Sunday, January 22, 2023

Missed a Week!

Missed a week, how about that?  

Things are humming along here in Northeast Kansas, Leavenworth County. 

I got up this morning to this: 

Oh, yes, it's beautiful and it actually was not too cold out!  
See the platform feeder in the second picture?  No one could get to any feed, so 
I put boots on and trekked out there and cleaned both feeders off and filled them. 
I cleaned off the hanging feeders, too... and put the small feeder down on the ground.  I filled both water bowls. 

I did not take pictures but within a few minutes, there were many birds out there eating.  I especially like watching the finches on the two hanging feeders closer to the house.  
I am satisfied with how I am feeding this year, and the seed you see on the ground in some of the pictures is seed that fell from the feeders.  In past years, I have spent hundreds of dollars on wild bird feed... I can no longer afford that. 

I feed a mix from Sam's Club that is 99% black oil sunflower, with a tiny bit of peanuts mixed in... and a tiny bit of filler "parakeet feed", as I call it.  Everyone eats it.  One bag lasts about nine days. 

The finches get sunflower hearts into which I mix dried mealworms.  I feed (sparingly) some dried mealworms in the platform feeder you see above, daily.  One five pound bag of mealworms is now 50.00 at Tractor Supply... so I made this months last an entire month.  

I love watching the birds on the more permanent feeder that Keith built years ago. 

My ragamuffin farm girl, Zoey.  This girl LOVES to do chores with me. 
She knows the minute I start to get the bucket ready in the afternoon... her head comes up and she is ready to go!  If Buddy feels up to it, he comes with her. 

They are such good friends. 

The Big Moose went to the doctor on Tuesday and had blood run, got his nails trimmed, and got weighed.  114.4 pounds!  The doctor did not say anything but the techs and I talked when I picked him up, and he is on a diet to lose ten pounds to give his aching joints a rest.  He is taking Gabapentin daily now for his arthritic old joints.  He remains a hospice foster for Bonner Animal Rescue, and I cannot say enough good about this group. 

Zoey and Fritzi came to me through them. 

Three weeks ago, I was out at 3 AM with Zoey and Buddy. 
All of the sudden, I was surrounded by coyote howls, some that sounded as if they were in the yard with me, and the hair on the back of my neck stood up. 
There were some from across the road to the west (26 wooded acres) and some from the foot of my pasture to the east, and some on the north in Spehar's pasture that wraps me.  I came in, shaken. 

Because of the skunk dying by my hen house, I have removed the feeder that was in the pasture. 

So there is no more of this going on. One came up two or three times after the feeder was pulled, but I have not seen any in day or dusk for those three weeks, but friends, they are still around. 

A few days after hearing those howls so very close.... I was on the porch of the big hen house one morning and thought "What am I hearing?"... I live 2/10s of a mile from a state highway, and the traffic does not stop until early morning hours... over that traffic, I could hear coyotes calling each other in broad daylight.  In all my seventeen years here, I have never heard that!  

So, fast forward to Friday night.  I got out of the recliner at ten to take Zoey out.  If I don't, we end up at an outlandish hour, rain or not.  I carried her over the deck, put her down... and the most chilling howls came from Troy's pasture, and near his pond, which is about 300 feet behind his house.  I cannot see past my yard light, but I could sure hear them.  For once, Zoey got scared... and in the middle of the horrible chorus.... there was a single scream that ended.  Zoey ran for the door, and I always have her on a leash after dusk.... I ran with her.  I picked her up again and carried her down on the east side, and she did finally squat and then stood at attention, no tail wags, and stared down into the pasture.  The coyotes had moved away after the scream, to the east.  

This is my Teenie girl, who hangs out on the porch of the big hen house. 
I have not seen her since Friday afternoon, when I took these pictures. I am praying so hard the scream I heard was not from her. 
She has not been there all day today, and I have checked all my cameras.  There is another cat, Alien, who looks like her... I have seen him.  

I have seen Diamond Lil, the most elusive of all the ferals. 

Not Teenie.  

I had her spayed at Leavenworth Animal Welfare Society and I am just hoping she is all right. 

Wanda is still living in the big hen house.  Coco, the black cat, now sleeps in the old hen house, and I lock her up there every night.  I sleep so much better knowing that they are safe. 

