Diary of a Chicken Day 87

87 Days in Captivity

Dear Diary,

We continue our voyage across the green lake. The Stick Monsters are pushing us further and further away from the Big Box. We are not sure what purpose this serves, but it seems to make the Stick Monster happy.

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Every morning this week, when the guillotine door opens, the Stick Monster pelts vegetable peelings and strawberry tops at us as we exit. What fresh torture is this? My cellmates run squawking from the box in effort to escape these missiles.

Still no word from the raccoon. We sent Bertha out to talk to him before lock down, but she escaped and we have not heard from her since. The lucky hen is free now and has forgotten about her sisters in captivity.

Yesterday, the Stick Monsters cleaned the box, destroying our carefully made beds…again.

Fluffy and Mildred were so upset that they flapped around and knocked the temporary door off the cage. For a brief, blissful time, we escaped. Our freedom was short-lived, however. The Stick Monster sent the Twig Beasts after us and soon we were imprisoned once more.

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The Stick Monster installed a strange light outside the box. Once dark, it turns on every time we move. At first, we hated it, but then it brought a crunchy, flying snack. We stayed up all night catching these winged treats. This made the Stick Monster angry and the light was disabled.

Fluffy is going to try and hide behind the silver water tower tonight. Hopefully she can make contact with the raccoon so we can plan our escape. Maybe he can take us one at a time so as not to look so suspicious.

I guess we’ll see.

–Roadrunner, Imprisoned in the Prairie

 

 

Fresh Fruit…?

Last year, there were kiwi flowers on one of the first vines we planted. There weren’t many, but we were so excited. At last!

But…then the beetles came. In waves. In hordes. A blanket of shiny, greenish, brownish ick destroying our vines, our buds…our spirit.

Now the buds are back. I don’t want to count my berries before they fruit…but they are everywhere on the vines and, with a little luck and milky spore, hopefully the Japanese beetles will not be as bad this year.

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Flowers started forming
On last year’s kiwi vines
Teeny, tiny buds appeared
At last! On fruit we’d dine!

But then, in hordes the beetles came
And blanketed the rows
Holding on with sticky feet
Those munching, crunching foes

Our defenses were no match for them
We put up quite a fight
But still, they beat us easily
That horrid, evil blight

Again, small buds are forming
We’re hopeful that this time
The milky spore has done it’s job
And on fresh fruit we’ll dine!

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A Little Patch

May I have a garden, Mom
One that’s only mine?
A little patch is all I need
A corner would be fine

I want to plant 9 carrots
I’ll watch them while they grow
Two broccoli, one cabbage
Are all the seeds I’ll sow

I’ll have to put a path in
And build a little fence
An arch for beans to grow on
A “Welcome” sign makes sense

May I have a garden, Mom?
One that’s only mine?
A little patch is all I need
In the bright sunshine

Diary of a Chicken

63 Days in Captivity

Dear Diary,

We’ve started our voyage across the green lake. The Wingless Bird will not let us stay in one spot for more than a few days now that we’ve destroyed the green jungle. It doesn’t seem angry though. More excited. Strange.

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Our eggs are still being taken. We’ve tried hiding them under the straw at the back of our box, but the Wingless Ones found them. They are far too clever for us. What could they be doing with all those eggs?

We met a raccoon on the outside who has agreed to help us. All he wants in return is a tasty snack. We’ve tried meeting him, but the Wingless Ones are ruthless in their determination to keep us in prison. They lock us up in the box every night and don’t let us out until sunrise.

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We almost succeeded in our escape last week when they opened the big door to, once again, demolish our freshly made beds. If only Fluffy hadn’t gotten distracted by that worm.

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Next time, we’ll leave her behind.

–Roadrunner, Imprisoned in the Prairie

 

 

 

Oversleeping

As I wandered around outside yesterday, I noticed some odd behavior. While the grass is greening up nicely and some of my lettuce is sprouting, the rest of the crew has hit snooze on the alarm clock one too many times.

My lilac is budding out, as well as my rose bushes. But the kiwi, trees and almost everything else missed the memo. IT’S SPRING!

Wake up my friends, wake up!
Smell spring’s fresh air at last
Stretch your bright green leaves
The time for sleep has past

Come kiwi vines, come berries
Break out the freshened shoots
Your rest has been a long one
It’s time to use those roots!

Those trees out in the pasture
Are budding left and right
They’re small but strong and mighty
They’re ready for the fight

Oh kiwi, grapes and berries
Please join us all today
It’s time to show your mettle
Get this season underway!

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Lilac bush

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Rose bushes

 

Enemies Beware

Thorns protect the sacs
Prickly, pointy and piercing
Enemies beware

Hundreds patiently wait
Feral, ferocious and fierce
Villains be warned

An army soon will emerge
Callous, cut-throat and cruel
Invaders be ready

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The Test Group

Because it’s SO gorgeous…and warm…and sunny, we decided to take the seedlings out for a little fresh air and direct sunlight.

