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.

All Work and No Play…

Since before the day we ever moved into our home and property, we were planning and working on improvement and moving forward with our dream.  We have a lot to show for our hard work over the last several months.  As the heat of the summer starts to show its head, we’ve come to the conclusion that we will work in the evenings as it cools during the week and mornings and evenings on the weekends.  The heat of the day will be for staying inside to cool off or run errands or visit family and family.  Maybe we’ll even attend some fun summertime events.  While neither of us are burnt out, we have come to an agreement that we have to give ourselves a break now that we are working on the things we want for our home and acreage versus things that were needed.

We’re getting new neighbors across the way from us and are happy to say they are much like us.  They’ve already got projects lined up for what sounds like several months or years to come.  It will be nice to see the place receive some much needed improvements.  Their son is 10-years old and has fallen in love with our goats and especially with Jaxx.  Now he can walk through our pasture and Jaxx will follow him around like a puppy.  They’ve become best friends.  It’s so cute.

Connor and Jaxx

We have baby birds all over our property.  Whenever I take a video around the place, when I play it back, there is always a loud background of birds.  We have nests in the horse barn, hay barn, above our garage door, on the porch in the hanging flower basket, and even in the newspaper bin next to our mailbox.  There are small sparrows, swallows, robins and finches.  Of course baby birds can nest anywhere, but it makes me that much more heart happy that so many chose our place for it.  (They probably settled there because we kept them fed in the bird feeders all winter long!)

Baby birds

My oldest son married his long time girlfriend last weekend.  It was a busy and fun time.  I even practiced crying (well not really practicing, it just happened) on the way to the wedding.  Walking with my son down the aisle and receiving the hug before I sat done melted my heart.  I love my two sons, who are both now happily married.  I couldn’t be more proud.  They’ve got plans for the future and are putting all the pieces into place to make it happen.  I have faith they’ll reach their goals! And let’s face it, after having two boys, I get the bonus to finally have two girls to call my kids along with my grandchildren of course, too!

Matt Latisha Wedding Photo

Now my husband and I are planning next steps on what we’d like to do, focusing more on aesthetics and functionality of the west pasture.  We don’t feel like it has to be done yesterday, which takes a lot of pressure off of us.  We know our to-do list will never get smaller, so we’ll pace ourselves through it all.  These days, we’re much better about stopping to take in all we’ve done.  We have really brought the place to life so much from the tired and outdated place it started as.  Once we get it re-stained in a couple weeks, the log home will brighten it all up even more!  Life is good.

Ella the Mini Donkey

The weekend was very busy with all the goings on as long holiday weekends go.  We fly a flag in our yard every day for our country and all who have served.  Memorial Day we flew it in honor of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country.

Ed’s shop is done as far as the building of it goes.  Doors and final inspection are the only things next on the list so he can then get things moved in to it.  He hired someone to put in the insulation, side walls, roof, and trim – an expense well worth it.  The guy and his crew did an amazing job and got it done quickly, although it took longer than they thought by a couple days.  The placement of the building works really well with the house and property.  Ed’s dream of having a shop is finally coming to fruition.

Eds shop - internal.jpg

We took the drive up to see Ella, our little mini donkey who was born about three weeks ago.  She’s taller than Jaxx is right now but her full size will be the same as what his will be in the end.  She is really cute and needs to get used to people a little more.  Our other little donkey hasn’t been born yet.  I looked at the mom and she is very close.  Her belly is sagging very low and she’s in milk, although I didn’t notice any waxing.  I suspect in the next couple weeks we’ll be notified of our newest mini S ranch addition.  Ed’s hoping for a boy so we can name him Einstein.  If we have another female, I’m not sure what her name will be.  We won’t be breeding them though so if we do have a boy, both him and Jaxx will both be gelded.

Ella - 5-29-17

We put in solar lights to line the driveway to the property as you enter.  These are not dollar store lights that simply glow.  These are nice highly luminescent and is truly a light and not just a glow stick! I love all the details that go into our property.  Some things require sweat equity.  Everything else waits until money (or opportunity) allows us to get it.

We have new neighbors that have purchased the house across the way from us.  What is currently run down will seemingly see new life.  We’ve met the new owners and they seem very motivated to make a lot of positive and much needed improvements to the property.  The end of the road where we live will be the place to be once they’re up to speed too!

 

 

 

Home Activity

My husband Ed put in the Welcome sign my youngest son Chris made for us.  It turned out so nice and is one more added touch as you drive into our property.  I love everything about it.  The color is very close to what our house will be once the painters finally get it done making it that much better.

Welcome sign

Jaxx is getting more pasture time now, which means more running time, which means he also gets tired more.  Getting tired and taking a nap or relaxing helps Little America who continuously frets over where her little guy is.  The last couple days being in the pasture has helped get her more relaxing time for her.  She watches out of the corner of her eye where he’s at but is slowly allowing him a wee bit more freedom.  If he wanders off too far though, or if he’s wound up running all over the place, the fretting mother in her comes out again and chases him all over, whinnying and throwing her mane around in frustration.  Jaxx in grass

The “kids”, Hank and Houston have been in the pasture more lately too.  It’s just too wide open not to get them out and allow them play time too.  They’re starting to faint more now when startled or over stimulated which brings smiles and laughter every time.  While I’m doing chores their curiosity gets the best of them and they have to come over and check things out.

