Late April in the U.P.

We had a wonderful warm day yesterday. Our temps here got to about 67 degrees F. It was nice and sunny, so I let the chickens out of their yard for the day – we have had rain for the last week until 2 days ago, so their run is really muddy.  I wanted to give them a chance to hang out in some grass. They really enjoyed it.  So did we. We got some of our yard work completed too. Here are some pictures of our nice day yesterday.

yard chickens
Here are the chickens and ducks enjoying the sunshine.
yard ducks
The ducks sunbathing.
sunshine roos
Our rooster Big Red watching over everyone.
rasp trellis 1
My raspberry plants were a (very spiky) mess. I had some old scaffolding laying around, so I created a support system. The fencing on the ground is protecting my strawberries from dustbathing chickens – they think my garden beds are great dust baths.
rasp trellis 2
Here is a closer view of the new raspberry support system. Hopefully I’ll get some yummy berries this year.
potatos
I’m growing potatoes in old feed bags. Here they are. I’m trying this out, we’ll see how it works.
onion patch
This is my onion patch. I planted it last week when we had a break in the rain. It’s hard to tell from this picture but they’re growing pretty well so far. Again the fence is to keep the chickens off for the day. I only put it down when the chickens are out of their run.
baby bunnies
Here are two of our 3 baby bunnies, they are starting to eat their mom’s food instead of just her milk.
wild leeks
We picked wild leeks (ramps) yesterday! I made a really good omelet for dinner with them.

We had a wonderful day outside yesterday, prepping for today when the weather was  supposed to be cold and rainy.  Instead we woke up to:

 

 

 

this morning
blegh.
today 2
more blegh.
today 3
It looks pretty, but it’s April 23rd. This is the U.P. though.

It’ll melt today or tomorrow, and then we’ll wait for our next sunny day. Spring is trying to be here. It just has some days off, I guess.

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A Beautiful Spring Day!

After a pretty schizophrenic winter, spring appears to finally be here.  We had big melts in January and February this winter, but I’m hoping the nice weather will stick this time.  This is the U.P., so it’s very likely we will get some snow again, but I’m going to enjoy it while it lasts.  The last few days were kind of crummy – cold and rainy. But today it was finally sunny, and in the low 50s. We got some things done outside, and the animals enjoyed the sunshine.

snow remains
Our chicken coop – you can see our snowbanks are still here. Our yard is pretty much a mix of snow and muck right now. The sun should dry it out.
collecting sap
It’s Maple Syrup gathering time! There have been some weeks this winter where I heard others were tapping, but March is the correct month – when nights are below freezing but days are warmer.  I tapped them today and the sap is really running well.
tap in the tree
You can kind of see the drip of sap getting ready to fall into the bucket here.
daffodils
The ground thinks it’s really spring as well – the daffodils are coming up!
crocus
Baby crocuses are coming up too!
big red
The chickens and ducks enjoyed the sunshine today – here’s our rooster Big Red.
general and hens
Here is The General, our other rooster.
chickens in the mud
The hens enjoying the sun. You can see the muddy ground here – there is a layer of mud on top of ice – the ground has not thawed yet.  Once it does the ground will dry out a little easier.
atat outside
Atat enjoying the sunshine.  At least that part of the yard is just dead grass, not mud.

I’m hoping spring weather sticks around for awhile.

 

Busy Springtime

There has been a lot going on lately around here.  After my last post, no more chicks hatched. We ended up with 22 hatched out of 42 for that batch.  I candled the remaining eggs – 10 were empty, and 10 just didn’t hatch. And then a day or so later one of the chicks who had hatched died.  So we now have 21 small chicks, and 4 larger chicks. I’m done with hatching for the year – we now have 43 chickens including our adults.

Here is one of our larger chicks, Escape Artist’s daughter:

esky daughter
Looks like her mama. Also tries to jump out of the box just like mama did.

