Monday, March 1, 2021

Tidbits From the Teeny Tiny Farm

 The good news -- 

Do you hear the clock ticking?  Yea, not much good news.

Donkey blankets came off about a week ago and the girls were greatly relieved.

We've had some gloriously sunny days recently (although not today) and the hen girls are drawn to those sunny patches in the porch.

I thought Marigold was in a bad way not long ago.  She was lethargic, first sign of trouble.  Then Rick found an empty egg membrane hanging from her derriere.  Based on advice from a local chicken group she got the spa soak in Epsom salts and a blow dry.

  I don't think she was raving to her friends about the services...  Nor did she leave a tip.

I was worried about her, but after a couple of days she seemed to bound back, running around with the rest of her cohorts.

As for the bad news --

 Half of the driveway leading to the chonkeys is walkable.  We've experienced warming temps and freezing at night.  The cycle has again made the driveway treacherous, and I don't use that term loosely.  Even with cleats.  It's some scary stuff.

And what I could not bring myself to tell you last week -- we lost Lily.  Exactly one week after Luigi.  She had been in the basement for several days, to make sure she was warm and not being harassed.  The last few days we were hand feeding her with applesauce, yogurt and blended oatmeal.  And finally it became clear we had to let her go.

When Marigold showed signs of distress, I honestly did not think I could face it.

And I need not mention, sweet Luigi is missed



Monday, February 22, 2021

And Then There Were Three

 I have put off sitting down to write this.  I just don't want to do it.
So this may be briefer than you'd expect.

We lost Luigi on the 11th.  

It was sudden and harsh.

He fell backing out of the chicken coop.  Rick and I tried to get him up but couldn't.  The vet was called and she succeeded, but he went down again.  He was back up and eating when she left.  But he went down shortly after and went horribly downhill overnight.  He had to be authanized the next morning.  

What the hell happened?  We don't know.  I feel certain it had to be some hidden system failure.  The vet reminded me that donkeys are stoics who only let you know something is amiss when there's a big problem.  If Luigi gave me a clue, I missed it.  And for that I will be forever sorry.  Even now 11 days later, I'm tearing up writing this.

Luigi was the light of our little herd.  He is missed every time I go out to feed.

This was taken shortly after the donks settled in - Rick was just finishing the barn.  Luigi on the left, Gabby center and Fran hiding on the right.  Weeg was six in that photo, so 18 this year.  Much much too young for a donkey to die.

In the winter time, Gabby darkens up and there would be times I wouldn't be able to tell the two apart.  Every day I tell her how much she looks like her dad.


I was afraid Sugar and Spice would exclude her, but thankfully that has not been the case.  Almost immediately I observed Gabs with her head draped over Spice's back, just resting there.  And, again the next day.

But my little herd has lost their protector.  The boy who would listen for unusual sounds while the girls were eating, ever watchful.

 I miss you terribly little boy

Monday, February 8, 2021

Food, Glorious Food

 I've been doing some microgreen experimentation, the easy way.  With a Hamama kit.

All you do is soak a seeded quilt mat and sit back and watch.

This was maybe day 3

Only a couple of days later

At this point I'm at day 12-14 (next time I have to keep better track) and I should probably harvest them, but I'm keeping watch to see if the growth continues.

I also have an Aerogarden and have grown two sets of produce.  My favorite is basil, then lettuces.  My tomatoes were a big bust.

The microgreens are so nutrient dense and tasty.  I was able to purchase some last summer at one of the many farmer markets in the area.

Next is a quickie breakfast.
Instead of cooking traditional oatmeal, I prefer to soak my oats.  I've been doing this for a few years.  When I worked, I could start the process, get dressed, and they'd be ready when I came back to the kitchen.   

My normal concoction: pour lots of rice milk on top of the oats with cinnamon, currants, adding walnut pieces at the end.  I used to soak for 20 minutes, but it gets nice and creamy if you wait 30-45 minutes.  I start it before going out for chonkey chores and it's perfect when I return to the house.

This time I added some chopped dates and used organic oat milk.  Oh my gosh, the dates added the perfect sweetness.  In fact I added too many.

What you see is a double batch.  Half for me and half for the chickens.

I'm trying to incorporate dates more in baking and cooking as a sugar replacement.  On this week's list of things-to-do is a cookie recipe using dates and applesauce.  I'll let you know. 

One of our favorite dinner entrees is Penne with Brown Butter, Arugula and Pine Nuts.  And it's so easy to turn it into a vegan option.  Substitute plant based butter and parm.  I also happen to prefer spinach.  My husband always has a smile when he sees it on the dinner table.

* * * * *

I certainly can't leave knowing you're waiting for a chonkey photo.

We have some c-o-l-d weather in southeastern Michigan and donkeys were attired in their winter finery a couple of days ago.

  The beasts haven't wanted to wander into the pasture lately with the addition of a few more inches of  snow so here's a lovely scene of untouched, unblemished snow.

 Happy eating and stay warm.

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

The Snow Effect on Chonkeys

 You cannot name one chonkey who is a fan of snow on our teeny tiny farm.  No how, no way.

