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Posts Tagged ‘farm life’

♫ “Yeeeoowww” ♪♪♫

6:30 am. The view outside my bedroom window…

You up yet?

You up yet?

I'd like some breakfast now, if you don't mind

I’d like some breakfast now, if you don’t mind

Okay, I'll just meet you back at the barn.

Okay, I’ll just meet you back at the barn.

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“Yeeeowww, Yeeeeowww”.

“Bagawk, Bock, Bock, Bock, BEGAWK”.

For those uninitiated in bird speak, that translates into:
“Hellooo, who are youuuu?” (from our recently returned vagrant peacock)

“Help, helphelphelp, H-E-L-P”. (from our little flock of hens who apparently think they are being stalked by the biggest chicken hawk ever)

That was not a discussion that I wanted to hear outside my bedroom window at 7:00 this morning. A quick peak outside revealed the source of the problem. There Farina sat on top of the chicken coop, calling at the top of his lungs, and sending the terrified chickens below scurrying for cover.

Farina on coop

Since Farina, the wandering Peacock returned after a 6 month walk-about, he has been sticking really close to the barn. He can always be seen sitting on a fence rail, or showing off to the llamas. It’s like he’s thinking, ‘I lost this place once and I’m not taking any chances’.

Farina displaying

As he’s getting more comfortable with his surroundings, he’s starting to do a little exploring. Yesterday afternoon, I found him checking out our back yard, and this morning he was trying to make the acquaintance of the hens.

Take a peak in the window. See all the noses pressed against the glass? The chickens are huddled inside peering around wondering where that danged screaming eagle is.

scared chickens

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Our peacock, Farina, miraculously returned home after being on the lam for 6 months and given up for dead. He had spent the first 3 years of his life safely ensconced in the aviary with his brother, Buckwheat, and was pampered with daily treats, a sunny perch for basking in the summer, and a heated house for snuggling in the winter.

2009 Peacock Christmas Card

Farina went missing early in January, after I foolishly opened the peahouse door to show him off to some friends. He got spooked, and flew the coop, so to speak. He flew up to the roof of the barn where he spent the night. By morning, he was gone, never to be seen again.

Farina on cupola

Winters here in northern Virginia can be harsh. This wasn’t the worst winter we’ve experienced, but there were weeks of below freezing temps, and many days of cold rain, sleet and snow, not to mention the days we had wind storms with gusts up to 60 mph. What was he going to find to eat with snow all over the ground? And all variety of predators, from the 4 legged variety: foxes, bobcats, and bears; to the sky borne great horned owls and red tail hawks that can grab a peacock in his sleep, high on his arboreal perch.

After 2 months, and no sign of Farina, we decided to get a companion for our remaining peacock, Buckwheat. We thought he might be happier with a girlfriend, so we brought home a young hen, whom we named Darla. It was love at first sight.

Buckwheat and Darla

How could we have been more surprised when we saw Farina back at the ‘Pea Pod’ last week? He looks great. And he has a beautiful full tail. I might have thought it would look a bit rag tagly after being drug though the underbrush for months. But he has apparently eaten well. I wish I knew where all he’d been.

Farina-on-fence

But the funny thing is, he has taken up with the llamas. The paddock behind the barn is just across the drive from the aviary, so he can be close to the other peas, and socialize at the same time with his new llama buddies. Almost any time of the day, he will be seen sitting on the fence rail next to the barn, or down in the paddock with the llamas, strutting his stuff and showing off his tail.

displaying-for-llamas

The llamas were a bit curious to see him at first, but now they just walk around him to get to their hay nibbles.

Llamas ignore peacock

We hope that he decides to stay here permanently. Maybe having the girl close by in the pen will give him incentive to stick around. At least, we know that he is a survivalist if he does get the wanderlust again.
Farina and Pea Pod

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Depends on what you’re talking about. And what the heck is a doodle, anyway. A doodle is a mixed breed dog that is at least half poodle, usually mixed with a Labrador retriever, “Labradoodle” or a golden retriever, “Goldendoodle”. They are a very popular hybrid dog, because they are super cute, and have a marvelous personality. They are often said to be non-shedding and hypoallergenic. But don’t count on it. They are, after all, a mixed breed, and will exhibit characteristics of both parents. They may be more poodle-y or more retriever-y.

Our doodle, Bayley, is a Goldendoodle. She is a backcross (F1b), meaning that her mother was a goldendoodle that was bred back to a standard poodle, making Bayley essentially 75% poodle.

summer do

Christmas Bayley

Now Bayley doesn’t shed her fur, but she sheds everything else in nature. Depending on the season, she sheds mulch, catkins, grass clippings, leaves, dirt, and even snow. Her cottony soft fur acts like a magnet and attracts absolutely everything in the yard and woods to her. Then, as soon as she passes through the door, the magnetic polarity reverses, and she promptly sheds everything all over the house.

Something to consider if you are a neatnik and are looking for a no maintenance dog. But if you are looking for the most devoted, fun loving, affectionate, and adorable companion, then keep the broom handy, and go for it.

Mup Pup

Snow ball

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Twin Creeks is on the lookout for a suspected peeping tom. Footprints and fingerprints as well as hair samples were found at the scene of the crime. The incident which occurred on or around April 15, 2013 has prompted detectives to seek the public’s help in identifying the suspect.

A witness account indicated the suspect was pressing his face to the front window of the Peacocks house, locally known as the Pea Pod.

