Sunday, April 10, 2016

Dogwood Winter

We had a frost warning last night, which meant I had to go down and cover our tomato and pepper plants to protect them from getting frostbit.

I knew that "Winter" wasn't over yet, even though we're past the Last Average Frost Date for our area (Atlanta) which was March 24th, but in previous years I always waited until all danger of freeze/frost was past to plant, and then my plants were still babies while my great-Uncle was giving away tomatoes.  And then by the time my plants started producing, the weather would turn off too hot and they would stop producing.  (I only learned last year that tomatoes stop producing when the weather gets too hot.)

I heard someone say, and I assumed the same, that this little cold spell and last night's frost was what they call "Blackberry Winter".

For reasons I can't exactly recall right now, or because I just like to know about things, I googled Blackberry Winter to see what I could find out about it.

Turns out, I don't think this is Blackberry after all, but Dogwood Winter.

The "Winters" of Spring apparently start with Redbud Winter, one I hadn't previously heard of.
I believe that was probably the chilly snap we experienced a few weeks ago when we went for our hike and picnic at John's Mountain.

Following Redbud Winter is Dogwood Winter, which is what I believe we are experiencing now.

Only one of my (two) Dogwood trees in my front yard bloomed this year. I'm not sure why, and can't recall if that has happened before. 

The blackberries haven't bloomed yet, so I'm reasonably sure we're not there yet, and will have another cold - but not as cold - spell in a couple more weeks.

After that is Lindsy-Woolsy Britches Winter, and Whippoorwill Winter, but I don't believe that we experience those this far South.  Now that I know about them, I'll try to remember to notice if we have more cold spells after Blackberry Winter.

So, as I mentioned earlier, we've already planted our tomatoes and peppers. By we, I mean J and R did it, because I came down with a bad sinus/respiratory cold Monday night and felt like death warmed over on Tuesday....and Wednesday, and Thursday...

But we had already purchased the plants and it would be another few days before J was off work again to plant them and we weren't sure how they would fair living in their little nursery containers, although they had been living in them fine at the nursery so far...

I think (I my fingers crossed) we'll be glad for planting the maters early...but not so sure about the peppers.

Peppers, I believe, prefer hotter, drier weather. 
In my experience (which, admittedly, isn't that great) is that peppers take longer to grow than tomatoes. Most of the peppers that we've managed to grow, that I recall, were nearer to the end of the growing season than that start.

I guess I'm just not comprehending how to grow tomatoes and peppers together, at the same time, so I can make the jars and jars of homemade Salsa I've been attempting to make many years now?
But I know other people have done it, so I need to figure out what I'm not doing right.

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Farm Art

So, do you ever decide to make an art project, then after getting started, remember that you're not an artist?

Yeah, that happens to me all the time.

What happened was,  I saw this picture of an artsy decorated chicken coop wall on Pint.

I said, that's totally cool, and I have a big blank wooden wall just like that in my chicken coop. It needs art!

But I'm not too good with randomness. Hanging just whatever I can find to hang in there, with no particular association.
(Maybe the art in the coop in the picture has an association to chicken and I'm just not imaginative enough to discern it?)

Anyway, I wanted chicken art for my coop.

I had obtained this large, wooden artsy piece in my freebie-collecting, but it wasn't really my style.

It had this square, wooden, shadow-box-like frame around the back side. I just popped the picture part out, and saved this for another project (I'll probably never get around to) later.

I spray-painted the picture part black.  (Those wrinkles were in it, not my sad painting skills).

All I really knew was that I wanted a chicken on it. So I printed out a chicken, and made a stencil.

And spray-painted a chicken on it.

And....that's it. 

After it was done, I thought I should have moved the chicken over, or turned it around, then I could have put some little chicks behind it.
Maybe I could put some chicks in front of her, although I think that would be backwards.

I did have one (finally!) project that worked out.

I have a box of rusted old metal pieces and parts and doo-dads and such, and there was this old, rusted aluminum(?) frying pan.  (Frying pan = chicken, get it?)

I have no idea where I was going with it when I spray painted the inside of it white.

But after some meditating on it, I finally had an idea.

I cut a "splat" shape from paper and taped it down, and spray painted the pan black.

When I pulled the paper off and painted a "yolk" in the middle, voila', fried egg.

I left the back side old and rusted, in case I want a different look sometime.

Hung up in the chicken coop.

My kid said it was cruel, but chickens don't know what a fried egg is, geez.
He asked was I going to put a picture of Colonel Sanders in there, too. I said, I will if I find one.

Monday, April 04, 2016

Around the Farmlet

It's that time of year again....
"Your mower broke?"
"Yard's lookin' a little rough there, sister."

Nope, look closer.

There's beautiful yellow butter cups,

Blankets of white and purple violets,

Beautiful purple violets,

Lots of lovely and interesting Grape Hyacinth,

And bouquets and bouquets of beautiful Star of Bethlehem,

Don't tell the others, but these are my favorites, Shhhh....

The bees like them, too.

I really wish I could take better pictures. My pictures don't capture the real beauty I see with my eyes.
Then again, maybe it's not the pictures, but my vision.
I see beauty, others see an over-grown, scraggedly yard.

Oh well. Whatever. It's my yard, I'll do what I want to.
Anyway, the bees love it, so, pfffft on everyone else.

J has got the garden spot tilled up.
We decided to go back down in the back yard to the old garden area that's mostly been laying fallow for a few years.
I'm not exactly sure why.
I'm pretty sure the reason the tomatoes and peppers didn't do too good in the upper yard was a combination of my mistakes, and the deer visitors last year.

