The Dashwoods have settled in quite nicely to Barton Cottage. It took them a couple of days to get brave enough to come out. Now, when we go out in the morning to open the coop door to the run, they are standing there inside, waiting. Leaving the coop is quite the production and as I was laughing at them this morning I wished I had had the video camera. I will see if I can’t get them on film tomorrow morning.
Going back in the coop at night is something else. Bookman and I go out together between 8:30 and 9. As the sun sets they are supposed to want to go inside the coop on their own; roosting instinct is supposed to take over. The Dashwoods seem to think they are night owls instead of chickens because they do not want to go into the coop at night. We can usually lure Elinor in with a dandelion leaf but the others? Forget about it.
Picture this. We get Elinor in and she snacks on her leaf while Bookman and I try to convince the other three to go up the ladder. They turn into toddlers who do not want to go to bed, scatter and run peeping around the run. Bookman and I wait for them to calm down a bit so we can catch them. In the meantime, Elinor has finished her leaf and has decided she is going to come back out. She gets halfway down the ladder before Bookman or I can stop her and herd her back into the coop. At this point, Bookman gives up on luring the three still in the run with the remaining dandelion leaves. He shreds them up and tosses them into the coop. Elinor is momentarily distracted from coming back out into the run. Bookman and I swoop down on the other three and scoop them up.
Except there are two of use and three of them. We are outnumbered. Two get caught and the third is left running around by herself, peeping like a maniac. My chicken translator says she is yelling gleefully, “you can’t catch me I’m the gingerbread man!” Or whatever the chicken equivalent is. While one of use keeps the three in the coop from getting back out into the run, the other tries to nonchalantly sidle up to the one in the run. Finally, with much squawking she is caught and
shoved escorted into the run. We quick move the ladder and close the door. I can hear them in the coop complaining to each other about what just happened, but they settle down soon enough.
The Dashwoods are now eight weeks old. They seem to have a growth spurt every few days. Suddenly they look like chickens, small chickens, but there is no mistaking them for anything else now. It tickles my funnybone when I go out to see them and call, Dashwoods! and they all come running over.
Here is some video from this afternoon. Elinor is the red/brown one, Mrs. Dashwood is the black one with the white speckles, Marianne is the one with the white head, and Margaret is all black.
Today Bookman and I worked on the green roof on top of the coop. We caulked all the seems and spread a pond liner over the plywood, then Bookman taped the edges to the inside of the box. Next, we spread pea gravel over the liner and then filled in with a special mix of soil.Let me note here that we have no idea what we are doing. I have read about green roofs and how to build them but nowhere is there an actual soil mix. All you get are percentages of organic to non-organic and exhortations to never ever use regular garden soil. Green roof soil mixes are not sold at garden centers. So, we were on our own to make our own mix, something that won’t be so heavy and compacted and water-retentive, but it can’t drain too fast. So, through analysis and careful mixing (Does this seem light enough? No I think we need to add more peat moss. How about now? Maybe a bit more sand? Okay that seems like it might work), we determined that half a bag of topsoil gets mixed with three handfuls of sand, six handfuls of peat moss and two handfuls of perlite. It takes three bags of topsoil and its amendments to fill one quarter of the roof.
Today we managed to fill two of the four roof boxes. Tomorrow we will fill the other two and plant them. Oh, and we will be drilling a few drainage holes in the box edges. This is garden experimentation at its finest.
Saturday, in the cool humidity and sometimes rain, Astrid and I went for a 91 mile/146 km adventure. It was mixed pavement and crushed gravel trails. Since it had rained the night before and since putting 28 mm tires on Astrid, I no longer have fenders so I returned home covered in grit and grime. But we had a great time.Astrid does me proud by handling nearly everything I ask of her. Part of our adventure took us to Carver Park Reserve where we came upon a hungry snapping turtle. She was bigger than a dinner plate but smaller than a serving platter. Snappers have powerful jaws and really long necks so we gave her plenty of respectful distance. She was eating grass and I could hear her jaws snapping at it, which further encouraged me to stay back. She was not at all concerned with my presence, so I watched her for a few minutes and then Astrid and I went on our way.
It was a good ride. While I was tired at the end of it, I was not exhausted. So I feel pretty good about the 100 mile/161 km gravel race on June 11th.
Life is good.