Sunday, January 30, 2011

Wine Bottles and Lots of Deer

The other day I remembered all those old green wine bottles I pulled out of the woods a long, long time ago.   Someone threw them in a trash collection on our property.  We cleaned up the trash, but saved the bottles.  Someone liked their wine!  And there was lots more that we didn't pull out of the woods.  There seems to be alot of old trash dumps around in various locations on the property.

Wine bottle collection, April 2010

That was back in April, 2010.  Wow!  I have been busy since then.  I had meant to sell them online, but never did.  They've just been sitting out in the woods where I left them. 

So I decided now is the time for action.
Better late than never!
I put on my boots, heavy coat, gloves, scarf, and started the trek out to find where I left the old green wine bottles. 
I passed by the chicken coop, had to stop for a visit.  As always.  When I left the chickens I stopped and talked with the guineas and gave them some cracked corn.  They get so excited over the simple things like extra corn. 
Then off into the field I went.

I was thoughtful as I walked.  I am always amazed by the number of deer we seem to have on the property.  I don't see the deer up close, they aren't friendly.  I have a hard time telling them all apart, and so I do not get to know the deer individually.  I am amazed and impressed how Kritter Keeper over at Farm Tails blog knows her deer so well.  Maybe this summer I'll work with the deer more and maybe they'll get more friendly...  I notice lots and lots of deer footprints in the snow as I walk.

Lots of deer hoof prints

Deer hoof prints in snow up close
We find ALOT of deer antlers on this property.  When we lived in previous houses we always looked but never found any antlers.  Here we find so many we don't know what to do with them.  Here's our latest finds from the past couple weeks.  The left antler is huge and heavy.  And yes, that's a turtle shell.  The turtle was gone. 
Latest finds
We've found quite a few deer skulls recently, too.

One day I'll figure out what to do with all the antlers we have collected.  Today's mission was green wine bottles...  Stay focused...

I finally made it out to the wine bottle location.  There they were, in all their glory.  Of course, they are now covered in snow, so they don't look so neat as before.

And so I listed the bottles on Craigslist.  I'm thinking of listing them on Etsy, also, but I'll have to figure out how to ship them.  Hopefully I'll get some takers!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Help! Lucy is Naked!

My favorite little hen, Lucy, is in need of help!!!
Lucy never molted last autumn.  The other chickens her age lost their feathers and got new feathers in.  Now they are fluffy and pretty and warm. 
Lucy, on the other hand, lost her feathers. and continued to lose her feathers.
And now she's bald.
And cold.

Here's a picture of Lucy last spring back when she was a young pullet with a full coat of feathers. 
Beware, the rest of the pictures are awful.
Lucy last May

It's hard for me to see Lucy like this. It's hard for me to let anyone else see her like this. Really, I do not abuse my chickens! They are spoiled and happy birds, normally.

Lucy is 1 year and 3 months old now.  She started losing her feathers last autumn, and it has gotten continually worse.  She has been wearing a chicken apron for about a month now.  We thought her feathers were starting to grow back in and she was picking them out, so we put the chicken apron on her.  That would protect her from herself, and from the other birds. 
But even underneath the apron she's still bald.
None of the other birds look like her.
Poor girl.

Lucy wearing her apron

Lucy without the apron

Putting the apron back on is easy.  First place it on her back
It snaps under one wing

And then it snaps under the other wing

I'm sure Lucy's feather loss is caused by roosters, as we do have 5 spare cockerels that we need to get rid of.  But the other hens don't look like this.  Many of them are more passive than Lucy. 
Why is Lucy the only victim?  Is it because she didn't molt last year and everyone else did? 
There is no chance that this was caused by any other animal, as the chicken pen is absolutely protected, as safe as Fort Knox.  Lucy is one of the smallest hens we have, as she is a bantam.

Any discussion or assistance is welcome!

The cockerels will have to be taken care of and I hope Lucy starts to show improvement.  Lucy is my sweetest bird. In the summertime I let her out of the chicken pen and she follows me all around the yard. She never runs away from me, she always comes to me.  Her most favorite treat in the entire world is earthworms.  I dig in the ground and she pulls earthworms out of the ground before I even see them.  She gets so excited and happy.  She always spends time with me in the garden.  She hates to go back in the chicken pen, I've always said that she doesn't think she's a chicken. 
She's my Lucy. 

