Monday, December 19, 2022

Chonkey Photo Cavalcade

 There are plenty of holiday preparations left undone so tonight's post will be primarily a photo extravaganza, of sorts.

We'll begin with the absurd.
My chicken voice.  It's ridiculous but effective.

Gigi and Stevie are the only girls who tolerate putting their little footsies in the snow.

Gigi shows off her mountaineering skills.

Three maniacs plead for treats

Henrietta does not receive memo that molting season is over

A beautiful Sweet Pea fluffy butt

****** Vegan Delights ******

Monday, December 5, 2022

Hay, Hay, Where's the Hay?

 Let's talk hay.
Probably your favorite subject, right?

Around any farm, teeny tiny or otherwise, more than likely hay is an important component.  As it is here.
A couple of weeks ago I contacted my "hay guy" and asked to pick up our normal monthly supply of 2nd cutting.  If you're a donkey person, you might pause, raise an eyebrow, and say 2nd cutting?

Well here's the backstory.
Our donks eat 1st cutting most of the time.  In fact for many years they only ate 1st cutting.  It's less rich than 2nd cutting.  Important note: donks can get pretty chubby from too rich a diet.
But a couple of years ago our hay guy ran out of 1st cutting and I switched for the winter.  And did again last year.  And intended to switch again this winter.  The donks had gotten two months of 2nd cutting when two weeks ago I found out his supply of 2nd cutting was gone.  

To be honest I was thrown for a loop. 
Apparently he had gotten some huge hay orders from new customers. 
And was almost out of 1st cutting too.


But he had enough left for us to fill the horse trailer and the barn with no room to spare.  The kicker -- it's got to last us through March.

Anyway, forward to the morning we ran out of the November stash of 2nd cutting and gave the donks the 1st cutting.  They were not happy.  At all.  Where was the lush green yummy hay they had gotten used to.


When the donks need to tell me something at mealtime at least one of them finds me in mid chore and stands there looking at me.  

My job is to read their mind which, to be honest, isn't too hard.
Usually the issue involves:  Sugar and Spice edging Gabby out of the hay and she needs me to intervene, they need me to throw more hay, or they're being picky and want grain.
When I threw the 1st cutting they came en masse and told me this..was..not..satisfactory.  I had to tell them, too bad, that's what we've got.

A couple of mornings ago the issue was the wind.  There was hay in the yard, but one delegate came into the barn while I was cleaning the coop to tell me they wanted to eat in the barn.

I told you I'm pretty good at reading minds.

On Sunday they said they needed a walkabout.

I said, OK

My little wood nymphs

* * * * * * Vegan Delights * * * * * *

I discovered these goodies at Costco a couple of years ago and, thank goodness, they haven't disappeared. 


Monday, November 28, 2022

Winter Routine Comes Early (!)

 The winter routine descended quickly here.  Winter gear, hauling water, de-icers for hen and donk water.  

But let's be clear -- the older chickens were not happy with the early snowfall.
Particularly Sweet Pea.
At seven, she's becoming a bit of an old lady.  Even with a heavy layer of straw in the porch and the run she only peeked out, unwilling to step a toe on the white stuff.

The young'uns (Gigi, Stevie and Henri) ventured out to explore.

Sweet Pea -- only her head is seen while Henrietta said it wasn't so bad  

The donks were a little more accepting.  Snow meant the pasture gate was opened where they could wander and pick at tall weeds.

Here they were greeting me at morning's breakfast.  And didn't move as I approached.  Just staring.

But now the temps have warmed and snow has turned to yuck.

Turning to the inside critters --

Faith during one of her many naps

And Phinneas
I sure do love black labs!

Monday, November 14, 2022

Missing the Girls

Dear readers,  I ask that you indulge me for a moment as I mention the lost chickens once more.

I continue to particularly miss Cora Bell and Violet, my cuddle buddies.  They were always close, too often directly under my feet and always said they were ready for a hug.  Violet, Jewel (also gone) and Henrietta came together as three month olds from the fabulous local feed store.  They always hung out together and Henri was quite upset the first night she was without her pals.  She has adjusted though and now roosts with the older girls (Marigold still sleeps on top of a door).

And then there was Peggy Sue, who had lived here since 2018  A special girl who was doctored back from an ailment and was hearty and healthy.  And she knew her name.

