Sore Arms, New Ritz Carlt-HEN.

We spent the weekend, between social events and cleaning horse stalls, expanding our old chicken coop and building a new run. After 6 hours of hard, cooperative labor, it is pretty much done! My husband has dubbed it the "Ritz Carlt-hen," because their new accomodations are so nice. It's completely wired in, top, bottom and sides, and I'm planning on adding lots of roosts to make it a fun place for them. It's 6 feet tall, so we can go in and clean it easily, and it's under a stand of pines and just south of the privacy fence, so it'll be sheltered in both summer and winter. I'm thinking of moving in myself.

We just need to finish the door. We are going to use a leftover piece of our privacy fence, which is also behind the run, to make the frame for a screen door on the run.

We've named all the chicks. The first one was a no-brainer, our fearless, super friendly Buff Orpington was just begging to be named Buffy. She is, after all the leader of the gang, and a fearless blonde. Her cohort, a Silver Lace Wyandotte became Faith. And so we decided to pick names from some of our favorite TV shows for everyone. We have Sookie and Lorelei from Gilmore Girls, Cordelia from Angel and Buffy, Isabella of Phineas and Ferb, River from Firefly, Katara from the kid's show Avatar, and Batgirl. Batgirl (a Golden Lace Wyandotte), Faith and Buffy are the brave ones. Lorelei is the beautiful black orpington. Cordelia and Sookie will be laying colorful easter eggs to go with the ir colorful personas. Isabella is the smallest of the bunch right now, but she is destined to be quite large, a pretty Speckled Sussex. Katara and River will lay speckled eggs, and are Welsummers, (fitting, as water benders and emotional super-psychic ninjas need to have access to deep wells, yes, pun intended). Coincidentally, the actress who plaayes River is named Summer Glau.We thought about naming one after the lead of our new favorite show, Bones, but thought that sounded just a little too tasty for a chicken that isn't destined for the pot.

On Saturday, when the rain ended for a few hours, our 10 day old baby chicks enjoyed their first foray into the great outdoors for about an hour. They loved it! The chicks can still squeeze out the bars of the pen here, but I plan to use it a lot soon so they can "free range" a bit. My other chickens were always free range, but I'm planning on keeping this group a bit closer to home.



Suddenly, we are very popular

We have become the pied piper for kids and adults alike. Everyone is flocking to our home (invited, yes, of course!!) to see the babies. Our chicks are becoming very well-socialized as a result. We limit the noise and movement in the barn, since we want Mama Pritani to remain calm, but everyone gets a peek, and Mama is happy to get brushed by visitors.


Fae's First Turnout

We've decided to name the filly "Feileacan", which is gaelic for "butterfly" (pronounced FAY-luh-kawn). It's fitting, since her mother's name is also gaelic/pict in origin, and she has a big butterfly mark on her rear. We'll be calling her Fae for short :)

On Sunday Fae and her mother enjoyed their first turnout for 20-30 minutes. Not too long, because right after we put them out it started to rain lightly, and we didn't want her to get to wet or chilled. They loved the time outside though -- mama munched on the fresh grass, and Fae ran around her in circles. Pritani kept telling her not to run, and Fae would contain herself for a minute or two before she began running again. She moves beautifully.


Happy to see honeybees

This week at the farm the bees (and flies) are out in full force. I was so happy today to see tons of honeybees out, too, in addition to the bumblebees, carpenter bees and various native wasps that have been around the last couple weeks. The bees are adoring the dandelions almost as much as I am.


New Baby Foal -- Pritani's Baby!

Pritani had her baby last night around 12:45 -- Friday the 13th, yeah! We woke up at 1am to hear some thudding on the stall walls -- the baby trying to get up I think -- and stayed with them for 1.5 hours until the placenta passed and the baby was up, passed stool and nursing well. 

Pritani is gentle and watchful of her foal, but lets us in to be with them and take care of the baby. The vet was impressed by how well-mannered she was while he was checking over the baby -- who has gorgeous confirmation and is perfect in every way, of course ;)

See the pretty butterfly on the baby's rear? If it was a boy it was going to be Lachlan, but since it seems to be a girl we are looking at gaelic and Native American names for Butterfly :) She's bit lighter brown than her mother; with black on her face, mane and tail; two white hooves, and so darn cute! 

