Happy New Year!!  What a new year surprise we got!  We weren't alone though, the cold happened everywhere across the states.  We were cold!  I'm happy to say the animals all came out of it in perfect condition.  Whew, Tyler had to work hard at keeping them warm, fed, and comfortable.  And so the year begins and we are off!  Everyone is healthy and happy and that's all I care about.  

We are looking forward to a wonderful year ahead and meeting lots of new people and catching up with lots of returnees.  We're also looking forward to meeting the new people that are going to own the farm when they purchase it this year. No, they haven't come into the radar yet, but we are just feeling it in our bones.  We want to pass the torch on to the next owners and stewards of Cabin Cove Farm this year. It's time for Tyler and I to retire from farm life and we want to be sure the next folks are committed to this lifestyle.  We want the rental business to keep thriving, we want the animals to stay healthy and happy on the farm, and we want the next folks to be as happy here as we have been for 20 years. This is the heaven we have all dreamed we would be a part of our whole lives, and here lies the opportunity for someone to just take it over, let it run as always, have an income all set up for them, have animals all adapted to their environment, and just live joy.  How much better can that get!  So, we are ready to wait for the next folks to show up and let us know it's their time now. New stewards of the land. Can't wait to meet them and see who takes over for us.  They will have to be special and really into this lifestyle.  There are so many people that come back year after year and they count on us keeping this going.  We would never want to disappoint them. The vacation business will continue no matter who is here.  And the animals will be cared for really well because they will love them as much as we do.

Late January
The weather has warmed up a bit finally.  The sun shines daily and that makes all of us one the farm, 2 legged and 4 legged, happy.  Been working on the cabin putting away Christmas decorations, getting the rental cabin ready for a whole new year of guests.   

Oh my!  It's a winter wonderland outside!  It's gorgeous!  I'm looking out the window and it looks like a postcard you would see at the Hallmark store.  I just may have to get out in it and roll around a little.  LOL 

Jin is really growing up.  She's feeling her oats.  She has challanged nearly everyone in the herd, letting them know she is not to be viewed as a baby any longer.  And then there is the moment when she nips at someone playfully or chases someone all over the field.  I think she wants both.  But it's so much fun to watch her in her antics as she matures.  We have to enjoy this moment as she will be a grumpy old lady soon enough. 

Goodness!  What happened to April!!  It flew by!!  So much to do on the farm this time of the year.Tyler opened the big field and the kids are in heaven.  They go everywhere now, stretching their boundaries, daring anything to come into the field.  The weather is spectacular.  A little rain once in a while, which is great, but typically just ideal weather. The flowers are blooming on trees, bushes, ground, everywhere and the green trees are back again, awake and ready to give us all a show and the fields are lush and green. Tyler is incredibly busy getting everything in order and looking great for our guests.  I'm busy with realtors, appraisals, photographing and video taping the farm to put it on the MLS.  We are finally moving foward quickly now because this is the time of the year for folks to see how wondrous the farm is, and the life here. We're expecting a bumper crop of fruit everywhere from the peaches to the blackberries to the apples in the fall. All of them were able to blossom fully. I've started my container garden on the deck and that's always an excitement for me.  I'm really into orchids right now so I've been adding them to our household.  They are so beautiful!  

Oh boy!  Jin has yet another surprise for us!!!!!  I was watering the alpacas down as they love to get wet in the evening and Jin teases with running in and out of the water.  Jin was facing me with the backside and flipped the tail up in the air and guess what I saw!!!!!  Yes, our little girl is a boy!!!!!!   All those cute antics that "she" was doing was actually "him" courting!!!  Ok, stop laughing!!!  Tyler and I are still reeling with shock.  We are terrified to think that all those fun antics that Jin was doing as a girl llama was actually the antics of a boy llama getting the rest of the darn herd pregnant!!!!  Oh goodness are we not looking forward to the spring.  We may have doubled our herd!!!  What a little devil that little boy is. Maybe we should have named him something other than "Happy Surprise" (that's what his name means if you remember). He is constantly a surprise!  Whether we think it's happy or not!  LOL 

Tyler and I have always had the dream that we would have a chicken home and our guests could go to the coop and get their own eggs for their breakfast.  Now that the farm is for sale, : )) , we are actually doing it.  We think the next stewards of the land will love it even more.  We know our guests will.  So far, all our current guests are so excited they can't wait to come back.  How cute is that!  Tyler and I are busy building a home for our beloved chickens and can't wait to pick them out and for them to arrive in their new home.  First we have to figure out how to get this coop and aviary built.  We don't want just a run for our babies, we want them to be able to fly and have running space.  So, we are building an aviary.  Happy hens are happy eggs and that is the healthiest you can eat.  No roosters, just hens, laying unfertilized eggs just for us, we don't slaughter or eat animals here. 

What a project!!!!  We are both exhausted by the end of the day what with all the other things we have to do around here AND build a chicken home. It's exhausting so we only work on it a little a day, it helps to keep us from killing each other too.  LOL We know we've done too much when we start loosing our patience with each other.  We have learned to stop before it gets to that place.  Makes it go slower but a happy builder is a good builder.  LOL 

Been researching chickens and have the parameters we need: sweet and good disposition, winter hardy, good layers, doesn't mind confinement, brown eggs, non-brooders. (Brooders are chickens that are prone to sitting on their eggs rather than just dropping them in the nest and going off to live a life.)  Bet that's more than you wanted to know about chickens.  Welcome to our world.  There is so much to know about chickens I can't believe it!  You have to know what they need in the coop, ventilation, roosters, etc., and how much room they need, what kind you want to have, and lots more.  I'm amazed at how much research I've done on the subject.  So, the chickens we've pretty much narrowed down, and they also have to be incredibly beautiful by the way, LOL, the ones we want or are considering are Buff Orpingtons, Benevelders, Lace Wyandottes, Australorps, Rhode Island Reds, Black or Red Star, Black Copper Marans.  We want 6 so they will probably be one or two of those breeds totaling 6.  As soon as we're all set up and have the chickens I'll post the pics on the website. Can't wait to see our girls. 

