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Outdoors

(Edit:  I realize WordPress is having issues right now – all my photos are loading sideways, and while they look fine on my Dashboard, they appear flipped on their side in the final post.  Working on it!) The past few mornings have felt like September with their crispness, and we’ve started out the day in sweaters.  And yet the afternoons are the best that summer in Oregon has to offer with blue skies and warm breezes.  So, of course we’ve been taking advantage of the gorgeous weather and spending every possible moment outdoors.   Every evening we’ve taken long walks, and

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Swift Watch 2012

So, I’ve come to realize that blogging, even sporadically and ineptly, is really difficult with four busy kids, and a very busy life.  I cannot figure out how to do it without taking time away from the children, or my precious few hours of sleep. (The farm’s FB page is equally neglected lately.) This morning, I sacrificed the latter, getting up long before the children, finishing poultry chores, tidied and swept the downstairs, and folded a basket of laundry before sitting down to a mug of coffee and my laptop.  So, hopefully there will be a few posts up this

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Frosty morning

The ducks were quacking extra early this morning.  I couldn’t figure out why they were so darn quacky at 7am, when they usually aren’t up until 8:30ish.  In retrospect, I think they were chilly and complaining for a hot breakfast.  🙂 When I went down at 7:45 to let the poultry out, I had to break the ice on their watering pans.  The hard frost on the garden was just simply stunning.  The kids were all in bed (except George, my early-bird, who was happily playing with a spatula), so I stayed outside for a few minutes and enjoyed watching

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9 and 10 days old

The chicks, 9 and 10 days old (Here’s hoping they all survive and none turn out to be cockerels, because the kids are just smitten and have named them all): Cookie, the Buff Orpington. (She’s the largest and fluffiest of the chicks, by far.) Violet (dark brown), and Nudge II (golden), the Auracanas. (You can see their little tufty beards coming in already!) Fiesty, the Salmon Faverolle.  She’s a petite little thing, but has lots of attitude (and 5 toed-feet and feathered legs!) Midnight and Blacky, our tried and true favorite breed – Black Australorp.  Our two and a half

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That’s MY Spot!!

Let me start off by saying that the entertainment potential of chickens is extremely under-valued in most poultry books. This is Oregon, in March.  Needless to say, the ground is VERY soggy and it rains every day.   Our hens don’t have a spot of dry ground anywhere in their run to dust-bathe.  Because we have not planted anything besides garlic in the backyard, the hens have all-day access to the back and side yards at the moment, in an effort to reduce the population of  slugs, weeds, etc before we begin planting this weekend. While ranging and scratching this morning,

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7 Fluffy Chicks!

Our chicks have come!  We were worried they’d be delayed because of the cold, but they arrived this morning, and we picked them up at the feed store this afternoon. Because of a raccoon and a freak illness, we are down to 4 hens: 2 black Australorps and 2 Speckled Sussex. To our flock, we hope to add these heritage breed girls: 2 more black Australorps, 2 Auracanas, 1 Delaware, 1 Buff Orpington, and 1 Faverolle. We’re big-time Australorp fans, but are always up for trying new breeds.  The Auracanas are to replace our beloved Nudge, who fell victim to

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Surprise in the nest box

While it’s by no means as big as this monster, we found quite a surprise in the nest box after church today. Nudge, our Auracana, usually lays a large to extra-large sized egg (the pale green one in the middle (it looks a bit washed out in this shot)),  compared to our Australorps that lay medium-large eggs.  However, today Little Hen found that she had left us one the size of a duck egg (far right)! And just because – to finish up, here are some photos of the chickens that Little Hen took yesterday (our first sunny day in

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Preparing for the duck invasion

After a flurry of chicken-planning activity this winter/early spring, we have our long-dreamed for chicken flock (the three hens, plus three new Speckled Sussex chicks, and three more chicks on order (2 Australorps and a Buff Orpington)).  And the chicken run is mostly complete (needs a little gussying up, and a grape trellis up the side).  Now, moving on to the next project, the Baker boys have gone into intense-planning-mode for … DUCKS! The boys are a bit so-so on the chickens, but can’t wait for ducks!  We have room for 3 (and maybe sneak in a 4th?) next year,

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Fresh Eggs

We got chickens!! After months of scouring Craigslist, pricing materials at the ReBuilding Center and researching plans (not to mention years of wishing, dreaming)… we finally found a used coop that met our super tight budget. (A coat of pretty paint, and the sturdy coop will look quite nice in the back corner of our yard.)   And a completely unexpected bonus- the large (6 nest boxes) coop came with enough fencing and fence posts for a very large run. An even bigger bonus – the coop came with 3 organically-fed, heritage breed, 9 month-old hens – 2 Australorps (two

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Vaux’s Swifts

Kortney at One Deep Drawer told me about the congregation of Vaux’s swifts in NW Portland, and this week we made it over to the Chapman School to see them.   For a bird nerd like me, it was a huge thrill. We set up early, with hundreds of other families, enjoying our picnic dinner (homemade hummus, Greek yogurt, tomatoes, flatbread, pear sauce), and reading books until the sun began to set. The school had some well-made signs up about swifts – with sections at the bottom geared for children.  One sign suggested we try  tracking one swift in the sky

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Lorikeets

We took the children for a quick visit to the Oregon  Zoo (the best part of having a pass, in my opinion, is that you can pop in for an hour or two and just see a few things, so the children don’t get maxed-out).  This visit, we decided to go with a bird theme (surprise, surprise). Tum Tum signed “bird”  and said “cheep cheep” pretty much non-stop the entire morning.  🙂 We saw the penguins and the African bird aviary, but by far, the kids’ favorite stop was the Lorikeet exhibit. I hope these last days of summer provide

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Morning on the Farm

Some more shots from yesterday’s trip to Sauvie Island Farms. Little Hen in the raspberry canes, where we found an old abandoned nest, lined with feathers and seed fluff. Firecracker helped her auntie pick blueberries. And the flowers were absolutely stunning. The biggest surprise of the day was finding a nest with four baby birds in the middle of the marionberry canes.  They sat very still as we observed them.  It was a real treat – the nestlings were clearly Cedar Waxings (the black face mask and yellow band on the tail were telling signs), which are one of my

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Sanibel

My favorite vacation desination – the beautiful sandy beaches of Sanibel, FL.  The shelling is the best in the world, and the water is clear and warm.    We spent our time making a “beach fairy sand castle”, collecting sea shells, watching shorebirds.  The girls also went kite flying with their Grandpa.   Wishing you a day just as sun-filled and relaxing.

Six Mile Cypress, Part II

More from our day at the Six Mile Cypress Slough.   I love being able to share my interest in the outdoors and birdwatching with the children.  My mother was excited to share her botanical knowledge and interests with us, too.  Not to mention the perfect sunny day spent exploring out of doors!  The new nature center was a big thrill for the girls – it was really well designed for young children (a rarity in Southern Florida, where children themselves are a rarity, it seems).  We had the place to ourselves, and the volunteers were eager to show the girls around

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Six Mile Cypress

The weather was a little cool for another trip to the beach, so instead we went for a walk in this gorgeous preserve. The entire walk through the slough is on a boardwalk, since the cypress preserve is flooded most of the year.     Last year we saw lots of alligators and a family of otters playing right in front of us.  No such luck this year, but we saw lots of birds (yay!), including green herons (below), white ibis, palm warblers, Carolina wrens, anhingas, great blue herons, great egrets.  Oh, yeah, and some non-avian wildlife - lizards, various turtles, butterflies, beetles.  My mom

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