Archive of ‘The Farm’ category

Hay!

First off, I’m sorry for the inadvertent blogging hiatus! For a girl with 10 planners, my time management isn’t the best. Hopefully I’m back on track to post here regularly.

Summertime for horse owners (and keeping them at home) means hauling hay. It is one of the least glamorous aspects of horse ownership. There is nothing quite like being hot and sweaty with hay in your socks, in your shoes, in your mouth, in your shirt, well, you get the point.

When planning how much hay to buy every year, I usually get one bale for every day, so around 365 bales. They are about 50lb bales and most every year I run out of hay at least 3 months before the next harvest. Cold winters put a bigger dent in the hay supply, too. Horses stay warm by eating hay, it gets their internal furnace burning. My hope is that with one less horse and improved math skills I will get enough hay this year! It costs twice as much to buy hay from the feed store than to buy it directly from the supplier so is MUCH nicer on the feed budget!

All ready to unload. Who needs boot camp with this workout!

All ready to unload. Who needs boot camp with this workout!

The supplier I buy from is gracious enough to let us drop off our trailer and load it for us. This way all we have to do is take it home and stack it in our barn. When we built the new horse barn we started using the old barn exclusively for feed storage and as the chicken coop. This lowers the fire danger in the new barn and reduces the amount of dust.

This first load of the summer was few bales short of 150. We will get another similarly sized load later this summer and then hopefully one final small load before the hay is gone.

We have lots of helpers to inspect the hay  as we unload and load.

We have lots of helpers to inspect the hay as we unload and load.

We clean out the hay room before refilling it with hay. This requires taking out all the pallets and lots of sweeping. We probably should wear breathing masks because of the dust, but we didn’t plan for that this year. It gets REALLY dusty! You’ll see the dust in quite a few of the pictures. It makes me feel like sneezing just looking at the photos!

All cleaned out and ready for pallets and HAY!

All cleaned out and ready for pallets and HAY!

I learned at a very young age how to properly stack hay. You want to create a stable base for the stack and fit as many bales in a small space as possible.

The base layer, again with helpful inspectors

The base layer, again with helpful inspectors

After the base layer is down, you stack the next layer flat on and perpendicular the base bales. Each additional layer goes on the same way. Only the base bales are laid on the narrow side. The rest of the layers are laid on their widest side.

Two more layers in.

Two more layers in.

It usually takes a couple hours to stack 150 bales. I do most of the stacking and get Boot City to help with the top two layers. He’s taller and has more arm strength than I have to get the bales up that high. It feels SO good to be done stacking the hay and be prepared for the upcoming fall and winter with lots of hay for hungry horses (and sometimes goats).

All in!

All in!

Catching Up

How is it already June?! And mid-June at that! I have travelled for work, family or fun every week for about eight weeks. I know lots of people who travel much more than that, but it has been a lot for me. I’ve always been a bit of a homebody so I have to recoup in between trips and this week hasn’t been any different.

Tonight I wandered around the property enjoying the AMAZING weather and snapped some cute and funny animal pics.

Cute mother and kitten post scratching

Cute mother and kitten post scratching

Until the chicken ran up and scared everyone!

Until the chicken ran up and scared everyone!

New buddies; Sterling and Coco

New buddies; Sterling and Coco

Babies first lizard

Baby’s first lizard

Pretty sunset

Pretty sunset

Annie meets kitten

Annie meets kitten

Everybody loves Pablo

Everybody loves Pablo

Unplanned Pregnancies

Our ranchette seems to be afflicted with a rash of unplanned pregnancies. I pestered Boot City a few days ago to get the eggs away from our broody bantam hen. The last time she was broody she hatched 6 or 7 chicks. They were adorable. Until they grew up and pecked one of their brothers nearly to death and then had to be separated. Too many roosters in a small space makes for a lot of drama. So now we have 3 random bantam rooster habitats that are a pain in the neck to take care of and they don’t lay any eggs!

I went to check on said broody hen tonight and guess what I found?

This!