We vaccinated the chicks for Marek’s last weekend. The older chicks were given it at the same time – may be a little late but it’s better than nothing. We only had the one vial and didn’t want to try to split it up, especially since this was the first time we’ve ever given it.  My chickens from last year were all vaccinated at the hatchery. I don’t know if my 2-year-old chickens were vaccinated. Either they were or we don’t have Marek’s disease here, but I have heard that it is all over the place.  I’ve read that it takes 2 weeks for the chicks  to build up any immunity after being vaccinated, so next weekend we might move the older chicks outside.   We were going to add another little chicken house for the youngsters, but we’ve decided we will do a split coop again – we have the room in the chicken house, with two separate rooms, and fenced runs on both sides, so we can keep them separate but all safe and comfortable.  The smaller chicks will have to go out later – they are still too small.  I’ll have to integrate them with the larger chicks when they do get moved, but there are so many smaller ones I think they’ll be able to hold their own against the 4 larger chicks then. Here is one of the smaller chicks:

red head maran
I think she’s one  of the Marans (or came out of one of those eggs), but she is black with a red head. I noticed her feathers growing in stick out a little bit, like a frizzle chicken. We’ll have to see what she ends up looking like. She’s one of my favorites from this batch.
frizzle wings
Here you can see some of the feathers on the top part of her wing stick out, away from her body. I’ve never seen that before, but hers are doing that symmetrically on both sides of her body so it must be what she is supposed to have happen.

We lost one of our ducks this week. We had a male (we think) who had some trouble with his feet – he wasn’t really able to keep up with the group when they were moving around, we had noticed.  In their pen that didn’t matter so much, but earlier this week I was outside and noticed he seemed to be stuck in the pool. I don’t know if he got sick, or just got stuck in the pool and got too cold. I took him out and set him on the grass in the sunshine, and dried him off a little with a towel. I hoped he would get better, but he died a little while later.  Here are our remaining 11 ducks:

ducks
It looks like someone had a pillow fight in our back yard, with all the duck feather dander everywhere. 

The ducks always run away when you get near them. The chickens, much smarter, come running because they know people=food. Here are my chickens out today:

got snacks
“Did you bring us some snacks?”

Our trees are starting to fill in.  Springtime is in full swing, except we are in the U.P.  So we got snow flurries today, and it didn’t even get in the 40s.  It’s supposed to warm up in the next few days though. Here is our cherry tree in bloom:

cherry tree
Our cherry tree. My son’s pool and Slip’n’Slide are under the tree – we really haven’t had warm enough temperatures for either of those, aside from a couple days here and there.

Since spring is here, I’ve been planning the garden.  We are using the same spaces as last year, and I’m making a new space for my son. He had a little flower-bed area last year but it didn’t get enough sunshine. I gave him a big square, about 8×8 or so, that used to have weeds and asparagus, and some old rhubarb. The rhubarb and weeds were the only things that really grew there. So he’s helping me clean it up. And we started our garden plans:

garden plan 2016
This year’s garden plan

And we started seeds last weekend:

 

more seedlings
Here is one of our two trays. I figured out we don’t need to start as much in the house as I used to.  Last year a lot of things did great just sown directly in the ground.

My strawberry patch is doing well. I put some new plants in this year. The old ones are growing well and spreading, and the new ones are doing ok.  I need to make a cover in the next few weeks or so, to keep tiny creatures from stealing my berries this year.

strawberry patch
This whole mulched area is strawberry patch, except right against the house is for raspberry bushes. I only have one in the ground right now;  a few others that I just bought this year are in pots waiting to go in.

My son and I were taking a walk last weekend and came across something extra delicious. I have been telling him and my husband about morels since we moved up to the U.P. and have not been able to find any.  We found 4 in the woods last weekend. Not many, but it’s enough to show them what I was talking about, and let them have a taste.  We haven’t had much rain this year, but now we know where we might be able to find them – I have been checking in that area again but haven’t seen much else, either because of the lack of rain, or because forest creatures are finding them first. Here are the morels we found:

morels
The four morels we found this year. They were delicious.

