Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Breakfast in the barnyard - winter mode

First we grab a buckets of hot water for the laying birds (and unplug the electric fence). Even with heat lamps, the water will still freeze, and warm water warms the birdies too. A 2nd bucket of warm water is on standby for the trip out to the meat birds coop, accessed through the barnyard.

First stop - laying flock coop, all closed up for the night. They get fresh water and their feed topped up.

These gals (and 2 roosters) haven't been outside for days. I guess Club Hen (heat lamp and indoor feed & water) is keeping them distracted from the chilly weather.

Hmmm....miniature skating rink for hens? Here's what happens when you don't have a trough heater. The big red bucket in the background is heated though, and is working fine for Stella, Lassie, Berry & the old hens. Out to the meat bird coop with a bucket of hot water and a bucket of feed. They stay indoors during the chilly temps too.
Past the remnants of the loose hay we cut this summer. Boy did we learn a lot about storing loose hay. Can't wait to build the 2nd half of the barn with a big loose hay bin. But then again, Stella may just eat all the grass so we don't have to cut any.

After the meat birds are fed, it's out to the run-in to fill the manger with hay, scatter some scratch and COB (corn/oats/barley with molasses) for the old red hens. Meanwhile, the dogs are running around in the snow, looking for poopsicles on the compost pile and generally being idiots.
Then open the coops (not that anyone will venture out into the cold), plug in the electric fence, refill the wood box, holler for the dogs, and hope the frostbitten fingers are only temporary.
Such are the joys of country life in winter!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Still freezing...

Looking west down Central Rd from Mission Rd, Everson, WA
There's no real way to convey scale without me hiking back out there with a yardstick (which I'm not about to do in 10F temps), but Central is a two-lane road, and those drifts on the right are over 2 feet deep. The left side of the road is wearing a 2 inch layer of ice.
Much of Whatcom county is in similar condition, and looks to remain so through tomorrow. Then we get another round of rough weather. Warmer, just enough to melt some ice, but still cold enough that 4 more inches of snow are forecast before it turns to rain.
You'd think an all-wheel drive Outback with studded tires would pretty much guarantee a smooth commute, but my Seattle roots go deep, and the slip-slidey feel of iced pavement, combined with drop off on either side of most roads makes for a gut-twisting drive.
None of which is helped by the auto graveyard that passes for scenery now. I constantly creep past SUV's, trucks, minivans, sedans, in various states of uprightness. From crushed and spun all the way to fully embedded in snow, roof down. I'd have posted more pictures, but accidents get a bit depressing. Mt. Baker was out today and absolutely stunning. But the only good vantage points for a picture also required two hands on the wheel. I figured home safe, without postcard mountain, was better than sitting in a ditch, peering at my prize pic in the tiny digital camera window, while waiting 4 hours for a tow truck.... life. Stay tuned for tomorrow's post about the fun and hijinx involved with keeping 2 cats, 2 dogs, 1 parrot, 2 goats, 1 cow, and 29 chickens warm, fed, and passably content, in record low temperatures. (Yes, it involves getting up at 2:45am and multiple buckets of hot water!)

Monday, November 27, 2006

Whatcom County nor'easter '06

Here's a pretty fir tree getting drifted up with snow, along with the bricks we bought for flower bed edging.

Choppy water on Wiser Lake, looking east from Guide-Meridian.

Eastbound on E. Pole Rd.

Caught in one of many snow-devils on E. Pole.

Drift-covered car in ditch, E. Pole & Noon Rd.

SUV, taking a break from winter driving, also on E. Pole Rd.

Corgi, high-centered in snow last night.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Nor'easter not-so-lite - random pix.

Current snow level on the front step. Snow is still falling steadily, with some nice blizzardy gusts of wind.

From the barnyard, looking west, still daylight.

Here's a dog water bowl right off the back porch at 2:30pm. The bowl is about 4 inches tall.

The same water bowl at 5:15pm.

Off the back porch, still daylight.

From the barnyard, when we went out to put everyone to bed.


We're having a bit of weather today. A strong north wind, and 30 degrees out, plus steady snow. Ick!

Lassie & Berry in the manger, watching the snow and eating leftover hay.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Winter Stew

We just weighed Stewart. Not even 5 months old and he weighs in at 64 lbs!! We looked at growth charts for both German Shepherds & Rottweilers, and so far he's outstripping both breeds. I think we have our pony!

Dreaming of a white...errand day!

We got our first "snow" of the season this morning. Kind of a sloppy skim coat over the mud, but it's officially winter now...

The dogs don't seem to mind, it just makes finding yucky snacks, like cow poop, more of a treasure hunt.

Notice the lack of critters out making barnyard angels...they're in the barn, eating breakfast and staying warm & dry.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Turkey-day heathens!

Thanksgiving morning here at Seven Trees.
This is the herbivore-gang pre-breakfast. One thing we have discovered about Stella is that she is not shy about telling is she's hungry! Some copious mooing going on, until breakfast is served. We're especially happy as she's taken to hanging out in the barn when the weather is bad, and generally adapting well to her new home.

In honor of the Wampanoag and Patuxet's, here we are shunning a traditional pilgrim style T-day prep, and instead transfering over the pumpkin ale for secondary fermentation.
All after a dinner of crispy duck, chinese style. Mmmm-mm! Must also say the pumpkin ale tastes great, and we are looking foward to when it is bottled, conditioned and ready to sample!

This is Stewart with his duck, a graduation gift from his puppy-class instructor. He treasures the duck for it's fabulous hoot-squawkability, which he wanders around the house mouthing like a squeezebox. Here is collapsed in exhaustion after just such a session.

Monday, November 20, 2006

More Stella, and our new toy.

