the barn in fall

the barn in fall

Sunday, October 31, 2010


The high winds earlier this week brought down a few small trees onto our neighbor's hay field.  Since they let us use the field to exercise our horses, we do them the favor of cleaning up deadfall.  There's more than enough to keep us in firewood, which I suppose is good.  The reason why isn't so good - these are nearly all ash trees, which are being killed by the ash borer beetle, native to China.  We've lost dozens of trees, and I expect them all to go eventually.  The only winners are the woodpeckers who drill all over the bark for the yummy (one assumes) beetle larvae - the tree killers.

The two prematurely dead ash trees we cut up today:

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Blowing in the Wind

It happens every year - a fall day when the wind blows so hard all your leaves end up in the neighbor's yard.  Works fine if you're not surrounded by trees, like I am.  Today nature traded my leaves for someone else's.  But fences helped catch them, making the eventual raking job a bit easier.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Friday, October 22, 2010

First Frost

Our first hard frost was predicted for last night, but what we got was mild.  By 8:30 AM the frost was arleady off everything touched by the sun, but the lowest part of our pasture was still in shade, and looked silvery compared to the brightness around it.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Nearly Naked

One of the aricauna chickens suddenly dropped her feathers, too.  On the bare spots you can see the hard white shaft of the pinfeathers coming in.  Fortunately it hasn't been too cold this week while the girls are running around without feathers.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Fresh Eggs

I'm not a connoisseur, but I maintain there is no difference in taste between fresh eggs and store-bought eggs.  There is, however, a big difference in color and firmness.  Pretty soon my hens will stop laying eggs for the winter and I'll be buying them at the grocery store, but for now, I have fresh eggs with a deep orange-yellow yolk.  Fresh egg on the left:

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Molting, con't.

If you didn't see the post of this hen beginning to molt, check back two postings.  Because this is her this morning, less than two days later.  See that tail?  No?  That's because it isn't there.  Just one feather left.  And we're not done yet!  The temperature will be in the low forties tonight.  She'll be inside, but there's no heat, and oddly, this one has chosen to spend the night huddled next to an open window lately (covered with chicken wire.)  She could also be in a protected, hay-insulated corner, so I guess I shouldn't feel too bad about her choice.

Just for fun, I took another shot of her to catch the deer in the background:

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Color Coordinated

All our horses have always been bays or chestnuts - basically, some shade of brown.  That's usually a dull color, about as dull as you can get.  But brown looks so good with the oranges and golds of fall.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


I always thought nature got this a bit wrong - when the weather starts turning cold, the chickens get naked.  Their feathers drop off as new ones push their way out, and cold weather combined with shorter days seems to be the trigger.  A perfectly good system, except new feathers take a couple weeks to fill in, and in the meantime it's cold outside and the chickens have lost their insulation.  Plus, the chicken yard looks like the scene of a masacre, with all the feathers lying around.

One of my chickens has begun molting.  She looks fluffy compared to the others, and you can already see a bare spot in front of her wing.  Stay tuned - this is only the beginning.

Thursday, October 7, 2010


A year ago we adopted a cat, tiny in stature but bursting with personality.  I named her Harley for her loud rumbling purr and her badass personality.  Her long black fur might as well be leather, she's that tough.

Harley fears nothing.  Not other cats, not dogs, not even that terror of felines everywhere - vacuum cleaners.  We usually introduce a new cat to our menagerie gradually.  Not Harley, not after she walked up to T.C., the CAT IN CHARGE who is twice her size, got the flat-eared hiss that melts cats and dogs in their tracks, and sat down with a look that said, "Is that all you got?"  After that, making herself part of the family was a piece of cake.

Today we had new carpeting put in.  Three men moved the furniture, ripped out old carpet, installed new, and vacuumed afterward.  Much clomping around and noise-making.  All the cats hid in terror - except Harley, who thought it was THE BEST DAY EVER!  New people and new activity in every room!  The best part was the furniture that got piled in the family room, kitchen, and master bedroom while the other rooms were done.  Everything had to be climbed on and crawled under, because everyone knows if you move the living room couch into the kitchen you're going to get an entirely new view from the back.  She tried it all, in between helping lay the carpet.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


These two were on my front lawn - again - for several hours yesterday, with  no sign of mom.  Apparently I am still babysitting while their mother is off cavorting with some handsome buck.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Chicken Zoe

Zoe is a little black cat, a stray who adopted us about seven years ago.  She's very sweet and small, which makes her the perpetual victim if any cat is feeling territorial about the barn.  Years ago she decided the best place to spend the night is the chicken coop.  She's locked in all night and can get a full night's sleep without looking over her shoulder.  At first it was just in the winter, when she would sit on the shelf where the chickens slept, cuddling up with them for warmth - the only time she even acknowledged their presence.  Gradually she started showing up year round, waiting to be let in when I close the coop up for the night, then let out each morning when I feed the chickens.  I made a shelf by one of the windows so she can catch a breeze and watch the yard.  Since our nights have turned chilly, she's taken to curling up in the nesting box in the warm corner where the hens lay their eggs.  If I forget and leave an egg in there at night, she'll just lay on top of it like a chicken.  She never breaks one.  The hens won't lay anywhere else, so until she gets up in the morning, they can't lay eggs.  No one seems to mind, so neither do I.  This is Zoe in the nesting box this morning: