Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Spring has arrived at Dog Trot Farm. Unfortunately along with spring comes Black Fly season. Black flies are those teeny tiny gnats that love to torment we humans as we attempt any outdoor activity. They fly in your eyes, up your nose, buzz in your ears, get caught in your throat. They crave the warmth of the human body. A gnat bite will usually cause a welt- sometimes small, sometimes large, accompanied by relentless itching. Plain and simple black flies can drive you CRAZY. "Is it buggy out?" some of the most repeated words you will hear in New England at this time of year. It may be a wonderful warm spring day, you have a chore list a mile long to attend to, but if there is no breeze- just forget it- nothing will be accomplished with those "buggers" buzzing around. Some of us have resorted to DEET, Avon's Skin So Soft, and even old "bug dope" recipes. Nothing really seems to deter these nasty creatures. Then there is the option of hats with netting, which help protect head and face. There is also a full body suit made in the same manner which zips up the front- not much of a fashion statement but I am told it helps tremendously. This may just be the year that I invest in one. Peas, lettuce, spinach and carrots have made their presence in the kitchen garden. Pumpkins, bottle gourds, and flower seeds have been planted indoors and are waiting for warmer conditions before being transplanted. The remainder of the vegetable garden will be planted by late May or when there is no longer a threat of frost or snow.

My girls, well they feel as though they are being treated like prison inmates. I am the warden and Winslow Homer the prison guard and they are in lock down. Since Georgia's death the girls have had one weekend furlough. I dare not leave them out for long, even with my presence in the yard the fox is just lurking waiting for the right opportunity. My neighbor informed me of a fox heading across our field with a white hen in it's mouth.I do not own any white hens. Poor little white hen I hope it escaped the jaws of death and found it's way home.
It is tough on my chickens not being able to free range, they led such a bucolic existence, but this is reality.
So with that being said on Saturday DH began the coop yard extension. Their outdoor space will be doubled in size, with an area for bathing and more perches.
And Gladys, sweet Gladys she appears to be improving each day. She is not capable of flying to the roost at night so I keep her inside in the "infirmary". She has not been laying, but that is the least of my worries. She appears happy with her environment, eats, drinks. She allows me to pet her, however, is not ready to be held. Having a chicken in the house is such lovely company. Gladys is beginning to find her singing voice once again. She is such a love and I am so grateful she is alive. Gladys and I thank you all for your kind comments, concerns, and e-mails. My girl truly is an amazing chicken.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


Last evening at 7:34 I found dear sweet Gladys. Yesterday's drama took a toll, but ended in the following. Was informed that it is legal to kill a predator if it is on one's property causing harm to pets or farm animals. With that being said I took target practice last evening. Killing is not something I choose to do, but feel I have been forced into it. Just call me Annie Oakley with a double barrel shotgun. The fox population is quite prolific in our area, trapping is just not feasible. Georgia was left dead, intact, not taken for food, just killed. At 7:34, by the edge of my garden I found Gladys, ALIVE!!!!! She was hurt, bleeding and in shock. DH and I managed to get her into the four star hotel where she promptly drank water and nibbled on lettuce. A good sign, however we were not confident she would make it through the night- the odds were not in her favor. This evening she is holding her own, her wattle has regained some color and she has just bestowed upon me an afternoon egg. A good sign I hope. I am not sure how Gladys was able to make her way home, but am so happy and thankful she did. For now she will remain inside and her sisters unfortunately have to stay enclosed behind chicken wire. Better safe than sorry, as the old adage goes. I want to thank you all for leaving such heart warming comments, blogging friends are just the greatest. It is also reassuring to know there other people in this world who love their chickens as much as I do. From all of us here at Dog Trot Farm, thank you for caring.

Monday, April 19, 2010


On this beautiful spring morning, birds are singing and flowers blooming, two of my girl's have been killed. Dear sweet Gladys and Georgia I have lost to a fox. I now realize what the phrase "sly as a fox" truly means, I have learned the hard way. I have recovered Georgia and buried her in the flower garden, but have yet to find Gladys. Winslow and I have walked the fields and woods and have found evidence of her demise.
I know they are just chickens to some, but to me my buddies and how I loved dear Gladys. I keep hoping she might appear, but I am afraid there is little hope. Today is a sad day.

