Sunday, December 11, 2011


This morning I have a visitor at Bell Hallow.  A little bird keeps tapping at my window.  I decided to check it out and this is what I found.  Maybe this is what they see and wanted to investigate..........who knows?
Here is another one......interesting light patterns.....
It is all very confusing to me, but maybe not to a bird.  I wonder how this translates in a birds brain? 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

More on the Lil Farm in the Woods

The General

This is the first egg delivered this morning.  That is a shiny quarter sitting next to the egg for size comparison.  It will take 3 to make a breakfast.  

"Little Lady
And so here is "The General" who voices opinions at the crack of dawn.....saying good morning to the world because it is the beginning of another glorious day.  He counts his girls, and reminds them of who is boss in the Hen Taj.
 Well, all except "Sunshine" who is her own boss.  He still can't figure that one out.  The General tried to be boss of me one day, and I took my point finger, made circles around his beak, (he followed my finger and made the circular movement with his head) and then I tapped him gently on his beak.  He hasn't challenged me since.  Chicken body language? 

The General and The Little Lady are a pair....however I doubt they know that.


Then there is "Sunshine, the friendliest of the flock.  Since she was a baby chick in the Victorian bath tub, she wanted to be handled.  She really was my teacher on handling chicks for the first time in my life.  She let me know all sorts of things which are probably pretty basic for those who have or have had chickens.  The trick is to reach in, or walk around them so that they don't get all excited and flutter their wings.  Keep calm, and they will too.

She is so friendly that when you sit down, she will be in your lap in seconds.  She doesn't think twice about flying and landing on your shoulder, settle in and nest there for as long as you sit.  Some visitors have had the distinct privilege of her landing on their that's a sight.  Silly bird. 

Nighty & Night"

Next I have the twins "Nighty" and  "Night."  So why put two photos up when they are duplicates.  These girls are huge, and are going to be bigger yet. The Giant Black Jerseys take 6 months to reach full size.  (two more months to go.) I sure hope my nesting boxes are big enough for them.   I'll get nice brown eggs from these girls.


This is Dinky, the little Silver Laced Sebright Bantam Hen.  She is the tinniest little bird.  She is finally getting brave and eating out of my hand (it's taken me 4 months for her to relax) which is a good thing.  They are known to be friendly but shy birds.  


 Ruffles,  is a Bantam "Easter" Hen that lays blue and green eggs, sometimes pink....Easter is going to be big fun in 2012.   A shy but friendly little girl that looks like she has ruffles for side burns.  Silly looking little thing.  She is Dinky's friend as they are both low on the "pecking order."

All of their attitudes are changing now that they are 4 months old.  It must be the teenage time for hens.  In another two months they should start laying eggs.  Maybe that has something to do with the change in ya think?    Their "Boc Boc's" sound different, and their voices are more demanding, the pecking order is more apparent, they are a bit on the testy side, their more apt to do a little peck on the ones head if one gets in the way.  The not so shy ones are still not shy, and the shy ones are becoming more friendly.  Even The General lets me pet him.  Once he landed on my shoulder and let out that big sound as only rosters can.  Well, that's not true.  My grand daughter (age 5) mimicked The General, and he immediately gathered all the hens and they ran for cover inside  the Hen Taj.  When chickens run, they lope from side to side....The two of us started to giggle so hard, that neither one of us could stop.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Chicks in the Woods...boc...boc...boc

this side  will have the aviary
 I have been looking at this building for all of my life....that's a pretty long time.  My grandfather built this 10'X12' hen house some time in the 1920's.  It occurred to me  that it was time to turn this old hen house that had been used for storage for 50 years, back into a hen house.
The original 1920's hen house
As you can see,  I doubt that there was one 90 degree angle in the whole structure.
I knew this was going to be a huge project as there were parts of this old hen house that were rotten to the core.   I removed the dry rot,  and replaced parts of the walls with some  7/8" plywood that I found lying around, and insulation, to keep the baby chicks warm and cozy.

 This is only part of the rot.....When I emptied the shed from all the "stuff"  I found squirrel nests in cupboards, photos from the 20's, no trespassing signs, nail barrels, the original nesting boxes, (those will be used in my art studio as cubbies for paint etc), cans of paint, iron spoke wheels, lots of garden tools that were very OLD and much more.  After it was emptied, rot taken care of, plywood and insulation in place, I divided the inside of the building into two for the storage of food, tools and anything that has to do with chickens, the other side for the roosts, nesting boxes, and general living space.

