Sunday, December 29, 2019

What Goes On At Night

I sat down yesterday to review pictures from the three cameras I have out. 


That's the camera that looks over at the flat feeder, on the left. 
I'm actually glad the raccoons and possums try to clean up the 
spilled feed.  (Note there is a raccoon ON the flat feeder) 

There comes one DOWN the feeder on November 19th.  It looks like there is 
someone at my gate in the background.  It may just be a car coming down the road. 

Here there is a possum feeding along with them.  I have noticed there is rarely any interspecies fighting. 

There are actually six raccoons in this picture, can you see the sixth? 

This, again, is why I always go out with Fritzi and Jester in the evening and at night.  (This feeder is about 25 feet from the deck) 

Twice in the last ten days, I have found the pasture feeder leaning perilously.  
I did not think the raccoons were climbing into it any more, because there was always at least a half bowl of feed left in the morning.  However, this picture proved me wrong.  I am going to drive 
two Tee poles into the ground to brace the feeder now.  It needs to be re-set. 

There's Rusty in the leaning cat feeder on the 23rd. 

(see his tail hanging out on the left?)  You see how badly the feeder was leaning. 

And there he goes jumping away from it the next night.  I wonder what that light to the right is? 

If it's the eyeball of an animal, it could explain why Rusty took off. 

Here he is Friday morning, waiting for me to put some food out for him.  He will let me 
get within six feet, but I don't know that I will ever be able to pet him. 
He does know "Kitty Kitty Kitty", and if I call him, he will stop to see what I am 
doing.  He knows when I lay his food down, and he has food in three places during the day. 

The porch camera shows him checking there three or four times a night. 

Rusty is the last of the four feral kittens I raised. 

I am regularly seeing four possums here, but these three were on the porch the other night. 

And yes, I do see some of this from time to time. 

I can honestly say I am not scared of possums, but would have to think twice before 
encountering these teeth.  I think he was just chewing here. 

I can tell you that I open the door at night and peek out before I ever open for the dogs, and I often have to convince Elvis to go off the porch and under the deck for the dogs to be safe to go out, 
because Fritzi would not be a bit scared to go after him.  I come out, talk gently to Elvis, 
who considers the matter and then turns and waddles slowly off the porch and under the deck. 
I watch to make sure neither dog tries to follow. 

Two nights ago, when he was trying to decide if I really meant for him to leave the food. 

I don't refill that food, when it is gone, it is gone. 

There is enough seed for them to eat, and Rusty usually tries to come early. 

I was outside at this point, talking to him and telling him to go hide so the dogs could go potty. 

The camera captures lots of things, here I come to check on the cat food bowl in the feeder, 
and I had a parade following me.  These four are the nosiest in the world! 

Sunday, December 15, 2019

December 15, 2019

How could we be at the end of another decade? 

It just doesn't seem possible, does it? 

I am blessed to still be here, I lost my sister and 
my two brothers, my stepson and my husband is this seemed like a long one, to me. 

Here's to the next! 

We have just had our annual Santa's Express and Country Christmas 
at the National Agricultural Center yesterday and today, 
the 14th and 15th.  We had decent weather, if cold, 
yesterday, but today we have had a snow storm all day. 

Ten of the volunteers and faithful Judy, who is one 
of the two Ag employees, made it to the building, 
where we truncated things and had Santa in his wonderland, 
coffee and cocoa, cookies, and two crafts for the kids that we 
brought up from the general store and school. 

We had 50 hardy family members come out to see Santa, and it was 
wonderful to see them. 
Driving was very treacherous, and we closed up at 2 PM so 
everyone could get home safely. 

Sorry for the blur, but we had some silliness going on 
Paiton's best friend Jocelyn, Paiton and Jax were all volunteers 
and worked as elves yesterday.  Here they were at lunch break in the barn. 

Cameron and Judy are the only actual employees at the Ag Hall, 
and Debbie, on the right, is a board member who volunteers regularly, and it 
was her concept that was used for this year's Christmas wonderland in the 
original gallery.  It was wonderful, and a big hit! 

The pictures do not do it justice, it was awesome. 

Here was Paiton last week, grooming Kali.  
I'm so proud of her, she is doing much better in her riding. 

Last Saturday, Paiton and our little friend Brayden decorated Christmas cookies here. 

This made my heart swell. 

I have noticed, too, that when they are out in the yard and greet each other 
on the deck or porch, they are joyful, playing and jumping at each other. 
I am really glad to see that. 

No, we are not doing too well on the diets, we will tackle them again after Christmas. 

Bittersweet, growing in the front fence line. 

There are also some humongous vines, which I am 
going to start working on now that Santa's Express has been 
put to bed. 

An example of the number of steps I have been getting daily in the last three weeks. 

