Wednesday, June 29, 2016

A happy sight...

Years ago my friend Liz told me that woodpeckers would often bring their young to her feeder and teach them how to eat seeds and suet. The idea of that enchanted me.  Last summer I was fortunate enough to have several families of woodpeckers bring their newly-fledged babies here to my feeders, and show them the ropes.  The young look almost exactly like the adults by the time they are old enough to leave the nest and go flitting about looking for snacks.  However, they behave very differently from the grown up birds.  They flap their wings and squawk and flutter about in a very clumsy and comical manner.  Today a lot of activity at the feeder caught my eye, and I looked out to see this mama Hairy woodpecker with a chick in tow.  I was very excited to get a couple of shots of her feeding her big baby.

First at the feeder.  Mom is on the right, stuffing some seed down juniors greedy bill.

Then they moved to the deck rail and she helped her chick sample some suet. After that they headed for the trees, no doubt in search of a bug or two for dessert.

As much as I enjoy watching the birds, it makes me laugh to have the tables turned.  See this guy?
He is a male Rose breasted grossbeak.  One of several that frequent my feeders.  But this one does not just come to eat.  He spends a fair amount of time staring in the window at my daughter and me while we work.  He looks quite fascinated to see us there, and stays long stretches without eating. Just peering in.  We call him Tom. Peeping Tom. 

Monday, June 27, 2016

Magical day...

I got lucky in the in-law department.  And today my sister-in-law Brenda and her daughter Lisa were to visit in Bar Harbor, Maine while on a New England cruise.  We all took the day off so we could see them.  It wasn't enough time, really, but it was some time, and that was a gift.

The drive from here to Bar Harbor is lovely, and chatting and catching up was a delight.  There were Whoopie Pies and Blueberry pie involved.  And a few laughs.  Then they were off on a tour and we were headed home to feed baby goats and have a peaceful afternoon.

The weather? PERFECT. I took my camera out to the back yard along with a good book and a cold drink.  Caught a few images to illustrate the afternoon...

Bravo turned an empty sour cream container into a fun toy, then posed for a handsome new close up shot of his little face.

In the pasture, the ducks chased bugs and gobbled up the seed heads on the grass.

The ducklings are growing at astonishing speed.

Luna whispered a joke into Ella's ear. Ella laughed and laughed.

As the sun got lower in the sky, Chris grilled up a marvelous supper. 

Meanwhile, the fat, round, broiler chicks ate their fill, while the adult layer birds strutted about.

I caught movement out of the corner of my eye.  Something red and fast in the meadow.  

A beautiful fox. It arched and bounded and hunted there, just beyond our fence.  I would have enjoyed it's wild beauty more if I didn't have pasture full of chickens and ducks that I knew he would love to hunt.  We stayed out, watching him, until he vanished into the pines. Then we hustled the birds into their safe coops, and came in to enjoy a delicious meal.

It truly was a magical day.

Sunday, June 26, 2016


I have long been fascinated by people who make edible things that most people buy pre-made at the store.  Cheese, yogurt... pasta!  I have learned to make cheese and yogurt, but have never ventured into pasta making.  My friend, however, has. And tonight she invited us over to enjoy spaghetti sauce and home made pasta.  How could we refuse?

Not only did she do all the work to cook us a fabulous feast, she very kindly let us help with the pasta making. She had made the dough earlier, and it was resting in her refrigerator.  She pulled off a small amount to begin with.

Next, she put it into her wonderful little pasta maker.

And turned the ball of dough into a disk. She repeated this several times.
And the dough became longer and thinner each time. 

Once it reached her desired thinness, she turned the dough into noodles.

She hung the noodles over a broomstick until she had made enough.  Then she tossed the noodles into boiling water for just a few moments. Next it was drained and placed on a platter.  Topped with her wonderful sauce and a little grated Parmesan...we had a feast!

And now I am thinking I need a little pasta machine of my own.  Or more frequent invitations to my friends house.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Time out for bad behavior...

The drake has been behaving badly.  Periodically during the day he runs to where the brown hen duck and her babies hang out, and attacks her. She flees from him, quacking frantically.

He leaves the ducklings alone, which is good, but, this has got to stop. 

