Just a little rambling update…

I’m so sorry, it’s been a little sparse with the posts lately… but we are right in the middle of our holiday gift order rush and it’s just been so crazy!  Often, we get done so late at night, it’s time to just crawl into bed and get ready for the next crazy day.  Thankfully, we have the silly kittens to lighten the work.  Yes… we still have 4 kittens and they are pretty much becoming cats now.  Three boys and one girl.  They are the best fun all over the place, and are getting very good at going outside and being farm kitties.  They climb trees and follow us all over on chores and watch the chickens intensely.  Chicken TV is one of the kittens favorite things to do.  Of course, the big hens are no match for wimpy little kittens and they only watch.  Heck, even Jack, who is one nice big mature Tom, he won’t tangle with a chicken.  They are mean.  Haha…

We’re going to have to ask the vet if she has group neutering rates!  haha…  We have 2 dogs and 5 cats that need to be snipped.  We got through Evee’s heat without any hanky panky, but it was a tough time for everyone.  Maybe we need to start a sniping fund!  haha…  naw… we’ll get ‘er done.  I figure we’ll start with the girls first, probably first of the year after we are done with all this crazy sales stuff.

The bunnies are doing grand!  We built them some little wooden snuggle boxes and they like them very much.  Most the time, they like to sit on them and play king of the mountain.  But if it gets cold, they get inside and stay cuddly warm.

Gwendolyn  is showing off her moves here.  She really likes to be up on the top of the box for sure.  It’s closer to the hay rack!!!  Little Cornelius is growing into a beautiful big buny boy!  He is just the sweetest thing.  We figure come February we are going to try for our first litter of French angoras!  Bunny gestation is pretty quick, less than a month, so we are thinking middle of March should be okay, possibly a little cold, but we can always bring momma inside if we need to.  Will be exciting!  We already have a couple homes that want a baby!

The living room redo is coming along, but it’s agonizingly slow for the most part.  It’s mostly due to us being soooo busy with the rock sales.  Still, Maggie has been our little Cinderella for the most part and has been working hard to get it done by Christmas!  She’s got all the walls primered and just tonight she is putting a texture ad paint on the ceiling and we HOPE to get wall color up there tomorrow!!!  That is the goal.

Duke the kitty, really likes what Maggie has done to the room…. it’s awesome!  He totally approves!

(Don’t worry, we have a piece to cover up that open space…  we are just waiting on a little electrical work to be finished.  Had to move a plug from the inside corner, out to the new solid wall.  Almost done…)

We scored this wonderful nice big comfy recliner on Craig’s List… yeah, $25.  And you can see, Jessy likes it and the dogs approve!  Right now, it’s in the very crowded parlor and Ratchet thinks it’s his.  He likes to curl up in it and watch Maggie as she creates things in her little office.  Once we get the living room done, we are going to make a creative studio in the parlor.  We decided that right now, we don’t need two living rooms.  So we are going to make a creative space in the big room, and that will be awesome!  Sewing, crafting, painting, woodworking, scrapbooking, jewelry, soap, candles… you name it, we’re gonna be doing it there!  Can’t wait!  We are ALMOST all moved out of the storage unit… yeah!  $30 a month savings, and we have lots of boxes of crafts and fun stuff to go through and organize!  But that is our January project…  after the holiday sales rush!!!

Winter has been a weird mistress.  She acts like she wants to be harsh and cold, but then turns all warm and mushy, muddy and rainy.  Then back to harsh and cold.  Weird.  We’re had more rain than snow.  Thankfully, not much ice.  The animals are all doing very well.  No one seems to be having any difficulties with the temperatures, they all have nice snuggy homes in the nighttime.  The sheep always go and cuddle up in their shed, and it’s very nice and warm in there.

