Saturday, June 30, 2012

Working in the Dark

It's better to work in the dark, these days.

Keith is filling buckets in our little wagon because of this:

That's one of our two year old pear trees, in great distress now.  We put four buckets on it tonight, and Keith is out filling more right now.  We put three on the far tree.  He is going to water each of them again while I am posting. We would hate to lose these trees, he worked so very hard last year to get them going.

I can hear the tractor starting again for Trip Number Two.

We can't let the hose run for long, as we are on a well, allbeit a deep one.  We ran ourselves dry Sunday, and had to wait overnight for the pressure to re-build.  A new well pump is over $1000.00, so we want to be sure we don't burn one out.

Red sky at night, Sailor's delight

Red sky at morning, Sailors take warning

These were last night's and this morning's skies. 

Sorry about this (more chickens), but I have to show you:

The porcelain and mille chicks came out tonight, two days after I put them in the little henhouse with the bigger birds.  They were suffering each time I checked on them, draped on the waterers, and panting hard.  Finally, they all flew the coop.  I actually took a break from watering and sat and watched them as they played on the ground for the first time in their short lives  Unfortunately, there are 3 cockerels in this picture, two purebred porcelains, and one purebred mille fleur.  The other brown chick is a d'Uccle/silkie cross. Notice they are all heavily booted.  I'm hoping I can find homes for these little cockerels.  One, the one in the middle, is an especially nice porcelain.  The little mille is nice, too, if he had lifted his head you would have seen.

Our skies here almost look as if some rain is coming.  Keith reminded me tonight (we got a wild hair and ate at Bob Evans!) that last June we had temps over 100 regularly, up to 110.  I don't remember the gardens wilting so much, or the trees suffering so much. 

I am listening to the news that 9 states have folks out of electricity tonight, and terrible devastation from storms.  There are more who need our prayers tonight.

PS, it's 10:15, and I've come back on to tell you that there is lightening in the sky to the north, and thunder, the temp has dropped about 20 degrees already, and it is blowing, just since I posted and showered.  We're saying a prayer that we get a little bit of rain!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Consternation and Heat

I know everyone is writing about being hot, but I am going to write tonight about a few things we have learned from building the hoophouse in this wacky weather year.

First off... we are glad we did.  We foresee a fast start to growing in it in the future.

This year, however, we were behind the learning curve.

Hoop house in March:

Hoop House now:

Here are some things we learned.

1.  They need a bed of pea gravel or some other substance to hold down the weeds growing inside the perimeter.

To wit:

Oh, wait, you can't see the weeds from that direction, but believe me, they are there.

You can get an idea from this.  I am going to pull this tomato out tomorrow, I have to run it by Keith before I do.  It never did very well, and has no blossoms on it now.  I think it is the Big Boy.
We are not sure if the humidity brought in all the wilt, or if the barrels were treated with something toxic to the plants. 
However, some of the tomatoes are doing fine, and they are all planted in the same kind of barrel.

2. Bigger planters. 

To wit:

Keith, as an experiment, left the peppers in their containers.  It did NOT work.  Everyday I come home from work, and no matter how I watered the night before or the morning of... they are wilted pretty badly.  I am ready to throw the peppers on the compost heap.  We don't eat that many, and I was going to have to buy peppers anyway to make red pepper jelly. The containers are just too small for this heat.

You can see the weeds behind them.

The bench, however, was the BOMB.  I'll use it next year, because I'll be the primary gardener.

I'm not so sure the double-bin set up worked all that well, either.  However, the herbs did great in them.

The cilantro is already gone to seed, but I am going to plant a patch of it, I have decided.

And last.... TICKS.

Folks, I work for a company that makes a famous tick spot-on application... one you have all seen on tv being advertised.

We need a tick medicine for HUMANS.  Keith and I do a tick-check every single night, and most mornings.  I live in fear of a tick becoming embedded in my nether regions  (laugh).  But, I'm actually serious, as I knew someone to whom it happened.  We have found more ticks on us this year than ever before... and I think, ever in my life!  Just ten minutes ago I found another one on the side of my face, got it off, and flushed it.

