Monday, January 20, 2020

New Hay Manger

I have been oh so remiss in not showing you the new outside hay manger for the donkeys.  Please don't give up on me!

As you know, if you've been following the tale of the four most destructive miniature donkeys on the planet, they pretty much demolished the original, made of wood, Rick constructed this summer.
Here are the remains.

Not much to say.  The photo says it all.

So, my can-build-anything husband put together an indestructible manger, or so we hope.  Metal and plastic.  Well, of course those donkey chompers could work on the plastic, but clearly wood is the prime material in their sights.  So far so good.  Can everyone knock on wood, please.


Lest anyone think they're letting me off the hook, just know they're finding clever ways to find ANY exposed wood on the interior of the barn that's not covered by wire.  AND they eat the wood shavings every night.  E-V-E-R-Y night.  I've been using the pelleted shavings that need to be hydrated when the temps allow (over 32 degrees) because apparently those aren't as tasty and I can actually get a good base going.  But the pine shavings disappear every morning.  This is a first.  No other winter have they done this. 

Perhaps I need a donkey psychologist to analyze the situation.

Friday, January 10, 2020

Lovin' That Chicken Feed

In spite of the fact we've had chickens since the spring of 2015, I still feel like a novice.  Learning, or trying to, new tricks of the trade all the time.  And trying to sort out the riff-raff from the authentic.
Recently I was exploring chicken feed through a chicken "expert" on Facebook.  I still can't tell if this woman knows what she's talking about, although she speaks with a very self-assured quality.  She brought up the issue of protein in commercial feeds and that often it was not sufficient.  Huh.

I have been using what I thought was a quality product based on the advice from a fellow chicken-keeper at the local feed store.  It's organic.  But wait.  The protein percentage is only 16.5.  What the "expert" recommended was 18-20%.

In comes a chicken blogger who highly recommended Small Pet Select's Garden Goodness Layer.  Crude protein:  18%.  The first few ingredients listed: peas, wheat, oats, millet, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds.  Looking good.

Take a peek at the comparison photo --

Joannie couldn't resist a little sample of the Garden Goodness on the right.  All the chickens love it.  No exaggeration.  When I pour it into the feeder they pounce with gusto, something they've never done with the other product.  The rub is the price.  So I've been mixing it with the other product.  I'm sold.  I'm supporting a small family run business with a product that appears to be a nutritious option and one that the birds enjoy almost as much as their treats -- but of course nothing can top a good banana slice.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Hear the Humming?

Four donks are humming along to this "White Christmas" movie lyric. 
Know why?
The pasture gate has been opened!  And all is right with the world.

They've been perusing the perimeter nibbling weeds and bushes and having a ball.

Except when their ever-obliging friend brings them hay.

The bad news - the temps will be rising tomorrow.  Eight pairs of hooves are crossed the snow stays put.

Monday, December 23, 2019

Puppy Presents

All right, if you want to be sticklers, the dogs are not puppies.  One is 12 and the other five.  But my dogs have always been puppies.  And puppies need Christmas presents.

What a jim dandy time to make the sweet potato chews I've been meaning to get to for... hmmm... a long time.

The recipe warns not to get the slices any thinner than 1/4".  I actually measured.

Then crank up the over to an easy 250 F and leave them for 2.5-3 hours, turning once.

This was at the 1.25 hour point.  Shrinkage occurs as they dry.

I think I may need to play with width and length of baking time.  Some of mine are crisp, not chewy.  And I may go lengthwise next time as well.

But for now there are two sloppily wrapped sweet potato packages in the frig waiting for Christmas morning.

Shhh.  Don't tell the pups.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Recipe Addendum, Destruction and Stomach Rumblings

I must add a quick addendum to my previous post.  The soup recipe.  I'm so used to reading recipes and vegetarianizing them or veganizing them, I don't think about it.  I neglected to make a note of that in the post.   
My preference is to avoid cow's milk in the recipe; Rick and I prefer rice milk and that's what we always have on hand.  It does not add any additional flavoring and is ideal for baking and cooking, in my opinion at least.

The donkeys continue to eat their way through any wood structure on the premises.  And I am ready to throw up my hands.  I've added a new supplement (at a nice price I might add), chock full of lovely minerals and vitamins, thinking their diet might be deficient.  I added a new toy to deter boredom -- someone in one of my donkey groups suggested a traffic cone.

You can see everyone clamoring to have a fun-filled time of tossing it around.  Yup.
And I've upped their rations, slightly.
What else to do!!

