Archive for the ‘Animals’ Category

So. Where were we?

This bi-coastal living sucks. Big time. Over the last year, I have learned well how I am absolutely not cut out for single parenting.

One might think that being home on this side of the country with the girls is easy enough. Not.

It’s like living in a frat house but everything is pink. And glittery.

We’re waiting on the guys to come home to celebrate Christmas. The stocking candy has, however, already been raided. I doubt the guys will get any by the time they are able to make it home.

Seeing as we’re at the end of the year, I’ll try to go back and highlight some of the things we’ve done. I’ve got reviews on the new Vibrams to get to, etc.

Right now, I guess I’ll start with the horses.

We added another horse to our herd, bringing the total now to 7. Haven is another Tennessee Walking Horse, and has a really nice gait. She came to us via a friend of ours over the border.

One thing we learned this season is that we needed a spare. We’ve done a number of trail rides; the four of us girls going to the ones nearby. While I could in a total pinch pull 4 horses in my stock trailer, I don’t much like it. I’ve been shuttling us 2 horses at a time, which really only works for rides that are relatively close. My oldest daughter and I have done a few rides that were further away, since I couldn’t double back due to distance.

On the last ride with all of us, we got all the way there, got my youngest’s mare out, only to discover a bloody foot, courtesy of kicking while loaded. It wasn’t terribly bad, but a fun show was the following day, and we didn’t want to take a chance that she couldn’t be ridden. So, on the return trip to get the other horses, I took her back home and traded her out for another.

Given that we actually made use of a spare horse, it was time to think about getting another spare, in the event Hunny was home and something like this happened. When my friend contacted me with the opportunity to get this horse, we decided to drive up and give her a test ride.

She is one of the youngest horses, and is so far doing well. We are looking forward to better, non-soggy weather to ride once hunting season is over.






My oldest daughter and I were laughing just the other day- when we decided to go all out on horses, we really had planned to get more horses like Magic, so that the herd colors would be diverse, given that we already had two bays and a red. With the additions of both Blaze and Haven, we now have a mostly “brown” herd. ๐Ÿ˜† Somehow, we have gotten completely smitten with that color! ๐Ÿ˜€



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Cooper the bull and his cow friends, Bonnie and Clyde, were happy. They were so, so happy.

They got to eat all the grass they wanted.

They got to wander in the woods.

They got to visit the crazy lady across the street.

They got to eat the grass in her hay field.

They got to stomp and scare her dogs.

They got to walk back and forth over the gravel where the loud machines would zip by. Mostly at night, they would watch the funny machines up close.

Because the crazy lady complained, the mean people came and pretended to try to get the three of them put into the pen. After hurting the one man’s arm, one other man said he had to find another man who could “rope” them and put them away.

That sounds scary!

But Bonnie, Clyde, and Cooper weren’t worried, no sir! Those people had tried and tried and tried to put them back, but they were still out, weren’t they?

Early one Friday morning, the crazy lady looked outside across the road. What did she see?

She saw THREE cows in the pen! Before she got really happy and a whole lot less crazy, she crossed to road to see if it was really Bonnie, Clyde, and Cooper.

You see, the last time she thought Cooper had been put away, she was surprised to see Bonnie and Clyde inside the pen instead.

So, she crossed the road to check, all the while hoping she would see her three friends inside, happily eating hay.

Hooray! It was true! Bonnie, Clyde, and Cooper were inside the pen!


Bonnie and Clyde seemed happy.

Cooper- not so much. :/

Cooper looked mad.ย  ๐Ÿ˜ก

He was caught. He didn’t like being caught. ๐Ÿ˜ก

He glared at the smiling, not-so-crazy lady. And then he went back to eating.

The lady was sooooo relieved! ๐Ÿ˜€ She was happy that she didn’t have to wear her gun, worried about Cooper charging her. She was happy her doggies wouldn’t get chased. She was happy she didn’t have to worry that Cooper would chase her dogs and come on her porch. ๐Ÿ˜ฏ ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

Saturday morning, the lady and her girls went to go ride their horsies. They waved goodbye to Cooper in the pen as they drove by.

Alllllll day passed, and the lady and her girls had fun riding their horsies. It was wet and muddy because of a bad storm the day before, but it wasn’t too wet or too muddy for them to have a lot of fun.

When they finished the trail, it was time to take the horses home and check on the chickens.

Uh oh. The lady only sees two cows in the pen. Who is missing?

Do you know?

You’re right! It’s Cooper!

Cooper is missing from the pen!

Now, Cooper had gotten B-I-G from eating all the nice, green grass. The lady wondered if maybe he had been taken to the market and sold.

The lady didn’t know, but she thought she would watch out for Cooper, just in case.

The lady left and went to go eat supper with the other horsey people. When supper was over, it was time to put the chickens to bed, so the lady and her girls headed home.

What do you think she saw?

Do you know?

You’re right again! It’s Cooper!

Cooper decided he wouldn’t be put in that pen. No sir, he wasn’t having any of that!

He liked being free! He liked to be able to eat all the nice, tall, green grass!

He liked being able to go into the woods. He liked chasing the crazy lady’s dogs. He liked looking at the funny, loud machines up close.

The people came and fixed the fence. Again. They tried to catch Cooper in the morning. They tried to catch Cooper in the afternoon.

But Cooper is too smart for them! Don’t they know that Cooper comes to the pen area every night? Cooper comes to see Bonnie and Clyde; to see if they will join him.

Bonnie and Clyde seem happy. They think about joining Cooper. But so far, Bonnie and Clyde are happy having the good hay all to themselves. And there is a dry place for them, which they can huddle in when the rain is really horrible.

But not Cooper! No sir! He’ll take his chances in the woods with the sharp, loud lights from the sky, all to stay free.

And, to this day, Cooper is happily outside the pen.




Ya, really. I want to say, “Unbelievable!” or “Inconceivable!” but the reality is, I am not really surprised. The sad thing is, I really want to drop the restraining order, but I don’t feel like I can, so long as Cooper continues to get out. As long as the situation is such that I might have to actually defend myself/my family/my animals/my home, the threat that he will be crazy enough to retaliate exists.

Dude. Fix your fence so it will keep ALL the cows in. Why is that so hard?! *sigh* ๐Ÿ˜ฅ


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Apparently not. If you haven’t been reading about the antics of Cooper The Bull and his friends, Bonnie and Clyde, go read it now. We’ll wait.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~INTERMISSION [youtube:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O0wOD9TWynM%5D ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The more I thought about being threatened, the more upset I became. There is something about this level of hostility that, while I don’t understand it at all, makes me even more worried than I was to begin with.

