The upside of drought

We’ve had an epic atypical drought this year in Nova Scotia this year.  Especially inland where we are.  The coasts have had more rain. We have had about 25mm total from May through August.

Everything is parched.  Forest fires are raging in the area, wells are running dry, and the impact on agriculture is making the news.

The ground is dry, cracking, and powdery anywhere it doesn’t have a vegetal cover.  Wind blows skirls of dust across the ground.

However, these are ideal conditions for chicken bathing.

20160803_102807I come around the corner and find the rooster indulging.  He’s doesn’t usually get caught in the bath.20160803_102812

He just looked at me, and declined to lift his Henry VIII body out of his dust bowl.20160803_102944

 

 

To give a chicken joy

Ye Olde Silkie pen, aka Silkieland, is a flimsy contraption along the lines of the chickery, where the hardware cloth folds out on the ground and is anchored by rocks.  Like HW says, it’s more like a mobile home than a trailer – technically, it’s portable.

It’s a royal pain to move the thing, because it’s long and floppy.  All the rocks need to be moved off, then all the grass that’s grown through the mesh needs to be tugged loose, then the whole rickety thing needs to be dragged sideways, the coop (full of grumbling chickens) needs to be moved, and the pen reattached to it, then the rocks replaced.  And everything that just broke in the struggle needs to be patched up.20160720_142435

However, it’s all worth it to watch how excited the birds get when first released.  Excitedly burbling, all of them scatter and burrow into the grass.  They are so clearly experiencing great joy that I promptly forget how much it all sucked.

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Before
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After
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You can’t even SEE chicks
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Can barely see the brown hens

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Guinea Chicks!

I’m so excited!  I’ve got a shipment of little guinea chicks!20160828_112142

They were in a Pepsi box when I picked them up – a loud box, objecting to being moved around.  They settled down on my lap for the ride home, and then I carried them gently to the hen yard.

The guineas are going to get the chickery for the time being.  The former residents got bumped up to Silkieland the night before – their final promotion.  I also moved Silkieland, so that everyone in there would have maximum entertainment on the chicks’ first day. 20160828_112229Inside the box.  Seven little striped brown heads – they look nothing like they will when they grow up.20160828_112322I tore open the box and placed it in the chickery to let them come out on their own time.20160828_112516A half hour later.

There they are, all settled down.

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Another half hour later.

They are approximately one centimeter nearer to the door of their box.

Their own time is never fast enough for me.  I tore the lid further open (alarmed cheeping!) and left them alone again20160828_121606An hour later.

All of them hiding behind the box!

And then, a bit later, busy foraging like normal chicks:

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Adorable.  They have these wide orange beaks, like tiny puffins, except they look mostly like striped chicken chicks.

They happily darted about being chicks all day, and at night we went to box them up and move them into the greenhouse.  This is what we found:20160828_143502

They were all tucked up, nearly invisible, as concealed as they could manage in the short grass.  So clever, already.

I’m going to attempt an adoption.  It’s a bit of a stretch, but these are little African birds that just came out from under a lamp, so they are going to be cold without a heat source.

I took a hen out of the Silkie coop that just went broody, and I’m going to swap out her eggs tonight for a bunch of guineas.

Surprise!  Your eggs hatched super fast!  And the chicks are unusually large. 


The Adoption failed.  I tucked the guineas under the broody hen in the night and slipped out the eggs and no one was very perturbed.

In the morning though, the hen utterly refused to mother them, and completely ignored them when I put them all in the chickery.

She was NOT fooled.

In fact, she was clearly pining, staring through the bars of the cage. To underline her disconsolation, while I was watching her she lifted a leg and wistfully rested her foot on the mesh wall like a hand, in appeal.

I couldn’t resist, I promptly put her back in a box with a set of eggs.

And now, a bunny story

Unfortunately there’s no picture of this.

HW was walking along our path.  He spotted a bunny about 50 feet ahead of him, hopping towards him.

