Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Two Splendid Books

With your kind indulgence, I am diverging from the normal topic of donks and clucks and am
offering up two book recommendations; one I happened to hear briefly mentioned on NPR and the other is penned by a cherished author.

The nonfiction first.

Two 30-somethings living in Cambridge set a goal to live in the woods of Vermont.  Frugality becomes their norm.  They saved enough to purchase their new Vermont house with cash, buy two used cars with cash, etc.  The philosophy behind their move to frugality rang true with me. 

"Our unifying activity as a culture is shopping and the one thing we all are is consumers.  Consumption has become our spiritual outlet, our means of building relationships, of identifying ourselves by the brands emblazoned on our clothes, cars, shoes, laptops and it has supplanted our interpersonal dependencies."

Ain't that the truth, and one I have been guilty of.

"It [frugality] guides my decision making by encouraging me to simplify, to be grateful, to never deny the abundance that surrounds me and to recognize that there is very little I need in order to live a meaningful, fulfilled existence."   

This feel so very right, I'm trying to adopt it as my own.

Book #2

If you'd like a wonderful fiction read, please dip into this author.  This is the latest in her Inspector Gamache series, sometimes also known as the Three Pines series.  

Friend Carla clued me into Louise a few years ago and I will be forever grateful.  The writing itself is just complex enough, the storyline always engaging and the characters those you would wish to meet.  If you choose to dive in, please start with her first book, "Still Life".  You'll want to get to know the group of characters as they evolve through the series.

I'll return to the chonkeys next post.  I promise.  

Monday, December 3, 2018

Blink the Weather Away

We live in Michigan, southeast corner, about an hour north of Detroit.  Sometimes we all joke about the weather.  Blink and it changes.  Yup, it's the truth.

In the span of roughly 10 days, we've gone from mud, to snow and frozen donkey hoof divots, back to mud, and then to snow.  As I write this we're losing our little warm spell and I'm sure I'll be faced with frozen divots tomorrow morning.  Definitely, not my favorite.  Treacherous to walk on.

Yesterday during the (yet again) mud phase

We're all just tolerating it

Monday, November 26, 2018

Chicken Integration a Success

When you have a two-bedroom chicken coop condo, integration of new hens with old hens is sooo much simpler.  And that's a fact.

Rick changed out the door between the bedrooms, we added a feeder and waterer to the second side.  Oh yea, and he added a shelf for night-time snoozing.  Our girls have never used the roosting bars he installed long ago; they prefer a shelf.

We kept the new four separated for one week to the day.  Then yesterday we flung open the dividing door and observed.

Sweet Pea was the first to cross the line into enemy territory and let those newbies know exactly what she thought of them.  She puffed up those feathers are big as could be and postured an attack.  We waited for open warfare to begin, but...  There was a lot of talking and slowly the old six wandered into the other bedroom.  Finally I said we just have to let them duke it out.

I remember gnashing my teeth as I watched Natural (my horse pictured above on the right) rearing and fighting with a former buddy over a mare.  You just gotta let them duke it out. 

When I returned to tuck everyone in about three hours later, there was relative calm.

Before the door is opened

A  little peeking

Now, the real challenge will be when we let the newbies out into the donkey yard and attempt to round them back up.  It's a simple matter with the old six.  Shake the treat can and tell them it's treat time or banana time and they come scurrying.  I think I need to start teaching the newbies what the shake of the meal worm bag means and life may be simpler.

The new girls:  Emmy Lou 2, Peggy Sue 2, Etta James, Joannie B for Joan Baez). 


Sunday, November 18, 2018

Catching Up: Sugar, Pumpkins, and New Hens

I have been quite remiss in not reporting back on Sugar's progress.  When last we chatted I wasn't sure she was out of the woods with her (impaction?) episode.  It took a full week before we were certain she was back to normal.  Feisty temperament returned along with a hearty appetite.  Exactly two days later, Luigi was hopping on three legs.  Literally.  Are you kidding me?!  Thankfully I had a partial tube of banamine left from doctoring Sugar, so gave him a small dose and waited till the next morning.  Fine and dandy. 

Everyone feeling A-OK

In September I read that raw pumpkin seeds are a natural dewormer for chickens.  Of course by the time Halloween season arrived I had totally forgotten.  The lightbulb went off on Halloween day.  By the next day, not a pumpkin was for sale.  The roadside stands were shuttered and the local grocery stores had none.  BUT, they did have pie pumpkins.  Smaller, sweet, but the key word is seeded.  The chickens got half and the donkeys got half.  This is what remained from the chickens.

Four donkeys, on the other hand, turned away with disinterest.  So I tried the cows next door.  Same response.

