Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Things I Learn While the Kids Are Away...

Right now, our elder child is away as a camp counselor for two months. She made it back here for 36 hours over the weekend, but really, she is gone for two months. Our younger child is responsible for most of the chickens, and one small group of the goats, but I am essentially taking over lots of responsibilities I used to share...

This had led to me learn a few things while she has been away...

1. My two goats really do poop more than all of the others put together. That wasn't an exaggeration. Lulu seems proud of that, but she is jealous of sharing me with the other goats while their caretaker is away,

2. The camouflage shade cloth makes the kidding pens look like a MASH unit. The goats all hoped it was real leaves, and had to try it. Then they tried it over and over again until I tied it WAY up to keep it out of their reach!

3. The boys really do knock their little house over as many times per day as you are willing to put it back up. She wasn't blowing me off when I asked her to pick it up.  Now, I believe they think it is funny since I fuss over them having the extra shade. Then when I go in to fix their messes, they dance and act neglected since their usual caretaker is away.

4. My geese really are as destructive as I thought. They are working extra hard to plow through the container garden. They trimmed the citrus trees, including some new trees that really didn't need it, ate three pots worth of mint- three times each- and the basil twice, not to mention a few other things!

5. Bailey's black Cochin hen has issues. At least she is finally letting the new little hens sleep on the same side of the house. But that little chickie has issues!  Very antisocial, that one.  New little ones are fine, not sure what to make of her, but fine.

6. Shadow gets lazy in the summer. She will sleep in from of the fan with the boys all day if allowed, then roll in the mud but still expect to come back in. Okay, that part really isn't new, but she used to get up and head outside with me at first light! At least she still takes guard duty seriously, I suppose.

What have you learned when you were required to go without your partner in crime?

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Growing Little Ones!

First off, I am sorry that I am just now realizing that I didn't post about this sooner! These precious little ones were born on May 30, 2015 (the first one hundred degree day of the year), to Lone Star South MsMcallie and Jaune Ranch Pygmies Powerstroke. As of this morning, they are 16 days old. The little buckling (more silver of the two) has been larger all along. Here is today's update on weight...

This morning, the silly little family HAD to have the fresh pellets, not the ones the knocked over last night. 

This is the little doeling i the weighing bucket. She is so sweet and loves to cuddle! 

I don't know why I cannot get this photo right side up, but weight today is 3 lbs 12 oz. Late last week she was 2 lbs 4 oz. So while she is markedly smaller than her brother, she is still growing.

And here is the little buckling. When they were last weighed, he was at 3 lbs 14 oz. 

This morning, here he is at 4 lbs 14 oz. Oh, goodness, he will be a big one!

We had been supplementing the little doeling with additional milk early on, when she was having trouble i the heat of the day. At this point, she hasn't wanted the extra milk, though we continue to offer it. Both little ones are eating some hay, and enjoying the crumbles from mama's hay pellets.

Such a treat watching them grow!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Sexing Goslings and Other Fun Times at Our House

Chock it up to yet another thing on the list of things I never knew I would learn in this life. Last night, the boys caught the young goslings and I worked on determining boys and girls. Yup, sexing geese. I never thought I would be able to add that to the list! Seriously, who puts that on their career goals, anyway?

The geese around here are interesting. Not overly friendly, but not mean. They keep the hawks and owls from attacking. From times of losing chickens even through the roofs of pens, we have not had one loss like this since the geese came to live with us 2 years ago. They are pranksters, trading pranks with the puppy and the goats, and busybodies, always with their nose in someone's business. But they do their job.

Each year in the Spring, Mother Goose nestles in to hatch babies. I set her up with her own food and water, over behind the swingset near the old greenhouse. Twice a day Uncle Wiggly gets her up and they fly around to the goose area to eat and drink before he walks her back. He looks out for her, and is an attentive father as babies hatch as well as with rearing them.

