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Sunday, February 26, 2017

First Gobbling of the Virginia Spring (Blog 335)

Thursday morning, I heard my first gobble of the spring while I was tending to the chickens.  The week before, I had witnessed the return of the male woodcocks and their mating dances, so I knew the tom turkeys would be expressing their virility soon.

What does it all mean? Well, to the male turkeys and woodcocks, I supposed their vocal outbursts mean the world.  To the females they are trying to impress, I would guess it means very little.  But that will all change in short order. In a few weeks, the ardor of the males will be matched, to a  degree, by that of the females.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Edith and Mary Square Off (Blog 334)

With our heritage Rhode Island Red chickens, Elaine's task is to name the hens.  With our flock, she decided to have a Downton Abbey theme naming our hens Mary, Violet, Edith and Daisy.  In a case of the chicken yard imitating life, Mary lately has been picking on Edith, running her away from the feeder and waterer.

I can understand that as chickens have a pecking order that must be settled among themselves.  But Mary has taken to running Edith out of the hen house at night when the hens and their rooster Al are trying to fly up to the roost.  This is unacceptable as Elaine and I have to wait long minutes in the dark for Mary to stop the bullying.

Tonight, I became weary of Mary running Edith out.  So I picked up Mary, put her in the yard, put Edith in the hen house, and then removed the gangplank running to the house.

Now it was Mary's turn to panic as she was on the outside wanting in.  She was unable to fly up to the door. I let Edith become settled inside then I put Mary inside.  Hopefully, I will only have to do this a few more times before the nightly nonsense stops.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Persimmon Bread on a February Saturday Night (Blog 333)

Back in the fall, Elaine and I gathered persimmons one cold afternoon.  Elaine made cookies and bread from our haul, and we ate the cookies over the next few days or so.  But the persimmon bread we froze for a winter weekend.

There is a joy in life based around anticipation of eating good things one day in the future. So we picked this weekend to reheat the bread and enjoy the especial nature of persimmon bread - a very dark bread with the sweet taste of persimmons and the nuttiness of walnuts proving a tasty tandem. It was a very fitting dessert for dinner, but I also confess that I had some for breakfast, too.


Friday, February 3, 2017

Planning a Winter Saturday (Blog 332)

With Virginia's turkey season now over, it's time to move on to other Saturday wintertime pursuits. Tomorrow I plan to spend much of the daylight period in the hollow behind my house. I need to cut up a massive chestnut oak limb that fell, a black oak tree that was cut down, plus turn a downed black locust into firewood.

After I finish work with the chainsaw, the mall will be required to reduce the wood into servicable firewood-sized chunks. If the weather turns warm in the afternoon, I might want to still hunt for squirrels through the woodlot.

As I write this, Elaine is making venison soup and perhaps I can prevail upon her to bake a wild blackberry pie to go with it.  An evening spent with her by the woodstove and dining on this type of food would be an evening well spent.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Success in the Virginia Turkey Woods (Blog 331)

I decided to go turkey hunting after school today, as Virginia's winter season ends this Saturday, and I still had an unpunched tag.  Honestly, with the hatch being less than stellar and with an abundance of acorns, I was not expecting to be successful.  Most of my hunts this fall/winter have resulted in my not seeing any turkeys.

But lo and behold, I emitted some hoarse kee-kee runs and a flock of longbeards ambled in.  His picture is below.


Thursday, January 19, 2017

Rhode Island Reds Sick, but now Recovering (Blog 330)

Several weeks ago, I wrote that our young flock of Rhode Island Reds were staying inside during the recent snowstorm.  At first, Elaine and I thought they were just scared of their first snow, and perhaps they were, but developments now make us thing something else was in play.

When the harsh weather was still going on, we looked into the coop one day and saw a hen whose eye was swollen shut.  She was also very lethargic and continued to grow weaker.  Eventually, we had to put her down.

Then our cockerel Al began to have trouble walking as did one of the hens.  We eventually had to purchase an anti-inflamatory from a vet to help rejuvenate them.  Both Al and the hen are doing much better now, and we hope they can rejoin the flock next week.

The next time we have a bitterly cold spell, we are going to monitor the hen house more closely.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

No Luck with Virginia's Winter Turkeys, but the Birdwatching was Great (Blog 329)

Today, Virginia's winter turkey season began, and I heard a flock on the roost behind my house at dawn.  I was only about 75 yards from their roost site which was on a creek ridge.  Knowing that if I tried to scatter the flock, the birds would simply fly across the creek onto a neighbor's land, I decided to sit tight.

Unfortunately, after fly down, I heard nothing and thinking the birds had moved downstream, as is their usual habitat, I decided to loop around them and see if I could position myself in the direction that the flock was travelling. When I arose to do so, several seconds later I ran right into the flock, which then flew across the creek.  If I had chosen to sit still, would the birds have walked right to me?  Who knows with turkeys.

While trying to call the flock back across the creek, which, predictably ended in failure, I saw several interesting songbirds: brown creepers and golden-crowned kinglets.  They were in one of those winter mixed flocks that also included Carolina chickadees, downy woodpeckers, and white-breasted nuthatches.