Category Archives: Pets

Frizzle Cochin Chicks!

Guys. GUYS. These chicks. I can’t even…they are just so fluffy and funny and cute.

When they first hatched, they were fairly standard chicks in appearance…other than their fuzzy hobbit feet.

Amerauca mom Booty did a great job with her hatch. I put fertile eggs under her, and in 21 days, out popped four fluffy chicks, like magic.

Despite the psycho side-eye she’s giving me here (all my adult hens hate my camera) she’s super sweet, and doesn’t mind me snuggling her chicks at all. Which is good for both of us, because you just gotta snuggle chicks this fluffy. The babies weren’t always sure about all these snuggles, but if one objected, all I had to do was hold her out to her mama, who would peck her on the head and tell her in no uncertain language that I was a trusted friend.  After that, the chick would settle down in my hand, perfectly happy (and often go straight to sleep!)

You can’t really tell in the pictures, but cochin chicks have THE SOFTEST fluff ever in the history of soft fluff. I was amazed.

Booty taught them how to dust bathe. And nap in the sunlight.

As they grew older, their wing feathers came in, proving they were frizzle cochins. See how the feathers curl out? This created the greatest look in chick feather-styling EVER, as they grew out the feathers on their feet and legs.

It also led to jealousy and hurt feelings from Ellie, my soulmate hen. WHY are you always in THERE playing with those little fluffy butts? I’m molting, I’ve got a fluffy butt too – nothing special to look at in THERE.

It’s okay. Ellie always gets snuggles too. She’s a total lap chicken.

We just finished (mostly finished) remodeling the chicken coop, and the mama and chicks have moved into the coop with the big girls…in their own private apartment. I’ll film a video tour soon.  I decided this in-the-coop-apartment will work better for future broodies, and so I moved the pet rabbits (Daisy and Dandelion) into the former duck coop/broody coop.

They have lots more room, plus they and the chickens can see each other, which both species seem to enjoy.

And what, you may ask, is going into the old rabbit hutch? Well, since it was originally made as a chicken coop, it’s going back to that purpose. It’s just the right size for a trio of tiny serama hens! Next Spring I’ll get hatching eggs! I’m so excited; I’ve wanted these mini chooks forever. I plan to let them out for regular free-ranging in the garden. They are so small, I don’t think they will destroy the garden like full-sized hens. We’ll see.

And a brief update on the Bobwhite Quail – I still love them. They are my favorite quail for sure. They are so personable and friendly.

 

Christmas, and Looking Forward to 2016

This Christmas was one of the best in nearly a decade. The extended family and their drama went elsewhere, and it was a quiet, peaceful Christmas with great food, excellent gifts, and an opportunity to attend our Christmas Eve church service. I actually made it through feeling relaxed instead of stressed out, and rather than being SO GLAD it’s over, I’m looking forward to next year.

This was Dexter’s second Christmas, and the first that he really understood what unwrapping was all about.

We also discovered the perfect way to apply flea medicine to a wiggly corgi…you use the sleeve of a sweatshirt to ardvark them!

It’s been rainy almost non-stop this fall and winter – we’ve set records for rainfall. Finally, though, we’re seeing the return of some sunshine, and it’s bringing on the desire to garden. I’ve been marking up my seed catalogs, and almost have my order ready to send. This year, I’m going to try to stick to tried-and-true varieties, because I’m making it a goal to grow as much greens/seeds for the animals as I can.

rabbitsI found this fabulous book on Amazon:Real Food for Rabbits: Raising Meat Rabbits Without Buying Commercial Feed.  Don’t be put off by the title if you only have pet rabbits – it’s all about feeding, and it applies just as well to pets. I’ve actually suggested to the author that she change the title.

I would LOVE to get all my critters off packaged, commercial food. The chickens are, but the quail and rabbits are (hopefully) being converted over to natural grains and veggies this coming year. I’ve seen so many benefits from the chickens being off commercial food. They are healthy and happy, and – biggest of all – their poop doesn’t stink. At all. I’m looking forward to having that be the case with the quail!

