Penny the Henny, the case of chicken cosmetic surgery

ImageMeet Penny.  She’s my favorite chicken ever.  We are BFF’s.  She probably became my favorite because I could tell her apart from the other hens.  See her beak?  It’s not supposed to be that long; the top part should end just past the bottom part.

That overgrown beak has made it difficult for Penny to peck at food to eat it.  She can eat from a pile of food, like in their feeder, but picking up individual bugs and seeds from the ground was impossible.

And I love Penny the Henny.  (Even though she is technically a Pullet.  But what would her name be then: Mullet the Pullet?  Not cool.)

There is no way I could put Penny in the oven.  She squats down for me to pet her whenever she sees me.  She comes to me when I call.

Or she used to.  She’s a bit mad at me.

Like many friendships, ours was marred by unappreciated helpfulness.

We trimmed her beak.

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The surgery didn’t seem to hurt her, just made her mad at me for holding her still.  We wanted to smooth out the corners, but she did that right away by dragging it on the concrete to file it down.  Voila!  Smaller beak.

She was instantly able to eat scratch from the ground without me having to make a small pile and guard her from the other ladies who would love a nibble of that pile of yumminess.

I consider that a successful procedure, even if the patient is angry with me.

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Independence Day

There has historically been a belief among cane farmers that, in order to have a good crop, one needs four hard joints of cane by the Fourth of July. A “hard joint” is a section of cane between two growth nodes.

We rode through the fields on Monday (July 2) and found this:

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That is nine hard joints of cane! And, to make that even more spectacular, that’s not even plant cane! (Remember, plant cane is the best in the fields in its first year of growth.)

To put it in perspective, here’s a good looking young man standing at five feet, eight inches.

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We are praying for continued good weather and giving thanks for ample and timely rains. We are happily celebrating our nation’s birthday with barbecue and banana pudding.

May God continue to bless America.

Corn Days 2013

This week (June 10) was the first of our Sweet Corn Days of the year.

We picked it

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Then shucked it

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If you missed it, this is our video from 2011 that shows how we silk and cut corn.

Then we cook the corn (actively cooking for 20 minutes).

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We spread it out to cool in pans (and crystal platters that were wedding gifts).

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We use LSU Gameday cups and canning funnels to fill the bags.

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Lay them flat & put them in the freezer!

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Enjoy delicious sweet corn all year!

Evening Chores

I tagged along with a camera on most of today’s evening chores.  I missed the feeding of the horse and some of the garden work, but most of it was captured for your enjoyment.

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Squash anyone? Wait a few days and there will be plenty right here!

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Is this a tomato bush or a tomato tree? Either way, it’s taller than Wilson!

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As he pulled weeds, he cursed at them and used their scientific name. I love my AgNerd!

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Baby Girl showed up in her bikini, fresh from the sprinkler, to help Daddy check the sweet corn! It’ll be ready early next week!

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It was a struggle, but she managed to wait all the way to the wash rack before eating this tomato fresh from the vine. Daddy asked for a bite, but she quickly ate it all!

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The bunnies got fresh carrot tops and their food & water dishes refilled.

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The chickens know to follow the red bucket for their food, but they often follow it back to the shed empty. Not the brightest animals on the farm, for sure!

And there you have it!  This evening on the farm was brought to you by the sweat of the brow of the man snoring next to me.  Good night, y’all.  

Chickens

It’s been awhile since we’ve written about our gals. I say “gals” because our only rooster Gumbo suffered with acute lead poisoning and passed away. Perhaps he shouldn’t have chased my children.

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Rest in peace, Gumbo.

So the former “Sister Wives” are now Widows.

They are still very loved and spoiled.

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Prize-winning cabbage. Before.

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During.

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And after.

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Eating strawberry hulls. After this, they’ve taken to pecking at my painted toenails. I guess red looks yummy to them now!

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“Can I come in?”

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“Thanks for leaving the door open, kiddos!”

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“I brought friends.”

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Riding a scooter

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Eating scratch

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Peeping through the windows

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Visiting with the rabbits, Tom & Jerry.

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More scratch, this time from an official Farm Princess!

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Hanging out on mom!

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Reading the newspaper!

As you can see, our gals are less Farm Animal, more Spoiled Pets.

They do earn their keep, though!

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Raising Cane 5/19

52 1/2 inches on 5/19.

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White Tail Blight

My soybeans are suffering from White Tail Blight. Why don’t they come out this during hunting season?

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The Farmer’s Favorite Time of Year

I have this vision in my head of my favorite time of year. I am looking from the back of a tractor at the cultivator as it slices the ground. The soil has gone untouched since harvest and has not been cultivated since late spring of the previous year. The residue from the previous crop has been burned away and the new shoots of cane have begun to sprout from the center of the rows. The off bar slices the soil from the hip of the row filling in any ruts and cuts made by the tractor during harvest. Just behind the off-bar the hipping gangs pull just enough of the soil back to the hip of the row so that the excess water from the spring rains soon to come will flow out of the field and not drown out the newly emerging cane. The soil is not placed tightly against the cane so that there is a small cut to place the fertilizer which will nourish the cane in the coming months.

As a farmer I love to watch things grow, to till the soil, and smell the freshly turned earth. That makes spring my favorite time of year. Sugarcane is such a unique crop. When we plant a crop it is a commitment for four years. We care for and maintain this planting in a cycle that never ceases to amaze me.

Usually the crop begins to emerge sometime in March. This year we have experienced a very mild winter and the crop got up and growing in mid-February; this is rather unusual. We were excited at the prospect of several weeks of extra growing time. Unfortunately the week before last we experienced a light freeze. As a tropical crop, the sugarcane growing cycle was set back a couple of weeks. No worries though; the crop will persevere and, with adequate growing conditions, we still have the potential for a great crop.

It did rain last night and, while I would like to be in the field, today this means that the fertilizer and pre-emergence herbicides I applied this week are now activated. As soon as it dries up enough to get a tractor in the garden, we will plant our first round of sweet corn!

Plus Dana and I are glad to have some time to spend together without me working the crazy mad hours that spring often brings.

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Historic and Scenic River

This notice appeared in our local newspaper:

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This sounds all well and good, preserving our lovely Bayou Teche for future generations. However, as with all seemingly good government programs, there are drawbacks.

This is the official description of what constitutes a “scenic river.”  What concerns me is the list of government agencies that must review a permit application for a number of activities:  the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries; the Department of Environmental Quality; the Department of Agriculture and Forestry; the Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism; and the Office of State Planning.  There is not a clear statement about what to do if one of these numerous groups decides they don’t like what the permit application requests.  This type of broad-stroke painting leaves me wary.

Also of note, the list of activities that require a permit includes, but is not limited to, a number of things that are quite likely in our future:  bulkheads, piers, docks, and ramps; waste water discharges (does this include runoff from the fields?), land development adjacent to the river, aerial application of pesticides and fertilizers to fields adjacent to scenic streams, and water withdrawals.

We farm on both sides of the Bayou Teche, as do several of our farming neighbors.  Therefore, we are concerned about this further regulation of a natural resource.

How about you?  Have any of you been affected by such a designation?  We’d love to hear your experiences and take them with us to these meetings.

Wordless Wednesday from Washington, DC

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Speaking with Congressman Bill Cassidy. Photograph by Kristen Oaks.