We keep several small water containers with their food so they have easy access to water without letting the little ones get in over their head in the good area.

The baby geese have the sweetest little voices! I hope you have the volume turned up! While they are beginning to get the orange in their bills and legs, the voices are all baby!

They are rather used to free run of the property! They meet me at the feed shed in the morning and ask to be fed before the other animals on my list.

Shadow Paws, who normally pranks the adult geese in exchange for them pranking her, maintains a safe distance to keep the geese parents happy while they are raising the little ones. 

However, we DO NOT need EIGHT GEESE. Goodness! We have a few folks that requested to be called first for little ones once they were sexed, and I will do that today, and give them until the end of the week before I open it up to others. But in calling, the first question is often, are they males or females?

So after dinner last night, the boys caught the little ones, one at a time, and I working on determining sex.  This little female really relaxed int he process.

He stood her back up, and she registered her complaint!

This one had even more to say!

I love the attitude form this one. By the way, curious about the plant pot on what used to be my clothesline? There is a fake owl there that the puppy thought looked VERY destructive. We had hoped the pot would save the clothesline from the puppy, but it blew off, and now Wyatt put it back on.

This one took its attitude straight to Charlie!

I am not going to claim to be anything approaching an expert at sexing chicks or goslings! But so that you know, here is what we did...

Vent sexing. And I have to admit, I had to ask for help with the camera since my hands were occupied, and clearly that didn't work out very well. I will add more photos later for better reference. This one is a female. If you could see more closely, the vent relaxes and begins to separate, leading to a little open there, showing you either (n this case) the folds just inside the vent and nothing else,

or in this case, a little corkscrew of a penis protruding out.  One of them didn't relax well for me, and while I think it is a girl, I will double check all of the girls to make sure one boy didn't sneak through. Our best educated guess right now, though, is One young gander, four young geese. At most, I believe I could be wrong on one of the girls.

I bet you always wondered about that, right?  Well, I will call folks this afternoon and give them the option of picking up geese, and I will admit we will likely be keeping a little female.  (We will work on naming her once all the dust is settled!) 

We will catch you up o more later. So, what things have you learned to do that you never though you would need to?

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Redneck Engineering Saturday

They say that necessity is the mother if invention. That is often how our redneck engineering has come to pass. We live in Southern Arizona, so there is a lot of sandy soil, and very little grass. Therefore we bring in hay and feed, and grow fresh in container gardens in the pens. The problem is that when we clean pens, a lot of dirt gets shoveled out with the poop, and the ground level in the pens has slowly but steadily lead to lower ground in the goat pens. The chicken areas have easily had their holes filled over time, but the goats aren't so easy. We have tried several "scoop" solutions over the years, with this being our last incarnation...

Yep- hardware cloth over a horse pooper scooper, because the pellets would go right through otherwise. The problem with the scoop was you had to largely shake the scoop to get the dirt out, and that was another cloud of dust and allergy issues to deal with. So with Bailey getting ready to leave for summer, and kidding season almost upon us, Bailey and I sat at morning milking with a topic on our minds looking for something better. What else to do but raid the scrap pile?

There was a piece of hardware cloth (that stuff is awesome) used as a temporary fix on a fence panel that Wyatt and I are due to fix before that temp pen gets used again. So we didn't need it anymore, and procured it. Then to the woodpile. These boards seemed like a nice start. There were too more that size, but they would not work due to the size of the hardware cloth.  So Bailey headed off to the power tools.

She was a little concerned at one point about the edges and wood, but this isn't staying in the pen, only being used for muck. We are good with this. Here is how the "tool" came out.

Here it is in use. My milking doe, Mama Lulu wanted to help. Or be quality control. Or just be cuddled along the way, you never quite know with her!

This area of the pen- the doe barn has long been the worst. Which is awful, since their food is here! As we began shoveling large amounts of loose dirt out to get the poop, we confirmed just how low the dirt would go, and decided to add a concrete brick under each end of the hay feeder to bring a little stability and give us an idea where the level was when we finished.

