The chickies are here! The children are so excited and love going to the coop to check on the peeps at least a couple times a day. At this stage, they are so small and soft to hold. They are warm and fuzzy on the cheek and their peep-peep is sweet. The Pearl White Leghorn is the choice this year for our laying hens and Peach chose the Silver Laced Wyandot for her special pair of pullet chicks, and she also has a pair of baby Wyandot roosters. We are hopeful for hatchlings next spring. We shall see how it all plays out, but for now, we'll just enjoy the li'l peeps for what they are today.
These are just a few of the many birds we've been seeing in our neck of the woods as we continue to count birds for our Big Year. The Grankids and their mothers and I are learning so much and are developing a keen eye for various species of birds -- their colors, their markings, the way they perch and fly, and the songs they sing. My pictures are less than crisp and bright due to gray, misty, drizzly, wet days -- hooray!
The youngest and casual bird observers are so hilarious with their comments. Lily calls the Grackle a "Crackle". When her mother tries to correct her, "Say G G Grackle." She says, "G G Crackle." Another child, Toodles, calls the Wilson's Phalarope a Spinny Duck, which is an excellent name and description of it. Her Daddy has always called them that. The younger birders like Chief and JohnDeere look through their mini binoculars upside down, but they sure do "see" all kinds of birds and things. I think it's a beautiful thing to be in tune with your surroundings and nature. God has given us so many gifts if we only have eyes to see them. What birds are you seeing?
"For lack of attention a thousand forms of loveliness elude us every day."
"To the attentive eye each moment of the year has its own beauty, and in the same field it beholds, every hour, a picture which was never seen before, and which shall never be seen again."
The only thing I've planted in my veggie patch so far are onions, peas, and lettuces. It's still pretty chilly in the nights and we aren't past our last frost date quite yet. I bought some nice herb plants that are ready to go out to the garden when the time's right. In the meanwhile, I've been snipping and using the lemon thyme in so many ways -- tuna patties, chicken salad, on lettuce salads, and in skillet dinners. Next I want to try it in my Kukicha tea for a lemony flavor. My DIL, JJo thinks it would be a good infusion for water. I have never had lemon thyme before and it is now a favorite of mine! I may have to go buy myself another plant.
The asparagus has been popping up like crazy. We've had a few light showers and the daytime temps have been pretty warm, so it's happily producing and giving us some delicious green stalks to put in salads and to pan roast. We love our asparagus here.
I need to get potatoes in the ground, but I'll wait until my chicks are in and pick up seed potatoes from the feed store at the same time. There was a delay in the chicks arrival, but they are on the way. Are you gardening yet? Potting up flowers or herbs? What's springing up where you are?
The last couple of days we've been moving the ewes and lambs to fresh pastures and today we will work through them, sorting out the lambs and giving them a dose of de-wormer before sending them out on the range to graze. They've come through the harsh winter and spring and are finally picking up and looking much better than they were. Look at that big baby sucking his mama. Most of the time they get down on their knees to nurse.
Tally: 179 ewes, 289 lambs
We're getting down to the last 100 head of cows left to calve and in the meantime, we have been taking out pairs to larger pastures. Gradually, we will work each bunch back to the barn to brand and vaccinate calves. We branded one big bunch of calvies this morning.
It has warmed up here and we've had some gray, drippy skies. The moisture has been light, but still, we welcome it and are thankful for it. The grass is slow-growing at present, but a few warm days should really bring it up. The cows and sheep are really loving this fresh grass. It feels like spring has finally arrived.
If you are a bird watcher and you've never watched this movie, you should. Even if you are not a bird watcher, I think you would enjoy it. The Big Year is about three men's quests to find and count the most bird species in one calendar year. The adventure takes them all over the USA and requires a few uncomfortable situations in order to find what they are looking for, and as it turns out, as they are looking for birds, they each come to realize what they are REALLY looking for in life. It's a good movie that you can even watch with your grandma or little kids.
I'm a novice birder myself and after watching this movie, I was excited for my grandkids to watch it too, because I'm gradually converting more and more of them into bird watchers. It's quite contagious, I think. After watching the movie, I asked the kids if they'd like to do A Big Year with me. And the eldest of the grands said, "Yes! Are we going to travel all over the world?" I told them we would do our Big Year wherever we are this year. We won't chase birds much although we might chase a little, but we will be very observant right where we live and wherever we go. I plan to have a special prize for the one who counts the most birds. We've got our lists and our field guides at-the-ready and with the spring migration, we are adding to them almost daily.
If you want to watch the movie, The Big Year, you can find it on DVD on Netflix or you can stream it on Amazon. I'd love to hear if you decide to do a Big Year where you live.
