It may seem early, but I'm starting to clear some garden beds and get them ready for winter. I blame it on not putting in as large a garden this year and being tired of the very hot summer weather we're struggling through. Some of the plants are showing signs of struggling, too, so I'm just not going to fight it.
We all are familiar with the song that starts "The hills are alive . . . " Well, the plants are alive . . . with grasshoppers. Great, big, healthy grasshoppers. And they are hungry. If they had invaded when the plants were small, I'm sure they would have destroyed them all. So I'm grateful the giant jumpers have waited to make an appearance until this late in the season. I'm sure they're a sign of the drought.
And drought conditions we are still having. Our local weather report daily states we are having "near critical fire conditions." No rain is in the forecast for the near future. Periodically they will say there is a slight chance of precipitation, but it just doesn't materialize.
I almost hate to show this picture of our pond. As you can see by this one end of it, the water level is down about 4' and it's turning into such a sad looking puddle. It's not spring fed but rather gets water from the run-off of high ground to the north of us. No rain equals no run-off this summer.
We've never had much luck enticing any of the breeds of full-sized chickens we've had into being good setters and hatching our replacement chicks. The bantam breeds haven't (so far) been as inbred and still have some of the old-fashioned characteristics of going broody so this spring we ordered a few Silkie Bantams in the hope they would do the job for us.
We've never had this variety of bantams before and they certainly are strange looking little creatures. Above are two of them, nearly full grown now, along with a couple of teenage full-sized birds.
They don't have feathers as much as fuzz or fur. They're as soft as they look and are very friendly. Here they're clustered around some whole grain treats scattered on the ground. From the back they look like large, moving pom-poms.
We have half white ones and half black ones. They aren't touted as great egg layers (they may lay somewhere around 100 eggs a year), but we aren't really concerned about that because we have laying hens that keep us supplied in a good quantity of eggs.
If all goes as planned, these little fuzzies will earn their keep hatching out new chicks for us. Plus, I think they'll be a fun addition to our flock.