Friday, April 16, 2010


I seldom shop at Goodwill. Past trips have never proved successful. Recently, more blogs than not show what great discoveries they have unearthed at their local Goodwill store. So today with my friend Becky, I decided to give it another go.... and this is what I discovered for .99 cents, an old cut glass pitcher. I would estimate it from the 40s or 50s, it was the perfect vessel to display daffodils and forsythia. Goodwill, it was a good place to visit on this very cold, wet, sometimes snowy day in New England.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Come April, we gardeners pull on our overalls, don our muck boots, grab our rakes, hoes, and tiller and head to the plot of soil we call our garden. Whether your plot is large or small it makes no difference, those garden visions that have been harbored all winter long can now be brought to life. Here in Southern Maine the weather has felt more like May than April. At Dog Trot Farm we seem to be ahead of the game as far as spring chores go. The lawn has been raked of it's winter debris and today was the first mowing. Gardens have been tilled and peas planted. Well, peas were planted along with lettuce, carrots and dill until someone who shall remain nameless(Gladys) decided scratching in the new tilled soil was much more pleasurable than joining in the communal bath with her sisters. Gladys has also discovered a new diversion, pulling laundry of the clothesline. Fortunately for me she has not been successful, yet.
Alas, seeds have been replanted and netting was secured around the perimeter of the raised bed garden. This will keep certain fowl out of trouble and aid in climbing peas and certain flowers.

A new arbor has been installed,
and these bright and cheerful pansies just had to come home with me, they practically jumped into my shopping bag.
When planted in this festive teacup planter, they can't help but put a smile on your face. Flowers have a magical power all their own and I am so happy these chose to come home with me.
As for Norman the gnome, well he has been repositioned to the back woods. Norman will spend his days waiting and watching for the summer fairies to arrive. I do believe there is magic in those woods, I guess I'll just have to wait and see.

Saturday, April 10, 2010



Thursday, April 8, 2010


Seeing the words "Julia Child In Maine" on the March issue of Down East magazine caught my eye. One summer after World War II, Julia McWilliams along with her then beau Paul Child visited the Child's family at Mountain Desert Island, Maine. It was an opportunity for Julia to meet Paul's family who at the time were in the process of building a rustic cabin, located on the quiet side of the island. It was long before Julie became "Julia", the kitchen icon. On September 1, 1946 Julia and Paul were married and when time and schedules allowed they returned to the Island as often as possible. While in Maine the couple pitched in with the completion of the cabin, took walks through the woods, hiked, fished, sailed and enjoyed summer weeks with family in Maine. In 1959 the now famous "Julia Child" would visit the local market in Southwest Harbor regularly and these visits continued right up to the mid 1990's. This plot of land in Maine held a special place in Julia's heart. Upon her death in 2004 at the age of 91, some of Julia's ashes were spread near the family cabin on the Island. Acadia National Park in my opinion is one of the most special places on this earth and after reading this article, I see Julia would agree with me.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


Sky shining blue.... Temperature hovers above eighty-two....
Colors of Spring bursting forth....
Ruffled petals delight the eye.... Feathered friends finding homes to call their own....
While others share in the delight of the day....
Dancing about having their way.....
Some are grateful to be standing on their feet
All rush over to the meet and greet....
Norman the gnome I think they shall like....
as he bids them all hello and shares in their delight!

Monday, April 5, 2010


Thank you dear blog friend's for your kind comments and concerns in regards to my dear hen Charlotte. She is on the mend and recovering quite nicely. Her limp appears gone and wing seems fine as she is once again able to fly to perches and to roost. The incident however, caused such a state of stress amongst the girls that their egg production has dropped off dramatically. Can't say as I blame them, I too would be a nervous Nelly. I am still in awe over the fact that Charlotte not only survived the incident, but found her way home. Who ever said chickens were dumb did not know what they were talking about! I will keep you all posted if Charlotte decides to switch teams and becomes a rooster. One of my blog readers revealed that this did indeed occur with one of her hen's who had survived an incident similar to Charlotte's. Take about amazing chickens! First outing after the incident Winslow Homer the hero dog remained close at hand. The girls did not wander far from the backyard and remained close together. I did notice more "chirping" amongst them and any out of the ordinary sound or movement prompted the girls to scramble together, remain silent and cautious.
So this is what it has come down to, me toting a gun. My cousin Eve would be proud of me I'm sure. The first time I held a weapon was at Eve's home in New York. I did not think my hand was ever going to quit shaking. I just am not the gun toting type, but I do respect responsible gun owners. Seeing me sitting in my reading chair with a gun was cause for a good laugh. ( "Mom, you'll shoot your eye out!") Mrs. Fox has indeed reappeared and Winslow Homer did swing into action as I flew around scurrying the girls into their coop. I need to confess mama fox is a real beauty, healthy, stunning coat with a cry to match. Now, I don't intend to kill or mame her ( as if I could) I just want to scare her off. I realize she is just trying to provide for her kits, but I sure would like for us to come to some sort of agreement- she remains on her side of the field and my girls remain on theirs! Sounds reasonable doesn't it?

