Welcome to my blog! If you enjoy my stories, please leave a comment. I love hearing from you!
Showing posts with label animals. Show all posts
Showing posts with label animals. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Horses & Chickens & Kids, Oh my!

Yesterday was wonderful, despite having to deal with the nursing home issues mentioned in my essay's blog. I thank God for the good times that balance out the bad.

I gave Maggie a few days to settle in, but yesterday I brought out her old saddle. I was going to sell it since it didn't fit my other horses. Maggie has extremely high withers (horsey tech) and I had to shop for the right fit. I kept putting off taking the saddle to the tack shop. It's been three years and the saddle is still here. I guess somewhere deep inside I knew she'd come home.

She's a lot taller than my other horse and I always mounted her from a rock or fender... whatever was handy. I had taught her a cue that swung her around beside whatever object I chose to climb up on. She has since forgotten the cue, but I will refresh her on that later. I walked her over to my sitting rock in the iris bed. I tried cuing her but she didn't understand what I wanted. She ended up swinging around in the other direction, her hind feet stepping into the irises. As graceful as she ever was, she walked back around out of the flower bed without so much as a bump to a blade. She knows where her feet are and steps ever so carefully. I don't know of many horses that could walk through a flower bed without doing at least a little damage. Hubby came to the rescue and coaxed her to sidestep toward the rock. It felt good to sit astride her again. She's got a super easy walk and trot. I have never used a bridle and bit to ride her... Only a halter with reins clipped on. She doesn't need anything more. I've ridden her in traffic, on trails and the bike path that way. She's what horse people would call bomb proof.

Maggie is buddy sour already. This is when horses don't want to leave their pasture mates; They keep turning back to the barn. She refused to go across the creek, so we ended up walking in lots of circles. (It's kinda like a horsey time-out - they hate little circles) We rode around the front and side yards. It felt like coming home. The memories had become so faint, and now here I was... I'll never let her go again!

Ali wanted to ride her. She had never shown much interest in the horses, and since they had busy soccer schedules, hadn't spent a lot of time learning about them. For her, a ride meant being led around by me. I had other plans.

Maggie is extremely easy to handle and I trust her. She is not the kind of horse to take off on you. I kept her lead line attached where I could reach out and grab it if needed. I told Ali to mount up and handed her the reins. It took her a bit to find the gas peddle. You can see a video clip of her ride on her blog. Let her know you've visited...

Well, the chickens got evicted! FIL got tired of waiting for them to go out on their own and tossed every single one out the door. They really loved their day outside and seemed to adapt well. Here is a short clip of them running away from me:

Our four laying hens always return to their coop at dusk. All Hubby has to do is go out and shut the door so the critters can't get to them. In the morning he opens the door for them to come out. They go back in to lay their eggs in the nest.

We've read and now know it's true... You must let a chicken find it's own way out if you expect it to find it's own way back in! So after a really long day that began at the hospital, and was about to conclude with a campfire, here we are crawling around in chicken poop grass with a flashlight gathering over fifty chickens! The people steps going into the house are just stacked cinder blocks. Some of the chickens decided to roost inside them. Luckily my hands are smaller than Hubby's. It's not easy retrieving chickens from cinder blocks!

Hubby's fishing net made the job a lot easier. He could net four or five at a time, since they like to huddle. I would take one at a time from the net and carry it to the door of the house. Surprisingly, they were very calm as I cradled them against me. I expected squawking and flapping. A few of them sat in the doorway letting me pet them before joining the other rescued birds in the corner.

Too bad I don't have an infrared video camera. I'm sure the scene was quite entertaining!

Tonight the hens went into their small coop while all the young chickens were still out. Hubby waited patiently, and soon they started heading in on their own. All except one. Hubby says he was pretty fast too! Good thing he's got the net.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Eviction Notice

FIL is evicting the chicks. Hubby went out to the chicken house this morning to discover FIL had completely disassembled his interior! The corner where the chicks had been isolated from the older birds before they were moved was where Hubby was going to store his feed and supplies. It's gone now. The wood and wire are all thrown outside on the ground! That'll teach Hubby to leave FIL home alone!

