Goodbye Summer

I think Fall has officially arrived. The front yard is full of fallen leaves (where they will remain until spring, because watching our neighbor twitch is so much fun) and the air has that crispness about it. I’m sad about the end of summer, especially since my tomatoes aren’t ripe yet, but I do love all the harvesting that’s associated with fall. Canning production here on the farm is in full swing – we made 10 pints of plum jam from plums that a neighbor grew, and 4 pints of blackberry/plum jam. It’s a good thing we buy sugar in bulk, because we burned through about 30 cups of it. Gene and I also made 6 pints of amaretto blackberries, which should taste amazing. And here’s hoping the canning process didn’t zap all the alcohol out. In other harvest news, wild bunnies ate the remainder of my lentil crop, so I wasn’t thrilled about that. I’m tempted to let Harvey and Claire out, so they can eat the wild bunnies. 

Our new rabbits are loving the Bunny Ranch, and they’ve commissioned some upgrades. Gene added a litter box, an ingenious plumbing system (their poo falls between the slats and onto a plastic panel, which then runs into a plastic tub), a small bench so I can sit and play with them, and several treat stations. My contribution was a beaded door pull. I commented one day that they should probably have some toys, just in case they got bored, so Gene had our local hardware store special order some rabbit toys. They came in today, and Gene was excited because he got to go into McClendon’s and ask where they kept their bunny balls. The bunnies love them – they toss them up into the air.

In bird related news, I got two new pals for the remaining Bedonkaduck. She seemed kind of lonely, so I trolled Craig’s List and found two Muscovy ducks for sale. The three get along great, and the Muscovies are gorgeous – they have dark green, blue, and brown highlights. I’ve named them Paris and Nikki, just because they are both fairly dumb but they look beautiful. They’re fitting right in – their favorite spot is the wading pool. 

The chickens are happy too, for the most part. Condi has gotten very broody, and she would sulk in her nesting box all day long if we let her. I pulled her out this afternoon and forced her to go outside. She was clearly unhappy about it – she puffed up to fifteen times her normal size, and paced back and front of me bobbing her head. She was clucking and huffing and giving me her “oh no you didn’t” look. I think she was annoyed that I was laughing at her. I was standing near her with my arms crossed, and all of a sudden she launched herself right at my face. By the time I finished thinking, “wow, that angry ball of feathers is coming right at my face”, she was already perched on my arms, which I didn’t have a chance to uncross because I was so busy wondering if she was really attacking me. (You’d think given my occupation that I would have better reflexes, but apparently not.) So now she’s sitting on my arms, facing me, and staring at me while bobbing her head back and forth and clucking. I’m too afraid to look at her, because I’m worried she’s about to go for my eyes. I kept looking down at the ground, off to one side, hoping she would get off. She seemed perfectly happy to perch there, though, so I gently uncrossed my arms and tried to reposition her (difficult when I’m too scared to look at her), and she climbed up onto my shoulder where she sat like a huge parrot. In retrospect, it was really cute and charming (mostly because I’m still in possession of both my eyes), but at the time it was kind of scary. Gene said I should have batted her out of the air with a quickness, but I have a hard time defending myself against cute things. 

Princess Fiona knows this, and has no problem punching me in the stomach with her hooves if I don’t feed her fast enough. That particular habit I’m trying to break her of, because I’ve seen too many episodes of “When Animals Attack” to let that kind of behavior slide. She did it again today when I was handing out watermelon. With the exception of Thanksgiving and Buttercup, that is everyone’s favorite treat, and they mob me for it. I have to take turns dispensing watermelon chunks, and god help me if Fiona doesn’t get hers first. Next comes Christmas, then the ducks, then the chickens, then Fiona again. She’s really the only one that doesn’t patiently wait her turn, which doesn’t shock me since she’s the biggest.  Harvey and Claire love watermelon too – they basically inhale it. Actually, they inhale pretty much anything that’s put in front of them. They’re doubled in size since we brought them home.

The Fancy Chickens are ecstatic to have the full run of their brooding box back. They are getting big quickly as well – I had to put a second feed bowl in their for them. The biggest Polish chicken likes to perch on top of the water dispenser. He’s a confirmed rooster – when you walk past the garage you can hear this really squeaky, high-pitched crowing noise. He’s trying so hard to sound tough, but not quite making it; he’s more like the equivalent of the Vienna Boy’s Choir. They should be ready to integrate with the rest of the flock by October, although I think we’ll let the roosters live in the goat pasture with the ducks and the turkeys. I would like at least one batch of fertilized eggs, so I can watch chicks hatch, but mostly I want to be able to eat the eggs.

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