Sunday, December 18, 2022

Winter Has Arrived

Though it technically is the last waning days of fall, 

winter, weatherwise... is truly here. 

Twelve degrees F out there this morning, friends.  Hard on the diabetic hands and feet! 

I have to come in to warm up in between doing chores, and though it is sunny.... I did not let any chickens out.  Most are just too old.  Many will be in for the duration of the week, when we are plunging to literally below zero temps. 

I am out of straw in any quantity, and it was in short supply this year, but I am going to see if I can get two bales on Tuesday and bed the henhouses a little deeper. Tuesday, because my car is in the shop. 

It is beautiful, I will grant you that.  But gosh... makes it so hard to get anything done. 

Follow up to my two cataract operations... I can see 20/20 now at distance.  I did not understand the importance of making one eye near and one far.... I may have a do-over because I have to whip the readers on and off constantly, I cannot see anything close up. I will be seeing my own eye doctor this week and will talk to her about this whole thing.  I am pleased with the results, though. 

I have been taking some steps to get the cats ready for winter. 

Here are Cleo and Mama eating in front of the heater in the shop.  Last winter I used the little black heater on the left... but it cycles off after 8 hours, and yes, I went out there in the middle of the night to turn it on several times.  I have not even connected it, as you see.  Cleo prefers to sleep in the little bed on top of the chest... the one right behind the heater. 

There is a chick light over the kuranda bed. 

It has actually been on for a month or so. 

I stapled plastic over the doors so that drafts won't blow through continuously, and no, I could not do all the way to the top, but this is helping tremendously. 
IF it warms up next week (after Christmas) I will hire grandson Jax to come and get on a ladder and staple the plastic to the top. Just doing this helped so much. 

Here is Alien eating on the porch two days ago, this was the cat who began appearing in the pasture.  I found him in the shop a few days ago on the camera in there, so I know he knows how to get in where it's a little warmer.  He is sleeping here, though. 

Yes, that is the doghouse where the possum died. 

Speaking of possums, 
here she is after one full week in the pasture. 

Pretty much untouched.  I picked her up and put her over by the brush pile.  If it warms up at all today, I'll walk down and see if she is still there.  This stuff fascinates me... my brother Pete was the same way. It's not ghoulish, we just like to see nature at work. 

Jester had dibs on the warm crate on Friday.  You see I made it like a little cave for them, and they all love to take turns in it.  The electric heater on the left is on low now for a few weeks to keep the kitchen warm, and they love to lay near it.  I do not like having a huge crate in my kitchen, but I DO like making life easier for the elderly dogs. 

This little doll is the best guardian ever,  She stood there on the porch for a long time yesterday, staring into the pasture.  I really keep an eye on her because she is coyote-bait.  

Dear Buddy, whom I actually call Big Moose half the time, is in the crate behind me this morning, soaking up the heat.  In the last week, he has become unable to get on his beloved couch.  He either stays in the crate or on this bed in the living room.  He is such a good old dog, I speculated with a friend yesterday about what could have happened to him.  If only they could talk! 

On the camera in the shop. 

Check out that expression! 

About ten minutes after this shot was made, the camera was knocked over by the big raccoon. 

It did capture this: 

That's Alien, coming in to eat and drink. 

At some point, I will trap him and he will be neutered like all the others.  My traps are still on loan, they have caught a slew of ferals in a colony recently. 

Pauline, a long-time reader of this blog, sent me this bag recently.  I just want to thank you, Pauline, because I carry it in my car and I use it for so many things!  It is light, and is an easy way for me to bundle up little things and carry them in the house, and when I don't need it, it folds flat and can be put nearly under the passenger side front seat for when I need it again. 

I so appreciate your kindness! 

My heart fluttered when I looked outside for the dogs and saw this last week. 
I try to keep a very close eye on Zoey, she wanders to the gate frequently, and in fact, at night when she has to go out, we walk up to the gate in the pitch black dark.  At least Buddy was with her to protect her, but I could see both of them wandering out. 

It is the third Sunday of Advent, I hope everyone is ready for Christmas, and, as usual, I thank you all for reading the blog. 



Sunday, December 11, 2022

I Have an Excuse

Good heavens. 

Almost a month has gone by since I posted! 

I have an excuse.  