You let your bulls and cows run loose, but threaten me when I say I’m going to defend myself? That, seriously, is a special kind of cuckoo. And not the happy, cheery {redundant, I know, but I want to make sure you understand it} cuckoo clock birdie kind of cuckoo.

What could he have possibly thought he would accomplish by coming over and confronting me? How many times do I have to say, “We would not HAVE a problem if you had your animals contained!”?

I seriously doubt he would have had the guts to come over if my hubby was home.

I really don’t give a rip WHO you think you are. You are not going to come over on MY property and threaten me. ESPECIALLY when YOUR OWN SON was nearly trampled the day before AND has an arm swollen to three times its normal size. It’s probably a good thing I didn’t know that then, or I would have been inclined to point that out, too.

Sheesh. Some people.

I’ve talked to a whole lot of people who’ve all said the same thing: he thinks no one can tell him what to do, and he can push around whoever he wants to.

Well. Ahem.

Blame it on my ignorance of not knowing who the “important” people are around here, but I don’t give a rip who he *thinks* he is. He is no one of importance to me. And given the way he doesn’t take care of his animals, I can say without hesitation or reservation that I am GLAD he doesn’t think kindly of me or like me, because I have ZERO desire to be in that class with him or his kin.

I find the older I get, the less I give a rip about much of anything. You do the right thing {as in, keep your animals contained and freaking feed them} and I’ll have no quarrel with you. Do right and leave me alone, and you won’t hear a peep out of me because, {let’s say it together, boys and girls,} “I don’t give a rip.” Life is too darn short to be dealing with the amount of snot and feces some people are able to generate. And I am sick and tired of dodging both of them.

In addition to my concern over being shot by a person with clear mental issues, I worry about what they are going to do to my animals. It wouldn’t surprise me to find some downed fencing. A burned down coop. With that kind of irrational crazy, there’s no telling what all they would do. In a perfect world, I’d get one for the whole family, including the middle-finger-flipping teenagers.

Since I don’t live in a perfect world, I did the only real thing I could think of to do- I went to talk to the county magistrate and got myself a court date to get a restraining order. Apparently, out here, in order to get a restraining order, they have to issue a felony arrest warrant. Not quite what I had intended, but hey, if it gets his cows put back away, so be it.

Two days later, Bonnie and Clyde are still out. They’ve been hanging around my mailbox. Animal control said they would file charges, and this is not the first time.

I’m beginning to wonder if anything will ever get done. At some point, it’s almost normal to see them all over, and then there’s a jolt of, “Hey! That’s not right!” that reminds you that they are prone to charging.

A dear friend, who is also an awesome artist, suggested I write a children’s book about Cooper and his misadventures. She offered to illustrate. Although I don’t have her illustrations yet, I do have the first draft of the story and some pictures. Let me know what you think. :mrgreen:


The Mis Adventures of Cooper the Bull {and Friends}

Once upon a time, there was a bull named Cooper. Cooper was sad.

Cooper was sad because his friend, another bull named Frank, had died, many months ago. Cooper was all alone. No one came to see him to give him food. Cooper was so, so sad.

One day, someone brought him a horse. Oh, he was so happy! He chased and chased and chased that horse! And then he chased her some more. What fun!

A few weeks later, the people brought another horse. The first horse was very happy. She had a friend!

But poor Cooper, his happiness was gone. ๐Ÿ˜ฅ The horse has a friend, but he had none.

Soon, it was winter. The two horses and Cooper were cold and hungry. The grass had stopped growing in the pasture. The people never came to bring them hay.

One day, Cooper decided he’d had enough! He saw the green fields around him that the farmer had planted, and he was hungry.

Could he get to the field? Would the short fence keep him in?

Hooray! The fence let him out! Very skinny Cooper was so, so happy! Now he could eat!

Yum! Yum!

Cooper learned there were a lot of puddles and a nice beaver dam nearby. This meant he didn’t have to be in his pen to get water.

Cooper was happy! He ate, and ate, and ate. He drank, and drank, and ate some more.

Cooper started to feel really good. He wasn’t skinny any more! His ribs and hips stopped showing. He started to make more muscle. He started feeling very strong.

The people didn’t care that Cooper was out. He roamed, and roamed. He visited the crazy lady across the street, in her yard. He had fun chasing her dogs. He had fun walking in the road and scaring the people who drove by.

Because Cooper was out of the pen, the people decided to give the horses some new friends. The people brought Bonnie and Clyde to the pen. They didn’t bring any food, though.

Bonnie and Clyde were sad. They were hungry, too. Why was Cooper allowed to be outside eating, but not them?

Well, they started to think it might be fun to be outside with Cooper. Then they could eat, too!

And, they could explore! They explored the woods. They explored the road.

A mean man came. Together with the lady and her girls, they put Bonnie and Clyde away.

Bonnie and Clyde weren’t sad, though. They knew a secret. Do you know what their secret was?

Shhhhh! The fence couldn’t keep them inside.

So, Bonnie and Clyde stepped right over the fence again. The explored the woods. They explored the road.

They explored until they found the bridge by the interstate.

ZIP! ZIP! ZIP! Those funny machines are fast! And loud!

The same mean man came, and moved them with his funny looking loud machine. He scared them so they would move away from the bridge by the interstate.

They knew he was going to try to make them go back in the pen. No sir, they’re not going back! Cooper doesn’t have to go back, so why should they?

Bonnie and Clyde ran into the woods to join Cooper.

One of the people got close to Cooper, but he hurt the man’s arm so the man would let go.

Cooper liked his freedom!

After that, the people drove by, but couldn’t catch Cooper. They were afraid of Cooper. Bonnie and Clyde like their freedom, too. They can all eat, even though the people finally brought hay, hoping to entice them to the pen.

But they’re not dumb, no sir! They’re not going to fall for that, especially when the good stuff is outside their pen

To this day, Bonnie, Clyde, and Cooper are happily outside the pen.

They eat. They sleep. They can chase the lady’s dogs if they want to. They can drink water from the beaver dam and big puddles.

And they can say hello to the people in their big, loud, funny machines, as they meet them on the road.

The End.










Shall we start a betting pool on when or if we think the rogue bovine will get captured and returned to the pen? Anyone?ย  :/

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NOT. Wowee.

