Labor Day Weekend

I know that Labor Day is celebrated because it honors the American labor movement and the contributions that workers have made to the strength, prosperity, laws and well-being of our great country.  On our property, Labor Day weekend was a weekend of labor as well, but on things we wanted to accomplish, not the looming projects we’ve had since we moved in nine months ago.

I got all the carrots pulled, peeled, sliced, blanched and packaged for winter.  It feels good seeing all the vegetables in the freezer now.  The grocery store had a sale on blueberries so I bought a bunch to get them into the freezer too.  I have green tomatoes and I am going to try my hand at making and canning some green tomato salsa.  We’ll see how that goes!  Now I need to find someone who has apple trees so I can put those up for winter later in the fall. Getting apples done up for the winter is my favorite of all the canning and freezing I do.

Now that the west pasture is completely enclosed, the horses can graze on that side and give the east side a break.  This will be especially important when our mini donkeys come home next month! I got all three horses over there.  Jaxx, the foal, is still getting used to his halter and was for some reason resistant to having it put on him yesterday.  Once we finally got that taken care of, it was working with him to lead.  It took a bit but he’s starting to understand.  He doesn’t like me dictating which direction he goes.  But by the time they were ready to go back to the barn yesterday afternoon, and I had them all on leads taking them back over, Jaxx pretty much followed behind me in between Legacy and America.  I haven’t been able to spend as much time as I would like with him, so this weekend was wonderful for it.

Horses at fenceI looked out the front porch checking on them at one point and saw them right at the fence line near the porch.  My heart melted at the site, feeling like a little girl with her first pony.  Life is pretty good around our place.

Winding Down

house with welcome signIt’s so nice to come home and take a walk around the place and admire what we’ve accomplished in a short time.  I love where we live and I couldn’t be happier being there.

Fewer projects these days than what we’ve had going since we moved in last December…thankfully.  As we come down off the heat of the summer, and July and August being my least favorite months because of it, we have been finishing up fencing on the pastures.  Now the horses and even the dogs can run on the west side of the pasture.  The horses were having a great time running around.  There is more space on the west side than the east side pasture they’ve had before.  More grazing options, which is important.

The garden has run its course.  Zucchini was a huge bumper crop as it typically is.  Zucchini fries have become one of my favorite things to make fresh out of the garden too.  Very addicting!  This weekend we’ll dig up the carrots and I’ll get those done up for the winter, adding cut carrots to the freezer for cooking.  I’ll also keep some fresh ones around and cut up so the little dogs can snack on those.  They love them!

So much of what I do with the animals has been a learning experience.  No matter how much you try and prepare or how much you think you already know, something comes up you don’t know about.  For example, bumblefoot.  Never heard of it…until it happened to me.  Thanks to Facebook and one of its Ag groups I’m with, I was able to ask the question.  Apparently if the chicken gets something stuck in their foot or get cut, or their foot has trauma somehow, it swells up kind of like a blister look.  It can become or is a staph infection.  So I hit the store buying antibiotic ointment and spray, gloves, bandages, etc.  The chickens don’t like bandages so that didn’t work and was off right away.  I’m not one to do surgery on a chicken but I’ll certainly take care of them.  I was able to pull the scab off on the bottom, get everything squeezed out and applied antibiotic ointment.  I do it every night.  It’s working well and so far the response has been favorable.  I tell you what though, even though I wear gloves during the process, I sanitize my hands, then wash and scrub them good, and make sure I haven’t touched anything or anyone until I do.  I have a nice little set up now in the barn.  I had pea gravel and sand to their run to keep the mud down.  It was the little pea gravel that had worked in to a few of the chickens’ feet.  So more sand went down and the gravel was pushed along the sides of the run.  That seems to have solved that.  I felt bad for a few days.  Now I’m just trying to get them all back.  All part of the learning curve I suppose.

bumblefoot pic

With September here now, we turn our thoughts to getting all the logs we have cut up.  We have a wood shed that had wood to last through the winter last year.  We’ve got it all built up again but cutting, splitting, and stacking is still needed.  Because we tend to like things organized, we’ll clean it all out first then proceed to get it all organized in areas for kindling, small wood chunks, and larger wood chunks.  It won’t be long and we’ll be feeling cooler temperatures with snow behind it at some point.  We’ll be ready!