I don’t know if my meat rabbits will happen in 2016. I have a muscovy duck in the fridge ready to cook tomorrow, and assuming we like it as much as everyone says we will, I think I’ll be starting with a few meat ducks.  I’ll order the minimum order of 10 ducklings, save out the nicest trio for breeding, and eat (or sell) the rest. The nice thing about muscovies is how quiet they are, plus the females are terrific mothers.

muscovyI really like having the Indian Runner ducks in my garden. Other than a certain devilish attitude at bedtime sometimes, they are no trouble at all.  And every time I see them out the window, they make me laugh. I’ll be getting two more in the Spring. Either as chicks, or I’ll try hatching some eggs.

I’ll also be hatching more quail. I don’t remember if I told you guys, but I lost a female this Fall, bringing my numbers down to just four females and two males. I want to plump up the female numbers. And my friend lost all but one of her quails due to a predator attack. She didn’t wire in the bottom of her pen, and something dug through the rocks and gravel and killed all of them but one little male in one night. Put wire underneath your cages, folks. It might be a little more trouble and expense, but you never know when a predator will find your cage!

I’m keeping her lonely male with my females, until I get more quail hatched. Then she’s taking him back – I have enough males already!

So right now, that’s the big plan. Re-vamp the chicken yard area to make room for the muscovies, hatch more quail, and garden ALL THE FOOD.

Because seeds.

SAD

http://www.greensparrowgardens.com/2014/12/sad-seed-acquisition-disorder.html

Garden Update & Dexter’s First Beach Day

It is so unusually hot here – we’re having our August weather in June…which makes me concerned a bit about August.  Never thought I’d miss the rain!  But the beans, tomatoes, and squash sure love the heat. I think I’ll be canning beans in under a week.

Good thing, too, as we only have three cans left from the beans I put up last summer. I LOVE home canned beans! They are so much tastier than store-bought.

We’ll be eating summer squash by next week, too. Beans and squash are my favorite summer foods.

It’s been so long since my last update, that I didn’t post the pics I took a few weeks ago. Here’s the front yard vegetable then:

And here it is now. It’s a jungle!

Though the biggest jungle is inside the greenhouse.

Look – we have the brick floor in! And there are SO MANY green tomatoes.  The melons in there are flowering now, too. I’m hopeful that I’ll actually get a bunch of homegrown melons this year.  Early on, I noticed the three peppers I have in there were getting attacked by aphids.  In the outdoor garden, this would be absolutely NO reason for concern, as within days, the beneficial insects would find them, and demolish them.  I never spray anything in my garden, not even soap solutions. Though those are not nearly so harmful as pesticides, they still disrupt the natural cycle of predator/prey in your garden.  If you let the aphids be for a year, you’ll allow the beneficials to establish a base in your garden, and then you’ll never need to spray anything, ever again.  It’s simply amazing to observe.

Inside the greenhouse, I wasn’t sure if a natural balance would be able to happen, but guess what?  After about a week of tolerating aphids on my peppers, the aphids just suddenly disappeared completely! If I’d had to keep the greenhouse door closed during the day, the beneficials probably wouldn’t have been able to find their way inside, but with this hot weather…yeah, it’s an awesome June for the garden and the good bugs!

We’ve done a few more improvements to the chicken coop/yard, with still more to come.

Inside the coop, mom tore out the upstairs loft. She had never been happy with it, and she finally managed to turn me around to her point of view.

Now the girls just have perches along the back wall, with a wind barrier of straw bales in front. Before winter, we’ll have to put in a little more protection, but it’s working for now.

I also got the signs I designed and painted up.

Each girl has her name, along with a picture of the egg she lays. Plus, a blackboard to write their requests/demands.

Outside in the yard, we’re working on making it more chicken-friendly (more shade, more secret nooks, more edible perennials for them and us). So far, we’ve put up two hog panel trellises.

One has two varieties of grapes growing up it:

And beyond that, to the side against the fence, is another with thornless blackberries and a (still-to-be-planted) rose.

