Wednesday, December 19, 2012

First eggs!!

Many of you might recall we inherited chickens on Thanksgiving. Today I found our first eggs in the nest box! I'm sure Penguin the black chicken laid one of them this morning. The other not sure if it was Penguin or Light bulb.
Oh and our hellebores you saw the H. niger blooming already. Four others have buds on them already!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Manny's gone....

Last night after eating his dinner Manny was drinking from the kitchen sink. I can't recall seeing him since then until this morning. He usually scratches on the window glass to be let in several times in the middle of the night. Meg is away for her daughter's graduation in Wilmington.

Anyway a friend was here this morning hunting deer. He called me on his way out that a white cat was dead on the main road near our road. I'd asked him earlier if he'd seen Manny this morning and he had not. The main road is at least a quarter mile away and Manny rarely left the woods here. So I just finished burying him.

 Her is Manny shortly after we got the chickens! He loved to watch them and would even join me in the pen when feeding them. He'd even jump up into the coop.
 Grumpy was our male cat before Manny he used to sit in this bird feeder and watch the birds. Manny never caught any birds it might be because he was cross-eyed.
Here he is licking his nose. He'll be greatly missed he loved everyone and never met a stranger. This leaves us with Valentine the girl kitty. She'll miss stealing his food I'm sure.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Manny is a smart kitty


The other night Manny got into the kitchen sink and was just sitting there. Meg proceeded to turn on the faucet and Manny took to drinking out of the faucet. I took these videos for your enjoyment with my new smart phone.

Also our niger hellebore is starting to bloom just in time for Christmas!

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Garden update December 01

The cold frames were planted November 18th kind of later than we usually plant. Just too busy with other things. Glad to report the kale and spinach are growing fairly fast and the carrots and lettuce is just coming up. Meg picked up some Swiss Chard seeds and we hope to make a spot for the chard and some rainbow carrots. Likely the new seeds will go in a smaller cold frame the second graders built last year

Friday I brought home a yard of compost and today I started using it. Planted 100 crocus bulbs I picked up at Lowes for 75% off. Also finally planted the last 4 big hellebores we dug up this summer when we moved Meg's parents. The camellia we dug out of Sharna's yard in Wilmington was planted today as well. Last weekend I planted more crocuses, pansies and 30 or so mixed daffodils.

A new huge project is being planned here! You might know I'm a handyman/builder and I just have reached the point where I need a decent shop. I have a 12' x 16' shed that is slam packed with tools and left over lumber and plywood. So we are in the beginning stages of planning a 20' x 24' garage shop. I'll do all the building except the wiring and shingles.

Placing the work shop here is a small problem, but we think we have a site in mind that is handy to the house and extending the driveway. Removal of at least three big trees will be required, one will at least be good firewood it is a big oak. We plan on getting a building permit.

While looking for a place to build the work shop we found the first ever blooms of our
climbing aster we planted 4-5 years ago and never had any luck with it.

 This climbing aster Aster carolinianus is supposed to be a native here, climbs to a size-able 10 foot plant. Bees and butterflies love it. I found another plant last summer and planted it in the garden. Last week I found a huge 3 gallon climbing aster at the Durham Garden Center and planted it under the screened porch, hoping it'll climb up the side of the porch.

The chickens are doing fine, no eggs yet. They let us hand feed them sunflower seeds. Meg has brought them lots of compost (apples and melons they love) from the school. Manny the cat has almost followed me into the chicken yard a few times, he just enjoys following us around the yard.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Ice, the Hawk and Chickens!

Last night we had our first hard freeze. The pond was covered with a light sheet of ice this morning.
As you can see the pond looks terrible and is very low. That pipe shows the height of the pond when full. Oak leaves have nearly covered the surface of the pond. The leaves are nearly done falling and hopefully a good rain will sink the leaves. I can not recall seeing so many leaves on the pond.

 My last post I introduced you to our three roosters. Here are the remainder of the flock, the two hens. Above is Light Bulb, she is apparently a rock mix as you can see feathers on her legs. Below is Penquin we have no clue what type of chicken she is? Both of the hens were bought at a feed store in Wilmington by Meg's daughter and she named them.  As you might have guessed the chickens were not sexed at the time of purchase, three roosters were not intended. Neither has laid any eggs yet and they are around 6 months old.
OK, now to the hawk. This morning I let the chickens out, no problems. Came inside and made coffee and sat on the bed with Meg. Meg saw a Red-tailed Hawk perched on the bottle tree right behind the chicken yard, the chickens were out and clueless about the hawk. I attempted to get a photo, but just turning the lock handle to the back door scared away the hawk. We now have a 6 foot fence around the chickens. It seems the 4 foot fence was not enough for Stripe the rooster who wanted to help me water one of the cold frames on Friday.

