Thursday, March 31, 2011

Shearing Time

Aztec, tonight

It's almost shearing time.  Our friend Joani is going to come down from Northern Missouri with her nephew to help us.  Joanie is the reason we have llamas, she has had them for many years, and is experienced at shearing.  It will be Tony's third time, and Inca's second, but she was not good last year, and we expect more of the same this year.  Keith is going to construct a catch this weekend so that we can run them in and get bodies sheared, feet trimmed, and medicine down all in one fell swoop.

Here is where I interject and warn any of you thinking of getting llamas to buy BROKE llamas... halter broke.... and used to being led.  It will make things much easier for you in the future.  I did not know this before I bought.  A big llama can be very dangerous, their thighs and legs are built for defense.  The pulverized black snake could easily be a dog or a human.  We are very careful around them, and while we like them a lot, I don't go amongst them without keeping my eyes moving sideways and frontways, and backways if I could!  The day I brought the lemonhead home, I thought Tony was coming over the fence to get him!

Anyway, almost shearing time, and I'll take pictures of the whole process for everyone to see.  It will be much nicer for Inca to have her heavy fleece off this summer, and be cooler in the heat.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Random Wednesday

Lil got this one.

Our last two Wyandottes, gifts from friends Paul and Nancy.  Sadly, they have outlived Paul, who succumbed to cancer.  Sprocket, on the right, is fading now.

My favorite of the new blue silkies.  This pullet is one of three.  I managed to bring home a silkie cockerel, too.

The new chicks are doing very well, in fact, we're going to have to put the Welsummers and Partridge Rocks in their own deeper trough, they are getting so big already!

The little pond.  It's a clay hole now.  We have had some snow and rain over the weekend, and are expecting some rain tomorrow, to be followed by a few nice days.  I am hoping Mr. Calovich will be able to come up this weekend and start making the real pond, though it will be a mess for the rest of the year in the pasture. It has been so cold this week, the frogs have not been singing.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Monday, March 28, 2011

A Bend in the Road

About five miles from us as the crow flies, on a way we often take to Fort Leavenworth, the road takes a bend, and goes across a levee that runs through a valley that often floods in the spring rains.  Indeed, we have seen it flooded almost to the top of the levees, and have driven between water on either side, just in the seven years we have lived here.  Now there will be improvements made, and in the paper six months ago, there was an article about a farm that is being affected by the improvements.

Here is one of the barns affected, a dairy barn...
And the other:
The daughter of the man who built these barns still lives on the same farm, which, as you can see, is divided by Tonganoxie Road. 
Here is one of the barns at present... I did not get over there this weekend to take a newer picture:

For someone who has barn envy and will probably never own a wonderful barn like this, it hurts us to see them coming down in the name of progress.  We won't see this scene when we go around the bend much longer (and won't be going around the bend while they work on the road)
I can only imagine how the daughter of the man who built them so many years ago feels... what a change for her family.

Tonight, I have another bend in my road. 

You see, I have stupidly hurt the feelings of a fellow blogger, and am sure that person will never read this blog again.  I did it so very thoughtlessly, and am so sorry.  I am not a mean person, and I made a comment before thinking things out, and now that person has been wounded.  I want you all to know that though we will never meet - I have valued all the comments made on this blog.  I grew up as an adopted child in a family that never understood why I loved animals so.  My dad indulged me at 12 with a horse, but never understood why he was dangerous (one eye and only green broken) for a 12 year old, though he knew he had made me happy.  When we had a dog as I was growing up, the dog was kept outside, and we never had cats.  My brothers and sister to this day don't understand, nor does Keith's family.  I was blessed to have Keith in my life after 30 years of raising my kids alone after my first husband's death.
I am so grateful, again, for your comments and suggestions, because I know you are out there and are interested in many of the same things as I am.  To wound one person because of  thoughtlessness is the height of stupidity, and I am so very chagrined and apologetic for it. 

