More Colors For Bert

DSC_0010Bert the Golden Pheasant’s moulting is coming along nicely. He now has some iridescent teal and black feathers on the nape of his neck, and some royal blue ones coming in on his wings. He has more scarlet on his breast and most of his old tail feathers have now fallen out.

I’m training him to accept handling by first touching him a little on his beak or on his throat and then offering a treat. I will often offer him a tidbit of something green while I’m out in the yard. He only really likes the tender growing tips of plants.

I have a little whistling sound I use to call him that sounds similar to his own, and he now knows when I’m calling and will come over and jump up on the ledge for his treat. He knows better than to try to get treats from me while he’s on the ground because the chickens will trample right over him to get there first.

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June Garden with Dogs

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Red Hot Poker – I’ve always wanted one of these in my garden

We are technically in a drought right now but my gardens have been doing great with minimal watering. I owe it to the very thick layer of mulch that I try to maintain. My morning ritual once I’ve fed the kitties and let the dogs out is to check for eggs and do any watering that needs doing, mostly in the container garden. Today I decided to walk around with my camera and capture some shots of what’s been growing and blooming.

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Scabiosa – These flowers were part of my sister’s wedding bouquet so I wanted to get a specimen

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Mammoth Russian Sunflower

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There are flowers on my European Olive tree. Does that mean I get olives?

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Hydrangea

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The beginnings of peaches

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Hoku wants to play

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Prickly Pear cactus – the pads and fruit are edible

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Morrocan Tea Mint

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E.T. helps me water

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Lovely Comfrey blooms

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Baby Mouse Melons and my Salad Burnet

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The blueberries are almost ready

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Volunteer California Poppies

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Tiny, Green Fingers Okra

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The Liatris getting ready to bloom

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My salad patch, arugula and mustard greens

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Conadria fig tree is finally in the ground

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The leeks are looking good

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Hoku waits for broken quail eggs

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I love dill!

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Tomatoes are in – now what to do with all the extras?!

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Containers are taking over

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Purple and yellow cauliflower starts are in

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The yacon is doing great, can’t wait to try it

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The calendulas are finally beginning to bloom

Bert is Getting His Colors!

DSC_0018I was a little unsure about adopting this guy, the previous owner had him housed with pigeons and doves, who he got along very well with. However, once she added a quail to her aviary, he decided to scalp her. This really upset the owner, and although the quail recovered, she had lost her taste for Bert.

It was around this time that I was having issues with my Muscovy drake trying to rape my Black Copper Maran hen. Apparently one duck wasn’t enough for him and he was getting very aggressive. I was worried about adding more male energy to the pen, not having any experience with pheasants.

Well, Bert is now my favorite bird here (hence acquiring a name) and his gorgeous colors are finally starting to come in! I think the intensely hot weather that we had been having for the past couple of weeks really fast-tracked the moulting process.

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Some of Bert’s moulted feathers and a calendula bloom

I’ve read lots of conflicting opinions about whether or not pheasants can be housed with chickens and ducks. Some sources say that chickens carry diseases that can easily be passed to pheasants and kill them. Other people say that’s a load of puckey and they have housed them together for years with no issues. I’m not surprised he was aggressive with the Coturnix quail in his pen, since they are both game birds and a single quail is a tempting target that can’t really escape to higher ground. Here though, he is as placid a bird as you could imagine.

I’ve been finding a few of Bert’s moulted feathers around and they are just beautiful. I’m glad to see his broken tail feathers falling out because that means that new ones are coming in. His color change began with just a little red spot on his left breast and a few small red feathers under his chin. Now he has two scarlet stripes on each side of his chest and a few yellow bits on his head.

He will be two years old this summer which is around how long it takes for adult plumage to come in, even though he was fertile by his first year. It won’t be too long now before I find out if there will be a lady pheasant available for him, and that’s an exciting prospect. He is such a calm and non-spooky type of bird. he doesn’t react to sudden movements like most birds do, he just stands his ground and observes. He will happily come eat out of my hand every day now and seems to have no concept of human beings as dangerous. He gets along very well with the chickens and will eat alongside them. They will sometimes tell him to buzz off but he just saunters away and does something else. Not bad considering he is about the size of a large pigeon. He is also my quietest bird here so far, and I have only heard his distinct metallic call once or twice. The rest of the time he makes musical little chirps.

I think Golden Pheasants are a fabulous bird to have as a pet, and I would love to hand rear some chicks so they can grow up to be easily handled and free-ranged. I feel like when he finally gets his striking red, blue, white, yellow and green adult plumage, it’s going to be like living in some tropical paradise.

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My Boys

DSC_0007Although I’ve had cats all my life, I always had girl cats. I don’t know why, I guess I didn’t want to deal with spraying or cystitis. Of course now I have three girl cats who spray and Fred, the former stray, who has cystitis issues.

Then mama cat and her kittens showed up, and Fred moved in and all of a sudden I had three boy cats.