I have had one eye surgery to remove cataracts... on my right eye.  I had put it off for three years, and thanks to two friends, Carol and Mary, and encouragement from many others... I finally took the leap. 

I was a nervous wreck... I still am. 

There is an abrasion in my right eye, and I am trying to keep it lubricated because it hurts, but people... I CAN SEE.  I can see 20/20 from that eye!  I can lay in bed and see the communications tower in the wild area across from my bedroom! 

It's a miracle.  

Wednesday, I get the left eye done.  I am wearing my glasses with the right lens out, and I know it must look crazy, but I can see to drive. 

I took little Zoey to the vet this morning in heavy fog, but I could SEE. 

It's a cold and foggy morning, and I have left the chickens in for a while.  They are all old, except for the seven now almost two hens.  The cold is hard on the older birds. 

That was a cold morning two weeks ago.  I have quit opening the pophole for a while... the warming light is right across from  it, and my old girls and one of the old roosters are under it all day, just about. 

Susie the Speckled Sussex came out one sunny morning, but she is rarely venturing out now. 
You see she is showing her age greatly, her face is washed out, and she is hunched up against the cold. 
She talks all the time, little trilling noises.  As of this morning, she is still with me. 

Where once there were so many birds.... there are now only four hens and two roosters. 
(one rooster is on the dark on the right under the roosts, the other hen was in a nest box). 

The two little silkies are in their pen in this house, too. 

There used to be twenty some birds in here just a few years ago. 

In the old hen house, it is even lonelier, only Singleton and the white Ameracauna hen live in there, 
and she has just started laying green eggs again. 

That dreadful dirt on the walls was from when the starlings used to invade that house.  The popholes you see on the back and side used to stand open, and the starlings would come in, eat all the food and drink the water, and make a mess.  There is wire across the openings now, because the pen is down on the outside. 

Wanda lives in the big hen house.  She eats all her meals in there, and there is a heated water bowl. 
She does come out off and on during the day, but sleeps in there every night.  I feel better knowing she is safe. 

Teenie looks so mean in this picture... but she is not.  She is actually very small, she and Wanda did not get very large.  For some reason, she and Mama hate each other and I have to keep an eye on them. 
Teenie hangs out by the big hen house but I think she sleeps in the shop. 

Mama was the mother of the four kittens born here last year.  She was neutered and returned to me. 
She has gained a lot of weight, but I believe she was little more than a kitten when she had her kittens. 

I found Molly like this when I got up one morning! 

Coco, who does chores with me every day. 
Coco is always, always underfoot. 
Zoey does not like her and chases her all the time, so I am always having to keep them separated. 
Coco comes in, and I put her in the office, but... about 3 AM she cries to go out.  
On the porch, she has a heating pad in a chair, a heated cat house, and a dog house with straw. 
She waits for me to come out and goes all over the yard with me. 

This is Alien.  I call him that because he is the cat that appeared in the pasture at the feeder. 

Three times now, I have seen him on the outskirts of the yard.  
This morning, I was setting a bowl of dry cat food in the garage, and I saw legs on the other side of the mower.  He was in there and waiting for me to leave so he could eat.  
He is going to be trapped at some point. 
 (and neutered and returned). 

My traps are on loan right now. 

You can just see him in this picture, he waited for me to leave so he could come eat from the bowl yesterday morning. 

Here he is eating in the pasture last night. 

(yes, the feeder is still there) 

And a half hour later... I thought I was looking at Molly on the old walnut stump... and realized it was Alien! 

That's the first time he has presented himself, really, in the yard. 

I see you, Mr. Coyote. 

A week ago, I was putting the food bowl down in the garage and I noticed something in the dog house in there. 

I assumed the possum was sleeping, because they are mostly nocturnal. 

The next day, I saw it was still in there and got concerned. 
I am respectful of possums... but not afraid of them. 

I prodded it gently with a pole.  Nothing. 
I prodded again... and realized it was dead weight. 
I got a rake and gently raked it out, and it was, indeed, dead. 

It was a beautiful older female I had seen around here for weeks, and I had seen her in the shop just two days before, eating some cat food. 
Opossums have very short life spans, as little as one to three years, and they are prey to so many animals. 

