Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Joy in the Morning

After breakfast, Anna-Rose has the daily task of letting the chickens out of their coop and tossing them a bowl of dried corn. The guineas follow in hot pursuit creating a wild teeming mass of feathers, beaks and squawks in the driveway each morning while they gobble their goodies. The way they go at it you'd think they had been prisoners of war for six months on a starvation diet.
What I find extraordinary is the way they have developed a daily routine without any direction from me. Following the corn feast, they adjourn to the patio to whine (chickens) and screech (guineas) for more snacks. They know, you see, that this is the time of day when I am working in the kitchen. After being ignored and/or chastised, they then proceed to demonstrate the answer to the riddle: Why did the chicken cross the road? Why, to get to the neighbor's yard of course. Yes, I have raised a flock of malcontents who find the grass greener on the other side.
This creates several amusing scenarios each day as they cross back and forth holding up traffic or chasing cars (yes, the guineas do this) or inspecting horse-riders and dog-walkers (you never know who might be carrying a handout). Braveheart once decided to challenge a Jeep Wrangler and staunchly stood his ground until, arms waving like a lunatic, I chased him back into the yard. Thankfully the driver and his dog sat patiently chuckling......at the rooster or me, I don't want to know.

Here's a recent picture of Braveheart, looking dashing and debonaire. In reality he is a glutton. He actually sits on the back doorstep crowing until someone comes out and throws some leftovers at him. And to think I once called him charming. We've decided that his crow sounds like, "Where's my coooorn?!!" Where once he strutted, he now waddles. Shameful.

Now that the guineas are on the loose, we are seeing fewer insects and absolutely zero ticks. This more than makes up for their homely faces and fingernails-on-a-blackboard-at-an-ear-piercing-pitch screaming. Not to mention their low IQ's. I must say that they will come when I call them. All I have to do is yell, "Treeeeeats!" and shake a cup of millet and I can even get them down off the roof (or out of the neighbor's yard).

Not much else happening in the way of agrarian adventures. We had the most pathetic crop of tomatoes I ever hope to see. All green. We had to pull them because of the frost coming last weekend. And not one pepper......not one. Something bit off most of the blossoms as they were growing, and when they did miraculously bear fruit, it was immediately nibbled off as well. Just looking at those two baskets of green tomatoes made me cry. It was so disappointing after all the work, and in my case, a trip to the emergency room for my back when it went out after transplanting them. So I've got a $1000 chicken coop and a $500 tomato crop. Realistically, we really shouldn't have planted this year, not having prepared the soil properly. My flower garden did much better. We still have loads of gigantic pink and white cosmos blooming. I had to laugh the other night. Some potatoes had sprouted in the compost pile and Dwayne brought one in to show me. It was the size of a pea! Maybe we should just stick the seeds right in the compost next year seeing as how my tomatoes are greener than my thumb.

But at least I can raise chickens. And look at the benefits!


Blogger Marci said...

Wow, it is so good to hear your humor and see that you are writing again. I LOVE your sense of humor and your descriptions of your birds. I am really sorry about your tomatoes. I would have loved to share some of mine with you. However, we would have both been out peppers. Mine had problems too. I don't know what happened. I think I got maybe 4 or 5 jalapenos and 3 banana peppers and that is it. I had MANY plants and types of peppers planted and have always done well with them.

I hope you get a chance to write more often. Your writing is very entertaining. =) Thanks for a smile this morning.

6:18 AM  
Anonymous Scott Terry said...

Glad your back! I was getting worried that something happened to you :)

Our chickens are in the road all the time. Cars are always stopping for momma hens and their brood as they roam around the road. Our bluetick likes to lay in the road. If any one trys to get her to move, she bites the car and howels at them. Most learn to go around.

Blessings to You and the family

6:15 PM  
Blogger Lynn said...

Glad to see your post! Your chickens are doing much better than ours ... We just lost one of our laying hens to the skunk that now lies dead just off from our driveway. That means the rest will have to do double duty. I have enough peppers to supply both your family and Marci's! I don't know why our garden did so well, in spite of having drought conditions.

