Thursday, July 31, 2008

What's wrong with this picture?

Notice anything interesting about the photo above? Anybody?
Hmmmm....from the looks of it to me, that's Pistol standing surprisingly close to my pear tree which would put him IN my garden and OUTSIDE the donkey fencing.

Yup. Sure enough. There he is, with all his buddies looking on. Trust me, this is not good:

Here is the last picture I got of this particular exciting farm event. If you look closely, on the left hand side of you can just barely see the hand of my son, Aidan, carrying rope and halter down the hill to try to lead him back to where he should be:

A split-second after I took the photo above, Pistol bolted down the hill and the chase was on.

Yes, he's back with his friends now.
I'll spare you the details of how he got out. Suffice it to say it was another Farmgirl-and-her-son-working-together-thing. We seem to get into these situations whenever we do projects together. :-)

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Happy Monday turned into Challenging Tuesday

Practically overnight, life here on Critter Farm has gone from peacefully chaotic to, well...disturbed.

Poor Pip's in trouble:

It appears that a gang of chickens (mine) attacked him. Why? I have no idea. Everything had been going so well among the dozen of them. Even between the two roos, Pip and Roopert. The facts? Well, the chickens were all in their outside run and, as I went to let them free-range for a bit, I noticed a few hens with bloody beaks. Predominantly, it was Spongebob (below), the Buff Orpington, and Rose-Uppity, the Rhode Island Red:

Initially, I thought it was the hens who were hurt. But then Pip walked by. The picture below is actually after I washed a lot of the blood off, but this weird coagulated, congealed stuff that I couldn't wash off his feathers remained:

I'm in a quandary. I don't know how to keep Pip safe and I can't believe my hens actually went for him...

Jim helped me wash him off:

and administer first-aid. Dr. Naylor's Blu-Kote is my friend even if my hands are stained purple now. Poor Pip then spent the rest of the day and night sequestered in Roopert's crate:

He's still in there, as a matter of fact. I'm terrified of putting him back in with everybody.

And then the next bizarre event...Roopert. Just what WAS he thinking when he ATTACKED JIM FROM BEHIND yesterday?:

Jim had been trying to usher all poultry out of the berry patch when Roopert hung back and sneakily jumped him.

Roopert had actually done this twice to my son, Aidan, over the weekend, too, but we laughed it off, thinking it was Aidan's red metallic athletic shoes that were inciting him to fight. Guess not.

So, just what does this all mean for the roosters of our small farm? If Roopert is exhibiting aggressive tendencies toward others now, at 21 weeks old, what's he going to be like when he's all grown up? He's never been anything but sweet to me, but I can't have a pretty boy hanging around, randomly attacking visitors to the farm.

And Pip...even if Roopert were removed from the equation, would the girls continue to pick (literally) on him? I'm not sure who started the whole back-end abuse, but the girls seemed more than willing to keep at it. Will Pip ever be safe with my flock?

Adding insult to injury yesterday, I also seem to have devloped a manure management problem:

Perhaps it was the recent change in weather and the slight air inversion of late, but walking out onto my side porch yesterday, the unmistakable smell of "zoo" was in the air. While I do love all animals, this was a bit...rank.

And, sigh, my blueberries. I may have mentioned that I have somewhere in the neighborhood of 18 blueberry bushes scattered around my garden. Fourteen of them are in one section, the blueberry garden. It has come to my attention, over the last week, that someone is eating my berries who isn't ME. Or my family:

No leaves are disturbed, or munched, or eaten...just every single ripe, or almost ripe, berry is unmistakeably absent:

I have maybe 9 bushes now that have some berries still waiting to ripen, but the remainder ...every berry-bearing branch has been stripped bare.
So, into dusk last night, Jim and I were trying to hang deer netting across the bushes that still might provide us a few berries:

Today - Wednesday - has been spent (sort of feeling sorry for myself) mulling over yesterday's events and trying to figure out what to do on these many fronts. If anyone has any advice for me on any of the above, I'm ready.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Happy Thoughts on a Sunny Monday

