Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Dixie Chick's Treats

I'm much like my father in that I research my hobbies ad nauseam. I have read on several websites, blogs, and articles how much chickens LOVE watermelon. So, after we ate ours, I gave the girls the left overs. It's truly composting at its best. Here, Blanche, the ever-adventurous one, inspects and starts her gluttony.

Goldie, seeing that Blanche is obviously enjoying her tasty treat, books it over to the watermelon...

Soon, all the ladies are enjoying their tasty treat.

This is what was left. Carnage. The meat of the watermelon remaining was
only left because the girls had scratched their shavings all over it and decided that made it less tasty.

I then decided to give them some plain yogurt with pumpkin seeds sprinkled on top, and a bowl of Shannon's ill-fated pinto beans. **Side Note: I asked Shannon to make a crock pot of pinto beans, having had soaked the beans over night. I laid the recipe out for him to follow (very easy), and went on to work. He later told me he didn't read the recipe, and just threw the beans in the crock pot with the soaking water and cooked them. I refused to eat them. That's just nasty. So, I decided to feed them to the girls. :) **

Needless to say, the beans were a big hit with the girls.

Here, you see Ida Mae giving Blanche the hairy eyeball, basically telling her to back off.

Blanche finds some pumpkin seeds I put on the floor for them....

The girls enjoying their feast.

Myrtle, one of the shyer girls, decides she wants in on the action and takes flight to get while the gettin' is good.

Blanche, after her meal, perches on the highest spot in the coop so far and watches her kingdom.

Here's looking at you! Blanche is my favorite. Can you tell? Who knew chickens had such personalities?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Meal Worm Farming

We recycled an empty Rubbermaid tote to house our meal worms. Pyper, mom and I put 9 quarts of chick feed in first...

Then added some dehydrated milk...

Some wheat germ, oatmeal and Pyper...she loved feeling the textures on her feet and hands. It was cute until she started dumping the "food" onto the floor.

I added some celery and newspaper so they can eat and sleep.

Here's a close up of my new little farm. I ordered 1000 meal worms. You may be wondering, "Why on earth would Aimee BUY meal worms and put them in a plastic tub???" Well, the Dixie Chicks LOVE meal worms, and they can get a bit expensive buying them by the dozen. So, I did some research, and discovered I could buy them in bulk, for a fraction of the cost. I researched how to "breed" them, and maintain them. I'm hoping they will multiply to the point I can supplement the hen's diet this winter when they can't/won't go out to forage.

They come as meal worms, and then they will turn into little black beetles. The beetles don't fly or bite, but they DO lay eggs. And lots of them! Then, the eggs hatch and turn into larvae. The larvae then turn into meal worms.

I will periodically take a few hundred and put them in a cool place (like the fridge, but don't tell Shannon!) and that will stop their growth and reproduction. This will enable me to stagger the life cycle, so I don't have all beetles, all larvae and all meal worms at one time. Once again, my degree in Biology is really coming in handy! I really enjoy projects like this. I'm sure the Dixie Chicks will, too!

Monday, June 13, 2011

A visit to Blue Canoe Farm

On Saturday, we took Pyper to visit my friend, Sheri Bansemer's, Alpaca farm. One of her girls, Skittles, just had a cria, Gunnel, pictured above. I apologize about the over exposure, I wasn't thinking and had the flash on!

Micah, Sheri's very helpful son, picked up little Gunnel (weighing 25 lbs!) and would walk around the yard with him! Pyper and Gunnel weigh the same. Amazing!

Pyper inspecting Micah's hold to ensure accurate and safe handling.

Sheri also has 7 hens on her farm...something we are naturally intrigued by! Pyper gave Micah's pet hen a kiss for good measure.

Micah showing Pyper how sweet his lady is.

This is Val, a black alpaca. I thought she looked so cute with her minerals on her top lip! She is due to deliver her cria literally any minute!

Pyper wanted to pet Val so badly, but with the impending birth, Val was a bit moody, and I'm sure uncomfortable. Sheri said she's prone to spit when agitated, so we left good enough alone.

Again, Micah, the helpful farm hand, showed his cria off to Pyper. Pyper just wanted to squeeze him and kiss him!

Pyper loved feeling Gunnel's fiber. He was soooo soft. Hard to believe he's only 3 days old!

Pyper, when excited, always goes for the eyes. Human, or otherwise. Who knows! Gunnel was so sweet and patient with her.

If you are near Marion, Va you must go by and visit Blue Canoe Farm! Sheri and Micah are so knowledgeable, and helpful. They certainly have an "open barn" policy, and the kids will love it. I know Pyper did. My mom and I did too!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Awkward Stage...

