Monday, May 28, 2012


Once upon a time, long ago in a land far away, I used to have a garage. It was a wonderful two-car garage - with two amazing automatic garage door openers that still work if you hold the button up to your chin and stick out your tongue at the same time - and with three tiny closets with vintage wood paneled doors and beautiful old glass doorknobs (glass doorknobs on a garage closet! Go figure!) It had room enough for rows and rows of shelves that I carefully and faithfully, once every 47 years, sorted, edited and arranged.  It held two freezers and two coolers, which we packed to the gills with meat and veggies - just in case the world came to an end tomorrow. We'd be stocked up!

It had a back door with a great little dog/cat/chicken/skunk door at the bottom.

It's seen better days - both the back door and the pet door - but Daisy still loved to hang her head outside to see if we were doing anything worth joining in. She's such a goober.

And it actually held two cars, like every two-car garage should (but most don't.) I took pride in that! It held my beautiful new Jeep - which ain't so new anymore, but which I still adore.

And it's held all sorts of other vehicles over the 47 years of my memory: from my parents' 1970s white Ford LTD (which they insisted was blue - will never figure that one out) to my mom's turquoise Volvo (we were the only people I knew with a Volvo - back in the day!) to her two Lincoln Versailles, which were her very favorites ever - to Daddy's teeny tiny red Ford Fiesta, which was his way of making a round trip all over South Texas each and every day on just a few dollars in gas - and was jam packed with more stuff than one can imagine.

Yes, once upon a time I had a garage. And I loved it.

But that was BB --- Before Birds.

They've completely taken over.

Once upon a time, I had a garage. I miss it...

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


Kristi ordered some chicks and twisted my arm to join her! She had to work hard to get me to do it, but she was very persistent! (It wasn't all that hard to convince me...)

I decided to order 12 Ameracaunas, which lay tinted eggs. They're almost always some shade of blue or green - an incredible sight of nature!

My red pullet chicks are teenagers now. They hang out with the big girls and even roost with them at night - though they're sure to be the first ones in the coop at night to get the best seats, just out of reach of those old biddies. And with all the quail babies around here, I'd forgotten how calm and cute and cuddly chicks can be. It's a nice change of pace from the frenzy of quail!

Saturday, May 19, 2012



We had lots of company last weekend. That's unusual - we don't get many visitors. But all these guests brought gifts! I love when that happens!

On Saturday, Douglas and Brian came to check out the various shapes, sizes and stages of birds. Brian was our original source for Coturnix eggs, and he brought us a few more last Saturday ("a few" being 105!)

Those eggs were promptly put into the incubator!

Then Sunday, my new BFF (Bird Friend Forever) Kristi, brought her husband and girls out to see the place, look at the birds, and check on Bo and Beauty (she hatched them in her incubator last year!) Kristi is currently hatching chukar, peafowl, and a couple varieties of bobwhite. On Tuesday, she and I are getting a shipment of day-old (chicken) chicks. We probably shouldn't hang out together so much! But Kristi brought me something very exciting ...

11 pea eggs!! They went immediately into the incubator, too! So in a couple of weeks, things will start popping around here again. We've got 100+ bobwhite chicks growing in the brood pen, 200+ set to start hatching the 24th, then many more after that. I'm most excited to see how the peafowl work out. Stay tuned for updates!


In a total departure from our normal routine of birding and building and calving and gardening, Big John ran in his first-ever race today - the Beach to Bay relay marathon in Corpus! It makes me tired just remembering it!

Big John was part of a 6-man team, each running approximately 4 miles. He was the 5th leg of the relay, handing off to his new lieutenant. There were 2500 teams in all, and the place was jam-packed. Lots of people from around this area participate - even our friend and neighbor, Stacy, ran. And she ran really well! When I told Big John that Stacy was running, he said, "Wow! And she's got two babies! How does that make you feel?" Nice, huh? It makes me feel old, that's how!

Anyway, Big John was pretty excited about this race. We arrived before it was too crowded, and Big John got his number pinned on and his phone on his arm. He looked ready - and handsome!

And then he headed off to his starting point, about 2 miles away!

A shuttle was provided to take the 5th leggers from the designated parking spot to their starting position. But the bus line was really long by the time we got there.

So he decided to walk, which gave him a good chance to warm up, too.

I sat down by the water to take in the sights and wait for Big John to come by.

And not too much longer, here he came!

It was quite a fun morning, and Big John marked one off his bucket list! He's already talking about next year!

Sunday, May 6, 2012


This was a busy weekend out on the farm. Quail are hatching all over the place. We ended up with 46 from the first set (set 98, candled and moved 63 to the hatcher - 73% hatch rate!)

Our second set is hatching as we speak. We set 92 eggs, candled and transferred 68 eggs to the hatcher, and currently have 31 in the brood box, with more to come.

There should be a set of 56 starting to hatch tonight or tomorrow and a set of 222 to be transferred to the hatcher on May 21. We've got lots of birds!

With the garden in full grow-mode, Big John and I realized we needed to get back to work on the building. We rented a trencher Saturday and dug about 400 feet of trenches. By Sunday evening, we had all the water and electrical pipes run, just waiting to be hooked up. That was a huge job, and it's a relief to have it finished. I am so glad I don't dig ditches for a living. I'd much rather hatch birds!

And if that wasn't enough to accomplish in two days, we decided to make our first batch of pickles this morning! Big John wanted to pickle some quail eggs as well, since the Coturnix have started laying.

We ended up with 14 pints and 1 quart of bread and butter pickles.

Pickling quail eggs was quite an experience! We had 66 Coturnix eggs saved up for this purpose. The first step was to boil them and let them sit for 10 minutes.

Next you drain the boiled eggs, cover them in vinegar, and let them sit for 12 hours. This dissolves the shell, leaving just the inner membrane to be peeled.

After all the pipes were laid, trenches covered, and animals fed, we came in to finish up the eggs. Thanks to the day-long vinegar soak, they weren't too hard to peel. We used pickling brine left over from this morning, and Big John added a dash of Tabasco to each jar. We'll let them sit in the icebox for 10 days before eating. They sure do look pretty!

In other farm news: Bo and Beauty are settling in fine, still just taking it all in.

And the twins are doing great! Brother is still a little drawn, but they're only 9 days old. They are both eating well, and Nonie is being a good twins' momma.

So that was our weekend - hatchin' birds, diggin' ditches and makin' pickles. It's time to move more birds from the hatcher to the brood box and then catch a few hours of sleep. Tomorrow I'll be back out in the garden pulling weeds, picking green beans and cucumbers. I think there's another batch of pickles in my future! It won't be nearly as easy without Big John helping me!