31 May 2012

May Rainfall

0.05 inches on May 4-5th
0.20 inches on May 5-6th
0.00 inches on May 6th - it rained again, but not for long.
0.70 inches on May 9th
0.40 inches on May 9-10th
0.00 inches on May 12th
0.10 inches on May 14th
0.40 inches on May 16-17th
0.00 inches on May 20th
0.40 inches on May 27-8th
0.10 inches on May 28th
0.00 inches on May 29th
1.50 inches on May 29th/30th - Beryl

3.85 inches total rainfall for May

27 May 2012

New Site is Live (for the most part)

There are a few redirection issues that need fixing, but ParkCircleHomestead.com and PCHomestead.com are now up and running.  There's no main site at the moment - that's down the road - but we're ready to grow as a website and resource for gardeners. 

The blog will continue at blog.pchomestead.com and, if you visit the website, you may see some small changes over the next weeks and months.  I've added some social media features that I need to start using, like the Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/PCHomestead and the twitter account: @PCHomestead.

If anyone "follows" or uses an RSS reader to view this site, I hope all of that still works.  If it doesn't, please let me know and I'll look into it.  In the meantime, thanks for being here to watch this site grow, and there's more to come in the future.

17 May 2012

Broody Hen Saga - Part Four

This has been the longest week - waiting for the rest of the chicks to hatch, wondering if they will hatch.  After the original five hatched, there were five eggs left - one from the original six, three bantams and one RIR.  I have my doubts about the one from the original six - it's four or five days past 21 days, and six days later than the rest of them.  Like I said before, I don't think the RIR egg is fertile, but I hate giving up on any of them, because you never know.  We had sort of a still birth on Tuesday morning - a chick hatched, but it was dead.  Accounting for everything I just wrote, there seem to be only two more possibly viable eggs left.  I feel like I can give these eggs until the weekend, but that is as long as I think they might be viable.

We had another still birth Thursday, so we're giving up on the eggs.  All in all, we have five chicks and two mothers.  Now that one mother isn't having to sit on eggs, I wonder if there's going to be a problem?  I have other questions too - like, when is it safe to let them mix with the other chickens?  I'll have to reread some of those chicken books I got from the library - especially since I skipped the part about raising chicks at the time.

15 May 2012

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day

"Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day" seems to be something that a lot of people do around the web.  On the fifteenth of every month, they post photos of plants that are blooming in their gardens.  So I thought I would jump on that train.

Most Venus' Flytrap enthusiasts will tell you to cut off the flower stems when they start growing, in order to put more energy back into the plant, but I say why not let them bloom?  As you can see, the flowers are far away from the traps.  You wouldn't want to eat the flying insects that pollinate your flowers, would you?
When I first saw a pitcher plant bloom, I was so surprised.  I had never seen one bloom before, and they are so unusual.  I collected seeds from them a couple of years ago, but didn't feel like germinating them.  I took them to the plant swap one year, and someone told me they had gotten them, germinated them and had tiny little pitcher plants.  (Dee, was that you?).
Another bog plant,  pickerel weed, this is a favorite in bogs and ponds and it's always been a nice bloomer. This the first bloom of the year, although I have two right now.  I got rid of most of it in the past couple of years, but I still have a small clump of it - just enough to enjoy its blooms throughout the summer.
Who doesn't like a knockout rose?
Our cactus seems to have bloomed early this year, like everything else.

Someone on my route threw out a perfectly good Hibiscus this spring.  After repotting it, it has a bunch of new growth and is blooming all the time.
Our old garden roses are usually still going strong on Mother's Day, but these bloomed early this year.

Female Squash flower
Male Squash flower
Our lantana always take a while to get going in the spring.  Maybe if I watered it...
Hidden Ginger mystifies me.  It didn't bloom for a few years after I got it from a friend.  When it finally bloomed last year, the blooms were so close to the ground, instead of at the top, like a canna or banana.
The Stokes aster that we got from the plant swap is starting to bloom.  It definitely needs to repotted - it's in some really heavy-looking clay.
Mexican Petunia - something else from the plant swap.  Need to repot it as well and find a place for it in the yard.
Our hydrangea is starting to bloom - small pink flowers.  When it was in the back yard, it was blue.

I hope everyone enjoyed the show.  I plan to do this 15th of every month, so stay tuned.

Broody Hen Saga - Part Three

What can I say - the chicks hatched early.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, I put 8 eggs under a broody hen on Saturday night, April 21st.  The first week they kicked two out, which left six, plus a few extra that were laid in the box by other hens - at a certain point, it became too hard to get eggs from under the broody hens.

Friday morning I saw two, then three chicks, and by the afternoon there were five.  We weren't sure of anything else at that point - if anymore would be hatching soon, how many total eggs there were.  Finally, Saturday morning both hens got out of the box and I was able to see what was left - five more eggs - one from the original six, three more bantams and a Rhode Island Red.  I don't know a lot about this kind of stuff, so I'm going to speculate for a minute.  I'm not sure the RIR egg is fertile.  I have seen Silkie try to mount a RIR hen, but without success.  The sixth marked egg I'm having my doubts about.  Saturday night is 21 days, but all the others have hatched already.  That leaves the three extra bantam eggs - those will probably hatch, except maybe for the fact that no hen was sitting on them for two or three hours this afternoon.  Like I said, I don't know a lot about this area.

