Amelia: The Adventure Continues

For those of you lamenting the loss of freedom for Amelia the adventuring chicken, good news.  While clipping her wings (actually only the feathers on one wing)  has limited her flying ability somewhat, she still manages to get where she is not supposed to go – frequently.  First it was on the other side of the little chicken fence which is only about 3 feet tall.  In the middle of this small yard is a rock box.

Some day, when all our other projects are complete and we have lots of spare time on our hands, I am planning to put a few of our many river rocks on the face of the posts holding up the porch.  So I have started collecting the flat rocks I find and saving them in the rock box.  Amelia found the rock box in the fenced off section of the chicken yard.  She liked it so much she decided to stay and lay her eggs there.

Unfortunately rocks are not a very soft bedding material and the egg did not fare too well.

We didn’t notice that evening when closing up the coop that Amelia was AWOL so she spent the night in the rock box.  It didn’t seem to bother her too much.  A day or two after her rock box adventure, she got into the strawberry and asparagus beds – again.

I have truly been enjoying my first crop of home-grown asparagus.  I planted the root crowns last year and resisted the temptation to cut the new shoots all summer so they would grow healthy, strong roots.  I carefully covered them in the fall with a chicken compost mixture and waited patiently through the winter until the new shoots emerged in the spring.  At last they are finally big enough to harvest and they taste wonderful.  I also planted some new crowns this year, so next year I will have an even bigger crop of asparagus.   Then Amelia flew into the area.

Amelia, in her never-ending quest for worms and bugs, dug up my new asparagus crowns.  The ones that were just starting to take root and send up new shoots.  Luckily Amelia does not care for the taste of asparagus, she just digs them up.  I carefully re-planted my asparagus crowns and hope that they will not suffer too much from having been planted and dug up, planted and dug up and planted again.   Amelia also ventured into the strawberry bed.

Apparently Amelia does like the taste of strawberries; especially the very first one just turning ripe.  This reminds me of a book I used to read my kids years ago when they were little  ‘ The Red Ripe Strawberry and The Big Hungry Bear”  only we will have to change it to “The Red Ripe Strawberry and Amelia the Wandering Chicken.”  Either way however, the ripe strawberry is gone.  The very fist one of the season!  To keep Amelia contained it seems more drastic measures are called for.

We put Amelia (and a friend) in the dog run!  The way-too- tall grass in there really needs to be mowed (or eaten) down and Amelia needs fresh grass and a very tall fence to keep her in so it seems like a great solution.

Amelia seemed to enjoy her new surroundings.  The other chickens we put in with her clucked and fussed and squawked their protests all day, but not Amelia.

She made herself right at home and laid her egg in the wood shavings inside of the dog house.  Now, if we could just figure out an easy way to get her inside the dog run every day everyone would be happy.  We really do have other things to do than chase Amelia out of the garden and back into the orchard with the other chickens.  It is a good thing for her that she continues to lay her daily egg or she might end up  like Bernardette  Bernard.  In the frying pan.  I haven’t given up that option.

Green

If I had to describe spring here in one word it would be: green.  Actually, I have never seen so many different shades of green.  The big leaf maple is a bright spring green against the darker cedar trees with the mountains in the background that are a dark blue-green.

So many different shades of the same color. 

From the tallest trees . . .

to the tiny new growth tips of the hemlock needles and ferns; each its own unique shade of green.  

It reminds me of the big 64 count box of crayons that had all the different colors of green.  I always wondered, are there really that many colors of green?

Yes. There really are.

A few different shades of blue and lavender on the lupine and lots more greens.

Such a simple word to describe so many complex colors.

Daisy

Our new little heifer Daisy is doing really well.  She is ten days old now and seems very comfortable in her environment.  She nurses then runs around and jumps and plays and has lots of energy.  Then she collapses in a heap and takes a nap.

 

Here she is nose-to-nose with Molly.  Those of you who have met Molly know she is about 40 pounds and we guesstimate Daisy is around 45 to 50 pounds.  She has grown in the last ten days.   

We are working on getting our neighbor’s pasture ready for Nick the bull and T Bone to move over there for the summer.  Then Dusty and Daisy will have more room to roam – without the boys around to pester Dusty – here.

Grounded

You may remember Amelia, our adventurous, flying-out-of-the-pen chicken. 

