Saturday, November 27, 2010

Hoary Frost!

Hoary Frost
No, not a cheerleader for some sport team or a stripper on some pole, rather the white builded up of moisture on anything out of door on a cold morning.  Prairie Home is covered with a new coat of frost this morning.  Everything that stood still is blanketed from top to bottom making for a wonderful morning to wake up to.  The temp is hovering at zero, the skies are clear and there is no wind to speak of, so the frost remained to be seen by those of us that are up early in the morn. 

Friday, November 26, 2010

Our winter friends!

American Goldfinch
I was left to myself today and had no desire to go into town on black Friday, so after chores I set a tripod, cleaned the camera lenses, washed the bay windows, and then got ready to snap a few new images of the wild birds that hang around for the winter. Right outside the bay window I have set up a feeder made of a fence post, a 2x4 box with hardware cloth bottom.  The hardware cloth allows the rain to past through without damaging the seed for the birds.  Now, I have been snapping photo of wildlife for years as an amateur, of which most shots are at close range due the price of zoom lenses.  Today, I am using a 55-200mm lens on a Nikon D40.  The subjects, birds, will be about ten feet away. I am letting the camera handle all the settings, will I handle the shutter button and focus. We have a number of birds that over winter here at Prairie Home, of which the Black-capped Chickadee seem to be the most common.  For most of the day there was a steady stream of blurs coming and going from the feeder; Blue Jays, American Goldfinch, Dark-eyed Junco, Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers, Chickadee and even a quick visit by a Pileated Woodpecker. I've always enjoyed being in the outdoors, being around wildlife and yes hunting them.  I also enjoy taking photos and sharing them.  To see more images visit my Flickr site and please let me know what you think.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Below zero!

A promise a ThanksGiving blizzard was posted and on its way, but after a bit of snow and no wind the storm passed by without a lick of fowl weather.  This morn, as walked through the freshly fallen snow, I notice a bite to the wind.  On the coop's outer wall, I took notice of the temp; -10.   Upon entering the coop and all were just fine, cept for one frozen egg.   Outside, the geese are enjoying a water hole they created with the help of the water we are pumping out of the sump hole in the basement. Yes, the water is still open and the geese wade most of the day.  Though it is cold here on the prairie, thus far no one is worst the wear!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Silly hen pt2

At 5:00 this morning its amear 5 degrees above and I wondering about the hen in the tree.  You know, the one that decided she would rather camp out in the pine tree rather than walk on the snow to get into the coop.  Did she survive the cold?  Will I need to climb the tree to get her down?  Well, at 6 the lights in the coop come on automatically and I will go out to do my morning routine.  As Gurl and I stepped out the front door we were welcome by a blast of cold air! We rounded the corner of the house heading for the coop, suddenly a large dark figure flew up from the ground under the pine and headed to the roof of the salt block shed.  I knew immediate what it was and what it meant.  Gurl on the other hand was off after the big bird and chased it into the woods.  Good Gurl!  The large figure was a Great Horned Owl, which came for breakfast of chicken. Can't blame the owl much, they need to eat to survive too, however there can feed elsewhere. I am down to ten layers now and a rooster!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Silly hen!

Just prior to sundown, I went out to check on the chickens, put down some feed, gather up the afternoon eggs.  If all the chickens and guineas are inside roosting, I close up the coop for the night.  However, sometime one or two are late to go in.  Most often I can just guide them and close up.  With the temperature falling, I really wanted to make sure they all were in.  Well, I found three of the mixed hen roosting on the frame of an goat pen. I told that there is no way they were going to camp out, not tonight!  So, as I started to herd them to the coop, they decided to play a game of ring around the goat pen. We did this until two flew to the coop's roof and the other desperately tried land on a long died stalk of giant ragweed.  I gathered that one quickly and off to the coop with her.  The other two were going to be a challenge.  The silly birds refused to walk on the ground with new white stuff all about, but for some reason the snow covered roof of the coop was OK.  I got a long pole and was able to usher one of the chickens off the roof and inside.  The other, the last one, decide we were going to again play a game.  After a few trips around the coop, she changed the rules and flew up into the large pine that over looks the pen and coop.  There was about 40 minutes til dark, so I left her be in hopes she would see the errors of her ways and get inside.  After a great pork roast supper, I was back out to lock up for the night.  The silly bird is still in the tree.  I fear she is a goner, for the night air is heading for zero and maybe lower.  As I end this post, I peeked at the thermometer.  It reads 3 above!  Hang on silly hen! Hang on!

