Thursday, January 31, 2013

Soup and Cornbread

That's the kind of day it was, a soup and cornbread kind of day!  Predicted to be the coldest day of the year, and I only got 13 eggs from both sides, so the girls thought so, too. 

Some of you asked last night (J and S from Cranky Puppy) about the components we were ordering for our greenhouse.  We placed the order today, and I think I called the sheets we are using "Polypropylene".  Rigghtttt.  Here is what they are: 


Optimum Protection For Your Plants
Sunlight is necessary for plant growth, but too much direct exposure can damage, even burn plants. ThermaGlas SolarSoft polycarbonate covering allows the most nourishing light to shine through to your plants while keeping potentially harmful ultraviolet and infrared rays at bay. SolarSoft covering is optimized for 80% PAR light transmission (light used in the photosynthetic process) and 95% light diffusion (which means sunlight is scattered and distributed evenly among plants). Its impact resistant and virtually unbreakable design is made to stand the tests of weather and time.


  • Superb thermal insulation saves energy
  • Light weight
  • Low flammability (available with CC1 rating)
  • Easy to install using ordinary tools
  • Capable of cold-forming to an arch
  • Wide service temperature range
  • 10 year limited warranty
  • Diffused, softer light
  • Less shadows cast by structural members and/or curtain systems
  • Deeper penetration of light into the plant canopy
  • 100% UV protection

The greenhouse is going to be 10 feet x 16 feet, and will be placed next to the henspa, so we can use the electricity and the water that are run there.  There will be some shading in the afternoon from the shadow cast by the henspa, but we know from the heat in the hoophouse last year that this will actually help us.  We are also going to buy shadecloth from the Shadecloth Store, where we got our covering for the henspa yard, if we need it. 

We are buying the components from 
The Greenhouse Megastore which you can find HERE.

We are going to buy some other things from them when we have everthing set up, but to give you a "for instance"... we did order the aluminum corners, end caps, ridges, and the hobby ventilation package. 
Keith will put a door on it himself. 

We will also do certain parts of the framing ourselves... and let's face it, I'll be holding things and handing things... I'm no builder.  
We are going to tie it all down with mobile home ties instead of sinking piers, but set the ties in concrete. 

We're also going to put a base inside of landscape fabric, landscape papers, and then gravel... 70 bags of it... so we don't have any weeds coming up inside like we did the hoop house. 

In anticipation of this, I've been ordering seeds... so far, I've gotten my seeds from Baker Creek, from Thompson and Morgan, and in the next few days, from Burpee.  
I'm stopping there for a while. 

Here's our big boy out in the yard today... he was getting along pretty well.  It's down to 18 right now, and will be going down to zero tonight.  I have already emptied all the waterers except the one in the henspa that is on the heater base.  

One of my biggest goals is to have the old henhouse rewired this year, so that all outlets can be used next winter, and we can put two heated waterers in there if we need to, one on the feed room side, and one in the coop side.  We were able to do this before, but the wiring is almost gone, and only one outlet works reliably.  We would like to strip all the drywall out from in there.  

And speaking of the big henhouse, I have a bird showing signs of  upper respiratory problems today... or rather, for the past three days.  She was alone on the feed room side when I went in to dump the waterers... and I went back and got some VetRX to dose her with... she was pretty indignant.  My feeling is that the low temp tonight will get anyone who is not in good shape... it's when we have historically lost weak birds. 

Abby was ready to get back in but I will give her credit... she came outside three times and ran around in the bright sunlight .... and, as you see, we have plenty of buckets for water-carrying. 

I saw a red-winged blackbird today at the flat feeder, so I KNOW spring is coming! 

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Another Quiet Day

First off, I want to apologize to all of you for not getting around to read your posts in the last few days... I have had flu-like symptoms for over a week... was tested for strep and found negative, but still couldn't seem to get over the hump.  I'm feeling much better today.  I know many of you have had it, too, as I've seen it on your blogs. 

It snowed today about one inch here at Calamity Acres.  Chores went on, however. 

This is not a dead bird, just one staying warm.  She doesn't see very well anymore, and she likes to hide in the bottom row of the old wood nest box that is sitting on the feed room side of the big henhouse.  The heat lamp hangs here, you see, and I think it keeps her toasty... she'll need that, as it is going down to the very low single digits tonight. 

This was taken in very, very low light, all we could see of the chicken (Buffy, our Polish girl) was the end of her tail sticking out.  I switched the camera to low light, and crouched down to take it. 