Sunday, March 27, 2011


I have held off blogging for two full weeks today about Josie.  No, not Jenny, who died on Friday two weeks ago, but this one:

(deplorable water bowl, I know)
Here she is, asleep in the living room near the kitchen.
She came to us last August or early September, found under a car next to mine at church one day.  When she ran out screaming, a fellow parishioner jumped on her (figuratively) and when no one else would take her, I did.  I hoped to find a home for her, as we already had Gwen, the Queen of the House.
After three days, we had fallen in love with the tiny girl, and decided to keep her.  We took her to Doctor Tom, and found out she was healthy for her hard start in life.
She duly had her three sets of shots over the next six weeks. 
In the meantime, I brought home Jenny from a farm down the road to be her companion.  Jenny, as you all know, was sick the entire time she was here with us.  She had good weeks, but many not so good.  Josie eventually began to sneeze what Jenny was sneezing, but never got sick so that she slept all the time, or quit eating.  Other than the sneezing she was fine, though Dr. Tom warned us it was only because she had had all her immunizations that she did not get terribly sick.

We had so many happy hours watching the two little girls play, until Jenny became too ill to do much more than sleep.
Josie often groomed her.

Because we were vetting Jenny every few weeks, we did not get Josie spayed on schedule.  We regretted that a month ago, when we realized she was coming into heat.  She trilled for about ten days, not caterwauling, but trilling and trying to go out the door frequently.  Then she quieted down, and seemed to be fine.  We vowed to get her to Dr. Tom sometime in the next two weeks.  On Saturday two weeks ago, the day after Jen died, the weather was beautiful here.  In and out we went all day, the pugs playing in the yard as we worked in the gardens, and Josie came in and out.  We had decided she would be an indoor cat, but she so clearly wanted out that we let her go out, where she played on the deck and in the yard close to it.  A couple of times she ventured to the garden by us, but would come back in a minute.  Sunday was another great day, and she played outside for a while in the afternoon, then came in to sleep on the back of the recliner.  I fixed a good dinner, and we ate.... then Keith decided at 7 to go out and do the last "closing up" things so he could get to bed early for the week ahead.  Out of the corner of my eye at the sink, I saw Josie jump down off the chair and follow him out, and I called out to him that she was with him.  Keith is extremely deaf, he was an artillery officer, and they did not use ear coverings 30 years ago during live fire, so he does not hear well, and did not hear me then. 

We have never seen her since. 

I could not write about it as we were hurting from losing Jenny on Friday, and we hoped that Josie would reappear.  We have stayed up late and called many, many hundreds of times, we have asked our neighbors Troy and Kathy to watch for her (as they have two toms), and we have used the searchlight to look up and down and everywhere.  We don't know if the coyotes got her or what. 
Tuesday night, Lilly was outside late, about 10:15, and began barking wildly in the garden.  We were already in bed, but I got up to see what was happening.  Lilly looked up at me as I shined the spotlight on her, and I could see her eyes in the light, and she broke off when I called her to come.  I shined the light down, and two small eyes looked back at me in the spotlight, not running.  I think now it could have been Josie.
I stupidly did not put shoes on and go out and look.

Twice before, when Nick was alive, he went out at night, and disappeared for 3 months.  Keith found him both times, the dogs would not let him back to the house.  However, we have brought them in each night, and have left food and water on the porch for Josie.  She was only 7 months old. 

It hurts me to know my own stupidity has probably killed her, or sentenced her to having a litter of kittens in the woods, where she is prey to coyotes or raccoons or possums. 

We miss her so, especially me, because Jenny was Keith's kitten through and through, but Josie, my little shadow in the house.  She often laid on the printer as I blogged, and I would reach over and stroke her.

She didn't meow very loudly, and purred quietly. 
I miss her so.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

A Chok-a-Blok Saturday

Today we went to the Kansas City version of the Flower, Lawn and Garden show, and the Home Show.  These two shows in the past were huge affairs... I worked part time evenings and weekends, as did my sons, taking tickets and selling tickets at the convention buildings in downtown KCMO, and I regularly saw all the big shows.  The Flower show, even to a nascent gardener as I was in those days, was a big deal.  I would go to church very early on Sunday, because we literally would sell 10,000 tickets to the show for that day.  At the end of the show, the event staff was allowed to go upstairs and buy things from the vendors who did not want to carry out everything they brought in.  Last year we went on a day Keith was not feeling well, and we did not stay long, but there was no "Flower" in the Flower, Lawn and Garden show.  This year, the show was halved again, and we won't be going back.

That said.... we did get some good ideas!

Here is something Keith has put on the list for late summer, after garden beds, chicken house, etc. etc. etc.

