Sunday, December 23, 2018

Our Christmas Miracle

Those who have been following along this year, will remember we adopted a greyhound in March.  Many of the qualities we had been told about the breed are simply not turning out to be true in our (limited) experience.

Faith is NOT lacking in brain power.  She may not be as smart as Dudley (our lab mix) was, but she's no slouch.

Faith is NOT a couch potato, any more than Gunner is.

In fact she has been getting into quite a bit of mischief the past couple of months that has been getting me pretty worked up.  She IS food obsessed.  Even more so than our foodaholic Dudley, which I didn't think was possible.  We are now hiding anything remotely deemed edible -- in the microwave, in the oven, behind closed doors.  In the recent past she helped herself to candy (yes, including chocolate), cake, soup, and most delicious of all, compost.  Those are just the edible items.  I can't keep yarn anywhere she can reach.  And now the Christmas tree ornaments are getting chewed.

This used to be round
Another wood car wasn't remotely salvageable

I consulted with her foster (the greyhound rescue organization we went through places dogs off the track into short-term foster homes until adopted) and she (brilliantly) suggested putting Faith's muzzle on after catching her in the act.  That has now become the new operating procedure.

Anyway, the biggest transgression (although I can't really call it that) came about last Monday.  I was up first as usual and let the two dogs out at 6:00 a.m.  Gunner returned, but Faith remained out.  At 7:00 I awoke Rick and said we had to go out and look for her.  The dogs have about an acre of fenced woods surrounding the house in which to noodle around.  Looking for her in the dark was not going to be easy...

I was panicked to find she had gotten out of the fenced in area.

I took the car, driving down our dirt road, stopping every couple of minutes to call.  Rick took off on foot looking in yards and calling.  I drove down the way-too-close busy road, looking for a dead dog.  Finally I returned home.  Rick took up the road patrol.

About 8:00, little miss princess came to the back door, as they've been taught, to come in.
Let me just say, others who know greyhounds better than we, say they never come home.  They take off like the wind, end up far away from home, and lost.  Her return was a godsend.

Within minutes she was cuddled up to me on the couch.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Two Splendid Books

With your kind indulgence, I am diverging from the normal topic of donks and clucks and am
offering up two book recommendations; one I happened to hear briefly mentioned on NPR and the other is penned by a cherished author.

The nonfiction first.

Two 30-somethings living in Cambridge set a goal to live in the woods of Vermont.  Frugality becomes their norm.  They saved enough to purchase their new Vermont house with cash, buy two used cars with cash, etc.  The philosophy behind their move to frugality rang true with me. 

"Our unifying activity as a culture is shopping and the one thing we all are is consumers.  Consumption has become our spiritual outlet, our means of building relationships, of identifying ourselves by the brands emblazoned on our clothes, cars, shoes, laptops and it has supplanted our interpersonal dependencies."

Ain't that the truth, and one I have been guilty of.

"It [frugality] guides my decision making by encouraging me to simplify, to be grateful, to never deny the abundance that surrounds me and to recognize that there is very little I need in order to live a meaningful, fulfilled existence."   

This feel so very right, I'm trying to adopt it as my own.

Book #2

If you'd like a wonderful fiction read, please dip into this author.  This is the latest in her Inspector Gamache series, sometimes also known as the Three Pines series.  

Friend Carla clued me into Louise a few years ago and I will be forever grateful.  The writing itself is just complex enough, the storyline always engaging and the characters those you would wish to meet.  If you choose to dive in, please start with her first book, "Still Life".  You'll want to get to know the group of characters as they evolve through the series.

I'll return to the chonkeys next post.  I promise.  

Monday, December 3, 2018

Blink the Weather Away

We live in Michigan, southeast corner, about an hour north of Detroit.  Sometimes we all joke about the weather.  Blink and it changes.  Yup, it's the truth.

In the span of roughly 10 days, we've gone from mud, to snow and frozen donkey hoof divots, back to mud, and then to snow.  As I write this we're losing our little warm spell and I'm sure I'll be faced with frozen divots tomorrow morning.  Definitely, not my favorite.  Treacherous to walk on.

Yesterday during the (yet again) mud phase

We're all just tolerating it

Monday, November 26, 2018

Chicken Integration a Success

When you have a two-bedroom chicken coop condo, integration of new hens with old hens is sooo much simpler.  And that's a fact.