This, however, IS a dead chicken, one of our home-bred silkie/cochin crosses, about 4 years old.  She lived all her life in the little henhouse, until November, when I moved those little hens into the new henspa.  I knew something was going on the last three days, she got "stiller and stiller".  I don't think it was a blocked oviduct, I think it was just "Chicken disease".  Sometimes things happen. 

She did not have upper respiratory. 

In the annals of Strange Eggs... here is an entrant from today. 
A regular sized egg is above it. 
Despite the cold and wind and blowing snow today, I got 17 eggs, including this tiny one. 
I got 17 yesterday, and 18 the day before.  Way to go Girls!!!!

Even the Intrepid Lil wanted to be inside... and was ensconced on our bed with a toy to lay on.  I found her sleeping with the toy between her paws just before I took this. 

For those of you who are planning to have treats for the Super Bowl on Sunday, one of my favorite cooking blogs sent a big ole list into my email yesterday and you can find that here, and it has TONS of good recipes. 
Thanks, Brown Eyed Baker! 

I ran out and drained all the waterers tonight, and we'll have to carry warm water in the morning.  Brrrrr..... but we're used to it.  Granddog Jester the Boston Terrier is sick, too, and I may have to make a run tomorrow in the cold morning to pick him up and run him to our vet, who happens to be HIS vet... so very convenient.  I'm glad to be able to do these things for our kids who work so hard to take care of their families. 

And last, I've been poring over the seed catalogues these last few days... we are very close to ordering the polypropolene inserts for our greenhouse... if I haven't managed to lose the sheet Keith figured everything up on.  He told me he would re-do it tonight if he needed to... but we'll have to wait til it gets a little warmer again before starting the actual work. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A Wet Tuesday (Thank Heavens)

Not much going on around here today except rain... 

It was a drippy, drippy day... with up to three inches of snow predicted for tonight... 

thank HEAVENS....

Though there was some jockeying for position going on in the big henhouse. 

That's it for today from the cold, clammy, Calamity Acres, where 75 degrees in a far-off memory of yesterday! 

Monday, January 28, 2013

An Unexpected Surprise

This morning, early, as Keith got things loaded in the truck for his meeting today, the phone rang.  My phone does not ring very often, and never this early (7-ish).  I jumped and ran for the phone, which I had left on the couch last night.  

It was my son, and there was a babysitter emergency, so I needed to go get the two toddler grands, Jax and Paiton, at their babysitter's house in Bonner Springs. 

Off I went. 

We had a good day... we started at McDonalds, where they got to play at the PlayPlace.  

Then home... 

 We gathered eggs.... three times.  Whether the hens wanted us to or not. 

We only broke ONE. 

We made chocolate chip cookies, and not only did they get to mix them, they put them on the sheets. 

We walked down to the bottom of the pasture in the 75 DEGREE TEMPS to see the fox hole. 

All the birds were locked up, they are now prisoners. 

Unfortunately, seconds after this attempt at petting was made, Jackson the Turkey bit Jaxton the boy on the leg, and he will have a good bruise tomorrow.  Jackson waited until we had gone through the gate and were leaving the henyard.  We are going to be very careful of him in the future.  Thankfully, there were very short tears, and a vow to "not go in there with that big one again"... however, Paiton was very frightened, and would not go near the chickens the rest of the day. 

We walked over to see Troy and Kathy's pond, but it is almost gone.  It is 15 feet deep at it's deepest, and there is not much left of it. 

Then they got their picture taken by the big maple tree in the front yard.  You see how grand the trunk is... it will be a loss someday when this great tree goes. 

We had a great day, and the dogs love these two, but they are also stressed out.  We're all going to sleep well tonight! 

Our weatherman says storms are coming in the wind, and it will only go down to the fifties tonight.  We hope this doesn't mean another year of drought. 

Thank you all for your kind words last night on the blog, we appreciate them, each and every one. 

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Reaping What I've Sown

For all of you out there who have been saying under their breaths:  "She's going to regret this".... you can all now say "I told you so". 

This morning, Keith did chores again for me, as I am still under the weather.  He did bring me the game cam, and I popped the card into the computer.  I was dismayed to see this: 

Please look at the time.  Yes, it's 7:01 AM, just before it gets really light. 
And that's a big coyote. 

I called Keith to the computer when he came in, to show him that they are really coming close now, and frequently, and that maybe I should stop feeding immediately. 