I’m inclined to finally write this up, because it’s hard to know who knows what and what part of the story they know. Get your pocorn and your beverage now. You might also want to go to the bathroom before we start.

The important thing to know before we begin is that not only am I armed, I am ready. And I have used my good friend just the other night to fire a warning shot, because I really don’t want any harm coming to it, but it really can’t be here, threatening me, my kids, the garbage men, the people driving on the road, my dogs, my chickens, etc etc etc.

You may recall that we moved here about a year and half ago, after living in hell the NM desert. We had not planned on buying something before we sold our other house, but well, we found this one, and that’s all she wrote.

When we moved in, there were 5 abandoned horses in our front yard; one of them severely emaciated, starving, recently foaled and nursing both the new colt and 2 year old filly. As it turns out, the baby, renamed to Doodlebug, was actually born October 30; we closed November 8. {not sure why my times in that post were so wonky.}

It took us a while, but Halo did finally get rehabilitated and is now completely ride able, although she still struggles to add that final 100 lbs. {Pay attention, because this is all part of what’s been going on these days………………..}

Contrary to some popular local belief, the horses that were abandoned actually WERE on our property. And, we didn’t steal them or otherwise “take them over,”- we fed a horse for whom death was imminent. In NM, not reporting was a felony; if you knew of a starving horse and did nothing, you were also criminally liable. And, we actually DO have a bill of sale for every one of our horses. ๐Ÿ˜€

It took about a week of living here to figure out that not only were none of them being fed, but they had NO water. So we fed her. And so it began.

The homesite here has a really rich history. It used to belong to a Civil War Colonel {who is buried in the woods with his horse} and the state has the historical the he letters wrote to his wife on how to harvest their crops while he was at war. There was a Revolutionary War battle in the front pasture, from what we’ve been told.

The house is not that old, of course; it was built in the mid 1990s. The man who had it built was a very well-educated and prominent public servant in this tri-county area; one of the leaders in the state from what we hear. When we got the house, it was bank owned, thanks to the downward decline resulting from drug abuse.

It’s horribly sad. He lost his wife, his kids, his practice, and finally the home he had built- because of drugs. And basically every single room in the house had serious blood spatter in it. vomit

My daughter had a pretty serious accident on Magic because of a drug drop in the barn. {Drug dealers sat and watched, as she exercised the horse; sped over to the barn; finally getting out, running in, and then running back out, and revving the engine to speed away. This spooked the horse, who took off back to the paddock and dumped my daughter before trampling her arm. Thank God nothing was broken or that she wasn’t seriously hurt.}

Last summer, my son found a container of syringes. Some of them were used. Some were half full. Some of them had a bloody mixture in them. So, the sheriff’s department took them at some point. Since then, several other syringes and parts have turned up, thanks to the rain and the chickens……

During the first few months, we met pretty much every one who lives out this way. I think some of it was folks being neighborly; some of it just curiosity. The house and this man had a distinct reputation, and it’s not surprising folks were interested in the house and who bought it.

Part of the family that welcomed us was one branch that had a daughter a little younger than my oldest daughter, and they became fast friends. While they lived in the bigger town nearby, grandpa and numerous aunt/uncles/cousins all live right around here.

The girl got a horse. The girl. Not her parents. Her. She was in charge of taking care of the horse- feeding, etc etc, and paying for feed, etc. While they did buy some grain, all we ever saw them feed regularly were breakfast cereals, like Fruit Loops, and then broccoli. They also don’t believe in the farrier. Apparently, her dad was going to trim hooves, because he watched a video on YouTube.banghead ๐Ÿ˜ฏ

Ahem. Ya.

By this time, they were up to 3 horses; only one of which could really be ridden. And, my daughter and this girl were no longer friends, because my daughter wasn’t able to stand seeing the neglect going on with the horses.

And then it was getting close to Christmas. I came home, to find the girl sitting in my driveway.ย  Could we help her, she wanted to know, figure out what to do to get her horses better? They couldn’t get them to keep any weight on them. Her mother made her come over because they knew we had rehabbed a horse, and knew what we were doing.

We went over with the girl, and I shot my vet some pictures. I relayed the information she gave me. I gave them her number. We went home and got them water they could actually drink.
















Ya. I know. We monitored, but at some point week or two later, per the advice of my vet, I called animal control. In the meantime, I had gotten a hold of an US Equine Rescue League investigator. She found a specialized rescue for them, and had a vet and transport on stand-by, waiting for them, all of which was communicated. The point is- they weren’t feeding them, and the odd occasions that they fed, they weren’t fed the right stuff.

Animal control issued a mandate to have the vet go out on and give them a written plan of care, which was to be shown to animal control. The daughter said they had not seen a vet, but had talked to one. The story they gave animal control was that they had seen a vet. He called and checked with the vet, who said he had seen the horse. Maybe it happened. Either way, it was enough that animal control couldn’t press charges after they shot and killed them, even though they had instructions NOT to.

The mother FBed my daughter that weekend with a message saying, “I hope you’re happy. Now we have to put them down. I hope you hear the gunshots when they go off!” ๐Ÿ˜ฏ The daughter posted we needed to go back to NM; the son {senior in high school} posted we were psycho and needed to go back to NM where we came from.

And, just yesterday, the kids were coming down the road {and now that they moved the the horse back to where they were, which we’ll get to, they have no actual reason to go flying down my dirt road} with 4 of them in the car, and they all flipped up off. ๐Ÿ˜† But hey, they’re praying for us. ๐Ÿ˜†

Now, in the midst of this crap, when they bought the second gelding, they moved their Tennessee Walking Horse across the street from us; dumping it in the bull pen. Yep.

I don’t think I need to say this, but they didn’t feed her over there, either. I have pictures of when she broke out and came in my side pasture to eat the grass, and given the pulled hay in my new hay bales, it surely looks like she got a late night snack or two, too. Honestly, I don’t begrudge the horse for breaking out in the winter to get herself some food. Hungry animals are inclined to find food when they’ve gone too long without.

So let’s talk about the bull pen….. when we moved in, Moo, a nice white heifer, was in there. At some point, she died, and they replaced her with two bulls.

Wait- let’s back up- the bull pen over there is leased by a different branch of this same family. The folks with the cows are some kind of cousin/uncle of the mother with the horses. The water for the pen comes from our well- and we don’t own the land. We are also not compensated for use of the water or the electricity used by my well. Because I know these people won’t bring their animals water and would literally let them thirst to death, we have graciously not capped that line so they can continue to use it. Some thanks, eh?

