Wednesday, May 30, 2018

A Big Wind in the Night, and a Death

This morning, I got up and came out to the kitchen, and noticed mail and 
other things all over the floor.  I had turned off the air before going to bed, 
and opened some of the windows. 

I was surprised, as we had very slim chances of a storm, 
and I had heard nothing during the night despite being a 
very light sleeper. 

Imagine my surprise. 

My little table had been blown across the deck, and shattered.  Other things were blown, too. 

Much of that glass fell under the deck, which makes me worry for the chickens and other creatures that take shelter there. 

We were hit by a microburst here about ten years ago, and actually were on tv because of it, 
with reporters from two stations staying here all evening.  

This was not as bad, but was a mess to clean up.  I had lowered the umbrella, 
never thinking we would get anything other than the breeze that came up late in the evening. 

From now on, I will have to pull it out if any kind of storm is mentioned. 

Here is something odd... I have a second table that is down on the patio, I had just suggested to my son yesterday that my grandson and I carry it to the road and put a "free" sign on it... now I'll be using it.  It is a little bigger, but what the hey. 

I will spare you the picture, but it has been in the nineties here for five days, with 
heat indices in the triple digits. 

I shut one of my favorite hens up in the little haybarn on Monday, 
and killed her.  I found her two hours later, when I opened the door to get something. 
Her body was so hot, I thought she was still alive, and I could not sleep that 
night because of my stupidity. 

I am triple-checking it from now on, it is an enclosed shed, ten x ten, with no way out 
once the door is shut. 

This egg was laid in a planter on the porch yesterday

This girl laid an egg in THIS planter yesterday, 
it is full of dwarf sunflowers that I was really looking forward to seeing. 
She began investigating all the planters, and I have blocked off this area as of today. 

(That's a Cornish hen) 

I worked on this bed Tuesday in the HOT SUN.  There were still a few 
perennials in it from the old days, and the large plants you see in the middle are milkweed, 
and Troy, my neighbor, rototilled around them.  I dug out all the weeds along the back 

Behind me, there is a dead buddleia (it's going) and a live shrub, a virburnum, and then a ten by ten patch of weeds I am going to have to totally dig out. 

I am going to start adding back in perennials here slowly, because THE HENS SCRATCHED OUT SOME OF THE STRAW ALREADY. 

Such good helpers!

I looked out the office window to see THIS yesterday morning. 

One of the lambs (brown and cute) found out she could hop IN the low pophole of the old henhouse and sashay right on through.  She got her mom and the others, and somehow those big ewes scrunched down and they all came out into the yard. 

They cleaned up bird seed, but also, there is a lot of good clover in the yard, and they grazed on it for a while. 

I was working on the garden while they tried to trim the little trees that I need to cut back again under the deck. 

The ringleader led her poor mother up on the deck...

where she laid down in the shade.  She had been panting very hard, I was 
glad to see her resting on the cool concrete. 

I put them back in the pasture a little while later, and this morning, opened only the side 
pophole of the old henhouse, which is three feet off the ground with a ramp up to it (for ventilation). 

Remember, these are not my sheep, they are staying here for the summer. 
I really like them, though, and would be glad to have a few of my own. 

I tarped the duckling's pen last night, I know it looks rinky-dink, 
but they had the sun beating down on them, and no ventilation in their dog house. 
They were all laying outside under the tarp today, happily. 

I tarped the tweenager's pen, too, just the end of it, to give them a little shade. 

My big ducks have grown so beautiful. 

This little face. 

And my big girl.... well, she has been getting along a LOT better. She started hemp capsules from Pet Releaf last Friday, and is getting up and down better, and able to walk around the yard MUCH better, putting weight on the bad leg off and on.  Her appetite is back, too. 

Crossing my fingers I'll have her for a few more months. 

Goodnight from Calamity Acres!

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Lots Going On

We have some new friends here at Calamity Acres...

the hens from the Ag Hall have come home for a few weeks 
until their pen can be repaired. 

Here is a blurry picture of two of them up on the roost in the old henhouse.  This is really kind of funny, because they did not use the roosts at the Ag. 