I'm so blessed to live where I can see such beauty daily. 

Of all the animals we had here, llamas, mini-horses, a wonderful old pony, 
and the goats... the sheep have been my favorites. 

To see them grazing in the pasture or yard makes me feel so 
peaceful... and I totally understand the words now, 
"Sheep may safely graze". 

I am blessed, too, to have a good hay supplier and know that
I can feed them over the winter. 

I caught that stinker Singleton the other morning, crowing. 
He has a sort of truncated crow now, after the coyote attack 
last summer.  

I discovered it is Singleton who is chasing his daddy, Ferdie, out of the 
hen house every morning.  Ferdie pretty much lives in the yard now, 
except he is still sleeping in the big hen house at night.  He waits for me at the gate
to let him in, and then sneaks in so his son Buddy does not see him. 

I am still toying with putting him in the unused little hen house with a hen or two, but... that would mean more work daily.  

I found out a little earlier this evening that the camera I had on the porch the last three days was set to video.  I am going to try to figure out how to transfer a video to blogger, 
these are different than others I have dealt with, 
it's a Bushnell cam and I hardly ever use it. 
There were some interesting possum interactions going on, 
and I found out that the sparrows are eating the cat food during the day!

Tomorrow will be a snow day, and I will be working on cleaning and getting the house ready for Christmas! 

Thursday, December 5, 2019

My Roosters and Other Stories

At one time, in another land and far far away, while Keith was still alive, 
we had over a hundred chickens, ducks, geese and/or turkeys. 

At one time, we had 16 roosters, and I am not exaggerating, we 
literally had sixteen among the four hen houses. 

This is a shot of the little red hen house, where our bantams lived. 
The little fence Keith made around the front deck is gone, and you can 
see the ramp is simply leaning, and no longer attached.  The last 
chickens that lived in there were probably eight years ago, 
and two years ago, it sheltered the four feral kittens I took in 
from Kitty Cat Connection, until the raccoons broke them out. 
Right now, I have it bedded with straw inside, and the door is propped open so that 
Rusty, the feral cat, can get inside and sleep if he needs to get out of the weather. 

This little hen house was always a problem, I had to keep a short ladder under it, 
and stand on it to crawl in and reach for eggs.... and it was hard to reach with a heat lamp (that still hangs in there)... I had to run a line from the old hen house to it for bitter cold.  

(Chickens should not need a heat supplement, but this hen house was not well 

That's Ferdie, my old rooster (really only three years old!) 

He is the father of Buddy, 
his clone. 

They look like twins. 

And Singleton, who is actually a year older than Buddy. 

Singleton spent the summer at the Ag Hall with six hens, 
and is home for the winter. 

I am lucky, all three are very mellow roosters, 
but the two younger have started running dad out of the half of the yard 
that comprises the chicken's domain. 

He spends his days hanging out by the deck, but never coming up on it. 

He eats birdseed and drinks from the water I keep out for the wildings, and in the evening, 
I put him back in the big hen house, where he avoids his son Buddy. 

This is why I quit hatching, though I fully intended to when I moved back, 
there is a 50/50 chance you will get cockerels and no one wants them.  I actually don't know 
anyone anymore who butchers their birds to eat, so these three will live here until they die. 

I absolutely love to watch the squirrels, I look for them daily.  They drink out of the fortex you see, 
and I keep seed at the base of the big maple.  There is another heated water container to the right, out of the camera range. 

They literally run back and forth all morning, there are actually four eating here, but only two in this picture. 

They aren't the only things eating here. 

Elvis, the black possum in the rear (has a black outer coat) is often pushed away by this larger possum, who is living under the little hen house, the one that is empty now.  I literally have to watch the birds in the evening, because the girls of the big hen house will not go in if the possum is out eating.  He often comes out while it is still day light, so I keep an eye on things in the late afternoon. 

Today a blogger/Instagram poster wrote about rehoming one of her surplus roosters, and 
discovered the hen house at the new home had not been cleaned in months. Well, 
that is the sad state of affairs here.  During the summer, while I struggled with my leg, 
I managed to rake mine out once, and clean it decently.  I need to do it again. 
I am going to try to get to it on Saturday, when we should still have decent weather. 
Our temps are going to fall precipitously next week. 

The old hen house has been cleaned several times (the ducks were in there in the summer), 
but the big hen house needs a good raking out.  I used to take all that over to the compost heap, but 
now I rake it into the fenced yard, and it is picked over by the hens, and adds to the dirt in there. 

Ten years ago, while I cooked our meal, Keith spent a cold Thanksgiving wiring a receptacle on the deck so I could have some Christmas lights.  I'll never forget the selflessness, he 
could have watched football but did this because he knew I wanted some lights. 
We had a good meal and then turned them on for the first time. 

