Meet the BYF101 Flock: Emily the Silver Duckwing Phoenix

Silver Duckwing Phoenix

This is Emily, our Silver Duckwing Phoenix. Emily is small (she probably only weighs 4 pounds), sweet-natured, and very pretty. She hatched on February 1 of this year, and we acquired her from the neighbor with the cool pallet-built henhouse.

When we got Emily, we thought that she was a Dorking chicken, because that’s what the guy who had her told us she was, but after doing some research when we got her home, we realized that we actually had a Phoenix pullet, not a Dorking pullet. The big giveaway was that Dorking chickens all have five toes, not four toes like Emily has (and like almost all other chickens have. the 5 toes thing is pretty much unique to Dorkings as I understand it).

I didn’t really care one way or the other what kind of chicken we had, although maybe someday we might like to have a Dorking. But we are very happy with our little Phoenix hen.

Here’s another look at her.

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One of Emily’s eyes doesn’t work as well as the other; it’s sort of blurrier looking than the other one, and she often tilts her head to one side to see better with what I think is her “good” eye. She manages just fine, though.

I don’t think I’d ever want a Duckwing Phoenix rooster around because as gorgeous as they are, their tails must be a huge pain to care for.

See what I mean? (photo courtesy of Feathersite)

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That’s a non issue since we aren’t allowed to have roosters of any kind anyway. But for folks who raise Phoenix chickens on purpose rather than accidentally (we fall into the latter camp, with how we acquired Emily), those amazing, ornamental rooster tails are the whole point: Phoenix fanciers want to have them as long and flowy as possible. I think it’s kind of like the poultry equivalent of raising orchids. But as with most ornamental breeds of chicken, the hens aren’t nearly as showy looking as the males. Still, I find Emily quite pretty. She looks sort of like a quail… A quail that acts like a dog that will follow you around the yard.

Emily and our six year old daughter, C are especially fond of one another, and Emily always looks for C to pick her up and hold her. C is the one who named Emily, and the name suits her sweet, calm temperament very well. I always thought that small, flighty-looking ornamental breeds like Emily would have flighty personalities to match but in this case, that’s just not so. Emily is mellow in the extreme, and very good with kids.

Now I can’t wait ’til she starts laying to find out what kind of eggs she produces…

RELATED: Meet Gladys Kravitz, Our Wheaten Marans Hen.

No Cantumbers or Cucaloupes Happening Here

As you can see from this photo, my cantaloupe vines (on the left) look nice and full and healthy. They’ve also got lots of flowers on them, so soon I hope we will have little melons where the flowers are now.

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On the right, growing up the red tomato cage are my cucumber vines. They aren’t looking quite as good, but they do have plenty of flowers, so I hope that we’ll have some cucumbers soon. As I’ve mentioned before, I put my garden in late this year, so while friends of mine already have salad bowls full of cucumbers, mine won’t be ready til August.

But anyway, someone I know saw that I’d planted my melons next to my cucumbers and warned me that I might end up with some kind of cross pollinated, frankenized cantacumber rather than individual melons and cucumbers.

Really? No way! Was this actually true? Was this yet one more thing that we beginner veggie gardeners needed to learn/worry about – accidentally creating frankenized hybrid veggies through accidental cross pollination?

Well it turns out that while cross pollination can be something that can occasionally occur within the same vining species, like two types of squash, it can’t and won’t happen between cucumbers and melons because although they both grow on similar looking vines, they’re dissimilar species. However, the myth that these two garden faves CAN interbreed persists, and is apparently quite common.

This is a big relief to me. I’d very much like to get the hang of growing plain, old melons and cucumbers before attempting any crazypants hybridized versions of those two tasty items, or of anything else in my garden, for that matter.

Bloomsbury

I’ve had a hard day today. Maybe you have too. Here are some flowers from my garden to cheer us both up.

Honeysuckle.

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Candy stripe Zinnias

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Bougainvillea

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Pink Zinnia

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Purple Rose of Sharon

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Orange Milkweed

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Scarlet Dahlia

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The Bravest Silkie In The World

White Silkie ChickenIt’s no secret that we love Silkie chickens around here. They are simply THE coolest little creatures. Last winter at some point one of the members of the BYF101 Facebook page pointed out this awesome little video titled “The Bravest Silkie In The World,” on You Tube, and I wish I could remember who it was who introduced our family to the video because it’s become such a hit with my two youngest. Whomever it was, thank you!

Now I have to admit that it took me a time or two of watching it with the girlsto get past the slightly maudlin intro to the video before I realized what a totally sweet and wonderful story it actually is – for little kids and big kids alike…especially if by “big kid,” you mean my little kids’ mother. My four year old will watch this video five times in a row if you let her. She never stops clutching at her breast in mock terror at “the scary part” even though she knows how it all ends.

If you’re in the mood for something super sweet and happy with just a touch of drama – something that you can watch on You Tube with even your littlest children or grandchildren, you’ve gotta check this out. Plus, it’s about chickens!