The Dixie Chicks are now 3 weeks old, and have left the cute a fuzzy stage behind. They are now sporting the "dinosaur" look as I call it. Their feathers are really coming in, you can certainly tell in the picture above the Black Barred Rocks and Rhode Island Reds are just that. Black and red. They have huge feet compared to their bodies, and they like to stretch their necks and peer at you with a quizzical eye...

The black one here is Blanche. She's my favorite (for now). She is the one that is the most demonstrative and the one that is always the first to try a new treat. The two in the back are Ida Mae and Goldie.

Here are the girls eating their plain yogurt. I originally recycled a cup of strawberry Greek yogurt Pyper didn't finish, and they LOVED it, but with it having artificial sweeteners, I figured it may not be good for my ladies. So, I decided to go with plain yogurt for them. I also figured if I wasn't going to give artificial sweeteners to my chicks, I shouldn't/wouldn't feed it to my human chick either. Sorry, Pyper, you're going to get plain yogurt with fresh fruit in it from now on...

This RIR that is facing the camera is Myrle. She is a hoot. She's always on Blanche's heels and is her right wing gal.

You may be wondering where I'm coming up with these names. A while back, I started naming my animals after family members whose names were quite....antiquated. That's PC, right? Knowing I'd never name one of my children Mable, or Elmer, or Nelly, I've decided to honor my relatives by naming my much loved pets after them. The Dixie Chicks will all be named after my Grannie Iney's sisters and then other female relatives.

My Appendix mare, Iney, is named after my Grannie Iney, and her signature color was purple. So, my horse Iney's signature color is purple as well.

Last week we bought 4 goldfish for our water troughs. These two are the only 2 that have survived. Gold Member and Goldie. Willie and Willamina died. Gold Member and Goldie are thriving, and we realized it's because the horses were using their watering trough the last few weeks, so we were adding water, thus Oxygen, to the tank. The others up top didn't have any additional water, or shade, so they essentially cooked. Lesson's learned. We will add water to the troughs whether or not we are using them.

This is Smelly Nelly. She was named after one of my Grannie's sisters, Nelly. I added the Smelly part because she used to have a problem with gas...that's all I'll say about that.

This is Hammish, or Shannon's cat. He named him. He wanted to name our future son (if we ever have one, Hammish). I was horrified by this name, and decided when we adopted this kitty HE could be named Hammish instead. Whew! Dodged that bullet. Anyways, Hammish is our garden kitty. He lays in the garden for hours waiting, and watching for any movement. He normally takes care of any pests that venture out there. Here on the back deck, he likes to perch, because he have a perfect view of the garden below.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A Trip Down Memory Lane

We took Pyper for her first Carl's experience on Monday in Fredericksburg. For those of you that are not locals, Carl's is a landmark. I have been going to Carl's since I was about Pyper's age. It's the best soft serve icecream on the planet. When I moved to Fredericksburg, my parents asked how far I was from Carl's. Luckily, I was only 5 minutes away!

I always get the strawberry cone, so I got one for Pyper to try. She loved it.

My mom switches her order up from time to time either getting a chocolate cone or having a sundae. My grannie used to get the maple nut chocolate ice cream sundae.

This place has a lot of memories for us.

3 generations sitting in front of Carl's enjoying their ice cream!

A Walk in Woodbridge...

After sitting in the car for 5 hours, we decided to go for a walk and stretch our legs. This is one of Pyper's favorite things to do.

Auntie Renae holds the hand of her little buddy.

Pyper must make sure her MaMom is following.

The gang...

MaMom trying to keep up with Pyper...when the walk was over, we headed home and decided to sit on the porch for a spell.

Porch view from mom and dad's.

As you kick back and relax on the porch, this is the view you soak in, as you slowly unwind...

Coming up to the front porch...

Pulling into the driveway, you immediately start to decompress...

Even though my mom and dad live in busy Northern Virginia, their home is nestled in the woods surrounded by the Occoquann Reservoir. It is truly a sancuary, where you relax and unwind. Their log home has a huge front porch where we gather, eat, and laugh. My dad has a hammock on it and calls it his "summer office." If you can't find dad, look on the front porch...he's either working on something or snoozing.

My mom and sister, Renae have worked really hard on the yard this year. It's hard to keep the deer out of the yard and eating the flowers. Mom has made an awful, but effective concoction of rotten beaten eggs, water, and vinegar she sprays on the flowers to deter the deer. It smells really bad for a bit, but it works!!!

I have so many wonderful memories sitting on this front porch with family and friends. We used to sit on the swing, huddled up together and watch thunderstorms.

What kind of memories do you have on your porch?