Moving Day

Sunday was  the day the littles (this year’s chicks) movec from the brooder in the garage out to a larger brooder area in the coop with the bigs (our existing flock).  .   We started the littles  under the lights in a dog crate in the garage where we have fewer temperature fluctuations.  The big drawback is even with the heat lamp and the overhead lights on, they get almost no sunshine.   There is no scientific data, but  I think that slows their development.   Several times we have thought about moving them out to the coop but the last couple of weeks have been snowy and cold so we passed as much for ourselves as them. This week’s forecast is much better so we are moving them out of the garage.

RangerSir got the set up ready for them.It takes some set up time to get a warm safe, draft free space set up for them in the coop.  They need to be protected from the bigs. We have been doing this now for awhile  and know the routine.    It is a combination of a dog exercise pen, a dog crate, heat lamps, chicken wire top, and some kind of draft protection (this year plywood, some years it is cardboard.) This set up will do for the next stage of their life.

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Cooking for the Love of It

I love to cook .   I recently saw a survey that said people now spend more on dining out than at the grocery.   It is something I have a hard time getting my head around.   I think it is so because I not only love to cook, I love to feed people.    To me cooking is part art, and part escape.  Definitely an expression of love.  When I cook I get to vicariously by making a meal go to other places and make things that I might never get a chance to taste otherwise.  Today I had a roast and a busy schedule full of work,so I wanted a recipe that I could crock pot this and turn it into something fun.   I went  online and sought out a  new recipe using the ingredients I have on hand.    I found a recipe that I truly wondered how it would turn out, time was running out and because I had everything I went with it.   My rule of thumb is the first time  on any recipe is by the book, so I did just that.   By lunch time   I  had decided that pie was in order  to go with my roast dinner and put together a cherry pie.

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My baking creation today, cherry pie.

Tonight when RangerSir got home he was greeted by the smells of our crock pot roast and his eyes feasted on a cherry pie worthy of Instagram.    I put a dinner feast  on the table worthy of the love for RangerSir.

I Did Get Chicks

I am not sure where the time went since I last posted.   I finished up technical job that took more effort than I planned but was also more fun than I imagined.   It had a hard deadline and so my focus was pretty narrow.    I have now run the job back to employer, and I am done with that job.   I don’t have another one right now so and I am catching up on some things that got put aside one of them my blog.

Excuses given my major news is that I did get chicks this week. RangerSir and I agreed that we bring in a few every year and this year did not have a good reason for not doing so.    I got all Wyandottes, one of my favorite breeds.  I love them because they lay well, they come in assorted colors and designs, when they are done laying they can be sent to freezer camp, and they have a cushion comb which is really nice during a Montana Winter.   I only got six, which is our optimum flock size.    I got two blue laced reds, two golden laced, and to silver laced.   Right now they are in a brooder under the lights in the garage.

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Right now they are in the brooder under the red heat lamps.

This is the first time they have not spent the first two or three weeks in a brooder in the house, but enough is enough.   We are finding it more of a challenge than we had figured on to keep them warm and keep them confined.   This two will pass and each week will get better.

 

New Chicks – the Jury is Still Out

We have been debating on and off about getting chicks this year. There are so many reasons to do and just as many reasons to sit out a year.   We are approaching the end of chick days, so if we don’t buy some soon, then the decision will soon be out of our hands.

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A sign of the times…Chick Days.

One of the reasons we need to consider new birds is predators.   Last year we lost a number of hens to a fox.  We have not lost to predators every year, but it is always a possibility.    We could not take that same kind of predation again this year.   We have already seen a large fox this year. Our hens already are not doing as much free ranging as they would like because of this.   We are keeping them in the run more hours and close to the house when they are free ranging.   It is not a guarantee that they will not meet an unfortunate demise, but it does decrease the odds of them being fox dinner.

Another reason for thinking about adding some youngsters to our flock is some of our hens are past peak laying and if we don’t retire them to freezer camp this year, they will only be good for stock.   I hate to be wasteful.   It seems to me that is almost disrespectful to not fully utilize the bird.   When they get beyond tough it settles wrong with me, it seems that I have been less than a good steward. You want to rotate out your heavy laying hens every 18-24 months if you hope to eat them.

