Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New egg!

Two batches of homemade eggnog this holiday season plus the homecoming of our 5 children really depleted our egg reserves!  Fortunately, one of our newest chicks - we believe it's the lavender orpington - surprised us with her first egg this morning.  What a cute little egg it is, so small compared to the brown one from Bucky and the blue one from Goose, and pink!

We were surprised to have an egg from one of them now because we didn't expect them to start laying until at least January and possibly not until February.  It seems that orpingtons are a relatively fast-maturing breed (good to know).

We've learned that 3 laying hens is about right to keep us in eggs for ourselves and our guests with a nice reserve for cakes and other goodies.  When the other 2 start laying - and I guess they will soon enough - we'll be overflowing, but that's a good problem to have.  Sadly, chicken attrition can happen without warning.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

First snow winter 2013-14

Oh yes, now I remember why we love Oberlin in the winter!  All it takes is one good deep snowfall - the transformation from dreary drab to frosty playground is instantaneous and invigorating.

I should have been painting our 3rd floor rooms but, under the pretext of getting Sunny out for a walk, I put on my skis and headed for the golf course.  Some of the skiing was great, but for the most part, the snow was a bit too sticky, it was more like snowshoeing than skiing.

Hmm, sticky snow?  Time to make a snowman, obviously! Lots of people had the same idea; snowmen were popping up all over Oberlin!  Not to mention snow forts and miscellaneous other structures.

We love our "bonhomme de neige."  Hope he doesn't melt for a long time.  I still want to get in some good skiing!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Running some numbers

We're not quite at the end of the year yet but I couldn't help looking at our customer database from May 2012 until now.  I was surprised and impressed to see that we have had guests from 32 different states, plus the District of Columbia, and from 11 different countries!  The largest number of guests came from New York, followed by California.

Our occupancy rate went from 27% in 2012 to 32% in 2013.  This even though we implemented our 2-night stay policy and closed the B&B on several occasions due to vacations and other reasons.  As we prepare to lift our 2-night policy pending the hire of a housekeeper, the occupancy rate should be even higher in 2014.

Beyond and more important than the numbers, of course, is the fact that we feel good about where we are with the B&B.  We've come a long way since May 4, 2012.  We subscribe to the principle of continuous improvement, but we're not doing too badly, I think.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Rebuilding the flock

Following the demise of Mimique and the tragic deaths of 2 of our buckeyes, we have added a new chicken and started raising 3 new chicks.

We have our chicken from Wild Goose Garden, in Oberlin, courtesy of Kim Annable.  She is an Americauna and lays blue/green eggs, just like Chipmunk.  We named her Goose - partly in honor of her provenance, partly because she's gray, and partly because we think it's a funny name for a chicken.
Goose - but the picture doesn't do her justice
Crazy story about Goose:  Within 15 minutes of having her at home, she escaped into the woods behind our house.  Dominique and I beat the bushes for a long time but didn't find her and eventually had some place we needed to be.  When we returned home later that night, we went out with flashlights to see if she had roosted in the tree branches.  No sign of her.  The next morning, I put out "Missing Chicken" signs and once again combed the woods.  Nothing.

Later that morning, as I stood in the kitchen talking to my daughter, Jessie, she happened to look out the door.  A strange look came over her face as she said, "Well, look who's here."  And who should it be but our crazy Goose, scratching and pecking as if nothing were amiss at all.  Needless to say we hustled her into the pen and slammed the door!

Maybe an hour or so later I noticed that I had a voice message on my phone.  Someone had actually spotted Goose in the neighbor's yard across the street from us and called to tell us!  Of course it was after the fact by then, but how great that someone would take the time!

Goose is having a hard time adjusting to life at the Buckeye and the Frog thanks to our remaining buckeye, Bucky (clever name, eh?).  That pecking order stuff is real and a bit vicious.  She hasn't been hurt but she sure gets chased a lot.  Detente is coming slowly but surely, however; they all roost together now and Bucky's chasing has diminished.  Hopefully Goose will relax enough to start laying some eggs soon!

