This is the King of the Roost and one of his harem. He is doing considerable showing off for this less than impressed hen. He is an Americuana and she is a Americuana cross. These feathered 'employees' work hard---ranging the pasture eating bugs and keeping, um... things, scratched up, and also laying lots and lots of eggs. As I've mentioned before, none of my chickens are 'spring chickens' anymore, but most of them still lay eggs with regularity. The Americuana's seem to retain their egg laying capabilities into their senior years. I've got a few other breeds that lay brown eggs, and I rarely get a brown egg these days---almost all of them are green, so the proof is in the egg color I reckon.
The weather has been amazing this week. Very cool at night (I even put on a long sleeved shirt to do chores in this morning) and tolerable during the day. We are still very dry. None of the grazed pastures are rebounding, the ground is cracking in places and even the weeds are wilting. The sheep come in with mud tracks under their watery noses. I try not to get depressed, but something about seeing the earth so parched hurts my soul. I've been watering the garden every other night, so I have lots of tomatoes coming on, as well as some egg plant. Not sure the squash is going to make anything as it bakes in the sun.
I have two projects going right now. Well actually two that I'm trying to finish up, they've been ongoing for awhile. I've almost got the backyard converted into that pumpkin patch I mentioned weeks ago. I have four pumpkin vines growing and most of it mulched. I still need to lay down some kind of weed cover (newspapers, feed sacks, wool...) and then put down some proper pine mulch around the stepping stones. The gourds I planted near the back of the patch have taken over--I had to clip them back a little over the weekend. They are even vining up into the cedar tree! So far I've used about 4 loads of straw/hay mulch from the barns to put around the pumpkin plants. Should be very fertile next year.
The second project is pictured below... the annual cleaning out of the hay barn/garage. This is actually my two car shed type garage, but I use one half of it for hay storage. As most of you shepherds know, the hay barn can become quite piled up during the hay feeding season. I try to keep all the scattered bits piled up, but somewhere along the line I lose the race so that suddenly I have lots of loose hay to take care of. I was able to salvage one tarp load of 'good' bits of hay and have removed three loads of 'bad' stuff. The latter just goes to garden areas so it gets a second life.
I'm almost done now with cleaning it out, but in the picture I was only half done. You can see the pallets and tires stacked up against the walls. These are used to lay on the dirt floor to keep the hay off the ground. Over those I lay down old tarps and that seems to help keep that bottom layer from mildewing as bad. My hay guy is very kind and humors me as I scramble around laying down pallets and tarps. I will finish up pulling the pallets up so the ground can dry out and all the bugs can scram. I also need to spray for wasps before they bring the hay, so nobody gets stung!
Have a great week, and I'll be posting more food pictures soon! ha... this time Quiche! (all those eggs you know.)