Too late. 

9:15 AM

Trust me, this is only an "enth" of the feathers, they were everywhere.  

Keith was working clear across the yard on the henspa, and even though he is deaf from artillery, became aware that the birds were screaming in terror. 
He ran in to get his gun... and I stupidly ran out the door and saw a big coyote with a black hen in it's mouth. I yelled at it, and it ran off exactly to the place where there is a passage under the fence, that I showed you last night. 
Keith was furious, because he had intended to kill it.  

I went out there and found at least six places where birds had been attacked, so we think there were possibly two coyotes.  I saw a black bird being carried off, and Keith saw a brown bird. 

They got Legs Diamond, our beautiful young rooster.  Keith euthanized him. 

Of course, barring the door after the cows got out, I have been taking layers over to the henspa, which could accomodate about six more.  I moved four bigger hens, and one tiny little Old English gamebird, Susie, because she is one of my favorites. 

I'll move two more tonight, once all the drama in there has settled down. 

The moral of the story is, all feeding stops today.  Keith is throwing Legs over into the wild area tonight... and I'm going to block the access hole with cinderblocks.  As Keith says, "They'll only find another way in..." because they are opportunistic, and it's mid-winter.  (Jill, my friend the naturalist, and I are both pretty philosophical) 

The birds are securely locked at night and repairs to the henyard fence were on the slate, anyway. 

I'm actually more worried about the skunk than anything.... as was Jill, too. 

In happier news, Keith has been working all weekend on this, and it's looking very good: 

Lag bolts holding the railing tightly to the deck: 

He will go around and screw the bottoms of all the spacers when he is finished.  I appreciate this so much, because sometimes I would get disoriented going across the deck, it was up just high enough to worry me since my eyesight is so bad.  I was very worried about Abby walking off it and hurting herself, too.  There will be handrails on either side of the steps now with the finish of this project today, and the railings are so strong and tight, we're going to hang a planting box from them. 

I'm going to make cookies this afternoon for a meeting Keith has tomorrow, so had best get busy.  

It stuns me that even at 62, I'm still learning the hard way!  

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Saturday Snapshots

This will be a picture-heavy post, I'm warning everyone! 

I took a lot of pictures these last few days of good weather.  As I type this at 2:48, it is 56 degrees out!  There is a little wind, so I put a jacket on to go out, but, my goodness!  

Yesterday I drove to Fort Leavenworth to get my throat checked for strep, since little Jax, our grandson, was diagnosed last Monday.  I didn't have strep, but my throat is raw, and I am trying to carry on. 

I saw this going on as I went "the back way" to the post. 

The farmers around here are taking advantage of the drought conditions to re-do their ponds.  We have seen scores of ponds now cleaned out and good silt used on their dams, etc.. 

Here's a barn that Keith and I love.  It has a lovely house with it, but the house actually sits on a very rocky outcropping/cliff, and worries us every time we see it!  Biggify to see three little donkeys there. 

At home, the Queen of the Yard was surveying her domain.  Wait until you see what Keith has started on this deck. 

Abby and I went for a walk in the pasture with some of the birds. 

Mama, HELP me!!!!

Sometimes Jackson decides he doesn't want puggies around his flock. 

As you see, we had a big train of birds behind me.  Abby's off to the left, wondering if she should come down.  (She did) 

Here's where the fox and probably the skunk are coming through in the wild area where the three properties meet. 

Here's a better look: that's Troy's dam just past our fence, and you can see how thick the thicket has become. We used to be able to get our walk gate open in the corner, but it is now overgrown. 

At that point, Abby decided that discretion was the better part of valor, and put me in between herself and Jackson, who was still with us. 

Don't worry, I did NOT let them get her, and she goes in the pasture and amongst the birds all the time.  She has always been trustworthy with them.  Lilly was laying at the gate waiting for us... I can't trust her until the birds are locked up for the night. 

I tried to upload a video twice for this post... it was very amusing... but I cannot get it to go to Blogger... despite waiting an hour.  Has anyone had luck loading directly to your blog without going to You Tube first? 

And the last picture... 
Command Central: 

Quite the corner, huh?  Books that I am reading, magazines, ditto... my purse, my tennies... sunflower seeds, and a stash of valentine heart candy.  Pitiful!  

I made an attempt to straighten it up today! 

Friday, January 25, 2013

Fox Facts

Photo by Joel Sartore for National Geographic

Here are some facts about the fox who comes here at night to eat in our pasture. 

