Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Where Do the Days Go?

A week ago, we were in final prep for Barnyard Babies, 

The committee members were working overtime to get everything done. 

Weather was a real factor this year, rain threatened all week long, and 
the days just would NOT warm up. 

Saturday morning dawned cold and rainy.  Slowly, the exhibitors and the 
animal tenders came in and set up.  
There's Dave, committee member and our announcer for the day, 
ready to start work. 

It was as chilly as it looks. 

My two helpers, Jax and Paiton, were with me.  Our job was to 
set up and keep the bubble table going.  We had lots of fun. 

Our friends Diane and Caitie Larson brought chicks, a duckling, and goslings and turkey poults
and were set up in the feed room of the poultry house.  There was a line all day to see the babies, and 
next year, they will need to be somewhere where folks can get in and out easier. 

Thank you, Boling 4H!

The Shawnee County Mounted Sheriff's Posse stopped by... they are the 
only county around us that still has a mounted posse, and these two representatives couldn't have been nicer, letting all the families pet their horses and answering questions. 

Operation Wildlife was there again, too, fascinating people with their beautiful educational birds, like this kestral. 

The train, of course, had a line all day.  So did the pony rides. 

I think the families all had a good time, we had good food and 
lots of things to do. 

So, Sunday, my son Jim and I took Thunder to pick up two of these.... grow out brooders. 
I wanted to move the chicks into one, and then store the other until next year. 

I had found the guy who made them on Craigslist.  I believed he was closer to us than it 
turned out he was. 

He tried to sell me this brooder: 

It's in his living room. 

It's a beautiful piece of work, but weighs 150 pounds. 
Notice the bottom? 

There were four full grown ducks in that tiny space, they could neither stand up 
straight or flap their wings.  Please notice there is ANOTHER duck in the upper left. 
He would not sell me that duck, I bought the four Pekins, which were "two boys and two girls", according to him.  I asked him to carry them to the truck... and we put them in 
one of the brooders to ride home, because they were too big for the carriers (my son did not notice in the back seat of the truck)!  The brooders were laid down on their sides. 

As the guy brought them out one by one, each whisper-quacked, and those of you who have ducks know what I mean.... THEY WERE ALL DRAKES. 

Hens quack the traditional way... QUACK QUACK QUACK.... and the drakes quack MUCH quieter, almost a whisper. 

Jim bucketed water to the pool, and they rushed around, flapping wings and 
standing tall. 

Notice their bills are white, and should be yellow.  I suspect there was a 
dietary deficiency. 

It didn't take long. 

These girls are faking me out, I've had few eggs these last two days. 
Two of them are broody.  Not going through that again. 

The Hen Spa is also due for a complete clean-out. 

The six chicks in the brooder are looking good, and feathering out.  
I could not get a good picture of the two cochins, but they are heavily feathered. 

They are enjoying seeing out the window, as opposed to the trough they were in on the floor. 
I tried to put the Singleton with them, that didn't work very well. 

After calling his mother, who was equally as distressed, I put them back together in the feed room. 

Last night, Jaxton, my ten year old grandson, had his spring program at school, his sister's was last week. 

I high-tailed it down there, nearly forgetting it.... 
and when I got home, this is what I saw: 

Yes, somehow the three sheep that were coming here for the summer had become 8. 

AND... there is a ram lamb in there. 

(on the left).  

I understood from the man who owns them, and who is using my pasture, that there were to be a hair sheep ewe and her three lambs, but that changed, obviously.  Now, of course, I am worrying about the two that need shearing.  (the reason I never started in sheep). 

As you see, they were terrified.  

I put a water trough in there, and frankly, what he is feeding I don't think is right for sheep... milo and cracked corn... so I am going to buy a bag of sheep feed this afternoon. 
They are going to be turned out into the pasture tomorrow morning. 
When I saw that little ram, I understood they are probably not going anywhere in the fall, 
so I have a metal trough that can hold a heater for winter. 

I have the game camera out there, and have not had a chance to review it this morning, 
I will put it out nightly for a while, to see if anything is bothering them at night. 