We would have guineas everywhere except for two problems:  Lilly Ann, who will kill every bird she can get her mouth close to... and Ranger, who, in the early days, killed some ducks we had.  Guineas can't be kept inside the pasture perfectly, so until the big dogs are gone, we can't have guineas.

Keith and I just went out to lock the bigger chicks up, and the chick I thought looked like a rooster, IS.  He just jumped a pullet out there, so he has sealed his fate... we can't keep another big rooster here, it would mean constant fighting.  I'm sorry for this, and I think when the chick man gives "extras"... he's pulling them from the meat bird box. (cockerels)

We found six of the tiny birds out in the henyard, and I am sure they were chased there by the hens going in for the night.  We caught them, with some trouble, with the net.  The bigger chicks, though, are used to the routine now, and go right in when they see us coming to lock them up.  We did laugh to see one of them taking her first dirt bath, she very carefully laid down and cleaned herself up.. they are so remarkable!

Early to rise tomorrow, to try to get watering done before the heat builds.  I noticed tonight my snaps are gone, dried out in the heat, as is the balsam.  It's going to be a long hot summer!

Linking tonight with
Farm Photo Friday, with Farmchick.

Won't you all pause and say a prayer for the folks who have been devastated by the wildfires in nine different states, and those poor people in Colorado who have lost everything this week?  We feel in our hearts for their losses.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

104 at 9:20

Yes, that's right... 104 degrees Fahrenheit at 9:20 in the evening!

I came home to find this:

I truly expected to find dying birds, it was so hot today.  117 was the heat index.

Everyone had hunkered down.

Tonight, Keith and I took the little porcelains and milles out of their pen and put them into the little henhouse at dark.

We don't have the pen built around it yet, and there is little ventilation in this small coop.  When the next one is built, there will be a window in the back with hardware cloth over it.  When I got home this afternoon, the poor little birds were suffering in the heat terribly.  We decided to move them into the larger little henhouse, so that they have more ventilation and room to move around.  Yes, I'm worried about the big hens in there... but we shall see what happens tomorrow.

As you see, they are totally freaked out.  The bigger birds are over to their left, they all roost on that side.  I put the chick's familiar waterer in there with them, so that they know where to drink, but there is a big waterer in there, too.  I also put their feed fortex in there, and will fill it in the morning.  I hope the bigger birds don't push them around to much but I feel like the big birds will be outside, in the shade of the trees and under the henhouse for most of the day.  Two hens stay inside, but one of those is one of my best mamas, Silka.

I promise that this is not going to be the All Chicken Blog it seems like it's becoming this week. 
We'll get back to different stories tomorrow, I know a lot of you are also struggling dealing with this heat at your own places, too.

We are keeping the dogs (including the Intrepid Lil) in 98% of the time, as the pugs would literally die in this heat. 

This guy prefers to be in, too:

He's curled around his dinner bowl here.  He usually spills it and then laps it all up with his big tongue.

Everyone try to keep cool!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


These girls are getting a little taste of freedom tonight, at least some of them are:

They all came out of the little pen tonight, and I had Keith shut the gate to the pasture.  They didn't stray far from their little pen, but when they found they could run and fly a little, they commenced to!

I hate to say it, but the "pullet" on the right in the top picture looks suspiciously like a cockerel now.  The chick man threw in two extra birds...I have a feeling I know why.

Monday, June 25, 2012

One Good Deed, or, The Answer to a Prayer

I told you I would tell you all about the pretty mare who was here over the weekend.

You see, this beautiful girl is a very important rodeo horse, worth a lot of money.  No, she's not a bronc, she is a highly trained athlete, a roping horse and performing horse.  She's very smart, and very hard to keep in her pasture.

Her owner is the Barrios family, and they came to pick her up yesterday afternoon, along with a sheriff's seargent.  We wanted to be sure she was going to the right owners, you see.  Mr. Barrios (Eddie) saw our flier we put up at Country Mart in Tonganoxie.  He had been searching for her for two days, and his wife and little son Eddie were distraught. 

When he came to get her, he gave a quiet little whistle and she raised her head and came right up to the gate to greet him.  The smile on Little Eddie's face told me all I needed to know.

She is boarded down the road from us, but the family lives about two miles away, so they come daily to feed her.  Friday she was not in her pasture.  They drove up and down all the roads around here, looking for her. 