Cagney, Purpur, and Angela
Angela, Cagney, and Purpur
As for the babies, we picked them up from Meyer Hatchery on August 20 when they were 2 days old.  Although I asked for another dominique and a Jersey giant, my email was never linked to my order so what we have is a silver-laced wyandott, a German spitzhauben, and a blue or lavendar orpington.  They are named Cagney, Angela, and Purpur.  All seem healthy and are very happy to spend the day outside.  It will be several weeks yet before we introduce them to the older chickens - the pecking order business is especially hard on little chicks but soon they'll easily be able to outrun their elders!

Monday, July 29, 2013

R.I.P., Mimique

Mimique 8-9-2010


Sadly, when we returned to the B&F after our amazing vacation in Africa, we learned that Mimique had a paralyzed leg and was basically unable to move.  Three days later, she was dead.  We don't know what caused her death although she was found on the ground under the roost, next to a broken egg.  Going on 3 years old, Mimique was laying larger and larger eggs and a google search revealed that sometimes a very large egg can cause paralysis.  Maybe that was it.

We are very sad for our little amputee dominique.  She was a pretty, gentle hen and the head chicken of the flock.  We planted a memorial "Rosy Glow" barberry bush in our backyard and held a small burial ceremony for her.  RIP

There are two silver linings to this otherwise unhappy story.  First, Mimique was the first of our chickens to die of natural causes.  Yay for us.  Second, I now feel justified in buying some new chicks.  Chipmunk is the same age as Mimique and although she could live for another year or two (or more), we will want to make sure that we have enough laying hens to keep us in eggs for our guests.  So we have three day-old chicks arriving on Aug. 19 -  rare breeds, and hopefully including a Jersey giant and another dominique.
Head of the flock

Laying an egg

Monday, March 18, 2013

Continental breakfast

We love serving breakfast to our guests and we've got some killer recipes.  But after we had a rash of very early breakfast requests (6:00! meaning we have to get up at 5:00), we had to rethink our policy of providing a full, hot breakfast at any hour.

Our solution:  a continental breakfast tray, including fresh fruit, home-baked goodies, yogourt, and a small coffee maker for coffee or tea.  We can prepare it the night before, leave it by the guest's room, and they have it first thing in the morning, whenever they get up.  They can enjoy it tranquilly in their room while they prepare to leave and not have to plan extra time.  We get to sleep in.  Win win!

To be honest, we were beginning to resent our guests who had early morning commitments, and we never want to feel that way.  Changing to this approach has completely changed our attitude, and we honestly feel it's nice for the guests as well.  We've done this 2 or 3 times so far and it's been well received.  Any thoughts?

Monday, January 14, 2013

First fire

After a few days of unseasonably warm weather that melted all the lovely snow and put an end, for awhile, to the skiing, it cooled down again enough to justify our first fire.

Having bought 100 pounds of coal on-line, we took the lazy route and just used the bags of SimpleFire that we found in the closet.  We had no idea what it was, so of course we googled it.  We were pleasantly surprised to discover that it is processed from recycled paper and burns cleaner than coal, wood, or natural gas.  It comes in a paper bag and all we had to do was light the bag.  After a few minutes, we had beautiful flames although neither the smell nor sound of a wood fire.  It was supposed to last an hour but was really only good for about half that time.  Maybe it's old and a little dry?

The second time we used it we tried to light the coal with it but that didn't work.  I suspect it doesn't burn hot enough, so we'll have to try a real firestarter next time.  Still, it was lovely to have a fire during cocktail hour, and SimpleFire would certainly be easier for our Frog Room guests to use.
Janet & Sunny

Living room fireplace

Friday, January 4, 2013

The Buckeye and the Frog in Winter

Came back from a trip to sunny and hot Cuba to a foot of snow in Oberlin.  Perfect for cross-country skiing on the golf course!  Not to mention sledding, snow shoeing, and hiking.  Too cold for snowmen.

The house looked so pretty in the snow that we had to take some pictures.