June 8, 2010

Sparky's Adventures in Agriculture - Here a Bird, There a Bird

About two weeks ago we purchased twelve hatching eggs just to see if little miss broody Blueberry might be able to hatch some eggs. (Broody - inclined to sit on eggs.) We brought them home, marked them with an 'X', and PE put them under Blueberry. We are now down to 10. Not quite sure what happened; they probably just fell out when she was getting out of the nest. In addition to losing a couple we have also found her sitting on the eggs she and the other chickens laid instead of the hatching eggs. We really aren't expecting much but for $2.00 it was worth trying.

In addition to that excitement we transitioned Maizie, Daisy, TreeTree, and Sara into the big chicken pen/coop last week. We also moved Spike and GooGoo into the smaller pen/coop. Aside from the initial establishment of pecking order which involved the little ones losing a few feathers the chickens seem to be getting along now. The two little ones have caught on to getting in and out of the pen too.

Saturday morning I noticed some barn swallows flying around. I pointed them out to PE as they were sitting on our railing outside. He mentioned they were probably building a nest somewhere and that their nests are made of mud and usually attached to brick. I had not sprayed our front porch off yet this spring so I figured they were making good use of the twigs and such that were on our porch. I then carried on with my day.

Later in the day Jabba called and said they had found a chick in her mom's backyard and was wondering if we wanted it. I said sure, bring it over. When she got here I went out the door to meet her and there on my doormat was a bunch of mud chunks and twigs. Those damn barn swallows were trying to build a nest on the brick in the arch above my door! It really didn't look like much; just some mud crusted to a few bricks.

Back to Jabba and the chick. She gets out of her car and brings the chick over and it is the tiniest thing I have seen. It was not a chicken. PE looks at it and tells us that it is a pheasant. (He is so smart.) After Jabba hands it over she mentions that there were a couple others but they were better at avoiding the butterfly net. We told her if they caught them they could bring them over.

After her departure I got out the hose and sprayed the mud off the bricks. Yes, the barn swallows are good to have around because they eat bugs but I don't need them living above my front door pooping on my "Leave" welcome mat. As I was spraying down the porch Jabba pulls in the driveway. When she gets out of the car I see she has two more chicks. So we now have three pheasant chicks. Not quite sure what we are going to do with them. PE has them set up in the chicken chicks pen thing and they are hiding in the straw. He isn't sure if they will survive but at least we gave it a try. The outlook was a bit brighter after we witnessed them eating and drinking.

The kids have already named them. From previous naming experiences, can you guess who came up with which names? We have LegoHead, NoodleHead, and Honey. (I am sure you never would guess that Bob was playing with Legos when he thought of LegoHead.) Even though they named them we did not allow for any disillusions. We let them know they may die and they were okay with that.

Back to the barn swallows. . . they returned the next day so I sprayed the mud off the brick and the porch. Then I did some research and it looks as though (depending on the source) there is not much to do to get rid of them. I did not let that discourage me. No sir. I had the brilliant (in my opinion) idea of hanging something out there so they didn't have any space to build their nest. It just so happened to be that I have a twig wreath that has lived in my entryway for years. I love it there. But in order to not have mud and bird ick on my porch from the swallows I decided to try it out on the porch. PE and Jabba have told me the swallows are just going to think I gave them a head start. We will see who wins that one.

Barn Swallow Wreath

It may look a little silly from the street (I haven't looked from there yet--I keep forgetting) but so long as it serves the purpose I am happy.

**UPDATED - The barn swallows have not come back since we hung the wreath. . . I think I win!

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