Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Pumpkins, Suet, and Donkey Poop

 Today's teeny tiny farm vignettes seem to focus more on the clucks.  I know, I know, I've heard it already from the donks.  They need more column space.  I'll work on it --  next week.

I''ve told you how I like the caretaking philosophy of Fresh Eggs Daily.  I read her posts often and had a "duh!" moment in one of her more recent stories.  She talked about dumping chicken feed, supplements and nutritious add-ons in a garbage can.  Now why hadn't I thought of that!  Instead of lugging the small chicken feed can to the horse trailer where feed is stored, why not use on of the garbage cans in the hay aisle which hold over 50 pounds.  So I mixed my three chicken feeds and the one supplement I'm using at the moment into the can.

  Sweet Pea inspected the final mix for quality control.

It is 1000 times more convenient to refill the small can from inside the barn.

I took these photos before our snowfall Thanksgiving weekend.  Using pumpkin halves after the chickens have enjoyed the seeds and pulp to hold seed and Grubbly treats.


This one was included simply to reveal the gorgeous coloring of JoannieLu's black feathers

And of course there's the inevitable photobomb

I haven't yet made the coconut oil suetblocks -- have to get to the local feed store for the bulk shelled peanuts -- but I put a commercial suet cake in my new nifty holder.  I only saw two of the hens taking any interest, but suddenly the holder was empty, with the latch open.  Now what one minute, how did the clucks do that.  The reason I got the cute version is it appeared more durable and the catch was stronger.

For my next photo, be forewarned, if you're squeamish about donkey poop, avert your eyes.

Only in the winter do the girls use the salt bowl as a toilet

We've had the talk over and over and yet I still arrive in the morning to this sight.  I wish one of you, dear readers, would come over and try your luck at a donkey lecture.

And here's a donkey in heaven.  All alone enjoying dinner hay without two bullies trying to shove her out.  I can just hear Gabby sighing in contentment.  (the other two were still lapping up their small bit of Equine Senior)

Finally a little birthday scene.  I had one of those pesky birthdays last week and Rick got me a grow light for the plants wintering in the sun room.  And voila, it was set up today.  Perhaps the plants were sighing in contentment as well.

With the remote in hand, I announced "lights on!" and "lights off!" about five hours later.  It's the small pleasures.

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Breakfast Delights for Everyone

Sometimes I am smitten by the views on our teeny tiny farm.  Perhaps the beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but yes, at times I am smitten.  With the simplest of views.

Morning Rise and Shine

Mornings mean tending to the donks immediately, if not sooner.  They can be relentless in their demands for breakfast.

Spice takes a moment mid-meal to make sure my phone is not a treat in disguise.  Its always best to double check.  Sorry Spicie.

And then its time to tend to little chickie chicks who can get pretty darn vocal when they think  breakfast is being delayed.

Although treats don't come until afternoon for the flock, I have to show you the hot mess I recently made.  They swooned over the combo of banana and scrambled egg with spinach.  

 My next project is making suet cakes for the girls using coconut oil instead of grease.  My plan is to include peanuts, oats, and raisins.  

There have been three escapes recently during afternoon free range time for the clucks.  Free range means not leaving the donkey yard and pasture.  Clearly I need to send out yet another memo to the hens.  The three new girls have delighted in roaming beyond the defined boundaries.  Thankfully they continue to arrive back at the gate when I return two hours later.  Like clockwork.  The first time it happened I was perplexed at to how they escaped, but the second two episodes were clearly my fault.  On the second occasion I stumbled through thorny thickets to shoo them back in and finally decided the cuts being sustained were not worth it.

Today it happened again.  Yet again my fault, I neglected to put the barrier across the gate.  When I discovered my error and went to the gate to rectify the situation, Etta was standing there contemplating the escape she could have easily made but chose not to.  The three little girls apparently are the hooligans of the bunch.

* * * * * Say Yes * * * * *

It's the perfect time of year to incorporate this yummy Sweet Potato Smoothie into your day.  A little bit of turmeric gives it a little kick, but also provides a bit of anti-inflammatory goodness.  It really is like having a bit of pumpkin pie in a glass.


Monday, November 8, 2021

Fall Molt, Shavings, and *&!* Neighbors

 Happenings this week --

Without revealing an indiscreet amount of detail (much as I'd enjoy doing) I can say I had a quite unpleasant one-sided interaction with The Neighbor.  If you've been with me for a while, you know who I mean.  We disagree on adequate animal care in so many ways. 

On this particular afternoon I was throwing a handful of sliced carrots to two of her cows and a couple of goats.  In the midst of this quiet activity, a screaming voice is heard telling me to quit feeding the animals!!  The reason given (still screaming) isn't relevant to this story, but goes along with our divergent ideas on animal care. I admit I haven't been spoken to like this in... maybe never.

So the next day I had to say no to these adorable faces.  And told them the *itch wouldn't le me give them treats.  I can't tell you how hard it is for me to not run counter to good judgement and throw carrots.

Weather-wise, it was a beeuutiful day today.  So whether the girls have completed the fall molt or not, it was a good day to clean out the coop.  Feathers of assorted color have littered the floor for a couple of weeks now.  To counter the stress of the molt I've been upping their protein snacks (mealworms Grubblies, sunflower seeds, etc.) and have , for the first time, introduced chick feed into the mix for the duration of the winter.  I now mix regular organic feed, organic starter feed and a third feed that has more whole grains. 

The girls always enter a freshly cleaned coop slowly and carefully, taking in the new blanket of shavings on the floor. 

On the subject of coop floor materials, I've read shavings are not always advisable because of the dust factor.  I don't care for straw and some of the other options are beyond my budget.  For you chicken keepers out there, what do you use?

It's also that time of year that earns me a bad rap with the donks.

