Thursday, January 1, 2015

Evening feed at my house

Evening feed at my house:

Get the toddler all bundled up in his snow suit, get myself all bundled up. Walk halfway out to the chicken coop, remember that I forgot hot water for the chickens, walk back into the house to get hot water. Get all the way out to the coop, bust the ice out of the pan and refill with water. Chickens are good for the night.

Walk over lawn to horses, note the toddler is in the middle of the yard. Get the horses' feed pans ready, hear the toddler crying. Rush out to yard to find the child has fallen down in the snow and can't get up. Hoist up the child. Go back down and find the horses charging around the pasture because they are obviously starving to death. Carry out the feed pans while elbowing the horses out of the way. Walk back to the shed and pull down a hay bale, check in the water tank. SHIT, there's a dead rodent in there. Child starts crying out in the lawn. Run out to help toddler, find him lying facing down licking snow off the ground. Right the toddler. Get back to the shed and dump out the water tank.

Carry bale of hay out to the feeder, get the hay in the bag and the bag in the tank, look up and, SHIT, toddler in the horse pasture (he knows better). Run across the icy pasture to escort toddler out, remember dead rodent is still in the shed. Use hay strings to pick up said rodent and toss it out of the pasture into the weeds. Walk around to refill the water tank. Look down to see a chicken has laid an egg on the floor, yesterday, now it's cracked. Toss egg out the door into more weeds.

Walk at toddler speed back up to the house and then carry the boy up the steps because he can't do it with snow pants on. Take soggy, snow covered clothes off. Warm up and wait to do it again tomorrow.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Fighting for their supper

My poor horses, having to deal with this:

Handsome is wearing soaking boots because of THRUSH! Aaarrggh! I'm so frustrated about this, I would chalk it up to fall swampiness but he has thrush in the middle of summer when the ground is dry. Since the feed is always the same I'm wondering if it's the culprit. I swapped out their feed last weekend so I can see if the added sugar in it was causing the thrush. Not that I was feeding sweet feed, but there was molasses in it. I'm hoping that not having any molasses will have a positive effect. Fingers crossed!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Dressage: How it used to be

Post by Thomas Kirst.

If for nothing else, make sure you watch to the end where you can see a woman pat down the sweaty horse and then enthusiastically shake her hand off. Hehe.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Riding Miss Gwenevere

I've been riding Miss Gwenevere! Yes I have!

After cutting down a thousand trees, mowing and waiting for the horrible biting flies to go away, I was able to start riding again. Yippee!

I've been able to get on Gwen about twice a week for the past two months and she's doing really well. I'm also doing really well. I'm happy to say that I'm no longer nervous/scared/anxious about climbing onto her back. I tack her up, walk to the mounting block and just get on. It doesn't seem like much but to me it means a LOT.

Anyway, she's been working on moving her hindquarters, her shoulders, walking figure eights. She even got in a few steps of shoulder-in the other day. Progress!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Chicken keeping for beginners

One of the perks I was looking forward to after purchasing our home was getting chickens so, as is my fashion, last spring I placed an order for way more chickens than any beginner should have.

My wee chicks arrived in the beginning of April and I excitedly set up a brooder for them in the basement. About a week later this turned out to be a very bad idea, I had no idea how much dust 27 chicks can make! There was dust all over the floors, the walls, everywhere! Even though I moved them outside as soon as they feathered out, mopped and vacuumed the basement as thoroughly as possible (including the walls), my husband still complains that the basement smells like chickens.

4 day old chickies

1 week old chickies

Lesson 1: Brood chickens outside.

I ordered an assortment, so I had no idea what breed most of my chicks were, or their sexes. It's been really fun to watch them grow up and see how they turn out... until the roosters start coming into their own. You don't want a lot of roosters; they fight each other, they gang up on the girls and they can start to turn their aggression on you.

There are four roosters in this photo

One of my Easter Egger pullets

two silkie roosters

Lesson 2: Don't order a straight run of chickens (where you don't know what genders you're getting) or have a plan ahead of time for processing your excess roosters.

Fortunately, my husband does some work with an organic farmer that processes chickens and agreed to help mine through their life "transition." Thank goodness, I tried to do one myself and it didn't go well, it's a complicated process if you don't know what you're doing.

Now I'm left with three roosters, chosen for their gentler dispositions. I probably still have too many roosters, I can see the leghorn chasing the hamburg around my yard right this moment, but I'm hoping that my 22 pullets will keep them living together in reasonable peace.
brown leghorn


silver spangled hamburg
Aren't they handsome?

Lesson 3: Be prepared to get smitten with your chickens.

I got my chickens to provide food not to be pets, so I didn't handle them when they were chicks and I don't handle them now, yet every time I go outside I end up with a flock of birds swirling around me. I feel like the chicken whisperer. They also decorate my yard quite nicely, with all their different colors and shapes.  Speaking of that, they also decorate my egg cartons quite nicely; I have white eggs, brown eggs, pink eggs and blue eggs. Chickens are also super easy to care for, at least mine are. I let them out in the morning and close them up at night, make sure they have food and water, check for eggs twice a day and turn over the coop bedding once a week or so.

I'm going out to check for eggs right now!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

The triumph of clicker training over fireworks

Tonight was my community's annual fireworks show, which would be great if I hadn't moved my horses a half mile away from where they shoot them off. No joke, we can practically see the guys light them from our house. I think some of the shells land on our property every year. They are CLOSE.

Anyway, I've been freaking out about Gwen and the fireworks. You may recall that my girl is a bit "jumpy," and by "jumpy" I mean extremely nervous and spooks at just about anything. In preparation I contacted my vet and got a tube of Dormosedan to sedate her for the show, the only problem being that she HATES getting tube medication and the last time I gave it to her it didn't work.

So about an hour before the show I was contemplating my choices, and decided not to try sedation. Instead, I filled my pockets with treats and planned to give her a reward every time we heard a boom.

It worked GREAT! After the first few she couldn't care less about those silly fireworks. Clicker training success!!

Unfortunately my supply ran out before the finale... but she kept it together and only jumped a little bit, but even Handsome jumped at that so I can't blame her for it.

I'm so proud of her, and now I have a plan for next year- a larger supply of treats!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Sweat equity

Sorry I've been missing but I've been busy, and not the fun kind of busy either, where I could tell you that Handsome's canter pirouettes are coming along and Gwen is piaffing on the long lines nicely. No, I've been busy busting my hump trying to turn almost 30 acres worth of overgrown scrub into something useful.

Here's the first field that we managed to open up:

It still needs a ton of work, there are some more trees and brush I want to pull out and it needs to be mowed regularly for about two years before the weeds stop overpowering the grass, but it gives the horses something to chew on for a little while- about three days, which is really obnoxious considering how much work it took to get it to this point.

Some of the brush and trees I pulled out of there, it looked a lot more impressive before the grass grew up
Here's the next area in my sights, crap-ton of work left to do here:

And then there's this area, looks beautiful doesn't it?

Well look closer... oh, what's that? It's a BOG! 

So that's where the pond is going at some point in the future. Sigh. It wouldn't be so bad if half our property wasn't waterlogged. That's what we get for looking at the place in the winter- a freaking marsh.

We got some new family members two months ago, want to see?

I could sit outside and watch these guys toodle around for hours, chickens are better than TV!