Sunday, July 26, 2020

The Results are In

I wanted to post and let you all know about my results with 
my deterrents for the raccoons. 


I am happy to report though, that there was only ONE on the porch last night, 
they have finally accepted there is no food there for them anymore. 

I hung a shoplight out there.  
At least they could see what they were eating, (laugh) 

I also put bread with cayenne pepper CAKING it, I thought I would have to 
pick it all up the next morning..... 
it was all gone. 

I have two large bottles of Franks Hot Sauce and an almost full canister of 
cayenne, if anyone could use them!

Terri suggested last week using ammonia, I may try that, however....

I have had such good progress with them staying off the deck, and I have 
so much fun watching the birds, I will continue with locking anything up that the 
raccoons could eat at night, suet, birdseed from the top feeder, the hanging finch feeder, etc., 
and go from there.  The two ferals are eating during the day, thank heavens. 

Yes, she is still laying in the flower box on the deck. 

She is four years old, and a Cornish hen, I would NEVER have imagined this. 

She lets herself out of the "chicken side" of the yard and comes across, 
eating a bit of birdseed, and then makes her way up onto the deck and into the 
flower box.  She proceeds to lay a good-sized egg, and takes herself back to the others. 
It cracks me up. 

I took this on the deck yesterday.  I absolutely love the "wildflower garden in a box" flowers in the washtub.  There are batchelor's buttons, a small white flower, and some tickseed, as well as 
grasses and what we would call weeds.  

I planted a lot of zinnias because, frankly, I was staying at home and trying not to go 
to garden centers, and I had a lot of seeds from the past two years.  Here is 
the thing... those planters are too shallow for the cut and come again variety. 
I am having to water multiple times a day, but oh, how I love zinnias and so do the few butterflies I am seeing, and the hummers, which have become numerous these last few days. 

The "nest" flower box.  I got these three planters at Sam's Club a year ago, I love them. 
There is one full of mint that smells so good after I water it, however.... I am digging out the 
mint this fall and replacing the whole thing with flowers for next year. 

The other side .... I don't really like the petunias in that box up on the 
railing... there is a tiny bit of geranium in there, I thought they would complement it, but they are actually rust-colored, not pink or red.  Not planting that color again, it fades in the sun. 

The perennials in the box in the foreground are doing GREAT. 

I never put my summer garden flags out... oh, what the heck. 

The last corner, filled in with more zinnias.  The calibrachoa in the top 
planter is still going strong, you just can't see it in the picture. 

My umbrella, though folded in, was caught by the wind two weeks ago, 
and overturned and broke my porch table.  That's it for me, that is the third one 
I lost over the years.  I am going to try to find a wrought iron smaller table to 
put out, as we rarely eat on the deck. 

I frightened Rusty when I came out on Friday morning, and he ran for the fence. 

When he saw it was me, he waited, and yes, he got his yummy canned food, I went back and 
got it for him.  I could tell he had eaten from the dry food. 

Some of you know my son Jeff has been staying with me since March, 
his hours were cut, and though he owns a mobile home free and clear,  he was 
having a struggle making ends meet.  

Jeff gets up very early, and puts the dry food out on the porch for me in the morning, 
and I can tell from the camera that the two cats are coming to eat. 

They do sometimes come on and off the porch during the night hours, 
but I also keep a large container of fresh water there, too. 

I got another delivery of good pork from Gray Family Farms, 
Charles told me he has a contract with Paradise Locker in Trimble to 
process hogs every month. 

I bought pork from him six weeks ago, and it is the BEST. 
Jeff and I are having 1/2" pork chops, fresh corn, and green beans for 
dinner when he gets home tonight. 

This is 62, one of the lambs that has been here for the last three or four weeks.  The Manuses brought ten, nine ewes and a goat, and then switched them out about six weeks later.  This group had two adult ewes, and seven lambs, and the goat, who stayed. 

These are the two big ewes.  I keep a small swimming pool there under the shade of the walnut tree, and I refresh it multiple times a day.  I keep the ground all around there damp, and many of the sheep 
like to nap there. 

One of these ewes had "lumpy jaw", which is mostly incurable.  I told their 
owner last night that I am sure that jaw has gone down, and is no longer swollen. 
They are coming tomorrow to switch some out... I am hoping not all are going.... and he 
is going to look at her closely then. 