One of the reasons to not get chicks is we would get to put off one of the worst parts of backyard chicken wrangling, butchering.  I would so love to put them in a cage haul them off to be butchered and come back neat little hens in a plastic bag, but it doesn’t work that way.   It one of those things that is a reminder to me of the hard work that goes into putting food on our table.

Another reason to not get chicks is I just plain old don’t like the part of raising baby chicks.   They are sensitive to cold, drafts and require lots of work to get them to the laying age.   Some people love this part, to me it is just one big hassle, I’d rather skip. There is a period where we are running two separate flocks and two separate sets of chores for each of them.

The local ranch supply will be getting birds in only for a couple more weeks, so we will soon be making the road trip to get some chicks or by procrastination the decision will be made for us.  Either way is ok with us this year.

Not Having Real TV, Not So Bad.

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We don’t have any over the air, cable or satellite TV. What this means is the only  TV we get, is what we choose to stream.   It is our normal and we don’t think much about it.   If we want TV we have to pick something.  We don’t turn it on for background noise, because you still have to pick something that will run continuously.  Nor do we have the option of turning it on and flipping through the stations and looking for the best of what is on. I can’t remember how long it has been this way but it is years for us.  It works for us.

RangerSir recently had to go to a training for several days out of town.   He was a location that had “real” TV.   Of the two of us, he is the one who enjoys TV the most and so was looking forward to seeing what we were missing.    He came home so glad we had choose no live broadcast  TV.   He talked about all the primary ads, how many there were, the kinds of material they presented, the tone of politics,  and how little real information they gave.

We are not living in a vacuum or so far off line that we are out of touch.  We know what is going on out there, because we do watch news, debates and more.   We have read up and researched on the candidates positions and history. We watch and read about the world and what is happening and how it impacts people  and countries around the world.    Maybe during an election cycle, this is one of those times where not having regular TV is not so bad. It forces me to be fully informed and think about what I think we need to do, not what some one tells me needs to be done, with half-truths and twisted facts.

Harbinger of Spring

Growing up in the Midwest the return of the robin was always a harbinger of spring.   Here in southwest Montana  a kind of sparrow like bird is always the first to return in the spring is.   Following the sparrow like bird a week or so later is the bluebird.   Finally there is the the meadowlark who is the last of the migrating birds to return.

I first noticed the sparrow like birds early last week.  When hanging my first clothes out I could clearly hear them calling out to one another about the bounty or lack of bounty they were finding here in Montana.   They were gathering and flitting about in the pastures around the house.   They always seem to be on the move and just far enough away that I never capture them well with a camera.

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Mountain bluebird in the snow. Taken by Betty Holling.

Monday I saw my first bluebird.    I haven’t seen another one yet, but I am sure more of them will be arriving soon.   Once the males have mostly arrived and check out the digs we have on the fence posts, the females won’t be far behind.  We have a series of blue bird houses on our fence posts and love to watch them each year.

I looked at my blog to see when I wrote about the bluebird last time  and see I saw this fella almost two weeks earlier this year.   Last time we had a major snow storm with six inches  just after my first bluebird arrived.   This year we have woken up to snow already twice this week.   It always make me think about hearty and resilient these little guys are.   How far they go to return here each spring and how the weather doesn’t stop them.   It is how we should all look at the setbacks we have once we get spring fever.   March on it will get better.

 

The Smell of Laundry on the Line

Either you  love clothes on the line or you don’t.   The most common reason I have heard  for not liking clothes on the line is they are not drier fluffy.  On the opposite side of the argument is that no one has managed to actually capture the smell of sunshine and outdoors that you can only get with clothes hung on the line in any of those bottled smells for laundry soap or drier sheets.   I fall into the camp that the smell of line-dried clothes trumps everything else.

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This week it was finally warm enough to put towels out on the line.   We always have a breeze and most the time have some serious wind so even though it wasn’t much above 40 my towels were soon dry. Though the first day of spring is till a couple weeks away and yes there is still snow on the frozen ground, I am not letting that stop me with celebrating a nice day with laundry on the line.