In addition to Esmerelda, the huge preying mantis, the greenhouse is also home to a cheerful colony of tree frogs, which I must say adds a most welcome tropical feel to the space. The heating pads are working great, and the tropical plants, including a ten-foot pink banana vine and my two-foot tall papaya tree, couldn’t be happier. I’m thrilled to plant my latest rare seed acquisitions, including a dragon fruit plant and several species of aloe. Now all I have to do is replicate the conditions of the African savannah!
Gene and I spent the afternoon crafting the perfect nesting box, in hopes of enticing more chickens to lay where I can actually find the eggs. Now that it’s getting colder and the days are way too short, I can’t afford to have hidden forest eggs cutting into my stock. We decided on cedar A-frame nesting chalets, which are all the rage with the chic city chickens, at least according to Poultry World magazine. After building them with my supervision, and to my exacting standards, Gene hung two of them in the coop. I can’t wait to see if there’s eggs in them tomorrow! I’m hoping the guineas will use them as well; they should start laying any time now and I’m curious to see what their eggs will be like.
I’m not sure when the quail will start laying, because I totally forgot to ask how old they were when I bought them. I figure I’ll know when I start finding eggs. Gene is still pondering the best layout for the new Quail Sanctuary, but I think he’s leaning toward building some sort of enclosed coop which can be rolled around the yard for access to fresh grass. The bonus of that design being I can also pull it into the garage during inclement weather, since quails are quite prone to illness from dampness.
But this week wasn’t all about pampering the winged critters, Princess Fiona got some extra attention too. On one of my coffee-fueled strolls through craigslist, I happened open a post from Baxter, an Alpine buck who was, as he put it, “looking for love.” Naturally I immediately set up a play date for the afternoon, because as luck would have it Fiona had just gone into heat the day before, so the timing was perfect. She apparently thought so too, because the two of them got down to business within minutes of being introduced. If Baxter was all that he advertised, Fiona should have a baby near the end of March!
In honor of Halloween, I hauled Senor Jose the giant pumpkin into the backyard and cut a big hole in the top. The chickens have been trooping in and out of the giant shell all day, slowly hollowing it out. Even the ducks love chowing on pumpkin innards. That’s about all I did to mark Halloween’s passing. I dressed up as a flannel-covered couch beastie, whose natural habitat includes any room in which there’s a TV playing. I’m happy to say I stayed in character for most of the night.