Dang it all!

My post on peace poles was not ready. It posted by accident. Disregard it! Sorry. 

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 What Has Been Going On In My World?!

It has been over 100 days since my last post! There are many reasons for not posting.  One was I just didn’t have much to say other than the same-o same-o!  How many times can I talk about chickens doing what chickens do?  How many chicken pics can I post?  It just seemed so boring – not that I’m complaining.  The summer days falling into a familiar routine with no big shake ups is a good thing.  It just doesn’t make for interesting writing.

Plus I was sorta busy.

Here is an update on some of the goings-on. 

We added to our family!

  

New grandson Max, born on July 3rd. 

The bunny proof fence got built, the vegetable garden thrived and the bunnies got revenge by eating most of my flowers instead. 

 

  Next year flowers go in with the vegetables!

The perennials I transplanted to make room for the asparagus bed did ok but really need another year to get established.  I put coffee cans around my new milkweed and other plants in the flower beds to keep the bunnies from decimating them. Clever gal, aren’t I?

  

  

The asparagus bed is doing well with the beautiful fern like leaves looking so pretty and healthy. 

  

(Please excuse the weeds)

 I could have saved myself a ton of work though – I have discovered the ultimate easy and BEST way to put in an asparagus bed.  Forget digging trenches and planting crowns.  Less than a third of them even came up after all our effort.  My local garden center had potted up asparagus plants and I just popped them in the bare spots.  How super easy. I wish I had just used them from the start.

If you are going to put in an asparagus bed I suggest buying potted asparagus plants, digging a larger than needed hole, amending the soil with bone meal, and compost, and plunking in your plants. Pricier at first but not really because you save a ton of back breaking labor and unlike the crowns the potted plants are a sure thing.  Take my word!

Milkweed popped up all through the asparagus bed since that is where it had originally been planted (remember  I moved the butterfly garden to make way for the asparagus).  I didn’t have the heart to yank it since the new butterfly garden is not yet well established.  Next year I will tidy it all up.

  

The doggie poop area is working out well. Weeds popped through on the perimeter so next year I will put in some groundcover plants to block the weeds and give it a nice ‘rock garden’ look. It doesn’t smell unless we don’t pick up the poops for many days. (That only happened when we were away).

  

One noteworthy thing to add:

I did what for a gardener is unthinkable.

I WENT AWAY IN AUGUST!

No gardener in their right mind goes away during harvest time but I had an oh-so-good reason.

It was to watch this gal compete in the 2016 Summer Olympics!

  

My granddaughter Haley competed in Womens’ Freestyle Wrestling.  It was a once in a lifetime experience  and I will devote my next post to telling all about the trip.

  

Things were not too bad garden wise when we got back and I am slowly but surely harvesting, weeding and putting things right.

  

What has been going on in your world?

 

Some Planet Saving Ideas

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This sign hangs over my sink.

 

 

Let’s all try to reduce out carbon footprint!

Your carbon footprint is the amount of fossil fuel you use, and therefore the amount of greenhouse gases you create.  Not just directly, but indirectly such as when we buy items that were shipped long distances to reach us, or create waste, both which use fuel and create pollution.

Here is a link to a calculator that can tell you what your carbon footprint is:

http://www.nature.org/greenliving/carboncalculator/

If we all try to reduce our carbon footprints it will make a difference and we will be responsible stewards of our earth.  I don’t know about you but that makes me feel really good about myself.

I try to create a lifestyle in which taking care of the planet is second nature to me.  I hope I set a good example for the next generation as well.  While some of us would never consider littering and will always turn off lights when leaving a room, there are other ways to save energy.

Buying food from local sources or better yet, growing your own food helps to reduce your carbon footprint because you are not using products that were shipped from long distances using fuel and causing pollution.

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Walking or biking to work or for shopping and errands helps save fuel and pollution from you car.  If you are in the market for a new car consider a hybrid.

Planting shade trees and wind breaks of evergreens around your property will help keep it cool in summer or warmer in winter so you will use less energy.  A simple thing like installing a screen door so you can catch breezes and go longer before needing to turn on your AC can help.

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Many things can be reused or refashioned into useful things to save on the waste we produce.  Plastic grocery bags can be cut into strips and crocheted into tote bags, rugs and sleeping pads.

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I made this!

 

 

bag mats

A local church makes these sleeping pads for homeless people.

Your sacks from chicken feed can be turned into cute tote bags.

 

feed bags

I recently saw a gadget that turns plastic bottles into plastic ‘rope’.

