Tuesday, April 16, 2024

More than a Month

More than a month has gone by since I was able to post.  It is the busiest time of year, here, and the work never seems to stop.  I have injured my leg, and am limping pretty much all the time... I see the doctor on the 23rd about it.  

We also were dealing with spotty broadband service for six weeks, until we lost it entirely for a weekend and I put my foot down and called the company.  They had a tech out here a day later who did a site survey, and lo and behold, when I called again in the morning... a service call materialized suddenly (they are usually days out) and someone came and worked on the apparatus and moved it to the peak of the roof and it is pointed in a new direction.  In fact, I noticed this morning it is a completely different kind of receiver.   Before the tech left, we reported (my son and I) that we could not get internet, and he climbed back up and replaced the radio in it, which we suspect was the problem all along.

I'm going to give a review of the new hen house.  I had it wired by a local electrician and I am so glad I had plugs put on three walls.  It is hot, hot, hot, and in fact, miserably so.  I went in there Sunday to find my poor birds had literally drank two gallons of water and were suffering.  There are two fans in there, the windows are open, and the pophole is able to be opened with a screen stapled across the INSIDE so no one can get out into the covered pen.  You see, because it is on skids, it does not meet the ground.  A friend donated wood to be attached to the bottom, but that has never happened, so yesterday, I pulled two expens I had bought from a friend down the road (dog exercise pens, like I made Chico's pen with) and put them around the enclosed pen, and I could tell nothing can get under them.  Problem solved.  I am stapling them TO the building today. 

I know now... at least I suspect... why this building was returned from its rental... it's almost unliveable.  

Right now, the oldest chicks... the Indio Gigantes and the Putih Ayam Cemanis and Columbian Wyandottes are in there, in two separate pens (again, using ex pens).  The bigs cannot be with the littles, the first thing they did was attack them.  All of the chicks are out of the tubs now, and there are two batches in the brooder pens in the big hen house and the old hen house.  

Indio Gigante chicks look like little velociraptors, and their big feet make a lot of noise! 

You can see how the building is divided.  The big chicks get the roost.  Remember, these birds will not live in here forever. 

They stampeded into the corner because I was doing water.  This is called "piling" and is not a good thing.  Where you see the ex pen, the light hangs over... it is visible in the picture before this... so both groups can enjoy the heat from that far lamp.  There is another lamp that I will use the next few nights, as we have gone from three days in the eighties to more seasonable temps and will go to the forties at night. 

The only chick I lost... a Bielefelder pullet.  I bought three from a young woman about twenty miles from here two week ago, and found this one dead on Sunday.  They are beautiful little chicks. The other two that came with her had pasty butt... I suspect that is what got her.  I got them all out of the last trough that day, checked them all, and am continuing to check them.  I had only bought three, and frankly, they are the only chicks I have had a problem with the whole time. 

I do a chick check about four times a day.  Tomorrow, I am cleaning buildings at the Ag Hall, and will come home at noon to make sure everyone is okay. 

The chicks in the new hen house will be dispersed to the old hen house, which has only three old hens in it.... but that building is due for a cleaning (Thursday) and re-bedding, and then my farm helper and I are going to build a new outdoor pen for them, where the original chicken pen used to sit.  Once they are trained to that house, they will be allowed to free range.  This pen will be temporary only, made with cattle panels and tee poles and zip ties.  

They have to be big enough that this cannot get them. 

Can you see it there on the left of the stone? 

Three feet long, if an inch. 

They can swallow chicks as big as the Indios above.

Lavender Orpingtons and Cuckoo Marans.  

I need to clean their brooder today.  I have to catch them one by one, but them in a cat carrier, and then clean the pen thoroughly.  Chicks are VERY messy.  The Marans lay a very, very dark brown egg. 

Oh yes, Little Mr. Floofy Ears is still here.  After his great escape, he is no longer allowed loose in the yard.  He is on a leash (30 feet) with me walking in the yard, or in his 20 x 30 foot yard.  Not ever taking a chance of his getting loose again.  We went to the vet yesterday and he has lost a pound and two ounces, which is a little worrisome... he does not have a good appetite generally.  He only has about four teeth left. 