I personally could not eat this. 

Here, I'm going to get serious for a moment. 

Last Tuesday, I made the decision that it was time for 
Lilly Ann to cross the Rainbow Bridge... her twelfth 
birthday is in July, but she has torn her right ACL, 
and is having trouble getting around, and must be on 
pain medication all the time now. 

I watched her all week, and took about a thousand pictures. 

You see, Lilly came home here from the Leavenworth Shelter, 
after we lost Oscar, our min-pin. 
We went to the shelter's open house to look at a German Shepherd female they had, 
because we had a German Shepherd that Keith had found limping along the road in the county.

Lilly greeted Keith and rolled over on his feet, waving her paws at him, 
and he was smitten. 
We came home with an (estimated) 8 week old pup who 
had been found out in the county with her mom and sister. 

Lilly was the boss of Ranger AND of us since the day she walked in the door. 
To this day, she has to be muzzled to be handled, or brushed, or have her nails done, etc. by the 
vet's office, and woe betide ME if I try to do too much to her.  She is my bosom buddy, but still. 

I talked at length to a friend this weekend who represents Hero Braces, 
and even though Lilly cannot be braced (I would have to muzzle her tightly!)... 
I realized we had not yet gotten to the time. 

Hence, our visit to the vet this morning was not her last.  The vet assessed her 
gait, and while he said she will never recover, we are just.not.there.

We are putting her on a new pain med for mornings, and she will have 
tramadol the rest of the day.  She is staying very quiet for her. 
She still goes outside to lay in the yard and watch everything... and I can 
tell she is still engaged.  We just aren't there but it will be soon. 

Here she is last night, she sort of hop-chased that squirrel up into the tree. 
She did not realize he had come down and was calmly eating his dinner on the other side!

So, it's been another long post, and I'm sorry. 

Lots going on here. 

Pray for Lilly and for me, that we have a few more weeks together. 

Sunday, April 15, 2018

A Longgggg Post....

I have been seeing Feral Cat Rusty every morning for a week now. 

I have not seen Harlequin (Harley) since Monday, and I am 
worried about her.  These four cats were neutered before they came to me... 
I have not seen the second black and white female, Tippy, in over a month. 

Spooky was running in the yard the other day, so I am pretty confident he is still around. 
I did leave the game camera in the henhouse today and will go out and get it shortly and see who is on it. 

The cat I have begun calling Petey was waiting for me 
this morning when I walked in, and was so hungry he/she jumped 
down immediately to eat.  This cat is the "friendliest" of all the 
ferals, meaning it will approach me, but I can't touch it. 

I am wondering now.... if it is male or female... because I have seen 
it repeatedly going down into my pasture, and I am beginning (thanks, Tammy Potts) to suspect 

I am keeping plenty of food out during the day, in case that's what's happening, and we would 
be trapping Mama and babies, if so. 

Raccoon tracks in the water bowl this morning. 
Petey was so hungry that I emptied the bowl, went out, got water, and came back in to clean and fill it, and he/she never looked up. 

Thursday and Friday, the temps went as high as 81 here in Leavenworth County. 

We actually had a tornado watch Friday night. 

It was so hot that Lilly went under the porch of the henhouse to watch me work. 

I did not work alone, I never do. 

Remember, I have four black sex link babies, and two cochins, whose sex I don't know. 
I also still have the singleton with Biddy, the only egg that hatched. 

Here is an example of what the hens will look like, 
from BackyardChickens.com 

I think I am going to have to take Biddy's baby tomorrow, she wants to go back 
outside badly, and the baby does not need to be out in the big, bad world.  I will put 
it with the other chicks.  

There are the Eggs That Never Hatched.  Several were empty. 
I am going to get a candler so I don't have to go through this again. 

And by the way, I buried them in the compost heap, and covered them with 
an extra load of dirt from one of my push carts. 

(sorry for the blurry picture) 

Jester received a wonderful gift from @Bostondottie on Instagram, 
because we donated to a medical fund for a Boston who needed surgery. 
It is a wonderful blanket, and he earlier won a cool tug toy from 
another Boston owner for the same contest.  