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Day After the Storm

Backyard in snow
We survived the snowstorm from last Wednesday night.  We only got about 5 inches of snow overnight.  And our power stayed on the entire time!  The electricity did blink off and back on a few times, just long enough to reset every clock in the house. 
The snow was pretty when I took these pictures on Thursday morning.  I love the sky in the above picture.  It was taken in the morning when the sun was rising behind all the clouds. 

In the mornings Randy often puts birdseed on the windowsills so the cats have some entertainment.  The little songbirds are not afraid of the cats on the inside of the windows, and they sit right on the outside eating their breakfast.  It seems like after a snowstorm the wild birds are ravenous and very excited to find seeds.

Shadow watching birds out window

Shadow attempting a sneak attack on the birds

This storm was very exciting because it caused evening lightning and thunder while it was snowing heavy. It was exciting to see the lightning in the snowflakes! The house shook hard from the thunder.  The cats hid under the bed during the lightning and thunder.

The guineas slept through the stormy night in the giant pine tree.  They didn't want to come down out of the tree on Thursday morning, so I had to take pictures of them in the tree.

How many guinea fowl can you find in the below picture of the pine tree???
(Remember, we have 7 gray guineas, 1 pure white, and 2 darker guineas)

Guineas in the pine tree

Gray colored Guinea
I love the below picture of the spruce tree on the edge of the field because of the sky.  The sky on the right side is pretty and blue, the sky on the left side of the tree is cloudy and stormy. 
No Photoshopping is ever done to my pictures ~ I just don't have time for that!

Our road through the woods
And so another day passes here at Razzberry Corner. 
Have a good weekend!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Snow, Chickens, and Guineas

Here comes the snow!
It has been snowing for a few hours already tonight.  Big, wet, sticky flakes. 

Tonight I ventured out into the snow after dark to check on the chickens. 
We close up the chicken door after dark to keep some heat in the coop - Randy had told me he closed up the little chicken door already, then he went out to visit some friends down the street.  I thought I'd check on the chickens since I hadn't seen them all day.  It was good that I decided to visit my chickens - the front door into the coop was partially open.  The chickens couldn't get out, there's another door that goes into the coop, but the snow would have gotten into the front door and made it wet and warped it. 
I made sure to close the door tight when I left.

When I went into the coop the chickens were all sleeping on their roosts.
When I visit them at night I use a small flashlight and don't turn on the overhead light.  If I turned on the overhead light the chickens would start a nighttime party in the coop when they should be sleeping~ My chickens love to start parties at nighttime...  They'd be walking around the coop, some of them would suddenly realize they were starving and they'd have to raid the feeder.  Every single bird would have to have a drink from the waterer.  They'd be chatting with each other.  A few pecking order fights would break out.  Before I knew it one of the boys would be having sex with one of the hens.  The rest of the roosters would start crowing. Everyone would want to sit on my lap or be held.  Crazy chickens!
And so, I use a small flashlight to minimize the interruption and keep them sleeping.  All 26 birds were sleeping in the coop tonight.  A few had their heads tucked under their wings. 
I woke up and held a few hens, rubbing their soft necks.  I love sleepy birds, they are so sweet.  

When I made my way back to the house after 10 minutes in the coop, my previous footprints weren't even visible in the snow anymore.  The snow had already covered them.  Here's some pictures of the backyard snow after I returned from the coop.

Using a big flashlight I could see a small herd of deer in the backyard, hunkering down in the snow.  They weren't visible in these pictures, although they were out there!

I worry about my guinea fowl.  I spied them up in the huge pine tree over the chicken coop tonight when I went out to the coop.  They sleep every night in the pine tree.  So far we haven't lost any guineas this winter.  I don't know how they don't freeze. 
A few nights ago an owl attacked them at nighttime.  They were screaming bloody murder ~ Randy and I went running out at 9pm with huge flashlights and found the guineas scattered all over the front yard on the ground.  They are never on the ground after dark.  They were chased away from their roosts in the pine tree by what we believe was an owl.  They screamed, separated, one hid under a car, the rest of them went into different trees all around the yard up near the house.  Throughout that night I heard them screaming, poor birds.  Come morning they were all still alive, although one had lost some feathers from his back.  They all gather at daybreak in front of the chicken coop where Randy gives them hot water and guinea food.
We're supposed to get approximately 10 inches of snow tonight.  That's what the weatherman said before my satellite TV went out.  We can't have cable TV out here, and the satellite goes out whenever there's a bad storm.