(for those of you who don't remember, the marks on the wall are what starlings use to do in the winter time, they would come in through the popholes and poop all over everything!) 

Last night, I went in, and five of the six were on the roost. 

The other six ladies are in the Hen Spa with the main flock. 

(except for one black hen who was out and on the road this morning, 
according to my neighbor!) 

They are all enjoying being on grass for the first time. 

There is a raccoon getting my poor white hen. 

He came down from on top, the sides are all still intact. 

I know now the red hen found last week, and the black hen found two weeks ago 
were all raccoon kills... you see, I am unable to close the pophole there at night, 
it would mean a second trip down there every day (ten miles one way) to close it. 
In three years, this is the first time a raccoon has figured out a way in.  I later saw 
him in this sequence coming across the top.  

I am worried about taking hens back, but the volunteer maintenance men will 
do the best they can to close the gaps. 

This is my new feral cat feeder being installed last week. 

It prohibits raccoons from jumping inside. 

Here he has the flashing on the bottom.  The red box on the 
right is to give them a lift off, and also hold a bowl of water. 

Here is Petey eating in it. 

They learn fast.  I have both wet and dry food in there, 
and I sprinkle a little dry around the base for the ground animals. 
I was going through 3 to 4 bags of dry food every week, I 
still have part of 1 left this week. 

I also put a bowl out in front of the old hen house, AND...
I opened the little red hen house back up so the ferals can go in and out of it, 
I am not going to use it again for birds. 

I saw this on the camera last night, you will have to click to enlargen... it is a 
possum mama with babies clinging to her back. 

Remember, they will also eat the bird seed mixture, and I am sure she was coming from there, as the 
cats and raccoons had emptied this bowl. 

Eric, who made the cat feeder, also did this for me: 

He brought his skid steer, and leveled and fixed the drainage in my 
driveway, so that it drains to the pasture side now, and filled in all the deep holes left 
by the septic tank replacement four years ago.  They were so bad the car bucked ... I 
filled in the worst with bags of gravel brought little by little, but now the whole 
thing is repaired and driveable. 

No more holes or dips.  YAYYYY. 

Eric is also coming back to paint the big barn, the hay barn, and 
the garage. 

I thought you might enjoy seeing this unique 
planter at Valley Feed in Bonner Springs, it 
is a metal device that was filled and planted with annuals.  
I think it is so attractive, and will try to find out what 
it is and where it came from.  It is like a bucket from some old 
mechanical device. 

I heart this ewe, just so you know. 

The Black Star pullets in the little hen house are looking SO GOOD. 

So are the cochin babies, see her blue socks? 

I took this short video of the Gold Comet babies and the 
Cayuga ducklings this morning... as they started to pile, I stopped.... 
but you see they have graduated to a bigger feeder, and a larger water fountain. 

It is so hot now I don't keep a light on them during the day, but I do turn a 
150 bulb on them at night when it gets to the sixties... for probably another few days. 

Mulberries will be here soon!

Monday, May 14, 2018

Where to Start...

My gosh, we are rocketing along in the year!

Northeast Kansas had winter-like weather all the way to the end of 
April, and now we are in the middle of summer heat, with temps 
in the eighties, and even ninety yesterday on Mother's Day. 

Six "started" pullets came home with me from the feed store on 
Saturday, and somehow, two little tiny Cayuga ducklings ended up in the order. 
"Started" meaning they didn't sell at a day old last week. 

I mistakenly called the ducklings Anconas on FB and Insta, because I want 
Anconas badly.  (they are good egg layers). 

Now I will have black and white ducks.... with the big four 
already here. 

You know, these guys. 


I am so glad for them, as their bills were totally white when I brought them home. 

I am hoping the two little Cayugas are ducks,  not drakes, but we shall see. 

I must be nuts to take on more tiny babies. 
I am nutso about fresh water, and check them numerous times a day. 
In fact, I was just out there. 
I have tours for the next three mornings, so will be worrying in the back of my mind. 
I may put a second water in there for those mornings. 

I am still trying to get the rest of the perennials in and cut the saplings OUT... but these girls are NOT HELPING ME. 

