Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Sharona Shines

I cannot in all fairness say I have any new stories about the teeny tiny farm. 

We took a teeny tiny vacation last week on the west side of the state along Lake Michigan, not a teeny tiny lake in the least.

Over in the vicinity of Ludington.
Our time spent sitting on the beach listening to and watching the waves (and seagulls) was wonderful.  Plus lighthouses galore.  And good food.

However, this weekend I was finally able to capture a semi-decent photo of Sharona in her technicolor glory.

Yes, you may ooh and aah at this point in the story.

So, the peculiar thing with the little girls is they fly out of the coop in the mornings with the big girls, but during free- range time they tend to stay in the run.  A little chicken door is always open during this block of time for anyone who feels the need to find a nesting box so the three girls could leave at any time.  But they don't.

I know the next question on your mind is, did the three donks miss you.
Well, of course.  Or at least that's my story.

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

This was a lovely recipe for incorporating  home grown cherry tomatoes and basil.  First time making it last evening.

Pasta with Cherry Tomatoes

Using a non dairy parm makes it vegan all the way. And I bet no one eating it will ever complain it's not "real" parm.
Next time I make it I'll cook the sauce a bit longer to help the garlic and basil flavors burst through.

Monday, September 4, 2023

Spice Displays Hidden Talents

 Before we delve into the world of hidden talents, allow me to give you an update on the  new little girls.

Progress is being made but it's oh so very slow.  Storm seems to be the most adventurous, zipping out into the pasture while Clara and Sharona appear to depend on her for leadership.  All three can be easily bamboozled by the big girls, but I did see Clara and Sharona at the feeder at the same time a couple of big girls were there.  Now that IS progress. 

I had to pick up one of the girls the other day and oh lordy, you'd think she was headed for the chopping block.  Clearly none of them were handled as chicks.  
In the evening when it's time to lock up, I sweet talk the three as they perch above me for the night. 

I'll try my darnedest to get some decent photos of the three for the next post.  Sharona's colors are coming in and they're quite striking.

Last week I stopped in to Tractor Supply for some shavings -- I usually prefer to get supplies at my local feed store, but I do like TSC's shavings.  As I walked into the cart area some chicken-themed wind chimes were seductively luring me.  Yes, I am a sucker for wind chimes.  Big ones, little ones, cheap ones, expensive ones.  And these particular beauties were on sale.  I was doomed.

Here Spice demonstrates her abilities to ring those chimes with just a flick of an ear.  Boy, what talent!

 I'll hear them ring a ding when there's no hay in the manger and when there's no breeze.  Yes, I have to wonder if the donks are musically inclined.

Monday, August 28, 2023

Thank Goodness For Generators

 If you are a reader who does not live in the vicinity, the big news was the storms.  Two biggies in two days causing flooding, downed trees, and of course power outages.  We were lucky; no damage.  Three days without power - thank goodness for the portable generator, although it's constant drone in the background became irritating.

 I am not complaining.  Clearly other parts of the country have gotten hit much worse.

I was more than amazed Lake Luigi did not appear --

Enough rainfall to feed the bowls twice.

Power was restored yesterday afternoon, thank goodness.

Prior to this we finally repainted the side of the barn that showed many many many donkey nibbles.

I've been wanting a sign for the side of the barn for quite some time, but don't know who to go to for lettering.  Any ideas?

While the painting project was in full swing, chickens were free range, including the newbies.  They hated being outside of the run.  I left them like this for about forty-five minutes, then said enough, and opened the door.

And then there's the donks.

Gabby feels compelled to come up behind me in the hay aisle to remind me there's Equine Senior at my fingertips.

Thank you Gabs

And finally I want to show you the flower combo out by the donkey gate.

Morning glory, salvia, and mandevilla.  All new to this year.  The morning glory is not in top form here but she's a beauty.  I'm hoping she comes back next year.  And I'm smitten with the mandevilla.  She'll spend the winter in the house, if I can untwine her hold on the fence.

Monday, August 14, 2023

Tree Trimmers Need Not Apply

 We have been lucky in Michigan this summer -- moderate temps and plenty of rain.  Perhaps too much at times.  My hay guy was having trouble baling second cutting because of the precipitation every other day.

When we've had more than our fill of the wet stuff, you'll see two things at the teeny tiny farm.
Lake Luigi and tall red boots.


  The donkeys have multiple responsibilities around the farm.  Spice volunteered recently to take the tree trimming class.  Here she works on her homework assignment.  I'm confident she'll pass.