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  If you buy Parmesan cheese in the cans with shaker tops you can fill the empty cans with baking soda and add  several drops of your favorite essential oil.  Sprinkle on your carpet before bed and let sit overnight.  Vacuum in the morning for a freshened carpet.  Did you know those green lids screw onto a mason jar?  Great for storing dried herbs from the garden or rice and other staples.

parm

Better yet try to choose products that have the least packaging in the first place. Buy that parm as a big chunk and grate it yourself!  Buy one large container of ice cream, applesauce, yogurt or whatever and portion it out into your reusable containers rather than buying small individually packaged containers.  Make juice and ice tea in a pitcher (remember those?) instead of buying individually bottled drinks for you and your family. Buy coffee, tea, spices and grains in bulk.

And Puh-leeze never buy bottled water!

(Let me repeat that)

Puh-leeze never buy bottled water!

We recently switched to utility company that uses wind energy for our home. I have not noticed any difference in our bill yet but if they produce more wind energy than is used they sell it to the regular utility company and we get a reduced bill!  It is a great option since I can’t put up my own wind turbine or solar panels.  At least I know my home is powered by clean energy.  Check if they have this option where you live.

In Iowa the company is Alegient Energy.

Some other things that can help:

Read books instead of electronic devices or watching TV – I bet the library is in walking distance for some of you.

Let your hair dry naturally.

Shower less (it’s better for your skin).

Cook several things at once if using your oven.

Use a reusable sponge or dishtowel instead of paper towels.

Bring your lunch to work in reusable containers (and don’t forget reusable silverware).

Don’t use power lawn tools and get a better workout!

Share books and magazines with neighbors or coworkers.

Buy in bulk.

Try to have one day a week where you don’t use any prepackaged anything.  Once you can handle that try to go longer.

Compost anything you can.

Recycle anything recyclable – no excuses! (I can’t believe some people still don’t recycle at all).

Dry clothes on a clothesline.

Make your own non-polluting laundry soap and cleaning supplies – it’s easy!

Buy from thrift stores. salvage stores and the ReStore – great places!

If you are shopping for a new home, consider a smaller one.

Plant a tree. Plant anything except a lawn.

You have probably heard some or even all of these suggestions but are you implementing them?  The time is NOW and it starts with you.  Hopefully your example will inspire others.  Don’t put it off, we have a planet to save!

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Another sign in my kitchen!

Do you have any more ideas for reducing your carbon footprint?

Winter Chicken Keeping

This is an older post but I have been seeing a lot of questions on this subject lately. I though it was timely to post again.

ruthschickens

Last winter was a doozey but our chooks were cozy and did just fine. 

coop in the snow

The original ‘Cluck In’ is a small coop, the 4 gals were as cozy as can be all packed together at night on their roosting perch. Their body heat kept them warm.

The coop only had one small window which has a sliding door that I left half open for ventilation on all but the coldest days/nights.  It also had a sliding door that opened to their run but we never closed this door.  Instead I took an old throw rug and made 2 curtain-like ‘flaps’ to keep out cold drafts.  The girls could push their way in and out.

We weather-stripped around the clean-out door and wrapped the nest box in a quilted movers tarp (we wrapped in such a way that we could still open it for egg retrieval). We threw more tarps over the roof.   …

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Final Chapter of The Monarch Rescue 2015

Monach 8 26 15

On 8/26 they are still munching on Milkweed and getting even fatter.

8/28/15  My three fat caterpillars have all found their spots and are in place to form chrysalis.

Monarch 8 28 15 J

8/28 This cat is very still on a Milkweed stem,

Monarch J 8 28 15

8/28 This cat is attached to the bottom seam of the habitat.

Monarch top j 8 28 15

8/28 This cat climbed all the way to the top of the habitat.

8/29/15  Not a happy day.  Something is wrong.  The cat that climbed to the top has a lime green portion where part of the chrysalis started to emerge but it has stopped and gone no further in hours and the cat body is thinner and shriveled looking.  I am sure it is dead.  I googled Monarch problems and the cause could be parasites, a virus, pesticide residue or thermal stress.  Wasp parasites do attack at this stage so that is very possible.  The Milkweed I have was planted two years ago after I bought it from a local nursery.  Could it still have neonicotinoid residue?  I am ruling out thermal stress because our windows are open and our inside temperature and humidity pretty much matches outdoors.  Although it has been cool, I don’t think it is too cold.

Another of my cats is still on a twig – not in a normal position for forming a chrysalis – and hasn’t moved.  It does not look dead so I will take a ‘wait and see’ approach.