As we walked up the drive so he could walk her home... his wife was going to follow in the truck, and the deputy to lead them to protect them, we spoke at the gate for a few minutes.  Several times he asked what he owed me for taking care of their beloved horse.  I told him absolutely nothing, that it had been our pleasure and a delight to see her grazing in the pasture, or standing in the barn. 

As we got to the gate, he handed me his card.  On it was his business name, and the legend "Roofs, Gutters"

I made an exclamation and looked at him and said "You do ROOFS?" and he grinned and said yes.  I showed him the unfinished chicken house, and it's partial roof.  He told me he would come back within the hour to give us a bid.

After they left, I busied myself in the yard, mulching several garden beds in the opressive heat.  Pretty soon, I saw the truck come back up the road, and went out to the gate to meet Big Eddie and Little Eddie.  They walked around the henhouse, checking it out. 

Pretty soon, we headed for the shade of the maple tree.

He told me it would only take about two hours to do such a small building.  I told him that we had the wood, but had not gotten the felt and shingles because we had not worked on it for so long.

I asked what he would charge.... and he told me NOTHING.  He would do the work for our taking care of his mare.

I almost cried, and told him no... we would pay for the labor... but he said he had the flashing, the felt, the shingles, and it would be no trouble. 

Today, while Keith worked from home... we had this:

And this:

Resulting in this:

I cannot tell you how I feel this evening.

Kindness begets kindness, we firmly believe that.
Keith and I are so grateful to Mr. Barrios and his crew. 
We would have kept his mare safely for nothing, and never expected this kindness from him.
So now you know the rest of the story.

Sunday, June 24, 2012


Heat index of 107, temp of 98 right now at 6:16 PM.  Everything here at Calamity Acres hunkered down to survive the start of a hot week.

How I wish I were already retired, so that I could make sure the birds have cool water at midday, as we did today when we watered three times.

Buffy hunkered down in the dust under the saplings in the big henyard.

The birds had their bread treat in the shade of the walnut tree while I filled the swimming pool for them to drink from in the pasture.

I literally trickle watered the gardens all day.... it was so hot.  This is the new buddleia we got just two months or so ago, and as you see, it's doing very, very well, and blooming!

This guy was NOT hot... we kept the dogs in all day today, and will for most of the week.

I know you are all wondering about the beautiful mare we featured last night... we have something very nice to tell you all about her...and yes, she is back with her owners...but really, God works in wonderful ways, and we'll explain it all tomorrow evening.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

A Stranger in the Night

Didn't I just write that this has been some week?

Last night beat the band.

At 11:15 or so, Lilly Ann, who was out in the yard, barked her Danger Bark.  As Lilly seldom barks, we know something is wrong when this happens.  Keith, who was still up, opened the bedroom door to tell me that there were two sheriff's deputies out in the road, with their lights revolving.  He put his shoes and socks on, while I called next door to Troy's.  Troy told us he didn't see anything, and we said goodnight, and then 3 minutes later, the phone rang again.

Troy said "There's a horse out on the road!"

Someone had called 911 to report a horse loose on 24/40 Highway, which is just down the road from us.  It had nearly been hit several times, and the sheriff's deputies had responded and got it to turn down our gravel road.  It finally turned into Troy's yard, which is unfenced.  I dressed and ran outside and opened the front gate, in case they wanted to bring it into our yard which is fully fenced, but a deputy was able to catch it, and they brought it through the walk gate from Troy's, and into our pasture.  We had kept a bale of hay after the mares left this week, and I quickly filled the trough I had emptied on Wednesday night.

So this is what they caught:

Gorgeous, isn't she!

As of 3:36 PM, she is still here in our pasture.  The sheriff was here this morning, and got pictures to post at their office, and told us we could post some notices on local bulletin boards, but with the instructions to call the Leavenworth County Sheriff.  We do not want the wrong people to get the horse, or someone to steal it... and the sheriff agreed.  We feel someone must be looking for her desperately today, as she is well-shod, with perfect hooves, in excellent flesh, and a very beautiful purebred Quarter Horse. It appears she had been haltered, because there is a sore on either side of her face where a halter buckle would rest.  We think (speculation) that she must have been haltered and become caught somewhere, and broken loose finally, panicked, went through or over a fence, and out onto the highway.  We are grateful that she did not cause a terrible wreck, or was killed herself out on the street.