Complete with bench, for sitting and holding chickens. Once the vines get a chance to grow up, it will be very nice for all of us.

The neighbor on the other side of the yard finally put up the fence he’s been talking about since he moved in. It’s probably the most white-trashy fence I’ve ever seen (the posts are all cut to different heights, and the boards are nailed on a definite slant), but it does the job. It’s so nice to have privacy again! And now we can tear down the falling-apart fence that used to be there.  We said we’d tear it down for him before he started building his, but he said he wanted to take it down himself.  Then, he just left it up, and built his new fence in further on his property. So he just gave us about ten inches more land!  Woot!  😉  He’s an very odd man.

The new fence extends into the side front, which is very nice. And from this view, you can see just how uneven those posts really are!

Anyway, now that there’s a fence, this just became prime real estate. I’m thinking a bunch of raised beds (the ground’s truly bad here) with raspberries? It gets excellent sun.

Yesterday, we took Dexter to the beach for the first time.

He loved it, but had serious concerns about the sea monsters that kept passing by in the water. We tried to explain what boats are, but he knows what a sea monster is when he sees it, and he knows it is part of his job to keep a wary eye out to sea.

He did love the water though – even though the waves did freak him out at first.

He was so exhausted on the way home. He just collapsed in the back seat, and didn’t move.

Garden Projects, plus a Poisoned Corgi

Wow.  It feels like forever since I’ve posted, but we’ve been super busy here.  No, the duck coop still isn’t finished…but I did get the upper part (and inner nest box area) put together and ready for doors, roof, and foundation.  The green ripple roof section is a piece we bought as a trial to see if we wanted to use it for the roof.  We will.  I think a green roof will be quite pretty…and provide shade protection of the ducks.

Still a considerable bit to do, yet, but at least there’s progress!

Our new paved pathway now has solar lights, and it’s so pretty at night.  Love the patterns they make on the stone.

I want to get some of the solar fairy lights to string over the trellis arch.

The circle garden quail coop has a paved “patio” as well, and I spray-painted a couple of cheap plastic pots blue and planted lavender in them.  Blue is becoming our garden accent color.

Peabody the quail enjoys having a patio.  He spends a lot of time hanging out on his log (like he is here) and watching the goings-on in the yard.  If I walk over, he starts growling and chuffing at me.  It’s pretty cute, even though he’s trying to be Intimidating and Fierce.

I took a video of the Cinna and Martha in their new coop.  This is the rotating coop, that will be alternating over raised beds, so I can grow veggies in one while the quail are fertilizing and tilling the other.  The standard quail seem to be the best at this job.  The others I have (Italians and Blondes) don’t seem to be much into digging holes and turning the soil – except for the occasional dust bath hole.  The standard girls dig the most amazing deep holes.  The one in this video is actually one of the smaller ones I’ve seen.

The front yard vegetable garden FINALLY has a gate.

It will look gorgeous later this year, when I have squash/beans growing up the trellis.  It’s nice to have it fenced off from the rest of the yard, because Dexter is not the most helpful gardener.  Our other big project was fencing in the entire rest of the front yard, so Dexter can have a play yard.

We used t-posts and livestock wire, and it’s amazing how invisible it is, when there’s plants up against it.  One project for a later time, will be filling in plants into the bare spots.  Edibles, I think, but shrubs and larger plants that can take the roughhousing of a corgi.  I might put espaliered trees against the fence on the left.  It looks out onto a lovely view of the neighbors many, many vehicles, and we’d love to hide that behind something green.

Mom spray-painted the white tops of the t-posts black to match the fence, although we left the white sides that faced the driveway.  The wire is a little too invisible, and we don’t want anyone accidentally driving into it.

I have a bunch of kale, cabbage, peas, and beets directly planted into the garden now.  Everything is so gorgeous.  I’ve been hungering for the sight of green growing things all winter!

I’ve also found a cool idea on Pinterest that I’ve started this year…using plastic storage tubs as portable coldframes.  It’s been working perfectly.