Anyway, I hope you will be posting again soon!

6:53 PM  
Blogger HomesteadHerbs said...

Nice to see you post! This coming from one who hasn't had a chance to do any posting, and is barely keeping up with everyone else's post!

I've missed your adventures! Actually I've missed all my Christian Agrarian friends! :-) But have always made me smile and laugh, so I miss you the most! :-)

Maybe we should start a produce coop...those that have an overabundance get to share with others....then we can evenly distribute and no one is without! (This from one that only got a few meals out of the produce in the garden!! I made a promise to myself that next year would be better cause the soil would be wonderful!)

9:40 PM  
Blogger Emily said...

Thanks, everyone, for your kind comments and compliments!

If we lived closer, I would certainly take you up on your generous offer! To keep my sanity, I have to have a sense of humor with all the silly shenanigans that go on around here. I can always find something in a situation to laugh about....but it's usually after the fact!

We have a dog across the road who will do that but I don't think he's being stubborn - just witless. Whenever we hear a horn blatting right outside the house we know there's a chicken in the road. No casualties so far. We've even had people slow down just to gawk at the guineas. They are a sight to behold that's for sure!

Peppers? I'll be right over! :) God really blessed your gardening efforts this year plus you had the added bonus of Steven's "golden thumb"! Sorry about your chickens. I am constantly amazed at the lack of predators around here. We've only seen a hawk twice and nothing on the ground has gone for them, not even the dog across the street.

Good to hear from you! I've missed reading about your adventures as well. In my case, I'll clarify that to read MIS-adventures. But we continue to learn. A co-op sounds great. Wouldn't it be a perfect way to barter? I could use a bushel of tomatoes, but don't have any produce to offer in return, so....um, does anyone need a guinea or two? Too bad we're all so scattered around the country!

2:28 PM  
Blogger Patti said...

Hi , I keep my goats in the barn for winter because we can get wind chills to -35+. I dont' know alot about the miniture breeds but I know I have read the Nigerian Dwarf,mini Nubians etc do give a nice amount of milk, The dwarfs would also eat less feed and take up less space. With your back issues I think the dwarf breeds are worth looking into! If you need more info let me know:):)

6:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Emily!

Good to hear from you again! I love to hear your (mis)adventures with your poultry!!! I've been wondering where you went.

Thanks for your compliment! But I sure didn't do it alone. I just helped "plant some seeds" literally and figuratively. Much of the credit for their bountiful harvest must go to Lynn's boys who kept that huge garden almost weed free and well watered!!!!

Most of your green tomatoes will ripen if you have some patience. I spread my green tomatoes out on the ground inside our greenhouse-most of them ripened in within 6 weeks. We canned the last ripe ones today. Lynn spread out her multi-bushels of tomatoes inside her hoophouse and has been overwhelmed with canning. She allowed the last green tomatoes to freeze out in the hoophouse this past week.

You can keep them in boxes or spread them out--in the light or the dark or inbetween. They just need to be warm--cool storage really slows down the ripening.

Ask ten gardeners and you'll get twelve ways to get green tomatoes to ripen and basically all of them will work. So it depends on what room you have available to store your tomatoes until they ripen---maybe your porch now that you aren't using it as a temporary brooder house.

Best wishes!! Love your poultry pics!

11:26 PM  
Blogger Emily said...

Thanks for answering my goat questions! Yes, my thoughts about the dwarf goats were the same - less wear on my back. I will certainly be in touch with more questions I'm sure.

Good to hear from you! Thanks for the tomato advice. I have them in cardboard boxes covered with newspaper and some are already starting to turn. I'm afraid there won't be enough to can so we'll just use them up as they ripen.

2:58 PM  
Anonymous judy said...

Those are the most Beatiful eggs I've ever seen,I didn't know laying had started Congratulations!

Looking forward to Anna's birthday party talk to you soon!

8:02 AM  
Blogger Emily said...

Thanks! I should send out cards to let people know the good news, like birth announcements. :) The way the hens squawk after they lay them, you'd think they were made of gold. You can take some home with you next weekend! They are delicious as well as beautiful.

3:36 PM  

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