Monday, October 15, 2007

Goats Can Food Anything.

Here's how I spent my weekend.

Saturday: Jogged 4 miles, went to gardening class, grocery shopping for dinner, worked on chicken coop, cleaned the house, made dinner, watched football, got tipsy.

Sunday: Went to see some goats for a possible business, finished the chicken coop, cleaned up the yard, tended my crops, collapsed into bed.

I need a weekend to recover my weekend. On the upside, the new coop looks great and the Girls are loving all the extra room. Not to mention they got all new bark chips which = fresh bugs to eat and scratch. As a comparison, here's the old coop:

And here's the new one:

So there's about 9 square feet more there. The husband, of course, wanted to make it bigger (why do men always want things bigger?) but since the lumber at Home Depot comes in 8 foot lengths, I convinced him that was plenty. And it really is. Much longer and I wouldn't have been able to get the door open.

Finally, here's more pictures of goats.

Friday, October 12, 2007

This May Be the Winter of My Discontent

With a pang of sadness, I finally said goodbye to the peppers and the last tomato plant last weekend. The peppers were still bearing fruit, but very slowly. The last tomato plant, a small yellow pear variety, would probably have kept bearing for quite a while longer, but I was anxious to get on with the cool season crops. My seed order from Seeds of Change came and I planted them right away. I planted some in these cool little seed starter packs made of organic material that you can just plant directly in the ground without having to pull them out first, so you damage fewer roots. Some I sowed directly into the raised beds.

Now its just a wait to see if any actually come up. I'm still really not sure where to put the seed packs. My gardening teacher had said they could go outside, but he has an open-air greenhouse and I'm worried that its too windy for mine just on the ledge outside the kitchen. I wish I had a mini-greenhouse for them.

The ones in the raised beds I fear for. We've been working on a new coop for the Girls as they have outgrown their current one, so I've been letting them just wander around the yard while I work (under the watchful eye of their dogsitter of course!). A few times I caught them over there around the beds, and I am now concerned they may have been eating the seeds. I have some chicken-wire over the beds now, and I'm hoping the seeds are intact!

Anyone know how much water the seeds need at this point? The gardening instructor had said water them once, very well, and that's it until they start to come up but..they look awful dry to me.

Monday, October 1, 2007

David Attenborough can't be far behind.

Had a bit of excitement not long ago.

I'd been letting the Girls out to do a bit of free-ranging bug control for about 35 minutes in the evening while I walked Kylie. Letting them out while keeping Kylie in could be exhausting, as she would usually stand at the window and bark her disapproval. So letting them out while walking Kylie killed two birds with one stone (Pardon the expression, Girls).

I returned from one such Saturday morning walk and went out the yard to gather up the cheeps so I could run off to my new gardening class. They were all happily foraging on the side of the house, and came running to meet me. I always have some grapes or other yummy treat for them, so getting them to come to me is generally not a problem.

Once they had a peck and what I had, I turned to lure them back across the lawn, up the steps and into their coop. When I got to the steps, I looked back and for some reason, they weren't behind me any more. They had detoured off the side of the yard, by the planters. Even MORE strangely, they all seemed to be on the move, and Derby was actually flying.

This is what made me freeze in my tracks. For those of you who have never seen a chicken fly, well, they don't really fly so much as sort of hop into the air and franctically flap their wings. They generally don't got more than a couple of feet, and it's anything but graceful. Basically, they fly about as well as you and I would, were we to suddenly have large feathery wing contraptions stuck on our back.

But here was Derby, actually soaring low and over the planters, straight at Ginger. I couldn't believe it. My first thought was actually, "Holy Cow, Derby is FLYING! Drat, now I'm going to have to start clipping their wings or they will fly out of the yard."

My second thought (thank goodness this all happenened in a nanosecond) was, "Hey. Wait a minute. That's not Derby! That's the CHICKEN HAWK! And its ATTACKING MY GIRLS!"

For those of you who missed earlier posts, it turns out that we actually have Cooper's Hawks now living in our neighborhood. That's right, in a tidy, people packed suburb in Los Angeles. I mean, are you kidding me?

This is what a Cooper's Hawk looks like:

Here's what a Barred Rock looks like:

Yes I am aware that they really don't look much alike. Well, they both have sort of stripey things going on...

So once my slow brain finally clued in to what was going on, I started yelling at the hawk who simply swooped up and around and back into the tree over my head. I started throwing rocks at it, not very well, and yelling. It sat there blinking sort of disdainfully at me, then finally flew away.

Well, that threw me for a loop. Clearly letting them free-range unattended is now out of the what to do?

The answer presented itself in the form of the very canine that I had previously been so concerned about. If Kylie was so incredibly fascinated by the cheeps, well, why not let her "baby sit"?

To that end, I've begun actively working with her to see if how well she will do with this. More to come on this....