Finally, we come to Dexter.  We took him in for his neutering appointment, and the bloodwork they do beforehand showed elevated liver enzymes.  The vet said we’d have to hold off on the surgery, until we checked to see if anything was going on with his liver, so instead of becoming less nuts, Dexter had another test, then was sent home to wait for results.

While we were waiting to hear, we did a little research/remembering on our own, and discovered the culprit: poisoning by lawn chemicals.  There is an abandoned field near our house, where we let Dexter run and play.  Someone keeps it mowed, and apparently they also apply copper sulfate to the grass.  One time when he came back, he smelled really strongly of copper, but we didn’t put two and two together until after his blood test.  The symptoms of copper sulfate poisoning/copper overdose match his blood test results and other symptoms perfectly.

When the vet called with the results of the other test (which were fine) we ran our theory past him, and he agreed that was almost certainly the culprit.  So we have to wait three weeks for the copper to leave his liver, and then we can go ahead with his neutering.

This makes me so angry.  Why are we still pouring poisonous chemicals onto our lawns and into our gardens?  And this was an abandoned field, for pete’s sake!  Right behind it is a wetlands area – of course all that copper sulfate is going straight into the water, and who knows what else it is poisoning?  A friend told me a story of a friend of hers whose dog died because it ate a few blades of grass outside his own apartment.  This is completely insane.

In happier Dexter news, we gave him his first bath.  He was very good, but his favorite part was afterward, when he got to run through the house like a soaked tasmanian devil – and play with the hair dryer.  He loves the hair dryer.  Every time I wash my hair, he stands behind me when I dry it, just hoping I’ll turn the blower on him a few times!

Our gorgeous sunny weather has turned back into rain, so I didn’t work on the duck coop today.  Instead, I worked on a few crafty projects for the garden (I’ll share those in my next post) and hoed up one section of the chicken run/garden to plant a chicken-friendly pasture mix.  It was really pleasant to be out there, hoeing in the drizzle!  Spring rain has such a vibrancy to it; I love the feel of being out in it.  It’s supposed to rain tomorrow too – and my plan is to work on the rain barrels.  I want to install three this year: one for the garden roof quail coop, and two for the chicken coop.  I’m looking forward to it.  It’s something I haven’t done before, and that’s always fun!

It’s My Birthday, and I’ll Cry if I Want To.

Only I don’t, because life just keeps getting better, and this coming year is shaping up to be the best yet!  I’m 42, and this means that I’m the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe and Everything…according to the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

Sounds about right.

The last couple of days I’ve been busy booking airfare to England, with a three-day stopover in Iceland, via Iceland Air.  I’ve also booked my accommodations in Iceland and England, and I’ll be posting about that soon.

Today, though, is all about my birthday.  In accordance with my new custom of doing/learning something new on my birthday, today I did TWO new things!

Last year, I learned to hand spin wool, using a drop spindle.  The yard turned out fairly well, though I still need lots and lots more practice.  I did find out that I really do enjoy it, though, so I bought some more wool roving, and plan to branch out to alpaca and angora rabbit fleece soon.  Here is a picture of my hand spun yarn:

Today, for one of my new things, I dyed it using the spice turmeric.  It makes an easy dye because you don’t need anything special like a mordant – just the spice and some water.  It makes a lovely yellow/gold shade.

This is the yarn, still wet.  I expect it will lighten to more of a yellow once it’s dry.

This is not enough yarn to actually make anything with, so my plans are to begin knitting a scarf.  As I spin and dye more yarn, I’ll keep adding to it, until it’s finished.  It might be an interesting yardstick of my spinning prowess, to see how much I improve from the beginning of the scarf to the end!  I do hope I don’t get so good I can’t spin chunky, nubby yarn, as some hand spinners say can happen.  I prefer really nubby yarn for knitting.  It’s so much more fun to work with.

The other new thing I did was try Jamberry nails.

They were fairly simply to apply, and by the last couple of fingers I’d started to figure out a good technique.  They are certainly less messy and smelly than polish!  It remains to be seen if they actually last two weeks or longer.  I’m one of those girls who uses her nails like tools, so with polish I’m lucky to get a single day without chips.  And if the weather is as nice tomorrow as they are promising, I’ll be outside gardening and building fences and quail coops.

