Sunday, February 19, 2017

Donkeys Relish February Thaw

This week's temperatures are a complete aberration for southeastern Michigan weather.  And we are luxuriating in it!
(we'll be in the 50's and 60's for the next few days as opposed to the normal snowy 20's and 30's)

Yesterday there was no need to double layer clothes (over p.j.'s) in the morning to feed.

Those sweats and heavy socks stayed hanging up in the bathroom.
It's been about three months since I got away with that.  Ohh-la-la.

And the donkawonks and clucks are enjoying the sunny days while they can.  Unfortunately the donkey yard is a mud fest and it's way way too early to let the beasts out on the pasture.  So it's a catch-22 for them -- lovely weather but terrifically sloppy.

The clucks are in heaven as well.  Those prissy little girls WILL NOT travel more than a handful of steps on the snow.  With all the snow melted, it's a heavenly delight for four hens.  (Although mealworms is still my very effective weapon for corralling them from their walkabout back into their run.)

Have you ever seen a happier face?  No, I thought not.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

The Inside Critters

You've met two of the inside critters from time to time and they begged me to let them hog -- oops, share the limelight again.  I graciously agreed.

So here you have it.  Those three hooligans who share our home and our hearts.  And our pocketbook. And our patience.

Dusty, aka, Moose 

...has been with us since 2004 and will be 18 this year.  

Yes, clearly he's slowing down but still gets around well.  Biggest fault -- is a voracious 
cuddle bunny.

Dudley, aka Dudes
Dudes has been with us since 2006 and will be 11 this year.

He is too good looking and smart for his own good.  Or at least I tell him that all the time.
Biggest fault -- being part lab and a total chow hound.  Capital letters.  And exclamation points.  Underlined.

Gunnar, aka Buns

I am not recalling the year Gunnar came to us.  He's probably 9 or 10 years old.  
All of our inside critters are rescues but Gunnar had the hardest backstory. 
Biggest fault -- needs lovin' and lovin' and lovin'.  Oh, and add lovin' to that list.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

The Chicken Treat List

A quick note of thanks to all kind readers for your words of support about Alice.  I still expect to hear that unique voice and see her head peeking out from the barn.  But, it is not to be...

So, let us turn to those crazy clucks to get our minds on another subject.

Let's talk about chicken treats.  Yummm.

I know it's typical for hens to like all manner of vegetable leftovers.  Not my girls.  I've tried greens. No.  I've tried various fruits.  Except for blueberries and bananas - no.  So I've honed it down to five treat groups for my four picky eaters.

From least to most desirable:
1.  Smashed eggshells.  You might consider it cheating to include shells in with "treats", but they do eat them.  It's a beneficial way to put more calcium in those hard working bodies.

I used to put the dried shells from the eggs we use into my coffee grinder and then found a simple potato masher worked just as well.  It's faster and doesn't gum up my grinder.

The shells go into a glass jar that stays in the coop.
2.  Bird seed.  We feed the birds during the winter months so it's handy and the chickens find it tasty.

 I do add rolled oats to the mix.  Originally I purchased a big bag of oats for Alice, as a means to put weight on the girl.  I later read that the clucks can use extra protein during the winter and oats was a option listed, so voila..

3.  Harvest Delight  A pre-fab blend of dried fruits and veggies and the girls really dig it!
Here Buffy leaves the nesting box for a quick treat of Harvest Delight.

Manna Pro makes another chicken treat that the girls are not as fond of.

Yes, that's a pie plate resting on top of the chicken feeder.  This keeps out dust, shavings,  poop and offers a perfect place to put the treats.  I also scatter them on the small coop door when there's snow on the ground and the girls don't want to venture outside.

4.  We're nearing the top of the list with Happy Hen Treats.  Yup, dried mealworms.  The girls will grab the bag out of my hand to get them.  Or at least try.  I save these morsels as the end of the day treat or simply rattle the bag to get the girls to return to the coop.  They love them that much.

 5.  BUT, the best treat of all, yes, the very best is... a banana.  They have gotten a sliced banana every morning for the past year and a half.  And look askance at me when I try to substitute another morning taste-treat.  Blueberries will suffice, but they clamor for banana.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Losing Sweet Alice

I don't feel very articulate right now.  Sweet Alice died yesterday morning unexpectedly.

I don't use the word "sweet" lightly.  She was a most sweet, gentle donkey.

What am I missing about the girl?
That plaintive foghorn bray telling me it was time to eat.
Her soft-as-a-feather way of taking a treat. Such a light touch.
Her gentle manner in most  ways.  Very rarely was she pushy with the other donkeys and never ever with me or Rick or the farrier or vet. Never.

She had had a hard life before Crossroads Donkey Rescue was able to take her into their care.  The rescue group suggests she might have been a breeding machine for an Amish farmer.  When she was no longer useful, he approached Crossroads to buy her.  (it's a good thing I will never meet that man)

 They scooped her up

 and she  lived on one of the rescue farms before arriving at our place in the fall of 2015.

The most recent vet guess at her age was 25 years.  Not extremely elderly for a donkey but the girl had not had TLC until late in her life.  That took it's toll.

The girl was not a total donkey angel, however,
What will I not miss about sweet Alice?
Getting goosed every morning as I latched the gate.
Trying all the tricks in the book to get Alice out of the hay aisle.
Eating her way through more than one hole in the barn.

But I'd take the girl back in a moment, in spite of her eccentricities.

  You'll be missed Sweet Alice, 
More than you know.
Take care on your new journey.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

No Ice in our Donkey World

This is the sight I've been waiting for...anxiously.

No ice!

I can't tell you what a relief it is to not be tackling the treachery of that frozen stuff.

However, now we have mud.  Just as my blog friend Louise from the UK was describing.
But, I'm not complaining.  Even though it's oozy, boot sticking, and slimy.  I'll take it in place of the i.c.e.

The oozy, slimy donkey yard  

 It's tricky finding a high area that is relatively dry to throw hay and straw.  Today, for the first time in quite a while the donks were allowed in the "compound" -- the fenced area surrounding the house.  Maybe about an acre.  Finally I felt it was safe for 16 little hooves to meander in the vicinity without fear of slipping accidents.

 This is a failed panorama photo of the donkey yard, but its so goofy it makes me smile.

And we cannot forget our friends the cows, whom you met recently.

These are the outraged stares I get when I leave the area without throwing yet more carrots.

To tell the truth, just between you and me, I think they get affronted rather easily.  But mums the word.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The Icy Dicey Saga Continues

Icy conditions on the driveway path to the animals worsened yesterday.  Yes, I was fit to be tied. Useless energy, of course.  It was with much trepidation I made the morning trip out to donks and chicks.  I vowed, however, to curb my bad humor.

At lunch I feared for donkey safety as well as my own so made a shavings path from the barn to the gate.

Brilliant!  Worked like a charm.
All of us used it with ease. 


Conditions improved today with the second day of warm temperatures.  Moods improved.  Donkeys had more area to walk around in their yard, with sure footing, and I could maneuver more confidently.  Three cheers for the weather, please.

For some reason, though, donkeys wanted to eat dinner inside tonight.  Fickle beasts.

 Francesca stopped munching long enough to investigate the phone in my hand.  She was certain there was a piece of carrot lurking in the vicinity. Absolutely certain.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Bovine Beauties

Meet the current set of characters who live next door.  

My oh my, I love the way they come running for carrot treats.

Cute as those faces are, the impudent group has the gall to yell at me (literally) when the daily carrot supply runs out.  I show them empty pockets, but they are not convinced.

I remind them a new supply will appear as a breakfast treat the next day and all is again right with the world.