And now even with the 6 foot fence two of the roosters jumped it because Chip the rooster was chasing them. Not sure what we need to do to keep them inside and safe.

Red-tailed Hawks diet is rodents and rabbits mostly. I know these hawks can take a full grown chicken. Hoping there are too many other meals out there to keep the hawk busy. We have plenty of hawks around here and two other neighbors have chickens as well.

Camellias still blooming in the garden is 'Moon Festival' above. These huge flowers are just stunning. And below is 'Leslie Ann' with these 2 inch slightly pink flowers, only 4 flowers this year, it's second year in the garden.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Meet our Roosters!

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! We had a feast and now I'm stuffed.

Last night we had the chickens delivered from Wilmington! This morning we installed the chicken coop and let them loose in the chicken yard.
 Chip our most colorful rooster, also the largest one too.
 Above is Stripe, he let me pet his before I took this photo. The two hens were roosting behind him in the coop.
 Here is the chicken coop that was brought to us from Wilmington. All three of us could do to carry it and set in place.
 Above and below is Rocky, he has lighter feathers on the neck than Stripe.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

400 posting! Cold Frames Finally Planted

Back to gardening finally! We both have been so busy and our bodies are getting older, it takes much more energy than it used to to work in the yard.

I raked the front drive way of leaves yesterday and picked up a recycled gas lawn mower and mowed in the back yard leaves. The battery operated mower I posted about in August of 2009 has died. A new battery would cost about $150 to replace, none of the reviews on replacing batteries were good, so I got a beautiful little recycled gas mower on Craigslist for $65 and it starts on the first pull. Today I went up on the roof and swept of an enormous amount of leaves onto the main deck. So most of the leaves here are under control!

On to the cold frames. I tilled up three spots, two for cold frames the other for onions and garlic. We will be covering the onions and garlic with wire so when we let out our chickens they will not be able to get into that bed. This was my first time using garlic we grew, as we had a great year for garlic in 2012!
 Meg did all the raking of the hills and spread organic fertilizer. She planted 2 kinds of kale, 2 kinds of salad mixed greens, 2 kinds of spinach and carrots. Covered it all with wheat straw to help retain the moisture after planting. We did not make a big deal about fancy seeds this year, especially carrots.
 Here is the new chicken yard. The chickens and small chicken house will be here by the end of this new week. That wood box in there is sand. I read that sand makes a good floor in a chicken house, it is very handy. Meg points out that compost able bedding is great in the garden...
Manny really helped a lot. He just wanted to know why we closed up the cold frames so he could not get inside them?
Here the cold frames are just before dark. It reached the mid 50s here today and most of the wildlife was hunkering down. I did manage to rescue a Red Eft, Notophthalmus viridescens
while rototilling. You know I'm a handyman by trade,  but gas powered devises are not my speciality at all. The tiller would not start, I thought OK bad gas. Turned the tiller upside down over a bucket and no gas came out, then figured out it was out of gas. Just filled it with gas and started it right up...
Finally filled up the suet feeders, Meg showed me an immature Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (first of the fall) waiting in a tree for them. Feels good to almost be ready for winter now... Now we need to plant the pansies I bought last weekend.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Bluetick Coonhound has a new home!

We were calling her Shirley, she is adorable and extremely smart. But the cats just could not deal with her and we are getting used to not having dogs. Wish we didn't have to give her away but it was best for here. A big dog like her needs exercise and we both seem to have very little free time.

I called one of my neighbors that has all kind of animals and he had a friend that has a male Bluetick Coonhound and had told her he wished the male had a companion. So today at noon he delivered her to him. I can see them playing in my mind right now. She only spent a week with us but we miss her a lot already.

Shirley with one of her new friends a 170 pound mastiff, makes her look small doesn't he.
Behave Shirley, have fun with your new buddies!

 Shirley the day she adopted us and found out how comfortable a couch can be on a chilly day.

 Manny was getting used to being chased and cornered by Shirley. Valentine was not at all happy to be chased.