So, Sunday I got up to find this in the old hen house: 

That is a dead hen at the foot of the brooder pen. 

She had been trying to die for a week, but was not suffering.  I have had a group of generic red hybrids that were way past laying age, and are pensioners.  Some days I get two eggs, some days, six.  (miracle).  

She had not laid in several years.  I had had one put down at the vet two weeks ago, they charge 84.00.  
I decided to just let her go gently.  I noticed she had quit going outside. 

I am showing this for a reason. 

The same day, I found this beautiful girl I bought from a friend dead in the big hen house. 
She is a Mille Fleur D'Uccle, I bought two hens and a rooster from my friend Diane. 

I believe she hurt herself a week ago fluttering out of my arms into her pen... she landed badly and was stunned... and then I noticed she was moving hesitantly.  I was not surprised to find her. 

I took the pair down to the pasture where my favorite birds, the vultures, could find them. 

They were in the middle, where the grass was kind of short. 

Yesterday, I was out in the yard working. 
I have decided not to garden this year... that is the next post... 
but I was cleaning up a planter. 

I noticed a bird go overhead and I thought oh good, the vultures will get those birds. 

Folks, the bird landed. 

Oh, yes, friends, it's a bald eagle. 

Never did we see them here until a few years ago, at least far from the river. 

So, of course, I ran into the house to get the long lens. 

And when I got back out, I noticed a bird overhead... it was the mate! 

It was so cloudy, so they are a little hard to see. 

They sat there for a good ten minutes.  The chickens became aware of them and a scream was made and they ran as fast as they could for beneath the big hen house.  All except Doug, the white Silkie rooster, who froze completely. 

I was ready to put my camera down and get him, don't worry, he is one of my favorites. 

One red hen had not run, and I think Doug was standing his ground.  He would have been mincemeat. 

Look at the beaks on those beautiful birds! 

Anyway, forewarned is forewarned.  We are keeping an eye out for them now, and especially being careful about Chico... another reason he cannot be on his own.  Someone is out there with him when he is in the pen, at least sitting on the porch and watching him. 

It hasn't been all work... last week, I went to see my great granddaughter Maci in her first school program.  

Little brother Wyatt was there, too. 

These two live 75 miles from me and I don't get to see them very often, in fact, Black Friday was the last time I had seen them.  I was so glad to spend a little time with them. 

I am pretty tied down to the place until the chicks are a little older. 

In my head, I have them divided up among the three hen houses already, and yes, there IS a chance that some will stay in the new building, but instead, I see that as a bantam building for the Mille Fleurs. 
I'm not breeding, just keeping them for fun. 

They have to get big enough that the snakes can't get them, first. 

Now that we are connected with the world again, I'll be able to post more often.  You don't realize how much we depend on the internet until we don't have it, in this day and age. 

As always, thanks for reading! 


Sunday, March 10, 2024

Update on the Birds

Well well.  I went out just now to get pictures of the chicks, and guess what?  Dead batteries!

Bad me!

We are at 64 and sunny today, and there is more news to talk about. 

On Wednesday, this was delivered: 

Yes, friends, it's a new chicken coop! 
 It's pre-fab, made at D and M Mini Barns in Garnett, Kansas. 
It was used, and I stopped at their lot when I took grandson Chris to the doctor two weeks ago, and took a look.  I signed to buy a 6 x 8 building, also used, but went back the next day when I took Chris home, and got the bigger building. 

It is waiting for electricity to be brought to it from the barn.  I hope to have it in this week, and then the chicks will move into it and grow out. 

It has a coop space attached to the front, but there is a problem there, and I have time to fix it. 

Because it is on skids, the front enclosed part does not reach the ground, and we know what a problem that would be with possums and raccoons and skunks.  So.... I will be closing that off with hardware cloth this week, and probably put some landscape timbers around the three sides.  The reason we had to place it there is that the original place I wanted to put it... over by the big henhouse and the little hen house.... the cost of trenching electric from the barn to this house was estimated at 5,000.00. My budget did not allow for that.
The electrician looked at several places, and we decided on this.... he will run a pipe from the box in the barn just behind this coop, and put an overhead light with two receptacles with two plugs each.  I will be able to have light, and to run a warming light in winter, a fan in summer, and a heated water, if I need to.  I hope to have the Buff Orpingtons in the big henhouse when they are old enough. 