In a Mother Earth News from earlier this year, we had read an article about outdoor ovens, and Keith had vowed then that he was going to build one, just off the deck, where he is planning a small patio.

Here he is studying it.

A few minutes later, he peeled off from where we had walked.  I found out later he went back and talked to the man with the display.  He got the specs on it's building.  If the company were to build it, it would have been 5500.00 (may not have been THIS one, but there were several vendors there).  When we got home, I went to church, and Keith researched the ovens and found out how to construct them. The thing I like about Keith is he has a rudimentary knowledge of a lot of things, and is not afraid to try!  He has put the outdoor oven back on the list, after reading about their construction.  What fun it would be to have a place to fix a pizza with ingredients straight from the garden, and eat on the deck!  And to sit around in the cool fall evenings!
While he was looking at pizza ovens, I looked at this:

It is an above-ground garden pond, and featured a bubbling rock and koi swimming in it.  The train was for decoration.
We have often talked of having a pond in the garden, but Lilly Ann would be in in constantly, tearing the rubber liner, so we have not done it (yet).

I could see Lilly going after these guys!
But here were the really neat things that gave me LOTS of good ideas

This, my friends, is not just a potting bench, it's a POTTED UP bench!

It was in the booth run by the Kansas City Master Gardeners.  It was the SOLE real gardening resource in the whole show.  Just this bench alone, which is going to be for sale at their April plant sale, was worth going to the show, as I am going to BEG that it be put on THE LIST for 2011.  If you click on it and enlarge it, you will see that there are cut-outs in the top of the table (which has wheels on one side) and planter boxes set down in the cut-outs, planted gaily, of course.

Their theme, this year, was gardening for the disabled and older people, and featured these raised beds, full of veggies and flowers.  I definitely took note of those because my time is (rapidly) approaching.
The overall show, though, was very disappointing, and not worth the ten dollar admission for each of us, plus the ten dollar parking.  We did walk around the greatly-changed downtown, and had lunch in the Power and Light district after the show, and that walk was taken in light blowing snow and very cold wind.  There were many events going on in the public buildings, so quite a lot of people downtown.  As we left, we drove past this:

Here is the Lyric Theater.  I worked in this building in the evenings and on weekends for almost 30 years, ushering and ticket-taking.  Finally, I became Performance House Manager for the Opera, and worked Symphony and Kansas City Ballet performances here.  At the end of this season, the theater will go dark, and the arts presenters will now perform in the new Kaufman Arts Center which is going up as I write this. It is a beautiful, impressive building, but my heart will be here in the old theater, with it's ghosts, it's spooky upstairs hallways, and dusty corners.  I had many exciting experiences in this building, and it holds wonderful fond memories for me, for my kids, and for my oldest grandson.  I heard wonderful operas, great symphonic music, and saw exciting dance performances here along with all the mundane things a house manager also does.  The building has been sold... I'll hate to see it go out of use as a theater, as it was opened in 1927.
We were glad to get home to Calamity Acres after our cold day.  Though the show was overall a disappointment, we got enough new ideas to add to the list of things we would like to do here on our dear home place this year.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Little Hens

Our little hens have kept us laughing this week. 

This one, Rosewitha, some of you may recall... was one of the three mamas that hatched out the last clutch, born in September in the little henhouse.  Once those babies were able to go outside and fend for themselves, Rosewitha went back to the big henhouse where she had lived all her life.
Why is she in the rafters? 
Because Tuesday night, after I hadn't seen her for a couple of days... I had Keith climb a ladder to look above this:

This is the last piece of ceiling hanging in the big henhouse on the feed room side.  In the previous picture, Rosewitha is about 3 feet from it in the rafters.
Tuesday night, Keith got on a short ladder, and looked above the tile.  There was Rosewitha, on five or six big chicken eggs.  She was NOT pleased that Keith found her.  He lifted the eggs down to me... and gently gave me Rosewitha.  I put her in the little henhouse so that she could help incubate the (now 17) eggs under the little hens in there. 
The next day, I couldn't see Rosewitha anywhere.  I kind of freaked out, as I lost her twin, Dovey, a few weeks ago.
Finally, I asked Keith to climb the ladder again (he is tall enough to see into the ceiling, and there was Rosewitha AGAIN. 
She had gone over this:

It's the door that separates the little henyard from the big, we don't allow the two flocks to mingle any more.
Obviously, it didn't keep Rosewitha in. 
Because that evening, I found her where you see her in the first picture, in the rafters. 
Tonight, Keith did chores.... we don't know WHERE she is, but there were two big beautiful brown eggs up on the ceiling tile. 
They keep us laughing!
Here are two more... this little pullet has not come into lay yet, she was in the September hatch:

Her daddy, Ratchett, is the frizzle cochin right behind her.  Then again, she is shaped more like one of the half-Japs we have.
Here, we think, is her mama:

This little cochin hen, Lady, is two, and carries the frizzle gene.

