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.

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Update: Sweet Pea Feeling Better

 Since several friends have asked about Sweet Pea, I thought an update was needed.

She's much better.  Can you hear me knocking on wood?

Let me try to encapsulate the saga thus far.

SP first exhibited an eye discharge and had a "chesty" sound when she talked.  I assumed a respiratory illness.  We segregated her, which meant nine other hens were not happy since half the coop was off-limits.  I gave her garlic water - a garlic clove gets plopped in their big waterer most of the time during the winter.

        "Garlic is the king of the medicinal plants... It has antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal and antiprotozoal properties. Moreover, it boosts the immune system, improves body weight gain, heightens the digestibility of ingredients, decreases bad cholesterol, and also augments the meat quality parameters." (2).

I attempted to call a vet that supposedly included chickens in their practice.  No luck.  Found one about 30 minutes away and we had a phone consult Monday afternoon.  He guessed worms.  Really?!  Shows how good I am at diagnosing chicken symptoms; I was sure it was respiratory.  I happened to have an antibiotic that mixes with water on hand and got liquid Panacur from the vet.  So little Sweet Pea has been dosed with both since Tuesday morning.  She is much perkier, no discharge and her behavior is more normal. She has been integrated back into the flock.  Let me add Miss Helen was quite the bully when we attempted to integrate Sweet Pea a little earlier.  

Helen, the bully

As Sweet Pea has gained strength, Helen has backed off, although this morning she got yelled at again.

But yesterday Lily started acting pretty dopey.  

I decided I needed to clean out the coop ASAP if we had a hen with worms so the girls got free range time yesterday while I tended to that chore.  Lily stood by herself in the bottom of the donkey hay manger for quite a while, then wandered off a bit and stood stock still, as though sun bathing.  But there was no sun. 

No eye discharge, but similar lethargic behavior to Sweet Pea in the beginning.  Then this morning I noticed her dirty butt, which raises a whole new set of questions and possible treatments.

I'm feeling my way, but am hopeful.  Sweet Pea definitely seems on the mend (hope I'm not jinxing her) and let's hope our doctoring brings Lily around too. 

Thank you to all the friends who have sent Sweet Pea energy, prayers and generally good juju.  

**As an aside, apparently Peggy Sue did not get the memo advising the flock to abstain from molting past the fall season.  This girl has no feathers on her neck at all!


Monday, January 4, 2021

Sweet Pea Can Use Your Help

Regular readers know Sweet Pea is the first of the hens I got when first jumping into the world of chickens in 2015.  There were four and she is the only remaining.  Because she's been with me the longest, we have a bond (or at least I do) that's deeper than with the other girls.

So the fact of the matter is Sweet Pea is sick.  I first noticed it yesterday morning.  I have her isolated and am trying plant based remedies as well as man-made.  She was the teeniest bit better this morning but that's not saying much.

I believe in energy work, and in fact took Reiki training many years ago.  I have enlisted a few friends who also know Reiki to help out Sweet Pea.  I also need your help.  Please send her energy, prayers - whatever fits for you.  I know from personal experience, when you have a boatload of people rooting for you it's a tangible force.   

I thank you and Sweet Pea does too.