By the second half-pumpkin offering, the chickens had lost their enthusiasm.  I now have a small pumpkin sitting forlornly in the garage.  

And now for the bigger news.

Four new hens have made their way to our teeny tiny farm.  A somewhat local "real" farm is being sold and they put out a call to re-home 100 clucks.  It appeared they had many interested parties so I said to Rick, I'm not going to take any as I want to get chicks in the spring.  Last Wednesday I received a call asking if I was still interested in any chickens.  Thirty-five had not found new homes.  Drat!  I want chicks, but not at the thought that these girls might become stew.  So I said, let me be at the end of the list, if you run into a problem.  Well, I now have four of those remaining girls.  We picked them up today and they are partitioned off from our six.  We'll give them a few days to acclimate and then integrate the crew.  Pictures to follow.

Oh yea.  Turns out my Nikon did something strange while we were in Utah, but my photos are intact.  If I didn't have to go make dinner right now, I'd sift through the lot and show you the cream of the crop.  That will have to wait.   

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Donkey Tummies Are No Laughing Matter

Sugar has had a rough couple of days, as have I.

Wednesday afternoon I saw some trembling.  Not a good sign when it's above 40 degrees.  Four little donkeys are growing their winter coats and that was not a temp which should bother them.  Then she went off her food.

Thursday morning -- a call to the vet.   Dr. DeWitt was out within an hour.  High heart rate, little sound of gut rumbles, bloating.  Not a good sign.  Could be severe gas, or an impaction.

I learned a lot this visit, but I won't go into all the details. (capillary reaction, gut motility, etc)  Sug got an injection of pain reliever, then the old tube-up-the-nose with a water/electrolyte solution going down.  See how she does.

Thursday afternoon she exhibited normal behavior and demeanor.  Then Thursday evening the tremors returned but she was nibbling at her food.

Friday morning -- call #2 to the vet.  Same routine, although the promising signs were a lower heart rate, some gut rumbles, and bloating had decreased.  She was hydrated again but was frisky enough to fight the tube.  Another good sign.  Dr. Sheldon recommended a little serving of soaked hay cubes with lite salt (potassium chloride) every hour and a dose of banamine (the pain reliever) in the evening. She also had to be segregated from the herd so we could see elimination patterns.  Sugar hated being cooped up, but felt better when her sister, Spice, kept her company on the other side of  the jail bars.

This morning (Saturday) I put in a call to the on-call vet.  We're not out of the woods yet, but her behavior shows improvement.

Gut problems in equines can be fatal, so it's nothing to ignore.

One note of humor in this whole thing.  I have a nickname for Sugar which I think I've mentioned.  "Sugar Booger".  Well, vet #2 thought this was her actual name and that's what appeared on my receipt.
I had to laugh, and then correct the vet's office records.

       Sugar (on the left) starts to feel a bit better

With you all rooting for her I know she'll keep improving.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Make It Five Dingbats

I almost started this little story by saying I have four dingbat donkeys.  But, alas, it is probably me who is the dingbat.  Sad, isn't it.

Here's the backstory.

About the beginning of October, I decided it was time to keep the donks off the pasture until snow falls.  This is an annual routine that helps the pasture thrive in the spring.  While the pasture is off-limits they get extra hay, and, walkabouts in the acre or so fenced around our house.  They eat grass, wander through the woods, investigate our bocce court and recently, ATE MY MUMS.

Here's why I was foolish.  They hadn't touched the marigolds or roses, or clematis, (alright, they did eat the dianthus)  so I didn't give much thought to the three mums when I opened the gate and said, "Run free you hellions".

A  (former) white mum with the bedraggled marigolds

This is what I came back to:

One of these was the white one you saw above, plus two newbies.
Eaten down, not quite to the nub.  

I debated whether to purchase substitutes and because I love seeing the color, found a reasonably priced roadside stand and bought these.

I carefully removed them from donkey lip height before letting the dingbats loose a few days ago.

Can't fool me twice!

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Post Vacation Greetings

A couple of weeks ago, Rick and I returned from a Utah tour of National Parks.  It was decidedly hot for hiking, but the views were spectacular.  We toured Arches, Capitol Reef, Bryce and Zion.  Pictures will have to wait; I had a hiccup with the "real" camera.  Hopefully, I can retrieve them. 

But I'm not going to sweat it.

Upon our return I asked the donks and the hens, "Did you miss me?", expecting some demonstration of affection.  Not so much.  Although the clucks may have been a little more attentive than usual.  The donkeys on the other hand... 

Is Luigi saying hi or giving me the rasberries.

On a side note, I think all chickens should have donkey poop to play around in.  They think it's kind of wonderful.