Baby bantam

Baby bantam

We won’t know for a few weeks of it is a hen or a rooster. I really hope it’s a hen. When I asked Boot City about this little bundle of joy he told me he had found it yesterday. Why he wouldn’t share this delightful news immediately is beyond me. Actually, it doesn’t surprise me at all. He’s always irritated by people who act like any birth is a glorious event (human or animal, in his eyes they aren’t all glorious events) regardless of circumstances.

Do you see how it has fuzzy legs? When it grows up it’ll have feathers down it’s feet. It’ll be cute. Bantams are miniature chickens and when the roosters with the feathered feet fight with each other we call it tickle fighting because they look so cute jumping around. Until there’s blood. Then it isn’t very cute anymore and they have to be separated.

Can you see the chick here with it’s mum?

Happy hen mom

Happy hen mom

The baby snuggles up under it’s Mom to stay warm. They can’t regulate their own temperature until they have feathers. They generally are fully feathered at about 6 weeks. They won’t lay eggs until at least 14 weeks, but with bantams it is more like 26 weeks before they lay eggs. The purpose of bantams are to be cute. They don’t really lay many eggs and their eggs are teeny tiny. They are like Italian Greyhounds, no real purpose in life other than to be cute.

This is the whole fam-damily. Three hens and two roosters live in this little chicken house. These roosters actually get along quite well. I don’t think we’ve ever had an issue with them fighting.

Bantam chicken family

Bantam chicken family

Everyone should think happy thoughts/pray/meditate whatever it takes for this chick to be a hen. Her life would be much better (and probably longer) than if she’s a he.

The Secret Life of Kittens

Do you know what the world needs more of? I’ll tell you; cute baby animals. After a super busy week at work, one of the rougher weeks for Boot City with the weather man (I’ll explain that in a later post, but it’s a pain issue) and a somewhat sickly horse it was pretty fun to be able to pop into the ratty old barn and get a glimpse of these cutey patooteys.

Already sneaking out. They didn't learn that from me!

Already sneaking out. They didn’t learn that from me!

They are a few days older than 5 weeks and mama cat had hidden them for the first 4. So not nice of her to hide them. Boot City found them after they were a few days old, but she had them in the ceiling of the barn so they weren’t exactly easy to get to. I, of course, reached into the insulation where they were hidden to see how many there were and snuggle them. Mama cat promptly moved them to where I couldn’t reach. Rude.

She seems to be fine with sharing them now. When I go into the room where they live she talks to them and they all come out to see her, then see me and freak out hissing. It is quite adorable and funny.

The babes are already learning to eat big kitty food.

The babes are already learning to eat big kitty food.

The harsh truth out here in the country is that we go through a lot of cats. I think we’ve had about 15 since we’ve lived here. It is difficult to get them to stick around. Even the ones we’ve spayed and neutered found a reason to go out and either find a new home or become coyote bait. Two of the ones we loved most got hit by cars on the road in front of our house. Our sweet neighbor got them off the highway before they were a gooey icky mess so we were able to bury them properly. Now that is a good neighbor.

A couple of these munchkins are spoken for. One goes to a new home next week. And it ‘s a good thing because it appears that our other female cat is going to pop in the next week or two with her own batch of kittens. I’m not going to lie; I love having little kittens around to play with. Seriously, how can you resist this face?!

Sweet, furry kitten.

Sweet, furry kitten.

I know the more responsible thing to do is to get them all spayed and neutered and that is the plan for the mama cats once the kittens are no longer nursing. Hopefully we can get a group discount at the vet.

Kitten snuggled on a tractor implement.

Kitten snuggled on a tractor implement.

Eggstravaganza

We have about 60 laying hens right now. Some are older chickens who don’t lay prolifically others are young hens who have only been laying for a few months. It works out to about 40 eggs per day we collect right now. That is a lot of eggs! We have quite a few friends who get eggs from us, but there are still plenty leftover. My thought was there would be no better way to use up some eggs than to have our friends’ kids over to dye Easter eggs!

Busy Easter egg creators.

Busy Easter egg creators.

I hard boiled about 5 dozen eggs in hopes the kids would have plenty to dye. Our chickens are a variety of breeds so our eggs vary in color from white to tan to brown to blue and green. This made it even more fun to see how the egg colors would turn out. About 15 kids made it to the party so they had plenty to dye. Some of the kids had dyed eggs before, others had not. Dyeing and decorating eggs is one of my fondest memories of Easter from my childhood so I love creating this memory for our friends’ kids.