She's a real beauty!

I wonder if God is telling us that we are meant to be a foster home???

Friday, June 22, 2012

Turkey Love

I'm worn out tonight, and don't know why, as I have had a lighter week than normal.  I didn't sleep well, so maybe that's it.  Went to a friend's baby shower just after work, and then home to do chores.  Sometimes I like to sit down and watch "Chick TV".

And the chicks like to watch "Turkey TV" 

Where I am, Clarabelle is, in the evenings.

And Jackson wandered up... notice his wattles turning red? And the foot delicately placed on Clara's back?  I was less than a foot away from her, but Jackson hath no shame.

He tried this way and that, but kept falling off.  She lay there stolidly.

Finally, balance was achieved and the Deed was Done.  Notice Annabelle had to come over to observe.


No wonder I'm so tired!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The 17th Egg

...or... Alica, don't read any further!

We have gotten 16 eggs three nights this week, a stellar week for our girls.

Here's the 17th:

Better an egg than one of my pullets!

(I threw out the dirtiest egg in the bucket, but 15 is darn good for a bunch of older hens and little girls!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Ends and Beginnings

Our hoop house today:

We had two days of very hard winds, and last night I went out to put some suet out at 8:30... heard a large riiiipppppppp... and the hoop house plastic gave way.  Keith will be home from his excercise tomorrow and we will cut the hanging top off and leave sides on for the rest of the summer.  We are learning so much from this experiment!
Now the tomatoes can reach high.

A last look at the little mares, after I had shut them up to wait for friend Joani.  What a pretty pair they are. 

Michelle from Boulderneigh asked why we didn't consider keeping them, since we were in the market for some ponies soon. 
These are Hackneys, a very spirited pony.  We love their beautiful way of moving, and these two girls were very nice... but we need some stolid, slow moving Shetlands for the grands, and a winter off hard bucket hauling. 
Chris, Joani's Amish friend who trains and shoes for her, came along with her to get the girls.  He fell in love with Rosie, and was so very gentle with both of them, giving them time to get to know him before leading them out.

Kerin, at Always Fixin' Never Sittin' asked me why we didn't get guineas... oh, my, how I wish we could!  Unfortunately... the answer lies in two words:  LILLY ANN.
Lilly Ann has killed probably two dozen birds in her six years of life... and anything that comes over the pasture fence is fair game.  We have a neighbor down the road with guineas, and her guineas are EVERYWHERE.. running in the road, running all over her yard and pasture.  I am afraid if we get guineas, they will come through from the pasture, straight into Lilly Ann's jaws. 

Here's Joani with Blackie and Rosie, ready to pull out.  We had clouds, sun, clouds, sun... there was supposedly a 30 percent chance of rain, but we have not seen any yet. 

This beautiful stand of corn is down around the corner from us, a few miles as the crow flies.  I think the corn will start to suffer if we don't get some rain pretty soon.

And here's five of our six swallow babies, still alive and doing well.  They come back to roost on our porch at night still, but  Mama and Papa will start their second clutch sometime soon.  What a wonderful new beginning for these babies.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A Close Call

Not by me... by this little guy!  He didn't know how close he was to sure death!

When I opened the back pophole of the little henhouse tonight, this juvenile black rat snake was laying IN the waterer... his head resting on the side.  Smart snake, it was nearly 100 outside again, though there is a decent breeze.  Stupid me... I did not get a picture of it, but reached out, and instead of pouring the snake onto the ground, I disturbed him so that he skinnied UP the side of the henhouse and into the rafter, whereupon this little mouse looked out to see what was going on. 
Oddly, this is only the second snake in seven years I have found inside the little henhouse, which is up on stilts, so I suspect he came up the ramp. 

I picked the last one up and put him in the pasture, but did not have time to catch this one.
He's still wet, you can see.

I just don't want him to get into the pen of porcelain and mille fleurs, there is a gap in it where a small snake can get through, so I'll go out in a few minutes and jury rig something up to prevent that.  The wind has dried everything out, too, so I need to start the hose.

