Peeper & Cuddles

Since EJ didn’t have to work today–it being the weekend and all–he was able to enjoy the ducks’ swim time. I actually asked him to carry the ducks, one by one, so I could video them. The ducks are forming their own personalities. One is very vocal, yelling “PEEP, PEEP, PEEP!” very loudly like an alarm. We call him “Peeper.” The other is quieter and more cuddly and we have named her “Cuddles.” Of course, we don’t really know their gender, but we think of Peeper as a male and Cuddles as a female. We could be totally wrong.

The little chicks are growing. They now have most of their feathers. They do not yet have as much personality as the ducklings and they are more skittish and harder to photograph, but I was able to take a video today while the ducks were swimming in the bathtub:

JJ got his first paycheck from his new job yesterday. This first time was an actual printed check instead of direct deposited so he had to drive to our bank this morning to deposit it in his account. The bank is located clear on the other side of the Emerald City. Since JJ had offered to pay for half of the chicken coop EJ went with him so JJ could pay him–plus, JJ wanted the company.

I stayed home and made homemade pizza for lunch.

After lunch, EJ and I drove to the farm store to get food for the ducks and chicks and cats and dogs. Also, EJ wanted to get a few cherry trees. EJ bought a few hazelnut trees at the farm store, but he decided to go to a nursery for the cherry trees. We drive past the nursery every time we go to the Emerald City but had never stopped. They are just getting the plants in this year. I had thought the nursery was just a little farm stand alongside the road, but it stretches for several acres behind the buildings that we see along the road. It is actually one of the biggest nurseries I had ever been to. Eric bought two large-ish cherry trees and another hazelnut tree.

We had a nice conversation with the woman at the nursery. We told her that we had just moved to the area last year. She asked what made us decide to move up here and we explained about JJ’s cancer, EJ’s job–and that we had just always loved this area and wanted to live here.  We continued to chitchat while we found the trees we wanted, and mixed in with our conversation she explained that even though the trees are rated for our zone, it sometimes gets so cold in the winter that the trees get frost-bitten or frozen. They will probably do better at our place because we live on a hill. The cold tends to sink into the low valleys. How cold is cold? Two years ago, she said, it was about -30 to -40 F. She sounded as if that is quite normal. Brrr. This last winter was quite mild because of El Nino.

But today was a beautiful Spring day with temperatures in the 70s. We opened all the windows in the house and wore T-shirts.

Erosion caused deep gullies along our driveway last summer.
Erosion caused deep gullies along our driveway last summer.

When we got home, JJ helped EJ plant the trees. They planted the cherry trees along one side of the driveway and the hazel nut trees on the other side of the driveway. Besides being pretty and providing us with good things to eat, it is our plan that the trees’ roots will be another measure to hold the soil and prevent erosion. Our other measures included–last summer–filling in the deep gullies that had nibbled away at our driveway with gravel and topsoil, putting potato rocks along the driveway to slow the rush of rain water, and planting grasses to hold the soil.

I asked EJ, “Do bears like cherries?” He said yes. Yikes!

April 16, 2016 b (9)After EJ and JJ planted the fruit trees, they put together my chicken coop. It went together amazingly quickly and looks really cute. We needed to get it together soon because on April 27 we are getting more baby chicks. Our current chicks were “straight run” chicks, which means they could be any gender. They could be all hens or all roosters or some of both. Since we want our chickens to lay eggs, we decided we ought to make sure we actually have some hens so EJ ordered some. Our current chicks are New Hampshire Reds. Our new chicks will be Rhode Island Reds. When the new babies come, we will need to move the ducks and older chicks into the coop so the younger ones can have the horse trough in the hallway.

This is the finished coop.
This is the finished coop.

We have thought and discussed and debated where to put our chicken coop. We finally decided to put it where the previous owner had his dog pen. Danny never uses the dog pen–he’s always with us. EJ is going to put the coops inside the pen, but he’s going to rebuild the pen with sturdier posts and fencing so it will be as predator-proof as we can make it. The previous owner left behind two very sturdy dog houses and we are going to convert them into additional coops. Our cute little coop only fits 4-6 chickens and we will have 10 chickens and two ducks. We plan to let our birds roam free during the day, but at night they need to have secure shelter.

Photo from Memesvault.com
Photo from Memesvault.com

While we were outside, JJ pointed out a large wolf spider in the driveway. I yelled, “Kill it! Kill it now!” but EJ and JJ refused. I grabbed a shovel to hit it with, but JJ blocked me. It has always been our family policy that we kill creepy crawlies in the house but let them live outside. I told JJ that the policy is totally voided when the spiders are really big, but he didn’t listen and the spider ran away. Ha! I told him that I will kill the spiders when he and his Dad are not around. Also, I have chickens and ducks that will eat bugs, including spiders.

 

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