Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Coop Du Jour

First of all, thanks to everyone for sticking with me. I was joking about only having one reader (although Mom, you'll always be number one)! I mean it when I say that I really appreciate all my readers--every single one of you! For the life of me I can't figure out why anyone would want to read about my daily life, but I do admit I have a lot of fun writing this blog. The fact that it's read and getting to read your great comments is icing on the cake!

[Awkward segue alert!]

Speaking of icing on the cake, or at least the eggs for that cake, I got the chicken coop done today.

All the chicks moved into their new henhouse (even the rooster) and they seemed to love it. Lots of room to peck and scratch around in!

Later on in the day it was nice enough to take everyone's blankets off, including Betty who is shedding like a banshee!

What is a "banshee" anyway?

Bambi is ready for her beauty treatment, which I hope I can get to tomorrow. These kids need to be groomed and clipped badly!

But, as always, food is first. I went to Hutch and got a truck load of hay today. I only got a truck load since my back has been acting up. I thought 20 bales was plenty to unload for the time being. Next week I'll have to go pick up my usual 80.

There's just something about beautiful, leafy, green alfalfa.

The girls think so, too. They were eyeing it the moment I drove up, even though they just barely finished a 1900-pound round bale of alfalfa in NINE days!

Swine horses.

Evie is a little easier to please. She found a piece of "mouse jerky" and displayed it proudly.

In case you're wondering, "mouse jerky" is a piece of mummified mouse that somehow got ran over and then left there, usually in the driveway, over the winter. What happens is Sophie finds a mouse, kills it, and then brings its carcass into the drive for the fun and games of flipping its lifeless body into the air. Then she gets tired of it, leaves it there, and then it gets smooshed into oblivion, only to be found by the keen noses of my three canine companions.

See, this blog isn't just entertaining. It's educational.

Expanding the vocabulary of city-folk one disgusting tale at a time,


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Cop Out

I had planned on writing (for once) a fully informative, well-written post entirely worth reading, but...I'm a big, fat, lazy wuss who would rather go to bed early than do something for the betterment of the one person who reads this blog (thanks, Mom :)

I do have a pretty good excuse (or several mediocre excuses, in any case). Here's what all I did today:

1. Measured the floor in my trailer and ordered the oak planks. They should be in on Thursday or Friday (fingers crossed, since I have a clinic on Saturday). This took two trips since two different people's quotes totaled a difference of $50 PER BOARD. Needless to say, I waited for the "cheaper" guy to come in.

2. Finished the work I did sanding and re-staining the window sill in my Dad's bedroom at his house in town. Before he moved in, they used to put a window air conditioner in that window, so it ruined the finished. I got it looking back to its former glory, or close to it, between yesterday and today.

3. While I was at Dad's I found his house numbers, that he hadn't hung up yet, so I hung them up for him. I figured it would be a nice surprise for when he drove up. I'm not sure he noticed, though, since he didn't call. I'll have to rib him about that.

4. Remember all those amazing free (17"!) truck tires I managed to inherit over the past year? I had a couple of them put on the back wheels of my truck today. The front tires are still practically new, so I just changed out the back. Made a lot of difference and will hopefully help me to haul better!

5. I went to the dentist yesterday and didn't have my current insurance card, since they changed insurers the week before I was laid off. I emailed the HR manager and she sent me a card I could use, so I turned that in today and (keeping fingers crossed) I can get reimbursed for what I paid out of pocket.

6. I went to the library and got more gardening books because, you know, I really need MORE projects! That makes as much sense as this picture.

I just feel like I should have at least one item of visual interest in each post.

7. I got my chicken roosts done. Sunday Dad (despite being in mourning over KU's loss) helped me move the nesting box (aka, The Clutch Hutch) into the coop, so tomorrow I'll move the roosts in, get the bedding down the the temporary fencing up and get the chicks moved out to their new digs.

I'm putting up a fence just to try to get them to know where "home" is at first. And hopefully train Sophie not to chase them.

She gives them the "eye" everytime she passes through the back porch.

8. Evie has chewed up everything she possibly can get her grubby little paws on (plants, magazines, papers, shoes, underwear (which she digs out of the hamper?!?!)--pretty much anything except her TOYS). I know this isn't something I've done, per se, but it does contribute to my inability to put together a proper blog post.