 My buddy. 

Yes, Lilly Ann is still with us, too. 

I found this four foot long black rat snake out by the 
old walnut stump yesterday morning. 
I suggested he go over to the hen spa and help me out.  

It worked. 

I am hoping he starts working on the prolific mouse population, because I am 
still a week away from cleaning the hen house and re-bedding it. 

There are just too many tours this week. 

The babies are in the brooder on stilts, and I had the guy make it 
with hardware cloth instead of poultry wire, so snakes cannot get through. 

Last week, I took delivery of a new hen house. 
This is the interior.... there is a nest box and a sturdy roost. 

It looks huge, but it is actually only 8 x 10, and sits right next 
to the hen spa. 

If you can believe this, I FORGOT TO HAVE THE GUY CUT A

I need to get it fenced, and then I'll move the babies into it. 
I also have a guy who can run some outlets over to it, 
for lights and to run a water base in winter. 

I am not going to put an elaborate fence around it, 
like the hen spa yard, but enough to dissuade the 
raccoons.  Remember, these are in the yard, not the pasture. 

See it sitting next to the hen spa? 

See the weeds in the perennial bed???

Still working on them. 

This is a Baltimore Oriole on one of the hummingbird feeders. 

He tried so hard to get sugar water. 

The day I bought the chicks/ducklings, I bought an
oriole feeder and put grape jelly and sugar water in it. 
Then I didn't see the oriole for two days. 

Just ten minutes ago, when I went out to check the water for the chicks, 
the oriole flew off the feeder!  Hooray!

I love the wild birds as much as my chickens. 

You need to peer at this picture closely.  Every morning when I 
go to take care of the tweenage chicks in the little red hen house, 
I leave the gate to the hen yard open. 
This is what I am finding now on a daily basis... the sheep chew 
their cuds in the shade of the hen house, see them under there? 
Keith would never have dreamed of this, and I am sure he is 
laughing at me up in heaven.   They are also grazing that yard down, for which I am thankful. 

I regularly get closeups on the game camera. 

I LOVE these girls and babies. 

My neighbors Troy and Kathy told me yesterday that they are 
really enjoying sitting out on their deck and seeing the lambs playing in the pasture. 
So am I. 

Of course, these guys are still around, too.  I am about to 
foil them, though, as I have found a carpenter to make 
the raccoon-proof feral cat feeder for me, and they are going to have to 
make do with spillage in the future. 

I haven't only been working on the place, though, 
I got to go out a week ago to see The Little River Band 
who were appearing here locally.  Keith and I had seen them five 
years ago in Ottawa (and I had seen them several times in the past). 
A new member is missing off to the right in this picture, who had a great voice and played 

Wayne Nelson has been the lead singer for many years, as the band 
transitioned from it's Australian origins to being an all-American band, 
but they played the good oldies so very well, and had the whole theater 
rocking.  If you have a chance to see them, GO. 

I end with this picture taken yesterday at the ballpark, where Jax was 
playing in a tournament.  The coaches of his team made a 
presentation to the mothers/grandmothers who were present, the 
moms got red roses and a cookie, and grandmas got pink roses. 
It was a HUGE surprise, and almost made me cry.  As you can 
see, the sun was beating down, and I actually had my sun glasses on, 
it was hot and humid.  Amy was as surprised as I was, and it was a wonderful 
gesture on the coaches' part. 

I have some good pictures and videos of the setting of the 
new hen house, and I'll try to post them this week. 
The days are rushing by, I don't know where the year is going. 

Sunday, May 6, 2018

I Used to Post DAILY

It is literally all I can do to get myself into the chair to do a long post.  

How did I ever do it daily in the past? 

That is my son, Jim, with my beloved Lilly. 

She is still with us, for a while longer.  It is hurting 
daily now, her body failing, and my heart failing. 

These gorgeous deep purple lilacs are next to the 
Smith House, the pioneer home at the Ag. There is another lighter blue bush to 
the left of the entrance.  Both smell wonderful. 

