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! 

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

What Goes On At Night

If you have been reading my blog lately, or seen my Facebook or Instagram 
posts, you know I am having a serious raccoon problem. 

Actually, there may have been one in the past, too, but I was 
unaware of it. 


This, my friends, is a pile of raccoon poop on the front porch of the Hen Spa. 

I was reminded by Kim, a friend who is a vet tech, that raccoons carry a particularly nasty form of worm. 

I cleaned that up and sprayed the area down with disinfectant, and am happy to say 
there has been no further pooping. 

I spent a lot of money on the raccoon-proof cat feeder in the pasture... 
to no avail, the little bandits soon found a way to shimmy up the pole and get into the feeder. 

There are still two ferals eating in it, and I am putting feed out during the day and night there, 
however, I am only putting out dry food now. 


I am going to show you a series of pictures taken last night. 

Here I am at 7:15, putting out the wet food.  Dry food has been out all day, 
because remember, I got the cats on camera last week coming in the day time. 

Now, the camera is making it look lighter out than it actually is, at 7:15 now it is very much dusk. 

Not sure what triggered the camera here, a minute later. 

At 7:25, Harley (Harlequin) showed up to eat.  I am sure she 
got all the wet food.  (note ducks in background)

You see it is well and truly dark. 

7:39, right on cue... comes the first raccoon. 

(and look at that temperature for October 2nd!) 

By the time Spooky or Rusty (hard to tell in the dark) got there at 8:49, there was no 
food left. 

There WAS dry food in the pasture feeder. 

Until two nights ago, I also had a small bowl of feed on the front porch of the Hen Spa (where the poop was), but I am no longer putting it there. 

So... they also eat bird seed, and I usually see one about 9 PM on the platform, feeding, 
you know... where they left this last week: 

Poop in the seed. 

Now I am cleaning the platform off at night, and they can 
scavenge for whatever fell to the ground.  I do leave enough 
for the cardinals, the last feeders, to have something... but 
the majority of seed is going back into the bin til morning. 

(That was the cheap seed I bought when I could not get to Valley Feed 
last week to get my normal seed). 

So... I am going to try, starting today, to feed only during the daytime, and hope that the cats adjust. 

I hate for the cats to think I have abandoned feeding them, but frankly, the number of 
raccoons is getting crazy... and you know I am not going to kill them, if you read this blog. 

I have the camera on today to see if any of the cats come by.  I also will leave the food 
out until 7:30, usually Harley and Spooky come by that early, and both of the boys (black cats) know there is food in the pasture feeder. 

I'll keep the camera up several days and several nights.  

The raccoons are still going to come after the duck feed and bird seed, 
but I believe I'll be spending less on cat food, soon. 

I love experiments. 

Monday, October 1, 2018

October 1st!

Hello, October, start of my favorite three months of the year! 

I can't believe two weeks has gone by since I posted! 

I have meant to tell all of you about Morning Chicken. 

She is gone. 

Yes, she was the friendliest... and slept in the sheep barn with the sheep. 
She disappeared about 3 weeks ago, and has not greeted me since.  In fact, 
she COULD be here, I have so many red chickens... but I fear not, as she 
refused to roost inside. 

During the summer, I had another wayward red hen who roosted in my stand-alone garage, where I park my mower.  She also disappeared, or gave into sleeping in the hen house. 

This is one of the two Cornish hens... I suspect neither is laying any more, but they are so beautiful, they will live here til they die. 

Mornings have been beautiful these last two weeks. 

Eggs have dwindled down to nothing because of the molt. 

I am hoping we come out of it, soon. 

Singleton has grown into a beautiful rooster with a glorious crow.  He's driving the hens and pullets crazy, though, along with Midnight, the black Cochin cockerel. 

Granddaughter Paiton and I spent the day together last Saturday, 
and she helped me around here after we went shopping together in the morning. 
I love the sunflower tree at Hobby Lobby, but don't have the strength to do one anymore. 
(laughing).  Love to look at them, though. 

She found a nest with 20 eggs in it, under the nest box in the little henhouse. 

She really likes the sheep, and was so glad Big Mama is so friendly. 

(Paiton was eating a lollipop that stained her blue!) 

This picture pretty much shows you what the raccoons think of the cheap seed mixture I got on the fly last week, when I could not get to Bonner Springs to Valley Feed.  
The raccoon pooped in the middle of it, and for that matter, you see the birds spurned most of it. 

They left me a calling card right in front of the pophole of the Hen Spa the other day. 

The other day I left the camera up during the day, and discovered that two of the three feral kittens (now year old cats) are coming during the day and going in and out of the Hen Spa to look for mice (I hope).  I have started leaving food out for them. 

That's Harlequin. 

But Spooky or Rusty is coming, too. 

And I got proof on camera last week that I was not seeing things, and both black (neutered) males are alive and well. 

Only one kitten, the fourth, who was a girl, was lost. 

This is really getting tiresome. 
There is no way to combat it, however, short of NOT feeding the cats, which I hate to do. 

The raccoons would kill all the chickens if they could get into the hen houses, but oddly enough, don't bother the ducks. 

Yesterday we had a family reunion for my mother's side of the family, and 
did we ever have a good time. Here I am with some of my cousins.... and no, I don't wear that green outfit every day (but had it on in my last post, too!).... we all had such a good time eating and visiting... renewing old friendships.  Some I see regularly, but some, only at these reunions which are few and far between now.   My first cousin Sharon, top row left, reminded me that since we met five years ago, we have lost many of the older generation.  (including my brother, Mike).  
She also reminded me that WE are that generation that will go next.... scary to think of.  
I intend to stay active as long as I can... and hopefully, be around for a good while yet. 
Whether or not I'll still be wrangling chickens... we'll see!  

Have a good week, everyone, and Happy October!