Two weeks ago, the three Manus boys removed the fence (leaning and heaved) around the 
old henhouse yard.  This was the first pen Keith ever made here, and the posts were not sunk 
deeply enough.  That's the unused little red henhouse under which they are laying in the shade. 

I have noticed because of the heavy shade in this area, they like to congregate here in the heat of the day.  That's the other reason why I check that little pool so often. 

There is a deep tank in the actual sheep pen which they also use, 
I bucketed it out and cleaned it today, I try to do that three times a week. 

On Friday, Ben came and removed low-hanging branches for me for two hours in the terrible 
heat.  He is coming back on Tuesday to do the weed eating and trimming.  I could not have 
kept this place looking so good this summer without his help.  Yes, I pay him, but to find 
someone willing to do that work is a blessing for me. 

Here are some pumpkins I planted in mid-July... they are 
taking off in the raised garden. 

I have decided to tear these beds out completely at the end of the season.  
(well, not me, the boys). 

This was a loving project from Keith, but I cannot handle the hauling of the dirt anymore, and the upkeep.  If you look behind these beds, you will see one is empty now.... and those trellises, etc. are coming down, too.  Weeds grow up between the beds constantly, and they are a fight to keep down. 

I am also considering removing the only perennial bed I have left, and gardening only on the deck and porch, I am still mulling that over.  I would actually offer the plants to all my friends, in amongst the weeds there are some good perennials still blooming.  With Jeff's help, earlier this summer, I had that bed cleaned up, or so I thought, and we actually put five cartloads of mulch on it. 

It's a mess, I'm embarrassed to show you. 

I swear the zinnias (yes, more zinnias) and the pumpkins behind them grew two inches overnight. 

Do you see the weeds and grass growing in between?  The beds were made a little too close to get the mower in there and clean them up all the time, it has to be weed-eaten.  Ben will do that on Tuesday. 

We are 92, feels like 102 right now, but.... clouds are coming over and rain is expected tonight.  

Tomorrow, my little Snowy girl has a mammary tumor removed, 
and I am very worried about her. 

It means also that I get up very early, get her to the vet, and 
get back here in time to feed Fritzi and give her her morning meds, 
we have a routine now and Snowy is involved in that. 

My little Snowy.  I love her, she has only been here since March but she is a 
wonderful little dog.  I am praying nothing happens tomorrow. 

My dear Jester. 

Fritzi is holding her own, but her hindquarters are weaker and she has trouble walking. 

I watch her like a hawk. 

Our resident bunny. 

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Reality on the Farm

For two weeks, I have been trying to sit down and write a blog post.  I keep getting side tracked, there is a lot to do in the country at this time of year. 

Today, I was side tracked again, after planning a great post in my head last night. 

I have so many flower pictures, sheep pictures, etc.. 

And then, reality set in .

Folks, I know this is not a "real" farm.  I also know that I have, by 
feeding the feral cats here, also fed the creatures of the night for the last three years. 

I am down to two ferals, both of whom have learned to eat on the deck during the day. 

So, this is my yard at night. 


When I take the dogs out to go potty, and trust me, the little girls are ALWAYS on 
leashes at dusk.... 
I yell first to the bird feeding area, OR shine my spotlight that way. 


an exodus to the west, through the fence and into the uninhabited by people wild area across the road. 

You may remember that about three weeks ago, I was chicken-sitting for some friends, left to do an errand, and came home and found their only mature hen killed in broad daylight by what I suspected was a raccoon hit. 

Their pullets were able to get away and were all recovered and put in the chicken house in safety. 

They lost their mature flock to foxes and raccoons, and yes, they had a good hen house. 

So, this is my little hen house, today. 

I had it built two years ago, but did not know that when the farmer delivered it, 
it would have a storm door on it, no solid door.  The window for the door lasted about six months. 

I had a small flock in here, a cochin rooster and about a dozen nice hybrid egg layers, 
and this is the flock I gave up last October, trying to lighten my load a little. 

The only thing about this little building is that it is NOT well ventilated, and 
gets very hot.  I keep a fan going in all of the hen houses. 

The hen house has been empty now for almost a year, except for two weeks ago 
when I put four pullets and my friend's three birds in there. 

When the raccoon struck during the day, killing the mature hen, my friends 
fixed their pen and hen house and took ALL the pullets home, I gave them 
my four. 