They looked happy once they were released from the stuffy indoors. They gazed longingly at the freshly scratched soil in the kitchen garden. They begged me with their green leaves to get them in the ground.

“Ok,” I told them. “But just a few of you.

I planted a tomato that had started to droop. I dug a deep hole, planted it past the first set of leaves and lightly covered it with straw.

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The seedling looked so big in its little pot and seemed so puny once in the ground.

Next, a sad and sagging broccoli plant went in the ground. It too looked so small once settled in the garden. It got the same treatment as the tomato with a blanket of straw to keep it warm.

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I sowed some lettuce, orach and choy in a raised bed just off the deck. Then, I planted my large oregano smack in the middle.

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I was just about ready to call it quits for the day, when the strawberry starts stretched their stems as if shouting, “Me, me, pick me!”

I planted all 6 seedlings in another raised bed and both seed packets. I’ve never planted strawberries from seed before. I don’t have much hope for them, but the picture on the seed packet looked so delicious that I couldn’t resist.

My two assistants worked hard. Jake dug the holes, I planted and Joe watered. At the end, we worked together to cover the entire bed with a row cover. We made quite the team.

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Frost, frost, stay away
Don’t come back until Winter
And don’t kill my plants

We’re Ready!

We’re reaching! We’re straining!
We’re stretching our leaves!
Hey sunshine! Get out here
And roll up your sleeves!

The chickens have finished
The garden is planned
We need to get out there
Please give us a hand!

We’re ready! We’re eager!
It’s time for the show!
Warm weather is nearing…
Let’s get on our grow!

Spring Science on the Homestead

Today, it is gorgeous. The sun shines, a light breeze drifts through the trees and the boys are enjoying the outdoors. Finally.

We are even starting to see a few birds tentatively testing the warmer weather and hoping that Spring is here to stay.

I found a perfect lesson at Mystery Science for kicking off Spring:

How could you get more birds to visit a bird feeder?

The lesson started with a couple of short videos about birds’ unique habits and behavior. Mystery Doug introduced a few new terms: biodiversity and prototype. Then, we got to the activity: Design and build a prototype of a bird feeder.

First, the boys each picked the bird they wanted to attract to the feeder. Joe, after a few moments of careful consideration, picked the cardinal.

Jake, almost immediately, picked the jays.

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Then, they answered a few questions: What does my bird eat? Where does it like to stand when eating? And the big one…how can I keep my feeder safe from cats.

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Joe, determined to save all the birds from Boots and Echo, took his prototyping task very seriously. Those cats would NOT get his cardinals.

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Both the Jays and Cardinals prefer a tray-style bird feeder so they can stand right in the pile of seeds and pig out. The boys, of course, turned the design and building activity into a (mostly friendly) competition.

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Once Joe got started, he decided that he also wanted to attract Goldfinches, so he built another prototype of a peg-style bird feeder.

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Once the prototypes were complete, the boys had to brainstorm ways they could protect their feeders from the elements. Using tin foil and binder clips, they both created a shelter and weighted down their feeders to keep them from blowing away.

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Finally, it was time to test them out. We went outside and the boys picked a tree. In order to protect the feeders from the cats, Jake wanted to put his feeder up high.

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Joe wanted to put a fence around the tree to keep the cats out.

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This was the longest lesson we have done in one sitting. The boys spent two hours discussing, designing and prototyping bird houses. TWO HOURS!!!

We learned about biodiversity and engineering, practiced writing in cursive, tapped into our creativity and practiced reading all packaged in one Mystery Science lesson.

 

Ready, Set…Grow!

I’m a little late to the game this year, but the seeds are finally started. All 68 filled and fertilized seed pods are sitting in the South facing window of the schoolroom, waiting.

In a Sunday afternoon, my assistant and I managed to get all the tomatoes, peppers, greens, celery, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts and assorted herbs planted.

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Normally, I would have stagger started the seeds, but since it’s March I thought it best to go full blast.

Are all 68 going to bud? Probably not, but we have plenty of room for them even if they do, and plenty of people we can share them with if we get tired of digging holes.

My assistant and I also planted spinach, onions and shallots in a raised bed.

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He even found a spot right next to the driveway where he planted marigolds. He thought it would be a good place for them to grow.

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My seed-starting process was a little different this year.

I bought plastic shoe boxes to hold each pot and wooden clothes pins as labels.

I’ve used plant labels, popsicle sticks and masking tape in the past. All three have been utter failures. I suppose that throwing them out in frustration when they move around and pop out of the pots is a user issue, I’m just not sure. But I’m hoping the clothes pins work out better.

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It was a long process, but my adorable assistant stuck by me through it all and even helped me carry each shoe box into the school room.

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Spring seeds are started
Chickens are prepping the soil
Let the season start!