Both can go in and out during the day. 

The Silkie rooster and hen are spending the day inside today, their outdoor pen was full of snow.  It has melted somewhat and I let the bigger birds out, but I am keeping them in until morning.  I have to carry them in and out twice a day.  

You all know that eggs have become very high at the grocery.  One reason is that avian flu has hit the US hard, with 50 million birds lost last year.  IF you have one bird test positive, from what I understand, the entire flock must be culled.  

It has come within two counties of me.  

I feel somewhat protected as I no longer have a little pond here.  There are three ponds east of me, and one across the road to the west.  I have seen geese land on the three to the east.  I understand ducks are more likely carriers of it, but I feel like the likelihood of a wild duck landing here is very slim. 

Here is the difference it has made in practical terms.  Chicks have gone sky high. 
People are buying chicks who have no idea of the smell, the noise, the constant care that must be given to keep them warm enough, fed, and watered and keep their cage or container clean to prevent disease.  The farm stores sell flimsy shelters for chickens that are designed really to hold only two full size chickens at adulthood... and cannot withstand an attack from predators. 

If you want to buy full size hens, good luck... it's a seller's market, and the prices have gone sky high. 
We have not had a flock at the National Agricultural Center for three years because of covid.  We would like to put one there again this year, and I have begun putting out feelers.  We want only six or eight birds, but to find adults, I am going to have to pay over 100.00 for them.  I may have to settle for some aged hens in order to get any, and the alternative is that I start chicks and all the work that entails.
So... we shall see. 

My oldsters this week... this coop used to have thirty birds in it, it now 
has six, plus the two silkies in their pen. 

(One hen was in the rafters) 

The rooster on the floor has lost enough toes that he can no longer roost. 

I still have seven younger girls and Doug, the Silkie rooster in the little hen house, 
and Singleton the white rooster and one older Ameracauna hen in the old hen house.  She laid four green eggs the week before Christmas and I have not seen another egg out of her! 

This was my egg take yesterday.  I used to get dozens a day. 

It is 2:19 and the sun has just come out!  So good to see it! 
We have been told we are going to get more snow on Wednesday. 
(It disappeared almost as soon as it appeared!) 

Zoey on Duty. 

This is how Molly and I spent most of the morning in the recliner, after chores. 
She has her head tucked under my sweatshirt. 

My favorite food truck was here this week! 
They are back, in Basehor, (five miles) on Saturday the 28th. 
It gives me something to look forward to.  

Things could be worse. 
At least this family had each other. 

I remember when my kids were little we lived in a drafty old house, and 
I would huddle on the furnace grate in the dining room and read in the evenings. 
There are a lot of people who romanticize how "life on the farm" was fifty, sixty and seventy years ago... too often it was like that picture above. 

Mama says take care of each other, and we will see you soon! 


Sunday, January 8, 2023

First Week Under Our Belts

The first week of 2023 is safely past.... and all is well.  

I noticed Friday that there are buds on the maple tree! 

I have had so many small and large branches come off this tree during the fall that I am going to have it assessed when the tree eaters come to take down the saplings in the pasture. 

It's been cold, but not so cold that Bullseye spent hours doing this.  He is outside almost all the time. 
I was under the weather this week, necessitating a trip to the doctor and meds, but am on the mend.  I just took it a little easier. Bully was glad to help me stay in one place. 

Zoey was glad to sleep late several mornings. 

And I found Alien, the feral who has been coming and going, in the garage one morning. 
I have a theory... I think he lives around here and just stops by to eat, because he is in good flesh, and he disappeared entirely during the terrible weather at Christmas. 

I thought it would be interesting to look back at the end of the year from years past. 

12/31/17 had a full moon, just like this week's.  

(ours this week came a few nights after). 

On 12/31/18, I still had Donald and at least two Duckingtons.  How I miss them!  I miss ducks! 

On 12/31/19, I saved this picture of two big raccoons on my porch. I am not longer leaving food out on the porch to put a stop to this.  The skunk's suffering last week led me to believe it is better for the wildings not to become dependent. 

On 12/31/2020, my beautiful Rusty was still coming here daily and nightly.  He has moved over the road to my friend's house, but has now disappeared from there.  What a beauty he was, but truly feral, even though he was  raised by me as a kitten. 