The paddock outside her stall is all ready and clean with fresh shavings and grassy areas, so they can go outside for a bit tomorrow. Woo hoo! We did it!!! Ok, well she did most of it, really, but still -- WOO HOO!


Baby Chicks are Here!

The cuteness is overwhelming. I love baby chicks. The fluffiness. The cheeping. The run-hop-walk that they do. The feather shaking and preening.

And at last, they are here! The call from the PO came at 6:30 am, and they all made it through the shipping process healthy and alert. They are all eating and drinking now, and enjoying the cozy set up they have. Room to run! A place to be warm and sleep! An unlimited supply of food and water! The peeps areexclaiming loudly in the other room even now as I type.


Garlic Mustard Dip and Dandelion Chicken Fritatta

Mmm. I just love eating food fresh from the garden, and even more than that, I love eating food that I have found wild in my yard. Tonight for dinner we had a Dandelion & Chicken Fritatta with Garlic Mustard Dip. It was sooooo good.

The fritatta was super easy -- dandelion flower heads chopped roughly with 1/2 chicken breast, 8 eggs, 1/4 cup milk, some salt and farmer's cheese, then pan-fried on both sides. We topped it off with the dip, which was just amazing.

Garlic Mustard is an edible wild plant that grows rampant throughout much of the country. It is considered an invasive weed, and spreads like wildfire, so you can feel virtuous while you pluck it and eat it. It's common name derives from the pungent odor it gives off when you pick it, and it tastes great. Use in dips, soups or salads for a heart-healthy natural addition to your diet. 

To make the dip, I chopped up wild garlic mustard greens in the food processor and mixed them with equal amounts of plain yogurt, sour cream and more farmers cheese. Oh, and some more fresh garlic and olive oil and salt to taste. YUM!

My husband is on the paleo diet, which has me scrambling for foods we both want -- I am more of a fruit, cheese and veggies kind of gal, and paleo is mostly meat with veggies, and only fermented dairy products. Um, hello, did I mention I am a cheese addict???  This meal fit the bill just right for both of us, and even the kids liked it.


Another happy rescue

Watching horses at the farm
The puppy we rescued in January is doing so well, he is a wonderful dog. He was rescued from a high-kill situation down south, where a black dog is less likely to be adopted than any other. This is something that is hard for most New Englanders to imagine, where black labradors are among the most commonly seen and beloved dogs.

My mother breeds Standard Poodles, which are wonderful sporting dogs and great with kids, but we decided we were ready to try something new. And we wanted to help make a difference in some animal's life -- our cats have always been rescues, so we decided to check out the shelters. We spent several weeks looking for the right dog, and wound up at an adoption event run by PawSafe. Boy, are we glad we did.

Trout Fishing on Opening Day

Guinness is half Dutch Shepard and half Beagle. His coloring is all dutch shepard but, clearly, his size is beagle! He is brilliant, and at 8 month old plays wonderfully with the 10 Standard Poodles at the farm. Amazingly, he can actually outrun most of them. He thinks he's a big dog, and isn't scared of anything. He is very freindly, well socialized, and such an easy dog to have around. It's hard to believe he's still a puppy sometimes, he's such a wise soul.

On the trail

Images from the farm

This season my family and I are farm-sitting for my mother while she is working overseas. She has 10 dogs and 4 horses, plus a few cats and aquariums, so there's always something exciting happening!


This spring is more exciting than most -- a mare which she rescued from slaughter just in time for Christmas has turned out to be pregnant. She is due any day now according to the size of her baby and her udder development, and she's looking very fit and happy.

 Amazingly, the horse came with papers and is of very good quality, something my mom never expected when she saved her from the feedlot. She's a wonderful horse, who seems to have been a victim of the economy.

Yesterday, one of my mother's breeding poodles surprised us, too. We had no idea she was in heat, none of the studs were acting nosy and she wasn't bleeding or anything. Imagine our surprise when we let her out first thing in the morning, and two minutes later saw her doing this with one of the studs!

They stayed tied for about 10 minutes, but I didn't think to grab the camera until the very last moment. The male is licking his nose, so much for dignity. No litter was planned for this summer, but it will be a beautiful pairing, and be a summer litter which is always easiest to care for.