Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Irritability All Around

When I mentally review what is new and of possible interest to blog readers, hmmm, I come up empty handed.  Two issues which I've previously mentioned continue to prevail:  battling flies and trying to appease the insatiable donkey duo.

Add to those issues my current knee situation... and you hear a heavy sigh.
The dadblasted thing went bonkers Saturday evening for no apparent reason and mobility has been an issue since.  Thankfully I see daily improvement, but in microscopic increments.  So, my patience has been short, extremely short.  (thank goodness I have a little Honda scooter to zoom out to donks and clucks as the bike is out of the question right now)

That depleted patience views donkey insistence that they're starving 24/7 with a short fuse.

Because Luigi and Gabariella came out of the winter underweight, for the past two to three months they've been receiving double their normal rations plus some extra supplements which they regard as treats.  But I am greeted continually with their ear-shattering communication that it's not enough.

And their increasingly daring attacks upon the grain can stopped being amusing quite a while ago.  I can be inches away and they are at their tricks.

  



You can observe the sequence, while I'm standing right in front of Luigi.
These are intelligent beings, but bloody hell I don't know how to train them to stay away.
Verbal persuasion doesn't work, physical threats don't work.

It's very inconvenient to close the door behind me while getting hay then turn around with an armful to unlatch the door.

What to do!!

So, I'm irritated with the donks, the donks are irritated with me, and the flies.  Who knows with whom the flies are irritated.




Monday, July 17, 2017

Fly Spray Concoction

Unless you are a donkey owner, you would never guess how persistent and overwhelming flies can be to donkey legs.  I never had the numbers of flies attach themselves to horse legs with the three horses I have owned.  Donkey legs are another matter entirely, especially Luigi legs.

Because it's a daily battle and I spray those legs every single day, I prefer to use plant based formulas. However, the flies have been so tenacious the past 10 days or so, I have been playing with some alternate methods (more on that in the next post).  Nothing is doing the job as I'd like.

As I was wandering the the internet searching for more possibilities, I found a DIY fly repellent using essential oils.  As I perused the list, I realized I had most in my EO stash and decided to give it a whirl.

  
The recipe is as follows:

Refreshing Fly Blend by Nan Martin

§  5-10 drops Peppermint Essential Oil
§  5-10 drops Tea Tree or Melaleuca Alternifolia Essential Oil
§  5-10 drops Idaho Tansy Essential Oil
§  5-10 drops Eucalyptus Essential Oil
§  5-10 drops Lemongrass Essential Oil
§  5-10 drops Lavender Essential Oil

Drop each of the oils into a 32 oz spray bottle and mix with water.
Source: Equimed


I had everything I needed except the Idaho Tansy and had to substitute Lemon Myrtle for the Lemongrass.  But then I got thinking (uh oh).  Would the oils mix with plain ole' water?  I again looked online, found suggestions for emulsifiers and then asked husband Rick, the biologist/chemist in the family.  His suggestion of vigorous shaking just before applying said concoction served my purpose.  

I've only been experimenting for a couple of days but thus far, I'm pleased.  I'll have Luigi report back after a longer test period.  


Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Donkey Pastures, Mowing, and Les Fleurs

A few days ago, the donkey pasture was calling to be mowed.  Naturally, I obliged.
I try to look my best for all occasions and I did not want to disappoint for this event.


My favorite straw hat, oversized t-shirt, University of Michigan shorts, and barn sneakers completed the ensemble.

It's no secret, I have been approached by Vogue for a cover shoot.









A sense of sadness prevails as all the wild daisies are cut down.















Although the wild daisies perished, some of the cultivated flora are flourishing.

clematis

 lovely marigolds by the swing 
(positioned to view the braying hyenas and clucks)


As the Rose of Sharon and Hibiscus bloom, I just know you'll be wanting to peek at their magical beauty too. 
And if you're very good, I'll share some more magical beauty of two mischief-making miniature monster donkeys.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Fan Addendum, or, The Case of the Silly Kitty

You've all met Moose (Dusty) previously.  My (our) indoor/outdoor 18 year old cat.


One of his favorite places to hang out in the morning is the back of the recliner.  Or next to me on the couch with the dog.

Unless it's hot out.  The hotter the better as far as he's concerned.  And then he's insistent that he lounge on the deck... for hours.






If I get concerned about the length of time he's been roasting in the heat and ask him to come in, he gets coquettish and rolls around making cute cat-like conversation.  

But refuses to come in.

On days like today when it's a lovely 70 degrees, he stays in the house.












He's just a crazy kitty.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Fans for You, and You, and You, and Me

It's just not summer unless you hear the hum of a fan or two in the background.  And feel the circulating air dry the perspiration after mowing the lawn (or pasture).  

I guess it's because when I grew up, there was no air conditioning in the house for years. Dad would put the box fan in the bedroom window at night to help cool things down.  When we did leap into the world of cool air, we depended on window units, the noisy buggers.

