-- fix it later...
Greetings. I am WalkswithDog and this is The Dog. Athena is a black-sable German Shepherd of working West and East German parentage. She is my heart and soul as well as my balance and a helping hand. We get along alright.
This is going to be my log of how middle aged crazy meets East Tennessee and the growing maze of how to go from "what's kudzu" to knowledge and determination. Two women, eight dogs and nine acres slowly transitioning into I can do this, I can make this, I can grow this and the Kudzu wars. You're only disabled if you give up.
We've killed two mowers and one weed eater. Kudzu and blackberry and and primrose and steep little valley have combined to show us what we didn't know about reclaiming abandoned land. Every forester and tractor bubba that came out stroked their chins, shook their head (or shifted their pants) and proclaimed... "Goats, you are gonna need Goats."
Goats??? Oh my. I wanted Chickens. Chickens I was ready for. Goats?
First we had to clear and fence a couple of acres, the dogs needed the roaming space without problems with local wanderers and deer. I thought Bambi was cute til I moved here. Bambi is beelzebub in fur. I've planted 24 trees in the last three years. Bambi has killed six. I planted tomatoes too far from the house and dogs - bambi ate it, all. Bambi and his cousins are tree predators and crop killers. Now the dogs keep them out of the fenced area.
The house that came with our steep little valley is what polite people call tiny. Adding on is not in the forecast so WE built ourselves a 20x25 foot deck. Steep learning curve on that sucker and during construction of course lumber prices soared.
Finally, fence and deck and some time and I've begun turning the old hog shed into a coop. Thank God for the people on BYC or I'd be doing this blind and clueless I swear. Now my wishes started simple enough Barred Rocks like the ones I'd known as a child... But NOOOOOO.... These feathernutters have pictures of ALL these other gorgeous chickens. And I go from Barred Rocks and some Jersey Giants to an insane love affair with Partridge Rocks and LF Cochins. I'm soooo trying not to fall for Orpingtons, so you people stay over there...> I don't have the ROOM.
The coop, as I said was an old pig shed. Built by someone scarcely taught the general rules of construction and modified for pigs by someone totally clueless. Demolision might have been hard if it didn't have rotting wood and exceeding poor construction. I'm good at demolision. If nothing else I can fall on it eventually and it will come down. Building is always harder but hey I actually have a pretty good grasp of the use of modern power tools, so long as they'll shut off if I drop them, I'm golden. I have on property a ton of fairly sound left over wood from various things and old landscape timbers, and scrap deck wood from the deck. It's pretty much 6x8x 6 ft tall, taller in the middle. The bottom half of two walls is cinder block, one wall is entirely cinderblock (well house on other side) and the door area totally open. I've been fencing and putting down dig wire so I have hardwire fabric on hand and know it's uses and perils.
Rather than worry about ventilation I went to simple since this is during the height of summer. Other than the pop holes I ran hardwire over both the outside walls totally. Leaving enclosing it for later.

Sept. 5 The feather enablers of BYC have won. I'm awaiting my first incubator. However, it's missing in transit. I feel (as someone pointed out) that I feel rather like I'm hatching it. I paid for it, it isn't here yet.
I'll manage to be patient, mostly because I have no choice. The FAIR and chicken pictures starting tomorrow, then again Monday night. I love fairs.
I have pictures of many of my rescued dogs and family dogs on www.rescuepaws.shutterfly.com The two legged youngin would be my daughter. The big pink thing with a beak is the rescue cockatoo. The big blue thing with the beak our first parrot foster.
Some of the stories behind those dogs still choke me up if I look back too hard. But I wouldn't trade having been in their lives, or having them in mine for anything.
The coop is sitting there waiting for me to scrounge up roofing and siding and deciding on the door. I need to get moving on it, but there's the temptation that every day is getting just a tad cooler and if I just wait a bit I don't have to melt to do it. That's death to chores, it is. I've got people ready to send me eggs and no bator. Even if I did have bator and eggs I'd certainly have time to finish it. I think I'll roll on with the whole don't worry be happy thing. Tomorrow is a fair day!

partridge rocks, a new beginning... while the computer dies an ugly slow death and i've intermittent capitalization problems. Still going for it.
This group is from ideal, there are 25, on day four they all weighed 1005grams or 40g per chick. Really busy, really pretty friendly. Standouts are puddle, runs like nutcase, sparrow, hiney - how many time is that butt going to need washing??? And Dharma, the only chick with a dot in between his eyes. The brat is into everything, today he managed to get trapped beside the waterer, took me two tries to find him. i had to emptry out all the others to make sure it was not just someone having a bad afternoon.
nope, there's dharma, stuck cold, damp and cranky. had to wash his butt, he'd not been able to dump it away from him, a washed butt, towel and then blow dried. Then i mixed up some sugar water and held him in the sun and got him some fluid. Eventually after a couple cycles of nap and drink, he perked up. he's back in behaving normally, took some big drinks, grabbed some food and headed for a nap. i think he'll be all right, if i don't throttle him. i have to clean him more tomorrow but for now he's had enough excitement.
