Monday, October 18, 2021

Chicken Antics

 It seems Peggy Sue needs a spa day and I hadn't realized it until recently.  How could I have missed the signs?


I took this photo to show you the girls digging in to spinach and pumpkin and to my horror instead got an eyeful of dirty butt.  Coincidentally we just had a spa day for one of the black birds.  I think I've mentioned the embarrassment of not being able to tell them apart.  There's Joannie (Baez), Lulu and Etta James.  I used to be able to differentiate Etta by her smaller size and browner feathers.  But now I can't tell anyone apart!  Anyway JoannieLu (as I've come to call each of them) had quite the dirty buttee so Rick and I performed gymnastics trying to corral her to plop her in a pan of epsom salt water.  She was not enthusiastic.  But she does have a cleaner derriere.  Now it's Peggy's turn.  I'm waiting for the warmest day of the week and I think Pegs will be easier to catch.

The girls always enjoy their Sunday treat of tearing apart a flake of straw to get the chaff.
I've told you Violet a-d-o-r-e-s me and there she is, stuck to my side.


And then there's Fluffy.  A unique personality all to herself.  Her night-time roosting spot was always on the top of the yellow door, but lately she alternates between the yellow door and the interior yellow window.  Sometimes getting down in the morning for breakfast is a bit of a problem.


I've mentioned that none of the girls used the ladder and tree limb I so graciously provided in their run.  Lo and behold the "new" girls are perching there.  Yes, I still call them the new girls although they joined us Memorial Day weekend.


Huzzah!


 

   

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Tales of the Tail

 Donkeys are not fortunate enough to possess the long flowing luxurious tails of a horse.  (And their manes are pretty sparse too.)  But those shorter sparser appendages do have a tale to tell.

I have observed two primary functions.

In the warm weather, a donk's tail is the most important tool in fly relief.  Well, that and a skin "shiver" to shake them off.  And of course there's the mouth grab.  So in the summer, those tails will be on active duty almost constantly.  Exactly why I always spray fly repellent on tails as well as legs.

I've had friends meet the donks, see the tail wag and react as one would to a dog.  They'll assume the donk is happy.  Not so.  The comparison doesn't hold.

If one of the donks is getting upset with another, one of the body signals is a very rapid movement of the tail.  A word to the wise, stand back.    

Sometimes there is just a leisurely swish.  And to be honest, that one I'm not sure about.


My intent was to show you another donk video from August but that plan went all kerfluey.  I recently got a new phone, all photos were transferred but try as I might I can't transfer that video from the phone to the blog.  When I see my computer consultant next, I'll bring it up --  yea, you're correct, it's my son...

Huzzah(!), I gave it one last attempt and had success.

Just ignore the ridiculous voice in the background.

Donkeys enjoy wild grape leaves



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 I tried a new vegan recipe last night.  It looked so promising.  But it got less than stellar reviews from my dinner companion so I shan't be sharing it.

Instead let me show you one of my new favorite canned soups, for an easy lunch.


It isn't labeled as vegan, but when I examine the label, I'm not sure why not.  So I'm calling it vegan.
And it's quite tasty. 

Happy eating.



Monday, September 27, 2021

Good and Bad and Hope at the Coop

 What's new at the chicken coop, you ask.  Well let me fill you in.

Last week we took a mini vaca to a spot about four hours north of our home in Michigan, Charlevoix.  While gone, the jim-dandy housesitter, Jess, texted to say a huge gob of insulation had fallen from the ceiling of one side of the chicken coop.  What the heck??  

Jess did a thorough job of getting that mess away from the hens, thank goodness. When we returned, that was one of the first tasks Rick jumped on.  No idea how/why it happened.

Handyman Rick also installed a new little chicken door that can be used when the girls are out free ranging.  If they need to get back in the coop.  To lay an egg.  Sometimes those needs are urgent.  Ask the girls.


