Monday, December 18, 2023

Hay Prices - Yikes!

 In our corner of Michigan the first taste of snow arrived just after Thanksgiving.

But it evaporated quickly and we all got spoiled with higher than normal temps.  Until today.
And the donkeys are not happy.

Heck no, we're not coming out of the barn.

But apparently the little we have will leave on Wednesday so no white Christmas.

The other big news at this teeny tiny farm is hay.  Do we have enough?  Where do I get more?  And how much does it cost?

Our hay supplier, for the first time since we got the donks, left Michigan for the winter.  Which meant we needed our full winter supply by Thanksgiving.  We filled the horse trailer, we filled the hay aisle, we put some in a storage shed.  But I worried we wouldn't make it until he comes back in the spring.  So I started calling around.  Found two places with hay.   I'm used to paying $6/bale.  I just paid $11/bale!  Believe me I only got the bare minimum to make sure I wouldn't have to worry.  
Good golly miss molly.

Monday, December 4, 2023

Sharone's Transformation

In the days when I thought I had purchased two black hens, things looked like this (August).
And then things looked like this a month later.
A little later in September, I clearly had a multi-colored hen.
And as we all know, in October Sharona became Sharone.

* * * * * * Vegan Delights * * * * * *
We made this dish for the family gathering at Thanksgiving and, apparently it was a hit as we came home with an empty dish.  Easy and deelish. 

Monday, November 13, 2023

Nothing Beats Donkey Lips

Note: I wrote this a couple of weeks ago but had (yet again) technical difficulties. Let's see if it flies this time.

The full moon was Saturday and I think I'm under it's effect. My patience with donkeys and dogs is paper thin. And they are testing me. But then Gabby does something like this, and well, I kinda fall in love all over again.

And so it goes.

Monday, November 6, 2023

Faith's Unrequited Love

Faith has loved two boyfriends. Gunner was her first and her love for him knew no bounds. She grieved last year when he died. Then Phineas came on the scene and she slowly fell in love again. She is most happy when she has a derriere to nap on.
However, her love is unrequited, as it was with Gunner. Both boys found Faith to be a fine companion, but love material? Perhaps not. Currently Faith has a mouthful of plaque.
When she came to us off the track her teeth immediately needed cleaning, but greyhounds don't do well under anesthesia -- no body fat. So putting her under to get those toofies clean again isn't advisable. Rick now has daily scraping duty. And she's such a good girl, she lies passively and makes not a peep.

Monday, October 23, 2023


 Turns out Sharona's name needs to be changed.  Although I suppose in this gender fluid society, perhaps not.  Anyway turns out she's a he.  Yup, I've avoided roosters like the plague having heard the horror stories and now, voila.  

I'm still getting used to calling her a him, but isn't he lovely.

I've talked to a couple of people who know roosters, trying to get  a feel for what to anticipate.  

When do you see aggression surface, if it's going to. 
How to work with him to fend off aggression.  One person told me to hold him as much as possible.  Ha!  I think the person I bought him from never did any "holding" work.  All three -- Storm, Clara, and Sharone have been people skittish.

And then there's the spurs.  I dread the day they appear.

I've been around aggressive roosters -- at a farm sanctuary I volunteered at -- and let me assure you, they scared me. 
And I've been told the ideal ratio is 10 hens per rooster.  I only have eight girls.  How rough on the girls is mating.

So many questions!

I've seen many posts in chicken groups, "want a nice rooster?"  They're a dime a dozen.  I do have a lead on one person who appears to be a kind owner if I find he won't fit.

But let's be optimistic for the moment and assume he stays in the flock. What do you think about just changing Sharona to Sharone.  I've been calling him Sharona for three months now, so I hate to make any extreme changes.  

If anyone out there knows roosters, please comment as such and maybe we can make contact.  