Here's our little power outage protector. Inspired by hurricane-force winds this week, we just bought a lovely little generator. This cutie will power most of what we need to survive a nor'easter or pineapple express.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Stella this morning

Here's the little princess! She's still wondering where her friends went, and not ready to buddy up to the goats yet. She either doesn't want to go in the barn, or is waiting to make sure nothing scary will happen in there. I was going to put a lead on her and take in the stall again, but we're getting another wind/rain storm and she's too spooky to chase around the barnyard right now.

When the weather calms down, then we'll see...For now, she's taking apple slices out of my hand, letting me scratch her nose a bit, and hollering for her pals.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Stella is home!

Here we are at the Anacortes ferry dock. When the power still wasn't on at 11 Friday night, we decided to shoot for the 8:40 trip instead of the 5:35 one. So at 4am, we headed to town to take a shower at my work and then hit the road. We'll leave out the part about trying to back a trailer out of the drive by lantern light after maybe 4 hours of sleep...

About halfway to Orcas Island. The islands are so beautiful, just for a day trip, let alone for something as exciting as bringing home a new baby.

Here's me, trying not to be nervous about all that deep water going by so fast.

Check out the little Cairn terrier helping get the trailer ready for Stella. He's a guest at Stella's former home.

Here comes Stella, along with her pasture pals, lured in by apples.

Stella "just says no" to being caught and haltered.

And Stella "just says no" to getting on the trailer.

But she didn't want to miss the ferry, so here she is, looking up at us from the trailer, on the ferry.

And finally, little Stella peeking through out stock panel fence, wondering where her pals are, and who these strangers are who keep staring at her.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Stewart graduated from puppy class today!!

Here's the graduate, with D & teacher Diana. He had to do quite a serious test of his puppy powers, but did pretty well for such a wiggly guy. CHeck out his mortarboard and how thrilled he is to wear it!

Here's the graduate, post ceremony. Looks like he had to blow off a little steam.

Here are our front fir trees being blown over the house. The wind was gusting 60mph+ plus then.

Last but not least, here are the laying hens when we checked them last night. All but 2 had crowded into the 3 nest boxes. Stormy weather and all, there was still one fresh egg laid, and 2 more today.
The wind is kicking up again, but thanks to our wonderful neighbor, we have a generator to add a little cheer tonight, and keep our food frozen. He also gave us some fresh hazelnuts from his trees, and some homemade jerky. How cool is that!
Hopefully the power will be on again soon, but there are poles and trees and wires down all over....

Still. No. Power!

Power is on in most parts of the county, but not at home. We've finally decided a generator is on order, if only to keep the little freezer cold and enough spare juice to check email. But oh you guessed it! Even if we knew just what make & model we wanted, there are none to be had.

So we'll cross our fingers that filling the chest freezer half full of ice jugs (milk jugs refilled with water and previously stashed in the freezer for just such an event) and keeping it closed will do the trick.

The fridge contents are doing nicely in the cooler (extreme coolers rock!), and the fridge-freezer, well, lets just say we'll be emptying that into our bellies soon.

Next update: Tomorrow morning, or when the power comes back on, whichever is soonest.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Hurricane wind speeds??!!

Power is out at Seven Trees, and close to going out here at work. The winds are averaging 59mph with plenty of gusts over 70!!

Bellingham Bay Wind Chart Wind High 82.0mph on 11/15/06 11:55a

We might get some pics of the weather up, but hands are full making sure the critters and outbuildings stay intact. Right now our little greenhouse (aluminum frame and polycarbonate panels) is at risk for damage.

Meanwhile at work, it's gusting so hard that air is blowing down the plumbing vent pipes and making the sink and toilet bubble!

We'll post updates as we can....

Hump Day!

Here chick-chick-chickies!!

Can't wait for this pen to be gone! The coop and run for meat birds is supposed to be on the far side of the barn, but other projects and the weather caught up to us. When these guys are in the freezer, and when weather permits, we'll get help moving the coop & then rebuild a pen for next summer. Then we can let a hen set on some eggs the old-fashioned way, and raise a batch of babies. They'll be able to free range in one of the paddocks which is good for them and good for the feed bill and good for the pasture.

Speaking of hens, here are the 2 Red Stars, checking out the catnip patch under the bamboo. Those gals are still laying an egg each, every day! I wonder what their babies would be like if we let one "date" a sussex rooster....

Stormy weather coming today, according to the forecast. We did a batten-down walk last night, so hopefully Seven Trees will weather the weather while we're at work.

Just about ready for Stella now. Load goodies in the car, pick up the trailer Friday and hit the raod waaaaay too early Saturday. But we should have her in the barnyard by mid-day Saturday, with plenty of pics to share.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Progress report -

Poor Berry is either going to be traumatized for a long time, or have the benefit of some low-grade electro-shock therapy.

But we got the hotwire all installed and electrified. Both goats were very helpful during the entire process, pulling wire, adjusting insulators, and making sure the reflective-tape flags were tied securely.

They are also excellent fence testers. I imagine we'll hear the test results repeated tonight, at least until they figure out that flagged wire means "don't touch!".

So we're about ready for Stella's arrival this coming Saturday. What fun!

Green Branch update - our new message board is coming along nicely. We have a few new members and are working on adding more features. Thanks for participating!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Another shocking Saturday

Here's what we did today- installed a handy-dandy electric fence charger! We had the tiniest window of dry weather to get most of it done. The insulators (plastic thingies that hold the wire) are in place, the ground wire installed, now all we need to do is run the actual wire.

Getting ready to cut the ground rod into two pieces. To be safe, we need 3 rods pounded into the ground, which helps protect the charger in electrical storms.

Look at these starving goaties! Fat bellies and nice fluffy fleece.

And last but not least, our team of gardeners took advantage of a 5-minute sun break to clean up the fenceline near the garden.