   And, if one of the girls is in a nesting box when the rest of the flock go out for free range time, they're now not stuck in the coop for the duration.  They can hop out the door and join the gang.

As I was cleaning out a long-forgotten box in the house, I came upon prayer flags.  Perfect for all of us at this point in time, including my well loved hens.


 If you're like me, you've encountered a lot of ill will/hostility/finger pointing in the last few months. I think we can all agree negativity has permeated the air.   It's been somewhat brutal.

 Prayer flags can help clear that air and replace it with the positivity we all need.

Monday, September 6, 2021

Peggy Sue and her Eggshells

 Hold onto your hats, there's a sexy topic headed your way.

Eggshells.  Oh yea.

Hopefully you all know that because today's chickens have been bred to lay "too many" eggs, this abnormal egg production has taken its toll.  One of the effects is to deplete calcium levels in hens' systems.  Most commercial feeds add oyster shell, but I like to complement that with the girls' own eggshells.

For the longest time we simply kept the shells in a designated bowl on the counter, let them air dry and then I'd smash them up.  But this summer that didn't work well at all; I'm only guessing it was the unusually extended humid weather we had.  I've now taken to baking them in the toaster oven.


15 minutes at 250F

Why the toaster oven -- use less energy is my motto.

I'm sure your next question is do the chickens actually eat the shell pieces.  Probably not all, but some of the girls actually wait for me to put the shells in.


Peggy Sue loves her eggshells.  There are three feed containers, one a small rubber bowl.  Usually in the morning I pick that bowl up, place it on the shelf and put feed followed by shells in the bowl.  Pegs can hardly contain herself waiting for the bowl to come back down to the ground and hops up onto the shelf to have the shells all to herself.  Sadly I tell her she has to share and the bowl goes back down.


*  *  *  *  *  *  Say Yes!  *  *  *  *  *  *   

Blueberry Lemon Bread

This vegan version was pretty darn deelish.  Clearly I didn't frost it, who needs more sugar, right?
One word of advice -- follow the directions for the amount of blueberries to use.  After putting the 1 cup in I said, oh that's not enough and added more.  Stirred.  Added a few more.  Too too many.  In spots the blueberries were barely held together by batter.

Follow the recipe...


Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Bits and Pieces

 Happenings on our teeny tiny farm.

In random order.

Our friend, Jan, gave me the secret to his cherry tomato success a couple of years ago.  Info on the two varieties he cultivated and where he bought the plants.  Honestly when he'd offer us some I'd eat them like candy.

Backstory: we had given up planting tomatoes a few years ago.  We tried in a bed and the plants withered.  Rick's sister diagnosed it as a virus in the soil.  Then we tried in large pots with new soil.  Same thing happened.  No more tomato plants for us.
Then this year someone told me about an Earthbox.  The real thing that intrigued me was the inclusion of a material that covered the soil.  Kind of like a hair net but clearly denser.  I thought if spores of some kind were drifting in from the woods into the soil, this might help stop them.  So I ordered one, went to the local farmer's market and purchased one plant of each variety.

Holy smoke.

They are now going gangbusters.


 This is from about a month ago before they turned into a total jungle.  I also planted three full size plants in those same pots I mentioned with new soil.  The cherry tomatoes in the Earthbox are doing much better.


Allow me to model the new apron I discovered at an Artisan Market in Ann Arbor (about an hour south of us) with friend Bev.  It was labeled a craft apron but with its multitude of pockets it's clearly an egg apron for me.  I always need pockets when I go out to tend to the critters and sometimes a pair of shorts (or jammies) lets me down and is pocketless.   







Remember at the beginning of the summer I put an old wooden ladder in the chicken run with some branches arranged for the hens to perch on.  And no one was buying it?  Well, what do you know the little girls started trying them out once they were integrated with the big girls.  The big girls still ignore my creative handiwork.




For a brief moment we're moving from chonkey-land to our house.
Our living room was waaaay overdue for a paint job and for the first time in 35 years we hired it done.
ta-da...  Wow, I could get used to someone else doing all the work!