She is a red fox vixen, a girl... and appears to be pregnant. 

According to National Geographic: 

Red foxes are solitary hunters who feed on rodents, rabbits, birds, and other small game—but their diet can be as flexible as their home habitat. Foxes will eat fruit and vegetables, fish, frogs, and even worms. If living among humans, foxes will opportunistically dine on garbage and pet food.
Like a cat's, the fox's thick tail aids its balance, but it has other uses as well. A fox uses its tail (or "brush") as a warm cover in cold weather and as a signal flag to communicate with other foxes.

In winter, foxes meet to mate. The vixen (female) typically gives birth to a litter of 2 to 12 pups. At birth, red foxes are actually brown or gray. A new red coat usually grows in by the end of the first month, but some red foxes are golden, reddish-brown, silver, or even black. Both parents care for their young through the summer before they are able to strike out on their own in the fall.
Red foxes are hunted for sport, though not extensively, and are sometimes killed as destructive pests or frequent carriers of rabies.

Only once have we seen two foxes together on camera here, and just the one night.  The vixen does not come every night. 

Foxes are fairly prevalent in this part of Leavenworth County, and several times while driving I have seen them going across a field.  To see one in broad daylight, however, is an indication that there is distress... either the animal is sick or something has disturbed it mightily. 

I have a friend whose daughter wrote about the red foxes that lived in their back yard one spring.  There were nine kits, and they all lived but one.  I'll let Kate tell you: 

This was Kate's first published piece.  She is also celebrating her birthday today!  Happy Birthday, Kate! 

Here are some pictures of  "our" vixen as she comes to eat at night. 

and this: 

She is really a beauty. 

I'm linking this to Farm Photo Friday at Farmchick's Kitchen. 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

What a Difference in a Year

A year ago today, we lost this little girl: 

Hannah, seen here napping with her Daddy, had had an eye removed on January 2nd, and did not recover from the surgery.  She finally quit eating, and we made a decision to let her cross the bridge on the afternoon of the 24th.  I still miss her, and miss her presence on my right side when I sit on the couch in the evenings.  What a wonderful little girl she was, and always wanted to be by her Mama. 

We miss you, Hannah Jean, but know you wait for us. 

A month ago today, we lost this little one on the left: 

How we miss her sweet little face.  Gertie Lou waits for us, too. 

Abby has NOT slept in that bed even one time since we lost Gert. 

There was another bluebird Kaffee Klatsch going on on the deck this morning, in the very cold January day. 

If I can get a good picture tomorrow, what I thought was a female woodpecker is a northern Flicker (thanks again, Jill!) and it is coming daily.  I'll try to get a better picture of it. 

This guy was back in the pasture early this morning...while...

This guy came very early last night. 

Here was our dawn today, and you can see the Spehars are all ready up and at 'em in their woodshop, their light is on.  It goes on about 6 AM daily. 

There were three hens already laying when I got to the henspa.  I do it last, as they have a water heater, and I don't have to worry about getting them a warm drink first thing.  We still have the two Porcelain D'Uccles living on top of the nest box, and in the rafters, and we do put a waterer up for them during the day... draining it at night.  I know that if they were very thirsty, they would come down and drink, so I go there last.  We do not put water out in the yard of the henspa... I don't want to draw the little birds there, and there is a space where they can get under the covering.  I do sometimes throw some corn out there, for the girls to scratch.  

The big henhouse, and the little, both have their waterers drained when the birds go in.  We used to deal with frozen waterers in the morning, and now I just have to carry the warm water out and pour it in.  They are always glad to get some warm water in the morning.
We used to have heaters for the waterers in there, but our electric load is now very precarious, and we need to get the lines re-run because of the mice.  It's all I can do to run the warming light to the little henhouse. 

We also put warm water in the outdoor fortexes.  I looked over there while I was doing the henspa, and probably 300 starlings were already there.  They drained the fortexes, but they have to drink, too.  At least they aren't invading us like the last five years, I have not seen more than ten or so inside. 

I refilled the fortexes with warm water three times during the day. 

Here's our good Lil on sitting point at the fence... she was listening to a dog barking in the distance.  A minute later, I let her in the pasture for a run. 

This one was in the pasture, too... but being naughty.  See the pipe coming out of the tree?  There is an old cistern there.  Keith and I filled it with a lot of cement blocks, cat litter and other stuff, but it is still dangerous.  I am going to build a little fence around this corner as soon as it is warmer with some t-poles and fencing we have left, to keep Abs and Lil away from it.  I had already called her twice when she finally looked at me. 