Last year on the 31st, I posted pictures of the wonderful train in the front yard of one of our National Agricultural Center volunteers... this was his labor of love.  Sadly, he was not able to display his train, the Seven Dwarf passengers, and the Grinch sneaking up on them this year.  I was privileged to see it. 

This is what the feeding area looked like on January 2, last year. 

And this year! 

Speaking of crows... 

These guys came down to eat sunflower seed yesterday, and I took their pictures through my front door.  The funny thing is, I can go out and take pictures of them, they actually don't fly unless I get within six feet.  They are such beautiful birds.

Mama and Cleo are beauties, too.  The shop is staying nice and toasty for them, since I put plastic across the door opening and put two small heaters in there.  

Teenie also sleeps in there, but spends hours outside daily. 

Granddaughter Paiton and her bestie got a late Christmas gift from me of a short day camp and ride at a local stable.  She was so glad to be back in the saddle again, even if it was a Western saddle.  They had a blast in the chilly temps that day. 

(I rode Western and English for many years... Paiton had two years of English lessons, not a slam) 

That's about the wildest thing I have seen in the shop this week.  I only have seen one raccoon in there, one time.  The water bowl has only been dirty once.  As the day gets warmer, I will have to change it daily. 

I hope we have many more beautiful sunsets this year. 

Happy New Year! 




Sunday, January 1, 2023

Looking Back at 2022

Happy New Year, Everyone! 

I checked to see last year's first post... not until January 25th, a month out from Christmas. 

This beautiful boy was still here: 

Rusty was the first feral who lived here.  I took him in with three of his siblings and raised them in the little red hen house until they were old enough to let loose.  Two disappeared early on... but Rusty and his sister Harley were here together for a year... then Harley disappeared. 

When Jack Flash came last year, Rusty moved on, across the road to my neighbor's house.  Now they have stopped seeing him.  Life is so very hard for feral cats. 

There was a second male here, Yeller, when Jack Flash came last year... he has disappeared, too. 

I only posted once during February... this picture of the stubby tailed raccoon that has now disappeared was part of that post. 

I also posted this picture of the eggs I got one day: 

Let me tell you, friends, those days are OVER.  

I have seven hens that will be two in about two months, I am getting TWO eggs a day. 
I still have one old brown leghorn... she is six... who lays about three huge white eggs a week. 
My days of giving away six or seven dozen a week are gone, I'm afraid. 

In March, I was sick for almost two weeks... with flu like symptoms.  I tested negative for Covid and then tested for flu and was negative, but the doctor agreed I had probably had it.  I managed to do chores and almost nothing else. I found out afterwards that it was a reaction to a new medication I had begun taking.  What a relief to know that. 

I was still planning to do quite a bit of gardening... and had grandson Jax load me up with planting soil. 

I started pepper and tomato seeds that I had gotten from Baker Creek.  I was very disappointed in the tomato seeds, the pictures in the catalog did not coincide with what I got. 
I did enjoy growing the peppers, Gorbaci, for ornamental value. 

This year I will not be starting any vegetables.  

In April, the two silkie roosters, Brutus and Doug, managed to kill the last two silkie hens that were running with them.  I had separated two out earlier to use for education at the Ag Hall. 


I still have Doug, on the far right, and Brutus is with Mary in a separate pen.  Martha, the other silkie hen, was killed by a predator in her pen in broad daylight. 

I am trying to rehome these guys... Doug is a beautiful rooster, but a pain to get in at night. 
I have to carry Brutus and Mary up and down the steps in and out of their pen daily, and 
I am no longer doing chicken presentations at the museum, so it's time to lighten the load. 

In May, this guy appeared. 

Jack Flash, aka The Jackal... caused all kinds of ruckus here. 

He hated Coco, the black porch cat.  He hated Cleo, the beautiful. 

He tried to breed Teenie, my sweet little girl who was neutered and is still here. 

He chased Rusty and Yeller off and tried to chase Bullseye off.  

He was the King of the Place. 

He caused me all kinds of problems.  I had to go way out in the yard to feed Cleo twice a day, and Coco had to eat on the back porch for three months or be killed. 

(I realized there is a Baltimore Oriole on the feeder behind him in the picture) 

In April, these guys came back. 

