Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Perfect Yard for Chickens

I think we have the most perfect yard for our free-ranging chickens. We have about a 3/4 acre backyard that is completely fenced and the perimeter is trees, trees, trees and lots of underbrush for the chickens to hide under and dead leaves for them to scratch in. They're ten weeks old and have been free-ranging for about 2 1/2 weeks now. They love it so much! When I go into the henhouse in the morning around 9:00, they're all waiting patiently in front of the pop-out door. I'm very selfish, though, and make them all pass through my petting hands before being allowed access to the outdoors. Kind of a Great Outdoors admission fee! However, there are still a few who won't give in to my coaxing and will wait even more patiently for me to get the heck out of the way! The elusive Louise, an Easter Egger, will not let me under any circumstances get hold of her. I'm not sure what I will do if I ever have to administer any kind of medication or dust for parasites.

Henry, my silver-laced Wyandotte rooster, has established that he is the big boss of his ladies. He's especially bossy to his chickmate, Henrietta. She is very submissive to him. It will be interesting to see his temperament when he reaches full maturity. If he gets too demanding, I may have to rehome him. I hope not, because he is such a handsome dude!

Here he is with Henrietta, being nice for a change.

Here's where the chickens all hang out when they aren't out in the yard.

A full view of the 20x30 foot barn. It was built by the previous owner from a barn he dismantled on another property. It has two floors. His original intent was to make the second story into a basketball court for his sons with salvaged hardwood flooring. He only made it as far as an oriented strand board floor, but we store lots of junk and furniture up there.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Hiking in Conkle's Hollow

Sunday was a perfect day for hiking in Conkle's Hollow State Nature Preserve, which is part of the Hocking Hills region in southeastern Ohio. We left home early and were surprised to find that the parking lot at the entrance to the hiking trail was nearly empty. Normally this time of year on a weekend, one would be hard-pressed to find a parking spot on the grass, much less on the pavement. We guessed that the high gas prices were keeping the usual crowd closer to their homes. Indeed, it was our first visit to Hocking Hills this year. It is a fairly long drive for us, about one-and-a-half hours. If this had been like other years, we would have already been there three or four times.

Conkle's Hollow is one of our favorite hiking spots. It's fairly challenging and when you're on the Rim Trail, the views of the rock outcroppings are amazing. The Gorge Trail, which is wheelchair accessible, is awe-inspiring. My neck always has a crick in it from looking up at the sandstone cliffs, some of which are 200 feet high. These pictures are ones taken on the Gorge Trail.
We found that after completing both trails, we were more than ready for our picnic lunch of bison summer sausage and crackers. Our legs were a little rubbery after the hike. Boy, are we out of shape! Everyday walking on flat land doesn't prepare you for climbing steep hills. We finished up at the local flea market and antique mall and had our supper at the Route 33 Diner, then headed home full of fresh air and sunshine and the smell of the hemlock trees still clinging to our clothes.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Big Darby Creek Headwaters Nature Preserve

On a recent visit, my sister-in-law, Anita, who works for The Nature Conservancy in Virginia, took us to see the newly completed Big Darby Creek Headwaters Nature Preserve. It is only a few miles from our house and was a perfect hike for my mother and father-in-law and three little boys, my nephew Xan and grandson Gaige who are both six years old, and grandson Nathan who is five. The trail is flat and over the wetlands is a decking trail. The boys had great fun trying to see who could spit and hit a spider that was sitting on a rock in the water.

Since 1999, The Conservancy has been gradually acquiring 800 acres of land encompassing Big Darby Creek Headwaters. This includes wetlands, floodplain forests and prairies that provide important habitat for plants and animals. The Big Darby Creek has been threatened in recent years by development, pollution and changes to the natural stream flow. Restoring the headwaters to its natural meandering flow will help reverse the damage done by highway construction and channel modifications made for farm drainage.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Lauren's first pony ride

Lauren is crazy about ponies and horses and so she gets to ride a pony once a week. She looks like a natural to me.

At the park

Gaige, Nathan and Kaitlyn at the park near the apartment where they lived before moving into their house last year. They love this park because it has a creek running beside it where they can throw sticks and stones into it. It also has a spillway that they call the "waterfall". The cool corkscrew tunnel slide is also a big attraction. Even the little one goes down. She likes to do anything her big brothers are doing. Watch out, Mom!

Here I am

This is my second first attempt at blogging. I wasn't satisfied with the tone my first post set, so I took down my blog after rethinking what I wanted to do. With this one, I will try to achieve my original intent, which is a place to put my feelings about everyday life and possibly to develop any latent writing skills that I have. My son and his wife have been encouraging me to do something about writing for a while and I have been resistant to putting down on paper the words that are inside me. I'm not sure if I have anything worthwhile to say, but maybe it will be something that my grandchildren will have someday to remember their "Grammy".

What a beautiful morning today! We woke up to a cool 52 degrees and the sun shining brilliantly. I let the chickens out early to enjoy their bug and weed hunting. We really must get an enclosure built around the garden now that they are free-ranging. They have already removed the lovely yellow blooms from all the tomato plants! Maybe I shouldn't have taught them "Here chick, chick" with all those yellow dandelion flowers! It seems to have set their preference for that color.

We are counting down the days until July 2 when our third grandson will be born. He will be our first son's first son. They already have the beautiful and smart Lauren who is two years old. Our first three grandchildren are our daughter's Gaige, 6, Nathan, 5, Kaitlyn, 2 1/2. All three of them are wonderful examples of handsomeness, beauty and intelligence. We expect the new little one will be the same.

If anyone saw my first blog attempt, you will know that I had just lost my dear sister, Jane, to lung cancer. In fact, I found out as I was composing and laying it out. That, of course, colored my first post. I decided that it wasn't an auspicious beginning and was the reason for this second-go-round. But I didn't want to neglect mentioning my sister and her struggle with that dreaded disease. So, here's to you, Sissy, and to your valiant fight! I will love you always.