And so the latest winter storm begins here in Maryland.
At least I still have power! For now!
I'm sure I'll be posting more pictures soon!
Goodnight, all.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Katie and Alex

I haven't been blogging much ~ life has been getting in the way, it seems!
I thought I'd post a couple pics today. Over the Christmas and New Year holidays we had some visitors here at Razzberry Corner and I never took a moment to mention them. We were visited by Katie and Alex and my mother, too. Everyone has returned home since then, and they are missed by us here!


My 2 cats, Jack and Shadow, really liked having other cats visit.  Shadow is a real cat lover - she loves all other cats.  She even loved Katie, who isn't very friendly to other cats (Katie's nickname is "The Claw" because she often attacks other cats which her wild right hook).  But sweet Shadow tamed Katie's addiction to cat fighting and they became allies.  Jack just likes everyone, he's not picky.
Now there's not much else for Jack and Shad to do but to lounge around and be lazy and attempt to stay warm during the long cold winter days. 

Jack ~ look at that smile!

Shadow on her royal bed

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Blueberry Muffins

Made some blueberry muffins with crumb topping for work the other day.
They always turn out good.  Randy and I are still eating them here at the house, although the ones I took to work are long gone.
I've been dieing to bake an apple pie recently, but have been trying to hold off a little longer.  
I just get a baking "itch" sometimes!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Super Wave Oven

We got a Sharper Image Super Wave Oven recently.  We have used it several times now. 
The Sharper Image Super Wave Oven is a cooker that combines halogen heat, convection and Infrared technology to keep foods moist on the inside and browned and crispy on the outside without the use of added fats or oils. Gentle infrared heat cooks food inside out, sealing in juices. Convection circulates the hot air, evenly distributing the heat and speeds, cooking up three times faster.

Here's a webpage about the oven:

I have to agree, it does cook three times faster!  I'm still learning how to cook with it.  It's tough to know how fast foods cook, because they cook in a fraction of the time they normally would cook in a regular oven.  And everything comes out crispy.  Any juices drip off the meat we cook, so it must be healthier than cooking in it's own juices.  So far we've cooked a ham, a roast, and a chicken in the Super Wave oven.
I love it, although I'm still learning how to use it.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Daily Eggs

This basket shows our daily eggs from today. 
We got 11 eggs and 1 broken egg. From 13 older hens and 6 pullets.  In the middle of winter.
In those 11 eggs were 2 light green eggs.  We had thought that we only had 1 green-egg-laying pullet, but I quickly found out that we have 2 green-egg-laying pullets, as we often get 2 green eggs a day now. 
Jade was the first green-egg-laying pullet. 
We don't know who the second is yet. 
But we will solve that mystery! 

Monday, January 10, 2011

Ginger and Muffin Jr find new homes

Last year we had 2 roosters, Leggy and Muffin.  Leg and Muff, as we came to call them, work well together.  They defended the flock of 13 hens from hawks, vultures flying over, deer looking in, and the pesky little songbirds that love to steal their food from the pen.  After the chicken pen was roofed, the roosters continued their watch, not understanding they were safe from aerial assault.  The boys continually searched and scratched for food, clucking to tell the ladies when they were successful and then stepping aside so the ladies could eat.  They didn't fight, as they both knew their place in the rooster pecking order.  The hens didn't take a beating from the roosters, as the roos didn't compete to show who was "the man" by trying to get frisky continually with the poor hens.  In fact, sex was almost non-existent in the chicken pen.  The hens loved not having bald backs and necks caused by rough roosters.  All was peaceful in our chicken world.

Then, everything changed when we raised 13 chicks last summer.  It was all good til autumn, when 7 young roosters grew out of those cute little fluffy chicks.  Of course, over half of our chicks turned into roosters, when we didn't need any more roos on the farm.  Such is our luck. 

It's fun to review the genetics on our young roos.  We named them as follows:
Muffin Jr - son of Muffin
Brownie Jr - son of the rooster Brownie
Brownie Jr II - another son of Brownie
Leggy Jr - son of Leg
Ginger - my fav cockerel who loves to be held! Believed to be son of our former roos Fred or Ricky
Blackie - son of the hen Black Betty and unknown rooster
Big Red Jr- son of the rooster Big Red

We don't want to give them unique names, as we are not going to keep them!  I don't need to personalize birds that I'm not keeping, it makes it too hard for me to get rid of them.  Unfortunately, I made that mistake when I first started raising chicks and named all the young fluffy cutie-pie chicks, and so they were stuck with cutesie names like Muffin and Leggy even after they grew into big boy roosters.

