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Thursday, February 20, 2014

A Lonely Hermit Thrush (Blog 178)

After some 20 inches of snow, terribly cold weather, and a lack of food in the surrounding forest on our Botetourt County, Virginia land, one would think that our wintering hermit thrush would have enough challenges in his quest to survive the winter.  Elaine and I have watched the hermit thrush flitting about our backyard for much of the winter - seemingly doing as well as could be expected.

But this avian's existence took a nasty turn on Wednesday just as the snow was beginning to melt.  The thrush, inexplicably, became caught in the chicken wire surrounding our coop, and I came across him when I was preparing to let the chickens forage in the backyard after I came home from school.

Not wanting to hurt our yard bird in any way, I gently extricated him from the chicken wire, took a few pictures of him, and then loosened my grip.  The thrush immediately and heartily flew away, seemingly none the worse for the experience.

Our (if I can be so bold to claim him) hermit thrush still has several months left of his sojourn before he heads north to breed.  I hope this was the last of his misadventures.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

An Open Letter to my Wife Elaine on a Snowy Thursday (Blog 177)

Hi, sweetheart, I am glad you are away at Quilt Camp because things are a mess here in Botetourt County.  When I awoke and measured the snowfall, we have 15 1/2 inches and the white stuff is still falling.  Fortunately, the netting over the chicken run held and the solar powered fence is intact.

I am putting the feeder inside the henhouse as I don't think Boss, Johnny, Sweetie Pie and Baby will want to venture outside much today.  I cleared out a place around the gang plank and put the waterer there and our quartet seemed quite grateful to take some sips.

I took some photos from around the yard and chicken run to give you an idea of how things are.  Next, I am going to try to remove the snow from the sidewalk and sundeck and also need to stoke the fire.  Thank goodness we had plenty of wood in the garage and I cut and split more after school yesterday.

Stay warm...I love you...Bruce

Friday, February 7, 2014

Snow in the Forecast (Blog 176)

When I came home from school today, Elaine and I checked the forecast and decided to prepare for snow on Saturday.  I cleaned the henhouse while Elaine supervised our five Rhode Island Reds as they browsed their way through the yard.  Our birds don't like snow and we decided they needed some "greens" in their diet to tide them over.

After the henhouse received fresh straw and our birds had their evening out, we then spread lime on our garden, our fruit trees, and the food plot back in the woods.  We figured the snowfall would facilitate the soil's absorption of the lime.  I also brought some more wood into the garage.

We then planned our Saturday activities since we would likely be shut in most of the day.  Tomorrow, Elaine is going to sew, cook up some homemade applesauce and bake a wineberry cobbler.  I am going to start up the wood stove Saturday morning and spend the morning writing.  Saturday afternoon, I will watch my beloved North Carolina Tarheels.  Then Saturday evening, we will play Scrabble and listen to Prairie Home Companion.

Let it snow, we don't care.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Chicken Power (Blog 175)

Elaine and I never cease to marvel at the benefits our five Rhode Island Red chickens provide.  Our three pullets have been producing eggs for about six weeks now, but that is not all that they, Boss, and Johnny provide.

Ever since the garden was put to bed last October, we have turned the chickens out into our vegetable patch to till the ground, consume egg cases and insects, and drop their manure.  I also have put their litter in the garden to further enrich the soil.

But with the arrival of February, it is now time to let them work in our backyard.  Today, for example, we let the chickens graze about in the yard looking for little beasties and consuming various forms of vegetation.  Also, when I cleaned out the henhouse this morning, I spread the litter around our Dolgo crabapple tree, in effect, both mulching and fertilizing it.  Several more fruit trees will receive the same treatment this month.

Tonight we are having scrambled eggs and whole wheat bread for dinner -not a bad way to end a Saturday.