If white fluffy flakes are dusting the area, just about the only surefire way to lure donkeys out of the barn is hot slop.  As you all know, they adore hot slop and will even brave the elements to dive into a bowl of the stuff.  

Otherwise, little faces peek out of the barn and wait for me to serve up their meal, in the barn.  

So it's a little unusual to see a gathering of white donkeys.

And the hens will not normally paddle around on snow covered ground.  Occasionally a rebel will brave it, but mostly they want to stay on dry ground.
Here only three of 10 hens dared to go out in the porch to get treats, because there was snow on the straw.

Weenies, I've got a bunch of weenies.

Monday, January 25, 2021

Tools of the Teeny Tiny Farm

 Certain tools are essential for everyday chores.  Some are seasonal, some are perennial.

In the winter, when the flow of water from the house to the barn is shut off, we must haul water.  Next to trudging on an icy driveway my least favorite thing to do.  It's just a pain in the rear.  I most certainly prefer the sled while Rick chooses the cart.  Personally I think he's nuts as it takes considerably more muscle power to pull the cart in the snow.  But you can see his bike at the ready to go pedaling down the snowy driveway to the mailbox.  Yes, nuts...

Baling twine is almost as essential as the bedding flakes.  Here we use it to keep the hay aisle door closed.  The wood expands and contracts with the temperature of the seasons and there are times the latch will just not latch.  Baling twine is just the ticket to make sure nosy noses don't work the door open.

And how the heck did I not know about wormer sandwiches when I owned horses and struggled to get wormer in thrashing heads.  No, bread isn't the best food choice for the donks but on the relatively infrequent wormer days, it's just the ticket.  A treat they cannot resist.

And then there's storage.  Our barn is modestly small.  How handy to have a horse trailer available to hold

extra hay and straw

different types of chicken feed, empty bags and, oh yes, an unused saddle lurking in the back
(who knew a trailer dressing room would hold hen food)

 and the miscellaneous bags of shavings, bedding pellets, chicken scratch, mineral salt and 
diatomaceous earth

Now what kind of blog poster would I be without some chonkey shots.
All hens happy and healthy...


Monday, January 18, 2021

Is The Bowl Clean, Really Clean?

 If you have dogs, I'm sure yours are similar to our two.  Licking the bowl clean after a meal is an essential protocol.  So it is with donkeys.  After they get their Sunday hot slop treat, or their Equine Senior (fed only in the winter), it is critical to make sure every particle is swept clean.

Sugar demonstrates the correct methodology

The other three leave her to it and move on to the next course

Speaking of snacks, this little guy was enjoying a something-something of sunflower seeds and/or peanuts.  Initially he was oblivious to everything except those delicious morsels.

But then he felt eyes upon him and said boldly, "Yea, who you lookin' at?"  I was immediately hushed into submission.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

A Sigh of Relief

 Today life is good. 

After several days of improved behavior from Sweet Pea, I think it's safe to say she's out of the woods.

She's active, roaming in the hay aisle and around thge barn

Helen still pecks her, but I can't really control that.  Interestingly, Helen had not displayed bully behavior until last week.  But this is the first time we've have a weakened bird since Helen joined the flock -- she was one of the four we adopted from the Michigan Humane Society last year.  

It was not until today I saw improvement from Lily, though.  But I'm hopeful.
Here's the scoop on Lil.  (my college roommate for three years was Lily so this name always makes me smile).

She was quite lethargic.

She's on the far left with her head next to the wall

I observed her eating but she'd frequently stand off by herself, out of the hustle and bustle of the rest of the girls.  And more telling was her extremely poopy butt.  It took several (stinky) episodes of Rick holding and me cleaning.  Peeeuuu.  That appeared to be (maybe) a symptom of vent gleet, a yeast infection.  NO antibiotics allowed.  I cobbled together a plan based on what I read online and what a couple of conversations with the owner of a local feed store suggested.  Apple cider vinegar in the water, followed by a probiotic to replenish flora.
Cross your fingers and toes, please that she continues to improve.  Today was the first day she was joining the rest of the girls for an afternoon treat of banana and bird seed.

So, many thanks for your good wishes for both of the girls.  It appeared to have helped.

Now, these are a couple of the photos I meant to share with you a week and a half ago following a fresh snow.

This is the beauty that greet me on the walk up the driveway to the barn.

The down side is we have not received one iota of snow since.  Which means the original snowfall has been packed down nicely and has transformed into slick conditions.  For people and the donks.
Everyone is mincing around, even Faith (greyhound).  Just the other day, she very carefully made her way down the driveway to the house.  Minutes later I left the house to feed donks and Gunner (13 year old rottweiller mix) came barreling from the side of the house, in fifth gear up the drive.

In my mind, a bag of pine shavings in the barn is a lot like duct tape to others.  You never know when it will come in handy.

   This is right at the entryway to the donkey yard.  It's just a small dip down, but it's always the most treacherous zone.  A dusting of shavings saves the day.  I was in the midst of doing this very sprinkling a couple of weeks ago when out went my feet.  Had the darnedest time trying to get up.  Friend J2 slipped recently and broke a wrist so I will use any trick to necessary to prevent damage.  

I also sprinkled some on solid ice near the water trough to try to stave off donkey feet slippage.  

Here's to solid footing for us all.