I suspect she succumbed to old age, because it sure wasn't starvation, she was quite heavy. 

I carried her down to the third tier of the pasture... remember, we were tilled for planting at one time.... where I could just see her from the deck.  
I saw two coyotes sniff at her. 
She is still there, intact. 
I feel horrid about it. 

I don't have the strength to bury her. 

I may just take a shovel and move her closer to my brush pile today, it makes me feel bad to see her laying out in the open. 

I should have checked for babies, but I could not imagine she would be pregnant at this time. 

I put Big Santa up, and a small three foot tree on the porch. 
As of this morning, Big Santa has sprung a leak and is leaning in submission against the deck railing so..... he is being replaced with Big Frosty! 
I bought  Santa and Frosty on sale at the PX at Fort Leavenworth four years ago.  I did not even see any this year.  I am going to deflate the rest of Big Santa here in a bit and bring Big Frosty out from the shed and set him up.  I sure will miss Santa!  I am the all-natural Christmas lover, but I really enjoyed blow up Santa. 

Bullseye may be a little spoiled. 

I see you there, too! 

Best fifteen dollars I spent at Amazon this month.... 
my vintage Merry Christmas banner!  

I'll be back, thank you for reading! 


Thursday, November 17, 2022

My Bad

Longtime readers of this blog will remember that we always left a fortex feeder in the pasture for the wild things.  

Skunk, fox, possums, raccoons, and sometimes, coyotes. 

We had animals of our own at the time, we just liked to watch the wildings, and yes, this goes against everything that animal rehabbers will tell you to do. 

We always saw it as a supplement for winter feed. 

I think it was wrong, now. 

But I also think it kept some of the animals alive. 
There is a particularly beautiful fox in the pasture in 2014. 
That was a very hard winter, but that fox is in good flesh. 

Recently, I have been watching a feral cat in the pasture.  It is large, and I am guessing it is a male. 
The only male here is Bullseye, and everyone besides Bully is all spayed and Bully is neutered. 
This cat has been coming to a feeder in the pasture where I leave garbage and 
cheap cat food. 

You can barely see him in this picture eating in front of the camera in the pasture. 

He is in the middle.  He is very elusive, but I will tell you something... 
I believe he it was HE who ran out of my garage yesterday when I went to collect the feed bowl at chore time.  I put away all feed bowls in the evening. 

In this first picture, Molly has seen the coyotes coming, and quickly leaves the pasture. 
Bullseye freezes... I think this is from hubris, not fright. 


These were taken by the pasture cam. 

This is the view from the porch. 

Note where foolish Bullseye is at this point. 

I went down there thirty seconds later, shooed the coyote off, 
and dumped what was left in the pan.  I am putting only cat food in it now, 
and I can tell you that a coyote came last night, ate for a minute, and then left most of the bowl. 
Any chicken carcasses (rotisserie) or other garbage is being put over the north fence line into the tree line of the now-empty pasture to my north.  

Saturday morning, I woke to find one of my three pasture gates standing open... I am sure I had not hooked it tightly and I am guessing a possum or raccoon came under it and pushed it open, but it worried me.  Coyotes can easily jump the fence, though... but an open gate would be so much easier. 
I lock all chickens up tightly at night, and the cats can get away. 

It's my dogs I worry about. 
Zoey never goes out without a leash on, even at 4 PM. 
Jester and Buddy are watched like hawks. 

If you make that big, you will see a coyote standing beyond the pasture gate, with Buddy oblivious to him.  I will say that it would never have happened with Lilly Ann, who made it her to business to never allow anything like that to happen here.  Zoey is also one to run at a predator like that. 

no more feeding in the pasture, to protect those here. 
I will continue to put some cat food out for the feral for a few weeks, until I can be sure he has found the food here in the outbuildings and can get enough to eat there. 

I took this last night. 
He was just waiting for me to finish chores so he could come up and get some cat food. 
He didn't much like it! 

One last thing... no foxes come now.  Our area is too built up, I think.  I have seen skunks (after not seeing them for a long time), possums, raccoons, and the same three coyotes.  Crows come during the day.  I am putting a camera back out in the yard tonight to make sure nothing is jumping the fence! 

Have a peaceful Thanksgiving, everyone! 