They were not here too long, this time, and left again a few months later to give the pasture time to recover.  They returned again, and then were taken out in late August when the pasture was pretty much depleted after drought. 

I am not sure if they will be back this year... they were very hard on the pasture, and I am having increasing trouble taking care of the big water tank because of course, I have exacting water expectations. 

In May, these appeared at the foot of the deck... I am praying they will all be back this year, too. 

I had quite the stand of Batchelor's Buttons. 

I did not post in June, I have no idea why.  I get busy... but that's no explanation. I used to post daily! 

In July, I posted a picture of our newest family arrival... 

Our newest little doll, Wyatt, with his big sister, Maci.  These are children of Granddaughter Madison, 
who live at Tanglewood Lakes in LaCygne, Kansas, far from me. 
I love seeing pictures of them, though we rarely meet in person. 

He is now a six month old... sitting up well and has blond hair and looks like his daddy Dorval's mini-me. 

Maci will be starting kindergarten as an almost-six-year old this fall.  It seems like she was just born, where does time go! 

In July, Jack Flash broke my heart.  I had had him neutered and got all his shots. 
I did not have them test for FIV.  
Within a week or so of the neuter... he fell sick. 
I watched him waste for a week and took him down to the vet for a booster which was scheduled. 
The King was dying. 
I held him and sung to him  as he was euthanized for FIV.  The neuter had thrown him into an episode.  I will never get another feral neutered without testing for this devastating disease. 

It took a while for the cats to relax and stop watching for his ambushes.  Coco came back to the front porch and deck, Cleo moved into the shop.  Everyone was safe again. 

The sad thing was, I had really learned to love him and the neutering was my way of making sure he could stay here with everyone.  We figured the testosterone would die down in a few months and things would settle. 

It was not to be. 

Jack fathered a litter of kittens with a cat who was little more than a kitten herself... Mama.  

There were four kittens in my shop for over two months. 

They were successfully trapped by Kitty Cat Connection and went on to barn homes of their own.  Mama was ear tipped and neutered and returned to me, and lives here happily in the shop. 

Jax and I were able to finally clean the shop up again.  (We need to do it again!) 

Doug, the Killer Cotton Ball, styling by the morning glories on my henyard fence in August. 

August 28th, the sheep were pulled as the pasture grass was worn out from the drought. 

They had stayed until early October the two years before. 

In September, I went to Garnett to see my other little great grand, 
Aurora Jane Rose. 

She will be two in May. 

September was also the month that this guy came here... Buddy, whom I also call Big Dog, or Moose.  He was found astray in our county and turned over to Animal Control, thank heavens, because he was starved and road-beaten.  He has stayed here, and has gained forty pounds.  He is the German Shepherd who does not bark!  
He was estimated at over ten years old, which is old for a GSD. 

In October, Wanda started living in the big hen house full time. 
I lock her up every night with the birds, and she does fine in there.  In fact, I was so grateful to know she was warm and dry during the cold spells. 

She has her meals in there, too, and there is a heated water bowl for her. 

She actually sleeps in a kennel at night in a deep bed of straw.  Since there are hardly any eggs being laid now, she has her run of the nest boxes.  She has also gone from wanting to kill me to being a regular purr machine and talking as soon as she sees me in the morning. 

In November, I started seeing these guys regularly...

Notice it is still daylight...

The feeder is no longer in the pasture, and I'll explain why in a minute. 

It was originally put there because I began seeing another cat. I believe now that that cat, whom I call Alien... has a home nearby, because he disappeared during our recent brutal cold snap, and reappeared after. 

I still have chicken carcasses from Sam's to dispose of... and they are going in the north fence line. 

I saw skunks come to the feeder, which I had not seen for years here.  I also saw possums and raccoons and frankly, I don't need to draw any more of them. 

There was still a bit of color in November, but we did not have a glowing fall because of the lack of moisture, I think. 

I had made a decision to have my cataracts removed, and those operations were (foolishly) scheduled for December 7 and 14.  Friends, I did not go into this with enough information. 
I listened to friends who had had it done and loved the results. 
The surgeon explained to me twice that I could have one eye "long" and the other eye "short" and I told him I could wear eyeglasses for close up.  

