Monday, September 18, 2017

Fermented Grain and A Swimming Pool

This post could also have been titled, the experiment that didn't quite work.
But let's start at the beginning.

Friend, Kris, texted to say a brand new local brewery was disposing of spent grain that could be used for chicken feed and for pigs and goats.  What a find!  Free donkey and chicken food.

I did do a bit of checking online to see if the stuff was safe and found some farm folks have fermented their grain intentionally as they believe it's more nutritious.  OK, we're good to go.

So Rick scooted over and we received a 25-lb barrel of fermented grain.


He immediately scooped a generous portion for the donks.  They walked away.  And would not return to the bowls.  Nope.  It was icky.

So then we tried the birds.


And they agreed it wasn't bad, but they didn't consume enough to make a dent.
Soooo, a quick text to the neighbor to see if she wanted 25 lbs of grain for her cows and we were able to pass it along.

It was such a good idea...

On another topic --

I find there's always a bit of jockeying around to make the donkey and chicken environments as pleasant and healthy as is possible.  To that end, the wading pool that had been in the chicken run for their amusement (but was also a failed experiment) was shifted to the donkey yard to allow for easy feeding without the consumption of dirt -- NOT a beneficial extra ingredient.


Yes, standing in the pool is always helpful.

And the girls got the two tires that the donkeys have ignored, and, a branch.  I'm not sure the tires are a hit (just something to climb on) but the branch is getting a little more attention.


I wish I could hit on a toy for the donks that tickled their fancy but so far everything has been a flop.  Fancy Jolly Ball - no.  Beach ball to toss around - no.  Tires to nose around - no.  If anyone has a suggestion, I'm all ears, as are the donks. 

Monday, September 4, 2017

A Chicken Sitz Bath

I first got into chicken keeping in the spring of 2015.  Two hens remain from those original four.  Sweet Pea and Ruby Dee.  Are those two more important to me?  Perhaps not, but they do hold some sort of special place.  

And little Ruby gave me a scare a few days ago.



I'm just hoping we're out of the woods.

I'll go into a bit of detail in case any of you are chicken savvy -- Melba?  Perhaps you can help diagnosis.

I noticed Ruby's rear-end feathers looked "dirty" and thought she needed a little sponge bath.  I didn't get to it immediately and soon after saw she was lethargic.  A little panic (and guilt) set in.  If you recall, Emmy Lou, who was also an Isa Brown, just died in June and I did not intend to repeat that episode.

A little  sleuthing on the internet led me to think she might have a bound egg.  The advice was a sitz bath and abdominal massage.


Rick stayed nearby, a good thing, since the girl almost escaped during the 15 minutes of warm soaking.  Then the massaging.  Rick felt no tell-tale sign of a lodged egg.  BUT, we did see a little egg string in the sitz bath water.  Of course I returned to the internet to see what the signs of an internally broken egg are.  That led us to inserting, via eyedropper, a small amount of oil into her vent.  I'm truly not sure what we accomplished, but she seems to be displaying normal behavior now.

By the way, she did not object too strongly to being dried off from her bath with my hairdryer.
Who woulda thought...

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Sunday Relaxing

For the past four years or so I have tried to reserve Sundays as chore-free days.  Days of relaxation and recharging.  And simple enjoyment.  Think Barney and Aunt Bee sitting on the porch listening to Andy play the guitar.

So, today I invite you to join the scenes of "ahhhhh".

Years ago friend Mary introduced me to Sky chairs.  This summer I splurged and bought one for reading.





Mug and book are within an arm's reach.




















From the chair vantage point, this was the view.
Peaceful.
Wonderfully peaceful.















Gunner joined me for some quiet time.

And then there's the cat.
What a goof.
Snoozed most of the afternoon on top of the hot tub.

Of course throughout the day there were donkey and chicken chores, but somehow those don't count.  Mid-afternoon I was able to storm the kitchen to make an Asian Quinoa Salad (new recipe).  And then wandered out to the donks to just sit in their company.  I don't do that often.  I happened to take out some treats and, of course, got mobbed.

