Archive for Cuckoo Maran chickens

A Stinky Situation

Posted in Chickens, Solutions with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 3, 2010 by PickMeYard

We have been adding and removing plants from our garden every week.  The sunflowers grow tall and then need to be pulled and thrown into the compost pile… along with the old flowers and herbs.  Florida summers are hard on some plants and new plantings usually take the place of the old ones.  This summer we’ve mostly planted black-eyed peas, okra and callaloo.  They grow well in our hot Florida summers and we enjoy them on our dinner plates. 

A row of black-eyed peas. I've planted them all over the garden. They fix the nitrogen in the soil and are a great plant for Florida's extreme summer.

Black-eyed peas.

Giant sunflowers.

We painted the chicken tractor the same color as our house. The kids had a blast painting it...for about 30 minutes. A little help is better than none at all.

The stinky situation is not our compost pile though.  It’s the brown marmonated stink bugs that have shown up.  I kept noticing them on our young watermelon, squash and cucumber plants.  I sprayed them with a poison which made Grayson frown at me.  I used the insecticide against my better judgement, but I wanted to see these bugs disappear off my young plants.  The bugs just laughed at me and increased their numbers.

We decided we needed to figure out a better way to rid our garden of these pests.  Grayson put a specimen in a jar for us to study.  Our conclusion is that it is indeed the brown marmonated stink bug (Halyomorpha halys) that has come over to the U.S. from Asia.  It is an invasive pest that was discovered to have made its way into the U.S. in 2001 and is spreading throughout the states.  It sucks the life out of many trees, fruits, and vegetables and is extremely difficult to eradicate. 
We are taking our specimen to our local Florida County Cooperative Extension Service Office  for a positive identification.  I am really hoping that I have it confused with another bug.   I’ll update you on the results.
Grayson and I recently bought twelve little chicks from a friend.  Nine of the birds are Cuckoo Maran chickens that lay dark chocolate eggs.  Three of the chicks are guinea fowl (babies are called “keets”).  We added the three little guinea fowl to the mix but did not tell my husband.  Nine of the chicks are black and white and three of the chicks (guineas) look remarkably different with stripes all over them.

Baby Cuckoo Maran chicken and guinea fowl.

My husband kept commenting that he couldn’t believe how different in color three of the chicks were.  Grayson and I couldn’t keep the secret and eventually told him that we secretly slid 3 guinea fowl in the box.  He said we were crafty and that they would never work out because they’re loud, boisterous and like to fly.  I said they will work out because they’re vocal, entertaining and I want them.  So there. 

Guinea Fowl. I think they're adorable...and they have yummy eggs with a very hard shell.

A great website with information about guineas is   Did you know that guineas can completely rid a yard of ticks? That means there is a much lower risk of getting lyme disease.  They also eat fleas, lice, cutworms, spiders, roaches, termites, grubs, snails, mosquitos and… stink bugs!  They eats thousands of insects in a day.  They might just be our solution.  They also enjoy eating bees, but I’ll figure that one out later.  For now, I am most inclined to get rid of all the bad bugs.
Come grow with us!   

The Wise Garden

Posted in Inspiration with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 19, 2010 by PickMeYard

It’s not very often that I am invited to visit a garden that is hidden and mysterious.  Grayson and I were elated when we got an invitation to see one.  The owner of this storybook garden is 80 years old and has been creating her garden for 60 of those years.  However, her garden is  not the kind of garden that looks perfect.  Her garden looks like a forest full of intrigue.  It seems like every square inch of her yard is planted with unusual and wonderful trees and plants. She grew everything from either seed or cutting and each of them has a story.

A huge java plum tree that gives delicious fruit for making jam.

Nona took us on a tour of her garden that we wished could go on and on.  She walked us around with a small machete and gave us cuttings, seeds and young potted plants of each plant in which we took an interest. She filled the back of our SUV.   While we walked around, she gave me a glass of elderberry wine… wine that she has been making for over 60 years.  The wine I was drinking was eight years old. It was sooooo good.  I am trying to get the nerve up to ask her for the recipe. Is that wrong?

Nona's Vegetable Garden

It seems like there are a lot of weeds in her vegetable garden, but she has her reasons.  She pulls out the weeds that she doesn’t want.  She said she keeps the ragweed inside and around her greens to keep the aphids out. 

Nona's Scarecrow

Nona said the birds watch her when she’s in her vegetable garden.  The trick in the above picture has always worked for her.  She gives the string a good shake and the cans make quite a racquet.  The birds hate it.

Guinea Fowl Running Everywhere

She has guinea fowl running all over her property.  They are insect-eating machines.  There isn’t a tick near her house for miles and they keep the mosquito population to a minimum. 

African Grey Goose...with a gander laying on a nest behind him.

Nona's goats provide her gallons and gallons of milk

The goats have their own trailer. Notice the goat sticking her head out the door.

Loring & her new friends

One of Nona's Roosters

Nona has many different kinds of chickens, including some rare heritage breeds.  Our favorite chickens were the Cuckoo Marans.  They lay beautiful chocolate-colored eggs that have a rich flavor.  She said that once we taste ’em, we won’t want any other eggs.  She gave us over a dozen to bring home.  We ate them for breakfast, lunch and dinner the following day.  We want more.  I think our hen population is going to increase a little.  Nona has many different kinds of ducks as well.  She said the duck eggs make the best cakes we will ever taste.

She had a botanical remedy for every ailment in her yard.  She said she can’t remember when she last visited a doctor. Grayson and I planted everything she gave us the minute we got home. We hope that one day our yard is as special as hers.

Come grow with us!