New rooster, and more snow.

We got hit with a big snowstorm yesterday (as did most of the upper Midwest, and other parts of the country).  We probably got somewhere over 10 inches of snow, but it was very windy so it settled in drifts – some spots had no snow but in other spots there were swaths of snow that were over 3.5 feet tall.  Because of the way it settled I really am not sure exactly how much we got, but it was a lot.  And in mid April it is definitely unwelcome. I was looking back at old notes and realized that at this time a couple years ago I was putting my ducks in the pool outside to swim –  it was 70 degrees that day.  Last year I was putting in the onions. THIS year, I haven’t even seen my yard yet – there was a small bit of driveway exposed for awhile but that is all so far.  This coming weekend we’re supposed to be up in the upper 40s, so this snow is all going to melt and become a big mudpile. What fun!

We also added a new rooster the other day, since my old roosters both are gone.  The hens need someone to watch out for them, so I decided to look for a new one. I found him on Craigslist.  He’s a Russian Orloff, and I’ve named him Bertram. The name stuck in my head when I got him, so that’s his name. It fits pretty well, actually.  Here are some pics of the new rooster, and our yucky new snow:

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Here is Bertram, the Russian Orloff rooster. They are a very very cold hardy breed, and he doesn’t have much in the way of waddles or comb to get frostbit.
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As you can see here, he’s quite large. The hen next to him is a Copper Maran, so she’s a standard size hen. He’s probably about the size of a Brahma rooster, at least height wise. I have not weighed him so I don’t know how heavy he is. But he’s tall.
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He’s very nice to the hens, and they are getting along well with him. He’s ok with me too – he keeps an eye out to make sure of what I’m doing in there, but he has realized I’m the food-bringer, so I think that helps.
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Another picture of him in the coop.
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I got this cute pic of two of the ducks last week as well.
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Here are some deer out near the chicken fence. They cross through behind our property every evening, and they’ll come close to the fence sometimes looking for treats. They get the occasional apple or carrot thrown over and left for them to find.
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Here is the snow bank the other day. It was down a bit – this is the driveway-plow snowbank (created from plowing our driveway)- in winter, we can’t really get behind the chicken house. My son climbs this though and creates forts in it. Here it was on its way to sort-of melting…
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And here it is today. It is taller than my son with his arms outstretched. He’s just over 4 feet tall.
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Here is what the driveway looked like before we tried to plow/dig out cars this morning. I was worried the plow wouldn’t cut through that (where you can see to the right of the car, toward the road), but it did. The snow was really tall in spots but our plow handled it.
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Here was the swath of snow next to the truck – where I was standing there wasn’t any snow, because the wind had pushed it all up to the truck.
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Our back porch is now exactly level with the snow. The dogs walk right off the top step into the snow, as if we just have a patio out there.

Oh, so an update on my last post about syrup.  I was still cooking it down when I posted that day; right after posting, I decided to put the sap into a smaller pan to finish the cooking.  I chose too small of a pan, and ended up making maple sugar instead! The temperature got too high with the small pan. I thought I had made hard candy, but over a day or so it ended up crumbling. It’s quite nice in tea, but it was not what I was going for. After that day, we had some cold temps, so we didn’t get any sap for about a week.  This past week (before the storm) was really decent – we were getting 1/2 gallon per day from some trees, and one tree actually gave almost a gallon per day for a few days. Temperatures dipped Saturday when the storm was heading this way, so I just pulled the taps in for this year.  I ended up with about 9.5-10 gallons of sap through the week, and cooked them down yesterday:

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Here is the syrup!! Just about one quart (4 cups) total. 

I made sure to check the temperature this time and didn’t cook it to candy / sugar stage.