A Pause then Progress

Being so busy every day, it can be easy to forget why we do what we do.  I love my animals.  I waited a long time to get to this point in my life to have them.  Not a day goes by I don’t appreciate what God has blessed me with.  Sometimes, you just have to sit down and enjoy the fruits of your labor.  Sitting with Hank and Houston makes me content.  They are so affectionate and cute.  I almost forget they’re goats sometimes because they act a lot like puppies.  Then I hug their necks and their horns remind me they are indeed goats.  I love it when they come running when they see me or when they start bleating because they see or hear me.  In fact, when I walk out to the barnyard, the volume increases with the sounds of the horses, goats, chickens, and ducks all letting me know they are there.

Me and goats 8-14-17

Ed and I with the help of my brother in law and son put in a new fence on the east side in January so I could start looking for my mini horses.  Now Ed and I have started the process of working our way around the west pasture with the same fence style.  We got done about 200 feet and have about another 1000 feet to go.  This will allow all the mini horses (Legacy, America, and Jaxx) and mini donkeys (Ella and Emma) to run around and not be able to get out.  It will also allow our German Shorthair Pointers (Abby and Hoss) opportunity to get out of the backyard and get some good run time in.  The process will take a bit but we’ll get it done.  That and the rock project on the other side of the fence – hopefully all to be done before winter sets in.

Fence on west pasture 8-17

Our east pasture backs up to the neighbor’s property.  They have two full-size horses.  They like to stand near each other and will run along the fence line together.  Jaxx and Legacy like to.  America can’t be bothered.  But look at Jaxx next to the neighbor’s horse.  Similar coloring!

Jaxx with neighbor horse

We’ve had some pretty hard rain the last couple days making work outside after work impossible.  It’s probably a good thing.  We’re not getting any younger and Sunday’s full day of fence building made us fully aware of that fact on Monday morning.  Still, the pay off is worth it and we do pace ourselves and take breaks.  Many times we’re at it when we first get started on a project, but eventually find a rhythm and gain momentum in progress.  It always works out in the end.  It takes both of us to get it all done, although Ed does a lot during the day.  That suits us both fine.

Ella and Emma

Yesterday we made the hour and a half drive up to Livermore where our little miniature donkeys were born and growing.  So cute!  Ella was born in May and is the darker one.  She was imprinted for about a week so she is very shy and for the time being, stand-offish.  Emma on the other hand, they were quicker to imprint and she loves to get her attention and follow me around.

Ella and Emma 8-6-17

It was raining the entire time we were up there and was chilly out, especially being August!  It didn’t keep me away from them though.  I’m sure once we get them both home (some time in October), and they both get the outpouring of affection I give to all my animals, Ella (the darker one) will be a little cuddler too.

Ella and me 8-6-17

Saturday on the other hand had much better weather.  That allowed for the trench that used to have open water from the sump pumps, be piped and covered.  Now the water flows from the house into the pipes underground and out into the ditch on the far side of our pasture.  No more open trench!  Not only did it look terrible, but it kept a lot of mosquitos around and split our pasture in two.  My two sons, Matt and Chris, came over and helped by running the mini excavator and the tractor.  It was nice for them to do a lot of the manual labor.  Ed and I helped, but they did most of it for us.

Matt Chris on tractorsOnce the grass grows over it, the pasture will be one big pasture again. That will make mowing a lot nicer!

Hot and Grateful

It’s been a hot month, being July.  Doing end of day chores, I couldn’t help but look around and feel so grateful for all God has gifted me with at my homestead.  The horses, goats, chickens, and ducks were all walking around doing what they do.  Me standing there in my glory taking it all in. I love when my kids, grandkids, family, friends, and those wanting to see all the animals visit and enjoy what we’ve created.

Jaxx at 2 monthsJumpin “Jaxx” is now 2 1/2 months old and scratching against everything as the baby hair makes it way out for his big boy hair.  He’s got a lot to learn but doing well.  Legacy and Little America have their routines and love their life now.

Ducks at the poolThe ducks love heading to the pool for swimming and making all kinds of noise.  I suspect in the next couple months I’ll start seeing eggs from them.  Those will be for making country style noodles.