Anyhow, Moo died, they left her in the pasture to rot a while, and then there were two new bulls in there. Not only do they not feed them regularly, if at all, their water tank isn’t clean. But no matter; at least they have something. A few months down the road, one of the bulls died, preventing the other from taking shelter because it died IN the shelter and completely blocked the access. After a few weeks, the stench was unbearable, and bit of flesh would float over on a windy day. The dogs loved it; me- not so much.

So, the bull and the one horse have been in there a while. After several weeks, the bull stopped trying to kill the horse, and all was well. Now it’s winter, and not only is there no grass in the bull pen, but they have dumped ANOTHER horse in there. I’m pretty sure the junky hay from my hay field that was sitting there when we moved got taken over there. It was moldy, because it had sat out in the weather for over a year.

During the really cold weather we had, the hay ran out. And wasn’t replaced. At. All.

The guy with the cows- has a LOOOONNNNGGGGG history of starving his animals, and letting them run amok, including getting on the interstate, etc.

About a month ago, the remaining bull decided he’d had enough and skipped town. I am not sure where he got out, but he did. To this day, he remains at large. I took a picture a day later, when he was still out, and posted it on FB, more as a warning to my neighbors who drive this road to beware. A black bull- just like the black horse {which I also finally called on several days after she had been running loose- no animal should get hit by a car because of stupidย  negligent owners, imo}- at night, is a road hazard.

I had forgotten one of the aunts {sister to the mother who was nasty; aunt to the girl who the parents considered responsible for the horses} was on my FB friend’s list and not blocked like the others. And wow. First I was told to mind my own business. Then I was told I was being “unneighborly” and a whole host of other things. This after the father {horses} came to my house to threaten us and tell us to “stay off my land” which still makes no sense. He was a bit thrown off by the dogs and my 6 ft, well-muscled husband, who handled that quite marvelously. So, the aunt and I went back and forth a bit, and still, the bull remained out. I wonder if they realize that FB uses dates…… and of course, my phone date stamps, too. It took the uncle {great uncle to the girl?} 3 days before he even meandered over here to look and see if the bull was in or not.

In the past week, I have had the sheriff’s department out 4 times and have had 6 deputies. Today was the first repeat officer, though.

I’ve called several times on that darn bull. 2 weeks ago, not all of my trash got emptied because the bull was right there. So, the county has that documented. Because the third of those people’s horse was in the bull pen, the animal control officer doing the case has been aware of that part of the situation, including the one’s escape before the gelding was added to the pen.

Animal control officer told me to call the sheriff after hours, so they could come and document the bull was out. So that’s what I’ve been doing. The bull gets near the road where they can see- I call.ย  The bull gets on my property- I call. Last week, the young bull and heifer were walking down the middle of the road. So I called- 2 deputies came and saw them out. One went to go tell the one guy to put his cows away.

In the meantime, our friend, D, came and had to go around them in the road, so he came back and we helped him put them away. The following night, when we were grilling, my brother came in and said the bull was in our side pasture. I wanted to get a picture to document for the sheriff; he got his car lights on him, which then agitated the bull. I got in my truck, shined my brights on him, and essentially pushed him back over into the field adjacent to the bull pen. After I called the sheriff. So, that was the first meeting for the deputy that came again today {deputy #3}. One of his first comments that night was, “I’m so sick and tired of putting “X’s” cows away. He needs to keep his damn animals penned.”

Why, yes, yes he does.

Later that night, after we had already gotten the two put away, the horse part of the family came to help put the bull away, toddler in tow. They let the horses out, which promptly came over into my hay field and began to eat. Obviously, I didn’t call then, and they did get the horses put back.

Sunday, the horses got out and came to visit my horses. They knocked part of my fence loose, and ran all the way down to the end of the road, to the state highway. I called the sheriff. I know you are shocked by that. I mean, I guess I figure if I’ve been accused of having the sheriff on “speed dial,” I might as well earn it, right? ๐Ÿ˜†

While I was on the phone, negligent cow person X came by the bull pen, and then drove all through my fields and yard, yelling at me to “Get me a rope!”

Um, excuse me? You come to put your animals away (they are in his bull pen, of course, and he is leasing the pasture) and you expect me to give you one of my lead ropes? Get your own dang rope.

Fortunately, about that time, two deputies come speeding up at the end of the driveway. Had their timing been any later, I kid you not, I would most likely be in the hospital; maybe even dead. Because at that moment, as they were getting out of their cars, some guy in a tractor comes barreling through the hay field, jumps out of the tractor and comes yelling at me about calling the sheriff every time his animals get out, and waving his fists. The one deputy went and physically pushed him back {they couldn’t arrest him because he hadn’t gotten his hands on me} while the even larger deputy took us and we stood along side of him, standing with his arms crossed.

The one deputy asked me who the hostile belligerent dude was, and I told him I had no idea. I really don’t. I have no idea who that guy is. Is it guy Y, guy Xs son, who came in my paddock to mount his fence charger and left my gates open while doing so, to have me come screaming out of my house, “What are you doing?! Close the gate!” and then who proceeded to tell me my driveway and all of that area was public property and he should know because he used to work for the county? {To which I replied, “Ah, no it’s not. That is my private property, according to my lawyer. I don’t care if you go in to plug in your charger, but did it never occur to you to knock on my door and ask or otherwise let me know you needed in there?” “I didn’t know anyone was home.” “Really? You couldn’t see my big white truck parked right in front of you?”๐Ÿ™„} Or is it some other crazy member of that family? I really don’t know.

At some point, they followed the three guys (guy X had another guy with him) back across the street, where they proceeded to eventually collect the horses and put them back in. Now, Cooper the bull {as in, D.B. Cooper ๐Ÿ˜† } was still at large, which I confirmed later that night.

I heard two of my dogs frantically barking, and Oreo was herding something that wasn’t cooperating. I could see her trying to move it away from the house, but whatever it was, was not cooperating. Then I saw the tree in the driveway median shaking, and I figured they had treed a coon or something, until the bull moved INTO the yard; past the closer leg of the driveway, and settled in at the bottom of the porch steps. I was seriously afraid he was going to come up the steps!