FIL decided that everything needed taken out so he could clean the house. So when he gets home later, he is planning on forcing all the chicks out of the house so that he can clean every crack and crevice. Sounds like a photo-op to me!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Horses Making Friends

It's been three years since Maggie has seen Nekoda. I don't know if horses remember each other or not. Buddy had not yet arrived at our farm when Maggie left; We still had crazy Misty! Maggie seemed to remember me and this farm. She's been very lovable, wanting lots of rubs and kisses. She knew right where her old favorite patch of grass was! The stalls are across the aisle from where they were and the run-in shelter is farther from the back of the barn; but it all seemed to be familiar to her.

Horses establish a pecking order within their herd. Any additions to the herd can rearrange the whole line-up. The bottom horse can quickly become 2nd in command with a different leader! I had a feeling Buddy would have to give up a little rank...

It's important to introduce them slowly. You don't just open the gate and shove the new one in. They can be violent and hurt each other. And since Maggie is a senior citizen in horse years, I wanted to make sure that she didn't get injured by the younger ones. Since we got home late last night, Maggie didn't get to meet her pasture mates until today. Maggie spent the night inside Buddy's stall. Our horses only go inside to eat or if there is ice or some other weather that threatens their well-being. So Maggie had the barn to herself. (If Maggie had been boarded at a large facility or around lots of other horses, she would have been quarantined for a while before she got around the other two.)

While I was at church, Hubby moved Maggie to the round pen so she could roam around and eat grass. When I got home I opened the stalls and brought the young ones in. With Nekoda and Buddy safely locked in their stalls, I brought Maggie in on a lead. It went very well. Horses will sniff each other's breath... (Much nicer than the doggie version of greetings.) Maggie and Nekoda stayed nostril-to-nostril at the bars for a while, inhaling deeply. There was no stomping or kicking. After a bit she moved on over to Buddy's stall door. There were a couple of loud neighs & squeals, but nothing really aggressive. Neither attempted to nip between the bars. (Sorry there's no video, but working a camera at a time like this is a bad idea.)

After they satisfied themselves with exhaled horsey air, I turned Maggie out to the back pasture. She headed for that sweet spot and was out of sight of the barn door. I then took Buddy out of the paddock to the round pen. I figure I'd let him meet her later...

I put a line on Nekoda and led her to the opening to the pasture where Maggie was grazing. They both raised their heads up and eyed each other. Nekoda is not the least aggressive and I wasn't really worried about the two mares being turned loose together. I walked her part way down the pasture, then, with a quick warning to behave, turned her loose. She took off for Maggie. They sniffed each other's breath again and dropped their heads to graze. I exhaled. One down, one to go...

I left the girls in the pasture for awhile to bond. Buddy was happily munching on the overgrown grass in the center of the round pen. (It's not had a lot of use while I've been sick, so it looks more like a pasture than a work-out ring.) Occasionally, Nekoda would run back to the barn gate to yell over to Buddy. They don't like being separated! But then she would return to the grassy end with Maggie.

After a while I decided it was time to introduce Maggie and Buddy. I brought Nekoda back into her stall. She protested loudly! With Maggie at the other end of the pasture, I walked Buddy toward her. Buddy is pretty laid-back, but I wasn't about to take him up to Maggie on a lead. That could be dangerous. I would be just close enough to split them up if needed. Buddy was very attentive to Maggie, but seemed pretty calm as we got closer. I finally reached the end of my comfort zone and removed Buddy's halter. He trotted over to her and they sniffed... He smelled her neck... She squealed at him... He backed off... They started grazing! Wow, that was easy! I watched them closely for awhile. They stuck together, but respected each other's area.

By now, Nekoda had had just about enough of being shut in the stall. I opened the door and let her out. She took off for the grassy end of the pasture and I went for my camera. And again, things are as they should be...

Saturday, July 4, 2009

As it should be...

Hubby was too tired from putting up hay yesterday to make the trip... So I told him I would just go by myself... So here we are, driving up together to bring Maggie Mae home.
She was the proverbial sight for sore eyes! You have no idea how much I missed this girl! She looked even more beautiful than I remembered...

Hubby was as anxious to see her as I was. I can't believe how much everyone was cheering for me to have her back! In all the little towns we went through, people were lining up on the sidewalks and waving! They gathered around grills and ball fields, and any vacant lot in town. The police were out in some areas directing us through. They even set off fireworks the whole route home! I wish our country could show that kind of solidarity on other matters...

Thank you everyone for making my special day even more special.

July 4th, 2009 11:00pm

Tucked in and ready for bed.

Goodnight my beloved Maggie Mae...

