Sunday, July 15, 2018

A Long Week and a Long Day

I admit it, the heat has been brutal. 

The dogs are in most of the time in this heat. 
Jester, on top of it, had a bad bout of pancreatitus this past 
ten days.  We visited our dogtor, and he got some medicinal help. 

The deck plants were struggling, I literally water them 
several times a day.  I probably will not plant a dahlia in  
a container again, (dark plant with yellow flowers) as it 
must be kept wet constantly or it droops into nothingness. 

Oddly, the green container behind it, with ornamental peppers and 
lantana, is thriving on the heat. 

More of them next year. 

The zinnia beds were looking decent until the last three days, which is odd, 
because we had a drop in temps and some rain for a short time, yesterday. 

They are full of weeds.  Remember that I put bird net on top of them 
when I planted, to keep the chickens out.  BIG mistake, and one I won't 
repeat.  It kept me from weeding as they grew... and now it's a mess.  
I won't use netting again. 

The sunflowers were volunteers in the back bed. 

I have ONE vegetable, a tomato, growing in a container on the deck. 
I cut the bottom brown branches off of it yesterday, and I have picked one 
tomato, that had blossom end rot.  This is a Big Girl, and should be much 
bigger.  I would call the tomatoes bigger than cherry size, but they are not big. 

Probably my last tomatoes, and I used to grow many plants. 

Two nights ago, I unhooked the mower from it's cart, and took it to 
the small garage to put it in for the night, in case it rained. 
I found this. 

They do what they want to around here, obviously. 

Case in point. 

Note stink eye. 

Same bird as previous picture. 

Here are my beautiful babies as I filled the pools the other day. 
Remember that I lost one about ten days ago, disappeared without a trace. 

Last night, I lost a second.  
I still think it's an owl, because I don't see how a raccoon could 
carry a 3/4 grown duck OVER the six foot fence without it losing a feather. 

I found nothing. 

I have felt awful all day, it was the female Cayuga I had raised from 
a day old duckling. 

So, they are four. 

I had a camera in the hen yard, and FORGOT TO TURN IT ON.

The grass has pretty much stopped growing, and I am going to try to 
catch the owner of the sheep to see what he intends to do.... I have them 
grazing in the yard at the moment, at risk to my gardens. 

Hay will be expensive this year, we have had so little rain. 

I want to talk for a moment about something serious, because I usually 
don't address anything seriously on the blog. 

It sucks being widowed.  In some ways, it's better, because it 
was horrible seeing Keith fading, and knowing there was no way to stop it. 

But, if I am tired, I still have to take the trash out to the road. 
If something needs fixing, I have to fix it or find someone to do so. 
Those someones are NEVER dependable... I found someone recently to 
do some things here and well paid the person... and have never seen or 
heard from him again.  This is typical, I'm sorry to say. 

I am not complaining, this is life.  It's just that sometimes, I want to 
go out to the pasture and scream for a while. 

Some things still bring a smile.  Granddaughter Paiton is loving her riding lessons, 
and we look forward to them every Monday. 

The outside of a horse IS good for the inside of a little girl, still, 
in this day and age. 

Sunday, July 8, 2018

On the Defensive

On July 4th, one of my beautiful little ducks came up missing. 

It happened to be the "pied" one on the far side of the fortex.  

Gone, without a trace.  

The day before, Biddy, my mama hen, was killed, 
likely by a raccoon.  She had spent only one night in the safety of the pen... in the doghouse there. 
Then she took her two little babies back under the little henhouse, where she had hatched them. 

I was able to rescue both babies, and they are safely in one of the brooder cages.  

I did find her head and neck, so probably a raccoon who went under the 
henhouse to get her. 


I have been especially vigilant.  

Before any of you say anything, 
I spent 600.00 having my feral cat food feeder made for the pasture. 

I know that most of the cats are eating there... but... I also knew
that Harley, who was one of the original four kittens... was still 
looking for food at the old hen house. 

I have been leaving a bowl of food out for her. 