My sweet-if-a-tad-challenged Dot, the White-Crested Black Polish hen:

...laid her first egg yesterday (that's it, in the middle):

It was a perfectly formed, white, extremely oval egg, bigger than my smallest eggs, but smaller than my biggest eggs. It weighed in at precisely 1 ounce:

My very pretty, but extremely loopy, girl:

...wanted to sing about it afterwards:

How do I know it was she who laid the egg? She is the *only* white-egg-layer of my entire flock! Remember how cute she was as a chick?:

We visited Velvet's Baby, the donkey I adopted out, at his new home on Saturday:

He lives in a wonderful place, is a happy boy, is now named Elvis, and plays with balls:

This barn smiled at us as we were driving to see him:

Back at home, the old roost in my chicken coop kept falling down, so I decided to try my hand at building a new one:

It's bit steep, but the chickens seem happy to use it and I now know how to make the next one even better:

I made potato salad using Yukon Gold potatoes I grew in my garden (that's Roxy, my pup, drinking from the hose):

and with eggs my hens laid for me:

It was yummy, too:

I saw the biggest Angus bull of my life at the county fair yesterday. Bubba is 3,400 lbs of masculine mass:

My dairy farmer/hay provider friend picked up the GRAND CHAMPION award for his dairy cows at the fair:

I think one of the calves I gave that penicillin shot to is here somewhere:

I'm having great fun with berry season. Every afternoon when I go to pick my daily bucket of raspberries, my chicken friends join me:

Bippity, the Barred Rock, is very good at pointing out the ripe ones:

Look! Twin raspberries:

I have about 10 quarts of frozen raspberries at this point:

And...last but not least....the laptop that I managed to drown in April:

has been repaired and was delivered to me just fifteen minutes ago:

Happy thoughts on a sunny Monday:

Friday, July 25, 2008

Breaking the Habit

Yes, the rumors you've heard are true. Miss Sparrow, the Ameraucana, has become a nest box sleeper:

The last few mornings, I have opened up the coop to find this:

Now, I'm not trying to gross you out or anything, but...well, it's just gross:

Nest boxes are for pretty eggs. This is a filthy habit and one that must be broken.

The first time I ever saw her climb into the box at night, I thought, "Hmmm...a bit late in the day, but (!) hooray (!), she's finally thinking about laying her first egg". Once I realized all she was going to lay was poop, though, I decided to take action.

I figured last night was as good a time as any to being trying to dissuade Sparrow from sleeping in the next box.
So when dusk fell and she jumped in:

I reached in, took her back out and put her on the roost with the other chickens:

She wasn't happy about it and did a bit of Dot-wall-staring for a moment:

...then quickly proceeded back onto the nest box platform:

The left box is clearly her favorite:

But I was going to be a consistent parent. Back to the roost with her:

And back off she...Ok, wait. Am I in a battle of wills...with a chicken?:

Ha! Now what are you going to do, Sparrow. Something's blocking your way into that box. This is why humans are smarter than chickens:

Oh. I guess I should have put something in to block the other boxes, too:

Back to the roost with her:

Over she comes again:

At this moment, it's possible she's thinking "Oh, my HELL, what is UP with this woman...?"

She received absolutely NO support from the 8 chickens fighting over roosting rights on a 2 1/2' branch:

So she continued on down the perch, investigating each box's obstruction. She was no doubt mentally measuring whether she might actually fit into one of the nest boxes WITH a foreign object. She's a smart one, that Sparrow:

Nope...that isn't going to work:

A brick? Really?:

With all of her box options exhausted, she ultimately tried to perch for the night on the nest box perch:

But no. Ms. Consistent (me) placed her gently (again) on the roost with the other girls. She was last seen, pouting on the second perch from the top, muttering quietly to herself:

This morning, there was no poop in any of the nest boxes.
Will we have to go through this again tonight? I'll let you know.