Tough Chickens and an Attack Rooster

We got baby chicks May 1st.  Got our first egg Christmas morning.  Here are pictures of the rooster and a hen this morning and their coop.  I was concerned about how they would handle cold.  It was 2 degrees this morning when I let them out.  There were 3 eggs in the nesting boxes and they were ready to roam.

The mailman told me he delivered a package the other day when we were not home.  He pulled around back and when he got out of his car the rooster attacked.  He tried using the package as a shield but the rooster kept coming over or around to get at him.  He ended up getting back in the car, getting his Halt and pepper-spraying the rooster.  Said he had never seen or heard of anything like it.  We don’t need a dog – we have an Attack Rooster!


Wood for the winter

Here is our wood for the winter.  The stack is 2 logs wide, 64 feet long and over 4 feet tall.  I figure 8+ cords.  That will give us heat and hot water all winter, get me started at maple syruping and have just a bit left over.  We do have a propane backup furnace but we only used 25 gallons of propane last year, so we heat almost entirely with wood.  How do you cut that much wood? – one load at a time.  We switched homeowners insurance a couple of years ago and when I told them we heated with wood they sent a guy out for an inspection.  I told him to let me show him the system and give him an explanation of the theory and application behind our system.  When we were done he told me he was the expert on heating systems at his firm.  He said he had learned more in the last 15 minutes than he ever knew, he had never seen anything like our system and I should teach a class.  As an example last night the temperature got down to 23 degrees.  When I added wood at 9:30 PM the thermostat is the dining room said it was 73 degrees in the house.  When I added wood at 7:30 AM the thermostat in the dining room still said it was 73 degrees in the house and our showers with water heated by the furnace were scorching hot.                 An update – 1-14-2019  When I added wood last night at 9:30 the house was 73 degrees.  It was 9 degrees outside this morning at 7:30 when I added wood again.  The house was 73 degrees.  That is 10 hours and an 64 degree differential.

Too close for comfort

I went to cut a cedar tree this morning to make a wreath and found this right on the other side of the pond.  Within 200 feet of the house.  I figure coyotes.  The hide was still supple.  I probably spooked whatever was feeding.  This is why we don’t camp out in the back yard anymore.

English Walnut Harvest

I have had people ask me why I plant trees as often as I do.  Over twenty years ago I planted two English Walnut trees (one of them is the tree the playhouse is under in my Bucket List post).  The trees were loaded this year and we got a full 33 gallon garbage can full of walnuts.  Here is a picture of that and the first bowl of nuts – something to do while watching TV.

Great Summer!!

The granddaughters each do a project when they visit in the summer.  The post Olivia’s fence was one of them.  This summer Olivia made a chair.  She hammered 90% of the nails while I helped and held.  It is probably the best looking chair to ever come off the farm.








If you look at my Bucket List Post you’ll see my Cherry Wood Strip Canoe.  I have given the granddaughters rides in it for years and they were told – The summer you turn 14, you’re coming for 2 weeks and we are making a canoe.  Lauren made her canoe this summer.  She did every function: table sawing boards into strips, planing to thickness, cove and bead w a router, glue and clamp, sand, fiberglass and epoxy, finish work and varnish.  She even caned the seat.  She stuck with it.  I got to spend 100 hours with my granddaughter.  It is 3/16 in thick Wild Cherry and weighs 33 lbs.  Every piece of wood came from our woods.

Things are buzzing

25 years ago when our son was 13 I was looking for something for us to do together.  Ended up we got 2 bee hives.  We had bees for 3 years then mites hit and we didn’t re-queen.  We did it all through a book – Bee Keeping for Dummies.  As our son said, “They tell you there are 50,000 bees in a hive but it really doesn’t mean much until the first time you crack a hive.  It was really a neat thing to do.  I kept the old hives in the barn.

 Yesterday 5-22-17 I looked out a window and there was a cloud of bees around the pear tree.  Ten minutes later I spotted a swarm about 15 feet up in the tree.  I went to the barn and found enough parts to have 1 hive.  I cut the swarm down and ended up scooping bees up with my hands and putting them in the hive.  Later that afternoon I saw another swarm across the road.  I didn’t have any more hive insides (frames) so I called a beekeeper I know and he came and got the swarm.  Today I was outside and I saw another cloud of bees going across the yard.  I followed them for about 100 yards.  They swarmed on a 1/2 inch branch in a shrub at the edge of the woods.  I called the beekeeper and got some frames.  I snipped the branch and shook the bees into a hive.  We now have 2 hives under the apple trees.  I am pumped.  We  all read about bees declining and now I can take care of these 2 hives.  If you order bees they cost around $125, so we saved some money.  Attached is a picture of the last swarm.  Click on it, you can actually see the bees.