And here, last night, are part of the little flock:

I try to give them treats every other night - and as you can see, they LOVED the dog food leftovers and old sour cream they got last night!
I'm linking this to Farm Friend Friday!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

More Garden Pictures

Last night, Keith worked far into the dark to cut up some cattle panels for the gardens beds he planted ten days ago. 

Here is the result of that work:

Yes, our garden is still a mess... paper, which you see sticking out, will be the bottom layer of the beds, and cover the paths, which we will then cover with mulch.  We are trying to go as weed-free as possible. All this will be cleaned up in time.
Here is another angle:

Once the peas are done, these beds will be used for cucumbers and other climbers (beans).  Keith did a super job on the beds and the supports.
Here is something else from the garden right now:

I'm very glad to see these smiling flowers!  Unfortunately, Mother Nature is about to do it to us again... we are expecting rain, and some snow here in Tongie over the next few days.  Daffodils aren't the only things up... the crocus is, and all the tulips have pushed up, though we are a bit away from blooming.  The iris are up, and many of the other perennials.  Rock cress is blooming!
I'm going to keep track with pictures this year for our garden records. 
Don't forget to join Amy and Ritchie at Verde Farm for Farm Friend Friday tomorrow!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Catching up from the Weekend

For all of you who commented on the pond, we were supposed to have storms today, and, in fact, are under a severe thunderstorm warning right now.  Keith is out with the big dogs and two younger pugs, watching things from the porch.  It has been blowing like heck all evening, and I was very tired from work and not sleeping well, so I passed on anything more than regular outdoor chores tonight. The pond man wants the pond area to dry out a bit before he starts pushing the dirt around, he didn't realize so much had seeped through below the little pond into the lower pasture. I guess if it rains tonight, we'll be waiting a few extra days.

Saturday morning was cold here, with winds and rain intermittently through the day, including some hail.  Temps were in the upper 40s when we went out before the rain to stake out the new henhouse in the garden.
Here is Keith pounding in the first of the stakes we put in.  That's Troy and Kathy's house behind him, to the south of our place.
Lilly Ann and the pugs were supervising.
As you can see, he had plenty of supervision.

Your blogger on the other end of the tape (where she got much supervision) and realizing now that she needs to see the measurement ladies at Penney's (if you know what I mean). Notice the chic and worn out nitrile gloves, so stiff I could hardly hold the tape, and just happy the new henhouse was becoming reality. 
Abby playing king of the mountain behind us, with the burn pit in the background.  Keith got it burned before the rain started.
After staking, before squaring.
Once it was squared, I was released allowed to leave to go meet my friend Sherie for a catch-up lunch.  Of course, it poured rain and hailed, but we had a good visit anyway.  The work will be proceeding over the next two months, Keith is going to begin building the first two supports for the henhouse this week.  It won't be long before we hear the sounds of happy hens in the garden!

Monday, March 21, 2011

A New Era

Tonight, the pond man came.

It caused the llamas some consternation.  I could not get them on camera, but they were running around like wild things.
He had to pull the little pond out, to drain, so that it could dry out a little before he forms the new dam.

Of course, I stood there and worried about every frog I saw hopping from the pond and praying that they would not get squished by the big caterpiller.  Keith was golfing, so did not get to see it. He just got home, so is going to go down with the spotlight and look at it.  Mr. Calovich made sure the llamas had something to drink from before he started.  (a full, clean trough)

I'll try to take as many pictures as I can of the process.  We expect rain here tomorrow, and he really needs to let the pond area dry out a little before he starts in earnest, so it may be a few days.  We will end up giving up about an acre of the pasture for the pond.

Bye Bye, Little Pond.