Lots of colors to choose from!

Lots of colors to choose from!

Along with dyeing eggs some of the little ones had better ideas of what to do ith the eggs. This little guy, barely a year old, was far more interested in partaking in farm fresh hard boiled eggs!

Egg Snack

Egg Snack

And this future farmer was enamored with the John Deere tractor. A little man after Boot City’s own heart! Every time we have kids out to the ranchette there is a crowd of them on the tractor at some point.

The littlest biggest John Deere fan!

The littlest biggest John Deere fan!

We treasure these times with the kiddos before they are too cool for us. I never tire of watching them running after chickens, trying to catch baby goats, getting their food stolen by the hound dogs, and generally still discovering their surroundings. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t worry sometimes that our friendships would grow distance as our friends have families and their activities and interests diverge from what we did together when we were in our 20’s. Gatherings like this just confirm that true friendships don’t go away, they just change and mature like we do.

April Showers Bring May Flowers

Growing up in Montana I never really understood the saying “April showers bring May flowers”. As I write this it is 39 in my hometown with a forecasted low of 19. April meant snow showers a lot more often than rain!

Texas spring weather is a lot more true to the saying! When I left work today it was pouring rain. By the time I got home it was sunny and lovely and clearly hadn’t rained at the house. My trusty iCellular weather app made no indication of rain in the near future so I rushed to feed the ponies so I could ride Sterling (gotta give him 30 minutes for his food to settle, its like swimming when you were a kid). I had barely scarfed down my leftover pizza and it was thundering and lightening then raining and hailing. I mean it was RAINING! The water coming off the roof of the house looked like a well planned waterfall.

So, I missed my ride. I did however get some fun pics of the farm after the rain. We were too busy holding Guzzi during the thunder to get any pics of the actual rain and hail. Hopefully my car doesn’t have any dents…..

I hope you enjoy the photos. The light after evening spring rains is the best. And even though my photography skills are still lacking I got a few good ones.

Early to bed……

My favorite times of the day at home are in the early morning just before the sun rises and at night just as the sun sets. I had errands to run after work today (and to stop and see a dear friend whose house I left THE camera at over the weekend) so got home just in time for dusk. Animals are always pretty active just before the sun sets.

The chickens are busy just before the sun sets as this is one of their more vulnerable times. Coyotes are pretty active at sunrise and sunset and the chickens show a more keen sense of awareness at those times. That and they are gathering up to go to bed.

The rooster gathering up his lady friends.

The rooster gathering up his lady friends.

People often ask us how we train the chickens to go to their coop and the truth is we don’t train them to do anything. It is amazing how hard wired they are to do what they do. They have a 6th sense (it’s called survival) to go to where they perceive to be the safest place at night. When we first got chickens we were worried they would roost in trees or other various places where we didn’t want them to roost. Never ever have they roosted anywhere but in the barn. Often in places in the barn we didn’t intend them to roost, but safe nonetheless. There is even one who sleeps on a spotlight in the new barn by herself every night.

Do you see the white hen landing on her roost for the night?

Do you see the white hen landing on her roost for the night?

Pablo was exceptionally helpful with chores tonight.

This is Pablo. He's famous.

This is Pablo. He’s famous.

I couldn’t resist photos of the horses. I know I’m biased, but they are beautiful!

Jaguar and Coco

Jaguar and Coco

Sterling and Noelle

Sterling and Noelle

And, of course, the sunset. This view never gets old.

Pink sky at night, sailor's delight!

Pink sky at night, sailor’s delight!

Banana Thievery

When I started this blog I was really determined that I wasn’t going to use iCellular photos. The quality isn’t as good as a “real” camera and all that. But there are a lot of really funny things that happen at the farm that you can only catch on an iCellular. So you’re just going to have to endure some lesser quality photos periodically to enjoy the silliness.

Last Saturday while I was at the Closing Hunt (getting photos with my “real” camera) Boot City sent this photo to me:

Peaches, the banana thief.