This week, I bought two more, little black cochins, three months old. 

On Wednesday, my friend Mary came over, and brought me the most 
beautiful frizzle rooster I had ever seen, glossy black feathers. 
She had to give him up, because she lives in a city where roosters are not allowed. 

I determined to keep rooster and pullets in that house, with the little ex-pen yard in front of it.  I can't build a real pen because there is a water line running under there. 

This then, is Elvis the Rooster, closest to the camera, and the two young 
Cochin pullets behind him.  

They were petrified to move before their rooster was put in with them, they 
were very young girls. 

Here, in the middle of the story, I have to interject that Fritzi has been very, very sick. 

She doesn't just have diabetes, she has Cushings as well, and now, 
a clostridium infection that I am afraid now that Snowy may have caught. 
 She has been very sick all week, and I spoke at length with the vet 
this morning after an emergency trip yesterday for Fritz.  

Your blogger is getting very little sleep. 

This morning, after another restless night for my poor little girl, who can no longer 
hold her bowels for hours..... I went out to do chores in the already hot morning. 

(our heat index right now is 108). 

I approached the hen house, thinking to open the door so air could get in beside the 
open windows and fan, when I noticed the pen looked ajar. 

I opened the door. 

They must have run like crazy to escape the predators. 

The crazy thing was, the fan, always precariously propped, was still upright and running.  
Somehow, the dang raccoons got the door open again from the outside and ran them out. 
They banged against the bars of the makeshift pen. 

Don't look at the next picture if graphic pictures bother you, but this, friends, 
is what a raccoon attack looks like. 

Eviscerated, with no head. 

I did not find the two pullets at all, 
only feathers.  The feathers abruptly stopped at the back of the 
hen house wall, they must have been taken through the fence. 

It broke my heart, because I, jaded after years of raising chickens, had decided 
to buy a few Silkie hens to keep Elvis company, he was such a good looking boy. 

I am not crazy angry, just so you know. 

I fed the feral cats and the raccoons for almost three years.  About a month ago, 
I started locking up all cat food at night, I took it out of the pasture feeder, and 
I locked up the suet, the hanging finch feeder and the low squirrel feeder every night. The only thing the raccoons were getting was the spilled seed. 

(I take that back, I forgot to bring in the porch feeder two or three times, and 
my son told me his "pet" raccoon was eating it... this raccoon did not seem to 
have a healthy fear of humans, so I have been trying to scare it.) 

Other than that, it is all locked up nightly and put back out in the morning. 
There is very little traffic on the actual porch camera now at night. 

So.... various people have said
Kill them... trap them and remove them (just like killing).... 
poison them (as if I would with my beloved dogs here)... 

What I have decided to do (try)? 

Today I went to Sam's Club to get a large container of hot sauce and one 
of cayenne pepper.  

I also have a hanging shop light that I don't use in the big hen house, it is going outside tonight 
to hang from the bird feeder that draws everyone. 

I also am going to put a transistor radio out there, and play it at night. 

I will use the cayenne and hot sauce carefully, as I don't want to dissuade the 
squirrels and rabbits. 

(still figuring that out). 

The peppers do not bother the birds. 

I'm hoping the combination of light and sound as well 
as the hot sauces dissuade them. 

In the old days, we had Ranger the GSD and Lilly Ann, the Retriever here, 
and believe me, a raccoon was not safe coming into our yard.  I am too old to start 
another dog, but today I did make an inquiry about an Anatolian cross puppy. 

We were actually able to leave on game days and go to baseball games at 5:30, and leave the four henhouses open in those days, and trust the dogs to take care of everyone. 

I am worried today, even in the heat, that a bold raccoon will strike in the middle of the day.  I would like to clear the whole fenceline out behind the hen houses, but right now, it is too hot and too much poison ivy mixed in.  That's a job for cool weather.  

My son's "pet" raccoon, seen through the front door.  As you can see, it 
comes out while there is still plenty of light.  It is being discouraged as of a few days ago, 
because we don't need any on the porch or deck.  

I'll report to you all how my efforts are rewarded.  In the meantime, 
I have already talked to someone about putting a solid door on the hen house that 
can be latched (I suspect I did not get the latch on the storm door last night) and 
some ventilation in the roof. 

Everyone be safe in the heat and the continuing virus crisis.