Chickens talkingThis is my gossiping Rhode Island Red.  I say that because every morning and evening as I feed and do clean up, she follows me around squawking and telling me everything that has  happened while I have been away.  Nothing gets past this hen!

Houston at the feederHank scratching head

 

Hank loves to scratch his head against the scratcher (shop broom head screwed against their feeder).  Houston always wants to make sure he knows where I am.

As I close up the chicken coop, get the goats to the barn, give the horses their bedtime snacks, and having talked with both my sons to get an update on them and their family, I look over at Ed’s shop while he works on his car. With a heavy contented sigh I thank God for my many blessings and head to the house for the evening.

Ed in his shop

 

 

Beatin’ the Heat

Hank with IceWe had a stint of weather where it was consistently in the high 90’s.  For us, we can escape to cool air conditioned offices, vehicles, or homes.  For the animals, not so the case.  But never fear, there are ways to beat the heat.  First of all, make sure there is a shaded area they can go to and escape the intensity of the sun.  Second, as a nice treat, make ice blocks and add to the water.  You can see with Hank he wasn’t going to let it go to waste.  Even as the ice melts it cools the water in the water basin.  I do the same with the horses, although they don’t lick the ice.  They just lick very closely around it.

One thing we have around our property are several toads.  Great for eating bugs I suppose.  If they were frogs, we’d have plenty to get a good meal of frog legs from!  A couple of them hang around the spigot near the barn.  When I add water to the chicken water container and duck tubs, there’s always over spray which the toads love.  Sometimes I’ll even give them a light direct shower when it’s super hot.  I’ve become the crazy farm lady for sure if I’m now spoiling toads, don’t you think?  I may need therapy.  Not!

Toad

Night check consists of getting the chickens and ducks into the coop for the night and putting the goats in the barn where they get a little bedtime snack.  The horses are already in the barnyard by then and can go in and out of their stalls as they choose.  What that also means is the horses get their treats too.  They get so close to me as I give them to them (they each get 3 treats), it makes me laugh.  Little America gets the closest.

America close up

We are fortunate to have animals with great personalities.  Not a day goes by that I am not completely content when I’m out there.  The end of October will be when our baby mini donkeys come home.  Then the plan will be complete.

As a side note as I look at America’s picture, it reminds me I need to work to thin out her forelock.  She could also use a little V05 to help tame it (a tip I got from a groomer who sometimes uses that for show horses).

 

 

Summer Happenin’s

No matter whether it’s the barn, the stalls, the coop, I have a deep feeling of contentment and happiness.  Even the not-so-fun chores of mucking stalls or cleaning the coop aren’t so bad when you live the dream you never thought would happen.

Me near stall

The chickens are laying eggs now in full production.  The ones that started first are laying very large eggs while others are still in the pullet stage.  I get anywhere from 10-12 eggs a day from the twelve chickens (8 Leghorns and 4 Rhode Island Reds).  Time to start selling some!  I walked in one morning to see one of the smaller Leghorns leaning tight up against the nesting box looking at me in shock, frozen and not moving.  She had laid her first egg and apparently the poor gal was overwhelmed by it.  I spoke to her in a soft tone and she just stared at me not moving.  Eventually she did come out of her nest.  I didn’t attempt to take the egg or touch her during that time.  Poor little gal.  They let me hold them now and my husband laughs that they’re so spoiled they can’t walk to the chicken coop without being carried.  It’s true.  They are spoiled.  I’m not sorry.

Chicken laid first egg

We have four ducks as well – Chuck and Hermie are all white.  Daphne is black and white.  Aster is black and white too but she’s a crested duck so she has a nice little up do on the top of her head.  She’s also the loudest and chattiest by far.  When Chuck was little, he had seizures and would be upside down kicking his legs up.  I would pick him up and hold his neck up until he could regain strength again.  Luckily he outgrew that but the results from that caused him to quack as if he has laryngitis.  He was also not a fan of getting into water.  He didn’t mind sticking his head in but that was it.  There’s a kiddie pool in the pasture the ducks can swim in and Chuck wants nothing to do with it.  There is also a tub-type pool the others would all get in and splash around to have fun.  Not Chuck.  He put his head in and that’s it.  I decided to get a second one since there are four ducks.  Apparently that was the magic answer.  Having the second one for whatever reason, gave Chuck the incentive to get in.  Now he gets in and just sits there, unwilling to share with the others.  I guess he figures the other three can share the second tub when he’s in.  He is so much happier now and chatters along with the rest of them, in a more quiet tone of course.