It also contributes to my inability to reason, spell, or find an appropriate conclusion to thi


Monday, March 28, 2011

"One of these things are not like the other..."

Thanks to Sarah R. for the title of this...situation that I find myself in. See, when I went to the store, I was assured that all my chicks were, well, chicks. Girls, females, future hens--pullets!

Yet this morning, I discovered that one of these is not like the others. One of my hens...crowed.

The offending party....

Ruth summoned the flock together for an immediate deliberation.

The vote was a to hold a roast. Here's a sample from Steve Buscemi who stopped by with a new hairdo to assist:

What happened to the baby chicken that misbehaved at school? It was eggspelled.

Seriously, it's ok. I needed a rooster anyway, and he'll sure be a pretty one. I just hope there aren't too many of them as there's no way I could bear to cull them, no matter how tasty they might be. Watch...I'll have a whole flock of boys.

That would be just my cluck.


Sunday, March 27, 2011

Bambi's Story

Looking at these two girls in this photo here, I feel an enormous sense of pride, not only for what they are, but for what they've become, despite the neglect they suffered at the hands of others.

It's hard to get a grasp on the latter unless you know their history. Here is Bambi's story.

I bred Bambi's mother and then traded her to a friend of mine who thought she'd be a good 4H horse for her daughter. As what happens with many of us, life got in the way, and she sold Bambi's pregnant momma to a lady that I knew in Missouri.

I was tempted at the time to warn her. After all, I knew this lady for often having problems with keeping her horses in good condition. Sometimes they would be fine, other times I was shocked at what I saw there. I always had hoped that each time she set things right, it would be for good. I wanted so badly to believe the best in people, but so many times have sadly been proven wrong. This was one of those times.

I said nothing, hoping that since it was Eddie's foal (my stallion who she claimed to like so much) that she would be especially careful to take responsiblity for the care of this mare and foal. I was so disappointed to find out otherwise.

When Bambi was born I was living in Kansas City, so I made the hour trek up north to see the mare and foal. I was saddened by what I found. The mare was skin and bones. Fortunately the foal seemed healthy, albiet it small, but I worried about them both, especially considering the condition of the mare, and the woman met me out front with them both--I could not see the other horses to see if this was a unique circumstance or not. I offered to buy them alfalfa, to get the mare back in better shape and help her growing foal, but was turned down. I was told she would put them on some better feed and all would be fine, so I left and hoped for the best.

A couple of months later, I was contacted by the woman asking if I knew of anyone who would want to buy the mare. She said she was still in poor condition. I contacted my friend whom I had gotten the mare from and she was (oh so thankfully) willing to help me save the mare, and maybe, in some way, we could manage to save the foal as well. I was told she wanted $600 for the foal, which neither of us had, but my friend agreed to take both the mare and foal and we'd either buy the foal or take her back. Maybe, in the meantime, we could come up with the money, but at least we could get them fed.

I had to make a choice that day, between moving my sister and saving Bambi's life. I chose the latter and while it wasn't fair to my sister, even though I showed up after hours of driving to help move her, but it's not a choice I regret making. Seeing Bambi now healthy, standing out in my pasture, makes it worth it. Who knows what might have happened to her had so many people not pulled together to save her.

That day I woke up early and went an hour south to retrieve my horse trailer (I was living in an apartment at the time) at a friend's house, but the lights would not work (it was so early it was still dark out and I could not go through Kansas City without trailer lights), so I had to phone the lady who had the horses and ask if I could use hers. I had no other choice. Thankfully she agreed, so I went an hour north of Kansas City and picked up the mare and foal. They were so thin and so weak that I immediately drove to TSC, bought a bucket and some beet pulp and sat in the parking lot for half an hour, letting it soak enough that I could give it to them. The mare ate it up but the foal was so lethargic, she would only lay there. I feared she might not even make the trip.

I drove everyone back to an hour south of Kansas City where I'd meet up with my friend at our mutual friend's place. I was grateful to see the filly still alive when we arrived. I got them out of the trailer and put them in a stall, thinking I probably wouldn't ever see this little filly again. She was so weak, so pitiful-looking, that I couldn't see how she could survive the five-hour trip to my friend's house and still go through rehabilitation. It's difficult for an adult horse, let alone a two-month old filly who had never had the nutrition she so desperately needed.