Hank Houston at bucket

I’m ready for a 3-day weekend in observance of Memorial Day.  While I never forget what our days off work are for, the fact that it’s a day off is a blessing.  Be safe!

 

 

 

Rain Recovery

With almost 9″ of rain in a four-day period, we were pretty soaked around the ranch by the time the sun finally came out.  Having said that, we faired pretty well.  Our sump pumps are finally slowing down to very infrequent but at least we had no house flooding issues.

The garden looked more like a pond for a bit.  Looking at it yesterday, we might have lucked out there too.  In some areas I might need to reseed, but the corn is breaking through along with the pumpkin so not all is lost.  I raked around the plants we had to help dry the soil a bit which helped too.  More flowers were planted.  We also had one plum tree that didn’t make it.  It wasn’t from the weather, the tree was doubtful from the start.  So a new and more healthy one was planted in its place yesterday.  Buckets are a beautiful thing for covering plants when snow or frost comes.  Everything got a good dose of sunshine yesterday though and the leaves were reaching for the warmth!

The animals, after having been housed up in the barn for a few days, were very happy to be out and about.  Jaxx, being one week old today, has found his legs and at time even speed.  America is still not happy when he runs away and she’s frantic if she can’t get to him. There’s protective in general, and then there’s protective by America.  She doesn’t let him out of her sight.  For a little stallion, that is and will only get more so challenging.

Jaxx prance with America

The goats are into their routine.  Hank loves attention and food.  He’s also curious.  Large tractor tires are in the pasture for them to climb on.  So far Hank has enjoyed it but Houston simply watches.  He’s sniffed around it out of curiosity.  Time will change that, I’m sure.

Goats in pasture with tires

The ducks are now in with the chickens and out from under the brooder in the garage.  We couldn’t be happier.  Not only was it added chores, which is just part of it, but the smell! Having them in the coop now has allowed the garage to get back to normal.  They are all doing well and happy with the extra room to roam out in the chicken run with access to more water for consistent bathing and playing.

Ducks in coop

I ordered some things to create an environment where people (mostly kids) can feed the ducks, chickens, and goats.  Once things calm down in the horse area, I’m sure they would appreciate a few treats here and there too.

 

Whirlwind Weekend

What a weekend we had!  So much going on all at once.  I love the results it’s all producing and look forward to more of a routine, even if only temporarily.

The pieces and parts for Ed’s shop arrived late Friday evening.  Friends and family, although it was a small group, helped both Saturday and Sunday getting the steel up.  It will take a bit for it to be completed.  There was definitely no time wasted this weekend though getting it started.

start of shop

Hank and Houston came home. The first day and night they weren’t sure what was going on.  Hank was fine as long as he had food, water, shade, and attention.  Houston took a little more time but has settled in just fine.  He doesn’t need the attention, and is content with my presence, more so than actually being held.  Hank will probably want to sit in my lap when he’s full grown! By Sunday it all seemed more routine for them.  I love the sound they make, reminding me there are babies around.

 

 

Speaking of babies, I got to see my youngest grandchild, which after four grandsons, I have been blessed with the fifth one being a girl.  Little Lakota is a precious little girl who is absolutely beautiful.  I love being able to hold her and kiss on her!Lakota 5-13-17

Little America was showing signs of labor on Sunday.  I checked on her at 10PM and she was fine.  At midnight I got up and looked out the window.  From the distance, it looked like she was uncomfortable, so I got dressed and went out there to stay until she foaled.   She had just foaled right before I got int here and the little one was just trying to stand up.  By the time I took the picture, he was up, she had passed the placenta without an issue and was standing up.  A precious little boy born just after midnight on the 15th.  I named him Jumpin Jaxx, and will go by just Jaxx.  The vet came out and all tests were normal.  Little America was not happy with someone touching her baby.  She is very protective.  She allows me to be around but is still very guarded.  This morning, at one day old, Jaxx took a walk with America in the sunshine.  He was looking around seeing what a big world it is!  I could tell that while America was happy to be out of the barn, she didn’t want out long and called Jaxx to go into the barn where I closed them in for a while.  Food, water, and shelter are all in there and she can lay down and relax as needed.  I’ll let her decide when she wants to freely come and go out of the barn.  She’s not there yet though.

 

The ducks had time out in the pasture and had fun in the pool.  Well, all but one.  Chuck’s not sure he wants to take the plunge but I’m sure it’s just a matter of time.  This coming weekend they’ll be feathered out enough I can put them with the chickens finally full-time.  Hopefully there aren’t any issues there with being in with them.  If there are, like all things, we’ll adjust and make it work.

ducks intro in pool

I managed to get some mowing, trimming, and even planted a few annuals in a flower stand my oldest son and daughter-in-law purchased for me.  It was all natural wood when I got it, so I gave it a little garden color.  It looks very cute out near the fence line.  Lavender and daisies will grow on each side, framing it in nicely.

Flower pot tree

It’s been a crazy, busy weekend and I’m anxious to get to work and have a regular day to recharge for the next weekend go-round.

Life at mini S ranch is a great place to be!