“Heavy rain this morning” says our ap for weather here at the farm. For sure! But we are off to the Benton County Poultry Swap, so pull on our boot, raincoats, warm some leftover coffee and head for the fairgrounds. Starts at 8:00, said the reader board yesterday, but the reader board forgot to mention that the start time for customers would be 10:00. No wonder we got such a good parking spot. We sigh. We are here to buy another chicken for our “flock” (of 2). But apparently we are to have breakfast first. Fine.

Let’s stop at Wilco, we say, to get some pine shavings for the coop, get a bite at the nearby Applebees. Strike two, the restaurant is having a fund raiser, managed by a lot of young women in blue shirts, and we can have breakfast there for a donation of $11 to the blue-shirt organization. Breakfast will be pancakes. We decide to go, instead, to the Broken Yolk in downtown Corvallis. It’s still raining.

We go, and manage a very nice breakfast. We look over the list of chicken breeds we’d picked up from Wilco, and decide that we’d like a black chicken which is friendly and a good layer. On the way back to the fairgrounds we run afoul of the bike event in Corvallis this morning. We cannot get there from here, so endure a 10 mile detour and find the parking lot full of people carrying totes, cardboard boxes, pushing strollers, all holding umbrellas, of course.

You have probably never been to a poultry swap, and may be surprised to learn, as I was, that “poultry” is meant to indicate chickens, rabbits, pigs, ducks, kettle corn, balloons, clothing, toys, and I-don’t-know-whatall:


What they mean by “swap” I can’t say. We did not notice people trading a piglet, say, for a t-shirt. But we finally came to a cage holding Golden Laced Wyandottes. Only one left still for sale. Here she is:


Her name is Burnt Toast. The introduction to Rhodie and Henrietta did not go smoothly. Henrietta turns out to be a mean girl, bullying, threatening, flapping, but we understand that this hen-pecking is normal chicken behavior. We hope Toastie will survive. We leave for Portland this afternoon and they will have to adjust as best they can.

Which is not so bad as it sounds, as the new outdoor run has been completed. I’d show you a photo, but it’s not all that interesting. Allen and Vaughn from Peterson Landscaping spent a couple of days sinking the poles, stretching the chicken wire and building a person door to the enclosure. A length of mesh under each foundation pole insures that no weasel or stoat or mink or fox can get into the hen house. The wire roof does the same from airborne predators. It’s not exactly chicken paradise, but they are still, technically, free-range birds.

Now with all this news about chickens, I haven’t told you that the cows are back. On Tuesday, the herd slipped in without our notice, and we were quite surprised to see 15 mamma and 15 babies grazing the west pasture. Two of the mother cows are brown, but all babies are black. It’s fun to see the little ones frolicking and gamboling about (I’m not too sure of the exact meaning of gamboling — excuse me while I look it up). Gamboling appears to mean “frolicking,” so my usage is, I guess, redundant. It is most often an activity associated with lambs, no mention of calves gamboling.


They have not ventured close enough to the fence for a close-up, and I’m not motivated to climb in the pasture after a good photo shoot. Besides, in a email conversation with Charlie Hawley, he mentioned that cows are known to be carnivorous. Of course, no one takes Charlie Hawley seriously, but one can’t be too careful.

We’ve been at work on the garden — digging up and replanting the catmint and salvia which were way over-represented in the foundation planting. We put the boring stuff down with the dogwood, leaving holes to be filled so soon as the nurseries bring in the plants we’ve identified to provide a little color and snap. And maybe you’ll remember that the whole farm project was about “a little house with an apple tree?” We do have several apple trees in the orchard, but that isn’t what I had meant. The apple tree was supposed to be “with” the house, not down the way, and has been missing until earlier this week when I fell in love with a crab apple tree. (My sisters may remember our homestead with its crab apple tree in the front yard?) Here we are:


It’s about leaf out, but will await planting until Allen and Co. can find a temporary pot large enough to serve over the summer. It will be installed in a stone container next fall, if all goes to plan.

Now, this Saturday afternoon, the sun has come out, and it’s time to pack up for Portland. The condo has been turned over to a realtor for a pocket listing, and every trip there is a sharp reminder of all we have to do. I don’t even want to talk about it. See you next time!