Monday, January 27, 2020

End of January

We are already a month into a new year, and it does not seem 

I have been doing a lot of this, this month! 
(Pulling hay from the garage storage building to the 
little hay barn by the sheep pen). 

I have to tell you, honestly... it has been beating me up. 

I tried using the tractor one day... HUGE mistake. 

I managed to get it stuck four times, and get it UNSTUCK four times, 
but....there the wagon sits until the ground is dry.  I can carry a full bale 
in this wagon, and it takes me two trips to do a full bale in the fat-wheeled cart. 

Right now, I have two bales left in the little hay barn, so I must move some this week. 
Unfortunately, we have had enough melting that the yard is slush and hummocks. 

We have had snow several times.  It IS beautiful, but it also is 
wearing me out.  I have to walk very slowly with heavy boots on, 
and watch every step.  I don't intend to end up like last year with a 
torn Achilles tendon, or worse.  So far, so good. 

It's fun to see what has been going back and forth across the yard in the snow. 

This is actually what I am most afraid of... ice. 

My little friends are still visiting the porch nightly, 
more possums than raccoons, actually. 

I love watching them. 

The "new" stray kitty is often on the porch eating, too, 
and my neighbor is also seeing him/her.  They are 
wondering if it is sleeping in their barn. 

My beautiful feral, Rusty, is the new logo picture here. 
He will let me get within three feet of him before he trots away.  I think, if the tracks in 
the snow are right, that he is sleeping in my shop/barn. 

He has food in a bowl by the hen spa, food on the porch, 
and food in the pasture feeder, where I often see him. 
Oddly enough, he does not like wet cat food much. 

There he is WAYYYY down in the bottom of the pasture last week, 

I recently had two red hens in here, treating them for vent gleet. 
Vent gleet can be caused by wet feed, and I do regularly keep 
a feeder outside for the hens (It is in right now).  The first 
healed up fine, (I hope) and she is back out with the flock.  I brought this 
one in on Thursday night, and Saturday, I brought her out of the cage to the 
kitchen to clean her up a little more.  I felt what I thought was a shiver, 
but now think it was her heart racing... when I began cutting feathers, 
I realized she was not standing... she had died in my arm. 
See how her wings are drooping?  Despite the fact that she ate and 
drank that morning, I believe she was very weak.  I put her in the 
pasture for the wildings... and as of right now, Monday morning, she is 
still laying there. 

The flock I have now is four to six years old... there are a few birds I bought over two years ago 
that were already two, and there are birds that were at the Ag Hall four years ago now. 
Chickens are masters at hiding their illnesses, because they are prey and must do so in the wild. 
I have decided that there will be no more birds in my house... it was a mess.... and 
really, I believe they do better where they can hear their flock.  I have a brooder pen in the 
hen spa I can use as a nursing cage if it becomes necessary again.  

I checked the first hen, she was hiding under the nest box last night but her eye was bright, and she 
went out with her sisters this morning. 

When we warm up a little, I'll clean that hen house out again, it was cleaned in November.  I prefer to do it only twice a year because I deep bed, but I will clean it again just in case. 

I have started getting four to six eggs a day again from the old hens, 
and nothing from the six younger in the old hen house. 

I've seen lots of geese moving lately, but no snow geese this year.  Yet. 

I love feeding the critters and watching them. 

I let the chickens out yesterday after three days inside because 
of snow and cold.... they were SO GLAD, and all I saw was 
fluffy butts in the air as they pecked happily along the fenceline. 

The little birds have been happy, too, with a return to some sunlight. 
I sure love watching them!

These guys have had a good winter, so far. 

As have these two, Fritzi and Jester.  It will be good to come out of hibernation 
soon, though! 

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Winter Delights

We have had a taste of winter several times in the last month, in fact, 
one month ago today, a snow/ice storm pretty much ended our 
Santa Express event at the National Agricultural Center. 
We had a great Saturday, but wow, that Sunday. 
Luckily, I had a ride to and from, 
and 50 hardy souls turned up to see Santa in our truncated event. 

I thought you might enjoy seeing some winter pictures. 

This has pretty much been my uniform for the past month.  Under those jeans and sweatshirts are 
Cuddl Duds long johns, two pairs of socks, and two pairs of gloves. 
I have a Carhartt watch cap under my hood. 