I was going to wait until all the eggs hatched before posting this, but we're still waiting.  I'll have to add a part four, or more, to this series of posts.  Stay tuned.

08 May 2012

Broody Hen Saga - Part Two

The first week the hens sat on the eggs, every day more hens would get in the box.  Even the other hens would lay their eggs in there, which means I had no idea how many eggs were in there.  They kicked out two of the original eight eggs, but after three or four days of not retrieving eggs, that meant there could be as many as a dozen more in there.  (That sounds a little high - I'm writing this more than a week later - I think my calculations were lower before.)  So, I decided they needed their own home, sake for the baby chicks, and safe from the other chickens who wanted in the same box.  I have a covered area by the house that is sort of a garden shed - I keep gardening stuff in there and its junky appearance is hidden from the neighbors.  It was in desperate need of reorganization, but it was also a good, safe, dry place to house the chicken nursery/maternity ward.

Since this is fairly temporary, I did the best I could to make this area safe for the mothers and their chicks, but also easy to dismantle when the time came.  I bought starter feed and a feeder - I already had a waterer from when we had the younger chickens.  I got the food and water ready and waited until it was good and dark.  Somewhere between nine and ten on a Sunday night, we moved the hens to their new home.  Robin thought they might be freaked out, but I felt confident that it would be easy.  I think there were five (maybe four) in the nesting box when we moved them.  I threw a towel over the box to keep them calm and I picked it up and walked to over to their new home and put them down.  It was that easy - they didn't fuss or anything.

I kept a watchful eye on them during their first week in their new home.  I didn't know if they would like there.  I didn't know what the other chickens would do.  One of the first days while I was at work, one of them flew out...then another.  They started stuffing themselves in a nesting box back in the hen house.  I started second-guessing myself - whether I should have moved them, etc, but I had good reasons:  I didn't feel like there was enough room in the hen house.  They need special food, and the other chickens would eat it too.  If they wanted to leave the house, it was about three feet down to the ground.  I thought this was best, but I was a little concerned.  One by one they left their new area until there was only one left.  The last thing I wanted was to come home and find that all of them had abandoned the nest.  I took the initiative and grabbed one of the hens and put her in the new area, and she stayed there.  It's been relatively worry-free ever since.

We're approaching Day 21 this weekend - Mother's Day should be when they start hatching.  I know that's when the original six should hatch, but I don't know how many more there are after that.  We'll have to wait and see.

Broody Hen Saga - Part One

Back in March we had a broody hen - one of the four that we got from Gretchen and Haley, via Scott and Fred.  We were wanting another chicken or two, and there are a number of ways to get one.  If you have a broody hen and fertile eggs, the "problem" of not enough chickens usually solves itself.  I wasn't totally committed to the idea, but I halfheartedly decided to let our broody hen sit on a couple of eggs and see what happened.  I decided I wanted more Rhode Island Reds, and, since we had a dominant RIR rooster and a couple of RIR hens, you're pretty much guaranteed to get some RIR chicks.

I marked both eggs with an "X" and put them under the broody hen.  I realized afterward, if I hadn't before, was that most hens want to use the same nesting box.  They would kick the broody hen out, lay their eggs, and she would get back in and sit on the other eggs too.  I was fairly careful when I collected the eggs to leave the marked eggs...but I wasn't careful enough.  I took a bunch of eggs to my family when we visited for my mom's birthday, and during the next couple of days, I realized one of our marked eggs was missing.  I made a couple of urgent phone calls and emails warning against using that egg.  I never heard whether anyone found it, but a week or more later, my grandmother ran across one in her group of eggs.  I think at that point I couldn't find the other egg either!  Trying to hatch eggs was a little more complicated than I thought.

Eventually more of our little white hens became broody and they started crowding the nesting box - two, then three, then four, then five!  Despite the number of broody hens, I decided then was the time to put some eggs underneath them.  Since so many were broody, there weren't many eggs to be had.  I didn't want RIRs - I thought there was a chance they weren't fertile, and I wasn't sure what chicks from a blue silkie rooster and RIRs would look like!  I saved up eight eggs and marked them really well and put them under however many broody hens were in the box at the time.  The more hens there were in the nesting box, the harder it became to get to the fresh eggs.  Not only was it hard to fish out the recent ones, the hens with the red combs were very defensive of the eggs.  They would peck at me, even drawing blood twice.  The other hens would just make noises and puff their feathers up.  It got to the point that I felt like it was unsafe for them, me and the future chicks.  It was moving day...

01 May 2012

April Rainfall

0.10 inches on April 2nd
1.00 inches on April 5th
0.15 inches on April 17th
0.15 inches on April 21st
0.30 inches on April 22nd

1.70 total inches for the month of April.