Thursday, December 31, 2009

Kitchen Woodstove Forces Us to Put Food in Fridge

Randy installed his new woodstove in the kitchen last night.  Today it kept us toasty warm.  It has a blower which forces the warm air into the room, making it nice and warm.

Previously, our kitchen was almost freezing.  We could see our breath.  Outside the temps have been in the teens this week (thanks to the wind!).  Our kitchen isn't heated with the rest of the house; we've kept a small electric heater running in there, but it just couldn't keep the room even remotely warm.  We even joked that we could leave the milk sitting out on the kitchen table & it would be fine.

We didn't want a super fancy (read, expensive) woodstove, as we plan on tearing down the kitchen and rebuilding it in the next couple years.  When we rebuild that part of the house, the kitchen will be larger, and the attached bath (right now the only bath) will be much larger, and an upstairs master bedroom, walk-in closet and bath will be built.  A girl can dream, can't she?  And, when we redo the kitchen, we plan on heating and air conditioning it properly.  And we probably will not have a fireplace in the new kitchen.  So the new woodstove will have to be moved into one of the other 6 fireplaces in the house then.

But for now, we are toasty warm in the kitchen, and the place has that slight woodsy-smell (probably from the firewood that we have sitting beside the stove), which reminds me of happiness, and warmth, and everything pleasant. 

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Little Deer

Today we were visited by Little Deer.  He came right up to our back door to eat the grass there.  He looked in our windows and said hello to us.  Eventually he wandered back down to our barn area.  I always put out corn to my deer feeding area, which is near the barn, and it attracts the deer.  In the past few weeks Little Deer had been visiting us with his mother, but today his mother was nowhere nearby.

There have been alot of deer around our property lately, probably chased by hunters.  In fact, this morning I heard many gunshots in the woods - the shots always sound so loud in the winter woods, even though they are far away.

Little Deer, stay close to our house and you will be safe.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all from Razzberry Corner! 
We haven't had time to post lately ~ been busy with the holidays!

My cat, Jack, loved the boxes my sister, Barb sent.  He couldn't keep his nose off them. 

Barb, were your dogs near the boxes?  Jack is curious!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Jerry Returns

Jerry returned this afternoon!  He's our outside cat; he used to come up every morning for food.  Last Saturday we had the big snowstorm, and Jerry didn't come back until this afternoon, Wednesday. 

Here he comes on the right, making it thru snow that's almost as high as him.  The clear spot, where there is no snow, was where one of our cars used to sit.

He made it onto the front porch.

He's looking intently for that food bowl.

We gave him canned food, and dry catfood, and fresh water. He was HUNGRY.

Jerry gives us one last look of thanks before he gobbles his food.

I know he's a tough old tomcat, but I really don't think he goes anywhere else for food. Before we used to feed him we noticed many birds used to die around our bird feeders. Also we used to see him hunting mice, snakes, other small animals (like moles), and larger animals (like woodchucks!) around the property. He belongs here, he was here before us.  We made a deal with him ~ we feed him, he takes care of our property.  I'm glad he returned.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Tracks in the Snow

After our big snowstorm left us 2 days ago we had 22 inches of snow ~ that's a whole lot more than I've seen in Maryland in a long, long time!  The snow was up to my knees and higher where it drifted, making walking around it it tough (outside of the ploughed areas, that is).  My stray/outside cat, Jerry, hasn't come by since the snow hit.  I hope he's eating wherever he is.  The raccoon family that normally visit us in the evenings haven't come by, either.  But we have gotten lots of birds of all varieties.  We've kept the feeders full for them.  A flock of big, black crows which normally don't come to our feeders stopped by and left their footprints in the snow along with the songbird footprints. 


I decided to go out to our old historic barn yesterday and see if Jerry's staying out there.  The barn's in our backyard, but a distance out.  I took some dry cat food and my camera with me, and headed out, trekking thru the snow.  After a couple minutes I realized it was really tough to walk, but I found a lone deer trail and walked in his footsteps.  Here's a picture of the lone deer prints which I found.