This fall, I had my nephew re-wire them and make it so the porch light 
could be off while they were on, and every time I look out the door, 
I think of how Keith worked so hard that day. 

This sweet little girl has been such a good addition to our lives. 

I have had day after day like this, yesterday was 14,000 plus steps. 

We are still working hard to get the National Agricultural Center ready for the 
Santa Express and Country Christmas on the 14th and 15th. 

One of the men volunteers said yesterday "And then we have to take it 
all down".... JANUARY, I pray.  The only thing I am going to do is 
bring home those of my things that I need for Christmas here. 

I'll take some pictures when I am there tomorrow, so you can see how things have 
progressed.  If you are local, it is going to be really spectacular, and we charge only 5.00 a CARLOAD for admittance.  

The volunteers and employees Judy and Cameron have been working countless hours to make it a great experience for families. 

I checked out Cabela's Christmas Wonderland yesterday, it is 
very small, and they charge 20.00 for a child to sit on Santa's lap and get a picture. 

A blast from the Calamity Acres past. 

(Big Mama, Yankee, and Inca) 

Three of our four little pug girls, Abby, Gertie, and Hannah, resting her head on Gertie. 

Keith loved Christmas... he is ready for it this year. 

Sunday, November 24, 2019

And... the Holidays are Upon Us!

Center, for our Santa's Country Christmas event on the 
14th and 15th of December. 

Two years ago, we hardly decorated anything but the barn and the train depot. 


Last year, we began to decorate a few more buildings. 

This year... well, we have been busy, and one of our volunteers, 
Debbie, has been particularly busy!  I won't show what she is 
doing, yet. 

We use the General Store for crafts at Christmas time. 
I don't know if you can tell, but we went with a Snowman 
these this year, the trees are not decorated, but we have snowmen 
scattered around the store. The tree in the center is lit. 

Yes, the sun was glinting off the display case, but I can 
tell you it looks so festive.  There are lights in the windows of 
this building and the Hatchery. 

The schoolhouse has a tree, and bows in the windows. 

(kids make a craft to decorate this tree) 

There are small hints of Christmas (and a tree) in the Smith farmhouse. 

I will be changing out the greenery as we get closer to Christmas, it smelled 
heavenly.... but... we wanted the "candles" on for a school tour last Wednesday. 

There were greenery and candles all around the farmhouse.  I tried to keep it 
simple, in keeping with the history. 

I had a lot of fun doing all this, but yes, it takes many hours for me and the other volunteers to pull this off. 

We have lots of new things this year, I can't wait to show you all. 

Our admission fee for this event is 5.00 A CARLOAD. 

Yes, 5.00 a carload! 

There is a Reindeer 5K run (or 1K walk) on Saturday morning, and then we are open from 
10-5 on Saturday, and noon to 4 on Sunday.  

For the tour on Wednesday, Charles, our bee expert, 
showed a new frame he had made in one of the hives, so he could 
show the bees up close and personal to the kids! 

It was fascinating to see and hear the bees. 

The frame was put back in the hive when we finished. 

Two of our men volunteers were busy putting up the 
banner on the corner as I was leaving.  

Of course, our train will be running, barring any heavy snow... and Santa will be seeing all the kids coming ... instead of in our train depot, he will be in the main museum building this year in a winter wonderland... more on that later. 

I can tell that I, and my fellow volunteers, will be glad when it is all over, and I suspect I am going to store some of the things I hauled over last year and this year there, so I won't have to haul them again!

This huge Santa, that I found at Dollar General, will be going over, but 
coming back here for our family Christmas, my two year old 
great-granddaughter is coming this year. 

Back to farm stuff...

I got another ten bales of hay two weeks ago today, and I am satisfied I have enough 
for winter, unless for some reason we have a terrible one.  I did talk to my hay man that night, and he told me he has plenty, which relieved me.  
There is still grazing, so the sheep are turned out all day long in the pasture and in the yard. 
They won't be able to come in the yard next summer, once I have planted flowers. 

The stinkers! 

Actually, they do not do this very often.  I have even quit closing off the doorways with the 

I still find it so very peaceful to watch them grazing, they have just been great pets, and yes, they ARE pets. 

They crack me up, they were standing there calling me. 

The beautiful tree is done now, for the year. 

My beautiful Ferdie, the oldest rooster here, has been 
picked on by his clone son, Buddy.  He has been living on the house side of the yard, I don't know if he is flying over or getting through somehow I have not seen yet. 

He has plenty of food and water, and I put him back in the henhouse every night.  If any 
rooster would go, it would be Buddy, the protector but also the combative one. 

He hid out yesterday in the overgrown garden beds.  

I'm getting ready to go out and put everyone to bed, including 
Ferdie... have a great week everyone!