Rick changed out the door between the bedrooms, we added a feeder and waterer to the second side.  Oh yea, and he added a shelf for night-time snoozing.  Our girls have never used the roosting bars he installed long ago; they prefer a shelf.

We kept the new four separated for one week to the day.  Then yesterday we flung open the dividing door and observed.

Sweet Pea was the first to cross the line into enemy territory and let those newbies know exactly what she thought of them.  She puffed up those feathers are big as could be and postured an attack.  We waited for open warfare to begin, but...  There was a lot of talking and slowly the old six wandered into the other bedroom.  Finally I said we just have to let them duke it out.

I remember gnashing my teeth as I watched Natural (my horse pictured above on the right) rearing and fighting with a former buddy over a mare.  You just gotta let them duke it out. 

When I returned to tuck everyone in about three hours later, there was relative calm.

Before the door is opened

A  little peeking

Now, the real challenge will be when we let the newbies out into the donkey yard and attempt to round them back up.  It's a simple matter with the old six.  Shake the treat can and tell them it's treat time or banana time and they come scurrying.  I think I need to start teaching the newbies what the shake of the meal worm bag means and life may be simpler.

The new girls:  Emmy Lou 2, Peggy Sue 2, Etta James, Joannie B for Joan Baez). 


Sunday, November 18, 2018

Catching Up: Sugar, Pumpkins, and New Hens

I have been quite remiss in not reporting back on Sugar's progress.  When last we chatted I wasn't sure she was out of the woods with her (impaction?) episode.  It took a full week before we were certain she was back to normal.  Feisty temperament returned along with a hearty appetite.  Exactly two days later, Luigi was hopping on three legs.  Literally.  Are you kidding me?!  Thankfully I had a partial tube of banamine left from doctoring Sugar, so gave him a small dose and waited till the next morning.  Fine and dandy. 

Everyone feeling A-OK

In September I read that raw pumpkin seeds are a natural dewormer for chickens.  Of course by the time Halloween season arrived I had totally forgotten.  The lightbulb went off on Halloween day.  By the next day, not a pumpkin was for sale.  The roadside stands were shuttered and the local grocery stores had none.  BUT, they did have pie pumpkins.  Smaller, sweet, but the key word is seeded.  The chickens got half and the donkeys got half.  This is what remained from the chickens.

Four donkeys, on the other hand, turned away with disinterest.  So I tried the cows next door.  Same response.

By the second half-pumpkin offering, the chickens had lost their enthusiasm.  I now have a small pumpkin sitting forlornly in the garage.  

And now for the bigger news.

Four new hens have made their way to our teeny tiny farm.  A somewhat local "real" farm is being sold and they put out a call to re-home 100 clucks.  It appeared they had many interested parties so I said to Rick, I'm not going to take any as I want to get chicks in the spring.  Last Wednesday I received a call asking if I was still interested in any chickens.  Thirty-five had not found new homes.  Drat!  I want chicks, but not at the thought that these girls might become stew.  So I said, let me be at the end of the list, if you run into a problem.  Well, I now have four of those remaining girls.  We picked them up today and they are partitioned off from our six.  We'll give them a few days to acclimate and then integrate the crew.  Pictures to follow.

Oh yea.  Turns out my Nikon did something strange while we were in Utah, but my photos are intact.  If I didn't have to go make dinner right now, I'd sift through the lot and show you the cream of the crop.  That will have to wait.   

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Donkey Tummies Are No Laughing Matter

Sugar has had a rough couple of days, as have I.

Wednesday afternoon I saw some trembling.  Not a good sign when it's above 40 degrees.  Four little donkeys are growing their winter coats and that was not a temp which should bother them.  Then she went off her food.

Thursday morning -- a call to the vet.   Dr. DeWitt was out within an hour.  High heart rate, little sound of gut rumbles, bloating.  Not a good sign.  Could be severe gas, or an impaction.

I learned a lot this visit, but I won't go into all the details. (capillary reaction, gut motility, etc)  Sug got an injection of pain reliever, then the old tube-up-the-nose with a water/electrolyte solution going down.  See how she does.

Thursday afternoon she exhibited normal behavior and demeanor.  Then Thursday evening the tremors returned but she was nibbling at her food.