I bought tomatoes and peppers from a local nursery this year, instead of trying to raise my own from seed (mostly because I didn't start them early enough when I wanted to), so maybe they'll do better.
If I can keep the deer out of it.

Otherwise, we've gotten a few home improvement projects done (or, rather, worked at, because we rarely seem to finish anything).

Finished wiring up more lights in the carport, got the plywood taken down from carport ceiling put back up. Finished screwing up one piece that had never gotten finished getting screwed up after getting more screws, and got the vinyl siding trim put back up, so that's finally done.
Repaired a crack in the cement/concrete front porch with cement filler. Cased in the front porch column we replaced (last year).

I have been working on cleaning off the carport and back porch. Getting rid of a lot of stuff, or putting stuff back where it goes, because someone (not me, this time) is bad about not putting stuff back where they got it.

One of the things on the back porch was an old screen door I've had for years. It had been on one of my great-Aunt's 1950's houses (she had two, next door to each other). She gave it to my Mom when she updated. Mom just had it in their construction storage area, where they keep building materials for in case they might need/want it in a later project (that's where I get that from).
I had mentioned about wanting to put a screen door between my mudroom and laundry room, I was just going to go buy a cheap wooden one from HD, but Mom said I could have that one.

Some of the slats were loose, and eventually fell out...somehow. Not sure how they came out, because we couldn't put them back in without taking the door partially apart.

Anyhoo, I had asked J to fix the door for years and years, but he never got around to it, so I said, forget it, I don't need the slats in it anyway. I'll call it "character".
So I took the door out and set it up on saw horses and painted it.

When J saw me out there painting it, here he came with his hammer and the missing slats, and fixed the door.

Then we learned how to use Double-action-spring-hinges. Lawd how mercy, chile. I thought one of us was going to have to go to college and get a degree in engineering before we ever figured the things out.

Anyway, here it is from the mudroom view (don't look at all the stuff, it piles up and I have to clean it out, but haven't gotten around to it yet). 
(Is it just me, or does the door look backwards?)

I need to get a handle, and figure something out to...I don't know, jazz it up or something? Curtain? Something? Idk, I'm not too good at these things.

From the laundryroom side.

Tuesday we plan to plant the tomatoes, peppers, etc., and maybe get some work done on the chicken house (the exterior still needs work, and some shelving inside), maybe some yard work.
I keep wanting to burn the brush piles, but it's been pretty windy for a long while....or at least it has been on the days I want to burn, which is, a day J is home, because, TBH, I'm afraid of fire.

Well, not fire per se, but what it can do if it gets out of control and burns down the whole neighborhood.
Hey, don't laugh. Not long ago a man burning in a barrel, the fire got away and burnt a few houses and got into an auto junkyard. Can you imagine? Ugggh!

Sunday, April 03, 2016

Happy Spring, Peeps!

I hope everyone had a nice Easter.
Ours was nice enough. We went to my parent's place in Florida.
It was just us. And it pretty much rained most of the time.
Oh well. It was nice to get away for a few days, and just rest, no worries, and Mom feeds us well.

So, speaking of Peeps....we got babies!

Back at the end of February, I had bought 24 fertile eggs for Cousin Joe to hatch in his incubator.
Not sure exactly what happened, if it was the eggs, or the incubator, or what, but only 4 of the eggs ended up hatching a chick.

The same day I had went and bought the fertile eggs and put them in the incubator, one of my hens went broody.  Rather than break her from it (because the eggs my hens lay aren't fertile and won't make babies) I bought a dozen of fertile eggs from a neighboring farmlet to let her set on.

I didn't think ahead before putting the eggs under her, and it turned out that the chicks were due to hatch over Easter weekend, while we were going to be out of town. 
I had put them in on a Sunday, so Monday would be Day 1, so I was hoping they'd wait until Monday after Easter, but figured I'd better prepare for it to happen earlier.
Good thing I did, too.
Daniel (my oldest son who was here house/pet sitting) said they started hatching Saturday, the day after we left.

I moved the eggs and hen into a large cage inside the coop before we left.
This keeps the chickens together so the others don't forget Buff, and they're able to get used to the chicks, but not able to get at them to peck them or piss Buff off.

When we got back, there were 8 babies and 3 eggs left in the nest.

One of the remaining eggs had a crack and a small hole, but I thought the chick hadn't been able to make it out and had probably died.
The next day I went to check on them and there was this tiny, new born yellow chick wobbling around like a drunkard.

She (I think it's a she) is obviously the baby of the family. 
Buff says "Bawk!" and the 8 chicks go running with her following, then along comes baby behind, calling, "Peep, peep, peep!" (Wait for me, Ma!)

In the picture above, the 8 chicks are hiding under Buff, and baby is standing there "peeping" at the wall at the back of the cage.
Buff probably wanted her to learn on her own, but I felt sorry for the little thing and put her in front of Buff so she could go under her.

I mean, I would have felt sorry, if I had feelings. I really just didn't want her to get cold and die.

The chicks are about a week old now.
I've been reading, trying to figure out when it will be a good time to let the chicks out amongst the general population.

Some chicken-farmers say they let the chicks be hatched and raised in the coop with all the other chickens from the start, and let the Mother fend for them.

Others say they separate them for awhile.
Awhile seems to be anywhere from a week, to several weeks, to months.

I locked the other hens outside and let Buff and the chicks out to run around the coop for awhile, but I'm still trying to decide how best to see if they all can get along okay.
I don't particularly want to get in the middle of a six big hens, one pissed off Mama Hen, and nine running-faster-than-you-think-they-could baby chicks fiasco.