Oh yes, it's a winter wonderland, unless you are out in it. 

Smart babies! 

I ran to the Ag that Tuesday morning to get some things I needed 
for our Christmas here at home on the 28th.  The skies had cleared by then. 

Then we bounced the other way, and we began to have 
unseasonably warm temps.  Plants on my deck began to show 
greenery.  Dandelions were blooming in the yard. 

Some of the older hens began laying again, and I really, really didn't expect this! 
I have gotten as many as seven eggs in one day, and am able to share again. 

I won't have enough to supply the shelter as I did before... but I have plenty for home and friends. 

Lots of geese have been moving by, these were over the pasture one day. 
I have not seen any snow geese this winter, though, and last year, a flock with their distinctive honks went overhead several times a week. 

I added up my expenditures on wild bird feed for last year, and 
almost fell off my chair.  I have had as many as eight pairs of cardinals eating in the evenings. 
I am not going to reveal what I spent, but I could be going to the Cruise to the Edge on 
what I paid for bird seed. 

Ferdinand, father of Singleton and Buddy the young roosters,
is beaten up by Singleton if he tries to stay on the south side of the yard, 
the "chicken" side.  So, every day, I either let him through the gate as I finish chores, 
or he walks down the fence line and comes through a gap at the far west end. 
Little Red, a red hen, began following him, so those two are usually in the yard daily now. 

This morning I saw them in the sheep pen, he watching for predators as she turned over 
the hay pack.  However, they didn't stay there long, remember, a coyote picked off chickens 
there last year.  

I usually find them below the feeders, but they also have a bowl of feed near the 

One day last week, Little Red snuck another girl out with her.  Thank heaven, they have not 
all figured it out, because then I would have to block Ferdie's escape route. 

Here's another critter keeping me from cruising. 

The sheep have been pretty happy. 

Then, last Friday, it happened again. 
That's ice.  I am petrified of falling, if it happens and I break something, 
I am done here. 

There's no backup. 

So beautiful.  So cold. 

We got four inches of snow on top of the ice, and if I could get the pictures in my phone to transfer to the computer, I could show you all the cool tracks in it. 

It has melted now, and I have moved five bales of hay 
from the old garage storage building to my little hay barn, 
in prep for yet another storm this weekend. 

I am not complaining... but I can tell you that I AM tired of 
going back in forth in many layers, carrying stuff and stumbling over the mole/vole hills. 

This came up in my Google memories... Lil watching the sun come up and staring at something pretty intently on the south end of the pasture.  It has to be seven or eight years ago, 
because the fence of the old hen yard is still standing straight. 

Gosh, what a wonderful dog she was. 

And another blast from the wintry past.... Kelly, Winnie and Windy in the sheep/goat/llama/mini-horse pen.... I sure wish I still had that feeder, it was the bomb.  Keith made their benches for them to jump and lay on (and they did!) and he had a bench in the barn for them to sleep on.  

These were the sweetest little guys, and I wonder what became of them, they were given 
to a Four H home, but you never know. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Starting a New Decade

So much happened in the last decade...
I lost my sister, Kathleen, my brothers Mike and Pete, 
my stepson, Brandon, and my husband Keith. 
So many losses, but I am still blessed to be here and 
be in good health and be able to get around and stay active. 

I like to think these were still happy years, despite the loss. 
Keith and I moved away from Calamity Acres in 2014, as he grew 
more ill,  
but I came back in the fall of 2017 (we rented the house out). 
It was rehabbed and is a cozy, comfortable home for me, 
the dogs and the critters. 

So, let's look at what is now "last year". 

We'll start in January. 

Lilly Ann was aging, and her body had started changing, see how her 
legs were bowed out? 

Also, see all the chicken poop on the porch?  That was going to go away. 

I still had three of my original four big Pekins. 

Yes, they swam all winter. 

In February...

We had some warmish days, and some of the snakes woke up! 

And that month, there were only two sheep in the pasture, Fluffy, on the right, 
and Flicka, on the left.  Faithful Lilly Ann was guarding them. 

On February 13th, I got a bucket of eggs!  Right now, I am blessed to get two or three a day, 
but the hens are all getting old. 