 

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“It’s Spring! April Fools!” – Winter

We got more snow yesterday.  Which happens here in the U.P.   We got an end-of-March storm, which only gave us about 4-5 inches of snow, but it came with a little cold snap. Our maple sap collecting has gone awry because the temperatures dipped.  We went to get sap the other night before the snow started, and there were little icicles from the taps into our buckets.  Tomorrow is supposed to be warm enough for the sap to flow, but otherwise the next week is not supposed to get much above freezing during the day. Ideally you want temps in the 40s during the day and 20s at night for optimal sap production. When I looked at the weather, it said those temperatures should come back around April 10th.  I decided to cook up what I had today  – we had just over 2 gallons collected so far.  We’ll still leave the buckets up for now and see what happens.

Here are some new pictures from today:

boiling sap
Here is the sap pot. I had to boil down a bit before adding the rest of our sap – this pot didn’t hold all 2 gallons at once. We won’t end up with much syrup, but it should be delicious anyway.
more snow
Here is our driveway/side yard, which was grassy and chicken-y in my last post. The chickens were not happy that we got more snow.
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Here is my car with snow on it – we really didn’t get a whole lot, but when you are waiting for it all to melt, getting any snow is a let-down.
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My bunnies didn’t care about the snow, since they live inside. Here is my buck, Buddy.
marigold
Here is Marigold. I bred the two does last weekend, so hopefully we’ll have baby bunnies by the end of the month. Marigold was not happy about being bred. (She’s pretty skittish anyway).
Petunia
Here is Petunia. She seemed excited about mating, luckily.
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I was taking pictures of the rabbits, and my cat Wizard started coming down stairs. He’s been hanging out more downstairs since we got him a cat tree. I’ve even found him sneaking around in the kitchen, which means he may start actually catching mice downstairs.
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A close up of our Wizard. He is a great mouser upstairs, so we are hoping he’ll do his job downstairs too.
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Our Nova was curious why I was taking pictures, so I took one of her too.

 

Wintertime in the snow

We’ve been really busy this winter with the holidays and other stuff, so I haven’t had a chance to post anything in a while.  We’re in the middle of a typical U.P. Snowy winter.  We get a lot of lake effect snow from Lake Superior.  Here are some pictures of the past several weeks.

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The view from our front porch during a blizzard a few weeks ago.
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Here are our cars during that same blizzard.
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My husband took this picture of a finch, hanging onto a old evening primrose stalk.
overhanging-snow-curtain
We have a metal roof. When we have warm-ups, we get curtains like this hanging down. We were wondering how long these would get – they didn’t get much longer than this before breaking.
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Our bird feeder next to a snow-curtain. This did not deter the birds from coming to eat.
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Here are our apple trees covered in snow.

As fall turns to winter…

We had a pretty mild autumn this year.  When I was growing up here, we were lucky if we didn’t have to wear snow suits under our Halloween costumes.  Snow has come later the last couple of years.  We finally got a couple inches the other night, the weekend before Thanksgiving.  For most of my chickens, and the ducks, this is their first time seeing snow. The chickens are not very excited about it – the ducks seem to like it a little. I think they will enjoy it more when it’s deeper – we really only got a dusting.

We’ve had a busy fall – we are now down to 41 chickens, and 6 ducks.  We took out 6 roosters a few weeks ago, and now we still have 6 remaining roosters.  There are a couple on the short-list for freezer camp, but we may wait till spring to take them out.  Below are some pictures of what our fall looked like, and of our new snow.

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Here was our driveway a couple of weeks back.
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Here is what our yard looks like now.
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Here is the back yard. We didn’t get much snow, but it’s enough to say Wintertime is here.
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Two of our roosters, Fluff-butt and Hekyll.
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The ducks – they weren’t sure what to make of the snow, but they seem to be enjoying hanging out there.
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Most of the chickens are staying in the coop – they seem confused by the snow.

St. Patty’s Day Pummelling

All of our snow was gone… I knew that we could still get snow, since it’s only March.  We got pummeled with snow last night.  This morning we woke up to a huge mess.  The weather people said that we were expecting 8-10 inches.  Today when I went out to feed the rabbits and chickens (who are NOT happy about this turn of events), the snow came over my boots. So I took a stick and measured it. At 8 am we had received 13.5 inches of snow.  And it was still coming down.  Luckily I don’t think we got much more.

