Monday, February 17, 2020

Lots Going On

I'm glad to say that despite the terrible bitter cold we had for three days last week, 
I did not lose any more hens.  Whew. 

Sorry for the blur.... I came out the door of the house last week and saw this cat sitting at the pasture feeder. 

This is NOT Rusty. 

He jumped up and ate... so I know he knows where the food is. 

This is a short-haired cat. 

This is it, not Rusty.  I had taken a picture a day earlier and thought Rusty was down there, hunting. 

Pretty soon, I saw him come away from the tall weeds and look to the south. 

THAT is Rusty!
(Rusty is neutered) 
There was no confrontation, at least, not as long as I watched. 

I have seen the black cat around, but not on the deck or porch. 

The white/black kitty is still eating on the porch several times during the day. 

And yes, this happened too.  I left the chickens in for three days, they hated me. 

It was miserably cold, with temps going to zero at night.  In fact, I filled buckets, thinking the 
well would freeze.  Luckily, it did not. 

As a friend said to me "If it didn't freeze Thursday night, it ain't freezing!" 

The snow brought lots of birds feeding, and here I am going to say something. 

I spend way too much on feeding the wild birds.  It is without a doubt the most expensive feed I buy... far more than chickens and far more than the sheep, even including their hay. 

I am low in the cans right now, and I bought feed on Thursday.  I am ashamed to tell you what I have been paying, and it has to stop.  

I learned last summer with the bad leg that I cannot do the weed eating here by myself, and that means I am going to have to find a lawn service.  I have been making cuts in the budget so I can afford it this year... and one of the cuts is going to be the way I feed the wild birds. 

I spend a fortune on finch feed, and most of it spills on the ground, because the feeders swing on poles.  That's going to stop, I am going to talk to a friend at the Ag Hall, and see if he can 
make a simple wood platform that a feeder fits into that holds it steady, so it is no longer hung.  The birds can perch on it and get the seed.... without swinging it so that the seed falls out.   I will be able to lift the feeder out and clean it, and fill from the top.  I tried an expensive feeder with smaller holes, and they never found the holes except the top two, would eat down two inches and I would refill and then I realized the rest of the seed was rotting in the feeder from the moisture.  So.. it's gone. 

The platform feeder in the above picture will be filled in the morning, and then one scoop late in the afternoon.  Yes, I'll support the birds until the weather breaks, but even today (it is sixty out, friends!) they are eating elsewhere. 

I love watching them!

I wanted to put this in here to remind everyone that these guys are nothing to fool with. 

This was last night. 

I go out EVERY time the dogs go out at night, because of this. 

I also will not be feeding on the porch once the weather has changed.... they will have to eat the spilled bird seed.  

I am getting very concerned that they are way too dependent on this cat food, and I pull it in when I go to bed.  The three cats eating here know where to find it. 

I saw a Facebook video last week where a lady had 23 raccoons when she opened her door.... she actually leaned down and held her hand out and one of them came forward and bit her.  I am 
not that crazy.  

Now, this guy may have only been chewing, but YIKES. 

I found this picture this morning, it is the view looking down towards the ponds at the foot of the hill, with NO TREES in the fenceline. 


This woodpecker was on the feeder this morning. 

And one of our little friends, last night. 

I tried to get a better picture of Cookie, but he always gets too close... this is his first birthday. 

If I ever have to rehome the sheep, he would be my problem boy... he is a hair sheep, not wool, and it would be hard to find him a home.  I am just enjoying him every day. 

I went to the store an hour ago to get some apples for his treat.... I bought Galas, on sale....
not one sheep ate even one!  

Happy Birthday, Cookie! 

Saturday, February 8, 2020

And Life Goes On....

That is hen number two, who died last week.  It took a full five days for her to be 
consumed in the pasture. 

That hawk worked on her for several days. 

I actually found a third hen dying on the fourth, and it 
took her all day, but she did not seem to be in pain, just 
life slowly ebbing away. 

I did not put her in the pasture. 

That is three in three weeks.   

There is no longer any food outside that can get damp by the big hen house, they have to go 
inside or forage.  

I still think this is an age-related - weather - related cause, and I notice 
there is at least one more I am slightly worried about, and am watching her. 

Having said that, this is happening! 

I have gotten ten eggs on two days, and anywhere from 
four to eight on many days, and these are old hens! 

Still not one egg from the old henhouse birds. 

I made lots of treats last week, for my son's Super Bowl 
party, and for the shelter, since the director decided to open 
up so that clients could see the Super Bowl in warmth. 

This is Chex Mix, made with white chocolate bits instead of 
powdered sugar, and Kansas City Chiefs M and Ms. 