Friday morning -- call #2 to the vet.  Same routine, although the promising signs were a lower heart rate, some gut rumbles, and bloating had decreased.  She was hydrated again but was frisky enough to fight the tube.  Another good sign.  Dr. Sheldon recommended a little serving of soaked hay cubes with lite salt (potassium chloride) every hour and a dose of banamine (the pain reliever) in the evening. She also had to be segregated from the herd so we could see elimination patterns.  Sugar hated being cooped up, but felt better when her sister, Spice, kept her company on the other side of  the jail bars.

This morning (Saturday) I put in a call to the on-call vet.  We're not out of the woods yet, but her behavior shows improvement.

Gut problems in equines can be fatal, so it's nothing to ignore.

One note of humor in this whole thing.  I have a nickname for Sugar which I think I've mentioned.  "Sugar Booger".  Well, vet #2 thought this was her actual name and that's what appeared on my receipt.
I had to laugh, and then correct the vet's office records.

       Sugar (on the left) starts to feel a bit better

With you all rooting for her I know she'll keep improving.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Make It Five Dingbats

I almost started this little story by saying I have four dingbat donkeys.  But, alas, it is probably me who is the dingbat.  Sad, isn't it.

Here's the backstory.

About the beginning of October, I decided it was time to keep the donks off the pasture until snow falls.  This is an annual routine that helps the pasture thrive in the spring.  While the pasture is off-limits they get extra hay, and, walkabouts in the acre or so fenced around our house.  They eat grass, wander through the woods, investigate our bocce court and recently, ATE MY MUMS.

Here's why I was foolish.  They hadn't touched the marigolds or roses, or clematis, (alright, they did eat the dianthus)  so I didn't give much thought to the three mums when I opened the gate and said, "Run free you hellions".

A  (former) white mum with the bedraggled marigolds

This is what I came back to:

One of these was the white one you saw above, plus two newbies.
Eaten down, not quite to the nub.  

I debated whether to purchase substitutes and because I love seeing the color, found a reasonably priced roadside stand and bought these.

I carefully removed them from donkey lip height before letting the dingbats loose a few days ago.

Can't fool me twice!

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Post Vacation Greetings

A couple of weeks ago, Rick and I returned from a Utah tour of National Parks.  It was decidedly hot for hiking, but the views were spectacular.  We toured Arches, Capitol Reef, Bryce and Zion.  Pictures will have to wait; I had a hiccup with the "real" camera.  Hopefully, I can retrieve them. 

But I'm not going to sweat it.

Upon our return I asked the donks and the hens, "Did you miss me?", expecting some demonstration of affection.  Not so much.  Although the clucks may have been a little more attentive than usual.  The donkeys on the other hand... 

Is Luigi saying hi or giving me the rasberries.

On a side note, I think all chickens should have donkey poop to play around in.  They think it's kind of wonderful.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Cobwebs Be Gone

This past weekend was designated "get the cobwebs out of the barn and coop" holiday.  A better time could not have been had.

Haul the shop vac out to the barn, trying to avoid the mucky mess at the doorway.  My memory says I didn't partake of this holiday last year because of my knee.  Two years for the spiders to spin out of control.

Was it necessary??

Then, time to move on to the coop.

Usually the girls like to help when I clean out the bedding, but they were not drawn to this vacuuming business. 

When I had finished and Rick came out to take a look, he foolishly said the barn was probably cleaner than the house.

Foolish indeed. 

Monday, August 13, 2018

Release the Raptors!

Certain aspects of Facebook are a great asset in taking care of the donks and clucks.  I belong to one group devoted to the care and feeding of chickens.  Recently someone asked the group how they call their hens in from their walk-abouts.  Many many many people responded.  I actually sifted through most of them and found three to be gems.

We'll start with the G-rated ones first.

From Victoria:   "I sing skidamarinky dinky to mine and they come running and sing with me..."
Now, of course, you have to be old enough to recognize the song (I have no idea how to actually spell it), but this brought a smile and a chuckle. 

This comes from Ernest:  "Release the raptors!"
They truly are like little dinosaurs (and my Lily sounds like one) so this also was in my save list.

Now this one is rated PG so reader beware.

Amanda says:  "I go out the back door and yell...”where my bitches at?” They come running in hopes that I’ve brought them blueberries."

All right, my crude nature has been revealed.  I find this to be the funniest of the lot.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Watermelon for Everyone!

The experiment.

To be honest, I'm not certain this was truly the first watermelon introduction for both the donks and the chickens.  But I am certain it was the first time I had cut up a whole melon and offered chunks to all.
At first blush, the donks said no thanks.