By the way, tomorrow is the BIG day -- chicken integration.  We'll open all doors at the mark of free range time so the little girls can escape any aggressive pecking.  But when everyone is gathered back up, they'll have to stand up to the bullies.

Cross your fingers!!

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

I hit the jackpot at Better Health during my most recent trip.

I'm smitten with the "lunch meat" - I've tried a a few and this brand (Unreal Deli) gets top marks.  Sadly in my neck of the woods, I've only found one store that carries it. 
The pepper garlic spread is a little too yummy -- I need a big crock of the stuff. 
And I'll report on the enchiladas later after they've hit my belly  :)

Thursday, August 10, 2023

Cranes, Little Chicken Girls, and Spice Ears

 I tried my darnedest to update the blog on Monday but my PC thwarted me.  Looks like it's fighting against me again so I may not be able to include all the videos I originally had in mind.  Guess the name of the game is roll with it.

We have a few sand hill crane friends in the "neighborhood".  Yesterday the family I see most often effectively held me hostage for a few minutes on our road.

Today, they were "hopping mad" that I disturbed them again.

My uneducated guess is they were cheesed that I inched the car forward bit by bit.
Anyone else have insight into crane behavior? 

The new little chicken girls are still segregated but that is going to change early next week.  They want to roam (I've had a couple of escapees) and the big girls want the coop back.  The tricky part will be herding them back in at the end of free range time; neither Rick nor I are looking forward to it.

Either Henrietta or Marigold (on the far right) was investigating 

We've had plenty of visiting on both sides of the screened divide inside the coop.  It's always a "cross your fingers" few days when new and old girls are integrated.   And there is always some aggression - one can only hope it's minimal.  The term "pecking order" is accurate.  I will peck you to put you in your place.

The new girls are starting to fill out but they're still skittish around me.  It's such a slow process.  I'm so used to the big girls being fearless with me -- under my feet, stepping on my feet -- that it surprises me (irrationally) when the little girls don't want to be in the same room with me.

We can't conclude today's brief post without a donkey photo, now can we.

Spice and her windmill ears, or perhaps more like the Flying Nun

Monday, July 24, 2023

Look Who's Joined the Family

 Three days ago three little girls arrived to join my bevy of beauties.

Clara (from one of my favorite author's book series), Sharona (ma-ma-ma-ma-ma-my Sharona), and Storm (family name).

The lovelies are three months old and so very skittish (which means not very many photos).  So they're being kept separated from the big girls, who are not happy in the least with the disruption in routine.

Today was the first day i saw them exploring the covered porch area.  Each day they grow a bit more calm, but they're far from comfortable.  Last fall when we got Gigi and Stevie we introduced them to the older girls at night when everyone was drowsy, calm and going to bed.  Worked like a charm.  I made the mistake of trying it Saturday evening but it did not go well.  At all.  An important piece of the puzzle that had escaped my memory was that these girls are half the age of last fall's bunch.

You can see from the video above that JoannieLou demanded a nesting box in the little girl area and I thought since she does not tend to be aggressive it would be OK.  Well, apparently after she had laid her egg, she went into the run and was squawking up a storm because everyone else was free range.  Scared the pants off the little girls and they were all a twitter.  I've already seen how Henrietta is going to be the bully.  Yes, she got a scolding right off the bat.

Apparently the breeds are Leghorn, Black Cooper Maran, and Olive Egger.  At this stage in the game I can't tell the difference between the two black pullets.  To be honest I didn't care what breed we got.  And, in fact, this post was going to be all about how I was beating my head against the wall trying to find 2-3 girls to add to the flock.  That weren't priced at $20 per bird -- absolutely and totally ridiculous.

During the next week I'll be trying to get my photos of the cuties.

Monday, July 17, 2023

Summer = Sleek and Sexy

 Gabs shows off her summer sexy look.

I mean, come on, isn't that one lovely donkey.

Sugar and Spice have been a bit slower to shed out their winter locks.  As I've mentioned, the donks shed so much later in the season than their horse cousins.  When I first got the donkeys, it threw me for a loop.  April vs July.

Sugar still has wispy winter hair - disclaimer: these photos were taken about 10 days ago and she's much sleeker now.  She wanted you to know that.


In the video, you'll first see sleek Gabby, then Spice of the not-so-fetching bangs and finally Sugs.

And yes, the flies got bad about a week ago.