The pasture is now closed for the season until the end of next May.  Today while I was cleaning the coop, I opened the gate and they were allowed the run of "the compound" - the fenced area surrounding the house.  Little buggers were back in an hour asking for lunch.  In years past they would wander at ease for at least a couple of hours.  Don't know what was up today.    

Monday, November 1, 2021

Scenes From a Teeny Tiny Farm

 Continued rain has caused the donkey yard to become a sloppy, muddy mess.  Donkeys, chickens and people are all slogging and slipping through the stuff.  Sometimes I feel like I'm living in these boots!

The good news is there's no rain on the horizon for the rest of the week so cross your fingers it dries up.

The rain did its job of filling any and all receptacles.  Including the metal chicken waterer that is waiting for cold weather, warranting the heater (hence the need for metal).  Our original metal waterer finally bit the dust earlier this year and this new one is harder than heck to slide apart.  I got tired of struggling and turned to the plastic one (yuck) for the time being.  Anyway, it's been sitting outside the gate and when the new little girls snuck out they stopped for a drink.

They've lined up nicely in order of color.
From left to right:  Violet, Jewel, Henrietta.

Soggy Spice with her Flying Nun ears

Sometimes you just catch that perfect photo -- Sugar Booger

And sometimes it's time to pause during chores for a moment to look around, or up, and take note of the wonder

Monday, October 18, 2021

Chicken Antics

 It seems Peggy Sue needs a spa day and I hadn't realized it until recently.  How could I have missed the signs?

I took this photo to show you the girls digging in to spinach and pumpkin and to my horror instead got an eyeful of dirty butt.  Coincidentally we just had a spa day for one of the black birds.  I think I've mentioned the embarrassment of not being able to tell them apart.  There's Joannie (Baez), Lulu and Etta James.  I used to be able to differentiate Etta by her smaller size and browner feathers.  But now I can't tell anyone apart!  Anyway JoannieLu (as I've come to call each of them) had quite the dirty buttee so Rick and I performed gymnastics trying to corral her to plop her in a pan of epsom salt water.  She was not enthusiastic.  But she does have a cleaner derriere.  Now it's Peggy's turn.  I'm waiting for the warmest day of the week and I think Pegs will be easier to catch.

The girls always enjoy their Sunday treat of tearing apart a flake of straw to get the chaff.
I've told you Violet a-d-o-r-e-s me and there she is, stuck to my side.

And then there's Fluffy.  A unique personality all to herself.  Her night-time roosting spot was always on the top of the yellow door, but lately she alternates between the yellow door and the interior yellow window.  Sometimes getting down in the morning for breakfast is a bit of a problem.

I've mentioned that none of the girls used the ladder and tree limb I so graciously provided in their run.  Lo and behold the "new" girls are perching there.  Yes, I still call them the new girls although they joined us Memorial Day weekend.




Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Tales of the Tail

 Donkeys are not fortunate enough to possess the long flowing luxurious tails of a horse.  (And their manes are pretty sparse too.)  But those shorter sparser appendages do have a tale to tell.

I have observed two primary functions.

In the warm weather, a donk's tail is the most important tool in fly relief.  Well, that and a skin "shiver" to shake them off.  And of course there's the mouth grab.  So in the summer, those tails will be on active duty almost constantly.  Exactly why I always spray fly repellent on tails as well as legs.

I've had friends meet the donks, see the tail wag and react as one would to a dog.  They'll assume the donk is happy.  Not so.  The comparison doesn't hold.

If one of the donks is getting upset with another, one of the body signals is a very rapid movement of the tail.  A word to the wise, stand back.    

Sometimes there is just a leisurely swish.  And to be honest, that one I'm not sure about.

My intent was to show you another donk video from August but that plan went all kerfluey.  I recently got a new phone, all photos were transferred but try as I might I can't transfer that video from the phone to the blog.  When I see my computer consultant next, I'll bring it up --  yea, you're correct, it's my son...

Huzzah(!), I gave it one last attempt and had success.

Just ignore the ridiculous voice in the background.

Donkeys enjoy wild grape leaves

 *  *  *  *  *  * Say Yes *  *  *  *  *  *

 I tried a new vegan recipe last night.  It looked so promising.  But it got less than stellar reviews from my dinner companion so I shan't be sharing it.

Instead let me show you one of my new favorite canned soups, for an easy lunch.

It isn't labeled as vegan, but when I examine the label, I'm not sure why not.  So I'm calling it vegan.
And it's quite tasty. 

Happy eating.

Monday, September 27, 2021

Good and Bad and Hope at the Coop

 What's new at the chicken coop, you ask.  Well let me fill you in.

Last week we took a mini vaca to a spot about four hours north of our home in Michigan, Charlevoix.  While gone, the jim-dandy housesitter, Jess, texted to say a huge gob of insulation had fallen from the ceiling of one side of the chicken coop.  What the heck??  

Jess did a thorough job of getting that mess away from the hens, thank goodness. When we returned, that was one of the first tasks Rick jumped on.  No idea how/why it happened.

Handyman Rick also installed a new little chicken door that can be used when the girls are out free ranging.  If they need to get back in the coop.  To lay an egg.  Sometimes those needs are urgent.  Ask the girls.

   And, if one of the girls is in a nesting box when the rest of the flock go out for free range time, they're now not stuck in the coop for the duration.  They can hop out the door and join the gang.

As I was cleaning out a long-forgotten box in the house, I came upon prayer flags.  Perfect for all of us at this point in time, including my well loved hens.

 If you're like me, you've encountered a lot of ill will/hostility/finger pointing in the last few months. I think we can all agree negativity has permeated the air.   It's been somewhat brutal.

 Prayer flags can help clear that air and replace it with the positivity we all need.