Friday, February 28, 2014

Harbingers of Spring

Ignore the window that has been like that since we moved here... it's inside the glass... to see the beautiful geranium I brought inside last fall.  This is the second time it's bloomed since Christmas, and 
it is SO CHEERY to me. 

Ohhhhh that feed is so going away when spring is here.... we need to slim the girls and Kelly down. 

This is not a spring story.  This is a dead mouse, unfortunately. 

Remember when I reminded everyone to turn your buckets over when you finish 
using them?  I forgot to turn this one over, and he couldn't get out last night.  He may have been in there several days, without my noticing, because I have not used this bucket since the first of the week. 
Poor little mouse, even the leastt of God's creatures deserves a better end than this. 

I turned over ALL the buckets immediately. 

And this, friends, is the FIRST sign of spring here in the gardens.... and tomorrow, we are expecting sleet, followed by 3 to 7 inches of new snow. 

Oh, Joy. 

Sleep, little daffodils, sleep! 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Once a Killer, Always a Killer

Ah... so innocent. 

Henrietta... one of my favorites. 

For the last week, I have been letting Lilly stay in the yard when the henspa chickens were out, because she has gone from the the pasture to the yard for two months without bothering ducks or chickens on that side. 

Well... I learned my lesson. 

Thank heaven I was close to a window when she struck.... I beat on the window and yelled, and Henrietta was able to get away with just a loss of dignity, (I think). 

Lilly literally had a mouthful of feathers... and I have to admit that 
she came to me immediately when I told her to stop and get back to me. 

I clipped a leash on her and brought her in... it was my fault. 
She just will be inside from now on while the hens are loose in the evening. 

Of course, we are now predicted to have 3 to 7 inches of fresh snow with an underlay of sleet on Saturday night, so they will be in for a while after that. 

The girls got themselves in gear today!  

My poor remnants of the Japanese bantam flock.... they have been living in the rafters again since it turned cold.  At least last week they came down and went outside.  They have to endure the starlings eating all their feed and drinking their water, so I go out at noon and again at 3 to fill their feeding bowl and their water fountain.  They jump right down to get some before the starlings can get back inside.  I think this week they will be in the rafters most of the time. 

I honestly do NOT know how people who live in colder states do it with their animals! 

The little girls were having a late afternoon bite when I took them their warm water this evening. 

I put some new paper on the upper door of their double door .... it had come loose.  We have papered the lower door twice to keep wind out... but they pull it off each time. 

Delilah was already inside.  

She and Windy had had a good, long drink of warm water when I brought it out. 
In fact, they drank so much that I went back in and brought another full bucket out for them. 
It will freeze by morning, but they all had a good long warm drink tonight. 

However, Kelly was last to the bucket! 

Everyone stay warm! 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Odds and Ends

These, my friends, are starlings battering themselves against a window in the henspa. 
Yes.... I found a dozen in there when I went to do chores this afternoon. 
I almost cried.  
Only ONE time before has a small bird gotten in through the pophole, but alas, we have not kept the 
net pulled up to the building this year. 

I opened the front door widely... and waited for them all to find their way out.  

 Several finally stopped in exhaustion. 

I might have been yelling "Starlings, get out!"  

The total output of two henhouses today.  Seven eggs. 
Only four from the henspa, where there are about 28 layers. 

Pretty disappointing, but I have been donating 8 to 9 dozen a week, so I can't complain about a short day here and there. 

We got a dusting of snow last night, but they are saying real snow for 
Sunday.  Not sure how much. 

I can tell you that when I brought the warm water out and loosed the ducks, they 
ran straight to the fortex, and Spice jumped in imeediately while everyone else got a drink. 
You notice Donald is drinking too, he usually stands back and lets the girls go first... but in the morning, they are all desperate to get that first (warm) drink. 

Ducks need water to keep their bills clean and clear. 

Look!  The maple tree is really budding out!  

Winona, the Putting Up book is yours... please 
send me your address to, 
and I'll get it in the mail. 

Ramona at The JR, we have never "met" and 
I don't have an address for you, but the 
Creamery book is yours if you will just 
send me your address at the above 
email.  I could not find a way to contact you. 

The Dairy Goat Book is still up for grabs, and if no 
one wants it, I'll pass it on to the Dairy Goat Project 
for the local 4H kids. 

At mid-day, I usually go out and refresh water for all the animals. 
You see, by then the starlings have slurped up every bit of water for the ducks and chickens on the old henhouse side... and all of the feed.  I re-feed and re-water. 
The above short video shows the ducks who were so glad so to see some feed in front of them.  Donald is standing off to the right, quacking softly as his girls ate ravenously.  They HAD been out in the pasture all morning, and had already had some leaf lettuce as a treat.  

I have just heard on the five pm news that we are expecting 
lows as low as 3 degrees next week, so we are not finished with 
frigid temperatures around here. 
I am undecided as to whether or not to bring the ducks back in... but I will NOT be 
letting the chickens out in those temps. 
The warming light is back on in the goat barn. 