And now the young cockerels are fighting for their place in the rooster pecking order.  Since Leg is the second rooster, with Muff being the lead rooster, it seems that everyone fights with Leg first to push him out of his status.

So we are going to get rid of some roosters.  The first to go are Muff Jr and Ginger.  We really liked both these birds, so they found a home with a family who wanted chickens for eggs and as pets.  They have young kids and wanted friendly but hard working roosters, and these cockerels were a good choice for them.  Chickens are new to them, so we are assisting them to build their flock.

Muff Jr and Ginger in a cage in the car
It was a cold winter day as the roosters were put into a cage and it was packed into the car and covered with a towel.  The boys were scared as they were driven to their new home.  They had never been away from their beloved farm where they were raised.  Everything was about to change for them!

Roosters in their new home: Ginger on Left, Muffin Jr on right

The boys spent a night int heir new coop alone, adjusting to their new home.  Then, the next day,  some new pullets were introduced to our boys.  The cockerels were so excited to have ladies to take care of!

3 white pullets were added to the new flock

We got 6 pullets for the new flock from the local farmer's market.  We weren't sure all their birds would get along, but hoped for the best.  And to our surprise, everyone got along perfectly!
3 Rhode Island Red pullets were also added to the flock

The cockerels immediately started clucking, telling the new hens where the food was located, within minutes of the hens' arrival.  And Ginger immediately started feeling very frisky.  The hens wanted nothing to do with that!

Ginger attempts to dance for a lady while balancing on the roost bar.  She thinks he's out of his mind and runs away!
Gathering at the waterer

The first full day the 6 pullets were in the coop, they laid 3 eggs between them.  One of the white ones is an Araucana and laid a green egg!  The other 2 eggs were brown eggs from the Rhode Island Reds.

And so, 2 of our boys have a new home. Good luck, Ginger and Jr.!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Leggy's Been Mud Wrestling!

My favorite rooster, Leggy, has seen better days.

It appears he's been mud-wrestling!

In the below photo, rain just washed away the last snow, making the chicken pen muddy. 
And Leggy's been feeling his oats and fighting with the young cockerels.  We are in the process of finding homes for some spare baby roosters.  We used to have 2 roos, but after our 13 summer chicks grew up, we ended up with 7 more roosters.  So now we have 9 roosters!

Poor Leggy

Leg is in the process of growing feathers back after a molt.  He hasn't gotten all of his beautiful tail feathers yet.  And it's been COLD here in MD.  Leggy really hates cold weather. 

By springtime Leggy will be back to his old beautiful self, hopefully!

Muffin and Leggy.  Muffin is the lead rooster, Leggy is #2. They are both ok with their flock positions.  It's those new boys that are not ok with the 2 old men of the flock.

Leggy and the young cockerel Blackie in the background

Friday, January 7, 2011

Lucy Wears a Chicken Apron

My favorite hen is Lucy.
Sweet Lucy.
Lucy Goosey.

Recently Lucy has gotten a bald back.
Originally it was caused by too many roosters in our flock and Lucy is the friendliest, sweetest hen in the world - everyone loves her. 
But then, after her back was naked, we caught sweet Lucy picking out her own feathers!
I believe it's because when the feather shafts begin to grown in they poke her naked skin and make her uncomfortable.  And so she plucks out the new feather shaft, continually keeping her back bald.

And so, she now wears a chicken apron to protect her from the roosters and from herself.  She doesn't seem to mind the apron much. 

RC is for Razzberry Corner!

Can you tell she loves to pose for the camera?
She always runs to me an wants to be held.  She's a sweetie.  She knows her name and always comes when called.  I walk around the chicken pen calling "Lucy! Luuucy!" and within seconds she's by my feet, waiting for me to pick her up, no matter if she was in the nest box or whatever else she was involved in when I called.

I don't think she really went through the yearly winter molt, I don't know why.  If she did molt, her feathers didn't come in as nice as some of the other hens. 
I'm hoping that in a few weeks her back isn't naked anymore.  Until then, she's wearing the apron.
Good Luck, Lucy!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Introducing Jade, the Green-Egg-Laying Chicken

On Jan 1st, one of our pullets gave us a green egg!  Since then, we've gotten 3 more green eggs from this sweet young chicken.

We've decided to name her Jade.  What's unique to us about her is that she has light green ears.  Most of our chickens have red or white ears.

In the below photo you can see her ears.

The green eggs are so pretty in a light brown dozen.  I love them because they are different!

They still look exactly the same on the inside!