She followed me out, and next thing I knew, was in the henhouse with me as I emptied the waterers.  

She can open the door with her paw and head, and I was emptying the waterers and almost fell over her.  She was giving the pug stink eye, and on Pug Point, to Buffy, the Polish hen, who was trying to sleep in that lower nest box.  We trimmed Buffy's beak yesterday, but I have a feeling that she is not seeing very well.  I'm going to pick her up and take a look tomorrow.  I almost had to pick Abby up and carry her out with me, she was so intent.  She didn't move for almost a minute. 

Thanks to all of you for your comments about the ponies last night.  We did get the fencing bid today, and it's very affordable.  We are going to schedule it for two weeks from now.  Thanks to Terry, at Moondance Ranch for some special advice about which she wrote me privately. 

I also talked to my friend, and all the ponies are at her home place, and in a big pen with automatic water and hay... so easily catchable, unlike the 80 acre pasture they spend summers in.  Whew. 

I'm also considering this one: 

Yes, that's Rosie, one of the two Hackney mares that was here for a week last summer.  She was such a beauty.  She has been broken to saddle and trained to drive. 

Sorry for the heavy load of pictures, I just realized there was more going on on this cold day than I thought! 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Wednesday Already

Well, we got to 47 degrees today, but are expecting a wintry mix for tomorrow!  Kansas weather! 

On Sunday, son Jim brought Nathan out so we could get him to his mom and home to Garnett.  Along with Jim were Nathan's brothers Jax, and Jake.  I had made cookies and they took them home, but that afternoon, Jim called to tell me the cookies "tasted funny" and that Jax had broken out in a red rash of hives all over him.  I worried that I had made him sick in some way, and worried all night.  The next day, he went to Urgent Care, and they found out he had the scarlet rash of strep throat, even though he was not symptomatic with anything else.  They got antibiotics right away.  

Guess who has a sore throat now? 

Uh huh. 

If you don't see me on your blogs for a few days, you know what has happened. 

I told you last night that we have been thinking of getting a pony, and a mini donkey to keep it company, for equines are so sad when they are alone. 

My friend Joani who lives in northwest Missouri has raised horses and many different kinds of exotic livestock for years.  I went up there, if you remember, in September, to look at her ponies.  As a sideline, she runs a pony ride, and at Halloween, she ran hers for six weeks at a local pumpkin patch.  Some of the ponies did great, and some, not so well.  She keeps them on the wheel for two hours at a time, and changes them out.  

She subsequently put several up for sale, but has had no takers, with hay and the economy being like it is. 

I'll show you a few:

That's Anastasia, who is out of a pony mare, and Joani's registered quarter horse stud.  I happen to like her very much, but she is on the larger side, about 12-13 hands. 

This beauty is the best broke of all.  He is a gelding, but he is very hard to catch.  His name is Julian.  Of course, they are in an 80 acre pasture, regularly, and here would be in a much smaller space, with plenty of one-on-one attention. 

Delilah is probably bred, as are the other mares, all exposed to a registered Shetland stallion.  
She did not do well in the sweep... and as you see, looks rough here, her mane and tail full of burrs.  Joani does not think she was ever broken right to begin with.  

I LOVE Banjo, the mini-mule.  However,she is hard to catch, though broke to ride and drive. 

And here is Jax's favorite... 

It's a terrible picture of Trixie... she is a Welsh mare... the plainest Jane of the bunch. 

She is broke to ride and drive, and actually went pretty well, but got excited in the sweep and they had trouble calming her (so would I if I were a pony). 

She is outgoing and friendly, which is a huge plus for me, and is five years old. She is dark bay, though you can't necessarily see it from this picture. 

Here is a better picture of Trixie on the day I went up to see them in September... she looks much better in this picture, and in fact, I snapped her because I liked her. 

One white foot buy him
Two white feet try him
Three white feet look well about him
Four white feet do well with out him

I'm not into hasty decisions.  We should be getting our bid on the re-making of our horse corral... Keith will be tied up with the greenhouse for another month or so.  The bid should be here tomorrow, and we can begin to make plans.  I'm also enquiring about getting some more hay.  

Joani will not be hauling them to the sale, so they will be available for a while.  I think it's going to be Trixie, but that's not the final decision.  Yet.