Here are the sunflowers in the new bed, greeting the sun this morning.

Tomorrow, with Keith's blessing, we are having a crew come to do a lot of major yardwork that got away from us while Keith was out with his shoulder injury, and while I was with my sister during April and May.  We have never done this before, but they have worked for a friend of mine, and will do the major weed-eating around the buildings, and clean up the garden beds, which will be a HUGE blessing.  I am going to take a half day, as my friend Joani will be coming to pick up the mares as well.

Annnndddd  none too soon, either, because here comes Miss Blackie to chase my chickens again.  They have done this Sunday, Monday and tonight... as soon as the chickens begin to gather and eat in the shade of the evening, here come Little Blackie and Rosie to run them off!  I still have not been able to get a picture of her beautiful high front leg action to show you all. 

These are the same sunflowers as above, but now facing west, in the setting sun on Sunday evening.  I love how sunflowers follow the sun.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Hotter Today

101 when I left work today, but everyone at home was doing well.  The dogs, all four, had been in all day.  Pugs suffer terribly in heat and humidity, so except for a quick step outside to potty, they are in... until allmost dark.  Once it cooled down a bit, they could go out and be farm dogs for a few minutes.

I had lots of help again.

Here's faithful Clarabelle, who was underfoot the entire time I was doing chores.  I was sitting at this point, filling the trough.  When it is this hot, I try to fill it daily, dumping out the dirty water and refilling.  Clara loves to be misted with the hose... she let herself be soaked two or three times tonight, and kept following me for more.

Jackson had an idea for a minute that he was going to get lucky.... but Clara made sure he understood she was TOO HOT!

Blackie actually was grazing UNDER Rosie here.  You can see that Rosie has some roaning on her flanks in this picture. 

The prisoners are trying to figure out how to break out of there!

We are going to build a pen for them next week.

And my ever-faithful blogging companions Gertie and Abby, keeping me company.  How I love these sweet little girls, and so does Keith.  They are the most loyal and protective little dogs we have ever owned. 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Father's Day

Father's Day dawned hot and bright, and despite clouds coming and going all day, there was nary a drop of rain (again). 

I checked Wunderground at noon, and it read "92.5, feels like 95".  Whew.  Keith reminded me that a year ago yesterday it was 105 here, so I guess we can't complain.  All I know is, while I was doing waterers, I was perspiring to beat the band.  Keith is getting ready to go out of town for the next four days, so I tried to get everything done that needed assistance, so I can be ready for the week.

I had help in the pasture.

It's going to be a challenge trying to feed for the next 3 days, I can see.

Here is what Wikipedia has to say about Hackney ponies, which are a true pony, started from a Hackney horse stud and Fell Ponies, with some Welsh thrown in:

General appearance

The Hackney pony may not be above 14.2 hands (hh) and usually range between 12 and 14 hh. It should have true pony characteristics, and should not be a scaled down version of the Hackney Horse. The pony should have a small pony head, carried high, with alert and pricked ears and large, intelligent eyes. The neck should be muscular, arched, and carried proudly. They should have powerful shoulders, a compact back, and a light frame. The legs are strong with good joints, but the bone is usually fine. The feet are very hard, and are usually allowed to grow long in the toe to accentuate the action of the pony. The tail is often set and is carried high. They usually have even more exaggerated action than the Hackney horse, knees rising as high as possible and hocks coming right under the body. The action should be fluid, spectacular, and energetic.

Blackie, of these two, has much the better action. 

Meanwhile, back at the little henyard, there was a traffic jam.

This Welsummer was giving a Mille Fleur what for for taking so long to lay her egg!

But Keith, who got to spend His Day playing golf, was worn out by the time he got back, from the sun and wind:

The Little Girls and their Daddy got to watch the Golf Tournament together on His Day.

I hope everyone had a great Father's Day!

And a short postscript:  We have heard from Renee and Brian, who have taken our llamas.  They arrived, were unloaded and are doing fine in their own pasture with some goats that they are going to be guarding.  It was hot as blazes there, too... and Renee was good enough to get a swimming pool for Inca already.  I know they'll be fine, she seems to have a special affinity for them, and I think will do well.