The two chicken hangouts are nice and warm, and we have an extra lamp or two should the temps get super low.  We’re using the deep bedding method of free heat.  As the animal do their nature duty and leave us dropping, we freshen up the barns with fresh straw and shavings every so often.  Once a week or so for most of the areas seems just fine.  As the layer build, the waste composts down below.  We fork it now and then, and the chickens turn it over all the time.  They love to scratch and dig in the bedding.  We sprinkle whole corn through the buildings and they will work for hours to get every single morsel.   As the material composts, it warms up the buildings naturally!  And in the spring, we will take the material and spread it through our gardens and flower beds as yummy mulch!  I am surprised at just how well it works.  The big barn is super cozy!

The flock is doing so well.  They are getting very used to us, follow us around (at a safe distance) and have totally learned their daily routine.  In the morning, they laze about in their paddock, out in the sunshine and cold air.

Angus and Fergus are checking my basket for goodies…  the boys are becoming very brave and will come right up to me for treats and scratching.  I am seeing that there are some differences in at least my boys and the girls.  The girls will come if I have a bucket of sweet feed, but if it’s just me?  Forget about it.  The boys will come if I call them, sometimes, but are getting better at it.  I just need to start bringing my bucket with  me and calling, and not always rewarding.   See how quickly they learn to come anyways, just in case there are goodies!

Maggie built them that little hay rack with the blue roof!  It’s adorable and just perfect for a couple flakes of hay for morning brunch.  Fergus still looks so little!  I think he might be a runt!  I guess he has still nearly a year to grow, but he’s just so adorable, you want to pick him up all the time and walk around with him like a baby!  His little sis Molly is getting a wee bit bigger than him.  I guess she is just big boned!  Or perhaps a little more pushy at dinner time!

I just love their little sheepy faces!  Molly and Fergus are just so adorable.  It’s got me thinking that next year, I’m going to bred lambs…  haha… yeah.  I’m going to see about getting a yearling spring ram, a light to medium brown Shetland ram and I think we are going to see about a crop of youngins. Seeing how much sheep go for, and seeing just how adorable these babies are, I am thinking, why not?  It’s a natural thing, we’ll give it a try and see what takes.  But not this year.   Next…

Eleanor likes to roost way up in the barn rafters.  In fact, lots of the hens will go all the way up there at night.  It’s very safe I imagine and the heat rising thing makes it nice and warm up there.  But it’s a little weird to be looking around for hens and then see them dash back and forth from rafter to rafter over head.

Floppy Chicken is one of my favorite hens.  Her comb is all floppy and hangs over her face.  She is the only hen that lays white eggs!  She is a very consistent layer in the coop.  And she’s very adventurous and always one of the first birds outside.  She is a regular old leghorn hen.  I love her style and spirit.

We had a little problem in the little coop.  We have at least 3 roosters in there.  Dammartin, the black copper Marans, and Silver, a half breed beautiful silver Marans rooster and then Copper.  Copper was the first chick we ever hatched here.  And he’s a super nice rooster, you can pick him up and carry him around, he doesn’t mind.  But unfortunately, his momma was Eleanor, a rather standard Rhode Island Red hen and Bucka is his dad.  So he has this weird sort of red copper Maran look.  He was the one getting picked on the most, so we hatched a plan to get him a new job.

Unfortunately, our little banty Seabright rooster, Josh, was hit by a car.  It was very sad, but he would not stay out of the road no matter what.  And finally, he met his match.  So Bucka has been the sole roo for the free range flock for a few weeks now.  Now, Bucka does a good job of taking care of his ladies, but he just can’t be all places at all times, especially with 24 hens!  So we decided that Copper would be a good candidate for second roo.  So we locked Copper and three ladies up in the little teeny coop in the big barn for 5 days so that the free range flock could get used to him and he would be protected from all out war with Bucka for a while.

Finally, late one evening, we let them out of the teeny coop.  And it was not so great at first. Bucka lit into Copper like he was waiting all that time just for the chance.  And they fought pretty hard, with Bucka knocking the stuffing out of young Copper!  It was kind of awful to watch, but if the intregration was to take hold, they would have to have a meeting of the minds and get something sorted out.

Poor Copper!   He got his comb a little bloody in the fight!  I quickly put down some scratch grain all over and that distracted Bucka for awhile and gave Copper a little breather.  He hopped up on the nest boxes and rested, watching the whole situation for awhile.  Pretty soon, the girls started to fight a bit, all tense from the roosters pecking order battle.