It was still drawing raccoons, and I had begun leaving some 
food out during the day time, because I saw her and Spooky several times 
in the day. 

I have been getting increasingly worried about the raccoons, and 
two nights ago, noticed one big male, another adult, and a mama and 
two babies out there, fighting. 

I went out (after scaring them) and took the bowl up. 

Please note that there are no correct dates/times on my cameras, 
I just cannot get them set, it is very frustrating, because I have had 
cameras for a long, long time.  The Bushnell and the Campark have me 
beat, I hate the Bushnell. 

I did buy an older Moultrie yesterday, I'll get it set tonight. 

This was my face this morning when I opened the gate of the 
pen. (and yes, I know my hair looks dorky) 

I had set one of the cameras on the porch of the hen house (side porch) facing the 
gate.  If you look closely... I had gone to the trouble of zip tying a third barrier 
on that gate, and had to cut the zips to get in. 

I was blocking the only gap, where the gate was.  I could have saved myself the trouble. 

The camera on the side porch was down. 
Every night, I put two heavy pavers up against the pophole door of the 
hen house.  One of those heavy pavers was down. 

I was pretty dismayed. 

You see, the night before, the camera showed me a raccoon in the pen, 
along with two cats, one of which I did not recognize. 

What the HECK. 

I had to think back to when Keith was alive... 
we did not have a serious raccoon problem, because Lilly was still 
in good health, and a possum or raccoon dared not show their heads in the yard. 
We had also had Ranger, our wonderful GSD, who had a loud bark. 

We never lost a duck to a predator, 
either in that yard or in the old hen house yard. 

The fence around that pen is six foot high chain length, and we 
attached poultry wire with zip ties to it, which is still in good shape. 
There was originally a shadecloth cover over the pen, which we ordered online.  The former flock here was kept in, because Lilly was a chicken killer.  She still will take a swipe at chicks now, I have to watch her, but for the most part, she ignores them. 

Imagine what I felt like when I saw THIS PICTURE on the camera. (from last night) 

Oh, yes, friends, they are quite the acrobats. 

In fact, here I am in my nightshirt a few minutes later, 
going out to check on the birds before I went to bed. 
I have a spotlight flashlight, and I was checking the nooks and crannies (I thought). 

I will tell you that the ducks had LITTLE sleep last night. 

Somehow, I set the Bushnell camera to video, 
and I had several hours of duck videos before it 
ran out of space.  I never did see who knocked the paver down. 
However, Spooky and Harley were both in there, and 
were both intent on watching for mice at the door. 
If our decent weather holds tomorrow, I am going to 
clean that hen house out and re-bed it, and I expect there 
will be many mice making their ways outside. 

Once the raccoon climbed down the gate, he stayed out of sight. 
All ducks made it through the night. 

Spooky and Harley were in there for several hours, and I 
would venture to say this must be going on regularly, because the 
ducks were ignoring them for the most part. 

(You can see Harley go after a mouse in this video) 

I never did see the raccoon climb back out, OR who knocked the paver down, 
but I figure now it was one of the cats. 
This also explains why I saw Harley by the front door 
of the hen house last night, (this is the hen spa, and it has a front and a side porch).

I did put some food in a small bowl at the OLD hen house for the cats today. 

I confess I am losing sleep over this whole situation. 

I worry about Morning Chicken, too, in the sheep barn. 
If she comes out too early, she may be raccoon prey. 

A friend asked me if there was a barn I could put the 
ducks in at night.  Tomorrow, I'll post a video of what it's like to herd the ducks in at night.  You will laugh. 
I would have to have a dedicated building for them, and I just don't have that. 

They always have done very well in the elements, 
even in winter.  I used to almost kill myself catching my old ducks and putting them in... these... are getting a warm place 
made with straw bales and plywood for the winter, where they can be snug out of the wind, and they will do fine.  I DO have a duck house in the old hen yard, but it is too large to be moved, it was built specifically for the ducks and geese to go into for shelter, and they did use it to lay eggs.  Mostly, they like to be out. 