The third cat on the bottom seam of the habitat still is in a normal ‘J’ position and looks OK.

I am not feeling good about my ‘babies’, my heart is sick.

 

To see a real time chrysalis formation click on the link below:

The link below will show a Monarch emerging from the chrysalis:

Isn’t nature wonderful?

That is how it should go.

8/30  Sadly my caterpillars all died before forming a chrysalis.  After reading around on the web I think they may have been infected by a protozoan called OE.

Nature can also be a bitch.

I will try again next year.  I will do a few things differently such as keeping all cats separate until they form their chrysalis and washing all leaves before giving them to the cats to eat.  I still gave them more of a shot then they would have had on their own so although my heart is broken, I wont be deterred from trying again.

😦

If you have had luck with your own Monarch cats and/or butterflies, or if you have any ideas or suggestions for me please let me know in a comment.

Update On The Monarch Rescue

8/15/15 I found a tiny caterpillar and a tiny egg.

8/16/15  My egg hatched!   I now have 2 small cats, plus I found another (possible?) egg.  (I say possible because I am not very good at recognizing Monarch eggs!)

8/17/15 One cat is MIA (could the other cat have eaten it?)  but the other one has grown a lot!  (Hmmmmmmm).  I found another cat about the same size plus another egg(?).  So my total for today is 2 cats and possibly 2 eggs.

Update:  Found another cat today so that makes 3 cats and 2 eggs.

Monarch cat 8 14 15

I found this cat on 8/15/15. It’s a MIRACLE that I could even see it!

Monarch cat 8 17 153.+0

Here it is on 8/17/15. It is really growing!

Monarch set up

This is my set up. In each smaller container there is a tiny, few day old caterpillar and some fresh leaves to munch on. The two leaves laying on the bottom each have a (possible?) Monarch egg. When the eggs hatch the baby cats will get a small container of their own. Once the cats get bigger I will put them in in my net habitat (hopefully it will arrive soon) where they will stay until they become butterflies.

8/19/15:  I haven’t found any new cats outside for the past 2 days.  My eggs(?) haven’t hatched or changed.  My cats are alive but not growing much..  My butterfly habitat has been shipped but hasn’t arrived yet.  Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr – it’s cold outside.  Mid-August and 57 degrees.  😦

8/20/15 I did not find any more cats today but did find one possible egg.  MY HABITAT ARRIVED!  It is really neat and even came with some Painted Lady Butterfly caterpillars.  It is such a nice set up that I ordered one for my Grandson Patrick’s birthday.  It makes a great educational and fun gift.  Just check out Amazon if you want to order one – I chose the one with a 36″ net habitat.

monarchhabitat

This is the habitat.

painted ladycats

This is the little jar of Painted Lady caterpillars that came with the habitat. It is complete with their food.

monarch cats 8 19 15

My cats 8/19/15

Monarch cats 8 21 15

My babies continue to grow. Here they are on 8/21/15.

monarchpoop

Believe it or not they poop a lot. This is their ‘poop’ aka frass.

8/24/15 No new eggs or cats but the 3 I have are growing and went into the habitat today.  I think they will make their chrysalis’ soon so I put a couple of branches in there for them to climb on when they are ready.

monarchfatcat

8/24/15 My big, fat baby!

In the next few days I hope to see each of my 3 Monarch caterpillars form a chrysalis.  I will post more pics on my next post.

monarchnewhome

8/24/15 My fat babies getting ready to go into their habitat.

  Have you had any luck attracting Monarchs to your yard?  If not have you noticed Milkweed in your neighbors yards, local parks or roadsides? Have you tried rescuing and releasing any?  I hope you will give it a try!

The Past Few Weeks

We a having a great spring!

The baby chicks are eating and growing like crazy.

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My sweet babies at one week.

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We are now calling them Red, White and Blue. Thanks Chris (or actually your husband Alan) for the cute name idea!

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At 2 weeks. Lily is already an escape artist!

chicke3week

At 3 weeks they are getting longer tail feathers,

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I planted radishes and lettuce. The seed packages said to plant as soon as the soil can be worked so there ya go!

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I decided to give carrots another try this year.

I ordered 2 Paw Paw trees from this place:

http://www.starkbros.com/?gclid=CjwKEAjwrbSoBRDok47Sv6Ci80wSJABFUszTm2SlXm52LwjBqfwyKagtbpBDWv69yYxYGTVV0HskqBoCiUjw_wcB

They arrived and got planted Easter weekend.

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Look real close -that is one of the Paw Paw trees behind the flamingo.

