Friday, August 30, 2013

Tour D' Coop - Coop # 1

Welcome to the Newbury Vermont Tour D' Coop.

It is a great tour of coops, gardens, livestock and other surprises. It's the first time there has been a coop tour in this neck of the woods, but I have a sneaky suspicion that this may become an annual event.
We will be visiting 6 totally different kinds of coops and driving many scenic back roads to reach them.

Since you could not be here in person, I will narrate the happenings and use photos from that day to help explain the fabulous day of events.  I was the "Coop Coordinator" for this big event and had been developing this unique tour since spring.

First of all it was pouring rain at 4 am and as I lay in my bed I wondered how many people would show up if the weather remained challenging.  As the tour coordinator I had guessed about 15 people would show up for the entire tour.  But only 7 if it rained.

By 8 am the clouds had left, the sun came out and I finished my chores, dropped off my many bags of cans and bottles at the recycling center and headed over to the local tennis courts to await the arrival of chicken coop tourists.

With plenty of parking we chose the tennis courts in the center of the village as a meeting place and an area where we could car pool to a few of the locations that had limited parking.

I was 30 minutes early and within a few seconds families started arriving by car, van, truck and bike to partake of this unusual Saturday event.  Many wore boots just in case it started raining again.

As soon as everyone signed in, gave their donation to the local church food shelf ($5 suggested donation) and had their hand stamped, we headed to Coop #1.    It was 10 am.

 Our host at Coop # 1 was Peter.

His home is just a mere 4 doors down from where we all met on the common.

His coop is right in the center of the village and just about everyone was shocked when they realized there are chickens in the village and no one knew about them!

His coop is set back from the road, well hidden by the landscape and is part of his garage.

Considering how many bantams he has, his grass remains perfectly trimmed and growing every day.

It was an attentive audience as Peter explained why he chose the breeds he had and why he decided on his coop and pen design.  He pointed out where his compost pile is and how he distributed the compost around his gardens.   What people feed their flock is always an interesting conversation and Peter told us what his birds menu was on a daily basis.  There were lots and lots of questions and I worried about weather we would "stay on schedule" or still be driving to coops at sunset!

He had bantam eggs on display in several different shades.  It was a real "touch and tell" visit.

Not too many people had ever seen bantam eggs before or patted a calm bantam hen.

He built a 12 x 12 coop inside of his garage.
It is doubly protected from the harsh winters we have here in Vermont. Lucky birds!

Peter brought out one of his silky hens for everyone to pat.

There was a line to see his unusual coop.
We counted 36 people in attendance with lots of kids and one very very interested teenager.

A Millie Fleur hen and her newly hatched chick was discovered by one of the tour guests.

Peter was very surprised and pleased.

The rest of us were thrilled!

Peter has a different kind of nest box. Plastic. From recycled 5 gallon buckets.

He purchased them and likes them as they are easy to clean and move around his coop.

I had never seen any like this.

He had the usual feeders and waterers, but the coop door was a lot smaller than most coop doors because of his smaller sized chickens.

Before we left to go to the next coop, we all dunked our feet into the clorox boot wash.

Us farmers are very bio security conscious.

There were an assortment of colorful boots represented on this tour.

Beautiful gardens surrounded his yard.

We said thank you to Dawn and Peter and headed to Coop #2.
Most of the coop hosts went on the tour visiting all the other coops as well, but Peter had thrown his back out 2 days before and was not going to risk making it worse. He is going to have a private tour of the other 5 coops once he is feeling better.

Stay tuned for Coop # 2.

Please share this post with your poultry loving friends.

Ever been on a Tour D' Coop?

Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Last Snowstorm

We have had a few humid days in the 90's this week and it started me reminiscing about the last big snow storm we had this past March.

The day before the big storm was sunny and mild.

The flock was ranging all over the field and yard eating the tops of the grass that had begun to appear.

The next morning it snowed a little.  I went down to feed and water the cows.

Later that afternoon when I returned to water the herd again, the snow was coming down hard.

 Really hard.  I could barely see the cows and they were already "frosted" with a layer of snow.

 The roads were a bit dicey.  There was ice under the snow. Not good for driving.
There was a town meeting that night, but I knew I would not be going. Navigating the steep mountain road to get there would be too risky.