I took the trailer back an hour north of Kansas City and explained the situation and my friend's assessment to the lady. I was honest--that we didn't expect her to make it, but would keep her informed. I left and cried all the way back home. Although my sister was mad at me, I was glad she had found someone to help her move. I was exhausted.

When my friend got Bambi and her momma home, the next day, they took this picture of Bambi:

She had survived the trip. She called me and we discussed the situation. Should we put her down? Even if she did live through it, would she ever be able to thrive? She was the most "downed" 2-month old filly we had ever seen.

Just for comparison, when I had an orphaned filly, she looked like this at 2-months old (one on the right). It's hard to believe that Bambi had suffered more than even an orphaned filly had.

Bambi's momma was in such bad shape that she had stopped giving milk entirely:

It was really a sad situation. A nursing mare needs an enormous amount of feed just to maintain her condition, let alone recover and feed a recovering filly. I had a serious conversation with the lady that we got them from. This rehabilitation would take a lot of time and money and was still not guaranteed. It was plausable that the filly should perhaps be put down, as she had not had the nutrients she needed to grow properly. Would she ever be able to be a normal, healthy horse? Asking $600 for the filly was unreasonable--could a compromise be reached?

After some negotiation, I agreed to trade a stock-trailer full of delivered prairie hay, a saddle and saddle blanket for her. Our mutual friend south of Kansas City allowed me to buy the hay from her at a discounted rate, so when I say that many people helped save Bambi, I mean it was truly a community effort. Friends did everything they could to help.

When I delivered the hay, the lady brought out a little puppy and, having lost my beloved Layla only a week before to cancer, I couldn't bear to give the puppy back. She kissed my nose and that was that. I named her Sophie.

Little did I know how far ahead I would have ended up out of this terrible ordeal--to have both Bambi and Sophie in my life, now. It's proof that things do sometimes happen for a reason.... And after only a week or two of good feed, though, both mare and baby were looking better.

The filly was perking up and the mare's milk came back in. When I went to visit a month later, I couldn't believe the filly's progress!

This little filly, Bambi, who was smaller and weaker than a fawn when we picked her up, had blossomed into a strong, healthy, gorgeous filly.

Since I lived in an apartment, I did post her for sale shortly. I am so glad no one was interested in her. I got my place south of Kansas City and immediately took her off the market.

My dear friend who brought Bambi back to life, brought her to me and she has been with me ever since.

Then we came to Kansas, and she happens to look gorgeous here, too....

Looking at her now, it's hard to imagine that this brickhouse of a mare came out of such hardship.

And now, instead of crying tears over her situation, there are only tears of joy, of thankfullness, that such a wonderful filly is in my life.


Saturday, March 26, 2011

Two Projects (Almost) Done!

Yesterday was a busy day. I hired a guy with a bobcat to come out and drill postholes for me, and while he was here we pulled up the old mailbox, drilled a posthole for the new one, then he cleaned up the burn piles for me and also pulled out a few volunteer trees that I needed out of the way. It felt good to get so much done.

After he left, I set the corner posts (so later I can put up a line and do all the others), then I set and painted the mailbox post. Then I went comatose around 8:30 last night.

Thankfully I woke up pretty refreshed, albiet feeling like I was closer to 80 than 30. Plus, it's cold, foggy, misty, cold, and down right depressing outside, so after going to the store, I thought I'd lazily finish my nesting box project.

I've been working on building a nesting box for the chickens out of an old cabinet that I found in the old house. It wasn't even salvagable, but rather than throw it away, I felt a conversion was in order. Here's how it looked before I started:

Here's how it looked with the addition of some old barn wood, dividers, and a bit of paint (please forgive the crummy lighting--there is no natural light today).

I know it's pretty rough, but I "meant" it to be that way. It's for chickens, after all....

Here's the mailbox before:

Mailbox after:

I do need to do one more coat of paint, but can't finish it in this damp weather. Since I'm too lazy to go clear to town to get the mail I went ahead and just put the mailbox on this morning. I'll finish up the paint job a bit later, when the weather is better.