But Bucka Roo was not going to have any of that in his barn and quickly set the two girls in their place.  It’s really cool to watch these birds as they interact with each other.  Whoever coined the phrase “pecking order” was right on the money.  There are various ranks of chicken social levels and they do battle to push each other around now and then.  Someone gets their feathers in a ruffle and it will make everyone shuffle around and find a new place in the coop order.

I’m happy to say that Copper has finally found his place, and he stays clear of Bucka.  He already has his own peeps, several of the cuckoo Marans are his peep club members as well as a few of the Amerucanas.  All lower level, newcomers to the flock.  They forage a good distance from Bucka and his gals, staying clear and living in harmony.  I was afraid that Copper might take to roosting in the trees, and face exposure with the cold, but nope… he’s in the big barn with everyone.  Just a little hidden and out of the way when Bucka comes in to snuggle with his ladies on the big ladder.  Everyone is doing fine now!  And I feel a little better knowing that all the ladies have father and son roos to keep an eye on them.  The roosters really do a good job of keeping the girls out of trouble.  I love to see how protective they are and how dillegently they watch the skies for hawks and any other troublesome creatures that might cause harm.  And it’s sweet to see them find a tender morsel of food and call their ladies over to share.  They really do a good job for the flocks.  And Dammartin and Silver seem a little less stressed, as Silver stays out of Dammartin’s way and helps to protect the little coop ladies.

Hens out foraging for goodies…   it’s getting to be slim pickings for sure!

We are finally starting to get eggs again!   Everyone decided to molt at once and it was SO SO dry for eggs!   I think we were getting like one or two a day!  With almost 40 hens now, that is pretty LOW for eggs!  We had to stop deliveries for awhile.

I’m glad to report that it’s getting better.  We got 29 eggs today!  Yeah!  I think we’re on an upward swing.  We actually have about 7 or 8 dozen now in the frig, getting ready for Tuesday deliveries!  I am hoping we will have about 10 to 12 dozen by then!  I know folks want them for holiday baking and goodies!!!

Bucka and Dammartin sparing through the fence.  Silly roos..

Bucka Roo is such a ham bone character on the farm.  Just gotta love him.  He is such the king of the place.  Such a pretty boy.  He’s finally growing back a bunch of his tail feathers from his tangle with Ratchet.  I just love it when he comes running across the yard when I call him.  He is SUCH a nice rooster.  All my Marans are nice and gentle roos.  Never once have they attacked or been mean to us.  Marans are known for their gentle human interaction.   I always feed him and talk to him, just let him know I love the job he’s doing.  Somehow, he just seems to be very tolerant of me and the girls and is fine with sharing the place with us.  He doesn’t like to be picked up, but sometimes in the evening when they are roosting, I will pick him up anyway and carry him around some.  He protests for a moment, but then is resigned to the act and will sit quietly as I pet and hold him for awhile.  I think he just might silently enjoy the attention, just a little bit.

Of course, Jack is Jack.  He has been spending a little more time inside, mostly in the evenings and I don’t blame him.  However, he also likes to hang out in the pony barn with Cody at night too.  Just depends I guess as to where he is when we finish up chores for the evening.  He doesn’t seem to mind the cold too much, but there are limits.  He’s not too excited about the rain though, and will come in when it spends the day being cold and wet out there.  He has a little kitten buddy… Baron, the orange kitty boy.  We’ve even caught them playing out back, running about and chasing each other.  Uncle Jack is training the little nipper to be a good solid barn cat!  That is fun…

Well, that’s most of the news that was the news of last week!  Stay tuned for more fun…  got  a special surprise to share soon!  But I have to get back to work for awhile!!!



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About Mobymom

the banjo player for Deepwater Bluegrass, and the editor of BuckeyeBluegrass.com as well as the main graphic designer of the Westvon Publishing empire. She is a renaissance woman of many talents and has two lovely daughters and a rehab mobile home homestead to raise.

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