Farm update

All's well that ends well. Isn't that what they say?

The farrier made it over today, so both horse have pretty feet. Buddy's cracks aren't too bad. His front hooves are excellent! Hopefully, he will remain barefoot this summer. So, not much damage done by waiting an extra week. Plus the extra length gave Sadie a little extra snack! It's her favorite treat. Yep, she eats the hoof trimmings! No wonder she's overweight.

The hay was bailed today. Seemed to be plenty dry. Hubby ended up buying another parcel too, so he and his son put up 240 bales tonight. With a second cut, we will have plenty of extra hay... Enough for Maggie, too! The goats don't eat much and we've still got plenty left from last year to do the summer and fall. We'll probably end up selling some. This is an old picture, but that's about 100 bales... just to give you an idea.

If Hubby's not aching too bad tomorrow, we'll go get Maggie! I'm so anxious to see her. I'll have to remember to record the introductions when she meets Buddy. I'm sure that Maggie will be her usual Alpha mare! I remember when we temporarily housed my daughter's gelding... He couldn't blink unless Maggie told him it was OK! I love watching their societal roles evolve.

I was fortunate to miss the hay tonight! Probably would have been tough on my breathing anyway. But it was the BIG BIRTHDAY PARTY! Gracie's 5th, complete with fireworks and a very special cake! If I don't make the trip tomorrow, you'll be reading about it on my essay's blog. Everyone had a great time.

Ali is staying home with her family for the long weekend and won't be back until Monday evening. I'm going to take advantage of the time and hopefully ride, plant and write! I may have a whole week's worth of posts!

Oh yeah... the chickens are still inside!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

This week on the farm...

We've had some fun and some not so fun days. Ali's 5-yr-old sister Grace came home with us Monday night. One minute they are so loving and kind to one another; the next, I want to shoot them! Fortunately, they've both had more fun than grief. They had planned on swimming non-stop, but the unseasonably cool weather dropped the bomb on that.

We did make it down the bike path today. It was Gracie's first time. Usually, that's an activity we save for the older girls. It's hard for the toddler bikes to crank out the necessary RPMs. Plus we have to go out on the highway to get to it because there is no bridge over the creek that cuts the woods in half between the house and the bike path. It's almost a half-mile trek round trip to get to the road and back down our gravel lane. They found a creature (dead butterfly) to take back and show Papaw.

Our big discovery this week is that the big sitting rock in the iris bed makes a perfect stage for impromptu performances! All you need is a push broom to amplify your voice and a sister with a couple of garden stakes to keep the rhythm.

Mommy came and got Ali tonight to give her a hand preparing for tomorrow. They are having a BBQ to celebrate Gracie's birthday (officially last Sunday) and the 4th.

Last week we had so much hot, dry weather. It was great for the farmers trying to get in their hay. Not so for us. We buy most of our hay from a neighbor two parcels over. He had arranged for the same guy to cut it that cuts the field beside us. Apparently, there was a communication problem because they only cut the field beside us. The guy finally returned our neighbors call and said he would cut & bail this week depending on the weather. I think he meant, "If it's too bad to do anything else... "

The weatherman forecasted rain. He didn't use the words slight, scattered, spotty, chance... He said there would be rain. So the guy comes and cuts the hay. Now the hay is raked into wet piles on the ground. This is not good. For you that are not country folk, would you leave your wet laundry in a heap? It molds.

It sprinkled some this morning, but I think we may be in luck. The guy turned it over to let it dry some more, and they may be able to bail it Saturday. I'm hoping they didn't ruin the hay. We won't buy wet or moldy hay. Barn fires are serious business and horses can't eat moldy hay. But even if they salvage the crop, it's still a bummer for me... Saturday, I was going to go pick up Maggie!

Even though I'm sad for my friend having to give her up, I am getting excited to have her back. Since neither my friend nor I had anything planned for the 4th, Hubby and I were going to drive up that morning to pick her up. If they bail the hay Saturday, we have to stay home and get it in the barn. I could take the trailer myself, (they probably wouldn't miss me in the barn) but hubby will probably need his truck to pull a hay wagon. So everything's up in the air!