Here's another before:

And after:

I also plan on putting numbers on the post as well. And plant some decorative grass right behind it. Then a fence behind that. Then some cedars for privacy. Then replant the front yard. Then landscape the house....

See now why I'm so thrilled about a mailbox?

Friday, March 25, 2011


I've been really bad about posting lately, posting quality posts, reading other peoples' posts, and commenting on other posts. I'm in the middle of umpteen million projects, but one of them is to get with the blogging program. I hope to be back on track soon.

"Soon" is a relative term, by the way.

In the meantime, here are a quick 5 things that are on my mind right now, at 6:48AM this Friday morning.

1. I just asked Milton (kitty), "Why are you so retarded?" Sometimes I really hope that no one has a microphone in my house.

2. Everyone thinks that Sophie is so hyper, but she is still in bed. When I saw her get up and walk into the living room, I said "Good morning Strudel (one of my many nicknames for her). You want some breakfast?" She stretched, yawned, and then like a teenager, she smacked her lips, lazily turned around and went back to bed.

3. Evie, on the other hand, was ready to get up at 4AM. I made her stay in her kennel until 6AM, even though she cried until 5AM. I'm more stubborn than her, so I won.

For some reason I don't feel like I won, though. She's running around the house, chasing Milton, and I've got a Big Gulp full of expresso in front of me.

4. Something I didn't know until I started reading about chickens in anticipation of getting my own flock, is that they can be cannibalistic.

Not to worry, I haven't had that problem (yet), but one of the little red ones did get her tail feathers plucked out. She's ok--it's scabbed over and there hasn't been any more injuries, but I think that means it's time to get them outside. We're having a cold snap, though, so we have to try to wait it out until Tuesday. Hopefully they can just hold on a few more days....

Maybe I should get them some Peeps, so they can eat chick-shaped marshmallows, instead of chick-shaped chicks.

5. I was told Spring was here.

It's trying, I think. Sort of like yours truly.


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

RIP Elizabeth Taylor

What to Do Today?

Seems that although I don't have to go to work, there is more than enough work to do and errands to run to keep me busy. Yesterday I took the day to go to the chiropractor (a pinched nerve in my hip really had me whining) and on an off chance, I took off to the big city to see if I could get my hair cut. I happened upon a cancelled appointment and the hairdresser cut my hair perfectly. When I asked him about the charges for coloring (because I was pretty unhappy with a recent attempt to cover up all my gray), he gave me too good of a deal to pass up and he colored my hair perfectly as well--my natural color, just sans the gray.

So, that was one thing checked off my to-do list. Let's see...what else is on this list of mine?

1. Buy my car tags

2. Get my driver's license switched over from my married name. It's only been three years since my divorce--this has been on the list for a while....

3. Finish cleaning out and organizing the old house/future shop.

Yikes! This also involves item 3a--taking a load to the county dump.

4. Finish the header for this website and complete a stallion flyer for a friend of mine.

5. Call and pick up Moose's coggins test, so he can go to his new home.

I'm gonna miss the big dork.

6. Replace the floor in my trailer--I found a couple of cracked floorboards, so I'm just going to replace the whole thing. Better safe than sorry! It's a brand new floor, too--so not real happy that I have to do it. I'm thinking that the boards weren't the best quality to begin with(?). Anyway, must get that done, plus buy a new spare tire and patch one of the new tires, so it's all ready to go to the clinic that Paula and I are going to on April 2nd.

I can't wait--it will be a lot of fun and Paula and I can use the work!

7. The chickens are growing up fast, which means I need to get to work finishing both the inside and outside of the coop. I plan on painting it to match, using leftover roofing materials to reroof the top to match the house, and then extending the roost that I started last week.

I need to add a few nesting boxes, too.

8. Getting all those post holes dug, posts installed and fencing up. Right now the skidsteer guy is waiting on a part for the machine, but as soon as that's in he'll be over. He's also going to help me remove the old mailbox and dig the hole for the new one. Once the mailbox and all the posts are up, there will be a lot of painting to do as well (all white)!

9. I need to organize my tack room so I can wash and hang up all the winter blankets that the horses no longer need. It's always so hard to find a good place to hang blankets, so when I stumbled across this, I thought I might try to make it and use it for just that.
The hooks should certainly hold!