On the 16th, with cold and snow outside, I had a surprise in the sheep barn!

More snow in March...

I love tracks in the snow. 

On the 11th, Cookie was wethered. 

Dr. LaRosh has since retired. 

In April, I had a real surprise! 

Fluffy was a lamb when she came here with the boarded sheep two 
years ago.  There was a ram lamb in with them, but I honestly never 
saw him breed her, and did not have a clue that she was pregnant. 
She presented me with Niblet on April 2nd. 

By mid-April, spring was on the way. 

In May...

I planted one of the big planters on my deck with lettuce, and it took off! 

And saw one of my favorite groups, Little River Band, for 
the fifth or sixth time.... (Colin Whinnery)... I know they are 
not the original Australian band... but if you ever have a chance to 
see these guys .... GO. 

May 14, one of the hardest days of my life... My beloved Lilly Ann crossed the Rainbow Bridge. She had spent her whole life with me, it was so hard to let her go. 

In June...

In June, the poultry was rapidly wearing out their welcome on the deck and porch. 
Folks, chickens (and ducks) are dirty, there are no two ways about it.  I have kept them 
for many years, but they are dirty.  I had to wash the porch off every single day, 
and use a shovel to shovel off the poop. 
It was onerous.  

The fun of watching them was not equal to the job of cleaning up after them. 
I had cross-fenced the yard in March, and it was rapidly becoming time to 
fence them up. 

We had some spectacular evenings. 

In July....

these were coming along. 

And I was privileged to have the time to take 
my two grands on the left (and their cousins to the right) to the pool this summer...

In August....

(Sorry, couldn't resist) 

And this happened, our wonderful Fritzi came in to Jester's and my lives, and we were so glad. 

She is just our little doll, thank you again, Bonner Animal Rescue.

In September...

I made a decision to re-home Duckie and the Duckertons. 
I love ducks.... but I was having trouble taking care of them 
as I felt I needed to.... they were rehomed to a women 
with duck experience and a pond, and the young layers and 
their rooster went to a new home, too. 

It was very hard to let Duckie go, let me tell you. 
He was the duck with personality!

We had a beautiful late summer. 

And I watched some fall baseball...

On the 28th, I saw another favorite band...

Toto, at the Uptown theater. with a horrid rainstorm 
as we came out of the venue.... What a ride home! 
(that's Steve Lukather and Joe Williams)

In October....

Granddaughter Paiton celebrated her birthday with a riding lesson. 

In early November, I caught a glimpse of my favorite maple tree 
down beyond my neighbor's pond. 

And we began preparing in earnest for "Santa's Express" at the National Agricultural Center, where I have volunteered for five years now. 

Jester was never far from me.  He is the pluckiest little dog, 
and I am so glad to have him. 


Penning the chickens on the far side of the yard was a great decision. 
No more nastiness tracked into the house... hardly any flies. 

Of course Singleton, who was living at the Ag Hall, 
is home for the winter, and every morning, chases his daddy 
Ferdinand out of the enclosure...

and Ferdie now lives by the deck, porch and side of the house 
during the day, with one little red hen.  

I am dealing with small amounts of poop again. 

When Singleton and his girls go back to the Ag in the spring, 
Ferdie will move into the old hen house with his little hen. 

We had a wonderful Santa event at the National Agricultural Center, despite the fact we had a near-blizzard on the second day.  Santa was there, and 50 or so hardy people came through the storm to see him, do crafts, and have some hot chocolate and cookies. 

I built Gnomelandia in my spare bedroom, because great-granddaughter Maci 
was coming for the first time. 

I had so much fun doing this, and am going to improve it next year. 

The dogs and I had our Christmas picture taken.

When family came for Christmas. 

And finally....

The Reason for the Season. 

And so it comes to an end, the year and the decade. 

Like I said, I am so blessed to live where I do, 
to enjoy the fauna and flora (a lot of fauna), 
to have two faithful and loving little dogs, 
and an array of critters coming during the night 
to keep things lively. 

I want to thank everyone for reading this and reading 
for the last ten years about my humble life. 

I so enjoy sharing aspects of it with you. 

Here's to a great new decade for all of us!