Sue’s New Eggs, Hen Pecking

The fertile Marans eggs arrived in  the mail today!

They were all well-packaged, and all six of them arrived whole and uncracked.

They’re not quite as large as Ginger’s freakishly Jumbo eggs, but their color is excellent.

I set up a broody box for Sue in the upstairs bathroom, where we raised the Ameracuana chicks this spring.  The other hens were sitting on top of her to lay eggs in the favorite nest!

This looks like two roosters getting in a fight… but I swear the big black one with the tall comb (Jeanette) has given us an egg every day for the past two months. I love how she spits out a mouth full of feathers at about 0:36.  Sorry about the blurry focus!

Finally, the little banty rooster pushes the right “submit” button, and Jeanette bows down. He is suddenly puzzled… like the amorous Dachsund who finds that the neighbor’s Great Dane is willing, but doesn’t know how to go about it. He tries to mount her from a couple of different angles, then gives up.

Our Little Bantam… hen?

Today, for the first time, I saw Little Bit crow.

So far, at least, it’s really low-volume; I hope we don’t end up with a full-on rooster crow, because they’re not allowed in the City of Dallas.  If “she” turns out to be a “he,” we may have to get rid of her.

One Banty Hen, One Broody Hen

I finally got a good shot of Little Bit.  She is about the size of a pigeon.

Sue has decided to go broody.  She was setting eggs when we got her from Bageniece Farms.  Most of the hens we have are from breeds that don’t tend to go broody, and I’m hopeful that she’ll turn out to be a good momma hen.  Of course, without a rooster, she’s not sitting on eggs that will hatch – so I ordered some fertile eggs through Ebay.

I love the way she fluffs up her ruff.  What you can’t see, is that she’s pecking my hand!  She hasn’t hurt me at all, but she’s made it clear that failure to obey the warning peck will result in a more aggressive one.

Looking at pictures and reading, I think Sue may be (at least partly) a breed called Golden Phoenix.  She has the right shape and coloring, they’re a breed that tends toward broodiness, and they tend to roost high up.  The first couple of weeks, we kept having to fetch her out of the honeysuckle on the fence and tuck her into the hen house!

Anybody recognize this hem?

A friend of mine is working on writing a description of a textile, and is having trouble describing the hem.  I’ve seen similar turned-scallop technique in San-Blas applique, but I don’t know if there’s an English term that describes this.

This is showing the back.  You can see where the brighter printed color from the front is turned over and hand-stitched down in a little reverse scallop.

Here’s a close-up.  The textile comes from Rajasthan, in India.  I did find this post, which shows pictures that look like they have a similar edge.


Today was the holiday party for the Rainbow Garden Club – Dallas’s gay gardening group.  I had to take something fabulous for the potluck.

I started with a pound of deli ham, a pack of sliced Swiss cheese, a pack with capicola, calabrese, and peppered salami, two bricks of cream cheese, some cherry tomatoes, and some jarred roasted red pepper.  From the garden, I added two varieties of purple mustard (both rolled up with the meats, and as garnishes on the plate), green onion, and bright-colored chard leaves to give it a pretty base.  The crowning glory – some of Chris’s spice pickles.

We have received little jars of these from Chris’s Grandma Campbell for years, and always assumed they were made from apples – but this year, he got the recipe, and they’re made from over-ripe cucumbers.  We made a huge double batch, and have enjoyed them immensely.  They’re an intensive process, involving a lime bath and then six days of syrup-boiling… but definitely worth it.  They were a hit at the party!

Chickens and Eggs

We got these chickens piece-meal, a few at a time.  We’d never had them before, and started out with five Ameraucanas, tiny week-old balls of fluff… three of which turned out to be roosters.  I got Jeanette off an ad in Craigslist; she was supposed to be a Maran, but isn’t.  We took the three roosters back to the guy we got them from.  We went and got two lovely French Marans.  Then one of the Marans got eaten by a raccoon.  Then we went and got three more: a Rhode Island Red, a bantam, and a funky chicken with spurs and all-black eyes.  We’re at a happy number, now – seven seems about the right size for our coop and our yard, although I think it could hold as many as ten.