I did not realize that I would have to actually wear glasses in bed as I read at night (which I have always done) or to even look at my phone during the night if awakened. They hurt my nose... that is all I am going to say. (laying on them in bed).   I have readers all over the small house now so I can reach for them.  

I hate what I did to my eyes. They feel gritty all the time, and you cannot rub them.  I am using the eye drops, which will end in another week... and my eye doctor told me to use eye drops regularly... but I notice last night on the Visine bottle there are warnings against this. 

I see my own eye doctor again on Wednesday, I had a truncated appointment last week but found out that I can wear contacts that provide that "near" and "far" sensation.  The other alternative is to wear glasses full time and have one eye near and one eye far.  
I really screwed myself up.  

As far as "far" vision, I can see clear over to the hen houses and see what is going on on the porch of the big hen house. 

I urge anyone trying to make this decision to get all of the information before doing it.  

On the camera in the shop, I have been getting pictures of a few animals that are going in there at night. 

Oddly enough, there are not hordes of animals going in there.  This big raccoon is one, a large possum is one, 
and this skunk. 

There it is, caught on camera on the 17th. 

Friday morning, the 30th... I found it here... 

It is between the big and little hen houses, and there is a burrow right behind it. 
I believed, when I found it, that it could be diseased and I was immediately afraid of rabies or distemper.  I called the largest local wildlife rehabbers and got no help from them, not even a name to call.  I tried the sheriff's dept, and to be fair, a deputy did return the call... and then mumbled he would try to get the ACO to call me.  
I prevailed upon two friends, who did not want to shoot it. 

It suffered all day long, I checked on it many times.  
In the above picture, it was still able to raise its tail a little. 

As the day wore on, I realized it was not diseased, but was the same skunk as on camera in the shop. 

By late afternoon, it was barely alive, and I lacked the courage to take a shovel and put it out of its misery, I am such a coward.  I could hardly sleep that night.  
I sent some pictures to a friend who is an ACO in Texas and he said it did not look diseased. 
We think now... I think... that it was hit by a car on the road just out of sight behind it... and dragged itself up the bank to the closest burrow, which was under the little hen house. 

Four of those hens and Doug did not come out that day... and their house still smells of skunk, but I have the windows open. 

Thank God, yesterday morning I found it dead.  I picked it up and put it into a bag and carried it down to the woods and put it down there. 

I am going to get a burn barrel where I can burn anything suspect in it, but this skunk was clearly in good health ... and as confirmation, there have been no skunks on the shop camera in the last three nights. 

It broke my heart. 

I forgot to check if it was male or female, and skunks breed in May and June, so I was not worried about babies.  However....skunks also have very short lives in the wild, usually two to three years, like opossums.  

On the way down to the bottom of the pasture, I stopped to look at the possum that died four weeks ago in the dog house in my garage. 

Almost untouched.  Incredible. 

You can sure tell the vultures are gone for the winter, and the coyotes are spoiled. 

And so, another year has passed. 

I am the last of my nuclear family, though I have first cousins who gathered around our family table, but it is at the holidays that I miss them the most, when I think of those happy times of past years. One of my cousins sent me a card that read "I miss those happy days at 240" (our family address).  I do, too. 

We had a quiet Christmas this year with members of the family being affected by RSV and flu... and I am trying to stay away from anyone sickly.  

I enjoy being at home, I am one of those "weird" people... who is happy in my own patch.  I am going to spend this afternoon looking at seed catalogs... just because I am not starting anything does not mean I am not planting.  I had one big planter devoted to herbs the last two years, and that is being dug out and flowers going in.  I am going to sit myself down with the Burpee catalog this afternoon and dream of summer. 

I am looking forward to another year volunteering at the National Agicultural Center  and I am grateful to all of my friends there.... Wayne, Judy, Marsha and all of you who have helped me this past year.  

I cannot emphasize enough that volunteering is needed and so good for the soul! 

I did not hear many concerts this year... pandemic times stopped so many tours and my favorite groups did not come here.  There were a few I regretted not seeing. YES was back, but not close enough for me to get to.  Leaving this place is hard for me now. 

Jester, Zoey, Buddy, and all the kitties of Calamity Acres join me in wishing you the best of Happy New Years! 

Thank you for continuing to read this blog.