Wednesday, December 7, 2016

A Chicken's Toy... or not

Some things just don't work out the way you planned.  As it was in this case.

My chicken girls aren't allowed out free-range for more than 2-3 hours per day.  For two reasons. The dogs might be able to work their way through the gate blockade Rick devised, and, we believe we have a fox in the area.  Yes, that fox could attack at any time, but I feel better when their free time is not too extensive.

That means girls are bored, confined to the coop and their outside run.

Which leads me to their new toy.

Yes, a xylophone.

I had seen a video of chickens having a grand time pecking out tunes.

I thought it could be a rather inexpensive means to relieve the boredom.

Yea right.  Don't believe everything you see.

Rick said, you've got to train them to go to it.  So everyday I've been placing treats on the darn thing so they'll catch on to the great fun they could be having.  Yes, they play a cute little ditty while the treats are there,

and then it sits.  

Unless they're having fabulous xylophone parties at night after curfew.  And whale away on it while the donkeys listen in next door.

One just never knows.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

A Donkey Quiz

Many, many, many years ago I was a Teaching Assistant for a basic level video production class at the University of Michigan.  I felt quite inept at concocting quizzes and tests for the students and remember distinctly putting together a multiple choice test and thinking "no one in their right mind would pick this option".  And yet, someone did.

In that vein, dear readers, I am posing a quiz about the donkadonks.   I think it's painfully easy so, yes I'll be grading it quite severely. Answer carefully.

Let us begin.

#1.  This donkey is the fairest of the bunch, quite lovely.  But does not have a personality to match. Certainly not mean, but not nearly as sociable as the rest.  And, please oh please, do not touch his/her head!

Who is this donkey?

The answer:  Gabariella, of course.

#2.  This donkey is most happy getting head rubs, hugs, and kisses and greets me at the gate expectantly waiting for that physical contact (as opposed to treats) He/she is this writer's favorite (a dead give-away).  The mother to another donkey, she and her offspring frequently hang out together.

Who is this donkey?


Answer:  Francesca, of course.

#3.  This donkey provides me with a morning wake-up each and every morning by goosing me as I turn around to latch the gate.  E-v-e-r-y morning.  His/her bray has a foghorn quality to it and he/she is the most passive of the group.

Who is this donkey?


The answer:  Alice, of course.

#4.  This donkey has a knack for attacking the grain can as soon as (and I do mean as soon as) I walk two steps away from the hay aisle.  This afternoon, in the time it took for me to get a flake of straw, walk 30 feet to throw it, and return to the hay aisle, he/she had knocked over the can and was working on the bungee cord keeping the lid on.  This also happens to be the donkey most visitors fall in love with first.  God knows why!

Who is this whippersnapper?

The answer:  Luigi, of course.

OK, how did you score?  It's the honor system now, so fess up.
I'm certain friend "JC #2" who follows this blog religiously got an A.  If you received less than a 100% score, I expect you to do a little more studying.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Sparrows In The Chicken Coop

As I was thinking about how to begin this little saga, the phrase "bats in the belfry" popped into my thoughts.  Well, that's not exactly the situation we're experiencing but it's similar.

For some time sparrows have been flying into the little coop door and helping themselves to chicken feed.
 If only Sweet Pea would stand guard like this all the time.

There's no real way to keep them out and we feed the birds anyway, so resigning ourselves to the situation seemed the right course of action.  
However, their destructive behavior escalated.  

Now when opening one of the main coop doors, it is necessary to stand aside and wait for the sparrows to fly out, or you'll have birds flying erratically above your head (hence the similarity to bats in the belfry -- you see there is a method to my madness.)  

And then... we ended up with a mess like this.

They started destroying the insulation Rick so carefully included in the coop structure, we're assuming to make nests.
Today he put cardboard over all insulation areas to fend off the little winged buggers.  Enough is enough.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Miniature Donkeys Vote Yes, Thumbs Down From Chickens

At this house, four clucks get a banana a day.  Probably 90% of the time.

A couple of days ago I had the unmitigated gall to offer apples instead.

The backstory:  Once a year we go to Camp Michigania about a four-hour drive toward the NW part of the state (remember, we're in the SE).  It's for University of Michigan alumni and we've been going for many many many years.  While there in October, we picked some wild apples to bring home to the donks. It's our own little tradition.

This year's bounty.
As I was saying, a couple of days ago I cut up some to treat the donkeys, cows next door and chickens.

Everyone was esctatic.  The donkeys couldn't get enough.  The cows were practically jumping up and down.

When I ran out of my bagful for the cows and walked away, mama cow yelled and yelled at me.  "Come back here this minute; we need more!"

Everyone was happy, except four hens.

Ruby Dee took one small peck, stopped and clearly said, for all the world to hear, "What the heck is this?  This is NOT banana!"

Usually I learn my lessons very well after erring, but this time... hmmm... I may try making the same mistake again and see what happens.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Donkeys, You May Not Eat My Flowers!

A lovely fall day in Michigan.  The temperature in the low 60's.  Some sun.  Ahh.  The perfect day to let four miniature donkeys out to wander in the "compound" (the fenced in area surrounding the house).  An idyllic scene, you might say.

And yet... there you would be wrong.  So wrong.

The four buzzards are very adept at destroying anything those adorable little lips can suck into those cavernous mouths.

And so you see how I have to protect my garden.

Surrounding it by any means possible.  Wheelbarrow, planters, bicycle, sawhorses.  Anything that's in the vicinity.  I learned this lesson the hard way.  They don't hesitate at stepping right in and nibbling the delectables.

And so, you say, why are you allowing the destructive beasts out of their area to roam?  Good question.

It's Michigan.  In late October.  The pasture has pretty much had it.  They might think they're grazing, but they're really just walking around pretending, because all the good stuff is gone.  And yes, that means I've upped the ante of hay and straw at mealtimes.  Remember... cavernous mouths with matching appetites.

And yet, those beasts are pretty darn cute.  And so worth it.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

A Bevy of Bovines

I know next to nothing about cows.  But the ones next door are worming their way into my heart.  Oh yea.

I have now made my reputation clear as the carrot lady and ofttimes when I call and shake my carrot bag, these cuties come on the fly.  Cows and steer running full blast, screeching to a stop at the fence, and standing with expectant faces.

This is mama cow.  Her baby was born at the local county fair in July and, as much as I enjoy treating mama cow, I have cocked an eyebrow at her mothering skills.  They seem a little remiss to me.  But baby appears to be thriving, so, what do I know...

Big boy Blaze I particularly like treating.  I'm sure he's meant for the freezer, which breaks my heart, The point is he's getting pretty large.  I want to indulge him as much as I can while there's time.

This cutie knows he has horns and can bully his way to the carrots.  And yet, he's on the carrot team.

Yes, the donkeys do object to "their" carrots being doled out to the interlopers.  I try to even things out, but I'm not sure they'd agree.