Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Christmas From the Archives

Two weeks to the day with this new knee.  Definitely some ups and downs and days of thinking, "when will this get easier".  But I'm inching forward with mobility.  Nights are not restful; side sleeping, even with a pillow shielding that new knee, is tricky.  I have a machine that bends my knee, and invariably when using it during the day I fall asleep in the thing.

Probably the worse part is I haven't seen my donks or clucks for two weeks, except in passing on the way to the doctor or physical therapy.  I'm missing my hugs and kisses and perhaps even Ruby Dee's pecks on the ankle.  But with snow and a bit of ice on the driveway now is definitely not the time to be brave and wander forth, cane in hand. 

Because I have no news or photos for you, I'm pulling some pics out of the archives.  Christmasy, winter scenes that make me smile.

Here's a classic.  Santa, Natural, and me.  Several years ago. 
I think I will miss that boy to my dying day.

I remember this day distinctly.  A snowstorm kept me from going to work, so I grabbed my Nikon and trekked out to the donks.  
Luigi, Gabby and Fran

Fran reluctantly getting into the Christmas spirit


Dudley (whom we lost two months ago)

There you have it.  A few snippets of years past.

I'll try to return on a regular basis, although I'm not sure what stories I can bring to the table before I venture out to the critters.  But I'll give it my best shot.

And no, you're not allowed photos of this glorious knee!

Monday, December 4, 2017

A Brief Break

Dear Readers, Friends, and Chonkey (donkey + chicken) lovers,

News from the non-animal world is this:  I'm getting a new knee tomorrow and will be unable to compose the witty and engaging stories from this little world of donkeys.  When I am able to sit comfortably at the computer, I will return.

Just so as not to leave you empty-handed, however, I'd like to re-introduce you to the hooligans who live next door.  You've met them before, but since they are making their voices/demands heard more now than in the summer, you need to mark these faces carefully in case they hooliganize your neighborhood.

I don't think the neighbor names her bovine babies, so I do it for her.  Naturally, the names speak volumes for my creativity.

From left to right above:  Old Blackie, little Blaze (Big Blaze was moved to another property last year) and New Blackie.

Here you have Whitie and Mama Cow, with little black baby nestled in between.

Sadly Whitie left the property next door in November and I don't know whether he was sold or moved to the neighbor's other property just a couple of miles away.  I miss him.

These cuties have me well trained.  They bellow at me for carrot treats and let me know when they've run out of the round hay bale she provides to ensure I throw some hay over the fence for them.  They'll just stand at the fence, stare at me while I'm with the chonkeys and bellow.  So far they've run about a 50% success rate.

Although in this picture Mama Cow looks to be the epitome of a good mother, I questioned her maternal care.  At maybe the two to three month point, Mama Cow would be at the fence waiting anxiously for a handout and Baby would be nowhere in sight.  But, Baby seems to be thriving so I could be casting aspersions without correct data.

All for now, I must finish my list of chores before tomorrow arrives.
'Til later.

Monday, November 27, 2017

OK Donkeys, I Hear You!

This morning at roughly 7:30 a.m., there appeared a cacophony of noise coming from 250 feet down the driveway.  Yes, four donkeys were demanding breakfast.  Loudly.  I could hear them quite clearly with the windows closed. 

It's not always a delight.

I trudged out.

Here you stinkers, just be quiet.

Luigi and Gabby settle down to some serious eating

Sugar and Spice enjoy the deluxe pool accomodations.

Peace now reigns.

Since the hens are allowed to frolic in the donkey yard during morning clean-up, Jo enjoys the solitude of the coop.

But the moment I mention mealworm treats, she's johnny-on-the-spot.  And it's butts to you.


Round two for the girls -- morning banana and seed treat

Ahhh,  serenity.  But wait...  Is that the evil eye?

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Teeny Tiny Farm Expansion Continues

We've doubled our donkey herd.  And now on to the chickens.
Friend and chicken mentor, Debbie, is raising a dozen mixed breed chicks.  Three have been earmarked mine.  These cuties will be joining us in January.  Ooh-la-la.

Here's a peek at their growth:

September 2 
Only a few days old and cute enough to melt any heart

September 8 
A wee bit bigger and stronger

And, November 11 
Hey, what happened to October!

We tagged this cutie as one of my three; she's an Amberlink, a new breed to us.  Two Amberlinks and one Australorp (black) will be joining our current crew of four. I'll have to have a talk with our girls to make sure they understand the agenda - no fighting.  Of course I did that with Luigi and Gabs and a lot of good that did.  There is still donkey posturing all the time, but all four will now eat together and they'll congregate in the barn without too much strife. 


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...