Sunday, November 6, 2022

A Month of Thanksgiving

Years ago, when I was still blogging daily... I participated in another blog's "Month of Thanksgiving".  Every day, we remembered something for which we were thankful. I may not be blogging daily, but I am still so thankful. 

Thankful that Keith left me the things he built... Big Henhouse, the arbor, the hayshed... all things that help me daily take care of everyone around here, or bring me beauty. 

Thankful for the dogs and cats that bring such joy to me. 

Thankful that the chickens get me up daily and get me moving! 

The beautiful colors have gone by here. 

The trees are mostly brown. 

On Thursday, we had something wonderful... 
2 1/2 inches of rain!  It rained all day long, it was wonderful!
I left the chickens in, it's hard on the old birds. 
Right now, I have only four birds who are laying daily... I don't know what happened to the other three 18 month old girls, but they are not laying.  Maybe the moult, but everyone appears to be over that. 

I am just glad I will have enough with which to bake. 

Last Sunday, I went to a mini-high school reunion, my graduating class tries to gather 
regularly.  I went with two other ladies.  
We had a chili testing!  It was a lot of fun, and fun guessing whose of the six chilis entered was the winner. 

Here I am with my classmate Larry sampling the chili.  The committee worked so hard to do this, and one lady made about 60 dozen different kinds of cookies and breads for our desserts! 
(don't know why this picture is so red, but I did have a red shirt on, as did Larry) 
It was so good to get out and see everyone.  The day turned out well, too, with about 40 classmates in attendance. 

There's our friend again. 
He has not been coming out so early, though, these past few days. 

For years, I kept a fortex in the pasture with some feed in it for the wildings. 
However, I have made the decision to start dumping the chicken carcasses (from Sam's) in the tree line to the north.  The coyotes can find them there, and there are no animals in that pasture.  
I had a camera there, because I dumped there while the sheep were here... and they found them easily. 
I have some cat food in the fortex right now, for the lone cat that is coming here to eat. 

Last Sunday, I realized the indoor door to the old hen house was agape... I tie it shut at night, because the 
door jamb is not right.  Then I shut the outer door that had a screen in it, and block it with several things. 
Raccoons had pulled the poultry wire back, climbed in, and killed one of the three remaining chickens in there. 
I put a camera in there that night and they came back. 
So... I stapled hardware cloth across where the poultry wire had been.... 
and darned if they have not tried to get in again!  This morning, it was bent back on either corner. 
I have enough hardware cloth left to staple it all the way to the top of the door, which is what I should have done in the first place. 

Then, yesterday morning, I found a piece of the trim laying across the porch of the big hen house, and you can see the corner of the door jamb... chewed almost through. 
I was ready to scream.  I had not been around to the side porch yet... they tried to get in there, and left me two huge piles of poop.  
I nailed that trim back on and then sprayed the whole door jamb with bitter apple spray. 
I am going to Petsmart this morning in a while to see what other kind of sprays I can find to keep them away. 

I blocked where they had chewed last night, and 
nothing was disturbed this morning.  I also put a cement block in front of the pophole on the side. 
I can't believe they didn't shove the paving stone aside and tear the pophole cover off. 
They can't, now.  But friends... it's a pain to do all this stuff every night. 
I had the little hen house blockaded, too.  

It just makes me mad I have to do this every single night. 
I pick up all cat food before dark, and I feed so little bird seed now, there is almost nothing left for the

The farmer from whom I buy pork told me that they have trapped and killed 38 raccoons in the last few months at his place, they raise 300 hens and the raccoons were laying waste to them. 
You know that I don't kill, but trust me, I am very close to trapping and releasing somewhere farther out, like our county fishing lake. 

Luckily, my traps are on loan to someone catching some ferals for neutering. 

Looks pretty comfy, huh?  

The rescue told me last night that they had only one inquiry for him, and they declined the person. 

She asked me if I was prepared to keep him as a foster (because they will cover his medical bills) and I told her YES.  
He is a doll, but he is an old doll. 
He sheds a LOT and has to go in and out a lot to potty. 
But he is also very loving and good with everyone here. 


This baby black rat snake was in the shop this week on one of the two very warm days we had before the storms came. 
I finally moved it to the side wall because Teenie would not leave it alone. 

We grow 'em beautiful here in Leavenworth County!