The only good thing about a reduction in the flock is everyone is getting along better.  Henrietta was becoming quite the bully toward the new girls but no longer terrorizes Gigi and Stevie.  Rick and I discussed whether at 11 girls they could have been overcrowded.  We don't believe so.  With the combination of the old coop and the new coop and two outside runs we think they had plenty of wandering around room.  So I don't have a clear answer.  Until spring we're sticking with the current crew.  

Speaking of Gigi --

    Speaking of Marigold --

 Marigold had quite a rough fall molt and looked like she had been through the wringer.  And she was oh so very submissive.  Constantly ducking her head, whether anyone challenged her or not.  Now that she's filling in nicely with new feathers she has gained some confidence.  And she's such a beauty.

Just so you don't say, hey what about those darn donkeys!

They don't particularly like it when I put lunch in the hay net - too much work!  But extended nibbles are good for them.

I made another hay box (with advice from the vet to remove before cardboard ingestion).  But also threw some loose hay.  Buggers are no fools.  Why work when you can walk right up to the hay buffet.

I almost never do a pitch for a nonprofit but I'd like to suggest you wander to the Crossroads Donkey Rescue FB page.  I've adopted three donkeys from the organization (originally based in Michigan) -- Alice and two of the current three -- Sugar and Spice.  Fran, who spearheads the donkey rescues, is a tireless worker who has been known to drive long distances to swoop in and pull donks from perilous situations (read kill pen).  And then deliver them to a loving new home.

So if you have a few extra coins jingling in your pocket, please consider a donation through Paypal using the email:
or send a check to: 1 Towry Road, Fayetteville, TN

The donkeys would thank you! 

Monday, October 31, 2022

Heartsick, Yet Again

 The chonkey portion of this post will be brief.

We lost four girls on Saturday.  I've been devastated and heartsick, not quite believing it to be true.
But Cora Bell, Violet, Peggy Sue, and Jewel are gone.  We still haven't found Violet's body.


Cora Bell on the right

Peggy Sue

Jewel, middle

Perhaps next Monday I can remind you of the stories about these little girls, but not tonight.

So for now I turn to food.

* * * * * *Vegan Delights * * * * * *

I've mentioned before how I enjoy watching Jacques Pepin's FB posts in which he whips up some simple dish. Last night I tried his version of Pasta Fagioli.  I've made this dish over the years but his seemed easier and quicker.

Well, Rick raved.  I mean raved .  So I now share the short video. 

Of course I modified to make it vegan, but it couldn't have been easier. --
Organic vegetable stock
Vegan parmesan (readily available)

Oh, and I added half of the can of beans to the pot while the pasta was cooking to make them a bit creamier.

I used chives and parsley.

And dinner was ready in nothing flat.


Monday, October 24, 2022

Phooey on Abscesses

 OK.  I think our dog vet is the best.  99% of the time I think no other vet can compare.  We found him back in 2004 in a desperate search to find a vet who would come to the home to euthanize our dog.  And we've been using him ever since. (one can only hope he never ever retires)

Other vets who are vivid in my memory are those who were compassionate during euthanasia.  That includes my current donkey vet.  She attended  on that awful day when I had to put Natural (see photo on right) down - my first and ultimately my last horse.  And I've been using her for the donks ever since.  You've gotta find a vet who understands the differences between horses and donks, and Dr. DeWitt does.

Anyhoo she came out last week to diagnose Gabby's lameness and found an abscess.  Here's the official online explanation:

  By Brian W. Fitzgerald, DVM

The scenario is all too familiar for many horse owners… yesterday your horse was sound, but today you find him crippled, with no apparent injury! What could have happened? Odds are this horse has a hoof abscess. Sooner or later, nearly all horse owners will encounter this problem. Fortunately, most horses make a full recovery with prompt treatment. 

Hoof Abscesses Explained 

Hoof abscesses occur when bacteria get trapped between the sensitive laminae (the tissue layer that bonds the hoof capsule to the coffin bone) and the hoof wall or sole. The bacteria create exudate (pus), which builds up and creates pressure behind the hoof wall or sole. This pressure can become extremely painful. 

Although most commonly seen during the wet winter and spring months, hoof abscesses can plague horses year-round. Moisture in the environment can soften regions of the foot and make it easier for bacteria to get trapped inside. Extremely dry conditions can cause brittle, cracked feet. The abscess-causing bacteria enter the foot through hoof cracks, by traveling up the white line, though penetrating wounds to the foot, and even by “close” horseshoeing nails.

We are now close to the end of treatment for the little girl, thank goodness.  It's involved wrapping special pads around the hoof multiple times and extended soakings.  I've gotta tell you, Gorilla tape sticks to anything but is a devil to get off.  Dr. DeWitt recommended it as it's thicker than duct tape, so of course I ran to the hardware store to get some.  It's pretty fantastic stuff.