Tonight we herded him into the duck house at dusk, and Rachel deftly caught him with a net.  We have him locked in a separate little duck house, all by himself. I plan to have him stay there several days. I hope the hen ducks will work things out while the male is on lock down, and that he will have an attitude adjustment while he is in solitary confinement. 

I often quip that the only rule here at FairWind's is that everyone has to get along.  If a few days in jail are what it takes to make that happen, so be it!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Father's Day...

When our daughter was an infant, I had some moments of despair.  I wondered if Chris would be a good father.  He didn't really have a clue what to do with a baby. If she cried, he turned the TV up louder.  Her diapers sometimes left him flummoxed.  When he held her he looked... well, terrified.

But once those early days passed he turned into an incredible dad.  Patient, loving, kind and funny.
And he still is. His daughter adores him.

Here at FairWinds, we have had a bit of a Fathers Day conundrum.  Last week one hen duck hatched 6 ducklings. The drake has been very attentive, watching over the new babies with great care.  Last night another hen duck hatched out 4 sweet new ducklings.  When the drake met them this morning he was displeased.  He ushered the duck with her 6 babies away from the new mama with her 4, then came back and attacked the duck that just hatched ducklings.  She took her brood back to the brush pile where her nest was and stayed there. I took food and water out for them.

 The drake has a clear preference for family #1...
Meanwhile, duck #3 is on a nest.

The drake will not know what to do with all these new families!  I hope he will shape up and be a good father to all the ducklings.

But I know he will never be as good of a dad as my husband is to our "duckling."

Adventures with Sillies...

I often refer to my Silky chickens as "the sillies."  They just look so incongruous; as if they are living cartoons, strolling around my yard.  When visitors see them they say things like, "Oh my gosh!" or "WOW!" or "What are those?"

One thing about Silky chickens is that they tend to go broody easily and often.  For those of you who don't share their lives with poultry, this means that the hens will sit on eggs.  Many chickens have been bred to just deposit their eggs and go about their business, but some breeds are prone to broodiness.  When a hen goes broody they park their warm, feathered underside on a nest full of eggs and just sit there.  The gestation period for chickens is around 21 days, so for three long weeks the little birds huddle on their nest, rarely leaving the eggs to eat, drink or eliminate.  It must be hard on their bodies.  Three of my Silky hens have been broody the last few weeks, two sharing a nest.

It was rather adorable to see the two sister hens snuggled up side by side on a pile of eggs.

Yesterday I went out mid day to check on the critters and I heard a little peeping sound from the Silky house.  I carefully lifted one of the hens and there was the source of the sound...

Freshly hatched, a little Brahma chick.  The Brahma's are my big laying hens, and one of them is daily determined to force her way into the tiny coop to lay an egg in the silky house.  So, the diminutive chicken will be raising a huge layer bird. She will be so surprised when her chick soon towers over her!

Saturday, June 11, 2016


The very first thing I do in the morning now a days is to warm up bottles of milk for the baby goats and get them fed.  It must be done first because they scream and cry and have little goat temper tantrums until the warm milk is exchanged from bottle to belly.  I worry that they annoy my neighbors, and hustle quick to get them taken care of.  This morning, as they were enjoying their breakfast, I heard a quacking sound.  I looked to my right and there was the grey and white hen duck that has been brooding on a hidden next for the last several weeks.  She only comes off the nest once a day.  Then she eats ravenously, drinks like a sailor on leave, and takes a quick bath.  Than back to her secret lair somewhere in the brush pile. 

I made a mental note to get her a scoop of food as soon as the piggy bucklings finished up their meal.
And then I looked again.

Her weeks of dedication have paid off... in the form of 6 adorable wee ducklings. 

I let the drake out of his coop and he waddled across the hen yard and into the pasture, quacking loudly to see the hen.  Then he stopped cold and stared.  I don't think I am exaggerating to say he looked a little stunned. He stood tall, surveying the scene for a long moment. Then he headed off into the pasture to forage for breakfast, the mama duck and babies tagging along behind. 

It was a happy surprise this morning at FairWinds.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Outside my window....