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

I don't make the trip to Trader Joe very frequently; it's a bit too far for convenience.  But today I took the plunge and boy oh boy I feel like I hit the jackpot.

And this doesn't even cover the frozen items -- vegan pizza, spring rolls (one of my musts at TJ), etc.  To be honest I was anxious to get my treasures in the freezer before I realized I should have taken a photo.
Maybe next week.

Friday, July 7, 2023

Sudden Good-Bye to Etta

 Last evening I headed out to the chonkey area for the final evening lock-up.  After throwing a last flake of hay to the donks I headed to the coop to close the little doors against predators.

The scene before me -- Etta James was lying dead on the floor.

I was stunned and just stared at the scene for several minutes.  The other girls were in bed and softly chirping.

I had brought all the girls in from free-range time that afternoon about 3:00. Nothing appeared wrong, everyone behaved normally.

What the bloody heck happened?

Etta (black) in rear

Monday, June 26, 2023

Chickens On Parade

 Our hen family of seven is a wonderful group of girls.  Who wouldn't love these affectionate (well, not all), funny, adventurous, sometimes smart bevy of beauties.

In no particular order:

Etta James
Came to us in 2018 from a farm that was being sold.   100 chickens were rehomed and we swept up the last four.  That makes Etta roughly 6 years old I was told all the girls were one).  She loves to travel out to the furthest point in the pasture during their brief free range time in the morning while I'm doing chores.  Invariably when I'm doing a head count, I only come up with six and know Etta is adventuring. 

Etta and Joannie Lu

Joannie Lu (Joan Baez/Lulu) also came from the farm with Marigold.  She tends to keep to herself.


This little girl was a rescue through the Michigan Humane Society in 2019.  Apparently there was a hoarding situation in Detroit of 80 birds.  Age unknown.  During her bumblefoot time frame she was very meek and allowed herself to be bullied.  Once she felt better, she stood up for herself, although I wouldn't call her assertive.  Isn't she a beauty.

There is a local family-run feed store that I've come to use for many of my chicken and donkey needs.  In 2021 they raised Isa Browns from chicks and Henri came to us as a three month old, making her now  2 years old.   She can be a bit greedy when it comes time for treats grabbing at my hand or hopping up to try to be first.   

Stevie (Nicks) and Gigi
Also from the Michigan Humane Society.  Just last fall.  They were confiscated from a community that didn't allow chickens.  (Lordy, check your ordinances).  They were six months old.  Clearly they had been loved and, as I've mentioned Gigi is my cuddler.  Stevie is not.




And never ever last in my affections --

Sweet Pea

In 2015 when I originally decided to venture into chicken keeping, I got three Buffs from the feed store I mentioned earlier.  And my favorite girl was one of them.  I've seen her slow down with age but she keeps up with the rest of the girls when they scurry out of the coop in the morning and afternoon and come on the fly to get treats.  She is definitely the heaviest chicken of the group!  And she's the only hen of the current group who has an unmistakable voice.  Much lower pitched then the others.  For years she has been my assistant poop cleaner upper.  Every morning when I tackle donkey manure she comes and assists, inevitably getting in the way. 

I purely love her.




Monday, June 12, 2023

This and That On Our Teeny Tiny Farm

 Lots of snippets of info this week.  Where to start.

Let's begin with Marigold.  She's the little girl we treated for bumblefoot earlier in the year.  Mar was starting to act a bit lethargic and her comb paled.  That's a HUGE red flag.  Know the color of your hens' combs - a change in color can be an indicator in health issues.

I immediately put some diatomaceous earth in the feed, put some apple cider vinegar (with mother) in a second waterer and wormed her.  She's now as peppy as the other girls AND her comb has brightened.

I am so appreciative of Rick's improvements in and around the barn and coop.  Last week he took it upon himself to install some windows in the windows.  Sounds weird I know.

The big windows hinge and are propped up with a large pole.  In the winter when they're closed the girls suffer through a significantly darkened coop.  But now, voila windows in windows.  Rick can be pretty handy.

Then there's the donkeys.  Daily life with the three is not all daisies and lollipops.  A couple of days ago Sugar put on her invisibility cloak and tiptoed into the coop to snack on some chicken feed.  When I looked up from manure duty, did a quick head count and only came up with two donks, I immediately knew what was gonig on.  That's when the yelling started. "GET OUT!!!!"  She came flying out.  Don't even try to tell me she didn't know what she had done.

 Gabby likes the more subtle approach.

