I can't get a good picture of them, but goldfinches are eating a lot of cosmos and sunflower seeds. I am so thrilled that I am creating a food source for these wonderful little birds! I didn't recognize them for a while, because bird book pictures of the breeding males show them so paunchy and bright yellow. Many of my visitors are very slender, in shades of gray. I finally figured out that they are juveniles and females.
I have been learning so much about No Dig and permaculture techniques for my yard. I currently enjoy the Charles Dowding No Dig and Morag Gamble permaculture YouTube videos the most. I have compared different techniques, with varying success. The common denominator of all the techniques is that I have been consistently improving my soil. The following pictures of giant sunflowers, cosmos, zucchini and pumpkins show how enthusiastically plants respond to richer soil. These are all volunteers, too!
I keep clean water all over the back yard for them, they love to come up to the patio and drink out of the dog's water bowl. They are starting to get more of their adult feathers. One is a blondie and has mostly golden colorings. The other three have blacker feathers on the head and tail. The darker ones are starting to get a little comb. I think I may have three roosters and one hen. We will see!
This is Daphne, with her tail folded so neatly around her feet, keeping warm and peaceful on the windowsill.
It's too bad that when I zoom in to get a better picture, it gets so blurry. The babies are getting so big! They actually fly for a short amount of time when they are following Mama around the yard. Such cute, strong babies!
Usually, Mama parks them in the edges of the garden, but today, all the babies came up to the patio for some grains. It amazes me how fast their little wings and tail feathers are developing!
Can you even see the babies? Mama parks them in the garden when she comes up on the patio to beg dog food. If I fed the dog inside, she comes and pecks on the window until I come out and give her some dog food crunchies. I so enjoy seeing mam and babies picking through the ground, eating little bugs and seeds. Mama bites off pieces of leaves and drops them for the babies to get to easier. Gardens and chickens go together like peanut butter and jelly.
This dedicated mother hen went broody, but was trying to hatch sterile eggs. She sat such a long time, I finally went to Dunlap Hatchery in Caldwell, Idaho and bought some hatching eggs. I had 7 mille fleur eggs, and four of them hatched from June 15 to June 17. I was checking the nest constantly those days, and saw one that seemed dead-it was cold and out of the nest. I put the baby back under her, and it survived! she has been such a good mother. I have had a wonderful time watching her behavior as she first showed them how to pick food from the dirt and eat, then showed how to scratch up the soil and check it out, and so on to more complex behaviors. This week, she is working on grooming. She takes a big, long dust bath, then grooms her feathers and the tiny babies all stretch and preen just like their mama! What a nurturing mother hen!
I have always been a fan of companion planting--planting herbs and flowers next to vegetables for mutual benefits. But I have also found that existing plants can be nurse crops. I planted all these beans the same day, but the ones growing in amongst carrots and cilantro are much bigger and healthier than the ones all alone.