I yelled at the girls to get the dogs brought in, and I went to get my good friend, Smithy Wesson. Smithy is a .38 special, and the last time I brought him out was when there was a guy parked at the end of the road for hours in the wee early hours of the morning started walking up my driveway. Turns out, he was coming to see the guy who used to live here- and hasn’t for a year and a half. Once he saw Smithy, though, and Oreo, the ninja snappy dog, he slowly backed out of the driveway.

So, with Smithy out, and my girls yelling not to kill the bull {which I can do, legally, if anything on my property threatens my person or my livestock, etc}, I cracked off a round in his general direction. It was pitch black at that point, and my flood lights don’t reach that far, but because I couldn’t see a carcass, he obviously moved off.

Yesterday, I thought they had finally moved all the animals, because not a one was left in the bull pen. They did move the horse back to Death Row, as we call it, but the cows were gone. As it turns out, they left the fence open, thinking maybe the Cooper would willingly go back in and join Bonnie and Clyde.

Do I even need to tell you what happened? banghead

Well, then, boys and girls, let’s all say the answer together: “The cows got out.”

Yes, indeed. Bonnie and Clyde got out and joined Cooper on his grand adventure.

This resulted in them getting about a mile down the side road, next to the interstate that the bridge on that road goes over.ย  And pretty close to where friend D lives, who was *furious,* after having put them away already once in the last week. I was visiting a neighbor when he called, but when I got home, he was over across the street with guy X, giving him a piece of his mind. My oldest heard a few choice snips of the conversation, but D reiterated that Cooper had been out for a month, which of course, guy X refuses to believe. Guy X accused me of tampering with his fence charger.

Oh yes, that’s me, all right. ๐Ÿ™„ I’m gonna turn off his electric fence so I can deal with his bull crashing around my property and preventing my trash from getting picked up. That’s right, I have no problem with his bull trampling my dogs and threatening my girls and myself. ๐Ÿ™„ {and just to clarify in the event you aren’t quite sure, that is complete sarcasm. He needs to keep his animals penned up.}

And that brings us to this afternoon. Let me tell you something I’m pretty sure they have figured out and thought they could use to their advantage- Hunny is currently away for work. {He’s ready to bail me out, though.}ย  I am pretty sure they thought they could come over and confront and intimidate me.

Did I mention I have a good friend, Smithy Wesson? Before I went down to talk to guy X, I got him on my hip. Apparently, guy X has three dogs, all of which were with him, and his German Shepherd had tangled with my older border collie, who sent him cowering. Here are the high points of the conversation:

He said some lady called on the horses and cows being out today.

“Nope, not me today. I haven’t called today. I called Sunday, though, when the horses were out.”

He said I needed to stop calling.

“Nope. I am going to call every single time I see them out.” And I explained my reasons why. “Keep your animals penned, and I won’t need to call.”

Then he tried to tell me I didn’t own any land, and I told him, “Oh hell yes, I do. You better check the county register. I own close to 4 acres of this land, including part of that pasture, and the hay field,ย  and this, and this, and this, and this. And even if I didn’t, I still live here, and what’s happening with the rest of the acreage is between me and T. You have no say in any of that, and it’s none of your business.”

Then he said the bull hadn’t been out long; and of course, I set the record straight and let him know that the sheriff’s deputies had seen my documentation.

Then he said the situation was all my fault because I said a few cuss words- nevermind that he said all of them first, or that friend D had said the exact same things to him last night. But oh yes, my language is why his animals were out. ๐Ÿ™„ And he tried telling me I turned his fence off- “Yeah, right. You think I don’t want my trash picked up? Or that I want to deal with large animals running loose? That is just nuts.”

When he said that bull had never come on my side of the road, I replied, “How would you know? You’re never around. Do you want to see my pictures? The deputies have.”

“And I’ll tell you- I’ve been told repeatedly by all of them and by Animal Control that I am well within my legal rights to shoot any of them, if they are on my property and I feel threatened. You had better believe I will shoot them, because I will. I will drop that bull if he’s over here. Enough is enough.”

Pay attention, kids, because his response right here is why I’m going to magistrate court in the morning.

He replied, “If you drop him, I’ll drop you.”

“Wait- did you just say you were going to shoot me if I shot your bull on my property?!”

“Uh huh. You’re the one walking around with a gun on your hip.”

“You’re darn right I am! I’ve 2 bulls and a heifer running around loose, chasing my dogs and crashing around my property! I have every right to defend myself, and I am SURELY going to. “

There was a little more back and forth, but it wasn’t much before I told him to get off my property. Then I called the sheriff’s office again {you know, the whole threatening to shoot me bit} and animal control. I was on the phone with animal control when officer #3 came back again. I apprised him of the situation and got his suggestion to go to magistrate court for a restraining order.

I’m pretty sure that family thinks I am looney tunes, and I am fine with that. Maybe they’ll think I’m so darn crazy they’ll finally get the bulls and heifer put away. Ya think??

As you can see, the gene pool on this family is something else. When they called the sheriff a few months ago to report “6 horses on the highway,” the deputy grandson of our dear friends on the corner, who also just happens to live across said two-lane state highway, came by on his way home, because we were the only ones around there that he knew of that had that many horses. And you know what? I was appreciative.

No, my horses weren’t out. They had been, about 2 hours prior, standing in the driveway and eating the grass in the yard. For a total of a whopping 15 minutes. The hurricane force gusts had blown over a section of fencing, which we propped back up and put them back in.

And still, I was appreciative that they came to check. I mean, if your animals were out, wouldn’t you want to know? By the time he got there, it was getting dark. I was still outside, finishing with chickens, but we went and counted heads. He could see all the horses contentedly eating hay, right by the fence.

I cannot get my mind around their particular mindset. I just can’t. D told them that he drives that way to get home, and guy X told him to go around- find another way home. What the heck?! Guy X has starving and escaping cows in a 3 county area, and clearly, the counties are not talking to each other, because if they were, he’d have numerous felonies pending. This has been such an ongoing and continuous problem for so many years, that it seems likes folks have given up on calling, because it doesn’t change anything.

But shoot. I guess since I have the sheriff’s office on speed dial, I might as well use my finger to push that button if I see their animals out after hours.

