Sunday, January 24, 2010

Blogging Assistants




My assistants sometimes sleep on the job... Gwen, the Queen of the House, who likes to lay on the printer and dream... and Addie and Hannah, who nestle at my feet, and snore in unison.

The Sun Returns




Or at least, it returned for a while. Coming out of church this morning, a strange orange orb was in the sky, and the folks around me all laughed and asked "What was that?" since we had not seen it for a while. Unfortunately, at 3 PM Central time, it's beginning to disappear again, but not after the chickens have run back and forth across the pasture in it, and the horses reveled in it, and Mama and Yankee have laid and rested and chewed their cuds in it all day.
Picture one is looking west... picture two, looking east, both at 2:30 PM.

More Evidence


He's been on the porch again! He only has a few teeth left... so grass has a tendency to fall out of his mouth instead of being swallowed. Purina Senior keeps him going... and I highly recommend it!


A Conundrum in the Big Hen House


Three years ago in March, we had a spate of young cockerels born. We managed to give away five to a group we met at the feedstore, and they were eaten long ago, we believe. We kept two youngsters, both appeared to be sons of Fred, the Japanese bantam rooster. One, all white, we named Butch, and one, gray and black, we named Studley, because he was...errr.... studly. Both were subservient to their dad Fred, and to big Rambo, the Buff Orpington rooster adopted from Olathe Animal Control (really!) who was our flock leader for so long until his death last year.


Butch and Studley got along fine, and both knew their places in the overall flock. Their father Fred was killed in the dog attack, and eventually, Butch began to go to the horsepen during the day with the big hens, and Rambo, their guardian. If they got too big for their britches, Rambo hip-checked them and set them straight. Two years ago, we had four roosters born who looked amazingly like Fred's grandsons... two of them, One and Two, were white with arching black tails, like their grandpa. Two were black and gray, looking amazingly like ... Studley. As we have two little gray hens (and at the time, had three), we were really not too surprised. We ended up keeping One, Two, Three and Four, and they took their place in the flock, miniatures more like their grandpa than their daddies.


After Rambo died, there was some repositioning of the pecking order, and then Baby Rambo, his last son .. grew and grew and grew. Eventually, he began taking over the flock. The hens, fickle as they are, began to follow him to the pasture as they had his daddy. Yet, every one of the smaller roosters each had a hen or two that clung to him, so the balance worked. Over in the little henyard, we were going through the same thing.... Clucky became the boss, but he has four brothers (Buddy, and three who are unnamed as yet) that MUST be given away this year (writing that down) who are "helping" him take care of their mothers and sisters.


Now, we have found Butch in the feed room of the Big Henhouse. We don't know how, but sometime in the last three weeks, the wire that forms the barrier between the feed room and the living quarters of the big flock has become loose in several places. I began to find hens in the feed room, and couldn't figure out why or how. Then, I began to find Butch. Finally, we noticed that the wire was loose in one area. Butch now stays in the feed room, and yes, he has feed and water... I'm a sap.... but we noticed that he is not going outside, not interacting except when a hen comes through to lay an egg... and is altogether subdued. Keith noticed he had taken a drubbing from Studley one day... and we think he is either injured or depressed. I made sure he was not hurt badly just an hour ago, picked him up and felt him, and made him drink a bit. He will either live or die, it will be up to him. Isolating him in the nursing cage (a rabbit hutch) is not the answer, so I will leave him alone and hope for the best.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

A Remembrance of Summer

Okay, late fall, to be precise! Tony and Yankee playing after their dinner... I hope you can see how they glide along above the grass! Ah, sweet grass! I remember you!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Glory of God


Seeing friends at church this morning, we all realized how exhausted we are after the last two weeks. Church was only a third full on this third Sunday of Christmas, and the cold snap.


Coming home, I realized what absolute splendor the cold has brought us... and went out to take pictures, my hands freezing!


Checked on all the animals, and everyone is doing fine. 6 degrees below before church, and had come up to one degree below after... hopefully, we'll climb to the twenties this afternoon.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

What Starlings do to a Hen House




Maybe this will be the year of the New Hen House, who knows? Right now, the starlings are devastating it. We'll be cleaning up their messes for months. The chickens are wearing starling poop for jewelry. UGH. The brown spots on the walls behind them are starling stains from the rafters.




And Then, the Sun Came Out!




Whew.




The sun appeared, and the thermometer rose to 20. In terms of temperature, it was still darn cold, but in terms of spirits... everyone's rose! It made an hour worth of chores (pitching out the sodden straw, spreading new, filling Fort Apache with new straw) and carrying water and feed worth it! We made it through the week without a loss!