Chuck finally in the water

Hank and Houston, the mini fainting goats, love to eat.  Maybe I should say live to eat.  They play too of course but eating is their priority.  When they are eating hay from the feeder, I call them happy butts.  Now they could eat from the lower end, but they prefer to reach to the top.  That’s ok.  Happy butts are happy butts.

Hank Houston eating

Lots going on around the ranch and though the days are long, they’re also hot.  I keep cool water in the troughs and areas for shade are available helping to beat the heat.  Time to start thinking about how to keep the water freezing during the cold months without electricity close by.  Snow will be flying before we know it.

 

 

 

Ranchin’ Around

Chores happen before and after work during the week with the bigger needs happening on weekends.  Over the weekend while doing some barnyard chores, Jaxx thought he’d help me out.  Actually, he made it take longer and I had to redo my piles a couple times and pick up the bucket once from all his help.  I encouraged him to go run in the pasture but was bound and determined staying with me was much more fun.  How can you look at the little guy and seriously get upset with him though?

jaxx with chores

The chickens all seem to be laying eggs now and are still pullet size.  I was getting a few each day but this morning I had 5 so production is picking up!  Good thing we’re having frittata tonight to use some of them up.  Eggs, fresh garden spinach, ham pieces leftover from Easter, and cheese, and we’ll have ourselves a good meal.  Add some hashbrowns on the side and there you have it.  Breakfast for dinner.  There are 8 Leghorns and 4 Rhode Island Reds.  The Leghorns are pretty chickens when they sit.  The Reds are big talkers though and enjoy having a conversation with me at any given time.

sitting chicken

Hank and Houston are doing well and have gotten into their routine, finally.  We had a tire that I put into their yard.  After sniffing around and in it, they were climbing on it, giving them something else to occupy their time during the day.  I’d like to continue to add things that will be fun for them.  When it’s ridiculously hot though, they prefer simply sitting in the shade, munching on hay, and occasionally venturing out for water or to see what’s happening around.

goats on tire

The garden, although having far too many weeds, is coming along – at least a good bit of what I planted is.  I swear if there was an apocalypse the zucchini would be one food that would prevail.  I picked the first three last night and couldn’t believe how big the one had gotten.  I generally like to pick them when they’re smaller so they’re not dried out and spongy.  As they are ready to harvest, I’ll do each one up into the portions I need to make zucchini bread and muffins, which is the primary use for them at our house.  It’s a great smell in the colder months when it’s baking in the oven, carrying the aroma throughout the house.  I hope to get a bumper crop so I can share with my mom and we can both have plenty for the winter.  We share our crops back and forth, depending on who grew what and how much.  It’s fun for us and we both benefit from it.

zucchini

Tomorrow is the 4th of July, and we’ll celebrate our Independence Day by getting some things done around the ranch while it’s cool.  In the afternoon we’ll stay out of the hot sun but no doubt we’ll have something to do.  Dinner will be a Cajun boil for the two of us.  We’ll keep it a simple one with just potatoes, corn, sausage and shrimp.  By far the best seasoning I’ve found, and we both love, is the Slap Ya Mama Cajun boil seasoning.  I get it off Amazon.com which is my go-to place a lot of the times when I’m looking for certain things.  It comes in a 3-pack and I only use a half pack for us, so it lasts a while.

I’m always proud to be an American, regardless of the political and economical climate we may be facing.  We are a strong and proud nation where regardless of our differences, come together in times of tragedy and need.  Regardless of a person’s past, it’s never too late to turn around and as a daily ritual, perform random acts of kindness.  Even the small ones to the person on the giving end, can be big to the person on the receiving end.

 

 

 

Thanking the Show “Heartland”

One of my favorite shows, no actually, it is THE favorite show of mine.  Heartland.  I love everything about it.  It’s based on a horse ranch (based in Canada), open space, small town, not about cussing and killing, and did I mention ranch?  It’s because of that show I was able to convince my husband (which wasn’t hard) that it was time to make the move, buy property, and pursue our dream.  While it was a rough go in the beginning, I couldn’t be happier how it’s all turned out.  We continue to watch that show and every time the theme song comes on we look at each other and smile.  I love the music soundtracks in the show.  I wish they had a soundtrack CD for each season.  I’d buy them all!  Currently my favorite song from it is Phillip LaRue’s “Carry You.”  I highly recommend listening to it.

