Tuesday, December 4, 2018

On the Porch at Night

Friends, most of you know that I took in four feral kittens last year, 
and raised them in my little red hen house on stilts until the raccoons sprang them. 
They were the reason I had the feral cat feeder in the pasture built. 
(the one that was "raccoon proof") 

Three of them did learn to use it. 

Since then, I have been keeping a bowl of cat food on the 
side deck of the hen spa, the big hen house, and another 
bowl on the front porch of the house, where I have a heated water bowl. 

Uh huh.  I took that through the front door window last night. 

That's actually a pretty small raccoon. 

Petey, who, as you can see, is in fine fettle, checks the porch regularly, 
even though he, of all the ferals, eats canned cat food as I lock up the 
hen spa each night. Petey is the only one who will let me handle him. 

Both of the black kitties (they were the two boys of the original group, 
which was all spayed and neutered) are still alive and in good flesh. 

Spooky and Rusty. 

Their sister Harlequin, Harley, is still doing well. 
It was Tippy, the other girl, who has disappeared, but she 
disappeared early on, soon after they were loose. 

And here is the gray tabby, the fifth of the ferals eating here. 
He is also the wildest. 

Some of the raccoons are HUGE, and I can see why they killed my ducks. 

This was not from the last two days, because I erased the one I wanted, sadly. 
But you get the picture. 
The funny thing is, the cats and possums pretty much co-habit. 

Jes goes out several times every evening to go to the bathroom, but 
I do not let him go out alone, I stand in the door and watch him. 
Our tenants lost a little dog while they lived here, they let him out alone. 

Not taking any chances, even though Jes is a chunk. 

Lilly had her own drama with Buttercup the cochin. 

I should note that as of the last two days, the starlings have found the 
feeder on the porch.  You see, the cats come and check it during the day, so 
I have been leaving food in it for them.  They don't bother the chickens, they 
just come and eat.  However, I can't afford (literally) to keep filling it over and over 
because of the starlings.  I have had to quit filling the feeder in the pasture in the morning, 
because the starlings were eating all of it.  I wait until about 3:30 or 4 now to fill it for the night. 

The starlings are wiping out the feed on the hen spa porch, too, along with the crows and the chickens, but I am still trying to keep a half bowl in it in case the cats drop by (and they do).  I have a theory that the cats use the water fountain (that has a heater base) in the hen spa for water during the day. 

And there is Harley on camera coming out. 

And there are the starlings eating cat food on the porch. 
(you can barely see them clustered on the rim of the bowl) 

I have tried now for two weeks to get an electrician here to activate four outdoor outlets, so I can 
put warm water down in the garden area, but I am having NO luck getting anyone to actually come. 
Too cold, I am sure. 

One said "I'll swing by", as if I am home all day, every day. 

Lilly amazed me last night and got up onto the couch in the living room. 
She has not really been able to do this for months, though she does 
manage the lower loveseat in my bedroom.  I think she just wanted 
to be with Jester and me in the evening, instead of back in the lonely bedroom, where she usually sleeps. 

Christmas has commenced at Calamity Acres!

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Down the Lane and Back Again

As I sit here this morning, Northeast Kansas (including Leavenworth County) is in a blizzard watch until 6 PM tonight.  It was 40 out when I got up at 7 AM, and got outside and topped off all water. 

I left all chickens in today, and the sheep are imprisoned in their pen.  More about the sheep in a minute. 

I want to publicly thank my son Jim Hazzard, for coming out here this morning at 
9, before the snow started, and climbing down in the well house and turning on the 
heat lamp to keep my pump from freezing.  It happened once last year, because 
I had forgotten about turning on the lamp in winter (my first winter back).  I had an extended 
conversation about this with a friend the other day, and we left it with the suggestion 
that when the electrician comes out this week, I have him wire a 
switch into the house or porch than can be turned on and off from OUTSIDE the 
well house, so no one has to climb down in except when the bulb needs to be switched out. 

I had planned to do that before I realized we were going down to fourteen degrees the next three nights. 

Like I said, God Bless Jim! 

This is right now, outside my front door.  There is a squirrel on the side of the tree, 
another at the base, and a third on the flat feeder to the left.  I also put water out for them, 
but I think the starlings may have drank it all.  I'll take more out shortly. 