A wrapped hoof

Soaking with an improvised bag.  We tried using 2 layers of zip lock bags but she busted those open almost immediately.  We searching the house for something to use when I said "aha, let's use this chicken treat bag.  Worked like a charm.  Keep in mind there's a quart of solution in that bag.

The soaking involved two 45-minute sessions so Gabs had to be segregated and occupied with many portions of hay.  Although I gave Sugar and Spice equally generous amounts of hay directly in front of the barn to keep Gabby less nervous, Sugar demanded some of the "special" hay.

 On Thursday we remove the last of the  wraps and hopefully all is well in hoof land. 

Monday, October 17, 2022

Cardboard Boxes and Crab Cakes

 First an update, then current tales.

Gigi was confined for a week without free range time  to help heal her owwie leg.  And then she started to get pretty morose.  So she's been out with the rest of the flock.  Still a slight limp but not as severe.  I'm just hoping with time it heals completely.

But Gabs is lame again.  It's just the weirdest thing.  So vet is coming out tomorrow.  I know I shouldn't  confess to having a favorite, but I do.  Gabby must get better!

On to current exploits.

The chickens just love nesting in the hay/straw aisle.  I caught Stevie in the act of carving out the perfect nest.  Volume up to hear the "I'm so happy with my egg laying spot" song.

And here two of the new girls cannot contain their enthusiasm for an open feed can.

I tried an experiment with the donks which I'm not sure I'll repeat.  Perhaps I'll check with the vet first, since she'll be here tomorrow.  I was duplicating someone else's idea.

Why not take a fairly sturdy cardboard box, cut some holes and stuff it with hay.  Gives the donks some entertainment and they can't do much damage.

Within two hours it was flattened and by the next morning only scraps remained.

This past Sunday was somewhat balmy (50's) so I sat with the hyenas in the driveway watching them  enjoy the remaining luscious grass.  The sheep next door were quite interested.

* * * * * * Just Say Yes * * * * * *

I have had the hardest time finding my favorite vegan crab cakes.  probably for 3-4 years.  I find them sporadically which is confusing.  A couple of weeks ago we were in Grand Rapids visiting my son and his girlfriend and went to a small market.  I found my crab cakes and was squealing with delight.

Of course I scooped up several packages!


Monday, October 10, 2022

Meet the New Girls

 The cutest shot yet of the new girls:

l-r:  Stevie (Nicks), Cora Bell, Gigi 

After being segregated for a few days. they are settling in to the routine nicely, but being bullied.  It seems to be worse when I around - I think the older girls know there could be treats and are determined those blasted new kids on the block are not going to get any.

Sweet Pea stops by to says hi to the new girls

When Gigi started limping I again checked for a local chicken vet.  This time I googled avian vet, found one less than 30 minutes away and called to see if their clients included chickens.  Yes yes yes!!

I had no idea what to do for a leg issue and could not imagine this little six-month old living the rest of her life with a significant limp, so off to the vet she and I went. Diagnosis, a knee issue with a wait and watch prescription.  Not sure if I see any improvement.  She is not allowed to free range with the other girls to try and curtail use of that leg, but gets extra treats sprinkled with an immune booster.

Cora Bell has taken Violet's place as my shadow and loves to be picked up.

Back story on the girls:  Animal control in a southeast MI community picked up the girls as the municipality's ordinance did not allow hens.  They were taken to the Michigan Humane Society's farm.  My guess is they were raised from chicks as they're so agreeable to being cuddled.  Sad story, but the moral is know your ordinance.   

Before we quickly brought in all the plants on the deck as overnight temps were plunging, I captured some late blooms.

the bougainvillea hasn't bloomed in years, 
but I happened to move it midsummer and it said I like this spot 

this begonia is also years old and continues to bloom up a storm

the burning bush's finest year yet

Monday, September 26, 2022

A Quick Update

 The good news:

We've stopped Marigold's treatment for bumblefoot and leg mites.  So far so good.  Much peppier now that she doesn't have to wear her vetrap trappings.

Today I picked up three new white feathered girls from the Michigan Humane Society.  It was pouring when I picked them up through the time I arrived home so no photos at the moment.  Please stay tuned. Right now they're segregated in one half of the two-bedroom chicken condo, which infuriates the "regulars".  They are demanding a reduction in rent.  I'm ignoring their protests. 

