Tuesday, February 18, 2014

An inside day

These are fascinating weather times, I must say. Extended dry spells, potent snow storms, deep freezes, damaging winds, flooding rains...we've had a bit of everything lately.  In case you are wondering, we are currently on the "flooding rains" part of that list.

It has rained so hard for the last 24 hours, even rugged, weather-resistent Kai llama didn't need much coaxing to come under cover for breakfast this morning.

Chester and Beau were insistent that a towel dry was the least that should be offered at this fine establishment.

Mr. Goldy, my stock tank goldfish, has been through some challenges lately. (You can read about how Mr. Goldy came to be at Critter Farm here.)

He went from being snowed in...

to iced in...

to what will, most likely, be flood stage by tonight...

And he has handled it all with the grace and resilience of a true carp.  He is a tremendously hearty dude (and a very special member of the Critter Farm family).  I was surprised when I did the math today and realized that this May will mark his 4th year here on the farm!

Meanwhile, back in the rainstorm, while the big animals stood under cover chewing hay, they all had a good laugh at me trying to muck poop out of puddles.

Though they couldn't quite figure out my fascination with the patterns the downpours are making on their mineral blocks.

That's ok.  I'm not ashamed to say I am keeping myself entertained any way I can until the sun starts shining again.

Oh.  One more thing.  There's a new face here on the farm.

He's very big and very wild and has decided he really likes eating Clyde's food that I keep up at the barn. I'm monitoring this situation closely because there has been some evidence of scuffling in the barn that might indicate a territory war.  I am concerned that shy Clyde might be being bullied and this will not do.  Perhaps this new guy just needs to have someone explain the Critter Farm rules to him?

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Juicy farm gossip

Some say it's nothing to be taken seriously.

But chicken tongues are beginning to wag.

The girls of the flock, of course, have been gossiping about it for some time now.

Honey, my chicken-free-spirit, has been hanging out lately around the chicken coop. She hasn't done this in almost three years.  At first I thought she was considering reintegrating herself with the flock and I got really excited.

But then I realized, it's not necessarily the entire flock that she's interested in.

The other hens are none too pleased.

But rumor has it (and, as you can see, some tell-tale photographic evidence exists) that a certain yellow buff chicken and a certain studly rooster have been spending more time than usual together.

It's slowly becoming clear that they have a bit of a "thang" going on.

Honey does all sorts of flamboyant-chicken-things to try to impress Roopert.

I don't blame her a bit; he is awfully handsome.

Roopert, though, generally remains aloof and pretends not to notice.

Except for sometimes, when he thinks nobody is watching.  I caught this shot yesterday through my kitchen porch door. 

He is actually very attentive to her.  Where can all this lead?  We shall see.  Perhaps I should have titled this post: A Belated Valentine Tale?

(Roopert and Honey....sittin' in a tree...K-I-S-S-I-N-G)

Friday, February 14, 2014

How I know things are finally melting

Aside from drippy trees and muddy paths, there are many signs my critters give me to let me know that "the melt" has officially begun.
Sure, I could just look at the obvious signs - like dripping fence boards - but I find animal behavior a much more reliable (and enjoyable) indication.

When melting begins for real, Beau and Chester begin to assist with mucking again, instead of hiding in their stall.  One of their favorite mild weather activities is to stand as close to where I am working as possible, barely giving me any space to shovel between their feet.  Of course, they act all like they're not doing anything other than just hanging out, but I know they're secretly messing with me.  I don't mind.

Another indication of the melt is when Pete and Reggie come out from the safety and warmth of their cozy goat house to stand on their look-out towers wooden spools again.

These boys are the proud guard goats of the upper property, where the keep a watchful eye on all the comings and goings occurring in the driveway.  I can tell they are relieved to have returned to duty.

But probably the biggest sign that the melting trend is for real is when Honey (my chicken who left her flock to explore the world as a solitary, free-ranging hen) finally ventures out of her crate on the porch, where she has been under self-imposed house arrest since the snow began.  She does not like snow and she really does not like cold feet.  This girl stays put when it is snowy or below 30 degrees outside.

So, you can see why it's a good sign when she starts doing her walk-abouts again.