I have always kept a heated water bowl on my deck for the animals, but.... that is why I am having the electrician come, I have three outlets not working, and the fourth is running the heated bucket to the sheep pen. 

I don't mind taking heated water out for the wild birds during the day. 

I went to church yesterday afternoon, in anticipation of staying home all day today. 

So.. let's catch up on what has been going on around here. 

Some is good, some bad. 

I had no working computer for 12 days, this computer is on its' last legs, 
and finally the great Mercury Wireless techs came, troubleshot... found that the internet had never been off, but the computer is a mess.  I could see that the cable was working, but 
needed to confirm there really is a problem with the old computer, so... a new computer is in my future, but I am NOT hurrying to make a decision. 

Two weeks ago, the man keeping the sheep here caught me in the driveway one day and told me he had sold the sheep.  He was leaving two for me.  He told me that he would come to get them on Saturday. 

It was a disaster.  Number one, I was very, very attached.  I had talked to him about buying the two full hair sheep, but could not give Big Mama up.... the kindest, most friendly ewe ever. 

Big Mama on the deck that day. 

I knew she would have to be sheered, but I told him I wanted Big Mama and her baby, Brownie. 

I went in the house, it was upsetting me.  I went back out when I saw that they 
intended to leave the ram, and I told them NO.... he must go. 
I did not pay attention. 

They had loaded Brownie, who had a black face, and left Fluffy, 
who also had a black face. 

Mama called for six hours for Brownie, came up and stood at my door, 
crying.  I thought "Oh, she will calm down".  Brownie was weaned, but they still laid together all the time. 

Sunday, she went down.  No cud chewing, no eating or drinking. 

Monday, we had a horrible snow storm, I called Eudora Pet Hospital, 
and despite it's mundane name, they do large animal practice. 
Dr. Guy Shane arrived within the hour, and we gave her 
shots, and he left three days worth of shots for me. We also dragged her 
inside the barn. 

She never ate again.  She wobbled out of the barn on Wednesday, and 
went down, and I called him, and God Bless him, he was there in 
45 minutes, and mercifully, euthanized her.  She had gotten pneumonia, 
then aspirated.  I blamed myself, I did not stay out there to make sure 
they loaded the right lambs.  

Her lamb had been weaned, but the vet said the stress of the others leaving 
had caused her to go down.   I was afraid I would lose Fluffy, who 
was not a bit tame, and she and her partner Freckles had come after the others, 
and were the lowest on the totem pole... so... I networked with some friends (one of whom had three pet sheep) and found a man in Basehor who had some. 
 A friend from the Ag Hall helped me load and bring her home. (it takes a village, because a feed store where I get hay from time to time loaned me a big carrier to put her in!) 

So, Fluffy, low girl on the totem pole, is now the Queen, and Flicka is coming into her own, and probably bred.  Fluffy MAY be, Diablo, the ram lamb, had reached sexual maturity.  I am NOT looking to deal in sheep, these guys are pets only, and I would be satisfied with no lambs. 
Flicka is wild as the wind, but I noticed that Fluff is now calling to me when I go outside. 
They are set up with a heated water bucket, and the little barn is plenty big for the two of them.  This morning, it is bedded down and I put several flakes of hay in there to keep them busy today in the storm. 

I cannot express enough thanks for Donna Adams and Vickie Soejoto, who gave me advice from afar about Big Mama, and commisserated with me. I truly mourn the loss of this wise old girl. 

So... this was yesterday morning, it was 60 degrees out over the last three days! 

I lost  my two "small" ducks, the Cayuga drake, and the black and white cross duck, over the course of the last week.  I would have said owls... because the drake disappeared without a trace while I found Daisy's headless body... but

this morning I went out and I am now down to THREE of the big Pekins. 

I found this by the pasture fenceline, he ran. 

Sorry for the graphic picture. 

I suspect raccoon, because there was a clear path where the poor duck 
tried to get away. 

I had thought the Big Four were safe. 

So... tonight, if the wind has stopped blowing so hard, 
I'll net each and put them in the old henhouse after the chickens have gone up to roost. 
IF I do ducks again in the spring (and I love them), they will be kept in a covered 
dog pen at night, with a dog house to shelter in. 

They will be fed in the pen only, so they know they have to go there. 

This has not been a pleasant two weeks, trust me. 