Peeking in the barn to see where I am and if the coop door is open.  And if I left any treats on the ground.


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

One of my favorite items at Trader Joes.  So tasty

Thursday, June 1, 2023

Chonkey Goofball Antics

 Long time readers may remember one of Luigi's favorite past-times was wheelbarrow rubbing.  Slowly  he'd sway back and forth against the rim to catch the special spot on his perfect derriere or chest.

Spice has only recently taken up the reins.

She seems to prefer the posterior as opposed to frontal area.

Those same  long time readers will know Sweet Pea has been my manure clean-up assistant for ages.  She's still in the game, but Gigi is now my second assistant.  And is also my current cuddle bunny.  When I need a chicken hug, she's the girl I turn to.

A bit ago I splurged and bought the donks some NickerDoodle treats.  All three girls assure me they are absolutely dee-lish-ous.  Up to this point I had pretty much stuck to Mrs. Pastures Cookies when offering processed treats.  But if one had to make a comparison, one could say a NickerDoodle is like a Ding Dong, where a Mrs. Pasture cookie is like a gingersnap.  Both are tasty but one is thick and creamy and melts in your mouth where the other is flat and crisp.  

Gabby finds the NickerDoodles to be lip smacking good

Side Note:
I am in the midst of watching "Camelot" - the 1967 version with Richard Harris, Venessa Redgrave and Franco Nero.  They were all sweet young things, all gorgeous and in their prime.  Long before Dumbledore was on the printed page. 
I haven't seen this movie since I was 16 and entranced with the story.  Perhaps I'm not quite as entranced, but what a wonderful memory visit.  And oh that music.  As a teen I played that LP over and over and can sing along to most of the songs.

Monday, May 15, 2023

Scenes From a Teeny Tiny Farm

 We start the tour with three goofy donkadonks

Morning tranquility

If the windmill is back up, it must be spring!

Sweet Pea wasn't expecting a photo shoot

After near death, Stella blooms

I did find a mandevilla last week, but she doesn't have a name yet.  Introductions next Monday.

My boy, Phineas

Come on, don't you just want to smooch him!

Monday, May 8, 2023

Cranky Donks and Mandevillas

 Well boys and girls, I've been ruminating for quite a while on backing away from the blog.  Numbers are quite low.  And then there are the computer issues.  For instance I just tried to load a short video and the techno gods are doing their best to thwart me.

So for today, we'll keep it short but sweet.

The inmates like to raise a ruckus at breakfast time clearly telling me I'm late (even when I'm not).  These were taken before we opened the pasture.  Even though they only get two hours of pasture time, their frame of minds are much calmer.

Here they were allowed a bit of walkabout time (again pre-pasture) before breakfast.  You can see Gabby give Spice a little shove out of the way.  Poor Spice.  Although for the past week when they're called in from the pasture, Spice is always first to come trotting in.

And yes, they love to get brushed.  Always.  Forget breakfast when the brush comes out.  It's heavenly.  

Either tomorrow or Wednesday I'm headed to a local greenhouse for a mandevilla.
Last fall I saw an art shop's front door framed by two mandevillas and I kinda fell in love.  Yes, they'll probably be as  finicky as Stella the hibiscus.  She actually bloomed a few days ago! 

Monday, April 17, 2023

Stars of the Show

 The three donks mostly cooperated during an impromptu photo shoot the other morning.

Let's see if you can identify who's who.

Long time readers may be able to identify the girls, even with winter coats still thick and bushy.

OK, from top to bottom -- Spice, Gabby, and Sugar.  

I do not brush the donks during the winter months, not wanting to disturb the insulating abilities of those thick coats.  But now the brushing begins and they l.o.v.e it.  Ignoring breakfast to stand in line for their turn. Then when the brushing reaches each one, they stand absolutely still .  You can almost hear the ooh's and aah's.  And the donks shed out so much later than their horse relatives.  It's usually July before these three achieve their sexy sleek summer look.   

Thursday, April 13, 2023

Clucks in Heaven

 The clucks couldn't be happier.  All natural impediments to wandering far and wide have disappeared -- snow, ice, and mud.  It's free range time!

About a week and a half ago I began the delightful job of carting out winter shavings and straw from the coop.  Because I tried the deep litter method (modified) over the cold months, there is one heck of a lot to clean out.  So I started with the easiest -- the porch. 

two wheelbarrow loads

This was the perfect  time to let the girls run free into the donkey pasture -- their first foray of the season.

