Monday, September 7, 2009

A Day of Laboring

Well, on my Labor Day, I labored to finish my sign project. I cut some posts, painted them up, and then dug holes for them. When I had everything in place, I attached my carved and freshly painted sign.
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It turned out OK. I could have done things a bit better, but it was my first try doing something like this. Here it is:
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Note, I was digging with my hands a bit and I smudged everything up pretty good. There are dirty finger prints all over the sign and the top of the post.
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I think I found a nice spot for the sign. You pass it as you are coming up the driveway and there is some bramble or something behind it which produces some lovely burgundy berries. It will be a nice accent.

Labor Day!

OK, it's labor day and I have the day off. I took the pitties out for some play time, we all ate our breakfast, and then I went up to let the chickens out. I opened the door and out popped Brett, then Matilda and Beatrix, and Eunice. No Camilla. I popped my head in the door and saw this:
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For starters, I admit I am a terrible chicken dad. I have never mounted their brooding box to the wall, I just placed it on top of the trash can. There was a reason for placing the brooding box in this position. Camilla, after she started laying, would knock the lid off and try to lay her eggs inside the trash can. It's dark in there and it is filled halfway with pine shavings. Still, after she started using the box, the idea was to mount it to the wall.
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I figured that Camilla was just getting ready to lay an egg so I left her in peace. I figured I would check back with her in a bit. Little Brett was on guard at the door. He is a good roo and is very protective of his flock.
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So, I went up to the barn, dealt with the horses and came back down. Still no Camilla in the yard. I went back into Coop D'Etat and there was Camilla... still in her box.
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Quite obviously, this was new behavior for Camilla. Had she? Leghorns are known for not being good setters, but it sure looked like it. There was only one way to find out. I went to feel under her and she opened her mouth and let out a terrible groaning sound. She gave me a fearsome stink-eye. I withdrew, a bit shocked. Camilla is normally such a peaceful and shy lady. Undetered, I put my hand under her and lifted her up, ever so gently.
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Indeed, she has. Camilla has gone broody. That's a total misunderstanding of Labor Day.
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She is not the smartest of birds.
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Oh Little Brett... you rogue. You are still but a cockerel and you don't even have all of your tail feathers back.
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Little Brett was waiting outside for me. He wanted to make sure his baby-momma was safe.
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What is to be done now? Leghorns are notoriously bad mothers. Do we take the egg and put it under a heat lamp? Do we want more chickens? What if it is a rooster? Would Brett Buckwalter III (Little Brett Jr.? Little Little Brett Buckwalter?) create problems?
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This also creates some issues regarding my egg consumption. I'm a vegetarian. I don't think I can eat a fertilized egg... well for a number of reasons. What about the eggs that are in the fridge? Do I need to get Little Brett fixed... or caponized at it were? Do people even do that anymore? Can I find a veterinarian that would caponize my pet rooster?
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Oh dear....
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UPDATE: About an hour or so later, I went outside and noticed that Camilla was in the yard. She had abandoned her motherly responsibilities in favor of some scratch grains. Since Camilla does not seem ready for the responsibilities of motherhood, I took the egg in and tried to set it up under a heat lamp. When I went back to check on things, it seems that it had gotten too hot. 'Twas not to be this go round. I will experiment with the heat lamp so I can get a proper temperature just in case this happens again.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Horse training

I have been a bit distracted lately and I have not posted anything regarding the horse training. Snow's big problem was her ground manners. She was very pushy and "in your face." Most of that was simply curiosity, but she did have a habit of crowding and bumping while on a lead rope. Part of the target training was designed to remedy this problem. I was essentially training her to "heal" off lead. She's not perfect, but she is getting there. She at least knows she is not suppose to be in front of the kong. As you can see in this video, she also tends to eat grass whilst walking. At the end of the video, she is still next to me, but her head is down.

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All in all, it is progress. Rome was not built in a day.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Assorted Nonsense

There is a little apple grove on Bully Hill. It sits in the middle pasture and we can see it from our bedroom window. In spring it is a really incredible sight as the trees are filled with white apple blossoms. The thing about having apple trees in a horse pasture, however, is that horses really like apples and end up damaging the trees pretty badly. There was one victim in particular. I guess he strayed a bit too far from the apple tree pack and was savaged. The poor little apple tree carcass sat as an ever-present warning to the other trees. It sat there through blizzards, tropical depressions, severe winds, but it finally met its match with Snow.

I came out of the front door with my cup of coffee the other morning, as I am want to do, and noticed the poor little tree had been knocked over.


How might this have happened? This brave little tree had been clinging on to its dignity by remaining upright despite obvious shortcomings. Well, here you go, this is how I found Snow moments later:

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Yes, an itchy Snow butt can do a fair amount of damage to those that are either unable or not smart enough to run away.

On a different subject, Little Brett is all healed up. I have released him from his cage in my exercise room... well, my wife's exercise room... and let him return to his flock. He was pretty happy to see Camilla again... maybe a bit too happy. There will be no pictures of his re-introduction. I'm not a fan of censoring my chickens, but this is a family-oriented blog. Here is a wholesome picture of chickens eating some scratch. Camilla is not in the picture because she is likely on the phone with the authorities.


Brett is growing some feathers back, which is a good thing.


I was shocked that in his absence, the Orpington gals seemed to have caught up with him in size. Here is Beatrix showing off her impressive bulk:


Finally, I get bored easily. I like to try new things and as a result I am a bit of a jack-of-all-trades... but certainly a master of none. Now, when we bought the farm, I, as an urban hipster, had some preconceived notions of what a farm was... or rather what I wanted a farm to be. A farm needed a name... Bully Hill... it needed farm colors... Navy and Burgundy (a good compromise)... and it needed a rustic hand-carved sign. The first two were pretty easy because they didn't invovle any actual work. I recently set out to make the sign a reality. Here is my initial progress:

As you can see, I merely printed out "Bully Hill Farm" in a large font on the computer, cut out the pieces and laid them on a piece of wood which has been joined, cut into an oval, and routed. Then I drew an arc to set the lettering, taped the letters on the wood, and started carving the outline of the letters with a wood chisel. Once the outline was in place, I could start forming the letters better. I started working on the "B" to show how things will progress.


Once I have it all carved up, I will either stain it with a blue stain or paint it navy blue, then make the lettering silver. I will put some burgundy and silver accents around the edges. Next I have to figure out some place to hang it. It will be a fun distraction for a while.