Dexter is 6 months old, and still adorable.  He’s finally getting the point about housebreaking, and is learning other manners as well…although if he disagrees with the importance of a command, he likes to calmly argue his point, by using his words.  He doesn’t bark hardly at all, but he does like to vocalize!

Dreaming of Green

It’s always right after Christmas that I start hungering to be out in my garden.  The seed and livestock catalogs start arriving, and I find myself browsing Pinterest and placing seed orders.

Yesterday, I ordered the second one-year-old pear tree I’m going to train as an espalier.  The one I planted last year is doing splendidly.  This one is a variety called “Seckel”, and the fruit are tiny, tiny little pears with a sweet flavor.  So sweet, they are often called “sugar pears”.

pear_seckel2I have also tracked down a local supplier of honeybees, and ordered a replacement package and queen for this Spring.  At least I’ll be able to ensure that the queen is alive and all is well with the bees before I take them home, so hopefully they will survive this time around.  I loved having the bees around last summer.

Two of the major projects this Spring will be building a greenhouse and a duck coop.  I will be getting three little Indian Runner ducklings.  I’m really looking forward to the arrival of the ducks, because if there is anything cuter than ducklings, I can’t think what it might be.

ducklings

The greenhouse was originally going to be a really small one, just barely large enough to stand inside of, but I’ve reshuffled some plans, and found a location where I can have a larger one.  Like this, sort of:
greenhouseI’m hoping to keep one of the quail colonies inside it year round, if I can get the temperature regulated enough to not to cook them during the summer.  Having birds in the greenhouse will help control aphids and other pests.

The Chickens are helping with the pre-gardening.  I released them out into the garden yesterday for a little judicious slug-egg hunting, and they took to the job with great zeal.

Besides dreaming of gardening, I’m also seriously into holiday planning.  I just bought this gorgeous handmade hemp hat for wearing in Egypt.  I’d been looking for a durable, packable, awesome hat for months now, and as soon as I saw this one, I knew it was the one.

travelhat

Dexter is about 5 months old now, and completely wonderful…except when he’s being completely naughty.  He’s so gorgeous.  I love him to bits.

Have YOU hugged your chicken today?

The garden is pretty much over for the year, although I still have a fall crop of snap peas and bush beans coming on.  I didn’t do much else for fall planting, although I did get garlic in, and left quite a few beets, chard, and collards that I hope will overwinter.  They often do, in my area.

I’m hoping we’re going to have a mild winter this year.  So far, it looks like it.  Fall has been extraordinarily warm – we haven’t even been tempted to heat the house yet.  Some days, it’s been positively balmy outside.  It would be a godsend for my building projects, except for the fact that it’s also been high winds almost every day and lots of rain.  Oh, well…the building projects might have to be put off until early Spring this year.  Just as long as I can get the new housing up before the ducklings and meat chicks arrive!

We bought 18 pounds of chicken necks and backs, and made several pots of broth for canning.  It is so lovely to have homemade broth ready to go…especially if one of us gets sick.  It’s not a myth that chicken broth has healing qualities – but not the icky stuff you can buy in cans at the grocery store.  That stuff tastes like crap, and pretty much is, as far as nutrients go.  I’m experimenting with beef bone broth next.

Most of my free time has either been spent working on this three-book time travel series I’m publishing in (hopefully) January, and keeping constant eyes on Dexter the new Corgi puppy.  He hasn’t got the hang of housetraining yet, and likes to test his sharp little baby teeth on everything – especially shoes, socks, and anything made of paper.

Also, Happy Hug A Chicken Day!  Yes, this is a thing.  Yes, I did hug mine.

047

Dexter wanted to hug them too, but the chickens weren’t amiable to that idea…

Corgi Puppy!!!!!

Yesterday, we rented a car and drove to SeaTac airport to pick up the newest addition to our family…our corgi puppy, Dexter.  He’s about 10 1/2 weeks old.

