Wednesday, August 29, 2012
If you are one of the fans of the chickens, you know they haven't been able to range for several weeks in the back yard because the grapes are ripening and they cannot be trusted. Even though we've been moving the chicken tractor, and I put in a copy paper box lid in full of dirt for dust bathing, they still miss going out and about. So a couple weekends ago we tried an experiment, a field trip!
Posted by Julie & Andrew at 6:46 PM
Saturday, August 25, 2012
These pictures were taken almost two weeks ago when I had the afternoon off from getting some dental work. Dental work is generally a bummer, but capturing these shots made it worth it. I was actually walking from the kitchen to the family room, when I saw the fox right by our bird feeding station. I think he was checking for some seed. I kept walking hoping he didn't notice me so I could get the camera out of the family room but when I came back he was gone. Molly however was pressed against the glass of the window, looking towards the field, so on a hunch I snuck out to the front porch and took these shots. I think he's so used to no one being around that I was able to get these. Also, thank the zoom lens. Here he is goofing off, being a a fox. the blurry picture of him is just to show you how close he was to the road, as a truck went past.
Posted by Julie & Andrew at 11:49 AM
Monday, August 13, 2012
Many of you already know that I was very active in 4-H for the full ten years I was eligible. I joined 4-H in the third grade and started out with rabbits. I raised dutch and californians (as pictured below). Rabbits were fun because they weren't huge, and I could raise several at once and plan bloodlines. The first year project is two rabbits but by the 6th year I was taking 10 rabbits, a brood pair, a meat pen and 4 individual rabbits and a single fryer. In the early years there was enough space in the rabbit barn for everyone's projects and room left over for the 4-H clubs to sleep over night after the rabbit sale (and that is a post all on its own) but by the time I was in junior high rabbit projects had swelled in popularity (city kids could raise them in the garage or backyard) that many of the specialty projects like meat pen had to be brought the day of the show because there wasn't room in the barn anymore. Specialty projects include: Meat Pen = three commercial breed (meat rabbits) of uniform weight and size not to exceed five pounds. Three rabbits weighting 4.5 pounds will beat a meat pen where they weigh 4.5, 5, and 4.25 pounds. I won reserve champion meat pen a couple times. Single Fryer = one commercial breed rabbit not exceeding 5 pounds...I could never nab this one. Brood Pair = One buck and doe pair not to exceed twelve months of age. This was hands down my favorite specialty project. I won champ brood pair like, three times. The secret is breeding for them early, so they are born in October before the fair. You're going for the "old married couple" look in rabbits, as pictured below. This is me in 1992. Here is one of my "old married" brood pairs. This was probably a champion as Dr. Stowe, our neighbor and dentist is pictured as the sponsor buying the champion pair. Dr. Stowe bought many of my projects over the years and continues to support fair projects every year. Yes, your eyes are not deceiving you, that's me wearing the tiara and sash of 1992 Champaign County fair Rabbit Queen. Yes, I still have them...packed away somewhere. Eric Duncan was Rabbit King that year. We got our pictures in the paper many times as we had to pose with all the champions and reserve champs etc.
Posted by Julie & Andrew at 5:17 PM
Sunday, August 12, 2012
When I went down to water the chickens this morning, the grapes looked so fresh in the light I though I'd snap a few shots. Andrew didn't thin the concord grapes out and we have a ton of them. I have plans for them in a few weeks...
Posted by Julie & Andrew at 7:31 AM
Saturday, August 11, 2012
So a few weeks ago, I was checking on one of our bluebird boxes that had a second clutch of bluebirds. I knew they were getting close to leaving and wanted to see if I could get some pictures. The first picture is the parents who briefly landed on the fence to take a break from hassling me. One of the blue birds poked his head our of the nest box and while I was trying to get the zoom nest to focus, he shot right out of the box and proceeded to zip around yard. In the second picture he's the one on the right. Later in the afternoon I found a bluebird fledge in our garage, all turned around from his travels. Luckily, he landed underneath Andrew's work table and I was able to grab him and point him in the right direction. Without further mishap (that I'm aware of) all the babies left the nest box in the next 24 hours. With as much bird activity going on this summer, I wish I had gotten more pictures. The blue bird baby wasn't the only one I managed to help out. In June we had a baby chickadee clutching the screen of our back porch door. The cats were going nuts trying to get at him. I went around and gently cupped him and then he flew off, landing on our gutter. He was a perfect miniature of a chickadee, no juvenile plumage like his blue bird and robin friends.
Baking has taken a back seat to frozen treat experimenting. There have been lots of great books floating in through the library. Here is what I've been working on. First, a blueberry custard based ice cream that Andrew and I made last year. We use the sauce recipe from Jeni's and the custard base from Alton Brown's Good Eats, the early years.
We've been busy out here on the property, and settling back into a rhythm that doesn't involve constant watering. For over two weeks, the chickens haven't been let out to range because the call of ripening concord grapes has just been too much for them. A couple weeks ago I could still let them out for very supervised range, as seen below. The posts to the left mark out where I would let them range, right by our compost area where the grapes Andrew planted this spring are about two feet tall.
Posted by Julie & Andrew at 9:42 AM