After carefully calculating the danger levels of temperature, snowpack and distance...
Honey ventured the farthest she had in over a week - all the way to the goat house, where she scratched and pecked and clucked happily, finding her first juicy bugs and worms in days.

Of course, Reggie was at his post and alerted the neighborhood accordingly.

Tomorrow:  Rumors are flying in the chicken coop!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

It snowed on my hoody... and other things

The weather predictions came true and we wound up with 14" of snow.  The initial flakes that fell were tiny delights to my eyes....amazing six-pointed stars and heart shapes landed on my hoody sleeve.  I must've looked really silly photographing my arm, but I was enthralled.

It snowed on my farm pup, Roxy.  That girl loves the snow.  She snuffles it. 

It snowed on my donkeys and llama.  Kai, like Roxy, loves the snow, but Chester and Beau look a little disgusted by the whole event, don't you think?

It even snowed on Pete and Reggie, who normally steer clear of any contact with cold and wet.

Pete went so far as to tell me he wanted to go for a walk with Roxy.

Until reason took over (or his little goaty feet got cold) and he and Reggie suddenly turned tail and bolted back to their goat house.

It snowed on my ancient little car that slide off the hillside, rendering it incapacitated until the snow melts.

It snowed on my kitchen porch.  A lot.

It snowed a ridiculous amount on the back deck.  Poor Roxy, she briefly considered going out here.  Now she is just dreaming of summer when this is her favorite place to nap in the sun.
As near as I can tell, the one thing that it did not snow on was shy Clyde.  She took refuge in the barn under the tarp covering the straw and simply waited out the storm.

Once I got my fill of taking pictures of snow on things (can you tell it's kind of a novelty in my part of Oregon?), I realized how long it was going to take to melt 14 inches of snow and I sighed heavily.  And then the forecast warnings for freezing rain began.  Fortunately, the worst of it is now over and I have returned to focusing all my energy anticipating the return of spring.

My thoughts are also with my friends (and everyone!) in the south and east who are currently dealing with yet another round of intense winter weather.  Please stay warm and safe, everybody!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

When people blog about gardens and spring in winter

 Ok. I admit it.  I dreamed - and then wrote - about spring and planting way too early.  Any hopes I had of planting early spinach and pruning my raspberries this week have now been dashed. Patience, I tell myself...patience.

Here on the farm, I know the temperatures are dipping when I find Clyde sleeping on the hot tub cover.

Another sign that it's nippier than normal is when I bring in kindling for the fire and all the chickens rush to the door wanting to come in and get warm.

For mild-weather northwestern Oregonians, when temperatures drop to the teens, it's a pretty big deal.  We just aren't accustomed to being that cold and it requires a great deal of panic and freaking out  preparation to ready for it.

Fortunately, I've got my beyond-reasonably-cold farm routine down pat and this morning was the time to run through it.

Roxy insisted on wearing her favorite pink sweater for this morning's chores, but casually mentioned on her way to the barn that she is going to need some matching pink boots if she is going to work with me any more this week.

Once at the barn, I alerted Mr. Goldy, the stock tank goldfish (see the orange blob in the water above?), that we wouldn't be having our morning chats for a few days.  He's cool with it.  He doesn't seem to mind at all when the sky over his head completely freezes over for days at a time.

I made sure the heat tape wrapped around the water pipe was turned on and I put my handmade insulator (bungee cord and loose insulation) around the outdoor spigot.

I pulled the heated water bucket back out of storage and connected it to the lengthy extension cord that is once again running across the barn floor.

I made sure the bedding in Kai llama's stall got some fluffy new straw.

Kai insisted on inspecting my work.

She is always very thorough.

Shy Clyde surprised me by coming into the barn for a bite to eat while I was there.

But she quickly retreated (flew?) when I got too close with my camera.

I turned to find Chester behind me.  He wanted to know if he could do anything to help.
Just kidding.  He actually had some complaints about the quality of hay I've been serving and wished to request a bucket of chilled carrot coins for his mid-afternoon snack.

(I'll get right on that, Chet.)

When we got back to the house, Roxy informed me she had changed her mind about the winter boots.  She has decided to spend the rest of the week right here.