He was shipped from Carol’s Corgis, in Missouri, and didn’t have any problems at all with the flight.  He wasn’t scared, or stressed at all.

It was a good thing we hired a rental car for the trip, though, because on the way,  this happened.

Yup, in Seattle, going through an intersection, a driver ran the red light and hit us.  He tried to swerve away at the last second, which is why we were lucky, and it only go the front passenger tire area, rather than squarely in the passenger area, where Mom and I were sitting.  No one was hurt, and the other driver was very nice to deal with, thankfully.  The rental folks came and picked up the damaged car and gave us a replacement, and we were back on our way.  We were a little late picking arriving at the Air Cargo office, but Dexter had only arrived from his flight about 10 minutes earlier, so he didn’t have to wait.

That evening, he was too interested in looking around and exploring to rest, so when he got tired, I put him on my chest, on his back, and he just conked out.  Such a sweetie!

I think he’s going to be perfect for us.  He’s very calm about new things, and not fearful at all.  He and Cat Sookie are not friends yet, but they did touch noses, so I expect they’ll be fine once Sookie gets over her worry about a new animal.

The chickens were EXTREMELY concerned about him at first, but they are getting used to see him through the fence now, and are going about their business – as long as he doesn’t get too close.  He’s very calm with them, and doesn’t jump or bark or scratch at them, just sits quietly and watches them.  He doesn’t seem to be thinking of them as prey at all, which is good.

He has the BIGGEST feet, totally outsized to his body!  I love that.

He’s smart, too.  He’s already mostly figured out his name, and is learning “sit”.  His first night, he slept like a little angel, and seems to be settling in perfectly.  He absolutely adores playing in the yard.

The Near Future

Today, I harvested the last of the squash.  Mostly Sweet Dumplings, although there’s a little This and That in there, too.

I picked one of the watermelons for breakfast.  I didn’t think it would be any good, since it was super tiny – I only picked it because something had eaten a little hole in the bottom.

Surprise, surprise!  It was only about the size of a large apple, but the inside was extremely juicy and flavorful.  I now have tremendously high hopes for the larger watermelons still on the vine.  We’re going to eat the largest one tonight.

The new strawberry bed is doing great.

I wasn’t sure it would, because I used the runners from the adult strawberries growing on the quail green roof.  You’re supposed to leave the runners attached to the adult plant until the runners have rooted, but I just cut them off and stuck them in the ground.  I planted them really close together, because I wasn’t sure if all (or any) of them would root.  But most have.  At some point, I’ll dig them up and space them further apart.

We’ve been having some typical Fall weather here, lots of wind and rain, mingled with bouts of brilliant warm sunshine.  Sometimes within the space of a few minutes!  I do love stormy weather, but there’s still a ton of stuff I want to do outside, so I’m glad for the periods of sunshine.

The rain is nice to write by.  I’m going to be publishing my first book soon, so right now I’m doing some editing – plus working on the second book in the series.  Cat Sookie (who is the most anti-social cat I’ve ever owned) will only deign to sit beside me and purr if I let her use my Kindle Fire to watch bird videos on.  Here’s us, me on my laptop, and her on my Fire.

Plus, our Corgi puppy will be arriving by air on Saturday – so we’ll be spending the day in Seattle, then coming home with a new dog!  He already has a HUGE box of toys, plus a collar and tag.

I got my first paycheck from that Steampunk Monster book I was doing some writing/costuming work for, so yay.  The duck coop, meat chicken coop, greenhouse, and whatever else I can stretch the money to, is now funded!  I’m most excited about the duck coop, because DUCKS.

After a ton of going back and forth on breeds, and whether I’d be raising them for meat, or just eggs and slug patrol, I decided (for now) on just eggs and slugs.  That means, for me, the only choice of breed was the Indian Runner.  I just adore these guys.  If there’s anything that looks cuter walking down a garden path, I don’t know what it is.

I’ll plan on getting three girls (Philomena, Penelope, and Phryne) but if one turns out to be an accidental drake, I won’t mind.  Male ducks are super sweet!

