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.