Mama Lulu loves to ham it up for the camera, and started playing peekaboo from behind the hay feeder.

When we run the dirt throuh, the dirt falls down and leaves us with poop on top of the mesh. Then we dump the mesh into the muck wagon. If I had it to do over, one end would have a larger spot than this for the muck to run down to make it less messy dumping. Live and learn. But we did much better at leaving the dirt in the pen.

Here we are, part way done, with Versie checking things out.

They also liked to walk wherever we just cleaned and leave us more work to do!

Silver and Glory wanted to get in on the action. They wanted to help spread out the piles of dirt. Too bad they didn't want to carry them back to the doe barn!

Lulu saw the camera, had to scratch her chin as the sun was goig down behind her.

Goofy girl!

Here we were almost done. We will never get every single piece of poop and leave the dirt behind, but this worked much better! Score one for the Patriot's Dream girls and a little Saturday ingenuity!

The does ended up wanting two yellow "ribbons" to decorate for memorial day. I offered them their red white and blue ones from the shed, but they liked these from their hay bales and the yellow that even though we pay our respects this weekend to those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country, we don't forget those presently with boots on the ground while we are here at home.

Wyatt has decided he is going to show pygmy goats as well next year. He always said that he would as soon as they let him show bucks, which they won't, but he rather likes little McAllie. So Bailey taught him to trim hooves last night.

Well, that made for a productive day for us, even if we did want to get more done. What redneck engineering have you tried? Care to share with us?

Monday, February 23, 2015

Spring Follows the Ups and Downs of Our Little World...

Last year, we incubated and hatched lots of eggs, and kept or sold a fir number of chicks.  Somewhere in it all, we ended up with one single (hopefully) pullet in this age range. Not one of our better planning moments, but I had mandated that we turn off the incubator during the holidays, so there weren't any younger ones coming along to keep it company.

The little one, on the left in the photo below, was living in the house, mostly in the tough brooder.  As the only one, her interaction was with us, as well as with Shadow. As she had grown, she would get out of the brooder, go for a walk around the house, hang out with Shadow while watching Wyatt practice piano, and chat with me while I put on my shoes in the morning.

She has not been a tidy roommate, as you can imagine, but I just couldn't seem to come up with anyone for her to hang out with. Then, I found some black sexlinks, fully feathered, and near to her size at a nearby feed store. While I am normally not big on hatchery chicks, I needed someone to teach the little pullet that she was, in fact, a chicken, and help her transition to her pen. So Saturday afternoon, on my way home from work, I brought her friends and Wyatt got them all set up in the first step of the grow out pen. So far, so good...

While I was at it, Friday night, Wyatt helped me dig a hole for the lower section of this pond insert that Grandma didn't want anymore. He even helped me situate the bricks for steps.

The geese are truly loving their new pool!

The geese are also laying. Wyatt is concerned about the fact that some of the hatching didn't go so well last year, and because the first egg that Mother Goose laid was pecked by Miss Friendly. The clutch was at three eggs at last count, though it got dark quickly this evening when we got home and we didn't get to check. What would you do? Incubate or let them try to raise the little ones?

You saw the project Wyatt helped me with, but on Monday, as the boys headed off to pick up the feed store and Bailey and I were heading home from town after the gym, we knew this was to be our big project!

We started by pulling EVERYTHING out of the tack shed.

The only thing that remained was the shelf unit, which was pulled well forward and wiped down. The walls and floors were cleaned, and we organized and cleaned as things went back in.

It was dark when we finished, but so worth it to get things cleaned and ready for Spring, and especially to do it before the feed order went in.

And this was the end result! What do you think?

Well, with Sunday night closing out, and a new week beginning, more big projects await and more always being added to the list, it is time for rest and recharge before the coming week.

What is on your list for this week?