We are enjoying our new home but it’s been a lot of work getting stuff done around here. Would you believe I’ve only been fishing about a half dozen times now since the first of the year? Heck, I used to fish that much in two weeks. Btw, the fish & game department said this year was going to be the best run of Humpies we’ve had in over 35 years. I actually read that there were 10 Million Humpies coming through this year. At times the water from the beach looked like a Budweiser commercial with fish jumping everywhere. One time I caught three and lost 9 before I could get them to the beach. The Humpies may not be as good eatin’ as Silvers but they’re close and a ton of fun to catch. Typically average about 6-8 pounds and put on a good fight with a medium action spinning rod and the flyrod can be a real hoot.
Our new home is really beginning to take shape. It’s nice to live in a log home and Cindy is doing a good job at turning it into a nice but rustic, lodge-type looking place. Not long after we moved in we spent one Saturday trimming a couple of our fruit trees and cleaning out a few of the blackberry bushes. We fed the blackberry bushes to our Llamas (they came with the house) and they loved them. They actually went nuts over getting them. It’s ironic how torn up we got just cutting a bunch down and moving them but they can eat them with no problem.
So we decided to buy a couple of goats to help keep the berry bushes, grass and weeds, down. Our Pastor had a momma and baby that he wanted to sell. They’re Nubian Cross w/Boer (I think) and I was hoping they’d turn out to be a good, cheap lawnmower – but I’d need a bunch more of ‘em to keep this place under control - although they do a good job on keeping the berry bushes and briar’s under control. Plus, a couple of weeks after we moved in we had one of those drizzly, dreary weekends here so we decided – kind of on the spur of the moment – to go buy some chickens. We went out and bought 10 baby chick hens and 2 ducklings.
In case you’re interested and know your chickens, we got 2 Rhode Island Reds, 2 Red Sexlinks, 2 Plymouth Barred Rocks, 2 Buff Orpingtons, and 2 Golden-Laced Wyandotte’s. We were gonna get a couple of Brown Leghorns but the guy said they were pretty flighty and not as easily manageable, so we passed. Plus we wanted Brown Egg Layers and Leghorns are White. One of the Barred Rocks turned out to be Henry (Hank) instead of Henrietta so we went back and got an Ameraucana hen. She is the type chicken that lays the blue eggs. Folks call them the Easter Egg Chicken but that’s a misnomer because the Easter Egger or “EE” as they’re sometimes called is really a hybrid mutt that’s not a true Ameraucana. We thought it’d be a novelty to include a blue egg as we could with our other eggs. Well as time went on we couldn’t figure out why we never saw any blue eggs. At first we thought maybe she was laying out in the woods but eventually I caught her sitting in a nesting box and was able to see her egg. It was sort of a pastel pinkish. So, we actually got an EE and not an Ameraucana. We’re looking at buying some purebreds from a Breeder here in WA now.
Well, looking for a purebred Ameraucana got me into real trouble because now I’ve been bitten by some kind of a bug. Not only do I want to get a purebred Ameraucana Trio or Quad but I recently found out that the Wheaten color in Ameraucana is in the early stages of development. I really like the Wheaten color and the idea of developing a specific strain and color of bird is fascinating and really exciting. So a Trio of Ameraucanas is next on my list.
We also recently got a Welsummer Trio (Rooster & two hens) to raise and breed too. And Hank, our rooster, has turned out to be a real hoot. Boy is he something! You should have seen Cindy the other day when Hank decided to chase her! LOL!!!!! Even I have to keep an eye out for him. He’s a smart one. He’ll wait until you turn your back or knows you ain’t looking and then he’ll fly up and try to get you with his spurs and claws. Elvis (our Welsummer rooster) decided he was gonna have a go at Hank the first night and it didn’t fair well for him. Hank whooped up on him pretty good and Elvis just kept coming back for more. The potlicker took a real beating before he finally gave in. But now Elvis, and his ladies (Mary & Martha), seem to all have settled in and adjusted.
The two ducklings we originally got were a Black Cayuga and a Swedish Blue. They both died and we had to replace them. So while we were getting two more of those, we picked up 2 Rouen’s (they look like big Mallards) ducklings too. But one of my Beagles got a hold of a Rouen and we were down to just one a piece. Until a couple of weeks later, when we decided to pick up an older female while stopping in to buy some more Layer Rations for the chickens. All the ducks are pretty good size now. You can see them on My Spaces too.
It seems like things are always changing around here. We had a Rouen pair until a bobcat got the female. Not long ago I bought a purebred show Cayuga female so we now have Sampson & Delilah. And I still have to find a male for our Swedish Blue female. We’ve added a Trio of Pekin’s and Black Runners but still need to find some White Runners and Pilgrim geese.