I think I may title this drama, “As the Silo Turns.” And to think- someone actually accused me a few weeks ago of being bored because I’m on a farm {in regards to some comments I made in a FB group, of course, lol}. ๐Ÿ˜†

And now, boys and girls, you are all caught up. Stay tuned, because I’m sure there will be more, unfortunately. *sigh*



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Tell you something you don’t already know, right? ๐Ÿ˜†

No, really, in this case, I kind of am. And there is NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT. :mrgreen:

Somehow, this is turning into a chicken blog……. the days are consistently soooooo busy that so much has flown by without an update. Much of my life day revolves around chickens- letting them out, cleaning the coop every morning while I check chooks, collecting eggs, counting heads after they go to bed, etc.

As you might remember, I’m currently overrun with boys, which I love for the most part. Part of the ooey gooey fun is knowing that when the girls go broody, if they are really mean or determined, you actually can slip some eggs under them and see what happens……. ๐Ÿ˜†

Back in January, one of our Silver Spangled Hamburgs {aka “the polka-dotted chicken”} became the meanest broody we’ve ever seen. Fortunately, we got her nest moved from the tippy top of the hay loft to the nesting boxes without losing fingers or eyes. ๐Ÿ˜€ Because it was winter and male fertility is down, I figured we likely wouldn’t hatch anything out. And besides, she was eating her way through the eggs…..

Fast forward to the second coldest snap of the winter, and one baby freezes to death hatching out of the shell. {You can see where this is going, yes?} Well, that’s not ok. On the rare chance more hatched, it was safer to move them into the house. This has kind of been an issue since we moved here, because we left the fantabulous brooder Hunny made back at the other house. Well.

Last year when we got the bantams, we put them in the stock tank. We had a few on hand, but thought we’d get one bigger for the horses, which we could use as a brooder in the meantime.

I mean, honestly? There are all kind of uses for stock tanks. We haven’t made the leap to hot tubbinghottub


or swimming in them {yet} swimming, but using as a brooder?


Pshaw. At least it’s ag/barnyard related. ๐Ÿ˜†



We started with a regular new black tank.stocktank2





That went pretty well. It was the perfect size for the bantams.ย  blacktank1





Then it was time for the large fowl chicks, and that presented a bit of a dilemma, since we had not completed the coop. After looking around for a bit, I settled on- you guessed it- another stock tank. This one was the loooooonnnnnggg variety. It took some doing to even get it INTO the office.


Once it was in, it was the perfect habitat for babies. ๐Ÿ˜†



And, of course, you know we added the guinea keets at some point, too.

The stock tanks, however, are not what makes me a redneck. Maybe a hillbilly, but pretty sure not a total redneck.

Nope. What vaults me into that category is salvage/repurposing all stuff. In this case, I needed a new brooder.

But wait! I know what you’re thinking- didn’t all my chicks less the new hatchlings in the other metal stock tank grow up already?

Why, yes, I’m glad you asked. They did indeed grow up! ๐Ÿ˜€ Because my girl to boy ratio is so low and I am loath to give up my boys if there is a way around, the way around it was to get more girls. :mrgreen:

A trip to my local Tractor Supply Co found me staring at a stock tank full of brahma pullets. Well. I didn’t have those. And they have FEATHERY FEET!

How could I say no? ๐Ÿ˜†

A call to my hunny resulted in a reluctant green light, and I made a mad dash home with 6 more new chicks. Yay! ๐Ÿ˜€

It didn’t take long once I was home to realize I was facing yet another quandary: where was I going to put them? We had taken the smaller metal stock tank,ย  which really was marginal, for the mama and her 3 babies. I made a hardware cloth divider and went outside to wander around and see if I had enough scrap wood.

Well. Lo and behold, there was an old dresser our friends had outside our little house, waiting to be transported to the dump. A quick text confirmed what I suspected- the dresser was about to become my new brooder!

I think the hardest part of this project was getting my chicken-project-hating-teenage daughter to stop rolling her eyes and moaning. I was very sure I had enough glee for both of us, but she wasn’t having any of it.

All told, grumbling included, it took about an hour and a half to get things cut and put together. brooder1

I slapped on a coat of paint that night and by the next afternoon, it was good to go.


I’ll have to unscrew the light post to get it out of the room, because as it is, it’s too wide to fit through the door.

I was really pleased, though. It didn’t take long; it saved a trip to the dump, and it was free to me less the paint and screws. A month later, it’s still doing the job as well as any other brooder.

I do a lot of reading and talking about chickens {I know you are shocked!ย  ๐Ÿ˜ฏ }, and one thing I hear a lot of is that folks don’t have the money or the resources to build a brooder. I say, get your redneck on and think outside the box!

Our first brooder was the bookshelf section of one of the kids’ old computer desks that was also working on finding its way to the dump. I know folks who use plastic totes. I know folks who have chicks in their bathtubs. I know folks who use the plastic drawer stacks.

I am pretty sure I’m not the first one to use an old dresser. I surely hope I won’t be the last. I am also pretty sure I’m not the only one who gets a little rednecky from time to time, especially when it comes to chickens. The key is to think safety first. Don’t be daunted or put off of getting chicks because your “coop isn’t totally built,” or you “don’t have the right equipment.”

They say “necessity is the mother of invention,” and chicks and/or chickens are no exception.

What are the most creative brooders you’ve used? :mrgreen:

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Of goodbyes. Really. Usually, I’m not. There have been a few times when ‘goodbye’ meant ‘good riddance,’ but those episodes are few and far between.

Sometimes, goodbyes come suddenly; unexpectedly. Sometimes, they come after a long period of languishing; dragging feet to delay the inevitable.

This episode falls into the latter category. *sigh*

I really, really did not want to have to. And I’m sure there’s a part of me that will always remember that sadness lingering, as it does today.

Ya know, another thing in this category is change. Change is not always good. I don’t mind change when I know about it; when I can plan for the variables. Sometimes, though, things change in the blink of an eye and there’s not a darn thing a person can do about it.

This episode falls somewhere in between those two poles. *sigh*

The thing that gets me, though, is when that change means saying goodbye, especially when you’re not ready for it. I’m not a fan of that. At. All.

We’ve been through a lot together in the last 17/18 years. I’ve shown my love; I’ve done my fair share of cursing. I’ve stayed up all night, making things right.

And last week, I had no choice but to sadly, say goodbye. ๐Ÿ˜ฅ

My sewing machine died.ย  ๐Ÿ˜ฆ ย  ๐Ÿ˜ฅ

A few years ago, I began having problems with bird-nesting on light-weight cotton fabrics. I cleaned. I oiled. I changed needles. I diddled with tensions. I read and researched until I was cross-eyed. And then I put it away out of frustration.

