Monday, December 28, 2020

Snow, Socks, and a Shy Chicken

 Before launching into my snow story it's abundantly necessary to clear up a preference for my home state.  Someone somewhere decided that those who reside in Michigan should be labeled as "Michiganders".  I clearly prefer the term "Michiganians".  So although I'll be crossing the line of politically correct nomenclature, here goes.

Most of us Michiganians feel Christmas isn't Christmas without snow.  We had snow, lost snow, and then miraculously (thank you Nature) got snow for Christmas.  I was happy, the dogs were happy, the donkeys were happy.  But the chickens were not.  Outvoted again.

A not uncommon scene with Luigi and Fran eating together on the left and Sugar and Spice on the right

Last night we lost the snow with a light rain.  Which froze.  Leaving a nicely glazed very slick driveway.  You've got to be kidding me.  Get out the cleats in December??  That's usually a dreaded February occurrence.  I now get to add time onto the already protracted suiting up process by having to add the cleats and then mince up the driveway always checking for the clearest path.

Complaint #2

It does not matter which pair of knee socks I put on, by the time I'm halfway through chores, they have slid down off my feet.  This happens e.v.e.r.y day, three times a day.   

after returning to the house and removing boots

Rick lent/gave me two pair of his dorky white socks and, you know what?  They stay up.  Enough!  It is now settled.  I will not be wearing the pretty women's socks but will wear the dorky geeky socks.  Another example of gender discrepancy.

And then we turn to the hens.  I see gorgeous close-up shots of chickens on social media and say, I can do that.  Well, I can't.  Uncooperative girls.

This is an example of a recent photo shoot.

See any sharp close-ups?  No, neither do I.

Happy Holidays

Monday, December 21, 2020

Blu Enters the Scene

 Hopefully you remember meeting Finny a few months ago.  Well, Finny died in early November.  I didn't want to hurry a replacement, but missed having a fish to talk to so Blu came on the scene about a month ago.  He took up residence in Finny's two gallon acquarium and picked up the routine so quickly.


Here's the routine.  Follow carefully, it's fairly complex.
In the morning, I turn the light on atop the acquarium and feed a pellet for breakfast.  Usually during the day another pellet follows and his cue is my voice.  I always tell him it's time for a treat.  Just prior to turning out the light for the night, yup, you guessed it - another pellet.

If I recall correctly, Finny didn't catch on at first.  But Blu got the knack immediately.  

Yup, he's one smart beta.

Now, Finny was only about a year and a half old when he died.  When I went to the fish store and asked about normal beta longevity, he confirmed my suspicions.  Usually they live to two or three years.  Well, what the heck was I doing wrong??

We decided my technique for cleaning the little tank was not the best.  Every two weeks I'd alternate between removing half the water and the whole two gallons.  And I'd remove Finny with my hand.  Very gently.

Well, now I have the hand dandy tube thing.

The big end goes to the bottom of the acquarium and the small end into the sink.  Once I get the siphon action going, water from the bottom goes down the sink, including little fishy debris.  The fish store person said when I did my half-tank clean previously I was removing the clean water from the top.  Oops.

Anyway, with this technique, there's no need to remove the fish.  And no accidental injuries.

I still have to catch myself and not tell "Finny" it's time for a meal.  But Blu understands when I goof. 

Monday, December 7, 2020

Bits and Pieces

 A week ago I railed against the donkey damage.  I'm back.

Four days later, I came upon the scene of busted up plastic bottles in the barn.  They had been sitting on the shelf meant for the fan, which is now in storage for the winter.  The jars held bird seed (a treat for the hens) and a large jug of mineral supplement for the donks.  It was full.  Probably two weeks worth.  Empty.  Gone.

see the front edge chewed off nicely

That was the last straw.  The neighbors probably heard me through closed windows.   Not only could the donkeys OD on supplement, the darn stuff is not cheap.  At that moment I didn't care about the former.

The next day I was able to fling open the pasture gate and say to the hellions, go amuse yourselves on a few inches of snow.

And, a few days later the snow was gone and the big pasture gate closed.  Donkeys sulked.

Yesterday I opened the front donkey gate, allowing them some time to wander the fenced in acreage surrounding the house.  And then what we got was synchronized grazing, the latest Olympic craze.

*  *  *  *  *

I treated myself recently to overalls from Duluth Trading .  Normally I throw on an old (old) pair of sweatpants over p.j.'s to do morning feed.  But they're old enough that often they start to slide down... and down.  Overalls to the rescue!  And warm.  

