Fauna

Fauna or the signs of fauna (tracks, droppings, sound, etc) observed on property or near surrounds.

Coop de Snow

The thing I like best about weather events such as Saturday’s snowstorm is that neighbors tend to come out to the street to share a little of the experience. I find it very energizing!

We received round-a-bout 18-24″ of snow on Saturday. We had just finished (mostly) the chicken coop and put it in place behind the house as the first snowflakes began to fall Friday evening. We decided that the chickens could have one more day in the house but, after the blizzard, they were out!  Since our last update, they took to roosting on the side wall of their bedroom brooder. All 17 of them settled on it to sleep at night…and set their alarm!

On a very snowy Saturday morning, Ginkgo could still bound, pretty easily, down towards the pond.

I moved a bit more slowly. I made a few trips around the orchard during snowfall to free up the fence lines but, eventually, gave up. The snow was beyond my boots and up to my knees. This is the orchard mid-day Saturday.

orchard

On Sunday, we woke and took a walk to the road but found none. This morning, it looks much the same with a few snowmobile tracks. There is a road under there somewhere….

sunrise

Ginkgo started choosing her paths with a little more discrimination…such as behind the tractor.

snowplow

We carted the chickens to the mobile coop by 4’s and 5’s in a cardboard box to their new home.

newcoop

 

coopview1

 

The coop window faces east and is covered with thick plastic for the winter as is the door which is facing south. There is a pop-out door to the left of the people door. I didn’t expect to need so much bracing but the trailer is hinged in the center and we needed to make it strong for when we tow it down to the orchard and over the terrain. I like that the chickens will be able to go under the trailer for shelter when they are outside. We allowed for plenty of ventilation. They are hardy (Icelandic!) chickens so I’m not too worried about the cold. However, for now, we can warm these young birds, as needed, with the heat lamp. Soon, they will become adjusted to the cold and we can stop using the lamp.  The house, also, protects them from the cold north winds. We’ve built community nesting boxes. We’re not allowing them to go in there yet. They are only 6 weeks now and I don’t want them to start hanging out or sleeping in there. There are some finishing touches needed. I’d like to make a clean-out hatch under the roosts and to give it a paint job. I’m, also, wanting to make feeding/drinking stations that can be filled from the outside of the coop.  Most importantly, the chickens are out of the bedroom! We can transform the bedroom space into the plant nursery for the spring garden. And, THEN, maybe we’ll get to renovating the bedroom!

I checked in on those winged characters this morning. They seem to be in good health and spirits…eating lots of food and calling in the morning sun. I’ll give them a day to bond with their coop and let them out tomorrow. We’ll see what happens from there.  Looking forward to bringing them to the orchard in the springtime!

morningcoop

Categories: Animals, Climate, Infrastructure, Poultry | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Marshmallows!?

Take a gander at all the fluffy marshmallows hanging in our tree. Have you ever seen such a healthy crop of marshmallows?

 

No, of course you haven’t. This is a crop of Wool Sower Galls! Yum!

Here is a closer shot.

oakgall

(Please, click on image once or twice for close-up.) 

 

There is a gall wasp called Callirhytis seminator. The grubs of this wasp secrete a chemical which reacts with that of the oak growth hormone in the spring. The reaction stimulates the formation of the wooly substance around the seed-like structure in which the wasp develops. There are, actually, many small wooly galls joined together to form one larger gall. I went to the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture website for this information. I’m happy to find out that the tree will not be overwhelmed or harmed by this amazing occurrence.

We sliced the gall in half. Here is a picture of the inside of the gall. The gall is tougher than it looks. It is quite substantial. I understand it functions to protect and to nourish the developing wasps. Each “seed” has the potential to produce a wasp.

insidegall

I’ve observed gall activity in the white oaks before. In fact, here is a gall post that I wrote in spring, 2013 .

(A big “Hello!” to Tom of “Feed the Burbs.” (Check them out in the greater Philadelphia area!) Thank you, Tom, for the very gentle nudge to get some marshmallows…I mean…new content up on the blog!)

Categories: Fauna, Flora, Insects, Trees, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Meet Bombylius

We’re coming into the season of bugs; so, you get more bug photos! This is Bombylius major or the large bee-fly. It is a bee-mimic and I found it taking nectar from the same flowers that the honeybees were visiting. This is the first time I ever noticed this little bug which looks to be part fly, part bee, and part hummingbird. Once I noticed it, I began seeing it everywhere. A friend suggested that it was a hummingbird moth and I thought so, too, at first. However, I noticed that it was missing the hummingbird moth’s “tail” and it had those big eyes and fly-like legs. I do have a picture of a hummingbird moth here and you may pick up some of the differences. Keep your eyes open for this cutie.

cutebug(Click on photo to view larger image)

 

Categories: Fauna, Insects | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.