Saturday, October 23, 2010

My First Poultry Show

A-HA! So you thought I could not go to an animal show without coming home with something, huh?  Well you would be............RIGHT!

This isn't my chicken, but it is a Buff Brahma Bantam (say that 3 times fast), the same kind I came home with..

More about her later, but I will say that my first poultry show was a lot of fun, and DID help me with the "county fair" fix I needed.    There were all kinds of birds there, one goat (!) and even a few rabbits and kittens!   Most of the birds were bantams, probably outnumbering the large fowl by 3 to 1. There weren't too many surprises there, since I have been reading so much about chickens.  The  large fowl are really big, (and kind of scary, especially the rooster spurs as big as my little finger!) and I was surprised at how big the ducks were - nearly the size of geese!  

Of course my eye was drawn to the small, cute, and impractical.  The Call ducks were adorable, but noisy.  I could easily pass up a lot of the breeds - pretty, but not for me.  I wanted to see Wyandottes, since that is what the guy who taught our backyard chicken class recommended.   There were only 3 or 4 standards, and maybe 10 bantams.  The owner of the bantams I talked to said they do lay well, but will peck you a lot.  He didn't have any for sale.   Americuanas were tremendously popular - in both sizes.  

One lady I talked to with bantam Cochins said they were very easy keepers, and most were kept in (reasonably sized) cages, rather than free-range or in a run with a shelter.  She said those and the Brahmas are as docile as puppies, love to be held, and tolerate cooping very well.   (wheels turning) 

I walked through the "for sale" tent, and there were a few I liked, but no one wanted to break up pairs.  Then I convinced one good 'ol boy that the "pair" of bantams he had in one cage didn't even match.  The hen was a Buff Brahma, and the cock a Partridge (Cochin? I forgot to look).  "OK," he said, "I'll let you have just the hen."  

I stopped at Versailles Feed on the way home, and explained I just had the one chicken, and could I get feed in anything less than 50 pounds?   "Sure," she said, then (with a perfectly straight face) she asked "will this be a house chicken?"  I admitted it would, and she sold me 5 pounds of laying mash and a pound of grit ($1.27 - cheap pet).

I got home to find a "Premier" catalog in my mailbox, and felt like a real farmer!  (no snorting from you real farmers!)   The hen is a sweet little thing and is currently housed in one of my rabbit transport carriers. (those have come in SO handy)  I already had cages on the way because I wanted to replace the cages my Angora does are in.  Their old cages, after scrubbing and disinfecting, will be the hen's new home, with urine guards installed to (help) hold in the bedding shavings.

She has been with the rooster (and her worn back feathers show it) so ideally she would lay a clutch of eggs, go broody, hatch them and I would have my handful of bantams.  But, Brahmas aren't good layers, and are not particularly broody, so that is unlikely.  I think for my first chicken, the small bantam and gentle nature of the Brahma are a good choice.  Any suggestions for names?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Change of Seasons

With the end of the gardening season comes the beginning of another phase of productivity. I hope to spend a lot of my free time the next several months washing and blending fiber, spinning and dyeing yarn for the spring fiber festival.

Education is also high on my list.  I have always loved reading and books, leaning toward information rather than fiction.  Over the years, and especially since I decided to really try to do as much 'farming' as possible in my small space, I have consumed books on related topics like potato chips.

But  - you can only get so much from books.  Sometimes you have to really get your hands in the dirt, or on some livestock.  Even though I can't imagine chicken-keeping ever being approved by my townhouse association, I can dream can't I?  I favored one or two breeds of chickens, only to find at the "Backyard Chickens" class I took through the county Extension office that they weren't the best choice for a couple of reasons.   Next Saturday, Oct. 23, I found a chicken show in Frankfort  - an easy hop for me, so Lord willing, I hope to go over there next week and see me some real chickens!

The breed the teacher in the class liked is Wyandottes (buff Wyandottes pictured above) so I hope they have some, so I can have a look.

In my hometown  - Lancaster, Ohio - they have a truly wonderful county fair.  The fairground is only a block from the house I lived in and my favorite part was going to see the livestock. The fair there ended yesterday and I wasn't able to go.  I'm feeling nostalgic and homesick for that, so trying to find some livestock shows where I am now is the next best thing.

The following weekend I found a rabbit show in Shepherdsville KY .  I've been to a couple of rabbit shows in other states, but I would like to try to make it to this one to connect with KY rabbit breeders.  They are having an open show for Angoras, so I would like to see which varieties are there, and meet their breeders. I always enjoy browsing around looking at the other breeds too. (alert! danger, danger, danger......) 

Then next month is the North American International Livestock Show and Exposition at the State Fairgrounds in Louisville, with all the big stuff - cattle, horses, mules, sheep, goats, etc. I would like to go to see the sheep at that one.

For anyone interested in hobby or urban farming, fire up those search engines!  If you don't live in my area, or are interested in different kinds of livestock than I am, check for events in your area.  I have always found people at this sort of thing very willing to talk to visitors who have an interest.  You might even get some hands-on experience, like the time I was at a show to participate in a 'fiber to shawl' competition, and while I was looking around to see what other kinds of animals were there, a dairy goat breeder made me encouraged me to milk her goat!  

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Look What My Office-Mate Gave Me!

She is the one that got me addicted to interested in auctions.  She goes to a lot more of them than I do, and found this in a box of tchotchkes she bought for a dollar or two.  Knowing my interest in bunnies, she brought this little 'family' to me.  Aren't they cute?  Mom has a really mean expression - which I thought was pretty accurate, from what I've heard.  I love the baby scratching his ear.

