March 31, 2015

Of mice and Roadie

Yesterday afternoon the young road runner was back in the chicken yard again. Why is this suddenly happening? I think we have a theory.

Last week I thoroughly cleaned the coop, a half-yearly event, and because there are still mice hanging around I asked Dan to attach some flashing in the coop corners. This is where the mice go in and out after they have munched a hole in the wood lining. I know this change has the mice worried as I saw one peek out of a still unprotected section.

Here is Roadie with a gift for his/her mate, making an offering with the characteristic coo-coo sound.

March 30, 2015


Who did I find on the roost in the chicken coop this morning, cool as a cucumber? This is a young road runner, and probably one who was hatched in the horse barn last year. Road runners do fly, but mainly in short bursts to get to, or away, from something. This one cleared a six foot fence to get into the yard, so he/she must have seen something interesting.

Dan thought perhaps it was looking for a nesting spot, but I certainly hope not because this is not going to work. A raptor rooming with chickens? As it is I wonder about the eggs in the nesting boxes as they would be a wonderful meal for a road runner. I will keep a sharp eye out.

I had quite a time convincing this bird to leave. Flying straight up is not the road runner way and it is not easy in the chicken yard to get a run at it with the vegetation obstructing. It finally flew up on "the chicken hospital" which is stored on its side and in the corner of the yard. Having grown up here he/she was quite unafraid and decided to catch some rays (hence the exposed back down) before leaping down and making its round through the yard.

March 23, 2015

Smells so good

When we had this house built, more than 12 years ago, the site was razed of all vegetation. This was not my idea and I was not happy, but I was not here to do anything about it. So on the one hand I had "the blank canvas" and could plant anything wherever I pleased, but I had a house nestled in grown-up native vegetation in mind: something unobtrusive that would blend the best it could into the landscape.

It is not that easy to find nurseries that carry native vegetation, after all are they not "weeds"? But I found some and after years of planting and some drip irrigation, I am happy with the "yard". It all comes down to cooperation with Mom. I plant some stuff that belongs and she does the rest.

So it goes with this Berlandiera lyrata, commonly known here as "chocolate flower" because that's what the blooms smell like. I bought one plant and it being happy here, it has naturalized all over the place. Not always where I would have put it, but then it self seeds in spots where I do like it, so it all works out.

No daffodils here (wildlife digs and eats), but chocolate flower. And it blooms until frost, given some moisture now and then.

March 13, 2015

Against rodentia

We are appreciative of our wildlife and realize that we have invaded their habitat rather than the other way around. We much enjoy all the birds that come to our feeders and watch larger animals come to our watering dish even if some of those are coyotes that have made off with a few of our chickens. I even have a difficult time setting traps for mice and if I do set one, it is a live trap.

One area I consider "ours" is the garden, but the mice don't see it that way. Later on in the season it is not as big a deal to get a plant nibbled, but when the plants are just starting out some don't even make it past seed leaf stage. So this morning I went to some lengths, again, to protect my new plantings. I had started some sugar snap peas in the cold frame and it was time to set them out.

This is the most defensive plan I have employed yet: plastic cones around the plants that are protected by chicken wire cages. Peas growing tall it is not practical to cover them with the hardware cloth cages. There are still 4 plants in the cold frame, as backups.

The fruit trees are past blooming now, and there are many little apricots growing, as well as peaches, apples and pears.

March 6, 2015

First egg

Yesterday my Welsh blogger friend Elizabeth ( wrote that her hens had started laying again after the winter's rest. Daylight hours have to be long enough for hens to produce, and lo and behold this morning one of our new pullets laid her first egg. I wonder who it was? No matter, I am sure it will be delicious and I will poach it for Dan tomorrow.

Perhaps this was a present for (absent) ranch caretaker Linda, in honor of her birthday today? I would have cooked it to your specs, Linda. Happy Birthday!