April Showers

The rain has really been rolling in recently and the grass has been coming up like crazy. The view from our front porch is amazing. It is so nice to sit out there an look around. You can practically see the green things growing.Front yard

The Buffs love being outside. So much so, that when a nasty storm rolled in, they all decided to shelter underneath the coop instead of inside.

Shelter

See, no body home in here.

Inside

They have done a very thorough job of clearing the grass from the run. Sometime soon, I need to cover the ground with wood chips. The reason why I want to do this is to keep the run from smelling and being an unhealthy environment for the buffs and any future chicks we have in the area. It is also a great way to create compost.

Inside-oustide run

One neat feature of the run that I am going to miss is the Buffs are current able to do their own “edging” around the run. They reach their heads through the chain link and eat the grass on the other side.  When I put up the 1/2″ hexagonal mesh along the inside for when we have smaller chicks in here next, they will not be able to do this. You can really see the difference in the grass where I already have the mesh on the inside of the gate.

Grass eaten

To supplement their diet, David and I raked up some of the grass that we mowed and whacked down on the property. The Buffs got a little startled when I started pitch forking it into their run, but they soon discovered it was full of spiders, crickets, and other bugs and they went to town on it.

grass pile

We also recently got another undersized egg. Because we didn’t eat the last one, I decided to break this one open and see what was going on with it. It was about half the size of a normal egg, and the shell was very thin and the membrane was very thick. the shell came off when I cracked it leaving an intact membrane. When I tore the membrane, full sized yolk with very little egg white came out. I mixed the egg with some grain and fed it to the buffs.

In other news, the hay field across the lane has been fenced in and turned into a paddock for the horses my mom will be bringing up in a week and a half. The fencing is just electric for now, but my parents will be putting up more permanent fencing in the near future. Currently, Bobby is grazing it down with some of his cows and calves. If it wasn’t grazed down, the horses could eat themselves sick (and possibly to death) on too much fresh grass. For now, it is nice to be able to look out on the field and watch the calves frolicking about.

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Cat Food Stashes

Over the weekend, Grace was cleaning up and doing laundry to prepare to go out of town this week. She was going through her things and reorganizing when she found a large pile (maybe a cup or more) of dry cat food in her sock bin. She and I were both befuddled as to how the cat food ended up in her socks. We both shrugged, she dumped the cat food and we both moved on with our day. Later, Grace showed me a purse, that had been clasped shut and put on a shelf, that had another large amount of cat food in it. It was then we realized it might be a mouse’s food stash. Earlier this winter, we had a very bad mouse problem in the farm house. For some reason, it was worst in Grace’s room. We had been trapping and thought we had the problem under control. So, therefore, they must be old stashes.

The next morning, Grace woke to see the fattest mouse she had ever seen climb up her shelves to one stash site. Finding the stash gone, the mouse frantically ran to the next stash site. Squeaking in some distress, Grace saw the mouse run out of the room and return a short while later with a piece of cat food in it’s mouth and put it in one of the stash sites. Needless to say, we started another round of mouse trapping. David commented “Oh, you’re trying to kill Gus-Gus.” Yesterday morning, Matthew found a very fat mouse in one of the traps. We aren’t sure if Gus is dead or just an obese family member, only time will tell. All I know is, my cats are very bad mousers.

A Moment of Lunacy

As is frequently the case, brought to you by the animals.

Round One: Chicken Treat

We’ve started letting our chickens wander, now that they are bigger than the barn cat. They mostly keep near their bush and pen in the front of the house. A trend we encourage by throwing all their food scraps into that area. Yesterday we had pancakes for dinner and I decided to give the bowl to the chickens. Why not? It is milk, meals, eggs, and sugar. All things they love. And they did love the batter. But not the bowl.

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Here is their dilema. Not quire tall enough to reach into the center without perching on that shiny rim. Which promptly collapses under them with frightening effect causing the whole thought process to begin again. After about ten minutes one of our hens came to this brilliant solution.

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Stand on the rim so it doen’t flip over and you can eat the batter in the bowl. I don’t know if this is a general thing but our hens are way smarter than the roosters. As was proved by the rooster to the left that shoved the two hens out of the way to get the batter and could figure out how they had kept the bowl on its side, starting round two of the bowl tipping contest.

Round Two: Doggy Dillema

Since the chickens are roving, a number of them have decided that they like the front porch. Nice and dry with all kinds of interesting things in the corners. We, however, object to a poopy porch. So I tied Skye to the porch rail above the steps for a while. Dog gets some exercise trying to play with the chickens and the chickens learn that the porch is dangerous, ideally.

Practically, I had to leash a little too long. The chickens weren’t really too bothered because they are faster than the dog. But Skye got herself into a jam trying to follow the chickens home.IMG_0819.JPG

Leave it to her to find a way through the fence, sorta. Dad was able to free her after a bit of effort. Took a while because she kept trying to go forward through the fence to the chickens. She is determined to lick their faces until they agree to be friends.