We had some happy times!  On Wednesday, we celebrated the sixth birthday of 
Brayden, our little friend from the Ag Hall.  That's Jax (my grand), Jameson (our friend Marsha's grand), Paiton, my grand, and Brayden, who has the most serious look on his face!  He had picked out that ice cream cake from Dairy Queen, but it was hidden here in the freezer at my house.... and we had KFC for our lunch that day.  Brayden was all smiles when he blew the candles out and we cut the cake, and then the kids ran and played and climbed and generally had a great time. 
It was so good to sit down with friends and relax! 

Yesterday, three of the four helped finish decorating The Hatchery and the General Store for our Santa event at the Ag Hall on December 8th and 9th.  They will be helping then, too. 

All we have left to do in those two buildings is hang cup hooks and loop the lights that will be burning that weekend around the windows.  

We all enjoyed lunch at McDonald's Play Place after we finished at the Ag. 

I am going to say here that it behooves us all to start our kids out early being volunteers. 
Paiton and Jax are 10 and 11, and have already been helping for three seasons.  I am so proud of them! 

Brayden and Jameson have practically grown up at the Ag. 

Singleton beats me to the front door every morning, 
I give them a bread treat when I let everyone loose and finish morning chores. 
He loves to crow from an elevated position, either the chair, the railing, or the table 
on the porch. 

He has turned out to be such a beautiful boy.  He also chose the old 
henhouse hens as his own, and sleeps in there now. 

These slackers are his hens, I get maybe two eggs from here daily, 
and these are ALL young hens. 

The calm before today's storm (taken yesterday morning). 
The sheep's owner left that bale, I was surprised when he brought it, 
and then informed me two days later he was selling them. 

These two girls have really not paid much attention to it, but yesterday spent some 
time eating.  

I won't be letting anyone else use my pasture, I have had two bad experiences now, and won't go through that again.  
I realized I really, REALLY don't like strangers coming on the property. 

Here's my beautiful Lilly Ann with the full moon coming up behind her the other night, caught on the game cam. 

I think a yard dog is possibly in my future, these coon depridations have to stop!

(Yes, Flea, you have about convinced me) 

Jester has the right idea! 

I am going to go out and check on everyone, and then come back in and join Jes. 

Everyone stay safe in our crazy winter weather! 

Another shout out to my friend Deb Long, up in Iowa.  (also getting weather today). 
You have been the most supportive of friends for months, and I can't thank you enough. 
It means a LOT to me! 

Friday, November 9, 2018

Looking Back

I know you all remember that I lost Keith two years ago last month. 

I am still unpacking boxes from my move back to Calamity Acres 
a year ago.  

So, this morning, I am still going through things since we had 
our first snow last night. 

I found some lovely old pictures, and I am so glad that I took them. 

When we first got our llamas, one was a young cria, 
and you notice he has a halter on.  We should have worked with him daily, because trust me, 
he was not halter-broken. 

Please note that Keith had already made our new barn pad (the barn 
never built) because our little pond is already in the pasture. 

You also see that the east fence line was still pretty much clear, you 
can see the Spehar's two deep ponds to the east clearly. 

Their view is almost obscured now. 

Our dear old Beau and his favorite goose, Samantha, were still alive. 
Samantha and Beau were very bonded, she spent all her time with him, 
instead of the other geese. 

Big Mama Llama and Beau had a bit of a contentious relationship, note her face. 

And she and her cria, Tony, pretty much took over Beau's barn. 

On Llama Roundup Day (shearing day) we had friends stop by 
with some of their animals to help us shear. 

And here comes Beau at the trot to see what the heck is going on!

And here I am, 125 pounds heavier, giving a baby bison a bottle. 

My face was permanently red from exertion back then, I am MUCH 
better off physically, now. 

Beau really liked the little lambs. 

Friend Joni showed us how the little ones liked to play. 

We eventually did get to the shearing. 

Here is where I'll stop for a moment.  We bought our llamas 
from these folks... and another from another lady in 
Douglas county. 

Llamas, to be healthy, need to have their heavy coats taken off once a year... and shots. 

If Joni and Michael had not come down every year and helped us, we would not have 
been able to do it.  It was too much for Keith and me.  Because none of ours 
was halter broken except for Big Mama (who was actually on loan from Joni and Michael)... 
it was a wild roundup.  