Sunday, April 4, 2010


The table was set, brunch in the oven, family arriving.... Easter baskets for the ladies and chocolate bunnies for the men folk.......
And look what appeared from the Easter Bunny for me, a charming little fellow holding a rooster. Thank you mom, I just love him.

A beautiful sunny day enjoyed by all. From my home to yours, Easter blessings.

Thursday, April 1, 2010


First, I must start at the beginning. Last night I watched a program on PBS about people and their amazing chickens. The first story told of a chicken named Valerie and her owner Janet Bonney, who resided in Harpswell, Maine. In February of 1995 Janet found her hen under the front porch of her home frozen. Janet brought the chicken inside and attempted to place her into a shoe box for burial. Valerie being so stiff that her leg's would not bend - Janet began to warm her body slowly with a hot water bottle. After fifteen minutes of doing so Janet noticed the little hen take a breath. For the next three hours Janet warmed the little hen's body and gave mouth to mouth resuscitation. I promise this is true! Once completely warmed Valerie stood, clucked and decided she was no worse for wear. Over time Janet did state that the once scraggly hen evolved into a beauty and noticed the pecking order in the hen house had consequently changed in Valerie's favor.
Next was the story of Mike the rooster who lived 4 1/2 years without a head. His story began in the 1940's as told in Life and Time magazines and holds a place in the Guinness book of world records. Mike was intended for the soup pot. His owner chopped his head off, but Mike ran around the barnyard as chicken do, but Mike simply would not die! Seeing Mike's determination to stay alive his owner provided food and water via an eye dropper. Mike was given constant care however, died after chocking on a kernel of corn when his owner had forgotten the eye dropper. Scientist determined Mike survived because his brain stem had been kept intact and also from the quality of care provided by the family. Now my story. The photo below is the posture of a hen who knows danger is lurking. Tail feathers out, neck stretched, intently listening.
Today, the weather was perfect: sunny and warm. The girls were let loose and enjoying the day running around the yard. Winslow Homer and I were in the backyard too. The girls were just slightly behind their coop. All too quickly circumstances changed, a cluck turned into an all out warning, feathers flying and girls scrambling. A fox snatched not one, but two of my girl's! I could not believe what I was seeing, the fox began dragging both Buffs across to the next field, but eventually did drop one, Iris. My heart sank as I watched the fox leave with Charlotte in it's mouth and eventually out of my sight. How did this happen? The day being so perfect, I was right there, but yet saw and heard nothing until it was too late. Winslow by this time was on the run, back tracked around the field in the direction of the fox and deep into our woods.

Poor sweet Charlotte, I felt I had let her down I was unable to rescue her.
It made me ill to see her beautiful feathers scattered about. I hoped her demise was overly quickly. Winslow returned and the fox circled around and eventually disappeared. I gathered the girls and put them in their pen. A sense of sadness filled the air. I sat outdoors with the girls for awhile offering extra treats, reassuring them things would be okay. A neighbor happened to stop by after he had encountered Winslow running through the field and wondered if something was wrong. I explained what had occurred. He felt bad as he too has chickens, but stated that he does not let them free range. I now need to think twice about that. We mulled over the situation and then said our "good luck" and "goodbyes". I gathered my gardening supplies before heading indoors for dinner when just over by the back of the house and protected by the lilacs...........................
I saw a Buff. "Honey one of the hens is loose", but wait a minute, I counted combs and to my amazement all nine hens were in their pen, how could this possibly be? I saw that fox take my girl in her mouth and carry her across the field deep into the woods.
But it is true she is alive! Lost a lot of feathers, one wing is sore, and she limps, but she is alive! Somehow she escaped the wrath of that fox and had the fortitude to travel in the right direction home, home to the safety of her pen and her sister's. Charlotte is my amazing chicken.
Now, I realize what you are thinking that this is April Fool's Day, but this is a true story, a true story with a happy ending. It also happens to be the birthday of my late maternal grandmother and she too loved chickens. I told my girl's, girl's you have a guardian angel watching over you, thank you Grammy Lile. Of course it doesn't hurt to have Winslow Homer on your side!