*  *  *  *  *

What's better on a winter Michigan day than a bowl of homemade soup.

I offer this gem up as a vegan option for your dinner.  Use veg stock and omit the parmesan and voila.

Monday, November 30, 2020

Thanksgiving And Donkey Consequences

 The day started out so lovely.  I was looking forward to seeing my son and with a happy heart took  special breakfast fixin's to chonkeys.

Hot slop with all scumptious ingredients for donks

Mealworms and sunflower seeds for the hens

Still in that warm glow of anticipation, more treats were gathered for lunch.

Banana, celery and dried blueberries for the girls,
carrots for the cows next door and the donks

Except on this trip I went to the other side of the coop to put chicken treats in a bowl in their run.  And an amazing sight I beheld.  It actually took me a moment to grasp what I was seeing. 

 The precious donkeys had eaten the bottom wood frame of the coop window and two of the panes fell out and smashed on the ground.


I called Rick immediately and said he had to come out and jury-rig a fix to patch up the window for the girls.  Then I set to work picking up large and oh-so-many teeny tiny pieces of glass.
And cursed the donkeys.

Window patched until a permanent spring fix

I asked my son to go out at dinner feed time so I didn't have to face the devils.  
And there you have it.  Holidays are not destruction free.

Monday, November 23, 2020

Feathers Feathers Everywhere

 At our little coop, molting season is concluding.  Feathers of all colors littered the coop and the chicken yard.  The girls are looking a bit bedraggled and their egg production has almost come to a halt.  As you know by now, I'm ok with that.  Girls gotta do what girls gotta do.  Let nature take it's course.

See how Lulu is rough around the edges

And Goldie's derriere needs a little work

All those feathers have been cleaned out of the coop - here's hoping it really was the end of the molting cycle.   You can see a bit of the view of the feather fest, however, the video does not do it justice.  No, not at all.

  Peggy Sue was in a nesting box while I cleaned out the coop so I tried to engage her in a little girl-type conversation.  Apparently while laying an egg, a girl is not very chatty.  But, wait till she's done.

Turning away from the hens for a moment, this photo of Luigi has been taking off on a couple of FB donkey groups.  Especially "Donkeys Make Me Happy".  As of this writing 842 likes.  He is a charmer for sure.


Monday, November 16, 2020

Peaceful Evenings

Just as farmers are at the mercy of the weather, we are at the mercy of the light.  Before I retired, it was necessary for me to feed donks in the dark before I got ready for work.  I'd take a lantern to make my way down the driveway and Rick installed a floodlight outside the barn.  Nowadays it's seldom used.  Such is the luxury allowed when not working.  Yes, it's wonderful. 

At this time of year, dinner feed for the donkeys has jumped up to 5:30.  I have just enough time to feed donks, lock up the hens, and make it back to the house on my bike with just enough light left to feel comfortable.  

Sometimes the hooligans get fed outside, but sometimes the weather dictates inside dining.

  The chickens are always tucked into bed when I open the door to the coop and disrupt them by turning on the light.

Marigold likes to roost on top of the window used before we expanded the coop to the 2-bedroom condo.  Helen and Fluffy are on the door which can separate the two bedrooms.  I have no idea why they don't cuddle with the other girls.  This will really test the memory of long-time readers, but they are three of the four girls we rescued from the Humane Society.  Goldie, the fourth, snuggles with the larger crowd.  Who knows why.

Although I might mutter about having to go out in the near-dark, I am rewarded with some lovely sky scenes.

Monday, November 9, 2020

Bits and Pieces

 We're experiencing abnormally warm weather in Michigan so the donks appreciated some munching time in the driveway where the grass is abundant.  (it has to be warm as I sit in my chair toward the end of the driveway and act as traffic guard so no one wanders too far)

I haven't had the heart to tell the donks this will probably be the last driveway time for the season.

Mama cow giving me the evil eye because I didn't bring carrots out for all the bovine beauties next door

I wouldn't dare mention any names but someone was a bit messy in his dining experience.  Did you guess who it was.  Hmmm...

Before the era of chickens at our teeny tiny farm I purchased a decorative item for the barn at one of my favorite resale shops.  When Rick added on the coop, it was no longer visible and down she came.  It was finally relocated to the side of the barn this summer, but it's loveliness is tarnished by all the areas the donks have nibbled through the fence that runs along the side of the barn.  Yes, the fence was put up so they would not nibble the barn -- you just can't win with these beasts.