When I got closer to the barn, I found more deer footprints, all leading to the barn. 

There were many more deer footprints in the snow near a patch of cedar trees beside the barn. The trees were heavy and leaning over with the weight of the snow, bringing them down to nibbling height for the deer, it appeared.  There was less snow out here under the trees, too.

Looks like a deer party was held out by my barn!
PS - No Jerry anywhere.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Blizzard of 2009

We've gotten over 14 inches of snow & it's still coming down!  The news just called it the blizzard of 2009.

Randy bought a tractor a few weeks ago.  He's been plowing the dirt road leading to our house as the snow's been coming down to keep it manageable.  The only thing he doesn't like about the tractor is that it doesn't have a covered cab.  Here he draped a tarp over the cab to keep the seat dry.

We put out extra seeds for our feathered friends.

Chicken update

I've been so busy lately, I just haven't had time to spend with the blog.  This morning I took some pics of the chickens.  They are getting so big.  Here's one of the birds we call the yellow chickens - they used to be yellow, now they are turning more of a white with brown spots.  It's interesting to see how they all change as they grow.

Li'l Puff has changed drastically since I last posted about him.  He's doubled in size, has gotten a comb and wattles.  We now think he's a Houdan mix.  He's got a strange V-comb, puffy head feathers, bare legs.  He's become a cockerel, not just a cute little chick anymore.  And he loves to fight with all the other cockerels, even though he loses the fights.  He's got spunk!  We have to keep him separated from the flock because he fights too much, and gets his butt kicked too much...

Li'l Puff fighting!

Serious fighting going on...  We need to get rid of some of our roosters- we got chickens for the eggs, but somehow, the Amish farmer sold us all roosters...

Here's my man Leggy, the White Leghorn.  Leggy rules the flock, he's bigger than all the other birds. So far he seems to be a good rooster.  And he still loves to cuddle with me.  I remember when he was just a baby chick...  Now he's starting making rooster sounds, he even made a rough-sounding crow a few times when we were near him.

Here's one of the Guineas.  We have 4 of them.  They are so ugly, and not too friendly, although Randy got one of them to settle down in his arms this morning.  They make strange noises, too.  The other chickens try to imitate their sounds.

Here's the Momma Hen, Freckles.  She's given us 3 eggs so far.  Not a great track record, but maybe she'll get more consistant soon.  Li'l Puff is in the picture here, too.

Egg #3 - 1.7 oz was laid on 17Dec 2009

Historic East Coast Snowstorm!

Wow, do we have snow!  It's about 8-12 inches, and forcast to continue all day for us! This is the view from my front porch this morning!  Stay tuned, I'll have more pictures as I venture out further! 

Too bad this isn't a work day for me - I'm sure all businesses in Washington will be closed today!  Wonder if the stores will be closed?  I still have some Christmas shopping to do...

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas visitor

This morning we had a visitor - a wood mouse.  We often get mice when the weather gets cold out.  Well, it's cold out there now!  The wood mouse stood no chance against the mighty Jack & Shadow.  If anything - animal or bug, comes into our house, they know about it.

They were chasing the little guy when I got up - Randy had to take it away from Shadow.

Sorry, little mouse - we like Christmas visitors, but not mice in our kitchen.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Li'l Puff

This little strange chick came with our other chicks that came with the momma hen, Freckles.  The Amish people from which we got the chicks said that not all of them may have come from the momma hen, some other eggs may have gotten mixed in her nest.  Sure enough, one little chick just doesn't look like the rest.  All the chicks are about 2 months old, but this strange-looking little one, which I call Li"l Puff, is much smaller and looks so different.  Puff has a puff of feathers on her head, and a strange bumpy beak. 