I'm praying for Winter to loosen her hold on all of us! 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

A Chicken Lesson... a Sad One... and Some Books to Give Away

I am winnowing out the library again, and I have a few 
books I would gladly pass on to whomever wants them... I'll send them 
media mail.

This is the first... it's a good book... for when I thought I was
going to be making cheese all the time in my retirement.
I have made goat cheese, and I like it... but I did not go on to 
other cheese endeavors. 

Here is another good one... but I did not go in the direction of 
dairy goats, ultimately.  Both of these are lightly read and very clean. 

Here's another I only paged through.  Michaele at 
Sprout'N"Wings (on our sidebar) wrote a very good 
post today about the fact that she is an empty nester again, and 
has no one really to can for.  I have two year old apple butter sitting 
on our shelves from the same... we just don't eat enough of 
"canned" stuff to make it worthwhile to go through the trouble anymore. 
I have a Ball bluebook, and will use that as a reference in the future. 
And yes, I gave lots away in the past. 

Remember, just let me know in the comments that you want them, 
otherwise, I'll donate them to the Good Shepherd to earn some 
money for the food pantry. 

This, my friends... is the badly deformed foot of a silkie-cross chicken. 

Sorry, this is a terrible picture of her head.  She is the little girl who lays under the big white hen, who protects her.  I just realized it looks like I am holding her upside down... I'm not, I was holding her like a football while I looked at her feet. 

This is the ONLY toe she has left.  There is one toe on the right foot, none on the left, only a club. 
She cannot really walk, she pulls herself around with the one toe.  I can't bear it any more... and Keith is to put her down tonight, even though she is otherwise as healthy as can be... though not laying anymore. 
All of my silkies have either VERY long nails that I have to cut, or have lost toes in the cold.  I have two more crosses in the henspa, and Silka, a buff colored purebred,  I know Silka has at least one incredibly long nail that needs trimming right now. 
But this poor little girl, born and bred here... it is just not fair for her to live like this, and this is why it is a lesson... even when we take good care of our birds, things happen. 

Keith, God bless him, will take care of it quickly and quietly, away from the other birds. He does not like to do it, but he will when he must, and he is quick about it. 

Lilly was ready to get the starlings I was flushing out of the old henhouse a while ago. 

That nasty sludge was all that was left in the waterer.  UGH.  It smells so badly. 

A fart egg next to a regular egg. 

The little girl closest to her protector is the one we are saying goodbye to... the hardest part of animal keeping, I tell you. 

Leave a comment if you would like one of the books. 

Monday, February 24, 2014

Some Random Pictures

I put a leaf of hay out in the pasture when I turned the goats loose this morning. 
They went right to it... the three young ones like to roam around the pasture. 
Big Mamacita Delilah likes to lay in the goatyard and watch them. 

The sun finally showed it's face about 1 PM, and shone down on Ferdie, Fluffernut and 
Rockette... don't they look pretty in the light?  He has the most musical crow of any rooster 
I have ever owned. 


Always on duty. 

Looking out just now, I saw two little goats and one adult one sleeping in the sun.... ducks and chickens in the goat yard with them. 

All is well at Calamity Acres this afternoon. 

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Sunday Evening

Folks, it's been a long week for us here at Calamity Acres. 

My brother's death and all that went with it... we are worn out, and I admit it. 

But things are getting back to normal. 

Life goes on. 

Yesterday, it was a sunny, bright winter day to lay my brother to rest.  I filled the duck pond
for the third day in a row... and they had such a good time cleaning themselves. 

Today was a different story, however, and the ducks got to wade around in what I poured from their pool.  I won't fill it for the next few days, we are going to be down in the twenties and thirties again, with teens at night.  In fact, I went out just now and poured out the plastic water fountains in the old henhouse so I won't have to bring them in in the morning to that them.

Yesterday, I took the lids off these cans and took them outside and washed with the hose all the nasty poop off the top.  It smells dreadfully, in case you are wondering.  It's starling poop.  And while I am not having hundreds of invaders this year, the score I have had has been enough.  Tonight, this is how the lids looked. 


I went in the house and we had our dinner, and when I went out... the plastic waterers were nasty again.  

Double Ugh. 

I have emptied them for the night, because we are dipping below freezing. 

And while I was working, Speedy, the smallest rooster, got his tail whapped by one of the Elvi, and came running out the front door of the henhouse, which I had propped open.  I let him peck around for a while... he never did notice the flock that was on the other side of the yard... Ferdie's flock from the henspa, and after a while, I took the net and caught him and put him up on the closet, so he could get a drink and eat something and get back up into the rafters.  I'll be so glad when they can all go out in the sun for a few days, like earlier this week. 

I'll try to get back on a normal schedule of posting now.... 

And close today with a view of the beautiful church in which I grew up.... my family lived just a block away, and I went to school here, and church until I was 20...

That's Keith and my brother Pete standing down below.  I had fun going up to the choir loft, where I sang hundreds of times while in grade school.  Our children's choirs sang in parts, even at a young age... and were quite beautiful. 