Building Quail Coops, Fences, and Garden Beds

First off – I have exciting news!  You may remember we have been searching for a Corgi puppy…well, we found one!

Meet Dexter.

Dexter5weeks

He’s just about 5 1/2 weeks in this photo, so we have about 3 weeks to wait until he’ll be old enough to come home with us, but he’s officially ours!  The breeder said he’s her favorite from the litter, the sweetest and most affectionate, and not so bossy as his brother.  He also likes cats; in one video we saw, he made a beeline to go play (very nicely) with the cat!  It’s good that he’s already getting used to animals other than dogs.  When he gets here, we’ll have to introduce him to the two-legged cats…i.e. the chickens.  (Hey, the chickens sit on my lap, purr, chase squirrels, and would eat mice if we had any…)

Also exciting is my crop of millet.  I harvested it the other day, and it’s gorgeous.

It definitely won the contest between millet and quinoa as a seed crop.  I would have gotten a small amount of quinoa, but we’ll never know if the quail would have loved it or not.  The chickens managed to bust into the quinoa bed, knock it down, and eat it before it was ripe.  They seemed to enjoy it, at least.  😦  See – they are also as sneaky as cats!

Because the chickens clearly cannot be trusted, I spent the last two weekends fencing off a part of the east yard and adding garden beds.  I swear the chickens know what it means when I haul out t-posts and wire.  They start whining and complaining right away.  Not more fences!  Nooooo…..

In the beds to the right, are strawberry starts.  To the left, in the front, is one gooseberry.  I plan to add one more, plus an espalier of some sort against the fence.  Still undecided as to what that will be.  I’ll put more strawberries around their feet.

To the left, in the back against the chicken coop wall, is one of the vegetable beds that I will rotate the quail through.  I still have to build the coop/tractor that sits on top.  Right now, there is a moveable cold frame that I also built.

To the side of the new fenced in area, we put up a wire hog panel arch.  I’m training a thornless blackberry up it.  In behind the arch, you can see the two columnar apple trees I planted this Spring.  They are doing very well, despite the best efforts by the chickens to get into their pots and dig all the dirt out.

The Sweet Dumpling squash leaves are looking terrible this time of year, but the squashes themselves are wonderful.  I can’t wait to taste them as mature winter squash.  I ate a couple immature, as summer squash, and they were very tasty!  This variety will be grown again next summer for sure.

I’m still canning like crazy and loving it.  We bought a couple boxes of peaches, and I canned some straight-up in a light syrup.  For others, I saved the leftover syrup I used to can Black Plums in, and used that.  It has a gorgeous red color that makes the peaches look really pretty!

I met a new friend through my local Freecycle, who was also interested in keeping quail.  When Anna came over to my place to pick up her freebie, I gave her the tour and she was especially intrigued by one of my quail coops.  This one.  After Anna found some quail up on Freecycle, she came back to visit my coop again, and ended up making a similar one for herself in one day!  I asked if I could share pictures, because I really like some of the modifications she made.

She added a door to the center front, which must be handy for cleaning and catching stubborn quail, as well as cute handles on the two lift-up doors.  She also has a green roof on the middle section with sedum planted.  She says her seven little quail hens are very happy in their new coop, and I believe it!

I cannot even tell you how happy my garden has made me this year.  The wild critters seem to love it as well.  The chickens, rabbits, and quail have had so much fresh food to eat, and since I use no chemicals, the wildlife is really flourishing as well.  I know they are helping to keep all the unpleasant bugs at bay, because other than my brief issue with root maggots this year (solved by the application of beneficial nematodes) I have had almost no damage to anything.  Several birds have nested in my garden this year, and look at this little sweetie I found in my bean plants!  He didn’t budge the whole time I was harvesting beans around him.

And finally, a brief travel update: another friend was kind enough to give me a bunch of Egyptian money leftover from her trip!  So much fun – being able to hold actual money in my hands in making my trip seem so much more real.  Thanks, Arte!  This time next year I’ll be across the Atlantic Ocean!