Springtime with ducks

Yesterday we finally got the ducks outside. Phew. My house now smells a lot better.  They really like their new home.  There is an old dog kennel that my Dad built many years ago, and last year my husband was converting it to a clubhouse for my son.  It was still in transition, and we needed somewhere to put the ducks, so my son said he doesn’t mind if we use it for them temporarily.  We want to set up something more permanent, with a fenced yard/run, and a kiddie pool for them.

Also, our snow is melting!!  We have had temperatures in the 70s today and yesterday.  And I’m seeing signs of spring. It was waiting patiently for the snow to melt.  Take a look at our spring time yard and ducks:

my silly family and the duck house
The duck house, along with my son on the roof and my husband on the right, both doing silly poses. We were working on reinforcing the house last night (to keep out hungry raccoons, etc).
ducks in the house
The ducks in their new digs.  They have a heat lamp to keep them warm at night, and a bunch of pine shavings for bedding.
duck bed
Inside the duck house, on the other side from where the ducks sleep -this is the food and water area. We are trying to keep their water away from their bedding, as much as we can.

While we were working on reinforcing the duck house, I realized I saw some green over near the woods.  And other surprises as well:

daffodils
The Green I saw in the woods was little daffodil leaves.
croci
Because I saw the daffodil leaves, I came over to check on our usually-first-to-flower flowers, and I found what I was looking for – these crocuses were all bloomed.

Today was in the 70s and my son was very anxious to get his pool filled up.  Like the ducks, he is also obsessed with water. The water was too cold for him to swim – it takes a few days to warm up when it comes out of our hose. But he realized after filling it awhile that it was situated on a hill anyway – it wouldn’t have been very evenly filled.  So he said we could let the duck use it today, before dumping it out to move it to a more level spot.  They were very happy about that.

duck pool
Ducks in the half-filled pool.
duck in pool
My son watching the ducks.
ducks in sun
They were having so much fun.  It was nice and sunny also. I don’t think they care if the water is cold, but the sun helped to keep them warm.
happy ducks
More ducks.
baldy
They are mostly feathered now, with the yellow fuzz almost gone. One funny thing I noticed – you can see it in the middle duck on the bottom of this picture – some of them look like little balding men. They have a flat white head (feathers) and a little sticking up ring of fuzz, like the fuzz is balding.  It’s pretty funny.

The ducks had a blast in the pool, and then we had to force them out so we could put them away for the night.  We got them out and they sat in the grass, preening.  We had carried them over to the pool. But after their swim, they were soaked. We wanted to see if we could get them to walk back to their house, which is about 40-60 feet away, across the front yard and our driveway.   We tried luring them with food, which didn’t work. We tried calling them, but they didn’t want to follow us.  I finally realized that I could get them to move (in a group) if I walked behind them, kind of shuffling them in the direction I wanted them to go. They got the hang of it after a bit, and got half way or so across the yard.  It was a long walk for them, compared to what they are used to, but it worked pretty well. It was a little slow going.  Then we realized that if they were to walk across the driveway they would get really muddy. So we carried them across the driveway back to their house.

March Melt

We have had a warmup lately, and most of our snow is now gone.  We still have some swaths of it in the yard, and the snowbanks are still there, but it’s mostly melted.  It is only March, so we could still get a huge snowstorm, but it feels like Spring.  Temps have been at least in the 30s during the day for the last week, and today it’s currently 63 degrees and sunny. Today was a good day to clean out animal housing. I cleaned out the rabbit cages and the chicken coop.  Here are some pictures of our melty, muddy yard, and of the chickens enjoying the warm weather.

yard 1
Our side yard. It’s hard to tell here but it’s very wet.  It will turn to mud for awhile as the ground thaws and we start getting rain.
yard 2
Some of our remaining snowbanks.
backyard
Our back yard. We are starting to see the garden here on the right.
scratching
The chickens out scratching in the yard.
scratching in the old dirt
Here they are scratching through their old bedding that I put out in the yard. They have to check out any piles to make sure they didn’t miss anything yummy.
dust bath
Here they are taking a dust bath in the old bedding pile. They were taking a dust bath in it when it was inside as well, before I could shovel it outside.
enjoying outside
I had most of their coop stuff outside here, while I was cleaning inside. The big stick is a perch, and the sawhorse is another one that is usually inside the coop.  They are enjoying hanging around outside.
splash 3
The rooster right in front here is Splash, my Splash Maran.
splash
Here is Splash crowing at me for taking pictures.
Dorko
Here is Dorko, my Dorking rooster. (You can tell I’m not the best at coming up with names for them).  He is now larger than the other two roosters. Very handsome.

