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Saturday, April 25, 2015

Called in a Hunter Today (Blog 239)

This morning, friend Doak Harbison and I were turkey hunting in Botetourt County, Virginia.  Fortunately, I had tagged out and had the great joy of not carrying a gun and trying to help Doak take a tom.  At dawn, we heard seven gobblers sound off but they had hens with them so we knew we had little chance until that magic 10:00 to 11:00 hour when the hens often depart to their nests.

At 10:15, just like we had hoped, a gobbler cranked up in response to yelps from my box call.  And soon the bird was on its way through the woods, and we felt, into the field that borders the woodlot where we had set up.  Doak and I both became excited and felt that everything was working in our favor.

Then suddenly, we saw two hunters walk into the field at the exact spot where we had anticipated the gobbler would come.  A field where they were trespassing.  Of course, the gobbler became silent and we can only assume that he saw the two hunters.

It's just not safe to stay near people like the two individuals.  So we headed to our respective homes.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Reading to the Grandkids (Blog 238)

The other day Elaine took a picture of our soon to be three-year-old grandson and me while I was reading to him.  I don't remember the particular story I was reading to him, but Sam knew most of the words.  So when I would pause, he would complete the rest of the sentence, no doubt having heard the tale many times from his parents and grandparents.

As a retired elementary school teacher, Elaine feels that Sam's vocabulary is very good for his age, and I agree.  As a high school English teacher, I see students who don't like reading, and when I talk with these young folks, I often learn that no one read to them when they were young.  That is a mistake that parents shouldn't make and an activity that is so easy to do.

Sam knows all the characters in his Thomas the Train books, and he can talk endlessly about their virtues and flaws.  Every night before bedtime, his parents read to him, just like my mom did for me when I was little.  A lifelong love for reading can begin at a very young age.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Buff Orpington Chicks Growing, Rhode Island Red Chicks Arrive (Blog 237)

Elaine and I have had our hands full this week, taking care of our baby chicks.  The heritage Buff Orpingtons from The Fancy Chick hatched on April 1 and 2 and a dozen heritage Rhode Island Red chicks arrived from Dick Horstman in Pennsylvania on Tuesday.

Our four Buff Orpingtons are, obviously, more able to stand out as individuals than the dozen Reds.  There is a very clear pecking order with the former, while chaos constantly exists in the brooder with the Reds as the chicks constantly step, leap, and land on each other.

Next week a friend is supposed to come over and help us extend our chicken run and build a new henhouse.  Sometime in May, it will be time for our young charges to live outside.  And sometime in fall, we should hear some crowing and having eggs to gather.

Our goal is for next year, our hens to start brooding their own eggs.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Buff Orpingtons Hatch (Blog 236)

In early March, Elaine and I ordered some heritage Buff Orpington eggs from The Fancy Chick ( in California.  We have always raised Rhode Island Reds, but we wanted to try another breed as we had heard that Buff Orpingtons were very gentle and people-friendly.

The chicks started trying to break through Tuesday evening, and we were awoken shortly after midnight on April Fool's Day.  Actually, I should say that I awoke as I am a much lighter sleeper than Elaine is.  I heard the just hatched chick scurrying around in the incubator and had to wake up Elaine for her to come see.

She didn't mind at all the rude awakening, and a second chick came into the world around 6:00 A.M. that morning.  Right now, as I write, a third chick has poked a hole in its egg and is busily hammering away.  We received 14 eggs from California, so we don't yet know how many will hatch, but it is with great fun - and anticipation - that we are studying the incubator.