I will get better pictures of it this week. 

This little guy about tore our hearts out on Monday.  I was outside cleaning the inside of the car out, on a beautiful day.  Chico was with me...until he was not.  He literally disappeared.  I stopped what I was doing and began calling, because he absolutely loves this yard and would run all over it. 
The problem is, he only weighs eight pounds and three times, squeezed through and went into the pasture. 
Well... he did not come back.  My son got the binoculars and walked up the road towards the highway, looking into our neighbor's pasture.  I went up into the wild 26 acres across from my place... there is a comm tower there but the access drive has deteriorated and I had to stop the car and walk in.  I called and called and called, thought I heard barking once... called some more. 
I posted him in Basehor Lost and Found and Tonganoxie Lost and Found, called my friend in rescue, she called KC Dog Trappers.  My neighbors were all out checking their buildings and pastures, and I checked and then checked again the cistern in my pasture. 

After four hours, the dog trapper got here after work and set up cameras and bait, and my friend the Bonner Springs Animal Control Officer came as soon as she got off work to help. 
We all feared he had been picked up by a hawk or eagle. 

About three, Kendra looked at her phone and said someone had reported him crossing the four lane highway that is two tenths of a mile from the house.  

My heart was breaking.  When the trapper left, at almost dark, Kendra and I decided to go up to the wild area one more time.  We called and called, and Kendra, who was in front of me, turned around to say something and then said "Turn slowly"  There was Chico coming towards me.  He got scared of Kendra and turned and ran again... but I called him and he stopped and then slowly came to me.  Remember, I have only had him since mid-January. 

Here is the stupid thing.  I had vetted him, as far as bloodwork, heartworm, removed 14 teeth, etc. but had not chipped or neutered him yet because let's face it, I am not made of money.  He had no colllar on because it was a little too large for him and I had taken it off Sunday because we were always outside with him. 

We reported him found, and at dark, we went to the Bonner Springs animal shelter where Kendra went in and got the microchip kit which belongs to Bonner Animal Rescue, from whom I have adopted two dogs in the past.  He was chipped in my kitchen. 

Tomorrow morning, at nine plus years old, he is going to Northland Animal Welfare Services to be neutered.  We don't know that he smelled a female in heat, but, we are not ever taking a chance again. 

He now, as of Tuesday, has a 20 x 30 foot yard to be at large in, and he does not like being confined, let me tell you.  The Dog Trappers gifted me a thirty foot lead, so I am taking him for walks in the pasture so he has an illusion of adventure, but he will not be able to run again.  Yesterday afternoon, he tried to go through the front fenceline (across from the wild area) with the lead on, and I gently pulled him back.  

A few months ago, I  noticed that I was no longer able to "go to my phone" on Blogger, as I had in the past, and pick photos to be uploaded from Google.  Now, there is a long way it must be done, and it is very time consuming.  What it has meant is that I struggle to get the pictures I am posting and it takes twice as long.  The photo utility I used for years, a Sony product, has stopped being available, so that takes longer as well.  On top of all this, the computer squad I used to teach me here at home once a year or so has now closed, so... there's that.  I'm still trying to learn new tricks and will figure it out. 

I planted these daffodils when we moved in in 2005.  I can't believe a few are still coming up. 

These are blooming down by "Oscar's Tree" in the north end of the yard, someone long before I planted them.  

This is the male Harris Sparrow, outside my window (and someone correct me if I am wrong).  I have not seen any here before. 

You can just barely see the exercise pens we made Chico's Yard with... it is attached to the fence that separates the north and south ends of the yard.  We drove four tee posts into the ground to strengthen it, they are attached with zip ties.  He does not like being confined but I am going to say something mean... that's tough.  I can't go through that worry again. 

There is a better look at the henhouse on the trailer as he came in. 