 
Before this most recent hot spell we had some beautiful weather.  Dry, not humid, mid-70's.  Kind of perfect.  It was a good opportunity to sit out on the driveway with the donks to let them munch on long grass from a different vantage point.  They loved it.


Gabby has been bugging me since to do it again but for the moment it's just too darn hot.



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Say Yes
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Can't remember how I happened upon someone's suggestion for a sweet potato smoothie, but whatever it was I was prompted to search for a recipe.
This is darn darn good.  And filling.

I









 

Monday, August 16, 2021

Goldie Crosses the Rainbow Roost

 I'm so tired of reporting yet another death on our teeny tiny farm.

We lost Goldie sometime overnight on Saturday.  


And of course I have been plagued with the woulda, coulda, shoulda's.

So many darn things can go wrong with these little hens that I feel overwhelmed with storing all the scenarios in my head.  

On Saturday night when I locked up I saw she had deteriorated significantly through the day (we had been out of town for about seven hours) and was afraid she might not make it through the night.  And indeed she did not.  When I entered the coop on Sunday morning all the girls were abnormally subdued.  Those who have been long-time readers may remember when Dottie was fatally attacked by a hawk, I came upon the scene with the remaining girls encircling her.  All quiet.  Clearly the chickens have their own way of dealing with death amongst their flock.  

Goldie was one of the four girls we adopted through the Michigan Humane Society in August 2019 who had been rescued from a hoarding situation in Detroit.


Golda-mold (my pet name for her) had appeared lethargic in June and we administered an epsom salt soak and wormer.  She pepped up and I happily noted she was talking up a storm on a daily basis. 

Clearly we didn't fix the problem.

She was always somewhat of a loner, although she'd hang out with Fluffy (also one of the four) from time to time.


But always snuggled up with the rest of the big girls (next to Sweet Pea she was physically the largest girl in the flock) when it was time to get ready for bed.

On Saturday night when I returned to the house, in my upset state I said to Rick that I would not continue with chickens past the current group.  Done.  Tired of seeing them die.  As of this writing, to be honest I don't know if I've changed my mind.



Monday, August 2, 2021

Violet Becomes a Love Muffin

 First and foremost I'm happy to say integration of the little girls continues to cruise smoothly, mostly.  There's a bit more bickering than usual, but keep in mind there's always bickering.  You all know where the term "pecking order" came from.  And when it comes to food, nobody likes to bicker better than a bunch of chickens.

Violet is turning out to be a little love muffin.  She likes to be around me, often underfoot -- literally.  I have been put off balance on more than one occasion when she appears directly under my foot.  Amazingly she tolerates me picking her up and stroking her; this has been unheard of with our other chickens until they've been well established.

Violet and Sweet Pea are turning into my two executive assistants during morning chores

Two nights ago when I tucked everyone in for the night, the three little girls were in their chosen spots for bed and I was giving Violet a little lovin'.  Whomever was next to her apparently felt I was taking liberties and pecked me!  I had to laugh.  Don't know if it was Jewel or Henrietta.  By the way I think I'm getting better at telling the three girls apart.  Mostly by the amount of white on their tails.

We had a brief visitor to the house recently.  A friend, who happens to be a monarch butterfly expert, brought me a chrysalis that she expected to a transform in a few days.  I had it in the kitchen window to keep an eye on the development.

  

My friend told me what changes to look for and gave me a timeframe, but I wasn't seeing it.  Suddenly yesterday the beauty appeared.  From a simple photo my friend identified her as a female.  I took her outside where she tested her wings, then was still, then tested her wings again.  I was worried because it was going to dip down to 50 degrees overnight.  This morning she was still clinging to her little stick.  I'm guessing it was about 24 hours before I saw she had disappeared from our deck, launching on her new stage of life.  It was surprising how protective I felt after only having her in our "custody" for a few days.


   

And now for your amusement, I give you Sugar's version of intermittent windshield wipers.