I went to the Fall planning meeting of the Kentucky Sheep and Fiber Festival  yesterday afternoon.  Plans are well under way for May 20-22, 2011.  Although I'm not free to name names, there are a couple of really exciting people who might be coming to teach classes.   Many vendors have already reserved and paid to confirm their spot here.  Last year was very successful, and we are doing all we can to make it bigger and better next year! Come early and come often to the website to keep up with the plans, then join us in the Spring!

Monday, October 11, 2010


End of harvest clean-up, or whatever you want to call it.  I went over the pots on the deck and the mini-garden, to see if there is anything left that can be of some use.  I came in with some salad tomatoes, rose hips for tea **, flower heads for saving seed (marigold, mini snapdragon, and my favorite blue salvia), and I put the red pelargonium in a pot to see if I can overwinter it inside.

**For tea, Rose Hips  may be used fresh or dried:
  • For fresh brewing - steep a tablespoon or two of clean hips in a cup of boiling water for about 10 minutes. Sweeten with honey and enjoy.
  • When using dried hips, use only two teaspoons to one cup of boiling water and steep for 10 to 15 minutes.
The monster tomato plants at the corner of the deck were showing no ill effects from either the drought or the chilly nights we've had lately.  They are 7-8 feet tall and just as wide.  They didn't seem to produce much, though.  All foliage and little fruit.  I cut them back by about half and threw the cuttings on the compost heap.  I don't know why I didn't just cut them down.  Lo and behold I found several pounds of green tomatoes,  medium and large.  I have ripened a few inside already, and will do the same with these.  I like fried green tomatoes, but juicy red ones beat that for me.

I have seed beans saved from the pole beans and I put some herbs I have dried in jars and labeled them - Dill (weed and seed), oregano, peppermint, lemon verbena and basil.  I still have some marjoram to do.   There are still chard, lettuce and turnips growing, and I'm hoping the seed on the basil will develop and begin to dry before frost.

 I'm doing a little gleaning inside, too.  I pulled out a couple of boxes and started looking around the house with an eye toward what to get rid of - some to Goodwill, and some I want to take to the auction to sell, and see if I can recoup a few of the dollars I have spent there.  It is usually a buyers market at the auction I go to, so if they sell, I don't expect to make much.  It's better than messing around with selling on-line though and it feels good to have some of the clutter going out of the house for a change. 

This week - be still my heart - I bought a partial set of old (Enoch Woods Woodsware) cranberry red transferware dishes, for a price that I have seen one or two pieces go for in on-line auctions.  22 pieces in all.   I was so convinced I didn't have a chance at them, I was shocked when I had the winning bid.   They are in pretty good shape for being old (1900-1940).  No crazing in the glaze,  and only 3 pieces had chips.  My favorites are a small platter and vegetable bowl.  The pattern is "English Scenery" and each type of piece has a different scene.  The serving pieces had a man and boy herding sheep (no wonder I like them best) and the man has stopped to talk to a woman in a cottage.  The boy has his arms up and hands on his head, and even on such a tiny decorative element, the body language screams "I'm bored.  Let's go..." 

I would like to find a few more pieces of brown transferware, then I'll quit.  Like the silver spoons  I collected, my view is there can be too much of a good thing, where decor is concerned.  I like the charm of old transferware, and have several pieces of blue, and now the red/pink.  I only have 1 piece of brown , and those are the only colors I like.  When I get enough, it's easy for me to stop.  (She I in denial?)

Now, with books, or animals for that matter, it's a bit harder.....

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Lovely Month of.......October?

I'm probably going to take some flack for this one, but I hate Halloween.  I always have, even as a child.   Sure there are the treats, and I think dressing up is a fun as a the next person does, but.......

I have borrowed this quote, because the writer expressed so well the way I feel about this too.  It is from a now-defunct blog called "Appalachian Dream."  Since it is no longer in existence, I don't think I'm too out of line for borrowing it:

"I'm one of those who is glad when Halloween passes.  October is one of my favorite autumnal months, and I...well...I truly detest turning around in stores all month, and seeing big spiders and melting rubber faces, and hearing ghastly recorded moans.  Being creative, I guess I hate destruction.  Loving life, I hate death culture."

October is one of my favorite months as well, (the other being May) and I really resent it being interupted, and sometimes ruined by constant ads for horror movies, creepy decor everywhere, and the month-long emphasis on a hideous, pagan celebration that disturbs me.  I don't see autumn as 'death,' but dormancy - with a promise of life to come again. 

In Jan Karon's books, Father Tim would frequently ask his wife Cynthia for a list of things she loved or hated. She was always ready with an answer, and very definite about her likes and dislikes.  In October, I love: 
  • Breezes that are cool, then nippy, then frosty by turns. 
  • The slowing down from the frantic pace of summer, to the cozy, stay-at-home with hand-work of winter. 
  • Settling back into the couch with a throw, a cup of something hot, a cat on my lap, and a good book.
  • The riotous color of foliage, the quieter yellows of the underbrush, the deepening color of streams and ponds, and the changing light as the angle of the sun drops lower.  
  • The change in the kitchen, from light, quick meals, to substantial comfort food.  Soup - especially chili - and good crusty bread.     

What are YOUR favorite things about October?  If you say "Halloween," that's OK too.  To each his own .