Then added an aviary to the outside for a play ground. Of course I couldn't end it there, I just had to put something in for the hens to play with.....Thus an old Victorian bath tub that was in my veggie garden, found its way into the aviary.  I filled it with dirt and topped it off with a bag of sand, and called it:
"The Victorian Sand Spa"
 The time is finally here.  The baby chicks have arrived.  I have wanted to add a flock of chickens to Bell Hallow since I first hung my shingle.  8 Little Bantam chicks arrived at the Ben Lomond post office on June 22, 2011. 

With the coop still not totally buttoned up, I brought them home and they landed in a rubber horse trough that I placed in the Victorian Bath tub.  Yep, something about these Victorian bath tubs.  They loved it.  The heat lamp kept them snuggly warm, and because they were in  a place that is visited often during the day, they got used to my presence very quickly. 

Upon arrival, I noticed that there was one baby chick that was so tiny that my friend Robin said, “Look, she is so dinky.”  Thus “Dinky” became her name.  She was having a hard time of this new world.  When I noticed that her whole gullet was off center, she started to do some weird things.  This tiny little thing pulled on one wing tip, pulling it so far up and over her head that she fell backwards, landing on her back, with both feet in the air, wings spread out as if to steady  herself, looking around in a daze as if to say, “Where the hell am I?”  With that, a couple of other baby chicks just hopped on her belly and hopped off again.  Feeling this, she scrambled, rolled and finally found her footing.  THEN she proceeded to do the same thing with the other wing.  AND the other baby chicks found that her tummy was a great jumping off point, so they did it again.  Oh my!  The whole event happened over and over during different times of the day.  I’ll be dog gone, that gullet finally snapped into place.  Now there is a smart little bird. 
MEANWHILE down at the “The Hen Taj” we started working furiously to get everything set up for the new bantam flock.  We caged in the aviary and coop, tacked the wire mesh to the frame with wood screws and washers.          

The mesh rolled out from the structure for about two feet and I stacked chunked concrete around the edges so that animals couldn't dig under it.  (They tend to go straight to the vertical obstacle and dig.  This concept surrounds the entire aviary.  I plan to plant it with grasses and sunflowers etc that the hens will like to eat.  Just cut and serve.  It's their growing ground.  Just reseed when needed. Next summer this will be filled with sun flowers for seeds/food for the hens.

The other thing I am doing is using old square plastic milk crates inside the aviary, turning them so I can sit on them while enjoying the hens, seeding the area I sit on, and when that group of seeds matures, move the crates and do it again.  Bringing the garden to them so to speak rather than bringing them to the garden.  With all the predators I have in the area, I am not feeling so safe as to let them out of the aviary yet.
How is this for a raccoon proof door?  With keys and all.   I wonder if they have the smarts to take the key and unlock the lock?????
The chicks didn't stay in the Victorian tub for long, only about 4 weeks, and then they had to be moved into "The Hen Taj (as it became dubbed) as a couple of baby chicks were trying to fly out of the tub.  Not good.  So off to "The Hen Taj" they went.....

Here are the steps going from the coop to the aviary.
The "grounds" of the aviary are terraced using dry stacked concrete chunks.  There is a hose for fresh water, and the dirt is covered with hay.  

I have ordered nesting boxes from the Amish which should be arriving this week.   I am in the process of building their roost from an old WWII collapsible camp table, and a log resting on top.  Screwing the first set of legs and their iron pieces to the wall, and the next set screwed to the first set of legs.  Place the log across for their roosting spots.  It looks funky, but does well with the rest of the decor.  More to come........

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


As John Steinbech wrote in "Travels with Charlie,"

“There is a cathedral like hush here.  From them comes a feeling of peace within. 
The thick soft bark seems to absorb sound and creates a warm silence.
The trees rise straight up to zenith.  There is no horizon.
The dawn comes early and remains dawn until the sun is high.
The green fern-like foliage, so far up, strains the sunlight into a green and gold.
These majestic ambassadors distribute it into their own patterns of light and shade.
After the sun passes zenith it is afternoon and quickly evening with a whisper of dusk as long as the dawn."

This so describes the redwood forest that surrounds Bell Hallow.

Bell Hallow sits on and shares the banks of the San Lorenzo River with the ducks, steelhead, deer, coyotes, bob cats, and of course racoons, rabbits, opossum's, river turtles, crawfish, and egrets, to name a bit of the wild life in the neighborhood.  They all seem to arrive at different times of the day, and different times of the year.

I will be posting news and events here at Bell Hallow, what people have said about Bell Hallow from the 50's to the present.  We have a long history of stories and tons of memories.

I hope to have you all here in the future as guests of Bell Hallow.