Peaches, the banana thief.

This is our 11/12 year old foxhound, Peaches, eating a banana. Yes, our hounds like fruit. Evidently. Peaches doesn’t get around very well and we are pretty sure she had some help getting the banana off the counter. Most likely from the hound who ate about 8 apples off the middle of the dining room table a few weeks ago (Cupid).

Then, today, I get this photo from Boot City:

Annie, banana thief #2

Annie, banana thief #2

We have almost this exact same photo of Annie only instead of a banana she has a dead rat. I digress. At this point in the day there didn’t appear to be any bananas missing from the counter (I bought more bananas just last night after the hounds ate their fill last weekend). Our suspicions pointed to Annie having stashed a banana over the weekend during the initial banana thievery events, then going back for it sometime today. She is known to do that with eggs she steals from the chicken coop.

It appears we were wrong:

The evidence.

The evidence.

We are again placing blame on Cupid for this attempt at banana thievery. None of the other dogs are as agile at getting things off tall surfaces nor do any of the others seem to have the intestinal fortitude to do what it takes to get things off the counter quite like Cupid does. She has a lot of stick-to-itiveness when it comes to food. One might attribute her voluptuous figure on her commitment to eating food she’s not supposed to eat. Cat food. Apples. Anything small children are trying to eat. Goat feed. Cattle feed. Chicken feed. Alfalfa cubes.

Cupid

Thanks to the banana thieves no one will be having banana with their oatmeal tomorrow morning.

Lamont

Lamont

A few weeks ago we acquired an orphan billy goat. We keep a small herd of Boer Goats. Currently we have a few females and one wether (non-breeding male) and have been planning to get another billy goat to breed the females this year. Our goats (thankfully) do not fulfill the goat stereotype and jump on cars, eat paint and generally terrorize the property. Boot City has a LOT of cars around so it is a blessing that our goats aren’t destructive (Sterling the horse takes the cake there, but that is another post).

A friend of ours has some female Boers who are in the midst of kidding. Sadly, the first doe to kid died a few days later from a freak infection. It was a very uncommon and not communicable disease that took her life about a week after kidding twin boys. The boys were bottle fed for a few days before our friend decided the kids needed to move to homes with more time resources to care for them. We’ve bottle fed a few goats in the past few years and I bottle fed sheep and calves when I was a kid so we volunteered to take one of the boys. The other went to another friend so we are able to keep tabs on the brothers.

This is a photo of them the day they went to their new homes. The “red” head is Bullet and the black head was “Bingo”. I’ll explain his name change in a minute.
Bullet and Lamont

They were born in late January and, even in Texas, the weather can make it MUCH harder to care for baby animals. We brought “Bingo” home on a Saturday afternoon in February when the temps were climbing into the 60s and by Sunday night it was back to freezing and ice. So, he moved to the house to be near a heater and come to think he’s a fox hound. We kept him in our breezeway with a heater for about a week until temps climbed back up to the 50s and 60s and he could be back with his goat friends. Animals kept with humans when they are babies are a LOT harder to deal with as adults than those reared by their own kind so we wanted him to be with the other goats as much as possible.

The more time we’ve spent with the little guy the less his name seemed to fit him. Boot City has a thing for horrible 70’s and 80’s TV shows and Sanford and Son is his absolute favorite. He’s been working at home a lot lately thus watching an inordinate amount of Sanford and Son…..one thing led to another and our baby goat has become “Lamont”. The “Son” of Sanford and Son. Our Lamont was a little slow on the uptick to really get the hang of the bottle after moving to our house (evidently he did fine before the move, but oftentimes big changes can hinder baby animals). This was how how earned his name. Fred Sanford always called his son a “dummy”.

Lamont and Cupid

No worries, he eats JUST FINE now! He’s also taken to grazing on grass in his pen and eating pelleted goat feed and alfalfa. The earlier orphaned goats eat like adults, the more likely they are to develop normally. He still loves his bottle, he gets two a day, but he’s growing rapidly! So, that is the story of our orphaned goat. Check back for updates as Lamont grows to become a magnificent Billy goat and the father of lots of kids

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