Our horses were due for their farrier visit last week. Hubby's gelding has drier hoofs than my mare's, and we've had trouble in the past with them cracking. It was a long battle to get ahead of the problem, but finally his feet were looking terrific. Then our farrier got hurt. He called last week, the day of the appointment, to tell me that he would call back later. His back went out and he was headed to a chiropractor. Well, that was last week. We've heard he's working, but he hasn't returned our calls. And now Buddy's hooves are looking ugly. So far it's just chips and surface cracks, but if we don't get something done soon, we'll have to start all over.

That about sums up the week... Oh, except for the chick report: Nothing to report. The big green yonder is still far too threatening to venture out from the coop. Maybe tomorrow...

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

One down...

Tomorrow perhaps there will be a new video showing tons of little chickens scurrying around the grass... or maybe not!

I got home tonight right before dusk and there was one chicken outside of the house! One. It probably fell or got pushed. I don't know what the record is for longest time to step out into the real world. Maybe I'll google it!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Chick Update Part II

I'm having some problems uploading video, so I had to go back and make this one a two-parter.

Today was graduation day for the chicks. Hubby decided they were now big enough to venture into the big outside world. Problem is, chickens get used to one thing and don't want to change. Hubby opened up their access door and they all took turns looking out! One rooster sat with his feet on the edge of the door, but that's as far as he dared escape! Maybe tomorrow...

Chick Update

Well, I waited for Hubby to do the filming and it didn't happen... So today I donned my mask and venture inside the coop for a quick shot of the babies before they were turned out. (sorry about the shaky video... meds) They've really grown since you last saw them! The older hens that are laying have been moved to the small hen house so the babies could have the entire coop for themselves. It's a 10' x 20' house. Hubby recycled old playset ladders for the roosts.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Back by popular demand...

So many of you have asked to see more pictures of my beloved Maggie Mae; How can I resist? Here she is in front, Alpha mare of the herd. Behind her is Hubby's old Buckskin Molly. (His big regret is letting her go too.) My Nekoda in the center rear and to the right is the crazy mare Misty. She literally was crazy! The last time I got on her I ended up beat against the bars of the round pen... Buddy replaced her! Fuzzy horsey kisses are the best!

My favorite time to ride. No sweat, no flies!

I wish I had a picture of video of her in her prime.

To watch her run is a true picture of grace and elegance.

Handy Five
Foaled June 4, 1981 in Virginia

yr age starts 1st 2nd 3rd

1983 2 6 0 0 1

1984 3 8 0 2 1

1985 4 21 2 2 0

1986 5 13 0 1 2

1987 6 1 0 0 0

1988 7 2 0 0 0

TOTALS 51 2 5 4

USA$ 20,934

Dreams of Maggie

My Beloved Maggie Mae
Winter 2005-06 Some people hate a fuzzy horse. I don't get it. I love burying my face in their thick winter coat.
Donning a scarf, hat, and mittens, I would throw on her bareback pad and go play in the snow. Maggie is coming home very soon. This winter I will have many more pictures like this one!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Coming home...

A while back I introduced you to my first love Maggie Mae... well, my first equine love. The story continues...

If you follow my essays blog, yesterday's post was about a friend losing her home because of being laid off from GM. Her plant is closing soon and they have been evicted because the landlord was worried about her income. They were renting a farm in hopes of buying it. They relocated to Mansfield after our plant announced it was closing. So now, here she goes again. But she has no where to take her horses. She sold her mare Vanity yesterday and the lady is picking her up Tuesday. She is heartbroken about it.

Her little boy loves my Maggie Mae! Here is a video of his favorite pastime with her. It is a great testament of how sweet and gentle she is, to be trusted to run with a small child.

I gave Maggie to her when I retired because I wanted to make sure she had a great home. Now that she can no longer keep her, I am getting her back. I promised her that if her situation turned around quickly she could have her back. But I can't afford to keep three horses forever. So I may be faced with a big decision... I don't think I can bear to part with Maggie again, unless it's to give her back to Teresa.

It's bittersweet for me to have a glimmer of sunshine from someone else's misfortune. I feel so badly for my friend. But I can't wait to throw my arms around my Maggie Mae and ride her down the bike trail again...

Sunday, June 21, 2009


WARNING: Animal lovers who eat chicken... This is where they come from.

Remember the rooster you heard crowing in the background in one of my videos?

Well, he isn't crowing anymore... We had him for dinner tonight. It's only our second farm-fresh chicken. Still haven't got it right... He was a little tough but tasted much better than the first one.

