Sunday, November 12, 2017

Sugar and Spice Join the Party



It's time to bust out with the big news.
Two more donks have joined the teeny tiny farm.  


Moments after their arrival.




Meet Sugar (foreground) and Spice.

I was in contact with Crossroads Donkey Rescue in Michigan (same rescue through which I adopted Alice) and was told of Sugar and Spice, who needed to be rehomed.  The girls arrived October 29 and the integration with Luigi and Gabariella has been excrutiatingly slow.  I know I know, it's only been two weeks, but I was spoiled by Alice's almost immediate acceptance.  Thankfully we're seeing inch by inch daily improvement.

The girls had never been exposed to other donkeys previously, so it's been an interesting dynamic on all sides.  


First day scenario above:  S&S (far right) were wary, Gabs (far left) a little indifferent, and Luigi has his ears back.  




Luigi accepted Alice with open arms, but this has been different.  Particularly around food.
Often the comedian, Luigi photo bombs the eating scene.


  For about the first week, they had to be fed separately.  It was easier to bring Luigi and Gabs into the barn and keep S&S outside.  Try mucking out a barn through gate bars!

We didn't think Gabby and Luigi were allowing the two newbies into the barn (or Sugar and Spice were too wary to even attempt going in).  So, within a few days of their arrival, Rick and I were out in the dark, trying to blanket Sugar and Spice.  The forecast for the night was cold and rain.  We couldn't let them stand outside and get wet and cold.  Clearly the girls had never been blanketed.  What should have taken 10 minutes took over an hour.

Slowly they are settling in now.  It's common to see Sugar, Spice and Gabby eating together.
And, more importantly, it appears all four will settle into the barn at night.  A huge relief!

Interestingly, the two girls accepted the chickens immediately, but are a little skittish around the wheelbarrow as I go around the yard cleaning up, and find a moving bicycle quite alarming.  Thankfully, they have accepted Gunner the dog.

Overall, they are sweet, mild-tempered donks with Spice being a little more reticent.  She definitely follows Sugar's lead.  Oh my, I forgot to mention they are sisters! 


Sunday, October 29, 2017

Losing Dudley

Dear Readers,
I've not been able to come to the blog table for a bit.  We lost another beloved four-legged family member and I just haven't been able to bring the news to the blog.  What's forcing my hand now is other news that I'd like to impart but Dudley must come first.  He deserves it.

You can find a post about Dudley on March 15, 2016  Dudley's Moment to Shine explaining how we came about bringing the boy into our lives.  So I won't repeat the background.
But, I will say he was a smart bugger (I could tell him my son was coming home and he'd run to the front door in excitement), had a sense of humor and was beautiful.  Not cute, but beautiful.  Shiny and black.  And big.  And I loved every inch.




He was with us for 11 years.  Eleven precious years.  Duds, you'll be in my heart always.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

No to Veal

My bum knee prevented my normal volunteer gig at SASHA Farm Sanctuary for a bit, but I'm back in the groove now, albeit more sedately.  Upon my return in September, I met the Jersey 5.  You will swoon when you see these faces.  Guaranteed.


At my first meet and greet, this little devil was anticipating his bottle but finding I didn't have it determined my waist pack would make for good nibbling.

Five six-week old boys were saved from the veal industry.  Can you even imagine.
















All the volunteers are in love. Selfies are abounding.  
If you eat veal, I would implore you to reconsider.  These boys would have been contained in small veal crates until their slaughter.  Thanks goodness they can now be loved at SASHA. But for the multitudes who don't share that future...

But wait.  The Jersey 5 aren't the only adorables at the Farm.

June and Johnny Cash bask by the pool on a sunny fall day.



While others prefer a sheltered nap


And you just never know what will appear in the kitchen.



Norman, my favorite SASHA donkey, pouts.  He was not allowed carrots that visit. 


