somebody stop us, please!

Welcome to our newest additions to the chicken flock (as soon as they're big enough to go out into the yard)! Saw them in the local feed store, and fell in love all over again. I wonder if this is what some women go through with human babies: forgetting how much work the little buggers are, and wanting "just one more"...

Seriously, we had a legitimate reason for getting more chicks. Our only two Ameraucana's died, and the two Sicilian Buttercups are looking to be roosters instead of hens, so that left us a mere four egg-layers (that is, if they're not roosters as well, hmph). We purchased six Ameraucana's this time, to ensure at least a few of them survive past chickhood.

Love those fuzzy butts!

Fact: Ameraucana's are affectionately nick-named "easter-eggers", because they lay pastel blue colored eggs. There's your educational tip for the day!


Farm Lesson #1

If there are shoes or an article of clothing you do not want dirtied, stained, frayed, stretched, ripped, or otherwise "broken in" beyond reasonable standards, do NOT wear said article while feeding, watering, walking, or otherwise taking care of farm animals.

[photo: my running shoes]


wu wei schoolin'

Got my backside schooled in ye olde “wu wei”* last night, courtesy of our animal charges:

Had just got back from a visit with the doc. Doc confirmed what I really didn’t want to hear: all the recent soreness, stiffness and swelling was due to an arthritis flare-up. The good news: if I keep active, the soreness recedes. No problems keeping active here on the farm, but the news itself left me feeling tired and grumpy, and there was major work needing to be done before dark.

Got materials ready to section off part of the primary pen for the younger goslings (who needed to get out of the house, NOW), and saw the pups full of energy and really needing a walk. How they h*ll was I going to manage them and put up the new enclosure at the same time? Sighed, thought “Ahh, f*ck it”, opened the gate, and let them loose**. The brain-fart that precipitated that action? Figured they’d probably hang out around the house as they usually did before we kenneled them with the birds, but oh. Oh, no. No, they tore off like their hindquarters were on fire, leaving nothing but dust in their wake. Sh*t. Do I run after them? There was a snowball’s chance in h*ll that I was gonna catch up at that point. Screw it, let’s just put up the fence.

With the pups gone, it was actually a perfect time to let the chickens and geese free-range, with no extra energy needing to be expended for pup training or supervision. Let the chickens out into the wider pen to scratch, let the geese out into the yard to forage, and got to work. Fence section was up within an hour. Miraculously, once the fence was completed, the chickens were ready to go back to their coop. Easily got them into their covered run. The geese were ready to come back as well. Herded the geese into their enclosure with no issues. Wait, this is too simple... oh yeah. Still gotta find the pups!

Grabbed the leashes, and started walking around, calling for the pups. Found the pups on the trail we currently use on their regular walks (hooray!). They were happy to see me, and I thought, “you know? Let’s leave off the leash, and see if they’ll voluntarily follow me back to their pen”. Sonofab*tch, they did.

Tired geese, chickens, dogs... led to an easy integration of the goslings into their new outdoor pen. I was one grateful grrl.

[photo: Godzilla in secondary pen, in front of house. He's fierce. Oh yes, yes he is.]

*Wu wei: “Taoist philosophy proposes that the universe works harmoniously according to its own ways. When someone exerts his will against the world, he disrupts that harmony. Taoism does not identify man's will as the root problem. Rather, it asserts that man must place his will in harmony with the natural universe.”

**I do not recommend letting pups/dogs loose like this if you live in an urban/suburban environment. We have enough land, and such little traffic, that the danger is relatively low.


entertainment value? priceless.

Don't know if threads look like grass, but both the older and younger sets of goslings love to chew on any hapless thread that lay in their path. They will tug, pull, chew, slobber, shake and then eat that thread, if possible. The old towels I use to line the young gosling pen don't stand a chance.

Picking up some supplies from a local pet store the other day, I happened across some tiny dog chew toys that had knotted cords coming out the sides of the middle chewy part. Hmmm...

Chew toy: $3.99. Entertainment value: Priceless.


so, when is it NOT busy?

Goslings, chicks and dogs - all at once - equals a massive sh*tload of work that needs to be done NOW, NOW, NOW. I think we're over the initial hump of work, at least for the animals. In a short amount of time, we've built a chicken coop & dog house, dug out & installed a small swimming hole for the geese, put up fence posts and fencing, partitioned different living areas so the pups could get bonded with the geese & chickens without getting pecked to death, and installed an electrified poultry netting around the whole blinkin' perimeter.

[pic above: Cecily looking at Billy-Bob, probably thinking "dude, you're doing it wrong"]

This weekend we put in fence posts and fencing for a secondary goose pen that will allow us to put the goslings out during the day. We also finished the goose "kennel" (pics forthcoming) that should fit eight full-grown geese. This was done in 95+ degree weather. Spouse has probably lost over 10 pounds over these past four days alone.

The next step is to somehow make it so both "old" and "young" geese will get along. Queenie gets her wild-eyed look whenever she's next to the younger goslings, and if it weren't for the divider fence in the secondary pen, she'd probably snatch a goodly mouthful of fuzz. I'm hoping that once the younger geese get more of their white feathers, Godzilla & Queenie will recognize them as family.

As for myself, put a fork in me, I'm done. Off to take a nap.


Our farm: the cast of characters

Welcome to our farm blog. Spouse and I have a small, eight-acre place out in the Texas Hill Country, and in our insanity have gathered during the past eight weeks:

Six chicks, who are now eight weeks of age. Two Plymouth Barred Rocks named Crash & Airborne, two Sicilian Buttercups named Thug 1 and Thug 2, and two Cubalayas who are unnamed at the moment, but by their coloring, I might say Cinnamon & Nutmeg. We also had two Ameraucanas named Misty and Cheeky, but both have died *sniff*. Misty is the white & black in the foreground.

Two female Great Pyrenees puppies, about three months old, named Bandit and Maggie. They are in training to protect the chickens and geese. They're both smart and stubborn, which makes training a delicate balance of motivation and determination on the part of Spouse and I.

Two Tufted Roman geese, who are now eight weeks of age, named Godzilla and (Queenie) Kong. They rule the roost. They'll tell you that in no uncertain terms, and you better believe it...

...and six additional Tufted Roman goslings, about three weeks of age. Only names thus far are Billy-Bob, Cecilia and Cecily.

Spouse is a much better writer than I, so I'll let him introduce himself in another post. As for myself, I'm a system administrator by trade, but did the majority of growing up in an agricultural and dairy community (when I wasn't traveling, doing the military brat thing). This is a full circle round for me, and I'm having a blast. Enjoy the chaos!

Of Mice and Various Snakes and new Duck Feed Station

As mentioned in the previous post, our region is experiencing a near-Biblical plague of mice. "It's due to all the moisture we had...