Hubby's showing a little too much eyeball, but he's excited. I can't believe he's wearing this shirt! It says, 'The original wake up call."

Friday, June 19, 2009

Too hot for you?

I don't know about you, but I'm not a lover of hot weather. The only thing it's good for is growing vegetables and playing in the water. I needed a cool down!

Hubby is always wanting me to post my winter pics and vids on the local news. I finally uploaded this one and it aired that night. This was after a January snow storm this year. My mare loves to run and spin in the snow. (Watch for the flying snow behind the swing set.) See if this doesn't refresh you a bit.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

last chick update

Well, maybe... we'll see. It was pretty rough going into the chicken house today. Hubby keeps it super clean, but there are a lot of chicks! As much as I love fresh eggs and being self-sufficient, I want nothing to do with the chickens. I have a medical situation that dictates I should not be spending time in a chicken house. 'nuf said. And Hubby is not one to pick up a camera. Once they are old enough to go outside there will be more pictures, but for now... 0n to the comparison shots.

The top photo is one from April 9th - our 1st day. It's not the greatest, but I wanted to include the gallon waterer to give scale. At that size, they could have used the lip as a bird bath. They were no wider than the trough. The 2nd photo I shot today in the chicken house. That makes them 5-1/2 weeks old. Also note that in the 1st shot the waterer is sitting on the shavings and in the 2nd shot, it's up on large bricks.

Monday, May 11, 2009

chickens, and horses, and goats - oh my!

Ridding the critters of mites and worms... I never had these worries in the burbs. Hubby suspects the chicks are infested with mites. No big deal, it's quite a common thing, but still needs prompt attention. The big deal is in the treatment...

There is a powder that will eliminate the problem. The problem lies in that the powder must be applied to not only the hen house cracks, crevices, bedding, nests, etc, but also to each and every chicken. ALL EIGHTY! So Hubby asked, "How are we supposed to treat seventy-five chicks?" I replied, "One at a time." I've got a plan. I hope it works.

Let's make it a pest-ridding week. I figure I might as well worm the six cats, four goats, and two horses.

The last time we wormed the goats was nearly fatal... for us! Fully grown, they are quite strong. I, being a 'townie', bought the first goat wormer I found. The labeled stated how much of the liquid was to be administered to each goat. Apparently, even though the goats love the taste of mud and dandelions, they abhor the taste of this pink liquid stuff! I'd love to have a video of Hubby wrestling Elvis while I scurried around them with the eye-dropper! I'm sure our 'country' friends laugh at us quite frequently.

I'm using a different approach this time... Turns out there's a pelleted form of wormer for goats. They're supposed to eat it like feed. You just pour the correct amount into the feed trough and let them eat it! Who'd a thought? I'll let you know how that turns out.

I mastered the cat meds long ago. When we had fourteen (oops) it was either learn a fail-proof method or be scarred for life! I tried the 'wrap-the-pretty-kitty-in-a-towel' trick. Yeah, right! Without resorting to duct tape, how do you keep the claws inside the towel? (It did qualify for my insurance to cover a tetanus shot on my next doctor visit.) Four hands were simply not enough to control to flailing limbs with extended switchblades.

What would a mother do? Isn't that a question we ask often when faced with a dilemma? So what does a mother cat do when handling her young? Of course! The scruff of the neck! Turns out it works, not just for kittens either. Now, whenever I have to give meds to any of the cats, I simply lift their front-end off the ground by the scruff of the neck. (Sqeeky Bear sometimes requires lifting his entire body.) They passively accept anything I stick in their furry little faces.

The horses can't be picked up by the scruff of their necks. 'Real' horse people do not approve of my worming method. Some meds must be administered orally, so teaching a horse to accept the wormer is a good way to keep them 'med-ready'. Mine aren't. Sorry. I do need to take the time to work on that someday. But for now, I use a wormer they like. It comes in a tube they don't like. So I squeeze the wormer into a little bit of grain and stir. They lap it up as long as I use enough oats & feed to dilute the taste.

So 'country folk' - go ahead and laugh! At least I have blog material!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

3 days old and counting...

Well, the babies have been here for forty-eight hours and all are still alive! Thursday, there was one that we didn't think would make it, but now we can't tell which one it was... That's a good sign. We've read and been told that you can plan on losing a certain percentage right off the bat. So I guess we're pretty lucky. If you call having seventy-five chicks in your garage lucky!