The eleven chicks are now together in a brooder pen in the old henhouse, still under heat as we are having cool nights.  We did get to 65 today, and the rest of the week should be in the 70's. 

On Tuesday, I am going back out to Rare Treasures Hatchery in Oskaloosa (Kansas) and getting some chicks that have been hatched on Thursday... they are Putih Ayam Cemani, the white sport of the all black Ayam Cemani.  I am getting close to the maximum number of birds I want to keep, so this will be close to the end of my purchases. 

The electrician is hoping to be here by the end of the week to run the electricity to the new pen, and as soon as he does, I'll move the older eleven chicks over there and let them grow out inside it.   I have a trough set up in the old hen house for the new chicks coming on Tuesday. 

I took a picture of the brooder, but of course, the computer is not letting me share it with you, sometimes my camera pictures save as .heic... this is something new... and doesn't want to convert to jpgs without me paying for the service. 

I did take a couple with Nikon but I'll be darned if I can find them now.  


I'll post pictures (I hope) of the new chicks in a few days, and please say a prayer for Chico's surgeon tomorrow. 


Sunday, February 18, 2024

And It's Thirty Days to Spring!

Where do the days go?  I pledge to post more often, but it just does not happen. 

By evening, I am done.  I admit it.  

Changes here in the last month: 

Here's the big one!  After ten months without a dog, I adopted a nine year old chihuahua, whose parents had to go into nursing care.  He's a pistol, believe me! 

He is an eight pound wonder!  He spends quality time on my lap, and after two weeks, learned he could jump from the loveseat in my room onto my bed, and now is sleeping with me every night.  He does NOT like for the poor cats to cuddle closely, and does not like for them to be in my lap when he is there. 

He only has six teeth left. 

We are having a hard day today, as his stomach is upset.  

His name is Chico. 

Our big game day treat.  Last week, you know, was the Super Bowl.  I grew up in Kansas City, Kansas, and now live in Leavenworth County (Kansas).  Yes, it's a big deal here and so much fun to see all the hoopla before the game. 
Sadly, it ended badly on Wednesday with a terrible shooting. 

It's time to get the guns off the streets


This is Sammie, my Salmon Faverolle hen. 
She has gone broody.  She should be hatching by Wednesday, unless I am off a few days.  She is safely in a brooder pen and there she will stay for a few weeks with her babies.  Then she will rejoin the flock and the babies will be under light for a few weeks.  I am in the process of getting the little red hen house doors fixed so that all the chicks coming can grow out in its confines and be safe.  (from predators).   Sammie had six eggs under her originally, but the last time I checked (as she squawked in indignation) she had two.  I think the other four were gathered up into her wings.  

I have a sick bird in the other brooder pen, but I checked on her a bit ago and she seems better, she may go back with her group tomorrow.  Then I'll set that pen up, too, to brood new chicks. 

On Thursday, a good friend took me out to Oskaloosa, about 25 miles from here. 
I had run into a man at the feed store the day before, and he had a very unusual chicken with him, on a leash, on his shoulder! 

I don't have permission to use his picture... but the following day, I went out to his farm and saw all of his unusual chickens.  I had already decided to let Sammie brood, and to buy ten replacement layers at the feed store.  Now I have ordered four of these above... Indio Gigante!  Those are birds in his pen, and believe me, they get TALL and long legged!  I wanted to see if I had pens secure enough to enclose them until they integrated with the flock... and I do.  That rooster (above left) is not as tall as they can be, but I just like the look of them, and they lay abundant eggs, too.  I am not a breeder, I'll leave that to someone else... but I do like unusual chickens.  He has another breed in which I am interested, but I will wait and see a few months before trying that one. 

A friend drinking out of the warm water bowl on the porch the other night. 

That's a big possum. 

I suspect the possum was at the back of the shop, because both Mama and Cleo were watching it. 

This week, on Valentines Day, parade day, it was 67 degrees. 

The following morning it was COLD. 
On Friday, we had snow.  It snowed all morning, and it was frigid out, 
but the snow stopped by noon and is almost gone now. 