Boy oh boy, they had a ball.

It must be noted that little bit of clean-up set me back in persuading my back to forgive and forget an incident the previous week.  I'm no glutton for punishment so thought the porch would be benign.  Wrong...

Needless to say phases 2 and 3 of 2023 Coop Clean-up are on hold.

Regardless, here is the current cluck daily routine:
Breakfast at 9:00 a.m. with 20-30 minutes of you're on your own roaming time (within fenced areas) 
Free range 1-3:00 p.m. with afternoon treats served by the congenial waitstaff at 3:00 
Followed by sunbathing/nap time

forgive quality - shot through fencing and netting

Yes, apparently it's in the cluck handbook that snuggling is mandatory during outdoor napping.  Hard to tell from this angle but they've fashioned a nice bowl shaped pit in the corner of the run for this purpose.  I had no hand in it.

I cannot leave you without yet another photo or two of the gorgeousness of my orchid.  

And this is only half of it.  She's outdoing herself this year.

Monday, April 3, 2023

Scenes From a Teeny Tiny Farm

With more sunny days leaving their mark in Michigan, the donks are spending less time in the barn and more time sunbathing.

I'm still reveling in the disappearance of snow and ice so am not quick to complain that spring has not fully sprung.  And yes we have mud.

Long time readers know with certainty that these donkadonks love love love their Sunday slop.

Sugar makes it clear she does not want to share hot slop with some ridiculous chicken

It's hard for me to capture nice close-ups of the chicky chicks so I took the opportunity while Stevie was in a nesting box.  I don't think she was happy with me.  Egg laying is a private affair and, in fact, some chicken keepers put curtains over their nesting boxes.  But for the few moments it took, I  chanced  her disapproval.

I hate to actually say this out loud, but for the past few years I have lost a bird every February or March.  Knock on wood we've escaped the curse this year.  Please!  I don't think I've implemented any new epic procedures.  Except I've been more diligent in adding powdered supplements (from Fresh Eggs Daily) and diatamaceous earth to their feed, and have added cinnamon and cayenne somewhat frequently to their treats.   Could that have made the difference?   Hmmm...

My current experiment revolves around providing classical music to the chonkeys.  Thanks to good buddy J2 I have an AM/FM radio in the coop.  So far the hens haven't reported back on their fine listening experience but I expect I'll get emails shortly.

I can't wait to be able to clean out the coop!  Never thought I'd hear myself say that!  I kind of used the deep litter method this year -- deep shavings which are turned occasionally.  Very occasionally on my part.  They're deeper than I've ever ever used before and I want to go back to the smallish layer - much easier to walk on.  I'll have to clean in stages though or I'd have to make many many wheelbarrow trips out to the manure pile.  Think I'll start with the porch.  Now if the rain will let up...     

Monday, March 20, 2023

Scaly Leg Mites Be Gone!

 I don't want to jinx things, but Marigold's footsies may have turned the corner.  Since we've been treating them over the past two months they have improved pretty dramatically from the scaly leg mites but we hit an impasse with one foot.  The only option left (to my knowledge) was schmearing her with ivermectin.  I had been using Green Goo and Prid.  Of course any and all ivermectin is now securely locked up at Tractor Supply (since covid).  I've been buying ivermectin paste for horses and donks for over 30 years and I still can't get used to this.  Anyway, this photo is from March 14.

See the little "knobs" on the right foot.  Well after one dose of the ivermectin one of them is gone.  Hallelujah!

And the little girl continues to feel perky.

After the girls are let out of the coop in the morning and wander around a bit, she's usually the first one back demanding breakfast.  Well demanding might be a bit harsh; she has a little chirpy voice.

Here are the troops charging out for their morning constitutional.

 The donks will be so happy to have the warmer temps this week to even out the quite bumpy ground in the donkey yard.  When it warms, gets muddy, and then freezes we all have inches deep divets to maneuver.  Spice especially was hesitant to try to traverse the worst area.

Here her sister, Sugar, steals the last bit of Equine Senior.

Although Spice is allowing it her ears are back indicating her displeasure.  But Sugar has established her place as food stealer and both Gabby and Spice usually allow her dominance.

With limited room to place food bowls (out of snow) this is a typical scene of me getting blocked.

 And, no, in the midst of chores it's not funny.

I'll leave you with a quick shot of the living room foliage.  I thought it made a charming scene.

Look just to the right of the white humidifier and you'll see Stella the hibiscus.  She's leafing out more and more by the week.