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DSC_0034I love my boys. The two kittens, Jeffie and Fluffy One, are almost a year old now. They are a constant source of joy for me and are always by my side. Fluffy One will start up a meowing fit if there is ever a door between us, and can basically jump about five feet into the air if he sees a bug. He is strange little cat, and insists on eating all my cucumber peelings when I make a salad. He gets excited when I call him for his “green spaghetti”. If I forget to give them to him in a bowl he will sneak on the counter and eat them when I’m not looking.

DSC_0025DSC_0027Jeffie sleeps with me every night, and when I wake up and lean on one shoulder to check my iPad, he climbs up and lies down on the other one with his paws hanging down, touching my cheek. If I have been playing too long he will come down and try to eat my fingers. I will also get my fingers eaten if I have been typing at my desk too long when I should be playing with him. He doesn’t really meow, instead he just has a high-pitched “meeeeeeee”.

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DSC_0030The two brothers love each other very much. Aren’t they sweet?

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The Creme Kits, Rabbit Attack, Wasp Attack!

DSC_0008Here are some shots of the Rex/Creme litter kits at about three weeks old. I don’t see any silvering yet but it would be harder to see on these lighter toned kits. I’ll be interested to see if the high-strung nature of the Rexes infiltrates these little guys, or if their mom’s calmness will win out.

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DSC_0011I sold five rabbits today, which was awesome since I’ll need my grow-out cages very soon. I usually bring my rabbits out for customers in the little two-hole traveling cage I made which opens from the top. I’ve never had an issue before, but I think today the sheer number of kids around spooked the Rex kits and one of them jumped out. While I struggled to wrangle the little blue doe back into her cage I was slashed on both hands and wrists, stomach and legs. Not only that, but the little stinker screamed the entire time. I don’t often hear rabbit screams around here, but let me tell you they are not pleasant. So here I am now, covered in Polysporin, hoping these bloody scratches and welts heal fast. I have gardening to do!

I finally bought a bunch of tomato cages today, which were sorely needed in the container garden. When I returned from the garden shop and had emptied the car, I noticed a threesome of wasps building a tiny nest on the overhang near my back trunk handle.

This isn’t the first time wasps have tried nesting on my car, I don’t know why they choose to do this. There must be a hundred better places around here. They must have been wondering where their nest went today and weren’t too happy with me for running off with it. When I tried to lock my trunk I was swiftly attacked and stung on the hand. They wouldn’t let me get my key anywhere near it.

I stormed back inside nursing my painful hand and did a quick online search. Then, armed with a container full of hot water and dish soap, I went right back outside, took a deep breath, sloshed it at them as fast and hard as I could and then retreated, quickly. When I inched back to check, the nest had been dislodged and the wasps were nowhere to be seen. I hope they’re either dead or don’t have good memories.

Backyard and Container Garden Progress + Cats

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Parsley (the cat) in the container garden

I was a little on edge using the pure organic fish compost I had purchased, unamended in my giant container garden, but so far tests have been positive! You can distinguish it as the very black stuff in the photo above as compared to the lighter material which is my homemade compost. I think potting soil is a bit of a ripoff so I’m looking forward to the results of this experiment.

I was initially worried about drainage, so I added a 4-6 inch layer of homemade compost to the bottom of each pot, since it’s really light and chunky. It’s pretty much a mixture of kitchen and garden waste mixed with wood chips and rabbit and chicken/quail manure aged for about a year. I have two piles going and I alternate between piles; one gets emptied while the other gets filled. I don’t mind using compost that is a little unfinished, or chunky; but sometimes that isn’t ideal for seed starting.

So far I haven’t noticed any problems with compaction or burning or anything with the fish compost and it’s been a week or two since things were planted. I’ll be interested to see how the growth compares to my homegrown compost pots. Those pots have some fresh chicken pen floor as their bottom layer. Pure folly? We shall see.

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My tomato garden

A few tomatoes are in. These are my first attempt at cold sown tomatoes, so I have big expectations of them. Ideally, they should be as vigorous as any volunteer tomato in the compost pile. I will have a few in the ground and a few in pots. Maybe a total of about 15 plants. It’s a good thing I restricted myself this year because inevitably I found another tomato plant I wanted at the farmer’s market. It is a Striped German and is reported to taste like candy. I also picked up some Moroccan Tea Mint, Chamomile and a Mouse Melon plant. Not to mention a giant Black Bamboo and Sunset Glow Bamboo which will be used for privacy hedges.

I recently got out my shiny, beautiful, All American Pressure Canner to can some rabbit meat and I’m raring to go on the tomatoes, once they arrive. Tomatoes are one of my favorite things to can, they taste so good. There are a few flowers already, so here’s hoping for a bountiful harvest this year. I plan to try to keep suckers pruned and keep things tidy.

DSC_0031My arugula, started from seeds I collected last year, is growing like crazy. It’s ready for harvest after just a week or two. I’m glad these were the seeds I brought to the swap this year, I love imagining other beautiful plots of arugula all over the island. My red and yellow onions are getting big and my leeks no longer look like invisible blades of grass. Beets and carrots are coming in, although some creature (slug) has been helping themselves to part of the rows. Volunteer potatoes are huge already and calendulas are threatening to bloom. The yacon is bursting out of its pot and there are jalapenos and eggplants sprouting. It’s going to be a busy month!

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Mushrooms (the cat) in the container garden