We got our first chicken egg on Sunday!  We got a second one this morning and I suspect it is from the same chicken.  It’s white so it’s from one of the Leghorns.  The Rhode Islands are a bit bigger but haven’t started laying yet.  They should all start laying the small pullet eggs here in the next month.  I’ve already got a bunch of egg recipes ready to go and figure we’ll be eating a lot of them (in moderation but probably on the high side of it).  I’m thinking frittata because it will take no crust and can use many of the vegetables we’re growing in the garden.  It’s great for breakfast, lunch, or dinner too.  Of course, in the beginning at least, it will take a couple eggs to equal a regular size egg.  First chicken egg

Our second baby mini donkey was born on Saturday afternoon.  Pretty exciting because  now the countdown to bring them both home can begin, probably being the end of October.  It was a little female (jennet) which we named Emma.  Now we’ll have Ella (who is a dark brown) and Emma (a lighter brown).

Emma 6-2017

They finish up the Mini S Ranch line up of animals.  That gives us (in addition to our four dogs), three mini horses, two mini fainting goats, two mini donkeys, twelve chickens, and four ducks.  Yep, that is plenty considering that a full-time job fills up the day.  Mornings and evenings are spent doing the chores for them all with some loving touches and talking with them.  Weekends are an extended version of that.

I’ll be taking a couple days off so I can spend it working with Jaxx getting used to his halter, leading, getting groomed, and doing a little of that with the other two as well.  I’ve not groomed them as often as I’d like.  Luckily their winter coat is off and they look beautiful and sleek.  Jaxx is losing his baby hair, in part from rubbing up against the fence.  Part of his hair came off in somewhat of a sideways heart pattern.  It’s pretty cute.

Jaxx with heart

Next on my agenda is getting a sun shade up for the chickens (yes, they’re spoiled) and make ice blocks for all the animals during the hot days of summer.

Oh, and did I mention I ordered personalized plates for my new truck?  No surprise it will say “Mini S” on it.

 

 

 

Duck Shower

Duck ShowerThe ducks have a little wading tank they like to get in and splash around, quack like crazy, and have a good time.  When they see one of us with the hose though, that’s when they really get excited.  All four stand together looking at me waiting for the hose to come on so they can get a shower.  We put it in spray mode so it’s like a rainfall on them.  Afterwards they flutter their wings out and shake and quack.  Over the weekend I bet we did it about four times a day for them just for fun for us and I’m sure with the heat, comforting for them.

My husband and I laugh about our chickens.  They are chicken for sure!  They go in and out of the chicken coop all day with the light off without any problems.  When night comes though, they all stay outside if I haven’t been out to turn the light on until I do make it out to turn the light on and close them in for the night.  They will huddle right by the door in a pile basically, waiting for me because there is a light above the barn on the outside.  It cracks me up every night.  When it’s the heat of the day (at the moment they have no outside shade during that time) they stay inside unless something catches their attention and they’ll step outside for a bit.

We’re doing some no to low maintenance in an area on the west side where there will also be a nice sitting area to look out over the west pasture.  Ed’s spent a lot of time and effort on what was a tired overgrown and neglected pasture that required the brush hog to mow it into a nice level and perked up pasture that can be mowed with the riding mower.  The garden has been neglected and shows by all the grass and weeds that’s grown in.  We’ve had so many other things going on that admittedly this is one area that has not had our (my) full attention.  Still, things are growing and doing well having said that.  I try to keep the weeds and grass away from the plants themselves.  Next year it will be better though because we can do some soil maintenance to it and get it prepped for the spring till.  What grows this year is a plus and there will be corn to freeze, fresh greens to eat, zucchini and pumpkin to harvest, probably tomatoes too which will become salsa.  It’s my peppers and watermelon that I think are not happy with the soil or living conditions.  I’m okay with that though.  With everything we’ve done and are still doing this year, the fact that one area falls short on expectations isn’t disturbing to me.  I’ll be grateful for anything and everything we’re able to harvest.