Monday, January 29, 2007

Water features

From the same garden as the pictures of last week. Four views of a fountain:

A daisy bath among white iris.

Another fountain.

A small waterfall. I believe this was a new feature in the garden.


I very brilliantly strained my back while lifting some 50-pound pails of soapmaking oils (without using my back brace). Sitting bothers it the most, so I may not post as much or visit other blogs as much as normal for a little while.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Easter Egger

I interrupt the series of garden tour photos for this picture of a chicken.

In comments, Ki suggested that we try Araucana chickens. I've looked into it, but they're expensive and difficult to find in the US. And even if you do, they'll most likely be Americanas instead, or Easter Eggers. Those we do have, and of all the chickens we've owned, they're my favorites.

We free-range our chickens, but even with a livestock guardian dog there's somewhat of a predator problem,

and the heavier chickens we've had (Dominiques, Buff Orpingtons, Marans) always seem the first to go. The lightest chickens (Rhode Island Reds, White Leghorns, and Lakenvelders) have also tended to be the flightiest, which is no fun when you're attempting to remove eggs from under them. (They freak out.) Easter Eggers are somewhere in the friendly but wary middle ground.

True Araucana chickens lay blue eggs, but they are difficult to breed. So hatcheries sell Easter Eggers (even if they call them something else), which usually lay green eggs, but sometimes blue or pink.

Two of our girls started out laying bluish eggs, but this year they're more greenish. (A particular chicken's egg color usually changes over time.)

It's OK though.

I like them all.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

That purple wall

Jenn commented on the purple wall in yesterday's garden tour post.

It was my favorite focal point of the garden.

A bold choice of color, as they say.

As you get closer, you can see that there are several other colors mixed in with the purple.

Detail view.

I couldn't decide which angle I liked best.

I wondered how many people on the tour rushed home to build purple walls in their own gardens?

Monday, January 22, 2007

Spring break

I took a break from the recent gray days and worked on some pictures from last spring. This is the same garden from the Shoals Garden Tour that I posted about before. The "more pictures later" part only took me eight short months! Oh well.

I'd never been on a garden tour, so I wasn't sure what to expect. But this garden alone was worth the price of the tour. It's difficult to believe that all of this was on 3/4 acre.

Calla lily.

So much of what I love about this garden is the hardscaping. This purple wall was a favorite feature, and if I ever build a garden, I'm now convinced that I'd want to include a lot of statuary. (I think this is Apollo.)

Piney path.

Cherub planter.

Shady rest.

From the more traditional front of the house, you'd never guess that all that was going on in the back.

The garden has its own web site.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Country life

Evidence of beavers upstream.

Evidence of people upstream.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

By request: chicken coop

Someone asked about the details of our chicken coop. I'm sure you can probably build one more cheaply than hubby did, but here you go. Click on any of the pictures for a larger version.

Open yard in front, woods in the back. The chickens used to roam picturesquely around the yard, but nowdays they're in the woods most of the time. If we fenced around the coop we'd have fewer predator losses I'm sure.

The ground is rocky and slopes a little here.

One of the Easter Eggers wonders what I'm up to. That cinderblock in front is really for me, but the chickens use it too. Hubby originally designed the back wall to have a door with a ramp for small chicks, but it turns out that they can hop up on the block too, so we never open the other side.

The door is person-sized rather than chicken-sized.

Fancy door lock #1 (closed door position). There's one at the top and another at the bottom.

Fancy door lock #2 (open door position).

Fancy footing. Jasmine crawls under the coop at this end sometimes. Not that a little thunder would frighten her or anything... she just likes it under there.

Hubby poured concrete for the corner footings. He says that he wishes he'd made a row of footings down the middle (underneath) too but it's a little late for that now.

Left (front) side wall. We made two roosts on this side, one low and one high. They only ever use the high one though. Hubby went back and added some of these wall beams later because the side was bowing out a little. Whoever is the top-dog rooster usually roosts directly by the door on this side. No idea why! If you enlarge the picture, you can see that some of the chickens like to roost on that little support piece that's between the roost and the wall.