We were the first ones there. 

The steps down from the choir loft... they show the footsteps of hundreds of people over the last century. 

The organ.  This is not the organ of my youth.  This organ had been dismantled at some point, and a large organ sat on the left side of the loft in this picture... and that was what we used when I was young.  I was given lessons on that organ, until the teacher contacted my mother one day and told her it was 
useless.  She was right, I was just not musically inclined as far as playing. 
This organ and it's pipes (you can just see the top of the organ) take up most of the loft now. There is a riser in back of it, and a kneeler along the inside.  I got a sense of vertigo looking down to take the picture of my brother and Keith.  I don't remember that happening when I was in grade school.  There is a storage office off to the right, you can see the door.  

Everyone have a wonderful Sunday night... I am going to tape the Downton Abbey finale, and watch the Olympics closing ceremony with Abbie, cuddle on the couch!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Yesterday and Today

Yesterday, we had a bizarre weather day in Tonganoxie: 

It snowed, and then rained, for almost two hours. 

And as you see, everything is turning to sog. 

One of us was smart, and stayed inside and took it easy. 

This morning dawned sunny and chilly... it was in the upper twenties. 

I knew I had let Abby out .... and I went back in to get a little bit more warm water for the ducks... and told Keith I did not know where she had gone, but I was going to look for her.  Look what I saw when I went back out!  She was down as far as she could go in the pasture... I had never seen her go so far.... she was having a good time exploring!

I wanted to show all of you some eggs that had just come in from the henhouses last night. 
This is how eggs look "in the wild".  If you have hens that have been scavenging around outside, 
they are going to stomp all over the eggs and get them dirty. Some get VERY dirty. 
They don't appear clean like the ones you get at the store (which are filthy when they are gathered, from 
hens in tiny cages).  This "wildness" makes some people afraid to eat "farm" eggs. 

I have a hen in the henspa who has been breaking an eating an egg daily... I am not sure who it is... but the eggs in that nest become very sticky and soiled... and I have to use an abrasive tool to clean them thoroughly. Cleaning takes the protective cover off the eggs... but mine never sit more than a few days before going to the pantry.  Two dozen are going to my sister-in-law this afternoon, in fact, when we go to pick up my eldest brother for the wake. 

Since tomorrow we will be at the funeral early... I may not do a post. 

Also... someone asked last night that we put a map of our place on the site... and we 
are going to work on that tomorrow, after we get home.  

29 days till spring! 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

When It Rains....

We want to thank everyone for the outpouring of 
sympathy we have gotten at the loss of my brother, Mike. 

I feel a little better about writing about him today. 

Here is a link to a short piece in the news about him on Tuesday. 

I saw this on Facebook last night...

That's the Wyandotte County, Kansas, courthouse, and 
the flags there are flying at half-mast, ordered by the governor, himself, for Mike. 

The caption under this read "Mike's Flags", and that's how I will always think of it. 

My brother, though a lawyer and politician by trade, was also a very simple man 
who gloried in his family and his home life.  He was married to the same woman, Robin, for 
over 50 years... and he thought nothing of giving time and money when it came to family, he was very generous.  We'll miss him very much. 

We were predicted to have a spate of very warm days this week, but they did not materialize. 
We did have one day... Tuesday, in the 60's, but today it is in the forties, blowing hard, and raining. 
We do need the moisture. 
For the first time, I found the ducks in Fort Apache, that I made clear back in October for them to shelter in under the now-unused little red henhouse. 

Tuesday afternoon, when it was so nice out, I decided I had better tackle the henspa.  I had been throwing litter in there (straw) for the last two months, and not raking any out, as I usually do. 
The smell was getting... overpowering. 
Anyway, I started raking and realized I needed to open all the windows and doors. 

I uncovered, under the roosts, several layers sodden with urine and feces, and it about drove me out of the county.  I feel sorry for the poor birds.  It's one of the bad things about a deep litter system. 

I raked everything outside, I didn't even try to get it to the compost bin. 

I raked it off the deck, onto the ground of the henspa yard.  I knew they would tear through it. 

Reddy, the red chicken with the white tail behind the waterer, killed about seven mice as I was 
working, she was after another one here. 

I had to listen to their squeals the whole time... I made her drop one or two, but gave up. 
It was NOT pleasant. 

Ferdie, surveying his domain.  He and the henspa big girls were so glad to be out running around. 

Lots of cardinals in the yard that night. 

Sunrise on Wednesday the 19th.  God reminds us of Him daily. 

Five nice eggs from the old henhouse girls yesterday, the green from Chatterbox the 
Ameracauna, and the white from Buffy the Polish.  The other three from red hens. 
I got two beautiful duck eggs, too. 

Here is Mama Hen and two of her "babies".  They literally try to push underneath her, and she accomodates them. 

They all vie to get under her. 

Well... it's 43 out right now, and we have had a thunderstorm, and then rain and snow all in one day. 
The snow has stopped now, but it is still windy and miserable, so I guess this is as good a time as any to go out and start chores! 

Stay Warm!