10. About a zillion other things, like take a load of metal to the dump, finish getting the garden ready, mulch the new plants in front of the garage, finish ripping the roof off the garage, getting my strawberry patch ready to plant, getting the lawmower ready, finish readying the new building for the horses, finish trimming the trees in the back, refencing the northeast fenceline.....

Well, I could go on and on, but it gets a bit depressing, and I don't have time for depressing. How in the world am I going to get all this done?

One day at a time, my friends. One day at a time.

Monday, March 21, 2011

48 Hours

The last two days have been a whirlwind. If I don't get back to work soon, I might possibly kill myself by way of manual labor.

OK, that might possibly be overstating a tad, but it's how a feel, and as you well know, I rarely hold back when it comes to how I feel.

I'm. In. Pain. Here's why:

I spent most of Sunday with Dad getting all the lines marked for the new fence. Saturday morning we picked up 10 panels, and by the end of Sunday, we knew we needed 18 more, plus a few special-order lengths, plus our gates. That doesn't include the 30-something posts and bags of cement, plus the panel ends and corners. In other words, this is only the beginning.

You wouldn't think it would take several hours to get everything staked and flagged, but it was a trial-and-error sort of project.

We ended up having a happy little mistake--the panels didn't flesh out all the way to the end, so we were going to end up making quite a few special-length panels, or I would end up with a walkway.

I loved the idea of a walkway between the horse pens and the turnout area. That will leave a double fence so horses aren't leaning over to pick on each other, and it gives me a perfect space to feed horses from, without having to fight any in the turnout or walk clear around the north side of the pens. Perfect!

Evie thinks she's a farm dog now.

Dad went home but I kept working--got some more trees trimmed and worked on horse-proofing the shelter. If you don't have horses, just let me say this: biologically they have to be related to beavers. No matter how much feed you give them, they will eat every piece of wood in sight if not covered with metal.

Swine horses.

Changing gears, I got the brooder all cleaned out and put in fresh bedding and bleached out their waterer and feeder last night. They were pretty happy chicks.

That big Barred Rock there is "Ruth." She's the only one I've named, because she's the only one of the bunch that will actually walk up to me.

Yes, I have gotten attached. No, no one is surprised.

Today I decided to start cleaning out the old, one-room house that will eventually serve as a shop to store all my tools in, and in getting things organized, I'm also cleaning up the pump house. I took "before" pictures that I'll share as soon as those two projects are done, but I did want to share one result of cleaning those sheds out:

These are all CANS. For years my Dad collected cans and put them in these buildings, planning on taking them in for recycling. The latter part never happened--with his schedule and only one weekend off a month for many years, it just wasn't practical--so the mice tore open the bags and cans were everywhere. I started cleaning them up about a year ago and it was overwhelming, so that project got pushed aside--until today.

In all honesty I did take them to the recycling center to see if I could get a little extra cash (Dad said it was fine with him and I am unemployed afterall, which makes me especially cheap) but they were closed, so I dropped them off at the church camp collection area. I was happy to get them off the farm, and hopefully they'll help someone out!

Since I was in town anyway I picked up some more mulch, got home, let the dogs out, and started working on my veggie garden. I had Evie tied up, since she's only been here a couple of weeks I don't quite trust her to run free yet (being so close to the highway and all). Charlie decided he'd play with her a bit.

My 13 year old Aussie playing with my 3 month old Mini-Aussie. They're quite a pair.

Earlier today I had already turned the soil and compost over in the main area of my veggie garden, so all I had to do this evening was mulch it and work on the smaller veggie garden. In the smaller area, there was an unused grounding rod that I wanted to dig out.

Apparently proper grounds reach China.

It took a while (and the post hole diggers) but that sucker finally came out.

And the garden was complete...until planting time, anyway.

This morning I also got a roundbale of alfalfa delivered for the horses (forgot to get a picture there) but their truck broke down while the hired man was delivering it, so I had to tow him out of the pen. I felt bad the transmission went out, but talk about timing--it was right after we got the hay bale set!

It's nice to get things accomplished, though. Well, my mind thinks so. My body, right now, says otherwise.

Ibuprofen is my new bestest friend,