Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Sophie takes a wander, chicks have a new pen

After all the drama on Saturday losing my Brave One to the Killer Lester, I wanted Sunday to be a nice relaxing beautiful spring day...which it was until I let the dogs out again.

I try to keep them on the back 40, knowing that the chickens are usually out front. SO Lester and Sophie and I are walking down to the creek, right before the whistle blows at 5pm, dinner time. That has always been the plan, take them out at dinner time knowing they'll come back when they hear the whistle. Problem is, they are both going deaf. Lester's inner clock tells him it is 5 pm (even when it's only 3:30) so he mostly comes right back, no problem.

Sophie, on the other hand, disappeared. Two hours of searching, and no Sophie to be found. She has done this before, and usually comes slowly wandering back; but this time, it's getting dark and there's no Sophie. Luckily The Husband was on dinner duty, so I had all the time I needed to search... No Sophie...

Finally, and I don't know what inspired me to do this, I drove around to the road behind us, which I had already done a few times, and I parked the car. I thought I saw something Sophie-colored in the field, but I got there and it was just a broken tree trunk. But then I look around and there she is, way off to my left, down in the mucky, swampy part where I never would have seen her from the road or from anywhere else for that matter!

She had mud up to her knees, all 4 of them, so I think she might have gotten stuck in the mud, although she was not stuck when I saw her. And do you think she'd be happy to see me? No, still just poking around down there! Eventually I convinced her to follow me back to the car, and ride home, mud and all. Could be she was exhausted from unsticking herself from a mudhole, could be she's getting a little senile and didn't know where she was (or who I was ?). I dunno. All I know is that I was VERY happy to have her back!

And those short ribs The Husband made were perfectly done—cooked to perfection and much welcomed by a starving and exhausted me.

So after that horrible experience on Saturday with the chickie babes in the dog crate outside, I will be using the crate only as their night-time roosting spot from now on. They can have the Chicken Hospital space in the garage with the heat lamp until they get a little bigger and are ready to join the others in the coop. I spent the last 2 days creating an enclosure for them on the side of the garage. It's not pretty, but it is safe as far as I can tell.

This life on the farm ain't all it's cracked up to be! I knew it would be hard work, but I didn't know it would be so stressful. It is really hard not to get attached to these chickens! Who knew? And who knew these 2 old dogs were going to give me such a headache?

Friday, March 16, 2012

Big girls getting ready to fly the coop!

It's just a week since the last photo posted of the baby chicks, and they no longer look like babies. It is quite amazing to see how much they've grown in just the past few days.

Since the weather has been quite warm up here, I think we are going to move them outside this weekend. The problem will be integrating them into the rest of the flock. I think we will have to keep them in their little dog crate at night to keep them safe from predators, and at least in a fenced area during the day to keep them safe from their 1-year-old sistas and roo.

I can't wait to see the roo dance when he finally sees them for the first time. As ornery and obnoxious as he is, he is quite comical as well. That's the only thing keeping him from becoming dinner—he still makes me laugh. Well that, and the fact that neither one of us is capable of "making him dinner".

The gray one in the front on both photos is the one I am calling Brave One. She is always first to come see me when I open the door, and just recently will jump onto my hand and come out to sit with me. The only other one who has a name is Blondie, one of the red girls who had a very blonde head, but now that they're all almost redheads, I can barely pick her out.

UPDATE Saturday, 3/17My Brave One was a little too brave today. After only one happy day outside in the sun, when I let the dogs out this afternoon, Lester immediately got to barking at the crate full of chicks. They went into a frenzy, and in the second that the Brave One poked her head through the crate, Lester got her. She is gone. I don't know how this integration of the babies into the flock is going to go. The other girls and Roo came out to see the chicks today and didn't seem to care, but I fear further issues will arise. And then there was that hawk circling above today...

Sunday, March 11, 2012


We went to meet the babies who will become the latest additions to the growing family at Lester's Flat—goats. Karen, who also works at the Farmer's Museum, has a beautiful farm not too far from here. Her goat mamas have produced 14 kids for us to choose from, but we will only be taking 3. I thought we would actually be choosing those 3 when we went to see them yesterday, but she still has not made up her mind as to which ones she wants to keep, and I can see why. They are all very adorable.

For as long as The Husband will allow me, these are the best photos of the kids—the only ones where they were standing still long enough to have their pictures taken. Thankfully, they were chewing on his jacket, and not on his hair, like they were doing to me when I sat down.

We were both impressed with how well this large assortment of animals all get along in one barn. In addition to the kittens and chickens and goats, there were adult cats, dogs, about 30 cows and calves, and who knows what else. The goat kids were jumping on and off a calf who was resting on the floor (or trying to).

I am thinking it is a good thing that Karen cares for them until mid-May—let them use up some of that kid energy before they come to live with us. I am not sure we can keep them entertained quite so easily.

Friday, March 9, 2012

New snow, new chicks, new feathers

Even though we have fresh snow again this morning, I do believe we are on our way to warmer temps. The snow in the previous photos mostly melted away in the last 2 days when it was almost 60°. Then it is cold again today, snowing on and off, but warm again in a few days.

The new chicks are doing well. They are getting big, and enjoying their new digs. They have outgrown their plastic bin, and moved into the dog crate (the same one the 2 pigs actually fit into when we first brought them home). I had to rearrange the crate a few times, because the chicks keep messing up their water and food with all their antics—flapping their wings, jumping up on things, pecking at each other and chirping away—just being crazy kids like they're supposed to be.

I think they will have to be inside chicks for a few more weeks. Even though their new feathers are coming in quickly and will keep them warmer, I have to keep them separated from the big girls until they are big enough to defend themselves.

And just look at those new feathers! The little barbs with the new feathers inside actually push out the downy baby feathers. Until the real feathers fluff out, the girls look pretty scraggly.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Hey, what happened to that warm winter?

We were supposed to get 2" to 4" of snow yesterday, after having very little this year. We probably got about 4" to 6", but look what's happening today! Hey, c'mon, it's March 1, knock it off with the snow!

At least we won't feel as though we wasted our payment to our snowblower, Mr. Kelley. It would have been tough to hand over the $300 we still owe him at the end of the season knowing that he only came out 3 times before this. He's earning his money today I am sure.