Now – an update.  On Thursday 5-25-17 I saw another swarm across the road in a Autumn Olive bush.  I called the beekeeper and he came and got it.  On Friday I found another swarm in the same bush.  We had gone to a beekeeping supply house on Wednesday and I had bought foundation so I could make up some frames (insides) of a hive.  I didn’t have a bottom or cover so I put them together in about 45 minutes.  Unfortunately they look like it.  Anyways I got the swarm and we now have 3 hives.  Today 5-31-17 I was outside and suddenly I was in a cloud of bees.  They were actually bouncing off me.  I followed them around the pond and they eventually swarmed in a cedar tree.  I called the beekeeper and he came and got it.  I was talking to another beekeeper who has 50+ hives.  He said he had heard of people who found a couple of swarms in one year in the same area and knew of one person who had found 3.  I have found 6!  It’s been a interesting week and half.  The first 2 hives are doing great.  The 3rd hive does not have near the activity going on.  I will open up this week end and see how things are inside.

Saving the Turtles

100_8563Back in August when a granddaughter was visiting we saw a Painted Turtle laying eggs.  That is the only time I have ever seen that.  I found out what the gestation period was and marked the calendar.  Starting a week before the date I checked 2 times a day.  I continued checking for over a week after.  Never saw a thing.  We had the girls this week end and they asked if the turtles had ever hatched.  I said no; Let’s dig them up and see what happened.  We dug out a big clump of dirt and took it apart carefully.  We found the eggs shells and 7 little turtles about as big around as a nickle.  The mother laid the eggs in heavy clay soil and I figure the turtles could not dig themselves out.  A couple looked like they were still alive.  We put them in the pond and all 7 eventually swam away or crawled up on the bank.  The picture is of a 12 year old thumb and a turtle to give you an idea of size.  Getting to share this with a 12, 10, 8 and 5 year old was pretty special.


I talked about planting milkweed to attract Monarch Butterflies in the Olivia’s Fence post.  This summer I have seen 4 and we saw a pair mating while sitting on the front porch.  I planted the first milkweed about 10 years ago and those are the first Monarchs we have seen.  We have had more butterflies this summer than I can ever remember.  I saw 5 Tiger Swallowtails at one time just last week.  I got a photo of 2 of them.  Hey – how neat is that!!!  Click on the picture and enlarge it!Tiger Double



Now that there is time I am going to try to have the gardens I always wanted.  Here you see them being prepped.  Total area is 840 sq. ft.  I tried to get close to the French Intensive method.  That is where the bed are in strips – so you don,t walk on them and create hard pan or packed dirt that the roots have a hard time growing through.  Usually with FE you dig down over a foot to loosen the soil.  I did not do that in that I went about 6 in. deep.  I did mix in leaves to get organic matter in the soil.  So I am planting Kale, Arugula, Spinach, Lettuce – Romaine, Buttercrunch, Asian Greens mixed and a Gourmet Blend, Peas, Beans, three varieties of Cantaloupe, Red Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, Eggplant, two varieties of Corn, Squash – Zucchini, Butternut, Acorn and Spaghetti, Cucumbers, Tomatoes – Grape, Cherry, Marglobe, Rutgers and Roma, and Beets.  So I’ll keep you posted on my success.  OK – Time for an update.  It is August 14 and we just had our first cantaloupe.  Amazing taste.  I’ve learned a bunch and next year I will stagger plantings so we can have a continuous supply of lettuce, beans and squashes.  It has surprised me how different the varieties of squash taste.  I attached a picture taken a couple of days ago.  Next year will be even bigger and better.Gardens 2016



Olivia’s Fence

This is a picture of a fence our 9 year old grand daughter and I made.  I planted Milk Weed out by the road in hopes of attracting butterflies.  Olivia was visiting last year on the day a guy from the county was mowing and cut down all the milk weed.  I was upset and Olivia’s response was – We should build a fence.  I said – next year  when you visit.

The fence start out as 12 ft long 9 inch wide boards in the barn.  We got them down.  Cut to 4 ft. lengths – or as Olivia specified – so she could see over them.  Olivia was ear plugged and safety goggled.  We cut the boards to various widths on the table saw – she took off and stacked.  Since the wood was aged Ash we had to drill holes for all the nails.  Olivia pounded the one side while I pounded the other.  We primed and the Olivia picked the colors.  That’s a Sun at the left top.  I helped and Olivia used a Jig Saw to form the top.  Double click on the picture.  The fence has 3 back posts per section with 2 ft rebar drilled 6 in. deep into the posts and then pounded into the ground.  That way we can take it in over the Winter.  This all took an afternoon and most of the next day.  Olivia really stuck with it.  She got exposed to Skil saw, Table Saw, measuring, using a square, drilling, hammering nails, Jig Saw, priming, painting and hearing two Grand Parents getting excited over a job well done.

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