Anyway, fans serve many purposes around here.

Cooling off donkeys and helping to keep the nasty nasty biting flies at bay is pretty important.

For that purpose we use an old metal box fan.  

For the record, I am oh so partial to metal fans.

I try to aim the air right at the hay rack so as they eat, they feel the benefits.

Because Rick insulated the chicken coop, and it has cross ventilation, the heat does not build up too badly for the girls.

 insulation on 3 walls 

But, because I like to feel fan air blowing on me, I assume the chickens feel the same way, right?

So they have their own fan too.












And at night I've started putting it in the coop window.  Like father, like daughter.

Sadly the chicken fan is plastic and the small one sitting in the dining room, primarily for the dogs is plastic.
I can't show you my favorite fan.  A brushed copper tall floor fan that sits in the doorway of the sunroom, directed into the living room.  If I took a picture of that fan, you'd see the mess behind it, and that just won't do.

Sometimes I have a fan or two going in the house even when the AC is on.  I just need my fans.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Gang Hits Sleepy Town

I have run into a gang of hooligans.  Moderately malicious but not terribly violent.  Troublemakers to the core.

It's a gang of two.  Their escapades develop in broad daylight.  Yes, they are bold.

I have observed that the ringleader changes...with the wind.

And here you have it.
The "do-anything-to-get-the lid-off-the-garbage-can-holding-the-grain-and-tip-it-over" gang.

I was able to sneak up on their most recent malicious adventure and record the beginnings of mayhem.

You can see the nonchalance with which they approach the targeted can.  They are wily devils.  This is in broad daylight remember.  Thank goodness there were no weapons involved.

And, bingo, contact has been made.
At this point I was unsure whether to call the authorities, but refrained for fear of retribution from the gang members afterward.

But I now have the evidence, in safekeeping.

The moral of the story:  please, please safeguard your grain-filled garbage cans.  These marauders can get desperate.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Fragility

I'm realizing how the loss of Alice, Francesca, Emmy Lou and Dottie in a short period of time has caused me to be aware of the fragility of life on a daily basis.  Every day when letting the chickens out for their free-range time, I tell them to be careful and I anxiously count heads when I call for their return to the coop.  I need four to return.

So, let's tell the girls how special they are.





My confession is this.  I would be heartbroken if something happened to Sweet Pea.

She is my #1 helper during morning chores, following around the donkey yard.  And chatting the whole time.  Actually it's the only way I can tell the difference between her and Buffy.  Sweet Pea is full of talk, talk, talk.  The few times she's been in the coop in a nesting box during morning chores, the silence has been deafening.











  




This little girl is actually quite full of personality, but instead of "helper" I'd term Jo "the snack queen".  In the mornings, as soon as I open the big door to the coop, out they all rush to do some early exploring.  But sure as shootin', Jo will rush back to see if any snacks have been distributed.  Often she's so anxiouson,  she'll sit in the snack bowl.  I have to lift her out and explain that doesn't really expedite the process.









Ruby Dee is one of the two remaining original girls (the other is Sweet Pea).  Ruby used to be my helper but apparently relinquished the position for reasons unknown to me.  And she does tend to whine.

On a recent morning instead of throwing them banana, they got nice juicy blueberries.  Ruby checked one out and just looked at me.  Clearly that blue thing wasn't a banana.

Her other idiosyncracy.  Pecking feet.  Sandaled feet.  Although (knock on wood) it hasn't happened recently.  when it does I tend to first yelp and secondly yell out "Ruby Dee, knock it off!!"  From the look on her face, I know she knows.









This is Buffy.  I dare you to differentiate between Buff and Sweet Pea.

Buffy is the loner and, although has been with my crew for two years, is still somewhat skittish.  Jo, on the other hand, has been here for two months and feels right at home.





OK, readers.  On the count of three, remind everyone 
Stay Safe, Please!!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Spring Babies

If you drove up to our home, you might look askance at the "beauty" of a Christmas wreath still hanging.  Your left eyebrow might raise in a quizzical look as you turned to say "Why?"


It used to be a beauty, but it's luster has faded.
And yet it remains, because...


Two robins selected that innovative location to build their spring nest.  A few weeks ago we would have disrupted the eggs if the wreath had been disturbed and now, we would disrupt the babes.

Look carefully, and you'll see a beak and a head.  We think there is at least one more young 'un in there, but Rick was perched on a ladder trying to get a peek so we're not entirely sure about the full brood.

So, it will stay Christmas at our house for a bit longer.  And that's fine with us.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Goodbye to Emmy Lou

If I were to be totally honest about what's going on at our little farm, I would have bad news yet again.  Seems like it's been a steady stream of bad news on the blog.

Emmy Lou has been going steadily downhill the past few days.  After some chicken health sleuthing, I had hopes of bringing her around, but it's not to be.  Today I've been determining the most humane means of euthanasia.

