Wednesday, May 12, 2021

It's "First Day of Pasture" Day !!

 I perused the pasture about 10 days ago and was not happy with what I saw.

The donkeys were pleading with me to let them onto the pasture and I promised them the gate would open on Sunday.  But it just wasn't looking tall enough so I promised them Wednesday (today) and, yes, it was the best day ever (!) according to Sugar.  When my former horse barn let out 50 head of horses on the summer pasture for the first time in the season, the thundering herd racing for that green grass was pretty dramatic.  Not quite so dramatic with three mini donks walking through the gate with heads down. 

So they'll get to contentedly wander the pasture for part of every afternoon until it gets eaten down and then they'll have to take a week's break to allow for some re-growing.  But that won't be until early July.

Now that we have the red letter day news out of the way, let's back up to old business.

The bird nest.
Come to find out it was a wren's nest, not sparrow as we initially thought.  But that's kind of neither here nor there.  A few days ago there was a flurry of activity in the rafters of the barn with two wrens -- mom and dad?  -- bringing food to the nest.  Or at least that's what I surmised.  And I got divebombed one day.   
But now, no sign of activity.  So I dared peek in.  Nothing.  Rick did a better examination this morning and saw no eggs, no broken egg shells, nothing.  How very strange.
Any guesses?

And finally, I feel like I'm back to square one on the issue of chicken euthanasia.  The administrator of  a chicken group on FB told me my method was inhumane.  What?!!  I almost fell off my chair.  
I spent a great deal of time talking to vets about four years ago and finally thought someone from the poultry "department" at Michigan State University offered the best solution.  
So what to do.
I've started talking to vets and farm sanctuary caregivers about this specific question, again.  Not sure yet what the answer is.  But that threw me for a loop!  I would never ever do anything that remotely smacked of being inhumane.

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Say Yes  

I tried out a new recipe last night and it got two thumbs up.  Of course I didn't think to take a photo until after dinner was over, but let me give you the recipe.  I recommend it.

Crunchy Broccoli Salad with Maple Mustard Dressing

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

The Clean Bowl Club

 Before we get to the main topic today, I would like to give you a couple of updates.

First mama bird and her nest/babies.
A few days ago I heard cheeping coming from the tack box, aka the nest.  But then we had the incident.
During morning chores as I was entering the hay aisle Sweet Pea swooped in and with amazing speed grabbed something on the ground.  I saw it hanging from her beak; it was about and inch and a half long and naked.  I grabbed her to try to rescue the baby but Lulu grabbed it out of Sweet Pea's beak.  At that point I figured it was too late.  How the baby fell out of the nest and the tack box is quite puzzling; the nest is tucked back in a corner nowhere close to an edge.

A couple of days later while I was in the midst of morning chores I saw mama bird leave the nest so felt comfortable peeking.  And there I saw another baby.  Since then I've seen mama with something in her mouth wait for me to leave the hay aisle.

Although the chicken/baby bird carnage was hard to watch, this "miracle of life" unfolding is pretty exciting.

Last post I showed you an example of a goofy egg -- one without a shell.
Then we had this beauty.

It's not terribly unusual to find a cracked egg, but the number of fissures in this one is not normal at all.
What are these girls up to?

Turning to donkeys --

When the donks are given their portions of Equine Senior they slowly and carefully eat e.v.e.r.y morsel.

Here Spice demonstrates the technique

Once every morsel is gone, as your dog might do, the donks carefully lick any remaining molecules.

  Gabby, never one to give up, asks me if second servings are forthcoming


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A couple of weeks ago I described my newest smoothie combo and I'm still finding it to be pretty darn tasty.

It's quite a pretty green with baby spinach, banana, frozen organic cherries and a touch of spirulina.

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Egg Mysteries

 I'm always dazzled by the different colors and shapes of the chickens' eggs.

They're just so pretty.

I know from some of the chicken groups I'm in that people choose their hens based on the color of their eggs.  But as you know, the last eight of our girls were rescues, so egg color was up for grabs.

The other day I found this teeny specimen.

And then there was this one.
No shell, just the membrane.

I have not yet researched, how/why this happens.  I do feed the girls their egg shells back to them for the calcium.

All our shells are kept in a bowl on the counter to dry out.  After a few days I smash them with the potato smasher and they're kept in a jar in the coop.  It used to be only a couple of the chickens had any real interest in them, but now I find many of the girls dive in with gusto.  Yes, their feed has calcium, but a resource convinced me to add in the shells.  And no, this has never prompted them to attempt to eat their eggs in the nesting boxes. 

And speaking of behinds (wait, what?), Miss Goldie had to have her dirty derriere clipped of soiled feathers.  She's not as clean as I'd like so I'm scheduling a spa treatment for her in the next few days.  Little does she know the treat that's in store for her.

  On a completely different subject, I'm pretty excited that my orchid is re-blooming.  Yup, she's showing off with those beauties.

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Say Yes

This week's vegan highlight is a recipe for Sheet Pan Chow Mein  It was just on the menu for last evening's dinner and was a keeper.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Mama Bird Chose Badly

 Mama bird picked a pretty poor location for her nest.

Take note of the tack box just inside the hay aisle sitting on the shelf.

This tack box, with lots of jumbled donkey stuff in it.

Well back in the right corner, mama bird built a nest.  I had noticed a bird flying out of the hay aisle on several occasions, but didn't pay much attention.  We have sparrows flitting around the chicken coop and the donkey barn a lot.  And then I put two and two together.