He's having the same problem with the back wall bowing, and says he needs to add beams here too. The roost is shorter on this side. When we had a lot more chickens, they'd divide up between sides. Nowdays they all roost on the same side, but usually divide up on either end!

The roof slopes and has space for ventilation on both sides. I thought we might have trouble with critters getting in, but we've only had a problem once with a rat snake that ate several eggs and killed a pullet. The ventilation really helps in the summer and doesn't seem to hurt in the winter. (We are in zone 7 so this might not work in colder areas.)

Here is the chickens' favorite nesting box. Yep it's a cat litter box. You can see a little piece of the never-used lower roost. I really need to remove it, since it's only good for banging up my shins.

White leghorn tries to give me the evil eye. She is the oldest chicken we have left now -- in the spring she will be three years old. She still lays very consistently, although her eggs are smaller than they once were.

All the chickens have begun laying again. I wanted to get more chicks in the spring, but hubby is trying to talk me out of it. We have been eating fewer eggs, but I really like having chickens just for pets. And I'm afraid that if we begin the spring with only 6 hens, we'll have none left by fall. There's still time to think about it.

Friday, January 19, 2007


Ginger, the cat who likes to make tunnels.

Voted the scurvy ratfink demon little darling angel most likely to have led the recent paper towel massacre.


Submitted to the Friday Ark.

Also see Weekend Cat Blogging!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Waterlog sunset

On New Year's Eve there was a beautiful foggy sunset.

This was the same night of the moon corona.

The later it grew, the cooler and foggier it became.

I don't remember ever seeing anything quite like it before.


I once lived on the tenth floor of a dormitory that overlooked a cemetery. I thought it was a terrible view and a poor trick to play on freshmen, until I noticed the sun go down. The view to the horizon was nearly completely flat, so every sunset was a treat.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

What happens when you leave cats alone too long

Unparalleled paper towel carnage. The measly scope of the lens could not contain the enormity of this atrocious butchery.

Plus, it's not what you want to come home to when you're feeling sick.

The refrigerator magnets (southern contingent) must also have been judged guilty of unspeakable crimes against cats. Their hideous punishment was too graphic to be shown here.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Milk container

Another in the series of Fun Farm Finds, a.k.a. "What the heck is that doing here?!"

My husband found this while clearing some limbs near the driveway. It was filled with largish rocks. He had an idea it might be an old milk can, and he was right. According to that site, "Until the adoption of farm bulk tanks and tanker trucks in the 1940's and 50's milk was stored, cooled and transported in cans."

Interesting, but we still have no idea how it came to be squished, lying in a low area, and filled with rocks.

Just another farm mystery...


I've been forgetful, and neglected (among other things) to mention the latest installments of Festival of the Trees and Circus of the Spineless. And of course there's always the Friday Ark.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

With flare

Cattails at sunset.

These sweet light pictures rarely turn out quite the way I intend. Never the way I actually see them when looking through the lens.

Woe betide the miserable miscreant of a photo-swapper if I ever lay hands on whoever absconds with my masterpieces and substitutes such lifeless, sallow imitations!

But clearly, if I hope to photograph any faeries at all, I'll need more megapixels.

Monday, January 08, 2007

The horde

A large flock of Common Grackles (Quiscalus quiscula). Click picture to see more detail.

(If elected I promise...) A bird on every limb.

I used to see large flocks like this a lot when I was a kid, but nowdays not so much.

Don't hate grackles because they're loud and numerous... according to the Hilton Pond site, they're one of the few birds that will eat Japanese beetles!


I love it when the Dictionary of American Bird Names (Choate) gets saucy. For Quiscalus it includes,
The use of a word meaning "quail" seems out of place for a genus in the family Icteridae. [blackbirds]
quiscula, another spelling for the generic term adding to the variety by changing the gender. We have been unable to determine why quisquilla, quaquila, quaquara, and quaquadra were passed by as they are all equally inappropriate.