White or Brown!

I lay white eggs!
Are white eggs healthier than brown eggs?  Are the egg's color a pruduct of the health of the chicken?  Does the egg color have more to do with the quality of feed they are getting?

The answer to the above questions is NO!  The eggs color is based on species of chicken.  The rule of thumb for the most part, if the hen has a light colored ear flap, the egg will be white.  And dark colored ear flat will be brown eggs.  There is an exception to this rule, with the so called Easter Egg chickens.  The Araucana and Ameraucana will lay eggs that are colored from pink to blue.

Routine a fowl!

The snow is affecting the chickens normal routine, which was to patrol the yard starting off with the wild bird feeder.  There was always a few black oil sunflower seeds that made their way out of the feeder by way of either wind or a picky woodpecker.  From there they would head for the Lilac bush and yard beyond.  Soon, they would make their way to the garden and work over the ground, leaving fresh fertiziler for next year.  Next, its was off to the compost pile and the salt block shed.   Today, they barely got out of the coop and that because of my boot bumping their butts out the door.  Most of the day, they have been idle, just sitting in one place, like they are in shock.  Rudy made his way to the roof, but here too was several inches of snow.. He wasn't a happy rooster today... very little crowing.  The guineas too made their way to the roof, where they roosted for a few hours before heading back into the coop.   I am sure that as they get uses to the snow, the patrol will be back.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


I don't know why! Or why now, but my thoughts are racing towards memories on my grandmother Edith Reynolds.  It has been a busy day here today as I finished off a major database move from one server to another.  Lots of updates, broken links, users not able to log in and now I am taking a break as the phones are quiet... This is when my grandmother came to mind and I don't know why!  I didn't know her very well at all.  I did meet her in the spring of 1968 when she came to visit us in Arkansas.  I don't recall her voice, her appearance or her eyes, it was such a short visit there just wasn't time.  I do remember that she could recite the alphabet backward faster that I could forward.  She taught me to spell Mississippi with humpback, dotted and crooked letters.  She tricked me into a game of  "Who could count to one hundred" the fastest!  She said start and off I started counting as fast as a 12 year old could.. 1,2,3...21,22,23.  But! But, she wasn't counting yet... I got to 90 and she rang out 10, 10, double 10, 45, 15. And then declared that she won...  Sitting there confused, she had me add up the numbers... we laughed!  She was with us for three or fours days before she passed away. She had seen me as a baby and a boy, as we traveled with the military to an oversea duty station and back.  She, however had not met my youngest sister to this point, who was now about 6 years old. Grandma made sure that she was able to see us all again and then left.  The only other memory I have of my grandmother Edith R. Reynolds is, she loved the song Old Rugged Cross, which was played at her Wake.  We laid my grandmother to earth in the Edson Cemetery in Lowell Massachusetts. One of these days I will revisit my grandmother and tell her that I love her.

First snow!

The first snow of the year is resting on the ground now. Though not enough to messure, it does change the appearance of the yard as I look out the kitchen window towards the coop. There is promise of additional snow throughout the day to what depth I don't know. I can't help but wonder what the chickens and guineas are going to think this morning as they exit the relative warmth of the coop and see snow for the first time In years past, I have had many hens that refused to walk on the snow, packed down or not.  A few would not come out all winter, some I hand carried the first few times until they got use to the white stuff.  