Just went out to check on her and I can't believe she'll last the night.

I'm not sure I'll ever get used to this death business.

 Emmy Lou on the right


Wednesday, May 3, 2017

When A Donkey Has A Darn Scratch

Carpenter extraordinaire in this house performed his magic again.
And voila, a scratching post for two donkeys.


I will assure you, Luigi and Gabby find it a most useful addition to the donkey yard.


The bare naked version (without donkeys)


Now when I roll the manure wheelbarrow in for the morning clean-up, Luigi does not attack it with a passion and rub and rub and rub.  
He has the real deal.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Faces at SASHA Farm Sanctuary

Last month friend Bev and I returned to our regularly scheduled trips to SASHA Farm Sanctuary as volunteers, feeding and watering and doing whatever other chores might be needed.  Some days I just don't take the time to capture photos of sweet faces, but this last visit seemed the right time for a few snaps.

Let me introduce you.

Little June is the newest addition to the big pigs, also the smallest and definitely my favorite.  Her personality is strong -- she's pushy for food but absolutely fun-loving.  She wants to play and will immediately come running as you walk into the pig area.  All in all a cutie.

Herman the boar is not as social but oh so distinctive.  

Don't quote me, but I think this is Daniel.  He was very attentive as I walked back and forth attending the pigs.  No other cows were nearby except this sweet boy.  He accepted a few head rubs and I was sorry I had no treats at that moment for him.

Norman, in the foreground, is definitely high on my list of cuties.  When I have carrots to dispense, I always seek out this boy.  I believe he's a donkey but could be a mix.

Sweet Fearless is infirm and gets a special bed in the kitchen.  He's a glutton for loving but you need to keep an eye on him as his hearing, sight and mobility are all an issue.

  And then there are the goats.  What goofs.

Great yoga poses...

 These emus are in with the chickens.  When I dumped the small wading pool in their area to clean and refill, they adored the pool of water left behind and settled down for a good soak.

SASHA is a great place to get your critter fix. 


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Donkey Scoundrels

Its a regular dance the donkeys and I perform.  Daily.  Sometimes multiple times a day.
I walk into the hay aisle and usually Gabariella walks in right behind me.  I turn around with hay in hand to walk out and throw in the donkey yard, and yes, there's a donkey in my way.

On the occasion of the photo above, Luigi determined it was an oh most opportune time to bang around the metal garbage can holding donkey grain.  He has become quite clever at removing the bungee-corded lid.

  He knocked it down and was working on the lid, all within a matter of a minute or two.
This necessitated a quick push past Gabby (not an easy task -- she's a donkey after all--  who can easily choose to firmly plant four feet), quickly enough to stop the lid from coming off, the grain spilling to the ground and Luigi and Gabby gorging themselves and potentially becoming quite ill.

Yes, these are good times on our little farm.  Scoundrels is the polite word for the two equine devils.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Pasture Envy

Two little donkeys are beside themselves with lust for their pasture.
But they must wait.  And wait.
At least until mid-May.

You're heard me say it before; those little lips and teeth can decimate a not-fully-developed pasture faster than you can say "phooey".  And they have.  So we wait.

Now that the weather has turned toward the side of spring, Gabby has let me know in her inimitable way that she WILL either get to go in the pasture or out into the "compound" (fenced in area surrounding the house) and nibble whatever is available.    Rick has chastised me for allowing them free range in the compound since they ate all of the ivy he had cultivated by the house.   But, of course, the donkeys turn a deaf ear, particularly Gabs.





Here she was marching between the donkey yard gate and the pasture gate, with a very clear message for me.














Yet those darn chickens get to go into the pasture, she says.


And something is not right about that situation.

So, two donkeys decided to take matters into their control and sashayed into the chicken run.


The hens were not alarmed by this turn of events, but were slightly confused.

And so, as I explained the pasture situation yet again to Gabby, the ears were taking it all in.


Sunday, April 2, 2017

Donkey Toy

My little donkey beasts are not allowed into the pasture until the new spring grass is healthy and a few inches high.  They can decimate the lushness down to the roots in nothing flat. That means they are sequestered in the donkey yard until late May.

Finding amusing play toys to ward off boredom is no easy feat for my two (keep wanting to say my three, sigh...).  The jolly ball has been part of their toy box for years and it usually sits abandoned.


The milk jug with marbles rattling inside hanging from the tree branch is equally ignored.


  And so a couple of months ago I purchased a Nose It.




By jiminy I was going to find something that appealed to their playful side.
Here's the scoop -- you put carrot pieces, or grain, in the hole which has a lip on the inside of the "ball" preventing the treat from immediately falling out.  Some low-key work is involved.


Luigi has been the only participant to date.  Take a look at him in action.

video


Of course, I found a much less expensive version mentioned in a FB donkey group after the fact. Another sigh...  Now I'm off to the kitchen to cut up carrots!