If you'd like to assist SASHA in feeding and caring for those you've met, and those you've yet to meet, please visit their website:

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Morning Scenes on a Teeny Farm

The next door neighbors get a little nosy


One too-cute-for-his-own-good donkey 


Those ears get me every time


The marauding band of crazy chicks

Sunday, September 24, 2017

A'Molting We Will Go

Holy toledo.  You should see the chicken coop.  What a feather mess.


And this picture does not do it justice.  I've not cleaned it out yet, waiting for the feather party to slow down.  I may now be able to safely clean without getting a brand new feather-fall immediately following.  Plus, temps have been abnormally high for late September, so I've promised the girls a fresh coop later in the week when the weather moderates.

And, of course, all this molting means no eggs.  The girls have been on strike.  Hopefully, production starts soon.  I really don't want to have to buy eggs.  NOT from the store, mind you.  I won't support the factory egg business, but from a "neighbor" about 10 minutes away.

The outside pen has been a flurry too.


The last we spoke of molting, Buffy was the most barenaked girl. 


This time Ruby Dee looks the most bedraggled.

bare spots on her back

By the way, I tried some leftover cooked rice on the girls.  Rubes and Jo attacked it with glee, while Sweet Pea and Buffy declined.  And, the other day all four turned up their noses at some leaf lettuce.  The donkeys gobbled it up.

Ya just never know with this bunch.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Fermented Grain and A Swimming Pool

This post could also have been titled, the experiment that didn't quite work.
But let's start at the beginning.

Friend, Kris, texted to say a brand new local brewery was disposing of spent grain that could be used for chicken feed and for pigs and goats.  What a find!  Free donkey and chicken food.

I did do a bit of checking online to see if the stuff was safe and found some farm folks have fermented their grain intentionally as they believe it's more nutritious.  OK, we're good to go.

So Rick scooted over and we received a 25-lb barrel of fermented grain.


He immediately scooped a generous portion for the donks.  They walked away.  And would not return to the bowls.  Nope.  It was icky.

So then we tried the birds.


And they agreed it wasn't bad, but they didn't consume enough to make a dent.
Soooo, a quick text to the neighbor to see if she wanted 25 lbs of grain for her cows and we were able to pass it along.

It was such a good idea...

On another topic --

I find there's always a bit of jockeying around to make the donkey and chicken environments as pleasant and healthy as is possible.  To that end, the wading pool that had been in the chicken run for their amusement (but was also a failed experiment) was shifted to the donkey yard to allow for easy feeding without the consumption of dirt -- NOT a beneficial extra ingredient.


Yes, standing in the pool is always helpful.

And the girls got the two tires that the donkeys have ignored, and, a branch.  I'm not sure the tires are a hit (just something to climb on) but the branch is getting a little more attention.


I wish I could hit on a toy for the donks that tickled their fancy but so far everything has been a flop.  Fancy Jolly Ball - no.  Beach ball to toss around - no.  Tires to nose around - no.  If anyone has a suggestion, I'm all ears, as are the donks. 

Monday, September 4, 2017

A Chicken Sitz Bath

I first got into chicken keeping in the spring of 2015.  Two hens remain from those original four.  Sweet Pea and Ruby Dee.  Are those two more important to me?  Perhaps not, but they do hold some sort of special place.  

And little Ruby gave me a scare a few days ago.



I'm just hoping we're out of the woods.

I'll go into a bit of detail in case any of you are chicken savvy -- Melba?  Perhaps you can help diagnosis.

I noticed Ruby's rear-end feathers looked "dirty" and thought she needed a little sponge bath.  I didn't get to it immediately and soon after saw she was lethargic.  A little panic (and guilt) set in.  If you recall, Emmy Lou, who was also an Isa Brown, just died in June and I did not intend to repeat that episode.

A little  sleuthing on the internet led me to think she might have a bound egg.  The advice was a sitz bath and abdominal massage.


Rick stayed nearby, a good thing, since the girl almost escaped during the 15 minutes of warm soaking.  Then the massaging.  Rick felt no tell-tale sign of a lodged egg.  BUT, we did see a little egg string in the sitz bath water.  Of course I returned to the internet to see what the signs of an internally broken egg are.  That led us to inserting, via eyedropper, a small amount of oil into her vent.  I'm truly not sure what we accomplished, but she seems to be displaying normal behavior now.

