Nosy Neighbor

Deer

One of the neighborhood deer dropped by the other evening to see what was going on. Or maybe she was just interested in taking a Selfie. Or maybe she was wondering what that camo-colored thing on the tree was and what was in it… If she got just a little closer, maybe she could see…

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Wuzza Snake

Wuzza Snake Aug 2016

Red on yellow, kill a fellow – Red on black, friend of Jack

This Wuzza Snake. Now it’s a dead Coral Snake with no head. It’s the second Coral Snake we’ve seen. The first one was caught and killed three years ago by Buster, our late sweet boxer mix and Farm Dog.

When Buster saw a black snake, he had a very distinctive bark. We knew he had found another snake. And the snakes took the hint and scooted away.

When he saw the coral snake, he didn’t bark. He grabbed the snake, shook it, threw it down, picked it up, and shook it again and again. He was evidently not a fan of coral snakes.

We just happened to have a vet appointment for our old guy Buster that day for a check up. When we told the vet about his encounter with the Coral Snake, she said, “Tell him he shouldn’t be doing that!” We gravely nodded in agreement even though we were very proud of our Farm Protector. He was a good dog.

Man almost stepped on this snake. He called for a shovel and watched the snake while I dashed – as well as an old lady can dash – for a nice sharp shovel that resulted in the demise of the snake.

There’s a storm brewing in the Gulf. I think the wildlife is searching for higher ground in anticipation of the impending weather.

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Roasting Peppers

Roasting peppers Aug 2016

I picked almost 3 pounds of beautiful Anaheim peppers in our garden today. The Anaheim chili pepper originated from New Mexico chile seeds that were planted in the Anaheim, California area in 1894. That must be why roasting Anaheim peppers in Florida smells like late summer in New Mexico. Love the smell of roasting peppers!

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Dropping By for Breakfast

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The neighborhood deer discovered our North Forty where we have high bush blueberries, rabbit eye blueberries, two different varieties of persimmon trees, and peach trees. The tender leaves on our newest peach trees are evidently their very favorite because they  have been ignoring the blueberries and other fruit trees completely.  The smallest peach tree was almost completely stripped of leaves. I do enjoy my evening cup of peach tea, and I did just can 15 pints of peach jam, so I guess I can’t really blame the deer for having a preference for peaches.

If you look behind the deer, you will see our new Peach Tree Corrals. Each tree has its own personal corral. It appears our doe is headed towards the yummy invasive tangle-foot vine that is also a deer delicacy. Good girl!

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Farm Aromatherapy

Peach jam Aug 2016.jpg

The house is filled with the smell of peaches. When I lean over the stove to look into the pot, I get the added bonus of a peach-infused facial.

According to the National Hurricane Center, there is a “disturbance” in The Gulf just to the west of us. According to the snoozing dogs, there is a low weather system nearby. According to the chickens who shake their feathers when they go back under the shelter of their coops, it is raining.  According to me, a gray rainy day is the best day of all to make jam and enjoy the Farm Aromatherapy.

 

 

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Sadie On Patrol

Sadie has been on the farm almost six months. She takes being a Farm Dog seriously. Our coops and runs are well-secured with half-inch hardware cloth, but our Farm Guardian Dogs are our best security. Sadie does her rounds every night before bed and frequently asks to go out early to patrol the chicken coops. We installed a game camera to see what’s going on after dark and before dawn.

Here is Sadie last week walking between the two groups of chicken coops and runs, on patrol early in the morning. She is walking away from the camera, looking at the West Coop run. The North Coop is on her left.

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Last night, the camera caught what she has been watching for.

 

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It looks like we have a fox that is very interested in the chicken coops. You can see it came past the North Coop, headed away from the camera, and was looking towards the West Coop. Maybe the West Coop rooster, Baymax, was letting the neighborhood know there was a fox on the prowl.

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Baby Chicks Growing Up 2016

Baby Princesses with Princesses watchingBaby princesses June 2016 8 weeks old

Joanna’s Babies with Joanna and the South Coop watching
Joannas babies June 2016 8 weeks

The first week in May, we picked up 23 one-day-old baby chicks at the Post Office. 15 of them are Ameraucana chicks, but we call them the Baby Princesses. 8 of them are Buff Orpingtons, and we call them Joanna’s Babies.

When the baby chicks arrived, we had six broody hens who had been broody for two to six weeks. One of them was Joanna who hatched 10 eggs last year and raised the baby chicks. The other five were Cuckoo Marans. None of the Marans had raised baby chicks, but they were very, very broody.

We took Joanna one of the Buff Orpington chicks after the babies had had a chance to eat and drink to recover from their overnight journey to our farm. They had been at our farm for four hours. We placed the baby chick close to Joanna, and she looked at it and the baby looked at her. Beak to beak. Then Joanna reached out with her wing and swept that baby under her. We took her two more, and she swept them in. And then three more. As we put the last two down by her, one ran to snuggle under as she swept the other in.

We were very smug about our success with matching babies to a mama. We took a baby chick to one of the Marans – I won’t tell you which one but just be aware that Rhoda is not mama material – who gave the baby chick such a wicked peck on the head that it sent the chick reeling. We waited a bit then tried another Marans, Mary. As we were moving her towards the Maternity Suite, she heard the baby chicks peeping and she panicked. She let out a loud DANGER-DANGER cry that ended up setting off the entire chicken yard. 45 squawking chickens. Definitely a No Go. After everyone settled down, we tried a third Marans, Chloe. This time we took the baby chick to her so it wouldn’t sound so overwhelming with 15 peeping chicks. We sat the baby chick down close to her and she flew out over my head and past me, almost knocking me over, with a terrified squawk. We didn’t even try the other two broody hens. It was getting close to the end of the day. We decided we’d just watch Joanna and raise our 15 babies the same way she raised hers.

It didn’t exactly work out like that, though. Joanna took her babies outside for a walk around the run when they were three days old. We weren’t that brave. We took our babies out of the brooder and the coop to explore their run after a week. Or so.

Joanna took her babies out to free range when they were three weeks old. Our babies haven’t been out to free range yet. They are outside all day in their run, but we haven’t gotten up the nerve to let them out to explore the big wide world called The Farm. Joanna has much better control over her babies than we do over ours.

All the babies are on their own now. Joanna moved back to the South Coop and started laying eggs again. Malfoy, the South Coop rooster, welcomed her back, so there was no drama with reestablishing herself in the pecking order. Joanna’s babies are in the North Coop and all the South Coop chickens can see them through the hardware cloth. In fact, Joanna keeps a pretty close eye on the babies.

The princess babies have part of the Castle for their home. They are separated from the Princesses in the Castle by a wall of hardware cloth. There are two Castle runs – one small for the babies and one large for the Princesses, but the runs are also separated by hardware cloth. The Princesses have been given visiting hours in the princess babies’ run several times with no drama. The Princesses keep a close eye on the princess babies. I’m not sure if it is concern, curiosity, or just watching to see if they get any treats.

And we watch. And we learn.

 

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