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Monday, February 18, 2019

Rhode Island Reds Resume Laying (Blog 431)

One of life's little joys occurred this weekend. Elaine and I raise heritage Rhode Island Reds, and it is natural for our chickens to stop laying eggs some time in late fall. The laying typically stops when the birds are in the molting process. The last egg came around Thanksgiving time.

Friday, I found an egg inside the chicken coop. Monday morning, I found two more. One of those eggs was on the ground, probably the work of one of our pullets which probably hasn't figured out when her body is telling her it is emitting an egg.

So it was time to put the nesting boxes back in what we call "The Little Red Hen House," which consists mostly of our younger chickens.  And to make sure that the nesting boxes in "The Big Red Hen House" are clean.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Virginia Gobblers Heralding the Season (Blog 430)

Last week, I heard the first gobbler  of the season sound off, which caused a crow to caw. Then another longbeard gobbled. That woke up every turkey in our Botetourt County woodlot. So for the next ten minutes or so, I heard gobble after gobble.

Every spring one of the nice things to look forward to is the first gobbling of the soon to come spring. I rarely hear hen talk among all the gobbler outbursts. It's always been clear that the males are raring to go earlier than the females are.

As far as what all this means for the season to come, well, the answer is usually very little. Still, it's nice to hear the sounds of turkeys gobbling.

Friday, February 8, 2019

First Woodcock of Season Appears on out Botetourt County, VA Land (Blog 429)

This morning, February 8, I went for my daily three-mile walk in the dark, here in Botetourt County, Virginia. As I was walking up the driveway, I heard the characteristic "peeent," which is how I describe the sound of a male woodcock.

I immediately stopped in mid-stride, wanting to make sure that I had indeed heard what I thought I had. Then came another peeent, and my suspicions were thus confirmed.

We've lived on this land since 1989, having bought it in 1988. We never heard woodcocks until we did a timber cut in 2010 and created some young forest. Beginning in 2011, woodcocks have been present every March. Three years ago, they started coming in February. I wonder when the first female will show up?

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Finding the Shed Antler of an Eight Pointer (Blog 428)

During Virginia's deer season, my son-in-law David Reynolds and I encountered a fine, young 2 1/2-year-old buck. David saw him several times during the rut and afterwards. I glimpsed him several times in December. The whitetail had the characteristic long legs of a 2 1/2-year-old, but also sported four points on each side.

Yesterday, I was in our 38-acre Botetourt County woodlot, gathering wood from an oak I had sawed up earlier  but had not had time to bring into our garage. There lying near the tree I had cut was one of the antlers. It was nice to know that the young buck had made it through the deer season and would be around next fall. Hopefully, either David or I will have a chance at him.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Ash Trees Continue to Die (Blog 427)

Saturday afternoon, I spent much of my time cutting down and cutting up dead ash trees done in by the emerald ash borer plague. Our 38 acres in Botetourt County, Virginia hosts many ashes that are dead or succumbing.

It is a sad thing to see  beautiful hardwoods like the green and white ash quickly disappearing from the mountains here in Southwest Virginia and across their range. There is no cure on the horizon, either. And on our land, I can find only one mature tree that, to my surprise, has not been affected yet.
That will probably change this summer.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Chickens "Complaining" about Cold Weather (Blog 426)

Here in Botetourt County, Virginia, the wind chill is below 0 this morning and our heritage Rhode Island Reds are not happy. Chickens have a way of... perhaps fussing the right word... when things do not go to suit them. They march up to Elaine and me, and the whining begins.

This is usually after we give treats to the other chicken run's fowl - the two separate flocks have pens that border each other -  and the other flock does not receive any. Of course, both flocks will complain simultaneously if we walk by and don't give anyone anything.

This morning there was quite a bit of ruffled feathers, both literally and figuratively. Literally because the birds were constantly "fluffing" because of the cold and figuratively because they were complaining about the frigid conditions.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Preparing for Snow in the Virginia Mountains (Blog 425)

Elaine and I were supposed to have given an outdoors-related talk at the Bridgewater public library this morning, but the impending snowfall cancelled the event. Instead, we are cleaning both chicken runs, and I am going to cut some more fire wood before the snow starts.

Human nature is strange. We have plenty of firewood already in the garage and more is out at our woodpile.  But cutting wood in front of snowfall just seems like a constructive thing to do. Elaine is going to cook venison tenderloin for lunch and a wild blackberry cobbler is hopefully on the menu, too. Let it snow.