Monday, July 30, 2007

Go Derby!

I've only had the babies 6 days and I am amazed at how big they've got. And its amazing how their individual personalities come through: two like to be held more than the other two; one in particular is really curious, etc.

Last night I wedged a wide piece of wood into the brooder to give them someplace to roost. I pushed it as far down as it would go, and positioned it right in front of a brick I had put in there for them to play on. While they were all interested in it, one little BR in particular (we've named her "Derby") was really interested in it and kept trying to get up on it. She would keep jussssst missing and kept trying. After I went to bed, my husband said they kept trying for awhile.

Well this morning he emailed me and said, "Guess who made it onto the roost first?" I answered right away, "DERBY!". I felt as proud as a mother could be.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

All My Peeps Are In the House!

Man did they get here fast! They were supposed to be shipped on Tuesday, so I wasn't expecting to get them until Wednesday or Thursday. So imagine my surprise when, just before noon on Tuesday, I suddenly hear LOUD peeping sounds coming from the reception area in my office. I ran out into the hallway in time to see the postal delivery woman leaving HR's office. I think she was happy to be rid of them, because they were LOUD. The HR woman came out holding the box...I think she was as excited as I was. About 6 other people heard the peeping and came out to investigate. I took the box into my office, grabbed some scissors to cut the ties and opened the lid to find....FOUR. FOUR PEEPS! I was extremely surprised, since I had only ordered 3. I knew that often in larger shipments the hatchery will include 1-2 extra (in case one doesn't make it. I know.), but that's usually on shipments of like 25 or more. I really didn't expect an "extra" for such a small order!

The chicks clearly didn't like being in their cold box so after letting everyone in the office have a quick peek, I ran them home and got them into their new brooder (Kylie's dog crate). Thank heavens the replacement heat lamp had just arrived the day before, or I could have really been in trouble. It took some experimenting with the position of the lamp before they were comfortable..its hilarious how quickly they respond to the lamp being moved a bit! Just a couple of inches too far away and they all immediately run to the front of the crate to be closer to it.

It didn't take them long at all to find their food and water and soon they were happily scampering about. I put a couple of bricks in there with them and they immediately started climbing up on them. They are incredibly inquisitive little babies! In total I have 1 Rhode Island Red, 1 Black Star, and 2 Barred Rocks. Here's just a few pics.

Monday, July 23, 2007


I went out to do some early Sunday morning watering and to (hopefully) pick some ripe tomatoes.

I made the sad discovery that the two branches of one of the heirloom tomatoes had become SO heavy with fruit, that it literally split in two, right down to the base of the plant. I'm heartbroken. I really should have seen this coming..the fruits are almost 3 pounds each! I guess the bamboo stakes I had used weren't close to being strong enough. I did my best to prop up the branches and tied the base together with a bit of twine, in an attempt to save what I can of the plant. I'm not holding out a lot of hope though. What a bummer...the tomatoes were just days away from being ripe enough to pick too. Another lesson learned.

On a happy note, my baby chicks should be just emerging from their shells today! Hard to believe that in 24 hours, they will be sexed, sorted and popped in their mailing box to head my way. Godspeed little babies...hope to see you safe and sound!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Guests, Welcome and Not

Well, my tomatoes seem to have hit a stretch of stasis. They still look healthy and green, and are heavy with tomatoes. But they haven't put out any new flowers and the existing tomatoes still haven't ripened fully to red, or yellow, or their various designated colors.

The peppers however, are doing well and we've already had several of the Purple Beauties, as well as the first of the Orange Bells. It was a tiny one, but every bit as sweet, and, I don't know, orange tasting as we could hope.

The first of the Corno di Toro's has turned almost completely red and should be ready to be picked in just a couple of days. I'm very exited!

I've also spotted several insects in the dirt and on the plants, including a ladybug, a tiny little green cricket, and several silverbugs that I hope are aerating my soil, and not my leaves. Today, we also had this beautiful dragonfly which persisted in hanging out on one of the bamboo stakes for a bit.

The last photo is not garden-related, I just though that a very tired Kylie (tired from a day at the beach) was too cute.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Note to Self:

Dear Self:

It is certainly not a bad idea to use tomato cages for your tomato plants. After all, they provide lots of great support for all that heavy fruit! And I know you just read a great book called "Cubed Foot Gardening" about intensive gardening in raised beds, and that the author emphatically recommends using cages or stakes for tomatoes. And yes, I know that the bamboo stakes you bought are really too small for such vigorous really probably should have bought thicker stakes.

So while cages are indeed great, the trick here is...(are you listening carefully, Self?) to put them on when the plant is still very small. Trying to wedge one onto an already ginormous, multi-branched plant is really, really not a good idea, as you have just learned. It does, in fact, result in major wreckage, accidentally breaking off one whole branch (which had almost ripe tomatoes on it, I note...way to go, Self!), damaging many other branches, and deeply abrading the main stem. If you'll recall, you ended up half in tears, grass stains on your knees and alternately cursing and apologizing to the poor plant.

Please remember this for next time. Your consideration appreciated.