(Thank you, Royal Sir Boops!) 

Four acres to roam, and this is what is on my doorstep numerous times a day. 

This morning, we woke up to this.  This is the third Sunday in a row, and remember, I said we had 81 degree temps on Friday. 

Lilly bravely went out, and the wind chill at the time was about 14 degrees. 

After I put the cat food in the old hen house and fed Petey, I came back in to do something 
before going back out.  When I did, I saw Lil disappear into the pasture.  SHE IS NOT SUPPOSED TO RUN. 

This explains why.  See her track?  She has a torn 
ACL on the right rear, and is not a candidate for surgery.  She hobbles at best, 
steps are becoming harder.  I am medicating her daily now.  She is NOT supposed to take off after anything, and I suspect she saw Petey going back down to the woods.  She made her way back 
up eventually, but has been in all day. 

I would not normally post a picture like this, but I HAD TO GET MY CUDDL DUDS BACK OUT ON APRIL 15.  

Ridiculous!!!  The wind made it feel like 14, and believe me, my bones felt it. 
I have long jeans and a sweatshirt on, and my heavy Carhartt. 

I am a diabetic, and my hands and feet especially suffer in the cold, so I double-gloved, too. 
I also know to do chores in increments in this cold. 

Here is an egg lesson. 

The egg on the left is one from the home flock. 

The egg on the right, from the Ag flock, both my flocks. 

Some of the Ag girls broke out into the feed room this morning. 

I fixed these for the dog's breakfast. 

All together now. 

The darker yolk is caused by the fact that my girls here at home free-range all day long, and can eat bugs, grass, etc. etc. that they find on our acres.  The girls at the Ag are penned 24/7, and are 
eating only their 20% layer pellets and scratch, and whatever little bugs get into their pen. 

What a difference, yolk wise. 

Here is my little friend Braden at the Ag this morning, 
he and his grandpa showed up to get the train out on this cold day for 
a birthday party being held in the barn. 

Here comes Grandpa Wayne out of the tunnel!

Only volunteers would show up to do something like this on such a cold day. 

It turned out I knew the birthday celebrant, so I got to drive the train around for them. 

(no movie of that) 

We were very careful to make sure everyone was hooked in and understood no standing, keeping arms and legs in, etc., and we had a fun ride that turned everyone into popsicles. 

I came home and made a treat for the chickens, 
oatmeal with sunflower seeds mixed in.  The trouble with 
making a big batch is that it takes forever to cool down... but I finally gave it to some of them. 
I'll give them the rest in their hen house when I go out to get eggs. 

I'll try to post again during the week, and not wait so far in between posts. 

Thank you to Ramona, and to Terri, who sent me plans for a 
raccoon-proof feral cat feeder, and Ramona, you actually described the one that 
Terri sent. 

I have actually found someone to make it, too!

Saturday, April 7, 2018

I Spy

Gray and white feral 



Spooky, brother of Rusty and Harley. 

Rusty has a rusty-appearing collar instead of all jet black. 

Grey tabby 

Not a cat 

What's going on outside. 

And this, my friends, is how they are coming in and out of the old henhouse. 

Now, I have a quandary.  You see, the possums can't enter or exit this way, so 
the old henhouse is safe from them. 

The raccoons and cats clamber right up the screen door, whose screen, as you see, is mostly out. 

Now... I could fix that door.  You see, I had a new inside door made last fall, it is propped open. 

I could put the henhouse back into production.  

It aggravates me to come in every morning to see that the raccoons have eaten all the dry cat food, 
and dirtied the water.   (It takes me about two minutes to clean up). 

IF I close that door tightly, I could leave some food in the porch (covered) for the animals during the summer.  

I worry about the cats in the winter, several times in bitter cold I went in to find the older ferals, the gray and white and the tabby, in the straw.  The gray and white will let me come near to feed, 
the tabby runs in a panic. 

Often, Harley and Spooky are waiting for me in the morning, as if to say 
"Where is our breakfast?"  because of course, the raccoons leave 
nothing most nights. 

The cats DO get to eat in the evenings, before the raccoons get there. 

