A scenic route, hard work, and a graceful glider

WARNING:  Go grab yourself a cup of coffee or tea, because this is a longish post!

~*~  THE SCENIC ROUTE ~*~

Each week we try a different way to get the Mountain Farmlet.  This week on our way up we discovered a cute pond.

The owner of the pond set it up with duck decoys and a painted silhouette for the dog.  Most of the rest are garden art statuary.  Kitschy?  A bit overdone?  Nah, a wee bit Disneyesque perhaps.  😉

~*~ HARD WORK ~*~

To say that fixing up the old cabin is hard work goes without saying.  To say that it is hot work is an understatement.

On the previous Sunday whilst peeling the walls we discovered that there were rodent feces falling down from a crack in the ceiling.  And I suppose it is to be expected in a drafty over 100-year-old farm-house.  So we stopped our work, went to Home Depot and purchased disposable space suits.  The label said “One size fits most…”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABut barely.

Poor Bob was getting overheated and we both had to make frequent stops to hydrate and cool off.  He lost five pounds this past Sunday!

What we have discovered so far is a fire in the kitchen walls, termite damage, and graffiti.  Apparently, the house was empty for a while?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

What we discovered in the ceiling was pounds of rat crap.  I’m sorry, but there is no more delicate way of saying it, and it was disgusting.  We were very glad for the “One size fits most” disposable space suits and our face masks with mold filtering capabilities!

And, I suppose it goes without saying that we were glad we had the foresight to put down disposable paint tarps before we pulled down that ceiling, and that we spent the extra money to purchase HEPA filters for the shopvac.

Bob was so grossed out that he put everything, including the HEPA filter into a black trash bag and tossed it.  GACK!

As we pull away the layers and remove the damaged wood I have been spraying EVERYTHING with pure vinegar.  It kills germs, kills mold (I looked this factoid  up) and remarkably, makes the house smell fresher.  So far, best practice says that the mold is growing on the surface, and to remove it you must use elbow grease and *hot soapy water to get rid of it.  It also says that if there is discoloration into the wood, Then it is wood rot and you should remove it.  Of course if the mold is in the wallboard, or in the fiberglass batting, then it goes without saying that it should be removed and properly disposed of.

Which leads me to the next factoid.  Did you know that if you stuff an old wooden house with fiberglass batting, that you are trapping moisture within the walls and you are inviting MOLD to live there?

Apparently, in our efforts to use less energy and to be “green” we are creating a perfect storm for mold growth and decay.  The more you stuff into the walls, the more air tight you make your home, the more you save on energy costs.  Right?

Unfortunately, the trapped moisture you create means your walls become a spore factory.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAExhibit A:  White mold on a wall brace where fiberglass batting rested on it.

Mold spores are everywhere outside.  They are kept in check because of sunshine and the breezes that surround us.  Once they are locked up tight into your walls they go into overdrive and you may get sick.

So it turns out, that a drafty old house is a healthy old house.

We have decided to remove the toxic, formaldehyde off-gassing, mold harboring, fiberglass batting.  The walls will be able to breathe again and the mold will have a less inviting place to grow.  We will not be “green” but as our winters are not so harsh here, we then find it an acceptable tradeoff for our health.  Currently, I keep the thermostat set to 64 degrees in winter and wear warmer clothes.  In summer it is 74 degrees with ceiling fans to circulate the air.

This Thursday the new insulated tin roof goes on and that in and of itself should be a big energy savings winter or summer.  😀

~*~ A GRACEFUL GLIDER ~*~

Would you ever guess that a Guinea Hen could be a graceful glider?

Last night the hooty-owl from the oak woods came for a second visit in exactly seven days.  We lost another Weechoo in the dark of the night.  Bob came in and told me about it early this morning.  Strangely, for as loud as they are, we never heard a thing.  Poor Weechoo.

So this morning while I sat on the front porch to wave Bob off to work I saw a rather largish bird take off from the top of the tree across the street.  At first in the dusky light I thought it was the killer owl, but no, it was one of the Weechoos returning home.  From that height it spread its wings,  stretched out its neck, and in a perfect glide went over the barn into our chicken yard.  That was a distance of over 200 feet!

Who would have guessed that such an ungainly and to be honest, rather ugly bird could be so graceful?

IMG_6673Image courtesy of Lori on her visit to the Farmlet this spring.  AKA: Little Sundog at Day by Day the Farmgirl Way.

Unfortunately for us… trash day was yesterday.  We were left with no other choice but to triple bag the carcass and put it into the freezer till next trash day, because it is still very much hot, humid, summer weather here.

Now I can hear some of you gagging and groaning! 

But think… 

You put dead things in your freezer all the time, and I’m betting that you don’t even triple bag them.

😉

~*~

(You’re still here?  Thanks for reading!)