We had bought a goose the same Saturday as the other critters. He was a Production Toulouse but something happened to him last October. Not sure if he just got sick and died or if something may have gotten a hold of him. One day he was fine, the next morning he was real sickish and sluggish, and the next he was dead. The goose took real well to the one pond, the Llamas, and even Buck & Sadie (my beagles) pretty well. Now we’re looking at getting a pair of Pilgrim geese to replace Chester (the gander that died) because Pilgrim’s are endangered and we’d like to help perpetuate the breed in addition to showing them. Besides, I like gray geese and Cindy likes white. With a Pilgrim we get both as the males are white and the females are gray.
I thought I was going to be able to get everything that we were looking for on December 8th at the Washington State APA/ABA/WFF Poultry Show but the Interstate and the Fairgrounds flooded out and they had to cancel the show. So I’m still looking for a few birds.
I was a bit concerned about how Buck & Sadie would do around the animals but they seem to be ok. I gave them a good lesson early on (especially after Sadie killed the one duckling) and they seem to be leaving them alone now.
Since we got the place and those first birds, we've added a cat, a kitten, and a couple of keets (baby Guinea Fowl). But after having them for just a few weeks they turned up missing. Something must have flew off with them. We never found a feather or anything. We also had something attack “Buffy” – she’s one of our Buff Orpington’s – about the same time. We don’t know for sure what it was but she was attacked inside the fence and feathers were plucked away – so it must’ve been some kind of big bird.
Besides replacing the keets, we had to replace a few other critters. Something killed three of my chickens one week on three separate days. Whatever it was got into our Hen House and the weird thing is that it had to walk right by the dogs to get into the chickens.
I went down and bought a live trap but nothing touched it. From what everyone was telling me and from what I know about them, I was pretty certain our varmint – the thieving, murderous marauder - was a coon. However, I’m hoping that I’ve got my varmint problem solved.
One Saturday morning in November, I woke to my two beagles howling and I looked out the window to see our Llamas standing near the fence along with our two goats. They were all looking toward the north pond with kind of a – well – odd look on their face as if to say, “Boy, that sure has my attention!” As I looked toward the pond I immediately caught site of a huge bobcat walking around the west bank. It was trying to find a way to get another one of our ducks. This had to be the biggest bobcat I’ve ever seen. It was at least two to 2.5 feet high and I bet weighed 40-45 pounds. Maybe more I don’t know.
I called to the wife and we went out on the deck and it just took its sweet time walking around the pond and then finally eased off into the briars. Obviously, I wasn’t prepared to do anything. So that day I got out my .22 rifle and my 12 gauge shotgun. The next day, my step-son brought over a 30-30 after we got home from church but I didn’t get a chance to shoot it to see where it was sighted in at. So I screwed in a Turkey SuperChoke on my 12 gauge and managed to find one 1½ oz. #2 shell which was the heaviest shot I had. Everything else I had was #4 shot.
My beagles howled a few times during Sunday night but we didn’t see anything. Monday morning, about 10 o’clock, I thought I heard the dogs bark and looked out the window. I saw something on the bank of the pond that didn’t quite look right. I couldn’t tell what it was but something just looked out of place. So I grabbed the shotgun and went out on the deck. Sure enough, it was that old bobcat just lying on the bank waitin’ for another one of my ducks to become his dinner! Well, one broadside 45 yard shot with my 12 gauge rolled him clean over. Hopefully, my varmint days are over for a good long time. That darned bobcat killed my goose, three chickens, two keets, a duck, and even my kitten before I finally got him. With me wanting to add expensive purebreds for breeding and probably even showing, I sure don’t need anymore of that!So, after I get done buying the aforementioned critters, I think I’m done for awhile. Although we’ve talked about putting a couple of Herefords or Buffalo on the place after I get another part of the land fenced up. So, all in all, the place is starting to take shape but like I said, between the mowing and keeping up on all the chores with the critters, I stay pretty busy. So it is with being a home owner and having a small ranch.
That doesn’t even take into account the 10-12 hour days I spend at work. I don’t work weekends so I put in whatever hours I need to during the week to allow for that. I am also able to take September off each year and chase the deer, elk, and bear around the mountains. I feel very fortunate and blessed to be able to take off like that as I know many people work a year just to get a week off.
Well, I best quit ramblin’ on and get on the road. I still need to finish up a couple more emails from work, then go feed the dogs and check on the chickens, goats, ducks, etc. Earlier in the summer I would work until about 1930-2030, then eat, and then go outside and do my chores before light faded. Now I work until about 1930-2030, then do chores, and after putting all the critters to bed we’ll eat supper and then relax for the night.
Ok, I better git now. It was truly great to hear from ya. Stay in touch! God Bless ya!
R. E. Van Blaricome
Seek Ye first the Kingdom of God, and all His Righteousness
- then these things shall be added unto you (Matt. 6:33)