If you’ve been reading along, you’ll no doubt remember that I’ve sewed some curtains since we’ve been here, and I thought my sewing issue had pretty much disappeared. So much so that I made plans to make curtains for every window in the house, and got the fabric for the living room.



Last Saturday, I got my machine out because desperate measures needed to be taken, and in a hurry. You can image my frustration when not only was I bird-nesting again, but then my bobbin casing popped out and refused to stay in once reinserted.

After several hours of cussing and praying, it was apparent the inevitable had arrived. And I was not ready.

Looking at my machine, I remember all the things I’ve made- pillow cases, throw pillows, bed sheets, other bedding, curtains, more curtains, and still more curtains, and baby clothes, etc. *sigh* And I was not ready to let it go. I have plans, after all!

I briefly thought about getting it repaired. As I learned, anything over ten years old is technically considered vintage, and not only are many parts not made anymore, but if replacement are found, they are usually salvages, which means at some point, they are going to wear out because they already have some of the life used.

Plus, I really didn’t have time to wait. No, really. My chickens needed clothes, and they needed them NOW! ๐Ÿ˜†

Ok, really, it’s only the girls that needed something.

Ok, well, not really ‘something’ in general- something in particular. My girls needed saddles!

If you’ve ever done an internet search for ‘hen saddles,’ despite the feathery ones, I can tell you, those are not the right ones. Besides being for fly fishing, they are much too small. ๐Ÿ˜€

While I personally prefer to call them “aprons” or “capes,” saddles is more appropriate. As in,

“Move ’em out, head ’em up,
Head ’em up, move ’em on.
Move ’em out, head ’em up:
Cut ’em out, ride ’em in,
Ride ’em in, cut ’em out,
Cut ’em out, ride ’em in:

Ya. That kind of saddle. :/

Have I mentioned I have 12 crowing boys? Yep, I do. The suggested ratio is 1ย  male per every 10/12 females. This is not to prevent the boys from fighting. It’s to prevent the girls from getting worn out.


Jumbo, Silver Laced Wyandotte cockerel

My head roo-in-in-waiting (he’s not quite a year yet, so he’s not “officially” a roo), Jumbo, is a gentleman. He is very gentle with the girls, and they adore him. He does his morning ‘hello,’ his evening ‘goodnight’ and in-between ‘just so you don’t forget me’s.

One of my silkie girls is terribly smitten with him, snuggling with him on the roost when she’s not broody. ๐Ÿ˜† And he, bless his heart, tries to be accommodating to satisfy her loving desires. So far, he hasn’t killed her, but it is hilarious to watch, if not a bit concerning. ๐Ÿ˜†

Sparkles is another handsome cockerel, but he’s really nice, like Jumbo.

Sparkles, Silver Spangled Hamburg, and Jumbo, Silver Laced Wyandotte

Sparkles, Silver Spangled Hamburg, and Jumbo, Silver Laced Wyandotte

They often hang together, and can be found tag-teaming the girls during the day. We have no run, which means unless they are in bed for the night, they are free-ranging.ย  Together, they take the large groups of the girls out and about, which is fantastic to watch.

I think one of the real culprits, though, is Snowy, our Easter Egger cockerel.

Snowy, Easter Egger cockerel

Snowy, Easter Egger cockerel

You may remember the Mayhem in the Coop many months ago, which left both he and one of my Cuckoo Marans with cross beaks.

While his cross-beak is not as severe as Betty’s, it does interfere with his extracurricular activities, because he can’t hang on with his beak very well. This means he uses his feet *a lot* more, which is rough on the girls. And, he likes loves them allllllllllll. ๐Ÿ˜†

In addition to our three large fowl boys, we also have a plethora of bantam boys; 9 more, if we’re counting.ย  The worst culprits are my pair of black Cochin bantams, Bob and Snickers.

Black Bantam Cochins Bob and Snickers; Birchen Cochin Bantam, Coconut

Black Bantam Cochins Bob and Snickers; Birchen Cochin Bantam, Coconut

Despite having mostly large fowl girlies, I can say without reservation that these boys are successfully fertilizing the big girls, because my newest hatchlings have feathery feet and 4 toes, which means it’s most likely that one of these boys made it to home base. ๐Ÿ˜† And yes, while the mama is a Silver Spangled Hamburgย  {same breed as Sparkles; aka “The Polka Dotted Chickens”}, she is a large fowl bird, even though she’s the smallest large fowl breed we have. Make sense?

So anyhow.

My girls are getting too much love, and are starting to look a bit rough. The problem is that once those feathers are gone, there is no protection from toenails or spurs, and numerous hens have been laid open by super-duper amorous boys.

The fix is to provide them with some protection, a la hen saddles. I prefer to call them ‘aprons,’ myself. There are gazillions of patterns out there; most of them are free. Of course, there are lots of folks selling completed aprons, too, but because I know how to sew and had all the required materials on hand, I figured I’d give it a shot.

In a pinch, I had tied a scrap of fabric shaped like a bandana around one of my girls, but obviously, that’s not ideal. I wanted to find an easy pattern that wasn’t labor-intensive, because I had a lot to make.

In my wanderings, I found a thread on the BackYard Chickens forum that had a pattern. The poster originally found it on http://www.homesteadingtoday.com, from “Wisconsin Ann”.

It looked easy enough.

Hen apron or saddle pattern

Hen apron or saddle pattern

But when I got started, not only did I start bird-nesting, but then the bobbin case came flying out and refused to let me seat it back in, despite unscrewing the lever to keep it in place and then tightening it down again. The icing on the cake, though, was when my hand wheel got jammed.

Since you know I research everything, I asked on Facebook ๐Ÿ˜† , knowing all my sewy friends would help me out. In the meantime, I researched, and narrowed down what features I wanted.

I like a top drop in bobbin as opposed to a front loading bobbin. Computerized machines just leave more for me to break, with my magnetic personality and all. ๐Ÿ˜† That meant mechanical for me. I also like stitches, because even though I don’t use many, I like to have the option. It goes without saying I wanted the one-step buttonholing, because I do actually use that.

I found a brand that came highly recommended, but the nearest retailer was 70 some miles away. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Then, because even though we’re in a much more populated area, it seems there are not a lot of sewing/crafty stores here. That left me with big-box stores like Wally World, Target, etc. The following day was Sunday, so I knew Hobby Lobby wouldn’t be open.