I took this picture through the window of a Harris Sparrow, eating on the deck rail. 

And a crow, eating on the farthest feeder: 

There were lots of finches eating... I am pretty lavish with the mealworms and sunflower hearts. 

I am so grateful the snow was not long-lasting! 






Yes, the cats still live here, too! 

Here we come for one of many, many walks outside!  
He loves living in the country! 

Welcome, Little Chico. 


Monday, January 15, 2024

Everyone Lived

Everyone Lived. 

Those of you out in the country know those words mean a lot. 

We were down to eight below the last two nights here in NE Kansas, and it is only minus 2 right now, as I start this blog post at 10:15 AM. 

It is miserable.  My poor cats in the shop are miserable, two were under the hanging brooder lamp this morning, and the Lasko heater from last year is barely making a difference.  I bought a new Lasko heater a month ago, hooked it up one night and 24 hours later, it blew the circuit and I am afraid to use it.  I need to have an electrician come, but it was just before Christmas and.... money. 

I did buy a new heated dog water bowl when I went out and discovered the dog bowl from last year had frozen in the old hen house.   The cats are using a low basin that I used to use outside for the wildings.... and yes, friends, there IS still one outside for them and I just watched scores of birds using it, so I'll have to refill it shortly. 


So there have been HUNDREDS of memes over our snowy weekend here, and I am the first to tell you that the four inches we got was nothing compared to what they have gotten in many other places.... but.... the cold... brrrrrr.  

In the middle of all that, I had two lovely little fosters, Bella and Franny. 

Franny, the blonde on the left, and Bella, the darker girl on the right, had lost their mama, sadly.  They were lovely little girls, but Bella far more infirm than Franny.  Franny did NOT like the cats.  The cats were terrified of two pound Franny. 

They have gone on to a wonderful rescue in this area.  I may get Bella back as a hospice rescue, we will see. 

Of course, they were here on the coldest days of the year. 

The shop camera caught me looking down one day... and I can tell it is not from the weekend, because I am wearing a white covid mask that covers my entire lower face and keeps me warm!  I don't care how I look as long as I am warm!  Warmth is the name of the game. 

This girl is gravid, and I hope she does not have her babies in this weather, they will surely die. 
She was not alone.  

I have only seen one raccoon all weekend, and there was food left out on purpose the last three nights, and it is still there.  There is also a pile of food in the garage that has not been eaten.  Possums and Raccoons tend to den up in the bitter cold. 

There is a heated dog bowl on the front porch, a heated bowl in the shop, and a heated bowl in the yard.... oh, and one under the porch of the big hen house, and I am putting food out there, too. 

I need to put my boots on shortly and go out and replenish water and feed again in a few minutes. 

Just prior to the really cold snap, I caught a picture two nights in a row of a possum in Bob's heated house on the porch.  Bob is in the house, and he and Bullseye are not happy, but they are NOT going to stay out in this cold. 

We have been doing a lot of this (Bob). 

A blue jay. 

Not one, but two Cooper's Hawks, way at the bottom of my pasture, looking down on the Spehar's ponds. 

That was a water bowl I brought in from the barn yesterday.... Coco is modeling.  The cats out there have a heated basin now, and they are doing ... okay... in the cold. 

I'm seeing a LOT of these guys (crows). 

And hundreds and hundreds of these flying overhead.  The bean fields are all under snow,  I am not sure where they are eating. 
I love them and I worry about them. 

Right now, I estimate there are two to three hundred little birds out in my yard, eating, and I need to go replenish here shortly. 

The Coopers are beautiful. 

This was the ONE day it was not blowing or snowing last week, and I let the birds out .  They have been in ever since.  Buddy, the last big rooster, is suffering in this cold, his comb looks like it will fall off.  I hung a second brooder lamp in his house yesterday and I found him directly under it this morning, it is closer to the ground than the first.  I was so glad to see him under it. 

That is before the heavier snow... yes, it's beautiful, 
but so hard on animal and human and bird. 

Say a prayer that THIS human does not slip and fall and break anything, because it will mean the end of my dream here! 

Everyone be careful and be safe.