(same calves, different lighting inside the barn)
We took a morning this past week and branded and vaccinated about 100 head of calves -- the first bunch born to first-calf heifers. They are really nice calves. We are still in the midst of calving our herd and I believe we have about 100 head left to calve out of our 500 head of cows. We've finally lost the majority of our snow and so it's turning spring up here in the north country. Snow can still be found in the draws here and there, but for the most part, it's gone. The grass is slow to come because it has been a very cold April, but these last couple of days our temps have shot up into the 70s so that really helps to bring up the grass. We've had a lot of run-off from the snow and every reservoir, creek, wadi, and dip has been filled up with fresh water. What a blessing! This evening as I type, there is thunder rumbling and a few lightening bolts and a little bit of rain is sprinkling down. It sounds like we have good chances of rain in the coming week, so that's encouraging!
Tomorrow I will go to town and get my chickies. Two of my grandgirls want to go along with me, and three others will likely meet us at the Feed Store. It's very exciting you know! Peach, the eldest, is getting two Silver-laced Wyandot pullets and one rooster while the rest will be Pearl White Leghorns which in my humble opinion, are the very best egg layers.
I hope spring is treating you well and blessing you with sunshine and rain. We've got to have some showers to bring up the flowers!
Sandhill Cranes If you click on the pics, you will get a closer look at the red patches on their heads.
Yesterday NumberOneSon called on the 2-way radio and said there were a whole lot of cranes in our Horse Creek Pasture. I radio'd back for their location and asked if anyone wanted to go with me to see the sight. A young voice answered back, "We want go, Gram." So I grabbed my camera, pulled on my mud boots and coat and flew out the door to get in the Ranger. I met two of the kids who were excitedly waiting outside for me with binoculars around their necks. Peach and Toodles climbed in the Ranger and we took off, sliding our way through the mud and muck out to the puddly pasture.
And there they were! From a distance, they looked like a herd of sheep because there were so many of them, and they blended in so well with the landscape like sheep do. We inched closer and I kept snapping pictures in hopes that one or two would turn out ok. Then I turned off the motor and we just sat and watched and listened to them talk to one another. It was quite a sight! And quite the sounds! I have never, ever seen this many Sandhill Cranes in one place. I suppose there were at least one hundred. I'm sure they are migrating through, and likely a few pairs will stay behind here on our prairie. We always see cranes in the summer with their long-legged babies walking behind their parents through the pastures. We often have a pair living fairly close to our home and they will come by our stock pond and perch in our tall cottonwoods in the evening. It's kind of scary when I walk by the trees on a summer's night to shut the chickens and a couple huge cranes flies off over head with their rattle-y calls.
After our bird-watching adventure, I was telling the girls that I remembered reading a very good book called Cranes in My Corral about an Oregon rancher's relationship with four cranes who lived in his corrals. I think I borrowed the book from our local library. I thought it might be a good story for the kids to read.
Once I dropped the girls off at their house, I drove home and walked in the door and smelled hot rice. O golly! I had forgotten all about the rice! I had set some rice on the stove to boil and ran out the door with such excitement that I forgot all about it. Thankfully, the rice was not scorched and supper was not lost. Not to mention, we had ourselves a fine Sandhill Crane Adventure!
Today a large flock of robins were chattering and fluttering around in our three juniper trees in the front yard. Another migration on this wet, wet snowy day. The big snowstorm that we were anticipating went south and east of us. We did get some rain and slushy snow out of it, but the poor folks to our east got slammed with a foot or more of snow along with 50 mph winds. That's hard work ahead.
The weather has turned warm here. It was 45 degrees yesterday with sunshine and melting snow. Today we hit 58 degrees with more sunshine and melting. The little dry creek below our house is running and the overflow culvert by our stock pond near the house is gushing out. The run-off is really coming down now and reservoirs are filling up everywhere. These last couple of warm days have been glorious even though we still have plenty of snow out and about that has yet to melt.
And guess what?
Thursday and Friday we are expecting
And more cold.
Temperatures in the teens are expected for the weekend.
What will this poor butterfly do, I wonder?
Perhaps he will find a nook or cranny to slide into during the cold snap.
We have lots of baby calves running around and they are good and healthy. There are many ranchers in our area who are having a rough time. They are losing calves to the elements and sickness is breaking out in their calves too. It' been a long, tough winter for many. We've been blessed to have three men working around the clock to save calves and keep everything fed and cared for. We've also had to buy extra straw and hay for the cows and calves. Straw for keeping calves dry and hay for hungry cows and sheep. We could stay in this weather pattern for a while. Our wet season is April, May, and June so we'll see what's in store for us. We can't complain about the moisture when others not far from us are not getting any, but the warm sunshine sure felt good! The children keep praying for moisture (rain and snow) at their table prayers. It has been engrained in them, I suppose.