PeaPod

He left a clear handprint on the window screen.

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The suspect is described as a stocky male, standing approximately 4 feet tall with abundant dark, coarse hair. His hand print indicates he has fat little fingers with untrimmed fingernails. A sketch artist has produced a drawing based on the evidence and witness reports. If you have information that would help investigators, please leave a comment below.

Bear Sketch (2)

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So, what is there to do when the snow is still on the ground, but the days are getting longer, and the seed catalogs are filling up your mail box? You’ve got spring fever, but it is too miserable to do any cleanup work outside.

So you resort to house cleaning. Birdhouse cleaning, that is.

We hung a bunch of birdhouses when we moved out here to the country about 15 years ago. Some we bought and some we made. My favorites are a pair of bluebird houses that Road Warrior and I made together for my birthday present several years ago. We hand cut roof shingles out of cedar shims and the houses were precious. Even the bluebirds loved them as is evidenced by the fact that they have nested in the boxes every year since we mounted them on our gate posts seven years ago.

But they were starting to take on that shabby chic look, and we started hearing the birds muttering cheep cheep cheep and we were afraid they were talking about us. The shingles were starting to curl and fall off so it was time for a home rehab.

We sequestered ourselves in the workroom for the weekend and completely renovated the houses. We even added a little curb appeal by including some architectural details to the design.

birdhouse after

birdhouse after

We were so pleased with the outcome of these little homes that we decided to restore all of our birdhouses. A couple looked like they had never been inhabited, but a few were filled with nesting materials that were consistent with mouse or chipmunk nests. But hey, they deserve a nice warm home, too. So we scoured, sanded, painted and decorated the rest of the houses over the next two weekends.

schoolhouse

schoolhouse

All the houses are now awaiting tenants

birdhouse collage 1

We’re starting to hear birdsong and we even saw a couple of bluebirds over the weekend. So hopefully they will stop by for an open house.

Cheep Rent

Cheep Rent

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icy branches

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Snow covered cupola

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How to cook the Perfect Boiled Egg.

Good Golly, Miss Molly! Boiling an egg is certainly not an “eggs-acting” science, but few topics disagree so much over the proper technique. Add salt/don’t add salt; add vinegar or baking soda/don’t add vinegar or baking soda; put the eggs in boiling water/put the eggs in cold water; cover the pot/don’t cover the pot; boil the eggs until done/take them off the heat and let them steep; use older eggs/use the freshest eggs possible. What’s a body to believe?

About the only thing that everyone is in agreement on is that really fresh eggs are more difficult to peel than eggs that are at least a week old. If you are buying your eggs from the grocery store, this is rarely ever an issue. By the time eggs hit the shelf, they are often already 30 days old, and the expiration date may be 30 days after that. But if you are lucky enough to raise chickens and collect freshly laid eggs, or have a source for farm fresh eggs, then you know firsthand the “eggs-asperation” of trying to peel boiled eggs without ending up with a mangled mess.

There is a scientific reason for this, and if you are really geeky and want to know the chemistry behind it, you can Google it and study up on it. There’s a whole PH thing going on, but basically, as the egg ages, the egg starts to shrink and the air space between the egg shell and the membrane will get larger, making it easier to peel. So there. Bottom line, if you can let your fresh eggs sit in the fridge for a week or two, all the better.

Since Easter is coming up soon and you may be planning to boil up some Easter Eggs to dye, I thought I would share with you the technique I use for boiling eggs that yields nice yellow yolks without the green tinge, whites that are not rubbery, and eggs that are easier to peel.

There are still many variables that may affect your outcome: how many eggs you are boiling, the size of your pot, the size of your eggs, and your altitude, for instance. But this is what I do.

1. Bring your eggs to room temperature. This helps minimize the eggs cracking as they heat up.
2. Place the eggs gently in a large pot so that you only have one layer of eggs.

Eggs in pot

3. Cover the eggs with cold water so that you have an inch of water covering the eggs.

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4. I put a handful of salt in the water. I don’t think this actually helps the eggs peel better, (as many people believe) but if an egg happens to crack in the pot, the salted water will cause the white to coagulate quickly, thus sealing up the crack so you don’t lose more egg white.

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5. Bring the water to a boil. Just as soon as it reaches a true rolling boil, immediately take the pot off of the heat, and place a tight fitting lid on top of it.
6. Get out your timer and let the pot sit for precisely the recommended time. For small to medium eggs, 12 minutes will do, large eggs should sit for about 15 minutes, and super-duper large eggs should sit for 18 minutes. By following this procedure, you prevent the yolks from getting too hot, which is what causes the green tinge. (Another chemical reaction, if you need to know).
7. As soon as your timer goes off, pour off the hot water and rinse the eggs in cold tap water. Place the eggs in a large bowl, cover with ice cubes and then cover with cold water. Leave the eggs alone for 10-15 minutes or until the eggs are completely cold to the touch.

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8. The easiest way to peel them is to lightly tap them on the counter until the shell is crazed all over. Hold the egg under cold running water and start peeling from the round end where the air sac is.

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9. Now enjoy a perfectly cooked egg. Beautiful creamy yellow yolk with no green ring and a nice tender white that is not at all rubbery.

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Finally, I can enjoy my lunch. Yumm!
Thanks, my dear little chickies!

chickens

If you have a tried and true recipe for boiling eggs, let’s hear it.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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