Actually I continued to find if they were offered hay prior to the fruit, they chose hay each time.  But then they decided it was OK to gobble the watermelon after their main course.

The juice is running off of Spice's lips.  Pretty funny.

Luigi's tongue is saying, "yummm".

The girls check on remnants. 
Did those darn donkeys leave anything at all?? 

And then they discover they have their own delectable portion.

Official experiment conclusion:  Donkeys greedily gobble, rind and all.  Girls pick off every sweet morsel, but leave the rind.  Everyone votes thumbs up!

Monday, July 23, 2018

Slow But Sure Wins the Fly Spray Race

Slow but sure wins the race.
With donkeys.

Using fly spray on Sugar and Spice has been an interesting process, but halelujah, I think we've won the battle.

Wait, I think I'm mixing metaphors.  Oh well.  Be patient.

When fly season began, it seemed clear they had never been sprayed. If I so much as appeared with the bottle in my hand, they'd hightail it outta Dodge.  So the step process began:

1.  Entice everyone into the barn with a "treat" (actually a supplement but they gobble it up).
Spray Luigi and Gabs (who have never been a problem for the past 8 years).  Put a halter on S&S with leadline.  One person holds the donk while the other sprays.  Release the beasts.

After a couple of weeks -- 
2. Repeat Step 1, omitting the halter.  Spray Luigi and Gabs.  One person throws the leadline over Sugar/Spice holding securely and the other sprays.  Release the beasts.

After a few days --
3.  Repeat Step 2, omitting the leadline.  One person puts a hand on Sugar/Spice's back or neck to steady them while the other sprays.
It was critical to always spray Luigi and Gabariella first to show S&S they didn't die from the procedure and, in fact, didn't pay much attention.  Release the beasts.

After a few days --
4.  Repeat Step 3 omitting a person.  The procedure requires only one person .Spray everyone in the correct order.  Release the beasts.

After a few days --
Spray Luigi and Gabs in the donkey yard.  Next spray Sugar (just a wee bit of verbal reassurance needed.  Spray Spice with extra verbal reassurance and hand pressure.

Piece of cake!

The beasts (in order of cooperative attitude):





Proud as punch of my two little girls!

Friday, July 13, 2018

New Coop Addition, almost almost almost done!

We are ever so close to having the new coop fully integrated.  But not quite.

The last time you saw it, we had pieces lined up outside the donkey yard.  Well, just take a look now.

The "porch" has not been secured completely, but other than that, we're ready to roll.  Let me give you a tour of the construction process -- my husband needs a huge bow of recognition for all the hours spent integrating the two structures.

Yes, part of the package was a stained glass window - pretty swanky

Because the new roof is metal, Rick thought the heat build-up could be offset by insulation

Nesting boxes in and ready

Here, we're standing in the new coop looking through the old outside door to the old coop

Always loving a new project, Rick said, hmmm, what to do with the leftover roofing pieces (because we're cozied up to the old coop, the other half of the roof wasn't necessary)  And voila, a new shade area for the donks. 

Pretty darn nifty, don't you think.  Rick is one darn handy guy to have around.  Guess I need to thank him properly!

Monday, July 2, 2018

Sights from SASHA

My duties at SASHA have shifted a bit and that shift allows me to meet and greet most of the residents as I wash and fill water buckets and troughs.

I requested this change; I missed walking about and talking to everyone.

These are a few of the SASHA residents I've schmoozed with recently (not in order of preference - I don't want any of the highlighted to throw an accusing finger).

June Carter Cash conversing while I clean up on the other side of the fence

What could be better than a luxurious wallow when the temps rise

These three geese wander the pasture directing their loud comments to various recipients, although it's often difficult to tell just who those recipients are.

For example, I thought they were unhappy with this goat, but continued their comments after he had passed.

I know I've introduced you to Bhima, the Gyr Ox.  The Jersey 5 (saved from the veal industry) adore Bhima and I captured that adoration from one of the 5.  We're talking many many many kisses.

And I've saved Harley for last.  I would take this boy home in a sweet second.
He lost his Dane partner only recently and is slowly rebounding from his grief.  
Here he has found some innovative places to catch a nap on a warm summer day.

If you'd like to see more of the Farm or donate to the Midwest's largest farm animal sanctuary, visit