The bad news:

Gabby is lame again.  Only worse than last month.  Cannot imagine what's going on with that girl.  About this time in August I was pretty certain the source of the problem was a stone bruise.  After a couple of doses of banamine and a week of babying it, she was trotting with the other donks.  Now here we go again. 
The farrier is coming out Wednesday (step #1 in the diagnosis process).

Please cross your fingers and toes.  This girl is top of my list.  It cannot be anything serious.

Monday, September 12, 2022

Delightful Derrieres

 Stella the hibiscus is a wonder.  If you recall in June she was dropping leaves at quite an alarming rate and I was sure I had killed her.  A panicked call to the greenhouse told me to get her into full sun pronto.  Sun and water would revive the girl.  I was not optimistic.  Silly me.

Not only is she lush and full of leaves but is blooming again!

Recently I consulted with the greenhouse yet again to get instructions to winter her in the house.  I'm moderately optimistic.

Speaking of beauties, take a look at these delightful derrieres.

 As I gazed over the fence, I beheld more devilishly delightful derrieres.

such beauties

We're gong to leave the teeny tiny farm now and travel about 30 minutes north to Stepping Stone Falls.  It was the first we had heard of these manmade falls.  Well worth the drive.


If you check the map of Michigan we were in the vicinity of Flint (just down from the thumb crease).
A little geography lesson is always in order...

* * * * * * Just Say Yes * * * * * *

My new favorite snack:  bread/toast schmeared with peanut butter and Kite Hill dairy free cream cheese.  Oh yea.

Monday, August 29, 2022

And Then There Were 8

This will be short. 

We lost Fluffy on Friday and it was my fault.  
I brought the girls in from their free range time, saw that Fluff was dawdling, went on with getting the rest of the flock in.  Then forgot to check on her.  We think one of the dogs got her.

Kicking myself...

As I have posted in the past, some of the girls have striking personalities and Fluffy was one.  Because she was a chatty cathy.  If there was a tale to tell, she was up to the task.

She was one of the four I adopted from the Michigan Humane Society a few years ago.  She and Marigold (also one of the four) have been roosting on top of the yellow door and now Mar roosts alone.

I'm missing the little girl.
I'm so sorry Fluff.  

Monday, August 22, 2022

Bumblefoot or Leg Mites

Well, here's the deal.  
I don't check chicken feet on a regular basis.  Maybe I've learned my lesson.
I just happened to glance down at Marigold's little footsies a little over a week ago and said, crap.

She had what I thought to be bumblefoot, a staph infection.  About 10 days ago we started treating her:
15 minute epsom salt soak
antibiotic spray
after a couple of days added Prid drawing salve, then changed to vaseline

Every day until the following Thursday, at which point I picked the brain of my naturopathic doctor who used to own chickens.  I explained I wasn't sure her condition could be leg mites, which of course requires a different treatment.  After a thorough discussion we came up with the new protocol instituted three days ago:
15 minute epsom salt/soapy soak
Prid (sometimes adding antibiotic spray)

Warning: icky feet alert

See the bumps (indicating bumblefoot) and then there are the raised scaly areas probably indicating mites.

stock photo chicken feet
although my chicken's feet are not quite so pristine 

Anyway, through comparison you can see Marigold's abnormal ickies.

It's a slow improvement but Rick and I both see better looking feet on the girl.  Believe me, it's a two-person job to soak, swab, and wrap.

The first day of treatment Marigold said what the heck is on my feet.

She continues to hate each aspect of the treatment but is slightly more compliant.

Then I noticed Gabby was limping.  Except it was subtle enough I wasn't sure.  Felt her legs for heat.  Nope.  Felt her foot for heat.  Nope.  Picked out her teeny hoof.  Aha, a pebble.  Perhaps a stone bruise?  A little bute for pain relief, now we wait for improvement. 
Cross your fingers and toes.

Last time we spoke I neglected to show you the jim dandy wasp nest at the donkey gazebo. Neither Rick nor I noticed the darn thing until it was a house large enough for all the in-laws.  So, we've taken the "if we leave you alone, you'll leave us alone" approach.  It's been over two weeks and so far so good.

No more upsets for the moment.

Monday, August 8, 2022

Chickens Just Gotta Have Fun

 I know you've been asking yourself, what the heck do your crazy clucks do to have fun.
The answer -- play in poop.  Donkey poop.

Pegs illustrates only too well what all the girls do during morning chores.  Play in poop.

Fun thing #2
Attack any and all treats like the little dinosaurs they are.