From left to right, they are: Sue Sylvester ( mannish, loud, and blond, of indeterminate parentage), Little Bit,  a mixed-breed bantam about the size of a large pigeon, Freebird (Ameraucana), Ruby (Rhode Island Red), Weezy (Ameraucana), Jeanette (supposed to be a Maran, but isn’t), and Ginger (French Maran). This picture is significant for me, because they’re all acting like one flock – there has been a strong division between the older four and the younger three, but hopefully it’s healing.  As with everything, tasty treats help lubricate the social machinery – one of the bits of advice we got from Dan at Bageniece Farms (where we got Ruby, Little Bit, and Sue) was to give them treats all together, to encourage social eating.

I think Ginger has the best expressions.  She looks like she doesn’t take anybody’s crap.  I think the Marans are some of the most handsome chickens.

Freebird got her name because she was thrown in as a bonus with the four chicks that we purchased to start with.   I love the beards and muffs on the Ameraucanas.

They like to “bathe” in dust; it helps to cut down on parasites like lice and mites.

This fall, production tapered off as the daylight shortened.  I finally figured it out and got a light on a timer set up in the coop; now, they get “sunrise” at about 3 AM so that they can have a natural dusk around 5:30.  Right now, we’re getting three to four eggs per day.  This is two days worth.  Blue-green eggs are from the Ameraucanas (not sure which one – we’ve never had two green eggs in one day yet, so I don’t think both are laying yet), yellow-off-white is from Sue; pink-off-white is from Jeanette, and the JUMBO brown eggs are from Ginger, the French Maran.

The difference between Sue’s eggs and Jeanette’s eggs is pretty slim, but you can tell when you have one next to the other.  Sue’s are a slightly golden off-white, while Jeanette’s are a pinkish off-white.

Conan Licking Yarn

I’m trying this out to see if animated GIFS are supported by my WordPress install:

If it works, it should be moving.

It’s from this video:

Not a Vine at All

My first thought was, “Hmm, the hyacinth bean vine has started growing onto the ailanthus bush.  But something didn’t seem quite right…

And, not a great surprise in this yard… it’s a beautiful little snake.

Such a sweet little face!  I think it’s a Rough Green Tree Snake, Opheodrys aestivus.

He crawled onto the fence for just a little bit, trying to escape my annoying camera; he was probably 16 to 18 inches long, and no bigger around than my little finger.

Once I backed off, though, he literally sprang back into the small tree, which was clearly where he felt more at home.

Charlotte has been missing for a couple of weeks.  She was back, looking slim (having divested herself of a sac full of eggs, I assume!) and missing a leg.  On top of it all, her handwriting (ass-writing?) has gone way downhill…

Lady Margaret

Today was the first day I saw any blooms on the Lady Margaret passionflower. They’re lovely!

They’re not as large as some of the varieties, but the color makes up for the size.

The different types ramble along one another… it can be difficult with some of them to tell where one vine ends and another begins.   The grape purple one is Passiflora x “incense” – and that one vine that I planted this spring can have 20 flowers on a good day.

Chris’s Birthday

For Chris’s birthday, I took him down to central Texas for a skydiving class.

Chris, looking dashing in his jump suit. We tried really hard to get him into the neon-green-and-pink one, but he swore it wouldn’t fit.

Me, looking portly in my jumpsuit, and explaining something with lots of gestures. For some reason, Chris found the gestures hilarious.

… because he kept taking picture after picture. I don’t even remember what I was describing.

Heading to the plane. From left, it’s Matt who was just jumping for the fun of it, James the jumpmaster who was going to help make sure I didn’t die, me, and the pilot. The pilot was SMOKING hot, but I couldn’t find a casual shot of him without looking like a creepy old perv, and you don’t want to creep out the guy who’s going to be flying your plane.

Everything went to plan; I did the scheduled drills in free fall, pulled my pilot chute, the main chute opened, and I flew it down to the right field.

Where I landed, on my butt, quite firmly. I understand that the impact was audible across the field. I was uninjured.

Chris flew his with a little better control than I did; he landed upright, but rolled.

I was so focused on landing without breaking anything, that all my pictures came out with my stern, concentrated look… Chris had a little more fun with his ride.

Overall, it was quite a thrill, and I’d definitely do it again. The only real drawback was that there was a LOT of hurry-up-and-wait… we sat around for hours waiting to go up in the plane. The free-fall portion of the ride seemed amazingly brief, and it was hard to really get a sense of what was happening aside from all the air rushing at me. What I really enjoyed most was the slow descent under canopy, floating along peacefully where I could see all the countryside and feel the chute responding to the toggles as I pulled them.