~*~

NOTE:  Borax was highly recommended on many sites for mold remediation.  You know I will be adding that to the hot soapy water!

REFERENCES:

  1. http://www.buildingscience.com/documents/reports/rr-0211-mold-causes-health-effects-and-clean-up
  2. http://www.homeconstructionimprovement.com/prevent-mold-growth-under-fiberglass-insulation/
  3. http://www.insulation.org/articles/article.cfm?id=io031002
  4. http://www.cdc.gov/MOLD/
Advertisements

Improvement all around

Lately it would seem that if it could go wrong it did.  There were broken glasses, dryers, teeth, and sick animals too!  However, things are getting better here on the Farmlet.

The geese are improving,  growing, and need to be OUTSIDE!  Their bills and feet should be turning a bit to the orange, but without daily sunlight this is not happening.

They are long overdue!

(Click the photo to see how much they have grown!)

~*~

Then there are the toxic fumes from their diapers towels (which need changing a minimum of 8 times a day)…

Biohazard - Green Fumes - Biohazard, Green Fumes(Please click to be taken to Desktop Nexus and this screen saver)

and are smelling worse than a diaper pail!

!!! 😦 !!!

Under normal circumstances the Gosling Boys would have already been outside.  However, being sick they have needed special care and a more controlled environment.   Recently, I have been taking them out to eat grass and get more exercise and sun.  I’ve gradually increased the time they spend outside, and their time alone as well.  I’ve been going in and coming back out at varying intervals, and they don’t seem to like it much!  I can hear them crying at the back door as I type.

They have become overly dependent upon my presence.

While we are out I let the Mommas over into the back yard to visit.  The goslings want to play with them, but every time they run over to greet them the Ladies all pull up their skirt-feathers and run away!  It is simply too funny to see grownup geese run away from the babies!  Well, one can only hope that the boys will gain finesse and a better standing with them as they continue to grow.

Interestingly, there is a bond, of sorts, that I didn’t know existed between them.  Today when I went to catch the goslings, the Momma’s came up honking, hissing and threatening me within an inch of my life.  I really thought that Polly was going to take a bite out of me!  You see it’s the screaming they boys make.  It is ear-piercing and quite pitiful sounding.  In fact, if you could hear it you would think that something more along the lines of a life and death situation was going on. It has come to this because of having to administer all the medications.  They have now become so strong that it is a fight every morning and evening.  Thankfully, we are almost done with medications!

Meanwhile, I have Polly and the Hister Sisters to contend with.

POLLY…  

Put the Gosling down, and back away, or someone is gonna get pinched!

~*~

Polly Wanna What?

One day my goose Polly honked at me through the back door.  She climbed right up the stairs to the mudroom door and honked loudly until I finally went to see her.    Then she hopped down and began to walk away!   She did this many times.

On this particular day I was cold and I looked out the window to see what was up…

She must have heard my footfalls on the wooden planks as I walked over to the window because when I looked out this is what I saw.

She looked at me as if to say:  “Well, I’m waiting, com’on out will ya, I got something to say!”

Well, when she put it that way, I donned my Crazy Chicken Lady attire and went out to see what she wanted.

Seeing me she quickly turned and waddled to the gate by the barn and began to rub herself back and forth along the gate.

She reminded me of the prisoners who rattle their cups along the bars in the old movies.  This was a signal I immediately recognized, and so I opened the gate for her.

Quickly she continued on

Waddling as fast as those little flappy feet would take her.

They are quite fast this morning because she is a goose on a mission!

Polly wants to lay an egg!

~*~

Looking about in the sleeping nest she moves a bit of straw around and then honks at me again:  “Meh!  I can’t lay an egg in here.  It’s filthy!”  Which is putting it politely…
Geese are not the cleanest of bed mates I am afraid.
I see her moving the straw again, and know what she wants.  She wants a clean nest! She begins rubbing herself on the back of the kennel fence this time.  (I use this fence to keep them out of the rest of the barn at night, because geese just LOVE to chew and dibble and will ruin even the toughest of items if you let them.)

I open the kennel fence and she goes over to the bales of straw.  Clipping the twine allows a flake to fall to the floor and she immediately begins to tear it apart moving it and arranging it to her liking.   While she works I put up a blockade to keep her out of the other side of the barn where she might get herself into trouble.

When I am done I leave and pull the kennel fence shut so the cats and other animals can’t get in to disturb her.

In about a half an hour I return to let her out, but whoopsie!  She’s not done…

Laying an egg is strenuous work. She looks at me as if to say, “Hey, a little privacy here!  Come back later!”

And a bit later…

There it is!

~*~

An interesting factoid for you:  One goose egg is equal to three chicken’s eggs.

