As the Hen Crows

My flock consists of a bantam cochin rooster, a black cochin-barred rock mix hen (the lead hen), and eight buff orpington hens. I also have three bantam hens that live in the chicken run to keep them safe from hungry hawks and fat cats.  In the run, there are two bantam cochin hens who are sitting on eggs, and a d’Uccle hen who I’m sure is feeling abandoned and lonely, so I’ve been let her out to free range with the big chickens the last couple days.
This morning I hear a gurgly attempt at a crow coming from the chicken run, where the bantams hens live.  The bantam roo lives with the big hens, who all sleep in the coop at night to muffles the roo’s crows.  (He’s fluffy enough to give the appearance of being a big chicken.)  The crow I heard was definitely coming from the run.
As soon as I got to the computer, I looked up “hen crowing” and found some interesting information.  It seems that a the dominant hen in a flock with no rooster will occasionally take on the responsibilities of a rooster – protecting the flock, crowing, and sometimes even mounting the other hens as if to breed.
Did you notice that part about “a flock with no rooster”?
It also seems to be rather common that a hen at the bottom of the pecking order will crow… in a flock with no rooster.
So I have a little hen at the bottom of the pecking order who has decided she wants to crow, even with her rooster being more than happy to breed with her.  I think my little dingbat is confused.
Update:
Another week has passed and Speckle didn’t crow again till Sunday morning – after she had been out with the big chickens most of the day on Saturday.  So it looks like the solution is limiting her time with the flock… but why?  Her voice is low enough that the neighbors probably can’t hear her, so the issue is more that I feel bad for her.  It makes me think she’s missing something in her life.  Honestly, I should stop applying human emotions to my chickens and just let her enjoy a good crow now and then.

In the Garden – Daisies

The daisy was once an emblem of fidelity and innocence. The Celts believed daisies were the spirits of children who died at birth.  In some areas, stepping on a daisy or uprooting a plant would prevent a child from flourishing.  Still others believed putting daisy roots under your pillow would either bring on dreams or bring back an absent lover.

Daisy - photo from Wiki Commons
Daisy – photo from Wiki Commons

In Elizabethan times, the daisy was a used as a remedy for gout, rheumatism, and migraine.  Poets love the daisy for its tradition of modesty and sweetness, while farmers curse it because the roots give off toxic substances that damage crops.  Cattle avoid the daisy because of its bitter flavor.  It’s curious that I have run across both culinary and medicinal uses while researching for this post, but it’s best to err on the side of caution and assume that all parts could be poisonous.

The daisies we know today, the oxeye daisy, or margarite, and the shasta daisy got their name from the Old English daeges-eaye, or “day’s eye”, referring to the way the flower opens and closes with the sun (except on cloudy days).

The oxeye daisy (Chrysthanthemum leucanthemum) was brought to America by the colonists.  It is an easy plant, needing little care once established.  It grows approximately 2″ high and about a foot wide.  It has bright green foliage, clean white petals and a yellow center.

The Shasta daisy (Chrysthanthemum maximum, C. superbum) was created by Luther Burbank when he crossed an oxeye daisy with a Japanese “daisy”.  He named them after the snow-capped Mt Shasta he lived near.  (Luther Burbank has no connection with the naming of the city of Burbank in southern California.)  There are several varieties available, including some that grow smaller than the oxeye, some that grow larger, some with a more yellowish flower and some with shaggy flowers.

Sources:

The Country Diary of Garden Lore by Julia Jones and Barbara Deer (1989)

100 Flowers and How They Got Their Names by Diana Wells (1997)

Sunset’s Western Garden Book (1997)

Happy Gardening!

Lisa

An Hour to Garden

2014

California Drought 2014 – Did You Know?

Did you know that California is in “possibly” the worst drought in recorded history?  I didn’t.  Our water company hasn’t sent any literature or notifications with the bill and I don’t read the news online or watch it on TV, so I’ve missed any notifications there.

SierraNevada_tmo_2014018 2014

NPR has an article with pictures of Folsom dam at 17% of its capacity.  The photo above shows the the snow pack in the Sierra Nevada 10-30% of what we need.

Though I won’t be able to plant much in the flower beds this year, I can still plan what will go in when we have the budget.  I’ll share what I learn about drought tolerant plants.

Happy Gardening!

Lisa

An Hour to Garden

2014

A Ruby-Crowned Kinglet is Insisting on Getting in the House!

ruby crowned kinglet

(photo from All About Birds.com)

A ruby-crowned kinglet has been trying to get into my office for the last two days. I have a spoiled menagerie in the office that drive me half crazy with all their happy noises, so maybe he’s trying to woo the canary? The cockatiel is too big to catch his/her interest, and the lovebird and budgie are both blue with white/grey wings, so I can’t see the tiny bird being interested in them. I’m getting a little worried because he occasionally drops to the ground after tapping its head against the glass over and over. I’ve closed the blinds so only a couple inches are open (knickknacks keep it from closing all the way), but it doesn’t deter him.

What’s really interesting is that the top of his head is smooth grey, like the shoulders, but once in a while there is a shocking orange patch! Then he’ll dart off to another bush and come back a moment later with his head smooth grey again. I’m certain this is the same bird as they usually travel in a small flock and he’s been alone since early yesterday. Hopefully his flock will wander by again so he can join them.

Happy Gardening!

Lisa

An Hour to Garden

Southern California Gardening

2013

 

Waiting for Second Spring (Southern California)

It’s September and my garden is definitely looking worn out.  I would love to rip out every scraggly annual and perennial I planted just a few months ago, but I must be patient because second spring is coming.  While I wait for the heat wave to pass (what is with the sun the last couple weeks??) I’m continuing to deadhead, keep the vines under control and pruning back the blackberry vines.  It’s too hot to deal with the grass encroaching in my flower beds and it’s the wrong time to prune fruit trees, and I don’t like to plant when it’s this hot.  The risk of losing the plants due to stress combined with high temps isn’t worth it, in my opinion, never mind that I don’t want to work under this angry sun.

apparently the water is better up there (1)

Keep watering deep, giving extra attention to the plants that need it.  Snip back spent flowers and remove dead branches or plants.  Continue caring for veggies and harvesting as they ripen.  Be careful to not over water your tomatoes will split.

Happy Gardening!

Lisa

An Hour to Garden

Southern California Gardening

2013

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