The next step is to borrow a live trap from the Ag, and start relocating the raccoons.  I will NOT kill them, I admit it. 

For now, I am not putting any feed out where they can get it. 
CAT feed, I can't help it if they go after spilled chicken feed. 
I am also considering getting a yard dog, but it would have to be a pup that can be trained to leave the chickens and ducks alone, because you know.... 

On the bright side, egg production is picking back up!

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Happiness... and Sadness, Too

I took the above video on the first, and posted it to 
Instagram and Facebook, saying that "It was scenes like 
this that make me happy", Biddy and her contented little family, 
and the other chickens scratching underneath the feeding area. 

Yesterday morning, I came out to find the two tiny babies alone, 
pecking the ground outside the hen yard, which is locked up at night. 
Biddy spent one night in the doghouse in the henyard, and then took the 
babies back to her original hidden nest below the little hen 

She was gone.  What I feared most was the babies disappearing, 
and was trying to be brave and let nature take it's course, because 
I don't need any more chickens here. 

Instead, good mama Biddy was taken. 

I found only feathers. 

Later in the day, I found this, under the maple tree:

Sorry for the gross picture.  It's Biddy's head and neck. 

I believe it was either a raccoon who went under the little hen house to get her... 
or an owl, who swooped down when she came out early in the morning. 

I have a camera on the hen house now, and will fence around the back and sides so 
that no one else is encouraged to lay or even go under there. 

I caught one chick early, and the other got away.  Some of you will understand what 
that did to me... we were in the upper nineties, again, and over 100 heat index.  I worried myself sick 
all day, and assumed the other chick would die and I would have ONE tiny chick in a brooder alone. 

Last night, the chick followed a hen out of the hen yard, and I was able to come up behind it and net it. 

They are both safe in the brooder now, but every time I open the door for food and 
water, one flies out, so.... I have to shut the pophole, and both doors, to be safe. 
I have a large enough water fount that I should only have to do it morning and 

Here is a look at the Gold Comets and some of the Black Stars.  They are doing VERY well in the little hen house. 

This morning, little cockerel Singleton crowed for the first time, and I am going to try to 
get a short video of it today.  You will laugh. 

The two Cochin pullets have feathered out nicely. 

Granddaughter Paiton took her lesson horse, Ice, 
clear around the arena this week in her lesson.   She is learning to 
master posting, and two of the young girls helping at the barn this summer took her 
under their wings, and spent time teaching her how to untack and brush down her 
horse, and to clean and re-hang the tack in the tack room.  It was better for them 
to show her, hands on, than the coach just talking through everything while she did it. 

Paiton is very calm around the horses.  

Grandma loves watching her. 

This has been Jester, these last few days.  It is just so 
stinking hot out, and smush-faced dogs do not belong out in it. 

Once in a while, they HAVE to get out. 

Lilly laid on the deck for a while in the heat of the day, yesterday. 
I don't let her stay out but for a few minutes, either. 

Not sure what these are, I got them for a dollar, but the 
variety is Indian Summer.  Going to look them up, as I love them. 
The picture does not do them justice.  

I have more straw being delivered on Friday, and am going to put some more 
on the garden beds. 

This lamb was one of the last two to come here, about 8 weeks ago, She and her partner 
are still scared to death of me, though they come a little closer every day. 
She's a pretty little thing. 

The stuff on her nose is loose minerals, I bought a bag for them this week, and they have all 
been licking them. 

I went out to do morning chores and found destruction on the deck. 
DARN chickens!  They did it quietly, too, after I had watered yesterday. 

I had to run to Walmart for something this morning and got some 
six packs on sale for a dollar, so will replant them after I dry out. 

Yes, it's that hot. 

The buns around here eat as well as the rest of us. 
They can be found at the foot of the maple (where I leave seed for them and the squirrels) 
and at the foot of the bird feeding station, morning and evening.  I have never seen so many as this year... but I credit that to the fact Lilly can no longer chase them. 

Everyone, friend and furriends, have a happy and safe Fourth of July!