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I put all my yard junk – I mean art – out.

pat-hill

I was correct in my post a few weeks ago, when I thought the house I passed on my walks in Elgin, IL belonged to a Wild Ones member. In fact it was the chapter president’s. It is also a Historic Sears Catalogue house. Isn’t it adorable?

You can read about her and her garden at this link:

http://northernkanecounty.wildones.org/2015/02/04/author-pat-hill-native-plants-throughout-the-year/

After reading about the Wild Ones I ordered some native plants from this place:

http://www.prairienursery.com/prairie-nursery/about-us/#.VRobMI10w8E

Best of all, my guys put on the new coop roof.  It still needs finishing touches but I think it looks pretty good.

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I just love spring and the spirit of renewal.  It is so much fun to get going on all the projects that were only dreams during the winter.

What spring projects have you started?  I would love to hear about them.

 

New Chickens – 2015!

WE GOT OUR CHICKS!  WE GOT OUR CHICKS!  WE GOT OUR CHICKS!

Ear to ear smiles are going on around here!

smiles

We were supposed to get them last week but sadly the bad weather on the east coast left more than 60,000 chicks STRANDED  in Memphis.  Our feed store, along with many others, did not get their shipment.

We were disappointed to say the least.

sad

And so a new countdown began.

calander

The time went fast, mostly because 2 days of it were ‘lost’ to a stomach virus, with supsequent days spent recovering and working.  Yes, I know, it IS hard to do both at the same time.  But ya know how it goes…… gotta buy that chicken feed!

Finally, a work week completed, a three day weekend begun, glorious weather cooperating and the feed store got the chicks!

All is right with the world!

good

We got our Iowa Blue, our Rhode Island Red, what a cute little orange puff ball she is, and what else???? They have White Leghorns????

They didn’t tell me they were getting White Leghorns!

  I don’t have a White Leghorn.

Aren’t they the ones called egg-laying machines?  It WOULD be nice to have some white eggs mixed in our egg basket.

It’s only one more chick……

CHICKEN MATH STRIKES AGAIN!

Meet Ivy, Florence and Lily:

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This is Ivy,

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Florence

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Lily

 

 

I wrote about the Iowa Blue chicken in my last post.

Rhode Island Reds are very nice chickens too.  In fact the state of Rhode Island thought enough of them that they made them their state bird.  They have good temperaments and are good layers of brown eggs.

White Leghorns are the typical ‘factory farm’ chicken.  They are excellent year round egg layers and take to confinement and smaller spaces well.

The Iowa grandkids have already been over to see them.

carter with chicks

Carter checking out the baby ‘Bawk-bucks’.

The Illinois grandkids have pictures.

There is a whole lot of peeping going on around here!

They are happy and cozy under the new Brinsea EcoGlow radiant warmer for chicks that just happened to arrive Friday,  (as promised 2 day shipping).  After a ‘near miss’ with the heat lamp last year I think it is worth every penny to have peace of mind with the radiant warmer.  (NO, I don’t receive any compensation for plugging it)

chicken butt

What’s up chicken butt?

You can read about why a radiant heater is better than a heat lamp here:

http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/02/brooder-safety-fear-heat-lamp.html

 I AM SO HAPPY WITH MY BACKYARD FLOCK!

My daughter says I need Chickens Anonymous but I don’t want to be cured!

  I now have a Buff Orpington, 2 White Orpingtons, a Barred Plymouth Rock, an Ameracauna, and a Black Sex Link as well as my new gals, the Iowa Blue, Rhode Island Red and White Leghorn.

I hope these adorable chick pics will inspire even one more person to start a backyard flock.  Chickens deserve to be in happy backyards, not in factory egg farms and YOU deserve to have the freshest and best eggs EVER!

Merry Christmas From My Coop To Yours!

 

A Christmas card from me to you.

Back to blogging in the New Year!

Getting The ‘Flock’ Together For Thanksgiving!

With some of the family living in another state, 3 of us being nurses who work holidays, and our busy schedules,  it is not always possible to get together on the holidays.

nurse

This year we got to celebrate Thanksgiving together – ok just a day late – and only two of us were missing.

14 of us crammed into a 1300 square foot ranch home – cozy as hens in a coop!

cozy

An extra 5  people to accommodate – there is always room for loved ones!

The food was yummy!  (and plentiful)

feast

(((( not my food in the pic – it went too fast to get pics!)))

We stuffed ourselves like chickens on mealworms!

So much to be thankful for!

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Sorry you missed it Danielle and Haley – maybe next year!

I hope you all had a nice Thanksgiving!

 

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