By the way, she did not object too strongly to being dried off from her bath with my hairdryer.
Who woulda thought...

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Sunday Relaxing

For the past four years or so I have tried to reserve Sundays as chore-free days.  Days of relaxation and recharging.  And simple enjoyment.  Think Barney and Aunt Bee sitting on the porch listening to Andy play the guitar.

So, today I invite you to join the scenes of "ahhhhh".

Years ago friend Mary introduced me to Sky chairs.  This summer I splurged and bought one for reading.





Mug and book are within an arm's reach.




















From the chair vantage point, this was the view.
Peaceful.
Wonderfully peaceful.















Gunner joined me for some quiet time.

And then there's the cat.
What a goof.
Snoozed most of the afternoon on top of the hot tub.

Of course throughout the day there were donkey and chicken chores, but somehow those don't count.  Mid-afternoon I was able to storm the kitchen to make an Asian Quinoa Salad (new recipe).  And then wandered out to the donks to just sit in their company.  I don't do that often.  I happened to take out some treats and, of course, got mobbed.

  Well worth the trip out to hang with the little devils.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Flower Power

I am not a gardener.  Which among my friends is abnormal.  Ah well...
I would much rather muck out a stall or clean out the chicken coop than weed.  And my flower beds back me up.

But...

There are some that are fail-safe.
They are past their zenith, now, but, boy they were lovely a couple of weeks ago.










Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The Eeuuww Factor

Most creatures don't spook me and send me scurrying.  Well, maybe wasps.  Not spiders, not snakes, not most insects.

But then there are slugs.

Gross, gross, gross.

The buggers show up on the sides of the donkey water trough.  OK, I need to fill the darn thing and they're in the way.  So, it's a matter of picking each suctiony slimy beast off and sending him/her on his/her way in the weeds.


This is a pretty good photo of the little slimer, you can see his little horny things by his head.

I can't tell you how slimy my fingers get after this ordeal.  Yuck, yuck, yuck.
At times there have been up to eight in the trough at one time.
Let's throw in an extra yuck for good measure.

It occurred to me to take a quick look-up of slugs to appear somewhat knowledgeable.
No, don't wanna.

Thank goodness I'm not finding them everyday, as I was about a month ago.  Don't know why.  Don't care.

Yuck.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Chicken Moochers

It seems we are surrounded by food moochers.

Dudley (big dog on the right) believes it is his inherent duty and right to clean out Gunner's food bowl after Gunner has concluded the meal.

Same rules seem to apply to the donks, except the rules change as to who has the god-given right. When donks are given their teeny portions of grain or supplement, those bowls are cleaned to the n'th degree.  Hard working tongues.

Well, now the chickens feel compelled to tackle the donkey bowls following beet pulp days.  As part of the regime to bulk up Luigi and Gabariella (we've talked about this before, please take notes) they receive a modest portion of beet pulp on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.  For those horse owners out there, YES, I soak thoroughly in hot water for an hour.

Chickens are drawn to the remaining micro-specks.

  



Jo (always immerged in the bowl), Sweet Pea and Buffy investigate.























The bowl the pulp was soaked in is always of interest too.












And speaking of Jo, and her penchant for sitting in bowls (if you recall, she likes to sit in the treat bowl in the coop), she joins the ranks of manure queens.



I've only observed one other of my flock do this, and for the life of me can't remember if it was Golda or Emmy Lou (both sadly gone).

I must tell you one other story which, unfortunately, does not have accompanying photos or video.
A few days ago, I was just inside the barn, tending to some chore, when around the corner comes Sweet Pea running full tilt and slides to a stop right in front of me.  Just like your favorite baseball player sliding into home base.  No, there was no threat, no predator lurking.  She thought she was missing out on a treat.  It was probably the funniest thing I've seen one of the girls do and laughed at her outright.

What a bunch of ding dongs.