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.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

I'm Sorry, Buffy

It's been a week.  And not one I wish to repeat.

No sooner did I tell you about the damage the donkeys had worked so carefully crafted, than they decided they weren't done.  This is the door from the rear of the barn to the chicken coop.

Rick had built the door of plywood sides and a styrofoam core.

Yup, half of the wood gone with attempts at the styrofoam.  Once the mess was discovered, he stapled hardware cloth over the remaining door to keep them off of it. 

Have I had the warm and fuzzies toward the donkeys this week?  Take a guess.

The worst of the week's news is we had to euthanize Buffy.

 Clearly I did not choose a strong enough medication at the onset of symptoms and her condition deteriorated.  I can't tell you how guilty I feel about this.  I've done an abundance of research about poultry antibiotics and what I believe to have been her condition.  And attempts to find a poultry vet.  And attempts to find an injectable version of the antibiotic that's been recommended by other chicken owners -- with no success.  The powder yes but not the stronger injectable. 

I check the remaining girls every night, looking for clear eyes, listening for any sneezing. watching for head shaking.   If my diagnosis was correct, it was a bacterial infection which could have spread. 

Buffy was most likely 6 or 7 years old.  She was given to me three (?) years ago and was about three at the time.  She was never very dominant and recently found the new girls accepted her company easily because she wasn't a bully about treats.  The five of them would hang together. 

Her nickname was Boof and she'd come when called.  If she was the straggler coming back to the coop, when I'd start calling "Boooof" she'd respond with a quick paddle back to join the gang.

I am so sorry Boof.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Hooligans Strike Again

I have a million and one things to tell you but I'll confine my stories for fear of seeing some eye-rolling out there. 

First I'm announcing new little chicken names.

Meet Goldie.  Isn't she just the prettiest girl.
The name is self-explanatory.

Again, try as I might for a good photo of the other three, it just didn't work.
The two reds are Marigold and Helen Reddy -- Helen has been the most assertive of the new girls sticking up for herself with the older girls.  She's a bit larger than Marigold.
And Fluffie is the fourth.  Little tufts of feathers adorn her feet.  So cute. 

Without realizing it we have stopped calling the four, "the little girls" and refer to them as "the new girls".  They're integrating well, except for treat time.  That is still an issue; they let the older girls dominate and in the afternoons, after free-range time I segregate them to allow for treats.

And the new girls have started laying, or at least a couple have.  Blue-green eggs.

And then there are the donkeys.  Oh my.
I've just about had my fill of those four and would gladly allow them to relocate.  Yes, it's a temporary mood, but right now they can do no right.

A couple of weekends ago we went on an annual long weekend to Camp Michigania, just outside of Petoskey, Michigan.  Our housesitter extraordinaire, Judy, was here to care for the whole crew.  She told us via text the donks had nibbled the new manger so I was prepared (or so I thought) when we got home.

I'm surprised the darn thing was still standing!!

Then a couple of days ago, I let the chickens in after their free-range interlude and came upon this sight.

On the left, they ate through the chicken coop through to the insulation.

Why this odd behavior you ask.
Right about the time Judy came to housesit, the donks were pulled off the pasture for the fall.  There's not much out there at this point for them to munch and if allowed to graze out there will take what's left down to dirt.  Their feed has been upped accordingly.  But they're not happy.  And I'm not happy.

Last evening I threw about 3x the normal amount of shavings down for bedding and it was gone by morning.  Yup, they ate it.  This is somewhat normal this time of year but usually I can start to get a base layer down to build on.  Nope.

If anyone would like four donkeys...  

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Morning Faces

Although the temps have cooled in southeast Michigan, the days have been sunny of late, which means good humor in the mornings for beasts, fowl, and humans alike.

Just take a look at these goofy morning donkey faces.  Leisurely munching a plate-load of hay and straw.

Invariably Luigi is on one side of the outside manger and the girls steer to the other side

Gabby (background) doesn't have time for silly faces.  There is much chewing to be done.

Sugar needs to know if there are more items on the menu

As I've mentioned, mornings are the best.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Two Dogs and a Fish

Those residing IN the house are clamoring for the attention they justly deserve; this post will spotlight two dogs and a fish.

You've met them before, but perhaps it's been a bit too long without giving them their due.

Gunner, our Rott/Bernese Mt. dog mix, is about the ripe old age of 12.  Because he was found wandering the streets in a nearby community about nine years ago we can only guess at his age.

How could you not be smitten with that face!

Gunner doesn't realize the summer is fading and his fan is no longer needed.  He faithfully sits in front of it although it's not turned on.  Indeed, it has been his fan all summer.

If you're a faithful reader, you'll remember when Dudley died in October 2017, we waited a few months and then put the wheels in motion to get Gunner a companion.
Voila, Faith appeared on the scene.  The greyhound Princess is only 5 years old and keeps Gun active.

Well, not active all the time.

What a tangle of long legs.

At total rest.

Now I am sure this is Finny's debut on the blog and, boy he is excited.

He is a beauty to be sure, and par for this house, a real food gobbler.
Our conversations are brief but meaningful.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Thwarted by Sparrows

The local gang of sparrows has been eating me out of house and home.  In through the little chicken coop doors they fly in order to feed themselves silly on chicken food.  I buy organic pellets for the girls which ups the price so the sparrows are not welcome.  Plus they could be bringing unwanted disease onto my little flock.  What to do...

I tried to go the cheap route with some netting through Amazon.  The plan was to cover all sides and the top of the chicken run to stop the buggers from getting in.  Bad move.  Rick struggled and struggled and the darn stuff would not stretch to the advertised dimensions.  Back it went. (gosh I sure do appreciate being able to return Amazon items to Kohl's) 

Tractor Supply to the rescue.  This version of the netting did what it was supposed to do.  In spite of the fact installation time was far greater than anticipated, we were pleased.  Until I saw sparrows in the run trying to get out.  The marauders have found some tiny opening and cannot resist the allure of that tasty chicken food.  Apparently getting back out is a dilemma.  I've come to the rescue a couple of times, opening coop doors to shoo them out, but I can't always do that.  So I'm leaving them to their own devices.  And no, we can't determine the whereabouts of the tiny opening(s).

Since losing Jo this week I've been assessing everybody with my eagle eye.  If a chicken makes the smallest odd move, I zoom in to observe.  I did give everyone, even the little girls, a concoction of oatmeal with lots of garlic and cayenne pepper.  Many articles praise garlic for its antibiotic properties.  Since I don't know the cause of Jo's death, a natural proactive intervention can't do any harm. 
I licked the spoon after fixing the oatmeal with herbs and was a little overwhelmed by the garlic, but the girls ate every bit gone.

Cross your fingers...