So... I'm in a quandary.  I want the ferals to feel safe and have a place to eat 
where they are not in danger.  Meanwhile, I cope with the raccoons. 

(trap and move them, you say.... I don't think I could do it far enough or 
fast enough, and I AM NOT KILLING ANYTHING, go ahead and 
laugh, and don't even suggest it. 

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

All About the Birds

Here are some of this year's flock at the National Agricultural Center (the Ag), moved in 
last Thursday, thanks to my friend Wayne Schuler's help, and Diane Larsen getting them 
for us from a friend. 

They are Cinnamon Queens (red), two Ameracaunas, (one is in that picture),
Minorcas, an odd choice of breeds for our area... and the two white girls are 
mysteries, maybe California Whites, but older, if you look at her face you will see it is 
all washed out. 
There are 15 total. 

They have really not settled in yet, they were moved twice in a week, and are totally bewildered, but 
the hen house was bedded down and they have good food and water. 

And then, it snowed.  Easter Sunday.  Mother Nature is confused. 

The first eggs.  That was actually the best day, so far.  I think it's going to 
take a bit for them to settle in, and I'm not sure how much 
oomph several of the girls have left in them.  They will come here 
to join us at Calamity Acres at the end of the summer. 

Yes, I'm in trouble. 
Even if only half are fertile. 

Her fault. 

I have had some help battening down the windows of the little red hen house, where 
I am going to put mama and babies when they are a week old or so. 

That will get them away from the other hens and safe. 

These windows now have extra wire grates on them so raccoons can't get in. 
We used to keep our bantams in this hen house. 

I have a new hen house on order, and the man came to measure the other day... it will go next to the henspa, and these chicks will move in when they are old enough.  They won't be free-ranging for a while, though. 

Going to have to find homes for the roosters, because Ferdie is King here. 

There are still a few cats around here in the old hen house. (six, to be exact) 

Another girl has gone broody, another cochin. 

I am taking the eggs, sorry, girl. 

Every day.  Why I have to pressure wash the porch, IF SPRING EVER COMES. 

This was our Easter Surprise.  I came home from church to sleet but by 
2 PM, it was this.  Most has melted now. 

It is cold and bitter, though, and going down to the teens tomorrow night. 

Next year.... no feeding on the deck. 

Everyone is cold. 

This is just PART of what has been hitting me for the last two weeks. 
They literally ate EVERY piece of feed on the ground... too bad Jax and I 
cleaned it up ten days ago.  I was not bothered during the winter, but the red-winged blackbirds and 
grackles and starlings are back for breeding season. 

There are literally hundreds, they hang about in the trees, chattering, and when I put seed out, come down like the movie The Birds. 

Look who has been with them since last night!

It's a yellow-headed blackbird.  I don't remember seeing any out here in the old days, but I did see them when we lived in our big house. 

I also don't see the Western Meadowlark out here... which I think is kind of odd.

Listen to me, like I have to encourage them. 

I spooned some oatmeal (with mealworms and raisins, YUM) off to the right for Ferdie and the lesser hens. 

It was a good cold day treat.  We are supposed to get really cold tomorrow night, and then it will go back to the 40's.  We should be in the 60's in NE Kansas at this point. 

The goldfinches are starting to display breeding color. 

And so are the house finches.  I have not noticed any house finches with conjunctivitis... we had some at the other house, and it broke my heart. 

As I came back from the Ag this morning, I saw a bunch of little ducks in a pond at the end of my road.  What I would give for a pond!

There were Mergansers and blue-winged Teal.  (going to have to take my word, because I did not have the long lens with me) 

There were also a few geese. 

If you enlargen those pictures, you can see the little ducks. 

Speaking of ducks, I think some will be coming here this spring (when spring comes). 

My two faithful companions are still here, don't worry.  Jester helped me do chores the other night, which was always Lilly's domain. 

And my darling Lilly is maintaining, so far, on medication with her torn ACL.  I know we don't have long.... but I am trying to extra lots of pictures of her these next few weeks. 

Everyone pray for Spring to come for real to our whole country!