Yes, we are stilllllll building this thing!  It's quite a project for two non-builders, believe me! I'm going to the Mountain State Fair tomorrow to check out the chickens.  I'm really excited.  I may be coming home with a couple of new baby or teenage girls.  Oh boy!  Are we done with their home yet?  Nope, but we're going to try to fudge it so we can finally get them.  As long as they are safe and secure we can continue to work on the coop.  The aviary is all netted in (wow, what a job) and all that is left is to put on a door and the clear roofing. It's so strong and sturdy Tyler can walk on it if he wanted to.  So we know no raccoon/s are going to cave in the roof. The girls won't be in the aviary for a couple of days, we'll keep them "cooped up" so as to get used to it being their home and where they are supposed to go every night. Then after a couple of days of acclamation we'll let them out into the aviary during the day only.  Then back into the safe coop at night again.  We will take no chances.  When they are really settled in and as soon as we can figure out how to do it without them flying off, we'll let them out into the field in a designated section.  We still have lots of "figuring out" to do.   

Well, what's that expression, all good things.....  In theory that was a great plan.  But what happened is I didn't find any chickens at the fair.  I got back online again and went to look at a couple of places.  I reserved a couple at one farm, which was a terrible mess of a farm, and kept looking.  I just didn't feel comfortable getting chickens from this farm.  I just kept looking and found a wonderful man, Tomas, who sold us Josephine.  Josephine is a beautiful Black Australorp. She's 5 months old and is so friendly and loves people!  We are so happy with her, she is so special!  Tomas tells us she was at the low end of the pecking order so she will probably be happy to be the only one for awhile.  He also mentioned she just started laying eggs but wouldn't be laying anytime soon from all the stress moving and of the new home and all.  Ok, we can be patient.  But here I was, standing in the aviary talking with her while she was in the coop and we were having a great conversation as she talked back to me. We'd chatter and I'd peek in the coop from time to time, we'd chatter some more, then one time I opened the door (I had to see what she was doing in there every minute LOL) and there was Josephine standing over an egg looking at it in total surprise.  She'd look at me and then the egg and then back at me, I'd look at the egg and at her and back at the egg, it was a very funny scene, straight from a cartoon, but we were both so surprised!  I exclaimed what a good girl she was and grabbed that egg.  I was so excited and I really think she knew it and was excited I was excited.  That was my big bonding with Josephine.  We are the best of buds. I love this chicken!  How is that possible!  

I went to another farm today and it was quite an experience.  I got to see how she handled the coops, safe from predators, etc. This woman is very much a chicken lady.  These are not backyard birds, they are special breeds and are bred to produce chicks rather than eggs.  It was very impressive.  Of course she didn't know the chickens like Tomas knew his little flock, she has hundreds, but they are taken care of exceptionally well.  I got a double lace blue Barnevelder aprox 8 weeks old and a double lace black Barnevelder aprox 10 weeks old.  They are exquisite!  But they are babies and they are scared and reactive.  I will keep trying to win them over, if they ever get off the perch.  LOL  I'm hoping getting them as young chicks they will be able to be people-fied.  My experiment.  This lady had so many birds she didn't really know the exact day of birth, or hatching.  Maybe they will be like Josephine one day. 

How great is this....the girls are out and about and looking like they are enjoying themselves.  They still stick together but actually leave each other for a moment or two.  They look happier and more adjusted to the change.  They actually run over to me when I go in the aviary. 

They are doing so well!  It is 2 weeks since they've joined us on the farm and they are so beautiful!  They run after each other, chase each other, they look like they are just really good friends.  Josephine is getting more patient with them and has stopped keeping them from eating their goodies.  When I put the cottage cheese and bananas down for them I thought Josephine was going into fits trying to keep everyone away from HER food!  

We just got another little girl today.  She is a Buckeye.  An exquisite girl. An American breed. Buckeyes are the only breed of chickens developed by a woman.  We named her Gloria. (for Stienum) She's terrified and stays in the coop.  Little Penelope snuggled up next to her to keep her company.  awwww.  That was after she let her know she was higher in the pecking order by poking at her a few times. Poor thing is terrified. 

Oh boy, Gloria came out today.  She's comfortable hanging around with Penelope.  Even more so than Rosemary, though Rosemary stays close to them both.  Penelope is developing quite a personality. 

I sat in the field with the girls today and had my dinner.  Josephine stood right next to me the whole time begging like a doggie!  and of course giving her some bites didn't help the matter any. : ))

The girls follow Josephine around everywhere.  They do everything Josephine does.  I love watching it.  Josephine has developed into quite a matriarch.  She's clearly the boss and the other girls don't mess with that.  They are all very compatible and no one is picking on anyone else and no one is fighting for pecking order status.  I like that a lot. 

The babies are still staying on the left side of the coop and Josephine is on the right by herself.  I wish they would all get together to help keep Josephine warm! Gloria follows Josephine everywhere and sticks to her like glue.  

Gloria has layed her first egg!  It's green and it's little.  Now I know there really is a green egg and ham. LOL  It's as yummy as Josephine's. Here's something interesting. Gloria is roosting on the same side with Josephine.  They huddle together and keep each other warm.  They are really inseparable now.  Josephine finally has a good friend.