January 17, 2014

But it is mid-January!

There are blossoms on one of my apple trees. It is an early variety (Anna), but honestly, what is it thinking?

It has been a very mild winter so far. Some nighttime freezing temperatures, but nothing dramatic. During the day it is in the 60's. This does not bode well for apples this year.

January 12, 2014

Coop happenings

My hens are old. In fact, they are henopausal. The first flock was hatched in 2007 somewhere in the Midwest and arrived here in a small box in the mail. In 2010 I added some local chicks to replace those hens who had passed on from natural causes and one coyote. Until this summer the hens did yeo(wo)man's work in providing us and some neighbors with great eggs, and I cannot bring myself to "sending them on their way" now that their laying days are over. For those wondering, hens only lay eggs for a couple of years and then go on to live many more, unproductive, years.

So my hens are retired and living the good life of regular food, safe nights, and hen company. This fall I even turned off the coop light that would have them wake at 3 am so they would see more than 10 hours of daylight that are necessary for laying eggs. When you are done, you are done, right?

Late last fall my neighbor inherited some laying hens. They are a little walk away, out of view and, I believe, out of earshot. Yet, the day after Christmas Mathilde surprised me with an egg (she is an Americana and her eggs are blue). And she has continued laying an egg every other day or so. A Buff Orpington (brown egg) joined her last week, and has continued laying as well. This in spite of not enough daylight to be producing. Such girls! I have no idea what got into them.

This is Mathilde, so named because she tries to waltz out the gate as I enter the chicken yard. She is very friendly.

January 8, 2014


We laid the old girl to rest today. How difficult it is. Thirteen years old, a long life for so big a dog. It has not always been an easy life. We brought her home from the Portland Humane Society at 6 months old. She had already been there twice in that short time. She was shy, but I fell for her good looks and her German Shepherd heritage. She jumped into the car and slept all the way home. For days she followed me everywhere, Dan was not important in the beginning.

Shawna was definitely a woman's dog and had perhaps been mistreated by a man. She remained wary of men all her life.

Another problem may have been her heritage: part German Shepherd, wanting to please and obey, part Alaskan Malamute and fiercely independent and opinionated. She was the most difficult canine character that we have encountered in our 30 years of dog ownership.

 She never did get over her fear of abandonment. When we were not with her, she was on edge until we got home. Even last week she ran through the house with the toilet paper because we had forgotten to close the bathroom doors upon leaving. In 2003, when Dan left for Arizona to start building the ranch, I asked him to take her because I had to remain in Oregon to finish my career and live in an apartment because we had already sold our house. Shawna would be much better off at Dan's side 24-7. When I showed up for visits, I was treated as an intruder and she made it clear who the new #1 was in her life. She took me back into her graces once I moved permanently.

We will so much miss her, but she was suffering and, as my vet-friend said "you have to let her go with dignity". And so we did, but my heart is very heavy.