There are three distinct types in this group. Starbuck has the classic partridge racing stripes and all, and the most wing feathers, and is also the least tame. The 'red' crew or brown/bronze, redder brown down in two colors and almost buffish chests, with almost bronze forelegs, and friendliest, including puddle, punkin, sparrow and dharma. And the brown crowd. Smaller, darker, they still fall into subsets, those feathered moderately, and those that don't have hardly any at all. They're either brown and browner, or brown and almost black, their legs are very dark in front. RL nutcase and hiney fall into the darkest, least feathered group. Their under fuzz is brown or gray. RL nutcase has a white front edge to his wings, though it's just down.
The reds are the larger and wider. The darkest the smallest, and Starbuck narrower and nearer the large end of the chick spectrum. All quite active.
So begins the narrative of going from production to heritage and the city stuck country girl, finally gets to be just country. There's a peace in doing something for ourselves, something productive. individual IDs and wts are going to be added to the 'chicken' books but i'm going to keep this up as group observation and notes about what happens when...
Cher - 10-19-2008
Jan 2, 2009
Can the last two and a half months have gone so very quickly?
The partridge rocks are growing like weeds, they went out to the coop at five weeks. We added a few Black Australorps hoping to add an adult Roo, so far that hasn't worked out. But at this rate the five remaining PR cockerals will soon be old enough to stake claims.
In November I found a man selling Bourbon Red Turkeys and I've never been so delighted. They're sweet, peaceful and make amazing sounds. I bought a trio, and named them after the grandparents who didn't like me. Jake, Mildred and Gail.
Come December the local hawk population found us and I lost 6, including my darling Starbuck to them. I've since built a large area of twine net overhead at 8 feet, and set up a great deal more cover. Now the chickens and turkeys are much more watchful and aware and we've not lost another.
Ponder, the lone barred rock chick from my first incubator experience is growing exceeding well and is gorgeous. I found some wee friends for her from a local board member :) two buff orps, and an SLW and two of the tiniest PRs who weren't growing well.
I've culled a few times now. The smallest PR pullet never did well. One of the Buff Orps, Snark was mean, one of the PR cockerals was constantly fighting, one of the BA's kept ripping the feathers out of all the other chickens. The BA, Sarah, was mighty tasty. While not fun. It's not that big of a deal. I manage to get it done and free range chicken is just good.
The partridge rocks still have three distinct color groups. Now gold, red-gold, and burgundy, on their heads and the cockerals on their backs as their hackles and saddle feathers come in. Some of the pullets still have brown heads and combs and very bronze legs. It's no wonder they call Partridge, Red Pencilled in Europe. The pullets feathers really are degrees of red and pencilling.
Watching them go from fuzz, to baby feathers and now to their adult colors is just fun to watch.
The three best cockerals are Sparrow, BlackJack and George. Tokhis is a pet, and Runs Like Nutcase is still keeping the younger group of chicks company, he is still quite small. Sparrow was a red-gold fuzzy and is golden headed now. George was a medium black-brown fuzzy and is a stunning burgundy based boy now. BlackJack was one of the darkest brown blacks and is a mostly black/red partridge. Of the three, George looks like first choice, broad heavy, not too tall, sweet and intense in color. Sparrow goes next almost the same body size and type. BlackJack is taller, and narrower, and he's funny, he has two girls that just are his, the trio is never very far from one another.
Tokhis is my lap Roo. Some of you will remember Hiney. Because I had to wash his ass so many times. Well, Tokhis - also spelled tucas - is yiddish for .... you guessed it - rear end. And he's small but broad and a dear dear little soul. If I'm out there he's looking for a way into my arms.
Things that didn't work. Hay on the bottom of the coop - ick.
Things that are working, woodchips and soil in coop, quite deep. A "kennel" heating pad for dogs under the shavings. It's programable and energy efficient and very safe.
I lost Dharma to exploration, of the dog yard. Not hard to imagine how fast that happened when I have two varmint dogs.
In December on the 12th I found a box of Great Pyreneese puppies. I placed all but one. They were four weeks, and had severe coccidia and fleas. Free puppies never are. The one is now my Naga, and I'm enamored of the breed even if I haven't slept much since. On the 14th Laura went to the store for whipping cream and came home with a pitbull puppy she found in the road. So two puppies for the holidays. Not much going out for us. If we put Nick in a shelter they'll just kill him and he's a sweet sweet boy, of course worms, frostbite, fleas. So for the moment I have dogs coming out my ears. That brings us up to ten.
Fortunately the rest of the pack has gotten used to them and there's not any fighting. Naga is learning to watch the chickens from an ex-pen while I feed them and check on them. Eventually I hope to have her with them as their guardian but she's a baby now. And LGDs make mistakes while they're young so it will take time.
Though I have three turkeys now, I want more. I hadn't seen Fall Fire turkeys until after I had these. I may have to go that route. Oh my. They're a sweetgrass offshoot that is red based, and they're on the Porters site. Go look, it'll kill you.
This has gone so well, and is so peaceful, useful and comfortable that we're thinking goats, sheep and a pig for next year. If I had the budget for a ton of fencing, it'd be done already.
Happy New Year to all.