Speaking of adoption Meg's daughter had 5 chickens in the city of Wilmington. Turns out the city is making her get rid of them. Guess that is what you get when you put a country girl in the city. These chickens are just about egg laying age, too bad 3 of them are roosters. So this weekend I cleared out a place in the back yard and built a chicken yard. Now we have to figure out how to bring the chickens here and their small chicken coop.
 Here are the chickens as of 6 weeks ago.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Found lost Bluetick Coonhound

On Saturday November 3 Meg had a female Bluetick Coonhound adopt her. We have been feeding her ever since. She is very sweet and needs to find her owners or a new home. The area she was found in was near Orange Grove Rd and Buckhorn Rd in Orange County North Carolina. The cats here do not approve of her, but they are tolerating her. She must have been kept in the house as she is well mannered inside and just loves sleeping on the leather love seat. And seems to be house trained.

E mail me at if she is yours or you'd like to adopt her!!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Early Voting in NC - Death Panels?


I was a Democratic greeter for 2 hours yesterday at an early voting location in a Republican area of our county. I usually spent most of my time in Durham and Chapel Hill which is 80% or so Democratic. So I'm in a Democratic bubble so to speak. We have 5 early voting locations in Orange County(100 counties in the state), this one being the most remote, I was voter 1275 at this location.

I have a question for you and I do not intend to offend any of you. I feel everyone is entitled to there opinions. One of the Republican greeters had the entire back window of his truck with a sign saying "With Obamacare I'm a Dead man". I inquired politely as possible about the sign. Angrily he replied that he'd had his chest cut open and dozens of surgeries and complications  and with Obamacare the death panel would mean the end of him. That 15 men would decide his fate, do any of you believe this fantasy? The other two greeters seemed to agree with him on his stance about Obamacare.

 Another big question I have is how can the local Republicans let this man work as a greeter and not inform him that death panels are an out right falsehood.

Explained to him that Obamacare has lifted his cap on insurance monetary limits and pre existing conditions. But he dis claimed all that I told him. Later he came over and thanked us for coming out and we shook hands.

Sorry to go off topic here, with trying to understand this.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Fall Camellias & Puffballs

Today it is a perfect fall day, leaves falling and overcast. The overcast is due to Hurricane Sandy I think. Was checking the hellebores and found lots of masses of edible mushrooms Pear-shaped Puffball (Lycoperdon pyriforme) under the dying hickory tree in the hellebore garden. No I'm not going to eat them, though I am tempted. Went to get the camera and found two lovely camellias in bloom.

  Camellia sasanqua 'Pink Butterfly'  This is one of my all time favorite camellias, at Duke Gardens they have two of the near the pond they are 4 ft around and 12 ft tall. Planted in our garden last fall.
 Camellia sasanqua 'Pink Butterfly'
  Camellia sasanqua  'Moon Festival'
  Camellia sasanqua  'Moon Festival' with a Clouded Skipper butterfly!
 Camellia sasanqua  'Moon Festival' Planted in our garden last fall, we bought this in Wilmington last fall.
Pear-shaped Puffball (Lycoperdon pyriforme)

 Don't call me cross-eyed!! Here is Manny, he was helping me in the yard with the mushrooms.
 Manny is a Red Point or Flame Point  Siamese cat. When he is bad I call him Manfred. He loves getting on counter tops in the kitchen and scratches the glass doors while standing on his hind legs when he want out or in. Yes we have a pet door Manny, get with the program will you!
That's it for today. I'm going to early vote. And I'm going to be a greeter for the democrats. Please don't forget to vote no matter who you choose.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Homemade Parade part 2

As promised more photos from the Homemade Parade in Hillsborough, NC.

The ice queen?

More of the five-lined skink.
I really liked the blue winged women.

This face was 6 foot tall or so, huge!
Lots of drummer at the parade, really enjoyed watching and listening to them.
Kissing frogs!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Handmade Parade 2012

Yesterday I just happened into the Homemade Parade in Hillsborough, NC. Meg and I were at the second Handmade Parade in 2009, see my blog post. Meg was visiting with her Mom and got there just in time for the parade with a back up camera, I did not have my camera with me.

This heron was as wide as the entire road!
 The Five-lined Skink was my personal favorite this year!
 Lots of kids had their handmade costumes.

The parade seemed to be about twice as big as the Homemade Parade was in 2009. Sure wish I could keep up with stuff like this so I never miss it.

Thanks to Meg for saving the day and bringing the camera! I have more photos if you would like to see more?