The ducks and the mouse

We knew that chickens would eat mice, but had no idea that the ducks would. The ducks were walking across the yard and Cactus took off quickly and caught this little guy and killed it. I stopped watching after that.

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Dix Mountain range from Round Mountain

Took part in The Mountaineer’s annual Mountainfest yesterday, and snowshoe-bushwhacked up the shoulder of Round Mountain, where we got this view of the Dix Mountain range of the High Peaks.

Dix ranger from Round Mountain

 

First snow

We got some heavy, wet snow last night and with the leaves still on the trees, it’s caused quite a mess. We lost three of our five apple trees that are producing, including hundreds of apples that hadn’t ripened yet, and about 30 other smaller trees plus a bunch of branches. Didn’t lost power, and no real damage to anything.

The ducks, though, are unfazed.

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Spring is definitely back

I went for a run out at Buck Pond campground yesterday. The car thermometer said 68, but I don’t put a ton of trust in those things. They’re part of the car, which is warm, so how can it be an accurate reading?

TurtleAnyway, it was a beautiful day to be out there. Pico and I were jogging down toward the beach when one of the benefits of being a truly slow runner popped up: I saw a teeny-tiny turtle.

It was only as big as my ring, or about the size of a quarter. I snapped a few pictures and we continued, slowly, down to the beach where the loons were already calling.

On our way back, I started to hear this sound that I hadn’t heard on the way in. There’s a little kettle-hole pond on the side of the road, and the frogs were going crazy.

It appears that spring is indeed, here.

 

Spring may be back (but we’re not quite sure yet)

Duckies!!Well, it’s awfully sunny and nice out, but since we’ve gotten snow every week for the last month, it’s hard to be too optimistic, although, the forecast is calling for sun and warmth all weekend.

Since it was so nice out, we took the ducklings out into the garden to wander around. This was their first time outside, and they dutifully followed my step-son around and ate little grass hoppers out of his hands.Proud mommy

The chickens (we’re up to 13 now, with only Brownie remaining of the original flock of four) were quite keen on finding out what the ducks were and why they seemed to be getting treats while the chickens were not.

We only kept the ducks outside for a little while, and like any other pets, I assume that they’ll now be crying to venture outside all the time now. But like any other pet, they’re cute enough when they’re young to make up for any hassles they may cause.

Happy Spring Everyone

Hi all, I know it’s been a while, and I am really sorry about that.

So, to catch you all up, I’ve gotten married, moved onto a great homestead and am working as the outdoors writer for the Adirondack Daily Enterprise. I promise to do a better job going forward of detailing our homesteading experience.

Anyway, to help soothe over any hard feelings about my lack of effort on Middle of the Trail, here’s a picture of our new ducklings, Forbin and Ophelia.

Forbin and Ophelia

Out of Prison and Into the Woods

I was recently interviewed by the Buffalo News for an article on the challenges that two escaped killers face in the woods of the Adirondacks.  The article gives great insight into their mental states, and helps explain why they have been able to be elusive for so long.  You can read the full article here:

http://www.buffalonews.com/city-region/escaping-prison-surviving-the-wild-the-journey-of-matt-and-sweat-20150627

Be sure to like Middle of the Trail on Facebook and follow me on Instagram for more pictures and daily updates and follow @JustinALevine for whatever it is I do on Twitter.

The Homestead – #4

StellaWell, no one can ever say that I have never had my finger inside of a live chicken.  While there’s not a ton going on at the homestead this time of year, the chickens have been keeping me pretty busy.  But tonight takes the cake.

Whitey was acting strange all day.  She’s usually the sketchiest one of the girls, so her allowing me to pet her was definitely out of the ordinary.  With her being so lethargic, I decided that it would be best to bring her inside for the night.  She can be warm and get plenty of rest, plus if she had something contagious this will hopefully keep the other birds from getting it.

I did some research and found that the three most common issues would be mites, worms, or being egg-bound.  I checked her for mites and was good there, and I have to wait for her to poop to check for worms, so the next thing on the list was to check for a stuck egg.

I felt her belly and didn’t feel an egg or anything abnormal, so the next way to see if she has a stuck egg is to reach inside and feel.  I enlisted my nine-year-old step son to help and we scooped her up.  I put on a latex glove and smeared some medical lubricant on my finger.  We parted the feathers around Whitey’s vent and as he giggled nervously and backed up a couple of steps he commented that her vent looked like a mouth.  He didn’t get any closer.

I felt up inside the vent to see I could feel an egg, and found nothing.  I still have to check for worms in the morning, but am hoping she just had a rough day and wasn’t feeling well.  I doubt very much that my finger helped, but we won’t really know until tomorrow.

With the unrelenting cold forcing the chickens to stay inside more than normal, we’ve had some behavioral issues as well.  Stella had taken to eating her own and the other hens’ eggs.  She was definitely the instigator, trying to get to eggs that hadn’t even been laid yet by pecking at the other hens as they laid in the nesting box.  But once the eggs were cracked, it was a noisy free-for-all that left all the chickens with with yolk on them.

This was a problem for the obvious reason that we were getting only an egg or two a day, and also in the nasty behavior department.  They had plenty of water, and the eggs we were getting had rock-hard shells so it wasn’t a calcium deficiency.  Sometimes an egg will just break on it’s own and once they get a taste, the chickens can’t help themselves.

But since it was such a serious issue and not a random egg now and then, I had to take action.  I checked the coop as often as I could, and made sure they had more than enough food and water, as well as giving them supplemental treats like mealworms and fresh greens.  Nothing I did for the first couple of weeks worked.

So I ordered some fake eggs, made of ceramic.  They arrived and looked exactly like the eggs Brownie lays, and best of all, they are rock hard.  They’re so realistic that I added a big “F” to each egg in permanent marker so I could tell they weren’t real eggs.

I opened the coop and tossed the two fake eggs into the corner area where the girls lay.  Immediately Stella came over and started checking them out.  She eyed them all sorts of ways, tilting her head this way and that.  Suddenly, she took a shot and pecked one of the eggs.

Her beak and head bounced off the egg with a loud and sharp “crack.”  She once again eyed the eggs and then wandered off.  The next morning there were four real eggs in the corner in addition to the two fake ones, and we’ve been getting between four and six eggs a day ever since.  I may have to occasionally stick my finger into a chicken butt, but at least now I can keep getting eggs in return.

Be sure to like Middle of the Trail on Facebook and follow me on Instagram for more pictures and daily updates and follow @JustinALevine for whatever it is I do on Twitter.

Follow me on Instagram!

Welp, I finally got one of those fancy phones with a camera and the ability to connect to the internet.  So if you’re interested in seeing lots of pictures of chickens and hiking trails, follow me on Instagram at @JALEVINE6

Oh, and if you follow me, I will follow you back!

Be sure to like Middle of the Trail on Facebook for more pictures and daily updates and follow @JustinALevine for whatever it is I do on Twitter.

Shameless (kind of) Self Promotion

Cabin Life – The First Fifty, is in electronic book form on Amazon. It is on sale for 99 cents, this week only! There are a few previously unpublished essays in there from the first year I lived at the cabin as well. And even though it says Kindle edition, you don’t need a Kindle! It can be read on Mac, PC, iPhone, Android, and iPad with a free app!

It’s available here: http://www.amazon.com/Cabin-Life-First-Justin-Levine-ebook/dp/B00GR330AQ/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1418322346&sr=8-4&keywords=cabin+life

Be sure to like Middle of the Trail on Facebook for more pictures and daily updates and follow @JustinALevine for whatever it is I do on Twitter.