Friday night, I saw these guys at the Ameristar Casino. 
My cousin's husband was kind enough to drive us over there... and wait for us. 
Keith and I had seen them five years ago in Ottawa (Ks) and I so 
enjoyed them.  I had seen the original Australian band years ago, 
these guys have no original members with them, but the bass player 
and lead singer have been with them for 40 years.  Well worth the 
cost of the ticket, and a rockin' good evening. 

Friday, we had a tour group from Rushville, Missouri.  These kids study 
pioneer days every year, and come dressed as kids from the era of 
the 1880s and 90's.  This year, their teacher and parents did, too. 
They are very well behaved and so much fun to see and help. 

Two of us docents dressed up in period clothes for them. 

Here I am in my farm clothes. 

We washed clothes with the washboard, ground corn for the chickens, 
learned about chicken eggs and chickens, and toured the beautiful old farm home 
and talked about how it is different from today's homes. 
The good thing was that several  families not with the school group came that day, 
and they got the full tour benefit. 

And don't forget the train rides!

I found these striking BLACK petunias at 
Kaw Valley Nursery in Ottawa. 
I have never seen a true black petunia, this are called
Black Magic. 

My colors for the deck this year were purples, magenta and green.  Oops. 
I am putting these in a corner. 

I got deep red and red and black to go with them, but you know what? 
I think the color combo is kind of creepy. 

These guys have just about outgrown their brooder in two weeks. 

I have GOT to get them moved, so, if the new hen house is not coming this week... they will go into the Little Red Hen house.  It is darker in there than I like, but they will be safe. 
And they will have room to move around, and.... I will need Jax's help getting them out when the new hen house comes. 

Grandson Chris and I have started working on the fence surrounding it... and in two weeks he will be back and we will begin stretching wire. 

If you notice, Singleton is with them now... Mama Biddy literally left him one day, 
walked out the door, and never looked back. 

(and yes, it looks like a "him" to me) 

Back to color scheme for a minute.  This is part of it. 
Love the rich purples. 

(didn't realize this was so blurry!) 

There is the sum total of morels I picked this year. 
I am going to have to say this.... there were SO MANY BUGS in them, 
I let them soak for a while (you know I hate to kill anything).... and 
then fixed them.  I ate exactly one, and gave the rest to the chickens. 
That's it for me and morels. 

There were many more out there, but my son does not eat them, either. 

My sweet Ferdie suffered a lot of comb damage this year, 
with the winter holding on so late. 

He is the mellowest rooster I have ever had, and I love him. 

Last week's Pink Moon from the front yard. 

Reminds us of why we are but specks in God's eye, you know? 

Grandson Chris installed my hooks for my flower baskets and hummingbird feeders on Thursday, and within a day, the hummers had found them!  

I want that old Hughesnet satellite to go away from my porch roof.  

Here's my own lilac I started from a six inch slip many years ago, as the yard light happened to come on one night last week. 

I think I have some better pictures in my big camera right now, 
but goslings have come back to the ag.... I did walk down to the pond this 
morning and think I got some better pictures.  One family has 5 goslings, and the other, only three, but the moms and dads are taking good care of them. 

This picture just makes me laugh.  Every so often, I see the sheep streak across the pasture... something has scared them, obviously, but who knows what.  They run up into the corral, 
hang out for a while, and slowly go back out.  There are two new ewe lambs that came this week, 
but they are still outcasts, and not in this picture.  I worry about them all the time. 
This morning, I left to do the chores at the Ag, and my grass guy (I have the yard cut and trimmed) called me to say that the sheep were in the yard.  The enterprising young man who works for him 
rounded them up and got them back in the pasture!  Kudos to him, he showed presence of mind. 

It is so much fun watching them, they are so peaceful.  I am not scared going among them, I often put them in in the evening, and their owner comes and lets them out at 6:15 in the morning so they can graze all day. 

I know the ram lambs will be going away soon.... but they are a good experience, and despite my being a horse lover since childhood, a better experience than the big horses here last summer. 

Tomorrow I will take the big mower in and knock the grass in the pasture down a little more for them.  They are doing an excellent job of grass control for me, though.