Time seems to get away from me this time of year. No, that’s not really true. It’s always getting away from me! We’ve officially been at our ranch a year now. Busy is just part of the package with property and animals. I suppose I have neglected this blog and all of you in the process. My 2018 goal will be to do a better job of keeping everyone updated.
Having 3 mini horses, 2 mini donkeys, 2 mini fainting goats, 12 chickens and 2 ducks (plus our long-time four dogs), has been a learning experience and I am constantly learning. I tend to question everything and look to solve all the great complications along the way. Without electricity, how do I keep water from freezing? That is a question I hear from several people in the same predicament. There are a lot of so-called remedies for that. So far I haven’t found one that truly works. I have an invention I’ve been kicking around. I am an idea person however, and have no clue how to take my idea and have someone else turn it into an actual product. Everything takes money too, so I have to pick and choose where it all goes.
Now we’re settling into Christmas. I have everything bought and wrapped, except for stocking stuffers, which literally get stuffed into the stocking unwrapped. I buy for a dozen people for our house which includes kids and grandkids. That does not include parents and siblings. When all the gifts are under the tree waiting for them to show up, it’s a sight to see!
May all the joys of the Christmas season bring smiles, laughter, and blessings galore!
Yesterday while outside enjoying a beautiful Colorado fall day, a beautiful little bird flew to the fence and was as happy with the weather as I was. Now, unless I’m mistaken, this pretty little bird is a woodpecker. As long as this woodpecker does his thing in one of our trees or even on a fence post, that’s fine. But we have a long home. He and I will be having words if I hear the pecking on the house!
We had several kids over yesterday to enjoy the animals we have on the ranch. It’s a great feeling being able to share what we’ve created with others after all the hard work we’ve put into it. I am blessed and thank God for it every night. For others to experience what we have every day, even if only for a couple hours, makes it all worth it. When we see the faces of children running around having a great time gathering eggs, chasing and petting chickens, petting the goats and donkeys, walking the horses, etc., that when we know that yes, it is a special place.
After months of waiting, even before they were actually born, my two miniature donkeys are home. An hour and a half drive up to just before the area goes off grid, sits a chunk of property where the owners raise them. Ella and Emma’s previous home was mountainous terrain with a barn that isn’t set up for laying down in. Fast forward to their now flat pasture home with a barnyard and their own stall to go in and out of as they want, which is covered in shavings for their comfort. Oh how I love them! Honestly, had I gotten them before the miniature horses, I may have thought twice about getting the horses at all. Ella and Emma are calm and laid back, easy to train, adorable, and smart.
It took a bit for them to get used to the horses and vice-versa. In the pasture everything is fine. In the barnyard with the stalls though, the horses, more like one horse, didn’t like having to share one stall with them. So unexpectedly, my husband and I had to separate the barnyard to give both the horses and donkeys their own yard and stalls. Everything worked out great and it’s a happy place. It’s also a very special place.
It’s been a spell since I’ve had a chance to update you all. I got rid of my two male ducks who were very aggressive towards the females. They were both stressed out and one had even been hurt when the two males ganged up on her, pulled her top hair out (she is crested) and temporarily hurt her eye. Luckily she recovered. Once I got rid of them, the females have done well. I’m now getting eggs from one of them and even made pasta noodles to put up for winter with them.
We pick up the two female donkeys on Saturday. I’ve been anxious to get them. Now that it’s so close I am very excited and ready to bring them home. Then the miniature petting zoo will be complete. For now. Ha!
The colors haven’t changed too much here yet but the smell of fall is in the air and so is the moisture. I don’t mind the rain though. Our spring planted orchard loves these long drinks of water before the ground goes dormant for the winter.
Our big projects are pretty much done outside and neither of us are complaining about that. It’s been a crazy busy summer but looking around there’s a lot to show for it. Next year we’ll undoubtedly have projects. Hopefully not to the extent of this year.
More to come and be seen when Ella and Emma find their way home to us!
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.
I 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.
It’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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Once the grass grows over it, the pasture will be one big pasture again. That will make mowing a lot nicer!
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.
Jumpin “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.
The 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.
This 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!
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.
We 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!
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.
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).