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Thursday, July 23, 2015

Don Versus Oscar - Rooster Stare Down (Blog 252)

Our Buff Orpingtons turned 16 weeks old on Wednesday of this week, and our Rhode Island Reds 15 weeks on Monday.  And the alpha cockerel of the former (Oscar) had a stare down with the alpha cockerel of the latter (Don) today.  And it was the older, bigger Oscar that "blinked."

Both cockerels have been crowing for a while, Oscar began almost a month ago and Don started last Monday.  They are both attempting to mate with their hens, and both have thorougly intimidated the other cockerels in their respective pens, which are adjacent to each other.

Of all these momentous events in the life of a young rooster, the stare down today was the most fascinating.  Oscar started the skirmish by walking briskly back and forth along the wire separating the pens.  Don rushed over, puffed himself up, and gave Oscar the evil eye.  Both males locked in their stares for  long seconds until Oscar retreated.

Size usually matters in the world of roosters, but Don, for now, is not only the cock of the heap in the pens but also lord of the backyard.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Elaine Names Our Rhode Island Red Chickens - After Mad Men Characters (Blog 251)

In our household, Elaine and I have different areas of responsibility where one of us is in charge.  One of my spouse's duties is to name our chickens.  Back in April, we received heritage Rhode Island Red chicks in the mail, and this week Elaine has decided that our birds' names will have a Mad Men theme.

Don...The name of our Alpha Rooster.  At 14 weeks, he started to crow and often has brief skirmishes with Roger, although they are good buddies.

Roger...Our Beta rooster. At least four times a day, Don and Roger have one-on-one battles, but all is usually forgiven by fly up time.

Pete... Scared of both Don and Roger as he is at the bottom of the cockerel pecking order.

Joan...Our Alpha hen.  Developed more quickly than the other hens. Always the first out of the hen house in the morning.

Peggy... Our beta hen...a real striver, defers to Joan but doesn't seem to like doing so.

Trudy... A real Gamma girl, the last one out of the hen house in the morning.  Is afraid to assert herself, a really cute hen though.  When food is tossed into the run, Trudy is the last one to move toward it.  The picture below shows Don, Joan, and Peggy.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Honey from St. Gall Farm (Blog 250)

Today, good friend Paul Hinlicky, who along with his wife Ellen operates St. Gall Farm in Roanoke County, Virginia, dropped off some honey that Elaine and I had purchased from him.  Paul has just recently begun raising honeybees and informed us that the first honey was ready for gathering.

Like us, Paul strives to be a locavore, and we were thrilled to support his efforts at that as well as purchasing honey for ourselves that came from "just up the road."  The price is very reasonable at $10.00 a pint, and Elaine said that the quart we bought would be used to sweeten a number of our foods in the coming months.  I can't wait to try it on some of Elaine's homemade sourdough bread... maybe tonight.

If readers would like to purchase some, here is Paul's e-mail address:

Friday, July 3, 2015

Picking Blueberries with Sam and Sarah (Blog 249)

For several years my daughter Sarah and I have been talking about going on a berry picking expedition to Woodall's Blueberries ( in Craig County, Virginia.  Today with her son Sam in tow, we finally were able to go.

Everything about the Woodall's is wonderful: mowed paths between the rows, healthy, vigorous plants, and reasonable prices ($12.00 per gallon).  Of course, going anywhere with my three-year-old grandson Sam can be an adventure.  A steady, light rain fell during the 85 minutes or so it took for Sarah and myself to each pick a gallon.  Sam after starting strong in the berry picking department soon became distracted by the nearby pond, bugs in the grass, the rows which were ideal for him to run up and down, and his penchant for eating as many berries as he picked.

But sopping wet, we finally finished our mission around 10:15 and headed for home.  Elaine immediately made a blueberry cobbler for lunch, a quart was held out for pancakes and toppings for oatmeal in the coming days, the rest was frozen for the winter.

We'll be back next summer.