Coming Fall

Around here the daylight is certainly getting shorter. Maybe I just notice more since the animals run on the rise and set of the sun and I’m not used to doing that.

The chickens are particularly tied to the sun. When the sun goes down they go to sleep and do not respond well if you try to wake them up enough to move them to their coop and dinner. Dad calls them teenagers.

This might explain why so many of them have been breaking out during the day. They have to use all their energy in a shorter time so what better way than a prison break? A habit we are trying to curb by tethering our dog near their temporary pen when we have to catch one. Skye, the dog, loves it. She adores the chickens and so far has done nothing worse than lick one enthusiastically when I let her. Of course the chickens don’t recognize dog slobber as a mark of favor or friendship.

Since the light is starting to go the weather is getting colder and windier. Because of this we’ve been prioritizing the chicken shed and coop. So far we have gotten the posts concreted into place, have the floor framed out, and ready to screw in the subfloor. Hopefully we’ll get the roof on this week. Depends on the weather which has been quite rainy.

 

 

Skye’s Confinement

Skye has certainly reached the point where she is entirely at home on the farm. However, as her comfort levels have risen her willingness to return to the house when called and her fear of wandering alone have vanished. Since we have coyotes and since we live in an area where people shoot dogs who get into their chickens, Skye is going on a leash.

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I set this up yesterday. It is a 20 ft red leash that runs between to stakes. To this a 15 ft green leash is clipped. For convenience, I installed a hook on the inside of the back door so we can hook her up and release her inside the house.

This is quite important as her latest wander happened between the green leash, which had been tied to the end of the porch, and the front door. Skye was quite pleased with herself when she came back from her hour long romp in the wilderness. I was not. Particularly since I spotted a coyote in our driveway the night before.

I made sure that Skye has spots of shade throughout the day. Skye got used to the leash quickly. She was not particularly happy about it, until Puddy found her. Once Puddy showed up, Skye returned to her usual chipper state. I don’t know why they are such good friends. But it is adorable.

Spring Walk

I took Skye out on a scouting expedition to inspect the pond and the water flow after the rain. I found a demi-pond above the one we put in that was full of frogs who did not appreciate a visit from the dog.

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We also met Puddy coming back.

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Strangely enough, Puddy seems to enjoy playing with Skye. Usually when I take Skye out Puddy will find us and start herding Skye around. Sometimes Skye will do little charges at Puddy while she bats at her. Puddy is the dominant animal. Skye still has a few marks on her nose from when Puddy caught her in the food bowl. But when Skye respects Puddy’s space, they really seem to enjoy each other.

On Cats

The expression is “You can lead a horse to water. But you can’t make him drink.” With Teddy it seems to be “You can give a cat clean water. But you can’t keep him out of the sink.” After a week of chasing him away from the dirty dishes, Teddy has another infection. I swear these cats would never survive in the wild. Although Teddy doesn’t agree with that assessment and has been stalking the doors at every opportunity.

Leo seems to understand his place in the world better, at least in this regard. The only time he has every shown any interest in going outside was when Puddy, the female barn cat, parked herself on the windowsill. Apparently unknown females are extremely interesting. Puddy kept Leo and Teddy nicely occupied that evening. Although I have to wonder if all their sniffing at the glass actually accomplished anything. It may have, some of the windows are a bit drafty.

Warm Fuzzies

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I guess Leo is finally used to me. He is back by the books giving his best startled look. Teddy maintains his usual sleepy curiosity, I did interrupt his nap after all.

I suppose I should be happy that they are not sleeping in the basket of clean laundry. It is unusually considerate of them. Or perhaps it is because they both wouldn’t fit. They were snugged together before I terrified Leo by entering my room.

Cat Hair

At my job some of my co-workers are perplexed by the difficulties entailed upon keeping any garment cat hair free. Even I have often wondered how they manage to get hair into everything. Part of the mystery was solved when I was doing laundry on the weekend.

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I missed the part where he climbed into the drum and walked around on top of the clean load. Another factor is that we hang dry things so lint and hair stay until physically removed with tape or a the lint roller. I’ve found that I have to use 4 sheets of the roller to get my work pants clean after washing.

The Nose Knows

We had a few lovely days in a row. Meaning a good run of sap and the fly/wasp population in my room booms. Not a big deal really. I wear slippers anyway since the floors need to be oiled.

However on Saturday became a bit interesting. Skye, our terrier mutt, is curious and always sticks her nose into anything she wants to learn about. This works quite well for food. Not so well for wasps. I’m mostly surprised it has taken this long for her to get stung. After all if I were a tiny little wasp and a giant poked me with a dampest of bellows, I would attack. Fending off giants is what the sting is for.

So on Saturday Skye looked a bit more like a clown dog than usual.

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Fortunately after a bit of homeopathic Apis she cleared up by Sunday morning. As of yet she has not gotten up the courage to go in my room again. But then she doesn’t like climbing the steps anyway and the cats have taken over since I put a love seat in the room.