Here is Puff on the right side with the other chicks and Freckles.  Puff is kinda ugly, but is oh-so friendly.  She is the first to jump into our hands when we come into the coop. 
Does anyone know what type of chick Puff could be???  Any ideas would be appreciated.  We figured we'd just wait and see what she grows into...

Egg Comparison

We cooked up Freckles' first egg.  Before cooking, we compared it with a store-bought "large" egg.  It was darker but basically the same size.  It was 1.4 oz in weight.  Can you tell which egg is Freckles'?

Our chickens have not been able to free-range yet, nor have they been able to spend too much time outside. We are in the process of building them an outside enclosure which is totally safe from fox, raccoons, and other land creatures and covered to keep out the hawks and owls.  It's not yet completed - we still need to finish laying concrete under the fence and build the cover (will post about it when it's done - it's a slow project!)  We've seen and heard numerous hawks and owls around the chicken coop, and our little 2 month old pullets and cockerels would make a tasty snack to them.  We take the chickens outside to the garden or the fenced chicken area when we are able to be out there nearby "babysitting" them.  I'm sure when Freckles spends more time outside her eggs will be different.

Freckles has given us a second egg already, one day after her first.  She laid 2 days in a row, then took 2 days off.  The second egg was 1.7 oz.  I was upset I didn't get a third egg already!  Guess she needs to get back in the swing of things- she just did raise a bunch of baby chicks, and I need to be patient!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Freckles Laid an Egg!

We have one hen named Freckles based on a suggestion from Sue (Thanks, Sue).  Well, Freckles laid her first egg last night!  What a shock! It's a medium sized, light brown egg.

We bought Freckles along with 8 chicks back in October.  I didn't expect her to lay an egg yet because she still is mothering her chicks, but she surprised me!  I like the name Freckles because she has these dark spots on her shoulders.

We don't expect any of our other chickens to lay any eggs until the April/May timeframe next year because they were all born in October. But maybe Freckles will bless us with her eggs all winter long!
Thank you, Freckles!!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Chicken Update Day 48

The chickens had a week of antibiotics in their water, and they all have gotten better.  Previously they had a bad case of an upper respiratory infection, which made us rush to find a cure.  The antibiotics worked wonders, thank goodness!

Here's Leggy, the white leghorn cockerel (with a guinea hen in the front).  I know, I'm not too imaginative when it comes to names.  I didn't want to name my chickens, I didn't want to get too attached.  We aren't going to keep all the roosters, and we seem to have quite a few.  But nicknames got started, and the names have stuck.  Leggy has become my baby.  I think he is beautiful.  I have been trying to make sure he doesn't grow up to be mean, because I don't want to have to ever get rid of him!

Here's Leggy in my lap with a few of the hens.

And here is Leggy sleeping in my arms.  He is the most hyper young chicken, but all it takes is a few neck rubs when he's in my arms, and he goes right to sleep!  Most of our chickens can be put to sleep like this!

We have 5 chickens that look like this - dark with a white face.  We were told they were Bantams, we call them "hawks".

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Went out this morning for a quick walk, excited it wasn't raining.  It's been raining for days here in Maryland.  There was a morning fog; it was so beautiful.  I woke a herd of whitetail deer who were sleeping in the field - look down the path to see a deer bounding across the road.  I got a few more pictures of the deer, but they were tough to see thru the fog. 

Morning fog on the field

Thanksgiving morning, 2009

Monday, November 23, 2009

Chick update - Day 40 - Sick Chicks

It's been 40 days since we got our chicks, and we are having an epidemic.  The chicks have gotten some sort of upper respiratory infection.  They get puffed up, lethargic, and lose their appetite.  It appears to slowly be affecting most of the flock.  One chick has died, several more are very sick.  A few chicks seemed to not be well early on shortly after we got them, and we moved them inside to the infirmary in the house and paid special attention to them, hand feeding and watering them, and soon they appeared to get better. 