A few days later!
This morning we recieved a nice blanket of snow, which caused the chickens and guineas to remain inside the coop. I literally had to chase them out into the snow, which was not something they want to do all. I had to bump butts with my boot to get them out, which they immediately went for high ground; fence post, trees, Burdock stalks, and the roof of the coop now had either chickens or guineas attach to it. An hour later I found them pretty much in the same place, with the exception of Rudy on the coop roof with the guineas. Now, on the other hand, the geese are having a good time in the snow and the cold doesn't seem to be bothering them at all.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Cold Days ahead!

So far so good as the temperatures up here in the northwest of Minnesota go.  Its been a good year for mild temps, reaching back to last March.  But, now it seems we are sliding towards zero and soon.  Last week, we were in the 40 and 50 for daytime high, this week we might reach 30.  However, the chicken coop seems to be a steady 15 degrees warmer than the outside temps. I hope it's enough later in the winter.  Each night and morning I check Rudy's comb and waddle for frostbite and to give a little massage. He is starting to get use to me reaching up and petting him. He does seem to enjoy, but who knows whats happening in his little brain.  I do wish he would remember the pettings during the day light hours, as he likes to attack from the rear right as I am walking across the barnyard.  Typical rooster!   The hens are laying good and we have more eggs than we can handle, so the EGGS FOR SALE is out.   So far, we all are doing good, but winter is long, dark and hard.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Chicken coop raider spotted!

This morning after downing my buck, I walked the 1/2 mile back to the barnyard and entered one of my outbuildings where I keep my outdoor gear.  I was in need of a pair of surgical gloves for the upcoming field dressing chore.  As I approached the shed noticed an odor that was not normal to that shed. I entered and immediately heard rustling within and to the rear of the shed, which is where I was heading. I was thinking, damn mice.. I will have to place some traps.  But, upon reaching the back of the shed, I saw a blur of movement to my left and only got a glimpse of what is a much bigger animal than a mouse!  Now, I was thinking a stray cat.  I knew our two cats were in the house.  So, quickly I moved toward the hiding animal... hoping to scare the s...t out of the cat and send it packing to parts unknown.... but to my surprise it wasn't a cat!  FOX! I thought loudly in my head!  After all, why yell when there is no one there to hear ya! The raider of the chicken coop is a Fox.  Off he ran in a bur towards the front of the shed and through the open door.  As I reach the doorway, all I saw was a reddish and gray fox, high tailing across the yard and into the woods.  Now, I warned him, don't come back.. but I have a feeling he will not heed my words.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Did you know....

Do you know who Passaconaway is?  I bet the answer for most is no! Passconaway is an anglicized translation of Papisse Conewa which means Son of Bear.  He was the Sachem of the Pennacook tribe of the New Hampshire and the Massachusetts area back in the 1500's.  Passconaway is one of the most important Sachem in the Americas, but few have ever heard of him.  It was his people that kept the early Pilgrims from starvation and from being over run by the powerful Mohawks.  For some time, the Europeans and Pennacook lived in peace, traded goods and knowledge, until the Europeans started to get land greedy.  

Back in 1899, the Improved Order of Red Men of Massachusetts erected a bronze statue of this great sachem, which others theft upon.  My first introduction to the sachem was 1968 when we laid my grand mother, Edith Ruby Heaney Reynolds to earth.  I was a 12 year old at the time. My elders (aunts and uncles) told me about the sachem's statues, that stands in the same cemetery where my grand mother rests; Edson Cemetery, Lowell Massachusetts.  They said that we are related to the sachem through my Great Grandmother; Elizabeth Anna Waters Reynolds.  Thus far, I haven't been able to prove this link at all, but it is an interesting story and possibility.  The sachem's statue over the years has been vandalized; tomahawk, spear, hand and other parts carried off to no regard at all who he was and what he did in life.  I can only imagine that on some bookcase somewhere a green patina hand, or spear standing in a corner collecting dust. And no more a thought!

Provided by
Edson/Westlawn Cemetery

The good news is that the statue of the Great Sachem, Passaconaway has been restored this year 2010.  Though an incorrect depiction of the a Pennacook of the time, it is still a good thing.  It's a good thing to remember our past and those who made it possible for the rest of us.