I locked the coop up, did some shoveling and went in the house to dry off and have some tea.

The next morning was beautiful.

The birds came to the bird feeders by the dozens.

I shoveled my way to the coop.

The hens could not be enticed to come out, but the ducks showed no such hesitation.

Later one of the brave ones came out and ran up the "Hens Highway" to the porch for treats.

The ducks were not happy that their grazing areas were now covered in snow.

In 2 days it melted and all was well again with the flock. They resumed their foraging.

On days when the sweat is running down your brow and the temperatures are headed for 100 degrees, its good to remember that we are just a dozen weeks away from snow season.

Whats your guess on snow accumulation this winter ?
Think it will be a hard winter or a light one ?
Tell me your location and your best guess in the comments.

We have had 3 weeks of thick fog every morning and a local neighbor says that all this fog means we are going to have lots and lots of snow.   I cringed when she said that.......

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Mabel the Geranium

10 years ago an elderly farm wife gave me her special geranium that she had had for years. When she gave it to me, it was similar to a small tree. It was about 4 feet high and was covered with red blooms.

Mabel was aging badly and was trying to downsize her household so she could move around easier in a walker.   I was gifted with several plants, some refrigerator magnets (all cows of course) and some old farm magazines.   I cherish them all.

Mabel ended up in a nursing home.  I visit her on my travels to the southern part of the state.
I moved north to a busy farming community and I brought all my plants including my huge "Mable" geranium.   Unfortunately, a box in my truck fell over on my plants and crushed several of them, including Mabel.     I had to start all over and trim the broken branches and try to re-pot them.
I have a huge bay window in my upstairs hallway and here is where this special plant lives during the snowy winters and cool spring days.  She recovered well from her moving accident and soon her blooms took up the entire window space.

This summer I brought Mabel outside and planted her in a big old maple stump in the front yard.

She loved it and doubled her usual bloom output.

I water, weed and fertilize her and she has many visitors.

The hens come down every day and eat bugs and flies.

 My blonde hen Marlyn wants a geranium on her front porch.

I just might put one there.

Have you got geraniums and whats your favorite variety ?

Monday, August 26, 2013

Ghost Town

While driving the back roads doing the final checking of chicken coops for the upcoming Tour'D Coop event, I came across the well known old general store that had long ago been abandoned (in the 50's).

I was more interested in the old barn that was still standing strong and proud.  It looks like it is still being used to store hay and tractors.

The old general store doesn't look so good, although I am sure if someone bought it that it could be restored to its 1920 golden days.

These buildings are way out in the woods of a former tiny village.

All the other houses and stores of this 1900 s era village have fallen down and have been buried by decades of leaves, weeds and trees.   I had heard about this old store, but never found it until this day.

The center of this village was moved 6 miles south to the main roads which were easier to navigate in bad weather.

These 2 buildings are all that remain of a once thriving village that was settled in 1763.

Can you identify this old piece of equipment ?

Got a ghost town in your area?

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Slate Roof

I love slate roofs and as old buidlings collapse, there are less and less of them

I recently found an old church next to our recycling center that has a nice slate roof in pristine condition.

Slate and metal roofs are the most practical in harsh climates.  They last forever.

Got slate?

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Cow Documents

Transferring cows to a new owner is not easy.

Making sure all the documents are ready, readable and signed is a time consuming job.

The first thing I did when the new owner agreed to take the entire herd was to do my registrations and get them signed and ready for transfer.

Then I started making a special herd book just for the new owner.

In this book are photos of each cow and their calves plus the sire of the cow and the sire of the calves.
It is a colorful history of the herd.

It took a few weeks to get the desired photos and save them to a file.

My printer died, so I had to hire the local copy shop to make this herd book.

I went down to the shop with the files and coached store owner Glenda about the placement of the photos.

The book got done and was a nice gift to give to the new owners the day the cows were loaded for their final drive to their new home.

Monday, August 19, 2013

The Vermont View Today

Its been a perfect 2 days.

Beautiful weather.

The sound of hay balers is all you can hear.  Wagons of hay are being transported back to near empty barns.

Here are a few photos of my travels.

Corn is still growing.....

Can't have good corn without lots of good cow manure.

Cow are out grazing on every hill and mountain.

Mavis watching the fish.....