This is a really bad close up of the nest.

Just below the white fluff in the center you can see four or five eggs.  I'm trying so hard not to disturb her, and for some reason, this is hard.  I keep wanting to peek up there and see what's going on.  And when I do she gets skittish and flies off.  And then I tell myself, don't do that.  So I wait a few days and then peek again.   

Rick guessed she might abandon the nest because there was too much activity.  So far so good.

But mama, it's a really bad spot!

Donkeys are itching for that pasture to be opened.  They bellow at me constantly that they're starving.  I hadn't used the hay net in a long time, just because it's a pain in the neck.  But because they seem to gobble their hay/straw quickly and then bang their forks on the table saying they need more food, I decided the net was the thing.  It slows down their gobbling and makes meals stretch out longer. 

Instead of hanging it off the outside manger shelter, I put it in the manger (thanks to suggestion from farrier Koren).  I think it allows everyone access.

 They tend to roll their eyes when they see the net come out, but I ignore that.

Now, if you're really good, you'll recognize who's who below.

The Noses Know


Monday, April 12, 2021

Slop Soup

 April is exactly the right time to clean out a straw filled chicken porch.  So much straw from the winter.

Exactly one and a half wheelbarrow loads.

Somehow I always get helpers during the clean up tasks.  Wanted or not.

Spice lent a hand, or head, just to ensure proper procedure.  Apparently.

And yesterday I discovered, after all this time, that Gabariella is a prima donna.  Sunday is always hot slop day, although in these temps it's more like warm slop.  Rain the night before had filled feed bowls with a bit of water. I was lazy and didn't dump the water, instead slopping the slop into the bowls.   So we had something on the order of slop soup.  Well, Miss Gabby said that was just a bit too sloppy for her and moved on to the second course of hay at the manger.  Sugar and Spice did not share her hoity toity sensibilities and worked hard at cleaning out the bowls.

     Meanwhile, the clucks swooned with delight at their oatmeal treat.

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Say Yes

Today's topic:  Smoothies :)

What is your favorite ingredient list?

I always add baby spinach just to make sure all the vitamins and minerals of leafy greens are hitting my system.  Most recently I tried a blend of frozen organic cherries, spinach, banana, and a pinch of spirulina.  Pretty darn good.  In the peak of summer, watermelon and blueberries are my favorites  Deeelightful.

Share yours, please, so I can get some new ideas. 

Monday, April 5, 2021

Windmills, Ladders and Hotdogs

 One of the manmade signs of spring at our house -- the windmill.  It goes up in spring and gets put to bed for the winter.  We've ended up having many of them over several years; the fabric deteriorates over time.  Rick has patched them, but there comes a point I say no, it's time.  Because the price has gone way up, last year I had to settle for a smaller version, but it still makes me smile every time I come down the driveway.

  Yes, at the end you were witness to three crazy donkeys claiming starvation.  Here they go into their posturing antics further.

Drama queens for sure

I asked Sugar for a nice close-up and she said, sure.  One of the few photos of that pretty girl without those wild eyes.

And then there's Helen, who almost daily insists she needs to make a nest in the straw bales.  Each time I have to pluck her out and put her in a coop nest.  I know she's not happy with me.

I can hear you asking, "Janet, why can't you leave her there".  Because of the dogs.  She tends to do this in the mornings and when morning chores are completed and I return to the house, two stinky dogs are allowed out.  I don't trust the dogs and Helen in mixed company.

By the way, I put an old wooden ladder in the run yesterday to try to provide some entertainment for the clucks.  They all scattered into the coop, absolutely sure that monster was going to eat them.  Today they weren't as skiddish so I put some seed on the bottom two rungs.  No one hopped up to snack off the upper rung.  I'm debating whether to put a hen on it and see what happens.

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Say Yes

I've tried all manner of vegetarian and vegan hots dogs and sausages.  In my humble opinion, these are most like a conventional hotdog.  No spices or flavor enhancements.  I'm not saying spicy, flavored versions aren't good (I particularly enjoy Field Roast), but if you're trying to emulate the meat version, I'd suggest these.  


Monday, March 29, 2021

Nifty Neighbors

 Not everyone is lucky enough to have neighbors like ours.  Quite outgoing, chatty, and good lookin' to boot.  Oh yea.

In the background - Blackie
In the foreground Matilda and Baby

These are the names I have assigned to the neighbors.  And Blackie knows his name.  You betcha.  With the snow gone, this is prime season to offer them carrots.  Blackie was familiar with the drill from years past, and Matilda is now getting the hang.  Baby finds the process quite curious.

 Long time readers will remember I get big bags of #2 carrots from a particular vendor at the county farmer's market; at our house they're designated "donkey carrots".  Donkeys do not get a vote about sharing with the cows and when they get a glimpse of me tossing treats over the fence they do express their displeasure.

I've yet to catch a good shot of Baby; he's getting more accustomed to me but still is not completely confident.

All three are a delight.

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I'm going to start a mini section of the weekly post with the thought of offering delectable vegan products, recipes, or other miscellaneous tidbits.  It will be called --

Say Yes

This week's featured item -- Kale, cashew, basil pesto sold at Trader Joe.
A few years ago I started making my own pesto with basil from the garden, but I'll admit it's not vegan.  This is a very tasty alternative and it is vegan.  I did add a bit of olive oil to the sauce as it was a bit dry for our taste.  Over some bowtie pasta -- easy, quick, and tasty.