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This is what we woke up to.

In the night we knew we were getting some snow – we have a metal roof, and while we were in bed we kept waking up to strange noises. We realized that it was snow falling off the roof – snow that had piled up on the roof was falling off of the roof in little avalanches, since it wasn’t very cold outside.  We didn’t realize just how much snow we had gotten till we got up this morning.

Because there was so much snow, the trees were weighed down – which means that we lost power for most of today.  It’s back on now (which is why I can finally post this).  We dug the cars out and parked them across the street so my husband could plow the driveway. The problem is that under this snow, we had mud since it had been so warm. Our truck is currently stuck in the mud at the back of the driveway. So that’s another thing we have to do in the next few days – get someone to come pull the truck out of the mud. Here are some photos of our big St. Patty’s day snow.

buried cars
Here you can see our cars buried.  Yes, there are cars under that.
out front
Here is our street view this morning.
buried car
A view of our driveway from the front porch. The red bit is my car buried by snow.
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Our backyard dog run. It looks like the snow we got on Christmas, but I don’t think we got this much then.
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Our driveway (and the rabbit hutches/wood shed) after our plowing attempt.
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Snow in the dog run. This comes up to my largest dog, Atat’s, belly. So the other dogs are buried when they go out in this.
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Our garage and our spruce trees. You can see how the snow is weighing everything down. The rose bush in the middle is very saggy.
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Our back yard/woods – covered in snow.

I hope it goes away soon. I was so excited by the spring weather we had.

 

  • Update – we got our truck unstuck. We just had to wait for the mud to freeze, and it was easy to get out.

Snowy Farm in February

Today it’s cold – about 4 degrees F.  It is supposed to get up into the 20s though today.  I thought it was a nice sunny day for some pictures of our snow.  It looks pretty but I can’t wait for it to melt away.  Our side door is under a spot where our metal roof drops snow.  From plowing that and the rest of the snow away from the door, our driveway is packed down enough where we have to go down to the door. If you’re standing in the driveway you are a few inches above where you would be if you were inside the house, if that makes sense.  I hope you enjoy my photo tour.

snowy side yard
Our snowbanks in the back as you’re heading to the chicken coop.
snowy coop
The snowbank in front of the chicken coop. We have a trail to the actual door so we can get in.  Our chicken yard gate is not closing very well right now, but the chickens don’t really come out – they don’t seem to want to walk in the snow. The building through the woods is our neighbor’s house.
snowy woods
The woods, beyond the snow bank
rabbit hutches
Our rabbit hutch in the woodshed. We have a blanket that usually covers the rabbits when it’s very cold, but there was no wind today so I let them have some fresh air. They should get some sunshine too once the sun rises more.
snowbanks
Our snowbank on the side of the house near the woods.
squirrel tracks
Squirrel tracks! They come to eat the seeds the birds knock out of our bird feeder.
snowy street
A view of the road. The old building in this picture is our old hall, across the street.
snow by door
The side of our house. The snow gets really deep around the house because of our metal roof – the snow drops off in little avalanches when the temps warm up. Sometimes there are chunks of ice in it – you don’t want to be standing there when it falls.
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Our front porch full of snow.
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A view of our yard under the cedar tree. You can see a couple of birds on the ground. They are waiting for me to move so they can come back to the feeder.
yard under snow
Our side yard, under a foot or so of snow. In the distance under our apple trees you can see deer tracks – the disturbed snow – they come to try to find apples under the snow. We’ve had them try to shake the trees before also. There are still some apples up at the top.

Snow Dogs

We had a couple inches of snow from last week, and then yesterday we got about 6-8 inches.  The dogs had a lot of fun playing in it –  Even Downey – he hates water and being wet, and won’t go out in the rain.  But he loves snow.

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The dogs playing in the snow
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More snow – Nova almost blends in to the snow compared to the other two
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Downey and Atat
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Our garage and cedar tree
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The yard covered in snow