I feed the birds inches outside my window. The avian visitors to my feeders bring great delight.
Recently there is a squirrel that comes every day. She looks... tired.  Her teats are very visible. I suspect she has babies somewhere.  She comes to the feeder, and eats and eats and eats some more.

And then...
She sprawls out on the deck rail and relaxes in the sun. 

I remember the days when my wee child ran me to exhaustion. I hope the treats I offer at my feeder help her through this time.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

And then a miracle...

About 15 years ago I fell down a little flight of stairs.  Ever since then my middle back occasionally becomes very irritable.  A visit with a chiropractor soon sets me right. 

After I did a face plant on pavement this past April my back has been muttering unpleasantly.  Two days ago I woke up and the muttering had escalated to a shrill scream.  Every time I inhaled it felt like someone was stabbing me with a hot knife.  By the next day I was pretty cranky, and Chris (bless him) called around and found a chiropractor that could see me.  I had never been to this place before, but I couldn't get there fast enough.

 The doctor did a funny scan of my spine, a heart test, and some other things I forget. Then he gave me an adjustment.  My back was way, WAY out wack.  The sounds that came from my body when he did the adjustment were something like the percussion section in an orchestra.  Even the doctor was impressed.  He said "That was a lot. A LOT!" I came home and took a nap.

This morning when I woke up I could barely move.  My back felt like I had taken a beating. Doing chores was sporty.  Bending over was impossible, and everything I did hurt. A lot. I was in despair while I cooked bacon and eggs and milked goats.

Then, about an hour later I had an amazing, incredible realization... I felt better. As in, a LOT better.  My back hardly hurt at all.  And more than that...I felt wonderfully like myself again. 

Ever since I was injured in early April, my energy level has been frighteningly low.  People kept telling me that my body was healing, and that it was natural for me to be tired. More than tired though, I felt like my spark was dimmed. My zest for my wonderful life was missing.  I tried to do as much of my normal routine as possible, and to act happy and upbeat and like my normal self, I really did, but it was just that. An act.

So this morning, when my post-adjusted spine was feeling better, and I suddenly realized that I was really happy, it felt a little bit like a miracle.  I had more energy. The colors around me were brighter, the birds outside the window more enchanting. "I'm baaaaack!" I said to myself, with a little grin. 
And all day long I felt inexplicably terrific. 

I went back to the chiropractor today, and he did more odd things. He sent me home with some sort of flower essence to take, and exercise instructions. I will follow his instructions to a "T."  I can't wait to see how I feel tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Nap time...

This morning I put Chanel into the back yard to do lawn care.  She provides a full service; mowing,edging and fertilizing.

She worked hard, then took a rest.  For a long time.  She became so relaxed she stretched out, head pillowed on the grass. 

Horses often sleep standing up.  Because they are prey animals that evolved on the open plains, they need to be ready to run from predators at a moments notice. Horses have evolved to have a system called the stay apparatus.  This enables them to lock their tendons and ligaments and relax without falling over.  However, they also need to lie down regularly in order to have deep sleep. Like humans and some other mammals, horses have slow brain wave and rapid eye movement sleep.  Studies show that this most often happens when they are lying down flat on their side, rather than when they are resting on their chest. 

I notice Chanel spends more time lying down than she used to, and once she is down she stays down a long time. She is either 28 or 29 years old now, and certainly deserves to rest.  There is something about seeing her snoozing that really tugs at my heart strings.  I like to think she feels safe and secure, and can enjoy her naps on the soft grass.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Fiber Frolic...

Every year there is a festival called the Fiber Frolic held not far from where we live. I have never gone, but wanted to, so this year my daughter and I made it happen. Oh what fun!

There were spinning wheels and people spinning...
And the most amazing rainbows of yarn you have ever seen...

There were interesting people...

And lots of animals...

We bought a few treasures... a cell phone holder made from an antique spoon, some yarn, and a pretty hair doo-dah...
We saw artisans working their trade...
We laughed, had Gyro's for lunch,held hands, laughed some more, and walked until our legs were tired.  Rachel found some amazing earrings made with wool and wire.  We met the artist, who was a complete delight. 

We had a nice chat and hugs and left the Fiber Frolic feeling as happy as we could feel. A day filled with art, beauty and togetherness.  What could be better?