Jen Pietsch
Orcas Island, WA

I love spending time outdoors, gardening, running and raising my fleeced friends!
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Thursday, October 23, 2008

postheadericon Tinkerbelle

My astute children reminded me that when writing about our chickens that I neglected to include Tinkerbelle. This oversight is understandable as Tinkerbelle is an alpaca. Sweet, compassionate, Tinkerbelle watches and hums to the chickens daily. She, like our new mom Carmen, is from the same very vocal family.

Tinkerbelle is very interested in their goings on. The chickens have had very limited interaction with their guardian alpaca. The Colonel and his harem occasionally stray into the pasture but are usually terrified by the alpaca, especially curious Tinkerbelle.

All of us here on the farm wish the chickens would come over and pay her the attention she deserves. So here is Tinkerbelle. (Please excuse the Amish hair style, I left Jeff in charge on sheering day. He misunderstood my direction about leaving cheek fiber and left the herd looking like bobble heads.)

Smile Tinkerbelle!

This is the corner where Tinkerbelle
looks after her friends.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

postheadericon Autumn Diva - Update

Just a couple of photos of our new cria, she is now 1 month old. Thank you Kris and Albert Olson of Krystal Acres Alpaca Farm for the great breeding! Look how she has grown!

postheadericon Our Hens - The "New" Girls

This is the rest of the hen story. This post will focus on our new girls. The three new hens are all from an Araucana enthusiast Anne of Willow Hill Araucana Farm in Bellingham, Washington. Anne was kind enough to entrust us with "Quetzal", "Survivor" and "Polly". These girls came with their names, except for Polly, who was previously known as "No Name".

Anne maintains a website built to celebrate and promote the Rumpless, Tufted Modern Araucana chicken. To check out more of Anne’s birds click here. (Believe me it's worth the click!)

"Survivor" is a 1-year-old White Splash Araucana hen. She was a winter hatchling. The story goes that one snowy, frigid day in January, she and 3 of her siblings got lost in the snow. When Anne found them, she was the only one left alive. Survivor is a prolific layer. We just love her, she is, however, the most difficult to get back into the coop in the late afternoon. She is very fond of my son Kahana.

"Polly Pullet" a.k.a. "No Name" is a 6-month old Silver/Black Mottled Araucana hen. She is part rumpless (has several downward-pointing tail feathers in the back). When we welcomed Polly to our farm she was a pullet -- a non-laying female. Since her arrival she has graduated to a hen. She is a great layer leaving an egg a day, even with the days getting shorter. Polly has nice willow legs (the proper color for most varieties of Araucana). Polly is the fastest girl we have. She can really run.

"Quetzal" is a 3-1/2 year old Black-Breasted-Red Araucana hen. Quetzal is amazing and loves to cuddle with her human friends. She is a beautiful girl with gorgeous ear tufts. Her beak is very slightly crooked and needs to be trimmed with a nail clipper every once in a while. The matriarch of the bunch of our new girls, she has a calm disposition, but likes to boss the others around!

Here are a couple of photos of our coop, as adapted for our misty Northwest winters!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

postheadericon Our Hens - The "Old" Girls

Well, now that you have read about "The Colonel", let’s talk about his girls. Our hens fall into two categories, the new and the old. This designation has absolutely nothing to do with the age of the girls, but everything to do with the time when we acquired them.

The four old hens came with the farm, although finer hens we couldn't have chosen. The new girls are ones we brought home with us from a special trip to the mainland. FYI, the names didn't come with the birds, they were chosen by my children. This post focuses on the old girls.

"Zig" and "Zag" are two of the old girls. They are Barred Rocks who lay the most beautiful brown eggs. There is only one person in the house who can tell them apart: my son Kahana. He can even look just at the eggs and tell you which one laid it. I think maybe we need to get him into more hobbies. Currently Zig (or maybe it's Zag) is the Colonel’s mi amore.

"Martha", and we are not talking about Martha Stewart here, is a Buff Orpington just like The Colonel. Martha is a sweet girl who lays soft brown eggs. She is gentle and will gladly eat out of your hand. Over the past couple of months we had thought and hoped that Martha was broody (i.e. sitting on the eggs until hatching) -- but eventually she gets up and leaves them. Maybe she will reconsider in the spring. Interestingly, the eggs don’t all have to be her own. She is just as happy to sit on whose ever eggs are in the nest box.

"Henny Penny" is so much more than one can imagine. She is a nervous Nelly who seems always to be worried about something. Henny is usually our visitors’ favorite because of her unique appearance and curious ways. She is a Golden Bearded Polish who lays smooth white eggs. Polish are a crested breed, which means that they have a top hat of sorts. We are not sure, but think that this elaborate headdress affects her vision and balance. Henny seems to run into things when she gets excited. Another reason she is a farm favorite is her flying ability.

Our home is situated on a hill and the coop is on the lower slope. When we call the girls over for a treat, Henny uses the slope as a runway and flies on down. This is truly a glorious sight, we have even caught her on the barn roof.

I have included photos below of our girls. For more information on the breeds and just because it is a fun site here is a link to a hatchery that we like.

(Left to Right) Martha, Henny Penny,
The Colonel, Zig or maybe Zag
Monday, October 13, 2008

postheadericon The Colonel

Fall is really here. We've had a couple of days of frost in the past week. The girls greet me in the morning with billowy breath. It is so calm here, our baby was born, everyone who is going to be bred is bred, and halter training is underway.

In this post I thought I'd introduce you to a few of the other creatures we share our farm with. One of the most colorful of which is our rooster, The Colonel. The Colonel is a huge Buff Orpington who takes his job of protecting his harem very seriously. There is not a delivery person or contractor on the island who doesn’t have a healthy respect for our golden feathered boy.

After one of my husband Jeff’s last run ins with him, I took matters into my own hands and decided to make him a little less dangerous by trimming/removing his spurs. For those unfamiliar with roosters, Mother Nature designed them to be able to fight by giving them spurs down behind their feet. These are very useful not just for defending against other roosters but well meaning men, women and children. Below are photos of our spur removal process. (Just to let you know, removing these did not make him friendlier.)

Notice the size of those spurs!

Only one of us is having fun.

The Colonel didn't want to watch

Off and running with his girls,
no worse for wear.

So how you may ask did we 'remove' said spurs? Here is a link to the Youtube video that will show you how to do this at home. Click Here.