Monday, October 26, 2020

Fall Transitions in Chonkey Land

Its time to face the facts.  Fall is well underway and I cannot stop the progression to winter.

The leaves are falling, carpeting our patch of woods.

The mums are radiant.

But its time to prep the teeny tiny farm for winter.  Fans have been stored, the pasture is now off limits to donks, and with the advent of chilly nights, bedding is lush.

OK, maybe it doesn't look quite lush in this photo, but after it's been smoothed out, the donkeys settle right in.  I explained to readers last winter, after 10 years of using pine shavings, the beasts started eating them.  The donks did not offer a logical explanation for this crazy behavior.  These are hydrated shavings which, yup, require water.  Difficult if you're in the dead of a Michigan winter and looking at sub-zero temps.  But, for the moment, that's the logical option.

The porch off the chicken coop is getting bulked up with straw providing an insulated area to get some fresh air when snow is on the ground.  Haven't put the radiant heater in the coop yet.  Yes, I've read many articles on the pros and cons of using a heater.  I am waiting a bit longer this year to give the girls some extra overnight warmth to allow them to acclimate to the temps.  But when it starts getting really really chilly, it will be turned on.

 Fall means a ready supply of carrots for the donks and pumpkin for the hens.

 Winter coats on the donks are coming in nicely. 

Spice has nice waves, without the burden of a perm!

Thankfully we haven't quite bottomed out at night to warrant turning off the water supply to the trough, which will then necessitate hauling water.  That's my time to moan and groan.

What's fall bringing to your neck of the woods?


Monday, October 12, 2020

Wait, Is That A Skunk?!!

 Yesterday morning I went through the typical daily routine to feed donks and hens.  First hay for the equine hooligans, just to get them out of the way.  Then the chickens.

I opened the coop door from the donkey barn and the girls always come tumbling out talking up a storm.  No hens.  I heard talking but they weren't flying out the door.  I probably stood there a moment trying to figure out what was going on.  As I went further into the coop, I saw all the girls in the other "bedroom" of the coop, clustered together jabbering away.  My confusion grew. 

My first thought was someone had died.  I quickly scanned the area.  No body.

What the heck is going on.

I decided as I had no idea why they were behaving so oddly, but no one appeared hurt, I would start clean-up chores. Moments later I stopped in my tracks.  Yup, guess what I saw coming out of the corner.  A little black and white friend.

I stood stock still just waiting probably holding my breath.  He/she slowly crawled through a hole and out into the barn.

Right behind the can you can see daylight at the bottom.  Darn!

I take pride in the fact our coop is so critter-proof.  Wrong!  I called Rick from the coop immediately and in a bit he rectified the problem with some hardware cloth.

I gotta tell you, that incident sure got my heart beating a bit faster.  And I am so glad it was s skunk who found our entry point and not a racoon.  

* * * * *
And now, on a completely different topic, I'm showing off a gift I received from knitting friend extraordinaire, Mary.  Gorgeous socks made out of bamboo and cotton.

She knows I am partial to vibrant colors and picked the yarn to suit. 
Jealous, aren't you. 

Monday, October 5, 2020

Goodbyes Are never Easy

 Bad news comes in threes.  Or so they say.

I received the third notice this morning of an equine buddy passing from this world.
Let me introduce you to all three.

My last (and final) horse, Natural, lived at a nearby horse ranch for 23 years (he was 30 when he died).  For most of the time he was there, the ranch included 98 acres of rolling hills and woods.  A perfect spot for a horse to be a horse.  For a time, Natural was the head honcho of the 50+ herd.  He could part the waters with a look.  But as he aged he lost that role.  Thankfully he kept his best buds. 

    Justin, Natural, and Apollo

Justin was always a big moocher for treats.  If I brought them for Natural, it was mandatory to share with Justin, just to get him to leave me alone.  

A clear memory of these two boys was their fight over a mare, Crystal.  I had never seen two geldings rearing and pawing at each other over a mare before and it was scary.  And after that duel, they were best friends -- the three of them.

Justin died September 9.

And then there was big boy Apollo.  Truly a gentle giant.  He too was a big mooch.  He could stealthily creep up behind you and suddenly you'd turn and encounter a big head asking for treats.

I heard this part weekend, Apollo had to be put down.

This morning, was the third.
Sweet Dolly lived next door for a time. A lovely white Percheron, she also enjoyed those carrot treats  I'd throw over the fence to the group next door.  But she'd come up to the fence with those big lips and demand to be fed by hand.  How could I refuse.