(Addendum:  We went down after dark with the spotlight, and there were many frogs standing in the ruins of the little pond, singing their hearts out.)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

A Snake Sunday

After church this morning, I hurried home to make some breakfast for Nathan, and read the paper for a bit before going outside in the wonderful spring morning.  Yesterday was rainy, cold and blustery, but today....for the first day of Spring it was a winner!

I had decided that today would be the day I would try to clean as much of the big henhouse as I could.  I got the little cart and began shoveling.  I had cleaned half of it about six weeks ago, when we had a break in the weather, but I had worn myself out that day lugging the full cart across the yard to the garden beds, and I stopped halfway through.  The waterer had sat on a heated base all winter, and it was wet and nasty where it had sat, because starlings were still coming in and out, though not daily.  Also, so many birds roost in the rafters.... and the waterer is beneath... need I say more?  It is a daily chore to clean it out. 
I got the big shovel out and began ferrying dirty bedding across the yard to my garden beds. 
I'll layer them with good dirt and peat moss on top of the henhouse cleanings, which are on dirt and straw.
I finally got down to a sort of clean floor, as I had to have help getting up some of the dirt that had formed a solid pad.

Keith suggested I put diatomaceous earth down under the bedding, and I did. The block on the left holds the feeder. 

Here is what one of the roosts looked like with starling poop all over it.  It is clean now.  Boy, that was fun.
I do have one egg-eater, Birdie, so I am praying she doesn't use this box.  3 of the hens are using the nursing cage.... and we could not find Rosewitha, so finally Keith stopped in and climbed a short ladder, and found her on the last piece of ceiling still up there.... ON FOUR EGGS.  As she has hatched many a chick for me, we are going to get the regular ladder in there tomorrow, get her down, and she can go in the little henhouse again and help hatch the now fifteen Cunningham eggs in there.
You can see in the top photo where the closet is, and the box is back in the dark corner.
I got five good eggs from the big henhouse, also the four under Rosewitha, and 3 good eggs from the little henhouse.  I am collecting eggs for a lady at work who wants to hatch some, so I am taking her 18 tomorrow morning, and another seven during the week.  Rosewitha's are going to her.
In the meantime, these guys were laying in the corner of the pasture, watching me going in and out of the henhouse, and watching our neighbor's grandkids, who were out in the yard playing.
Pretty soon I sat down to rest, and I heard Troy and the kids calling to me to come quick.
When I got there, I saw this:

And this:
And this
Coming out of this

If you click on this picture to enlargen it, you will see a pile of old cement blocks to the left of the tree.  The tree was planted close to an old cistern or well.  When we moved here, we found this pile of blocks in the fenceline at Troy's property (Troy going by on his tractor).... and little by little, Keith began to pour things into it to fill it in, because we did not want the little horses OR Oscar or Ranger to fall in.  The dogs are fenced out of the pasture now, but there is a hole on the other side of the tree where the snakes are coming in and out, and you can see down into the cistern. There were actually three other big snakes, whose pictures I don't show.
There was also THIS one, and this is why Troy, Kathy, Jeremy and the kids called me....

Tony the llama did this!
You don't mess with a llama, even if you are a black rat snake!
It is cooling down now (6:31 PM), but got up to 82 degrees today on the first day of spring.  No wonder it drew the snakes out of the cistern.
I'll get the trash ready for the trash man, and feed the big dogs, and then come in and rest for Sunday evening.  I am so looking forward to retirement, when we don't have to push to get everything done in two days.  It will be such a relief.
Have a good start to the week and HAPPY SPRING!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

A Year Ago

I didn't want to make Farm Friend Friday a bummer, and it has been a long week here at Calamity Acres since we lost little Jenny.

A year ago yesterday, March 18, we lost this one
Our first pug, Addie Mae was a princess in every respect

And the apple of Daddy's eye

Part of the gang

and Hannah's eyes

We have a secret you and I
That no one else shall know
For who but I can see you lie,
Each night, in fireglow?
And who but I can reach my hand
before I go to bed
and feel the living warmth of you
and touch your silken head?
And only I walk woodland paths,
and see ahead of me,
your small form racing with the wind
so young again and free.
And only I can see you swim
in every brook I pass
And when I call,
no one but I can see
the bending grass.

Old Dogs Do Not Die
Author Unknown

Addie Mae, March 18, 2010