Debo Mitford, George McGovern, and David Sedaris

Even though I now read more than half of the books and magazines that I still devour endlessly in a digital format – on my iPad mini or even on my iPhone – I still seem to perpetually find that my nightstand is cluttered neyond all reason with actual books…lots and lots of books, and not always the ones I am actually reading. But here’s what I am reading right now – all of them in bits and pieces here and there as the mood strikes. For example, sometimes I just can’t pick up Lament for a Son” target=”_blank”>”Lament for a Son,’ and would much rather read some Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls” target=”_blank”>David Sedaris, whereas there are other times, when it’s 2 am and I am pacing the house in tears, and everyone else is asleep, and reading what Nicholas Wolterstorff has to say about losing his own son is the only thing for me to do right at that moment.

Everything on this list is something I am enjoying a great deal at the moment. It’s all good. I haven’t included anything that I’ve picked up and started reading and then put back down without ever picking it back up again. My favorite in the bunch by far at the moment is “Wait for Me!” by the Duchess of Devonshire, one of the infamous Mitford sisters. “Debo” was the youngest, and undoubtedly the most sensible, and she’s had a life like no other in this century. She’s funny and smart and SO self-effacing. She wrotes as well or better than her “writer” sisters Nancy and Jessica, and now that she’s in her 90s, she’s got plenty to say.

Here she is out feeding her chickens on the grounds of Chatsworth, one of England’s greatest architectural treasures, which it can be argued that she singlehandedly saved from complete ruin by openimg it to the public for the forst time and turning it back into a semi working farmduchess of devonshire with some of her chickens,.

I bought all of these books myself to read for myself, but you should know that I do have an Amazon affiliate account, so should you decide to order any of these titles through my blog, I’ll receive a small commission of some kind (I honestly don’t know how much it would be because in ten years of blogging, I’ve never received one from Amazon!)

Muddy Feathers Make Everything Trickier

Chickens Eating Breakfast Well, the weather forecast said it was supposed to rain all day Saturday and Sunday, so in hindsight we probably should have waited ’til at least Sunday afternoon to migrate our chickens and duckies around, just to at least see whether the weather would dry up before the weekend emded, right? But alas, we didn’t.

We decided to move forward with our plan for this weekemd to migrate the Silkies and ducks over to the BYF101 Annex(es) and at the same time bring some of our laying hens home because both Jon and I have busy weeks ahead this week, and we needed to get it done over the weekend. So we decided that rain or no rain, we were gonna go for it. Besides, how hard could it be to wrangle up a few friendly, muddy ducks and chickens, put them in boxes, and drive them over to a couple of relatively nearby that I visit often anyway, right? WRONG.

If you take anything at all from the error of my ways, let it be this life lesson: wet feathers make even the simplest job much less simple. < <<<--- WORDS TO LIVE BY.

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The Land of the Lost

After several days of pounding rain, the clouds broke this afternoon and I was able to get out and see what all that water had done to/for the garden in the middle of July. And the answer was, a whole heck of a lot. Everything is now about twice the size that it was before, kind of like the plants in the land where Marshall, Will & Holly found themselves that one time.

Marshall, Will and Holly on a Routine Expedition

Marshall, Will and Holly on a Routine Expedition

Here are a few examples.

The dahlias continue to grow ever more enormous.

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And I’m pretty sure that the elephant ears are now bigger than real,,actual elephant ears.

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Our watermelons are seeming to double in size every 48 hours now.

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And the chikdren are all well above average.

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No More Soviet Era Blog Architecture Around Here

Ever since I launched BYF101 back in March, I’ve hated the way the blog has looked. In fact, I have hated it with the burning passion of a thousand suns. But for a variety of reasons, there just hasn’t been time or money available to spiff the design up to even a reasonable degree. That’s why those of you who have been kind enough to read my little stories about veggies and ducks and chickens and children and raccoons and God knows what else since I began writing here have had to do so at a site that looked like it was designed by Kruschev’s favorite architect. I had some serious Soviet bloc blog “design” work j
going on around here, what with the single black stripe at the top announcing
the blog’s title, and the utter lack of any color anywhere else… anywhere.

See, here’s an example of a 1960s Soviet apartment building. Doesn’t it remind you of the way BYF101 has looked since I took it live in March?

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Tonight, however, I am pleased to let you know that Jon has found the time this weekend to work on installing the new WordPress theme I’ve picked out for BYF101, and so while it’s a work in progress – it will likely take until Monday night before all the pieces are in place and nothing is missing when you visit here and have a look around – for the first time since we turned the “on” switch on this blog a few months ago, it’s finally coming together visually. And that makes me happy. I truly hated looking at that ugly black bar/white typeface blog design every time I sat down to write here. Oh! And I am also really excited that we are nearing the 1k membership mark at our Backyard Farmer 101 Facebook page. If you haven’t already joined up with us there, I hope you will.

Thanks for your patience over the next day or two as Jon gets things all set up with the new blog design, and as always, thank you so very much for taking the time to read my writing. I truly appreciate it.