Amelia did not appreciate the confinement of the chicken yard or the orchard – no matter how much lush green grass was available.  She preferred to fly out and blaze her own path, venturing into the woods and all around the yard.  This small barred rock was not intimidated by creatures much bigger than her, she boldly approached them and pestered them over their bones.  

Unfortunately for Amelia, her adventurous spirit took her to my perennial beds filled with strawberries and asparagus.  I overlooked the first incursion.  There was not too much damage to the plants and I assumed she had learned from this experience.  I assumed wrong.  After her second forray into my asparagus and strawberries, we decided enough was enough. 

I know what you are thinking.  When we decided enough was enough with Bernardette, I mean Bernard,  he ended up in the frying pan. 

Luckily for Amelia, she lays eggs on a regular basis.  An accomplishment which Bernard the rooster did not have in his repertoire.  So we did not put her in the frying pan.  We did however clip her wings.  Actually just one wing. 

I would like to insert a photo here of her wing feathers being clipped, but Rick was holding her and I cut the feathers off so I had no hands left to take a picture.  You’ll just have to trust me, I whacked off about three inches of the feathers on one wing.   Snipped them right off with the scissors.

I would like to explain here about the aerodynamic properties of chicken wings and flight.  Lift and thrust and struts and drag and rudders and all that.  I was going to call Brandon, Megan’s aerospace engineering student boyfriend, to get all the proper terminology. 

However I decided since it was finals and he also has a job and is preparing to move, maybe Brandon might have better things to do than discuss chicken flying aerodynamics with me.   So, I will just have to tell you that whacking off the ends of the feathers on only one side of the chicken apparently throws the whole flying thing off kilter, and the chicken can no longer fly over the fence.  Which is the whole point in clipping their wings. 

  

I would like to point out that the chicken yard to which she and the other girls are now confined is not a bad place to be.  It is safe from predators and has fresh new grass as well as all the left over seeds I had.  There are some fava beans in there, peas, lettuce and other chicken delicacies.   

We seeded this area a couple of months ago and put some old straw mulch on top.  It has come up really well and all the girls are happy to be there  – except Amelia.

So, my asparagus and strawberries are saved from chicken predators.  The girls are safely ensconced in their new chicken yard, and the orchard where they were previously free-ranging is now de-thatched and fertilized and will probably be ready for them to rotate back there in a month or so.

Everyone is happy.  Except Amelia, who is grounded.

Good Timing

We had a really mild El Nino winter.  Spring has been another story entirely.  In the past two days (the two days when we were trying to get the cattle shed finished before Dusty the heifer gave birth to her first calf) we have had two and a half inches of rain, hail and snow.  Neither the hail or the snow stuck around long, but still – in May?   

The mountains around us, which had no snow in January or February are dusted with white – again.  And the pass above us going over the Cascades was closed due to avalanches – again. 

What happened to spring?  We did manage to dodge the hail and snow long enough to get the roof of the shed sheeted.  And, no I did not fall off the slippery roof into the cow patties this time either.  Rick was on the terra firma cutting the sheets of OSB while I screwed them into place on the roof. 

I noticed that every time a rain shower came through he – and the cattle – were under the roof in the shed.  Who says chivalry is dead?  We did finally get it all sheeted; when it dries we can put down the felt paper and metal roofing. 

And the low last night was 34 degrees.  Thank goodness I have learned to listen to the local gardeners here who say not to plant your garden until at least Memorial Day.  If I had followed my southern California planting schedule, everything would have been very cold if not dead.  My seedlings were very happy nestled among the greens under the greenhouse tent on the fence.

 

The rest of the seedlings (I’m trying to start all my own plants from seed this year) are still inside the shed under the lights. 

So, if and when it ever warms up I will have seedlings ready to plant.

All our scrambling around to get the shed finished was worth it, because Dusty had her calf  – a heifer – right on schedule May 6th. 

 

May 6th turned out to be a beautiful, warm sunny day.  Mother and baby both enjoyed a long nap in the warm sunshine.  Thank goodness she didn’t calf even one day sooner, or the new baby would have been born to cold rain and snow. 

The new little heifer weighs around 40 – 45 pounds, and we have decided to name her Daisy.  She and her mom are both doing well.

It’s a Calf!

We are happy to announce that the first calf born at American Alps Ranch has arrived.  Mother Dusty and baby born sometime last night appear to be healthy and doing well.  

Dusty did not need our assistance at all, we woke up to find the baby this morning.  We think we know the gender of the new little one, but haven’t got close enough to be positive.  Any guesses?