  Well worth the trip out to hang with the little devils.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Flower Power

I am not a gardener.  Which among my friends is abnormal.  Ah well...
I would much rather muck out a stall or clean out the chicken coop than weed.  And my flower beds back me up.

But...

There are some that are fail-safe.
They are past their zenith, now, but, boy they were lovely a couple of weeks ago.










Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The Eeuuww Factor

Most creatures don't spook me and send me scurrying.  Well, maybe wasps.  Not spiders, not snakes, not most insects.

But then there are slugs.

Gross, gross, gross.

The buggers show up on the sides of the donkey water trough.  OK, I need to fill the darn thing and they're in the way.  So, it's a matter of picking each suctiony slimy beast off and sending him/her on his/her way in the weeds.


This is a pretty good photo of the little slimer, you can see his little horny things by his head.

I can't tell you how slimy my fingers get after this ordeal.  Yuck, yuck, yuck.
At times there have been up to eight in the trough at one time.
Let's throw in an extra yuck for good measure.

It occurred to me to take a quick look-up of slugs to appear somewhat knowledgeable.
No, don't wanna.

Thank goodness I'm not finding them everyday, as I was about a month ago.  Don't know why.  Don't care.

Yuck.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Chicken Moochers

It seems we are surrounded by food moochers.

Dudley (big dog on the right) believes it is his inherent duty and right to clean out Gunner's food bowl after Gunner has concluded the meal.

Same rules seem to apply to the donks, except the rules change as to who has the god-given right. When donks are given their teeny portions of grain or supplement, those bowls are cleaned to the n'th degree.  Hard working tongues.

Well, now the chickens feel compelled to tackle the donkey bowls following beet pulp days.  As part of the regime to bulk up Luigi and Gabariella (we've talked about this before, please take notes) they receive a modest portion of beet pulp on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.  For those horse owners out there, YES, I soak thoroughly in hot water for an hour.

Chickens are drawn to the remaining micro-specks.

  



Jo (always immerged in the bowl), Sweet Pea and Buffy investigate.























The bowl the pulp was soaked in is always of interest too.












And speaking of Jo, and her penchant for sitting in bowls (if you recall, she likes to sit in the treat bowl in the coop), she joins the ranks of manure queens.



I've only observed one other of my flock do this, and for the life of me can't remember if it was Golda or Emmy Lou (both sadly gone).

I must tell you one other story which, unfortunately, does not have accompanying photos or video.
A few days ago, I was just inside the barn, tending to some chore, when around the corner comes Sweet Pea running full tilt and slides to a stop right in front of me.  Just like your favorite baseball player sliding into home base.  No, there was no threat, no predator lurking.  She thought she was missing out on a treat.  It was probably the funniest thing I've seen one of the girls do and laughed at her outright.

What a bunch of ding dongs.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Irritability All Around

When I mentally review what is new and of possible interest to blog readers, hmmm, I come up empty handed.  Two issues which I've previously mentioned continue to prevail:  battling flies and trying to appease the insatiable donkey duo.

Add to those issues my current knee situation... and you hear a heavy sigh.
The dadblasted thing went bonkers Saturday evening for no apparent reason and mobility has been an issue since.  Thankfully I see daily improvement, but in microscopic increments.  So, my patience has been short, extremely short.  (thank goodness I have a little Honda scooter to zoom out to donks and clucks as the bike is out of the question right now)

That depleted patience views donkey insistence that they're starving 24/7 with a short fuse.

Because Luigi and Gabariella came out of the winter underweight, for the past two to three months they've been receiving double their normal rations plus some extra supplements which they regard as treats.  But I am greeted continually with their ear-shattering communication that it's not enough.

And their increasingly daring attacks upon the grain can stopped being amusing quite a while ago.  I can be inches away and they are at their tricks.

  



You can observe the sequence, while I'm standing right in front of Luigi.
These are intelligent beings, but bloody hell I don't know how to train them to stay away.
Verbal persuasion doesn't work, physical threats don't work.

It's very inconvenient to close the door behind me while getting hay then turn around with an armful to unlatch the door.

What to do!!

So, I'm irritated with the donks, the donks are irritated with me, and the flies.  Who knows with whom the flies are irritated.