I don’t know if this warm weather will stick around for good yet, but I’m going to enjoy it while it’s here.

A hot day in May

It got to 89 degrees on Thursday here – I wandered around the yard taking pictures.  Here’s a nice photo tour of our yard – Spring is in full swing.  It was 89, and next week they are saying we are supposed to get some snow showers – I think (hope!) it will just be mixed with rain and not actually stick to the ground.  We’ll see; it’s the U.P. after all.  Sigh…

Our yard is greening up nicely.
Our yard is greening up nicely. We need to get the mower out soon.
Daffodils in the woods.
Daffodils in the woods.
More daffodils in the woods behind our house.
More daffodils in the woods behind our house.
This is the mystery plant from my Leeks post last week - they are now getting yellow flowers.  I still don't know what these are - if you know, please leave me a comment.
This is the mystery plant from my Leeks post last week – they are now getting yellow flowers. I still don’t know what these are – if you know, please leave me a comment.
Another one of the mystery flowers - they grow in the woods.
Another one of the mystery flowers – they grow in the woods.
Our willow tree in the front yard.  The trees are all getting buds now.
Our willow tree in the front yard. The trees are all getting buds now.
My garlic is doing well - I planted this last fall.  This is my first time growing garlic.
My garlic is doing well – I planted this last fall. This is my first time growing garlic.
This is supposed to be an asparagus patch.  My mom kept it as one for a long time, but it stopped producing. It's surrounded by narcissus, which are not blooming yet, and need to be divided.  So far my asparagus that I started last year has not appeared again, although we have a rhubarb (on the right) and a large mullein growing here (on the left).
This is supposed to be an asparagus patch. My mom kept it as one for a long time, but it stopped producing. I replanted it last year.  It’s surrounded by narcissus, which are not blooming yet, and need to be divided. So far my asparagus has not appeared again, although we have a rhubarb (on the right) and a large mullein growing here (on the left).

Beginnings of Spring

We’ve had a decent amount of warmer, above-freezing temps for the last couple weeks, and it made a lot of our snow melt.  Today, I found these crocuses just starting:

crocuses arriving
Crocus Leaves

Hopefully they’ll flower within the next week or so.

crocus leaves
More crocuses coming up

Our yard still has a lot of snow, especially where we have snowbanks.  Today it was in the 20s, but the sun was shining.   We at least can now see big chunks of our yard:

Part of our yard
A view of our front porch and side yard
Our front yard
Our front yard near the road

My chicken flock has been happy with the weather turn also.  When it was really cold there were days they were stuck inside, but if it was a nice day we’d open just their small chicken door.  With the spring weather, we’ve been opening up the big door to their run.

chickens
The chicken flock

There is still a bit of snow out in their yard.  We had been putting their old bedding out there in bags through the winter, with the plan being to heave the bags over the fence for the compost pile in the spring.  (Yes, we have some chicken yard access issues – you can only enter through the chicken coop – that will be fixed this summer).  Last week the chickens got into a couple of the bags and spread the old bedding around their yard. I was not looking forward to cleaning all that straw and hay up, but then I figured we should leave it where they put it –   It sounds a bit gross, but considering that the yard is dirt (they ate all the vegetation last year), it keeps it from turning into a big mud pile.

chickens 2
The chickens in their yard enjoying the sunshine.

In the two pics above, you can see the other bags (that we were able to heave over the fence before they got into them) behind them.  My compost pile is conveniently located right behind their yard.

I’m glad that it’s finally starting to be spring.