It’s very usual to see bunnies; we have a lot of rabbits around and see them every day.  They even have their usual spots.  There’s the beehive bunny, the chicken coop bunny, the other chicken coop bunny, the driveway bunny, the end of the road bunny….

This was the shop bunny, he’s already known for daily appearances and odd behaviour.  We’re not sure if all his screws are tight.

This bunny was running towards HW, not at running-away-from-something speed, but rabbit-on-his-way-somewhere speed.  Hop hop hop.  He was also drenched, his hair pasted down on his body by the rainwater on the long grass and weeds.

HW stopped on the trail and stood still, to watch this wet bunny approach.

The bunny ran right up to him, and came to a stop between his feet.  The bunny swung his head to one side, then the other, wiggling his nose to sniff each of HW’s boots.  Then without looking up (Huh.  That’s a bit different.   *shrug*), the bunny hopped between his feet and carried on down the path at the same speed!  Hop hop hop!

Eulogy for a dog

I have to just go ahead and post this…(this has sucked the life out of June/July)…

I wrote this the last day of May (but didn’t get round to posting it), after our best friend had been missing six weeks. As we were to learn later, May 31 was shortly after he would have actually died.  The awful circumstances of his death were far worse than I had imagined….(explained end of post).

Eulogy to the most beautiful Dog

I’m beginning to accept that he is gone for good.  Dead, somehow, somewhere.  Not just lost, misplaced, but lost, gone.

Devastating doesn’t really cover it.
It’s a terrible loss; he’s missing, everywhere, everything I do, since I used to do everything with him.
I haven’t really yet felt any grief.
I get to keep thinking, “but he’s so beautiful and friendly, maybe he’s ingratiated himself into someone else’s life and he’s fine. Someday he’ll escape and come back, or not.”  I want to believe that he’s fine, moving on to another phase of life that is hopefully comfortable for him.

So far his dog’s life was a hard, difficult life, thrice rescued/rejected as unmanageable, and  we did a good job with him, slowly. He was such a mental case at first that the first several, miserable (why did you want a dog?) months were just managing and controlling him, to establish his place as a dog.  At the end, it was getting interesting, once we were mutually attached and he was content and secure in his place, teachable and proud of learning.   We had come to a really good place with him.  He earned some trust by being obedient and predictable, and he was much much calmer.

Continue reading Eulogy for a dog

You won’t believe this one weird habit of bumblebees!

The bumblebees have this strange habit that I don’t understand.

Overnight, they latch onto the underside of the goldenrod flowers, and hang there overnight.  It gets cold enough for all of them to go catatonic, and they cling there overnight, curled hard and still as if they were dead, not reacting to being brushed or touched.

This is not just  a few bees that get caught out too late.  There can be a dozen on one big goldenrod plume, and since we have a lot of goldenrod, in the evening and the morning, we can look across a swathe of it and see hundreds of bees, hanging still like odd fruit.  20160804_075643

Then once the sun casts across them in the morning, they reanimate, and take up where they left off, buzzing, grazing, and bumbling.  Sometimes it goes badly- the weather will change, and I’ll see them caught out in a cool or rainy morning.

So weird!  Is this just a thing that they do?  Too busy to go home at night? They do it for many nights in the summer, during the goldenrod rush.

More Silkie chicks

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So cute, little blunt wings and variegated colouring

Another box has started peeping – the peeping in that end of the greenhouse is my first clue there’s been a hatching.  Mother hen is maintaining eye contact from the background. 20160720_122004

This summer, except for the only chick,  the hens have all hatched 5 or 6 chicks from 7 or 8 eggs, and if there’s an odd number, it’s to the advantage of white.  The white hen (only one, of two, has gone broody), is a terrible setter (three times failed) while the brown hens are all models of success, although none of them have ever done it before.  All the brown hens are last summer’s chicks – baby pictures.  But the whites seem to get their eggs in the right place, like cuckoos.20160720_122013

This is the strenuous objection pose.  They press their wings down into the floor as a barrier so hard their body tips up until they practically do a headstand.