston, South Carolina, for my niece's wedding. My two babies were in their very first wedding and represented us well as Flowergirl and Ringbearer. The weather was gorgeous, sunny and just the right temperature. The bride was pretty cute too! Congratulations, Charlotte and Steve.

Here's a picture of us at the wedding. We clean up pretty well!

We hope to finish the chicken run tomorrow so the chicks can go out and play anytime they like. And I'd love to get my vegetable garden started. Fun Days!
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