I made red and yellow sugar cookies, too.  

I can't watch big games, I get too nervous, so my 
friend Deb and my son text me during the game to let me 
know what's happening!   As you know, the Chiefs won, and this 
town went crazy!  (Tonganoxie is 25 miles east of KCMO) 

It shut down completely on Wednesday for the victory parade. 

My house is on a ridge, and it looks down and across at my neighbors, who are from Croatia originally, via France.  They are fine cabinet makers, and the two sons are former volunteers for many years with Stranger Creek Fire Department.  They were burning two days this week, and 
it was a beautiful sight at the foot of the pasture.  There are two big ponds there that they keep stocked, but I rarely see anyone fishing any more. 

I have often taken pictures down towards the ponds. 

This birdhouse is in front of the third pond on their property, which is in an "L" around mine on two sides. 
There is a cow pond on that side, and they rent the pasture out during the summer. 

When we moved here in 2005, there were birdhouses on almost every pole in the pasture.  They had been put there years before, not by the people from whom we bought, but someone who loved the land who was here before them. 

Now, there are only two left.  Keith always meant to replace them all, he just didn't have enough 
time to get to it. 

Flicka and Cookie taking a load off in the pen. 

I can tell if there is something going on untowards at night. 
When I go out with the dogs, I always check the sheep.  If they are standing and staring, I know that 
something has either gone through the pasture or has disturbed them in some way.  Ten days ago, 
I heard two bobcats, and the caterwauling made the hair on my neck stand up.  The sheep were 
terribly restless that night. 

Little Red!  You are NOT supposed to be in the sheep pen!

I need to explain about the chickens here. 

There are three roosters, Ferdinand, and Singleton and Buddy, his sons. 

Singleton and six hens go to the Ag Hall in April and come home in 

There were 30 hens in the Hen Spa, the biggest hen house, and now there are 15. 

Buddy is a bully, in the worst way. 

He and Singie have begun fighting, and I think I posted a picture of Singleton ten days ago, so you could see what was happening. 

That is blood, but before you freak out, combs bleed freely. 

Buddy also had a lot on him. 

You see, spring is springing, and the animals know it. 

So, what I have had to do is catch Buddy EVERY morning with my net, and 
put him on the yard side of the fence. 

Unlike his dad, Ferdie, Buddy does not know how to get to the one gap left and go through. 
Little Red used to keep his dad company in the yard, and now she comes through and spends most of the day with Buddy.  She is not supposed to go into the pasture... where the coyote picked ten hens off last summer.  However, short of following her around all day, I can't prevent it, I can just cross my fingers. 

Buddy will beat up on his dad Ferdie, but Singleton leaves him alone.  So, Singleton and Ferdie are on one side, and Buddy on the other.  

So close, and yet, so far. 
(In reference to this picture, if I could start over with 20 leghorn hens (like these) I would do it in a minute) 
He is the one that is going to the Ag this year, with the six little hens.  That way I do not 
have to wrangle a rooster every single morning, but can house everyone in ONE house and 
clean out the old henhouse for the summer. 

I thought it might help if I showed the buildings... this is the Old Henhouse, 
it was a building used by the people who came here to pick 
strawberries in the old days, it had an air conditioner and heater in it, and 
you see that Keith built a stall on the front for our pony, Beau.  
This is where Singleton and his six girls live right now. 

Just beyond it to the right you can barely see our little red henhouse up on 
stilts, where the bantams lived.  The big pen behind this house has heaved and 
is no longer usable.  It would break Keith's heart to see it. 

That is the garage on the left where my hay is stored... and the shop/barn on the right. 
The storage building is to the right of it.  You can see that they are WAY on the sound end of the property... the gray barn is actually way across on my neighbor Troy's property.  The original house 
on our properties stood just south of this garage and shop. 

There are the big and little hen houses... the big one being 
The Hen Spa.  No one lives in the little hen house now, and if it would just warm up for a couple of 
days in a row, I would give it a good clean out. 

The fifteen hens and two roosters live in the Hen Spa. 

My little hay barn storage shed, and the sheep barn behind it.  The big house on the hill to the right is my neighbor's.  

And yes, my humble little house, with the deck Keith built for us, and the little structure in front is the well house.  You climb down into it to service the well and sump pump. 

(Someone does, I don't!!!) 

Gosh, that last chair on the porch has seen better days!

I am going to try to get two rocking chairs this year, and put the porch chairs in the shop for storage. 

That big comm tower is across the road from me, 
on a vacant 26 acre piece that has been for sale for years. 

Sometimes the animals around here get just a little too close to the cameras!