Then they got sick again when they were outside in the chicken coop.  At first it was just one sick chick, then suddenly two weren't normal, and we were worried.  Then overnight six got sick... Time to panic!  We called a thousand vets, it's tough to find a vet who deals with chickens.  And of course this happens on a Sunday, and right before Thanksgiving, too...  We continue to hand water the sick chicks with an eye dropper.  They have lost their appetite, and we can't force them to eat...

The local feed store sold us some antibiotics and some antibacterial solution, too.  We started with the antibiotics in their water; maybe later we'll do the antibacterial solution, but not now.  Today we gave all chicks a good dose of antibiotic water from a dropper, even those who appear to be healthy.  Some of the healthy chicks loved drinking from an eye dropper - we just had to hold it in front of them and they gobbled the water.  Several of them drank the medicine-water heartily from a mug which we set on the ground.  The sick ones we had to force them to drink.  Poor birds.  The guinea keets are all fine, as are the two biggest chicks.  The infection affects the small and weakest birds first.

We did finally speak to a local vet who deals with livestock, including chickens.  He told us upper respiratory infections are common if we bought from folks who may have had an infected flock.  We didn't know the people from whom we bought the chicks - they came from an auction.  He said the mother hen we bought could have been a carrier of the infection, even though she appears to be healthy.  The vet confirmed we are doing everything right - medicating the birds, keeping them warm, all we can do is wait and hope the chicks get healthy again.  He did say the chickens would be strong and resistant when they got better from this infection. 

Who knew raising chicks was so much work?!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Hibernating Ladybugs

In the past few weeks the ladybugs have returned to our house to hibernate.  To the inside of our house, that is. 

Last year was our first autumn in the house and we were shocked to find hundreds, maybe thousands, of ladybugs migrating inside when the weather first got cold.  Our home isn't well insulated and the ladybugs find a way to get inside.  Last autumn we collected them in jars and took them away.  We exterminated the house last spring, but the ladybugs still returned, although this autumn we have less ladybugs than last year.  In the past few weeks we have collected them in jars once again and let them go down the street - I think we got rid of most of them now.  It seems once we remove them they do not come back.  They are mostly on the sunny side of the house walking on the walls, but they also get everywhere in the rooms on that side of the house. 

Here's a ladybug on a sneaker shoelace.

Here are a group of ladybugs in a corner of a room by the ceiling.

Some of the ladybugs have spots, some don't have spots.  Although I don't hate ladybugs, I really don't like them inside my house, and I'm happy we got rid of them for now!  I think if it were any other type of bug I'd really freak out!  Goodbye, ladybugs...

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Another Tree Across the Road

The other night I was driving home from work late at night.  It was dark, cold, and pouring rain.  It had been a long, hard day at work, and all I wanted to do was get to my peaceful, quiet home, eat a good dinner, and get some sleep before going off to work & starting again early the next day.  And then I saw it - the largest tree ever fell and was laying across our dirt road, blocking the only way home.  It was so discouraging to see that tree.  Why do trees only fall across roads at the worst possible time?  There was no way to drive around the massive tree.  It was a huge, old, dead tree.  The recent rain brought it down and made a muddy mess of the road around the fallen tree.

I couldn't get a picture of it as I didn't have my camera with me, and it was so dark and raining it would have been tough.  I called my husband, who luckily was home, and he drove out from home to "his side" of the tree and surveyed the situation from there.  It was no problem for him.  He climbed over the tree and brought me a change of clothes from home so I didn't destroy my work clothes, I changed in the car, then we both climbed back over the tree and he drove me the rest of the way home.  While I made dinner, he and the neighbor made short work of getting that monster tree out of the road.  They cut it up with chainsaws and pushed it out of the way with the tractor.  It was amazing how fast it was done.  What was I fretting about?  No problem for 2 men, a chainsaw and a tractor.

I took these pictures the next day when the rain finally let up.