So... looking back... it was an ill-considered venture, despite the pleasure we 
got from watching them. 

Tony is frothing, he was scared to death. 

There was something else on this disc, that I was very happy to see. 

Handsome stepson Brandon, on his way to a winter dance at the high school. 

I had forgotten I had taken these pictures. 

Brandon graduated in 2010. 

We lost him five years ago. 

Happy times!

Sunday, October 28, 2018

October is Flying By

The days have, for the most part, been very beautiful. 

Beauty is all around, this month, my favorite. 

Even though our nation is dealing with so much sadness, especially this last week. 

I try to remember that there is still good all around us. 

What I can see with my own eyes leads me to believe it is so. 

I am staying busy and thinking positively, and thank 
heavens for my volunteering at the National Agricultural Center, 
and seeing the happy and inquiring youth during our school tours. 

We have a good foundation for better days, I think. 

Wintry mix is coming this week, but I think we can get above it. 

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Making Hay While the Sun Shines

We recently had four days of steady rain, with some storms, 
after months of little moisture.  

My place, and the animals, got waterlogged. 

Today is a beautiful autumn day, and the temp finally got to 50, so 
I decided to clean out the little hen house, and the old hen house, and re-bed the Hen Spa. 

Seven Thirty this morning, and the skies were finally clearing. 
Sadly, clouds came back over within the hour. 

But, by 12:30, we were back to sun. 

I decided I had better get some work done on the henhouses while we had a decent day. 

I found this girl laying in the little hen house.  She is one of the Black Star 
production layers, and I suspected some of them were laying now.  I know one 
is going into the Hen Spa to lay.  However, now that I know this.... I realize my 
old girls are really, really beginning to slack off. 

I just realized I only took one picture of their house,  and since it is 8 x 10, 
it took only minutes to scoop it all out and put it in the little red wagon.  Then I ran it over to the compost heap and unloaded.  I then drove the wagon to the hay shed, and loaded up on fresh straw, 
and went back and bedded it down. 

The pullets/hens will be happy tonight when they go in. 

Then, on to the old henhouse.  You will note the back pophole is shut... when the sheep first came, 
they tore through the dilapidated fencing around the old hen yard, and I got a bid to replace everything that came in at 4,000.00.  Uh, no.  So... the sheep began to come up the pophole, eat the feed, and come into the yard on their own, so I can't leave that hole open, but only the one on the side (the right of this picture).  I have plans to get cattle panels and attach them to the precariously-leaning walls of the hen yard, but getting the panels HERE is the problem. 

Re-bedded and smells SO much better. 

I also took the opportunity to get a lot of flotsam and jetsam that had accumulated there and in the porch of the old hen house over the summer, and remove it to the barn. 

Fans got put away today, for sure. 

The compost heap, after I had finished.  The hens and Singleton came over to 
start working it, minutes later. 

There are some planters and gardening stuff stored at the back of the old garage (where I keep the mower) which is right behind the compost heap.  While I was emptying the cart, I heard a loud squawk. 

I went around the corner to have one of the Cornish hens come running out like a crazy thing... and I found that!  

However... it was cold, and she had been going to lay another. 

I disturbed her. 

I'm such a sap, I went back and put straw in the planting box.  She is out there now. 
She is the one who laid in the planter on the porch this summer. 

Back to the old hen house for a minute... there is a gap between the inside 
step (to get out the popholes) and the wall.  In the old days, the little bantams 
used to lay down in that gap... so I put some straw down there today to encourage 
them to do it.  Only three hens are laying in there, and 11 sleep in there. 

Please notice the feather extending from Lilly's mouth, and the studious way she 
is avoiding my lecture. 

The bird got away, but it was close. 

Lookin' pretty good for just cleaning two hen houses. 

Gratuitous picture of the two drakes in the sun, because I stopped to fill their pool under the walnut tree. 

Since I had the wagon hooked up, I decided to go get the rest of a bale of straw, 
and I drove it over to the Hen Spa.  I had just cleaned it out six weeks ago, so 
I put the fresh straw on the old, and made it deeper.  

Those girls will have a good time tonight, too. 

I snuck back into the old hen house to see what was happening after I unhooked the wagon and parked the tractor in the garage (scared the darn Cornish hen again!). 

Two of the girls were already at work!