Monday, October 16, 2023

Donkeys Develop Demanding Diets

Mid-October means donkeys are sucking down hay like it's water.  From their loud bellows it seems they are in a perpetual state of starvation. 
That sexy sleek summer look is gone and the fuzzy winter look is starting to show.  

I still shake my head at the fact the donks are sleek for only about three months of the year. I think Mother Nature should make some modifications.

The three new chicken girls (can't call them "little" any longer) are actually starting to mingle with the big girls - successfully without getting bullied.  Well not always, but there are occasions now and then.  Even little Marigold who is low in the pecking order will put one of the new girls in her place.  Everyone is capable of being a bully from time to time.

Last post I told you Rick had modified where the new girls perch at night.  Let me try to explain.

Before we added the second bedroom to the chicken condo, we had a yellow window that was on the outside wall.  We kept the window after the addition was complete.  We'd leave it open so it was at a 90 degree angle to the wall.  That's the spot the new girls chose as their bed - up high and no co-mingling with the bully girls.  Even though we placed fresh newspaper on the yellow window daily, it became pretty soiled.  So Rick dismantled the roosting branches no one ever used, removed the yellow window, and re-assembled the roost where the window had been.  At first Clara, Storm, and Sharona said you've got to be kidding.

    But it didn't take long for them to agree to the new arrangement.

I'm going to cut this short today.  Upon leaving Tractor Supply this afternoon after yoga class, getting chickie and donk supplies, I was in a fender bender.  No, not my fault which the other guy clearly explained to his insurance agent.  But I now have a nicely dented quarter panel.  Yippee.  Anyway, although it was minor, I'm pooped.  So I will bid you a good evening.

Monday, September 25, 2023

Donkeys Gone Wild

I wrote this post a week ago, ready to show you a hilarious video of the donkeys.  And then blogspot told me it was too big.  So I trimmed it in my phone (or at least I thought I did) so it was under a minute.  But then my computer wouldn't let me paste it in the blog, blah blah blah.  I was confident if I started anew today everything would be A-OK.  Blogspot is still telling me it's too big, which I think is baloney.    

Your favorite three miniature donkeys have almost lost all interest in the pasture.  Yes, around this time of year it's not in the best shape, but some of it still has lush grass.  However, the three princesses do not deign it worthy.  And yes, their royal sensibilities are becoming a bit irritating.  Thus the following situation.

Let me preface the video clip by explaining the normal day's schedule.
Breakfast is served about 8:45 am.  At 1:00 (until the pasture is not fit for the beasts, usually around October)) the pasture gate is opened.  Post-pasture lunch is served at 3:00.  And the final dinner bell rings at dusk.

Well, recently I had the utter audacity to pass the donkey yard via the driveway at 1:00, intending to give the next door neighbor cows some carrots.  The donkeys went nuts.  And the irritation you hear in my voice is just that.

   [at this point you have to use your imagination in your mind's eye seeing three donkeys
running madly back and forth
in the yard, braying at the top of their lungs and my voice telling them to knock it off]

I have no idea what caused the frenzied behavior.  The vocalizations and running are more indicative of real trouble.  Who knows what prompted it.  Except my long held theory that they're nuts!

I may try again to figure out why it won't take the video or I just may post it on FB.  To be honest I'm tired of struggling with it.

So instead, let me show you a little clip of a teeny fountain on the deck.

What I really want you to take note of is the tall flowering begonia just behind the impatiens. 

 I've had her for years, wintering her every year.  She's taller than I am at this point.  I hate to trim her but I probably should before bringing her in for the season.   A few of the many plants that come into the sunroom on a tarp in October are old friends.  They've been around for years.  Often they look a bit iffy when they take their places on the deck in the spring, but by fall they're again magnificent.

OK, back to the chonkeys.  Sharona in particular.  She is now the biggest girl of the nine, but doesn't know it.  She kowtows to the older girls as does Clara.  Storm, however, has got some gumption and is starting to hold her own.

  Next week I'll show you the modification Rick made to the roosting area for the new girls.

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