The bottom cup made the girls swoon -- bananas, their all-time favorite, and frozen bleubs.
(three crazy donks got the other cup)

Fun thing #3
Luxurious dust baths

I hated to catch the moment through the fence but time was of the essence. 

Fun thing #4
Scratching in the dirt for goodies

Fun thing #5
Scaring me to death

One of these days I'll surprise one of the girls during a sprawled-out-in-the-dirt nap.  The first time I saw Sweet Pea snoozing like this I was certain she was dead.

* * * * * * Just Say Yes * * * * * *

A few days ago I whomped up a loaf of vegan blueberry bread, which just means I used non-dairy milk and no eggs.  Not only is this recipe tasty, but is forgiving.  After I had mixed all ingredients correctly I realized my 1/4 cup of oil was sitting on the counter.  Out of the loaf pan and back into the mixing bowl.  Didn't appear to bother the bread at all.  Which explains the less than pretty presentation.

Let me add one note.  The first time I made the bread I thought after adding the one cup of blueberries, that's not enough, we need more!  No, no, no.  Didn't work at all.  Keep it to one cup.   

Monday, August 1, 2022

A Little of This, A Little of That

 It's dry dry dry here.  
The pasture is mostly brown grass so the donks just go out to nibble what they can and walk around.  

In the morning they get a brief walkabout just outside the donkey yard (it's still brown grass but different brown grass), though I have to keep an eye on them while doing chores as they like to eat my lovely flowers -- you can see Stella is up on a chair as I will not let them nibble her!

The chickens don't seem to be as affected by the dry conditions.  It doesn't stop their morning explorations.

Nor does it affect their odd egg laying habits -- their preference for one nesting box over another is a mystery to me.

Because the cherry tomatoes are watered daily they are growing and growing.  

I started using an Earth Box last year as we had awful luck with tomatoes in the ground or in giant pots.  My guess is our puny harvests were related to having the garden so close to the woods, but that's just a layman's guess.  Anyway the Earth Box is g-r-e-a-t.

Turning away from chonkeys, we visited a local art gallery over the weekend with a special exhibit, Flight".  I could have watched this all afternoon.

 Clouds at the tippy top with gold cranes hanging off the rotating wire circles.  I simply loved it.

Monday, July 25, 2022

Stella, Bullying, and Lip Smacking Goodness

Stella, Stella, Stella
Why are you unhappy?

Stella, the hibiscus with the glorious flowers, started dropping leaves.

 And dropping leaves

I was afraid Stella was saying goodbye, so called the greenhouse from whence she came.  The nurse there advised to immediately put the patient in full sun and water daily.  So I did.

And now look.  She's budding on every branch!

It meant moving her from the partial sunny deck, where I could look out the kitchen/dining room/living room windows upon her beauty, to the sunny donkey area.  But, if Stella is reviving, so be it.  At least once a day I tell her how lovely she is and all the praise helps her thrive.

In case you missed the post showcasing her beautiful flowers, here's a reminder.

I also tell the yellow daisy-like plants I received from Diane how beautiful they are and they shine with pride.

These cuties are berries from a wild vine and I marvel at how pretty they are every year.  Water droplets from a recent rain accentuate their perfection.

Turning to the chonkey shenanigans --
All three donks came into the donkey yard from a brief walkabout in the compound running and kicking up their heels like crazy girls.  I couldn't determine what had spooked/riled them.  But round and round they went.  After I was sure everyone was OK, I just watched in amusement.  Until Spice turned her rear end toward me and gave a posturing kick.  Nope, you don't do that to me.  Feel welcome to posture to your cohorts, but not to me.

Yesterday, Sugar and Spice came out of the barn sniping at each other.  Clearly they were ticked off with each other and I made sure I didn't get in the middle of their dispute.  Girls!

Usually when they are in the sniping mood, Gabby feels the brunt of their bullying.  And I come to her rescue.  Cuz she's my girl. 

And speaking of getting bullied, Marigold is in the same boat.  She may be low girl in the pecking order.  So when treats are getting handed out, I make sure she has ready access without fearing those pecks.

The flock's collective internal clock knows when their free range time is coming to a close and waits at the gate to be let into the coop run and, more importantly, for their afternoon treats.


* * * * * * Just Say Yes * * * * * *

I gave up Nutella long ago; a company that refuses to find a substitute for palm oil doesn't get my business.  Or my money. 
And yippee-yi-ya, look what I recently taste tested.


Oh yea.  Two thumbs up