If you recall, Rick just fixed the legs on the manger which the blankety blank devils had chewed to bits.  This is the result of their recent efforts.

One leg gone and another on the way.
They've also started in on the window frame of the chicken coop.

What to do, what to do, what to do...  I'm out of ideas.

Last story --
A few days ago Mr. Luigi gave me a scare.  At the final feed of the evening, I threw hay to the donks and continued with chicken lock-up.  On my way out of the donkey yard I just happened to glance over and see Luigi lying down next to the hay, munching.  It would have been cute, except that it's such abnormal behavior.  A couple of  hours later, Rick went out to check on him.  He reported back that Luigi was lying down in the barn.  "Oh crap" and I hurriedly got on my winter gear to check myself.  I am armed with (only) the basics to check for colic -- what is the color of their gums, listen for gut sounds and, of course, watch for rolling.  When I stormed out there, he was up, but had shavings all over his back, so clearly he had been down.  But no signs of distress, pink gums.  I leaned over to listen for tummy rumblings and then Rick leaned in too.  His shout of "I hear gurgles!" was music to my ears.  And the boy has been fine since.   

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

My Soap Box

Before I step up upon my soap box (yea, don't think I can't see you rolling your eyes), allow me to provide you a brief chuckle. 

The girls always split up at night to get ready for bed.  The new girls (who used to be "the little girls") and the old-timers have distinct preferences.

Here you have three of the four new girls with their favorite sleeping location - atop the door separating the two bedrooms of the coop.  Cute little hen bottoms.

The rest of the girls prefer their old bedtime location - the shelf on top of the nesting boxes.  Now Goldie, on the top far right, likes to mix it up between hanging with the oldsters and staying with her buds in the new bedroom.  Because she is not able to fly to the top of the window in the new bedroom which is their transition to the door, we have to help her.  And she belly aches about it each and every night.

OK, now on to the soap box.

It pains me to hear of chicken keepers who feel compelled to keep lights on in the coop for long periods of time.  They do this to keep egg production up during the seasons of decreasing light.  Here's my thinking.  Our chickens have been bred to lay more eggs than their bodies are naturally meant to lay.  Why not allow them to take a rest during the winter. Is it not better to be kind and humane? 

My second serious problem is with chicken keepers who want to kill every predator to their flock.  Some have proudly displayed the dead body.  Again, why not secure your coop properly.  If you choose to free range, yes you are making a conscious decision to allow for the possibility of predator kills.  That is the choice Rick and I have made after much soul searching.  But to kill a racoon or possum or fox -- I cannot agree.

I became a vegetarian about 40 years ago when I began learning of the horrors of factory farming.  And the yoga I have practiced for over 20 years also espouses a vegetarian diet, following the precept of non-violence.  Since learning more of the atrocities involved in dairy farming, I have eliminated many of the dairy products I used to consume.

So, with your indulgence I'm going to offer vegetarian recipes from time to time.  They'll be tried and true from my recipe stash in my kitchen.  I hope you opt to try them to help save some lives.

Today's goodie is a tasty potato soup which I whipped up three days ago.

My apologies to the person or site from which I copied it.  I usually include that, but clearly neglected to on this one.

The soap box has been moved aside for the moment, so I wish you all Bon Appetit!

Sunday, November 17, 2019

No Rest For the Wicked, Hey Wait a Minute

Last Monday the skies opened for the snow to tumble down and tumble down, and continue to tumble down.  In one day we went from true fall weather to a full 8" of snow.

That means chickens don't get as much exercise as they will not walk in the snow (although I've read other hens do).  But our girls will not!
And donks felt cooped in as well.

But with the pasture covered, and protected, by the snowfall, the gate was opened.  As far as the donkeys were concerned, it was a veritable miracle.

The little herd now wanders in the pasture, nibbling bits of weeds and bushes popping through.  Except for Sunday morning slop time.  Then there's no prying them away from the feed bowls.

The hooligans continued with their wood chewing since we last spoke.

No sooner did Rick patch the hole (low to the ground) than they started in again.  It got worse after this photo was taken.  The solution has been to secure fencing to the barn in areas they can access.

Our barn walls have become a nice patchwork quilt of patches.
See the fencing?
I'm assuming damage control will set in with the pasture open.  Wandering and nibbling will keep the hooligans occupied.  Or else!

With the advent of snow and falling temps, water must now be hauled from the house to the donks and hens.  Yuck.

Let's close with a cute snap of Luigi, mugging while the girls do not want to be distracted from the task at hand.