One goose egg will make any cake you bake the best you have ever eaten!  Now don’t feel too bad that I am taking Polly’s eggs to make cake… You see, her eggs are not fertile this year, because I have no ganders.  I thought I had a gander when I got the three baby Hueys, but it turns out they were all girls!  (You can read all about the arrival of the Hueys HERE)

Oh, but never fear.   I have new baby Pilgrim ganders arriving on April 30th, and next spring it will be as it should be!

~*~

Now, because she is done, and ready to go join her friends, I open the kennel fence and we walk back to the side of the yard where the rest of the geese are eating and swimming.  They honk greetings all around and then continue their grazing.

Polly has been telling me when she needs to lay an egg for about a month now.  Last week was the first time she came calling at the back door for me.

Strange, smart, amazing goose!

~*~

ADDENDUM:   Because so many of you have remarked on Polly’s intelligence,  I  have added a link to a 2007 article from the Boston Globe entitled,

Eggheads:  How bird brains are shaking up science  <— Click

This article is on the intelligence of the avian species!  They really are quite remarkable in their thinking and reasoning abilities.  Far more than we have ever given them credit for. 

So, from now on when someone calls you a “birdbrain” you may just take it as a compliment!

It’s what I do

A coworker once asked me about my weekend, which launched me into a conversation monologue about my chickens.   I told her my husband and I had built some security into their run because of hawk problems, and that I had mucked out the chicken palace.  At that last comment she snorted incredulously,

You enjoy doing that?

to which I replied,

“Well, yes I do.”

My chickens and geese depend on me.  I get up, don my “Fashionable attire for feeding chickens and geese on COLD mornings,”  brace myself, walk out the door, and set to work.

The routine is the same, it never varies by much except for how cold it gets.  Today the ice on the chicken’s water is only the thickness of cardboard.  Once last year it was over an inch thick and I had to go out and crack it again midday!  This morning I easily break it with my wellies, and then reaching in with my ungloved hand, I lift out the shards.  My fingers burn from the icy chill.  Quickly I dry them on my wooly robe, and just as quickly reglove them.

Next, I let out Quasimodo and Miss Dixie, check for an egg, and grab their food dispenser to take with me to the barn for refilling.

Quasi is my special needs silky rooster.   He has curled toes, that make him hobble and lurch, and he’s blind in one eye from an infection he picked up as a baby chick.  Miss Dixie is a mixed breed, little white splash hen (Blue Andalusian and Buff Polish) who thinks that Quasimodo is the perfect mate… she can say,

“No, thank you dear.”

and there is nothing he can do about it.

Now, the fun begins!  It’s off to the barn to let out the geese.  As I near the roll up door I hear them becoming animated.   I try to sneak up on them every morning, but their little grunting noises tell me that they’ve once again heard the gate latch.  I approach the door and call out,

“Good morning duck-butts, good morning!”

Which gets them knocking on the metal door with their beaks in response.  Huey stretches his long neck under the door and rushes out, next comes Polly who strolls out, stops, and taking a moment, looks up at me as if to say,

“Good morning to you Missus!”  and  “What took you so long?”

Last is Little Dorrit, who once everyone else is out of the way, begins flapping her wings and honking as she becomes airborne!  This little morning flight gets her four feet up out of the straw and six feet out of the door.  When she lands she takes off running and honking to catch up.  I listen as her little flappy feet slap the frozen mud and I realize I’m smiling.

Last stop, the chicken palace.   I open the gate to the run and hear them all cooing inside.  Someone has gotten into someone else’ space in the door lineup inside the coop.  Squawking and rustling ensues.  I call out…

“Good morning stinkies, com’on out!”

I open the coop doors and they rush, tumbling beak-over-butt-feathers to get out and find breakfast.  Some days, I let them out first and when they realize the food isn’t there yet, they race back to me, and stopping they look up as if to say,

“What’s this trick?  Where’s breakfast?”

I refill their food dispenser, put food into the other chicken’s feeder, check their water and then go in to check for eggs.  This morning I find that there is one, freshly laid, blue-green jewel in the back nest.  Reaching in I pick it up and discover that it is still warm.  Removing my glove from the still frozen hand I take the egg and cradle it there.  It’s heat begins thawing my fingers as I place it into my pocket.  Unwilling to let go, I leave my hand there with the egg until it becomes too cool to work its magic.

Almost done!  Now, returning to the little coop, I hang the newly filled feeder for them, then looking back, I check quickly to be sure I haven’t left any gates open.

Pausing before I go in, I reach back into my pocket and pull out the little egg.   Looking at it I think,

“This is why I do it.”

~*~

My little reward from my girls for the time I take to keep them happy.

~*~

Ahem, if you haven’t clicked on the link to “Fashionable attire for feeding chickens and geese on COLD mornings”  then you’re missing out on a rare and candid view…  😉

~*~