Making it through the Brutal Week





We made it through the brutally cold week, without losing an animal. It wore us out, we admit it. We know that Lilly Horse is in distress, she has overeaten, and now with the somewhat warmer (single digit) temps, we are going to separate her from the feed and start getting her on the mend again. The ducks and geese survived, three in their house and the other five in Fort Apache, and the chickens, despite the starling storm, are fine, if going stir-crazy in their houses. Today it has stunningly become more temperate, when we expected wind chills of 30 below zero... so we have hope that the weather pattern is breaking. Keith has gone to load up on feed again, our fourth trip in two weeks, and we are still spreading pounds of feed for the wildings, but at least we can hope.
Seeing our neighbor this morning, we called out to ask how they had done this week, with their two dogs. We learned sadly that one dog had disappeared Monday night, never to be seen again. They had searched and searched for her, for had never found her. We are afraid the cold and bitter temperatures have claimed her, but they are holding out hope. She was a friendly dog, so they are hoping maybe someone on our country road took her in, or picked her up. It will be weeks before these snows have melted, to let them see if she is perhaps nearby, but was unable to get home.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Ready for the Cold Snap








Weatherman says it's going to get down below zero several days and nights this week, with wind chills fifteen degrees colder. Now they say that we will have four to six inches of snow on top of what we have.... for Iowans or people farther north, a dozen inches of snow is nothing... but ours is snow-ice-snow-ice-snow.... and treacherous for walking while doing daily chores. So far we have had only one fall, but we watch as the horses even pick their ways carefully across the frozen yard. Lilly Ann comes in and cleans the little ice balls from between her silky toes, and we know she dislikes it. The big dogs have been staying in as much as possible, and the little girls staying in 99% of the time.
We have made as many preparations as we can, and now are going to hope for the best. Tonight we put a heater under the waterer in the little henhouse. We did not anticipate it getting this cold, so had not gotten one, but tonight took care of that. Now, with their 250 watt red bulb and the heater, they should have enough heat to tide them over. We are not letting them out at all this week. One little rooster, Buddy, has been ostracized from the little bunch by his bigger brothers, and he sits alone on the cold roost, while the others huddle under the light. I am hoping I don't find him dead going out one morning this later this week. There is straw where he is, if he huddles in it, it would help him.
The heated galvanized trough kept the water drinkable for the horses today. We had hesitated to connect it, because we thought everyone would drink from the lower heavy plastic trough with it's heater, but there is not enough room for llamas and horses in the horsebarn, so the horses are in the yard for the duration of this cold spell. The water is clear today, but will get dirty soon enough, with our Old Gentleman dropping feed into it as he drinks.

The geese and ducks are able to drink from the low trough, if they would go out into the pasture and around the corner of their pen, but it's hard for them in the snow and ice, and they are sticking close to their doghouse, and Fort Apache. Tonight, all eight were in Fort Apache, but I know the two big ganders and the goose, Nancy, will head for the former "Duck House" to sleep. I'm hoping we don't lose any of them, but it's taking a lot of effort to get food and water to them several times a day. Our feed store man said tonight that everyone is buying triple the feed in the last week, since all the animals are eating to stay warm.

Last but not least, the little wildings had eaten every seed put out for them today. I loaded them up, and hopefully Keith will be home early enough tomorrow to put more out. They drink from the rubber trough by the dozens, too.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

A Snowy New Year's




The addition of another 3 inches of snow on top of what we got last week made for a quiet, hard-working New Year. We were able to get out on Saturday to do the regular chores... grocery store and feed store runs. We stocked up... the wild birds have been eating poultry feed as well as the feed we have been putting out for them, to the tune of 150 pounds last week! We don't begrudge them in this time of very low temperatures and snow covered ground. Looking out the window any time this weekend brought 200 or more birds at the feeding stations, and your blogger is about to go out yet again to fill the feeders and spread seed for the ground-eating birds. When we open the door to the big henhouse, starlings fly in every direction. Lilly Ann stands up to the door with the torn screen... any starling foolish enough to try to exit that way is easy prey for her, as she can bring them down in flight! We dislike the starlings in the henhouse, as their poop goes everywhere, on the feed cans, the rabbit hutch, the birds, the walls... it's disgusting, but we understand why they are trying to get out of the cold.




We spent a quiet New Year's Eve, and finally got the new blu ray working on Saturday, but were too tired to go rent movies to watch. Maybe next weekend. We are facing a week of sub-zero temperatures and more cold misery. The big gander who can't fit in the house with the other three geese is bedding down with the ducks, and we put as much straw as we could in their fort so that they could try to burrow in it to stay warmer. So far, we have not lost anyone, but we don't know what the week will bring. Full work schedules are a problem when the weather is like this. We dream of a big barn where everything can get out of the temperatures and be warm, with warm water.... maybe next year.