So, it's the end of an era.
Natural has been gone for almost six years and now his best buddies are gone too.
Hopefully they're happy grazing and getting carrot treats somewhere else.   
Have fun boys.  You too sweet Dolly.

Wednesday, September 30, 2020


Ten chickens are convinced that what's good for the donkeys must be good for them.  Whatever lands in donkey bowls or the manger is fair game.  Surprisingly the donkeys don't seem to mind, too much -- we'll get to that in a minute.

The image above proves a bit surprising.  Donkeys are passionate about their Sunday morning treat -- hydrated hay cubes plus timothy pellets plus oats and now with the advent of cold weather, plus hydrated beet pulp.  You've got to admit, what a delicious blend!  There's a lot of fighting over any bits left in bowls, so the fact they share with the hens is perplexing.

Luigi seems OK with the girls checking out his precious bowl of slop, but you see just a bit of ear movement at the very end when Marigold comes chirping over.  He might have had enough at this point.  I still get a chuckle out of Fluffy crossing the screen from stage right to stage left behind the action.  Oblivious to the bowl drama.

I have to admit the girls' daily behavior often offers a chuckle, or two.

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Straw Wouldn't Get My Vote, But Chickens Prevail

 If I were a chicken and I had the choice of laying an egg in picky pokey straw or a soft bed of pine shavings, I know what I would choose.  But my chickens beg to differ.

Helen (Reddy) has been insistent for several weeks that she be allowed to nest in the hay/straw aisle.  And each morning I have to pick her up and insist she go back to the coop.  After doing this several mornings,I finally got it through my thick head to place some straw in a nesting box as an experiment.

 Clearly Helen wasn't the only girl who thought that was a swell idea.  So I made two more.

Even with a choice of three straw nesting boxes, Helen still prefers the hay aisle.  And not just in the morning.  When the girls are allowed their free range time and i return to round everyone up, I often hear a squawking from the barn.  Sure enough, she has left the flock, returned to the barn, flown over the barrier to get cozy in the hay/straw and finds herself stranded, or so she thinks.

   She was a little perturbed to find herself the star of my Candid Camera video the other day.


And speaking of chickpeas...

A couple of nights ago I made a new recipe that was quick to whip up, tasty, and easily made vegan.

My version turned out more soup-like which was fine.  I used kale and fresh tomatoes since they're so plentiful right now.  And I omitted the pecorino.  Easy and just the ticket for an early fall dinner.

Monday, September 7, 2020

Callin' In the Crew

 Same words, same voice.  Usually.
I have my donkey voice and my chicken voice.  And generally say the same phrases for everyday tasks.  

Our normal routine is breakfast and morning chores around 8:30 or 9:00 a.m.  Out in the pasture, for both donks and hens at 1:00, back in at 3:00 for a snack.  So you need the words and the voice to get everyone back in where they belong.

Here donkeys are hauling some derrieres back in. 
Note:  If you were a fan of "The Closer", a TV series from a few years ago,  you clearly will never recognize my version of Brenda Lee Johnson's southern "thank yoooo". 

A logistical note.  I have just discovered the hard way that blogspot only allows videos of a minute in length.  My original video was 20 seconds over; trying to trim in a phone is a hack job at best.
My apologies.  

Usually I have to go round Luigi up, in the far corner.  In this instance he did finally come all the way.


Wednesday, September 2, 2020

I Want My Vet Back!

 So here's the deal.

Our dog vet, who is a mobile vet and comes to your home, has not been practicing since covid.  Our dogs are not high maintenance, BUT, we have a 13 year old

and we have a greyhound.  Under certain circumstances greys have special medical needs.

When I realized our vet (who is a combination of super smart and country doctor) was not returning soon, I went on a hunt for a vet who would come to the home to euthanize and one who knew greyhounds.  I settled on one to use in the interim.

And wouldn't you know Faith, the greyhound put us to the test.

We discovered this little gem on the inside of one of her thighs.  I did send a photo to our usual vet, he gave a virtual diagnosis and advised we see a vet who could remove it.

Well, after going through the riga-ma-roll of the new vet, Rick and I want out vet back.  To start the ball rolling the estimate included items we felt unnecessary, similar to another vet clinic we left in 2004.  Following surgery the vet didn't speak to us, a go-between was used.  Do we like her?  Who knows as we've never laid eyes on her or had an opportunity to speak to her on the phone. That's at least 2 strikes.   It wouldn't take much to get a third.

But the princess is fine.

Do not test us again, Faith!