And, since I don’t really want to buy a sewing machine from Wal-Mart, despite the large selection (including Singer, Brother, and Janome), JoAnn Fabrics had one of the models I had settled on; at least online.

Thrilled to find it open on Sunday, I did a quick looky-loo at Wal-Mart before heading there. I was surprised to find a single brand in-stock; the others had to be ordered online. The one I wanted was in-stock, and even on sale! So home I went, with more fancy stuff than I really needed, and a DVD to boot.

It took me a few days, and we had some rain, so the chickie kids weren’t as active, which meant I didn’t get to it until yesterday. I made my template from a cereal box, and got to work.

This pattern called for heavier fabric, but I wanted to use cotton. I thought, though, I would try a few other things first before using the pattern. Using the general shape, I did a single layer. I also made the elastic a lot longer, because it just didn’t look like it would fit

FAIL! The general shape was ok, but too short, and a single layer was not going to work because a breeze would flip the fabric right up.

Several other patterns I had seen called for doubling the pattern; folding, and then sewing. I gave that a try and tweaked the elastic length.

In the end, I made another template from the other side of the cereal box, kind of sort of using the original dimensions. I lengthened the end-to-end length by about an inch, and added about 1/2 an inch to the side lengths. I made 4 of those, tweaking it as I went, and adjusting the elastic to fit some of the smaller, large fowl birds, like my Lakenvelders.

The biggest difference was that I doubled the pattern; folding it over on the neck line. This made the fabric heavy enough to defy the wind; but not so heavy as to be hot. We are in the South, after all. ๐Ÿ˜€

My total was 16; 15 are on birds now; another we’ll have to do in the morning. Initially, I read it would take about 30 minutes to make one. Yesterday, while I was still diddling with the fit, I was cutting and then sewing each one. This time might be about right.

Today, Iย  traced and cut out all the fabric ahead of time. Once I got to sewing, it took me about 10 minutes per apron. I will say, though- this are not professional grade. ๐Ÿ˜† Had this been for people, I would have taken more care to carefully watch my seams, etc. I knew I had to get them done and on my girls, so I was blowing and going. ๐Ÿ˜€

The fabric I had on hand was last used making baby dresses for my oldest daughter. ๐Ÿ™‚ I knew there was a reason I had saved it all these years!


On that neckline, be SURE not to sew the elastic stationary. When you put the wings in, you’ll want to slide the neck piece to the side; particularly on the second wing.

The elastic piece was 10 inches for my big birds; 9 3/4 for the Lakenvelders. I think it probably would have been ok, but I didn’t want it too loose on them. If you’re anything like me, you’ll be thinking, “There’s NO WAY that is long enough!” but I promise you, it is. ๐Ÿ™‚

One of the first girls to get one yesterday was one of my Silver Laced Wyandotte ladies. pink1


Snowy in hot pursuit!

Snowy in hot pursuit!






I wasn’t planning on a fashion show, but there you have it. :mrgreen:

While I don’t like saying “goodbye” most of the time and this was no exception, saying “hello” to my new sewing machine got me back on track, and got my girlies covered before they got scabby backs. Totally worth it, in my opinion!

Because life is a soundtrack, I’m going to leave you with two songs that are stuck in my head. {Ya, can you hear that mash-up? ๐Ÿ˜† }

Not quite the Frankie Laine original, but I love me some Clint!


And, because I can’t part with the old sewing machine….. {don’t laugh, you know you do it too! ๐Ÿ˜† } and of course, it goes without saying I love me some Jon BonJovi, too!




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I’m using *it.* ๐Ÿ˜†

If you know me, not only am I not prone to falling victim to fads, but I also research things endessly, which often puts the kibosh on something I might think is a fad. I like to give new ‘things’ the benefit of years of existence and research before hopping on board.

In this case, once I started researching, I learned that it’s actually been around for a while, but is only now coming back into fashion, as backyard chickens have become a new “in” thing.

I heard the rave reviews. I read about the supposed “benefits.” My curiosity was piqued. BUT. I remained skeptical.

I mean, if this was as good as everyone was saying it was, why is it not mainstream news? Apparently, I’m a bit ahead of the curve, because I’m writing about it, too, since there are so many who have not yet heard about it.

Seriously, though, I’m not reinventing the wheel. I’m not the first to discover it; and I’m certainly not the first nor probably the last to write about it. I figured, though, I would write and share my experience in the event anyone finds it interesting and/or useful.

The “it” that I speak of is fermented feed for my chickens. I know, right? {Go ahead, roll your eyes. I’ll wait. ๐Ÿ˜† }

When I first started reading, I read all the kinds of way to ferment food. I read about all the the various tools/containers/apparatus “needed” to ferment. I read about all the ingredients one “must” have to ferment.

And while I was fascinated, I thought, “This is definitely not for me. It’s too complicated; too time consuming.”ย  But I kept reading because I couldn’t understand why folks would do this work unless the results were miraculous.

And then, I stumbled across a thread of the Backyard Chickens website, that got me thinking maybe- just maybe- it wasn’t all that complicated after all. Maybe it would be worth losing a bucket of feed to try.

I mean, after all, who wouldn’t want to feed their feathered friends a super-food full of probiotics; one that makes it’s own new vitamins, and that not only makes their poo smell less and gives them awesome glossy feathers, but one that actually cuts your feed bill?

I love my chickens, but just the thought of a less stinky coop combined with a lower feed bill? Well, that was enough to convince me, especially since I read about a way to use a single container and have a never-ending-bucket of feed.

I read about two-bucket methods, whereby you drill a hole in the one which allows the SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony of Yeast and Bacteria) to drain out the bottom of the one bucket to be used in the next batch; etc etc etc. Not only did this seem labor intensive, but it sounded messy and involved. I am all for easy. ๐Ÿ˜€

When I read about a lady using a cooler, I knew this would be the method for me. She had hers outside in her coop, and a while later, she moved it inside because her SCOBY had gone dormant in the brutal winter temps. I knew I at least needed to get my feed fermenting inside.

I brought my 60 qt wheeled cooler into the mudroom. ย cooler I added my feed and ***water.ย  {***You’ll want to dechlorinate your water so it won’t kill the good bacteria. If your water supply is chlorinated, as city tap water is, you’ll want to leave the water you plan on using for your fermented feed- out in the open, so the chlorine can evaporate; which usually takes about 24 hours. }

For good measure, I threw in some apple cider vinegar (ACV) {unpasteurized, and yes, I know it’s better with the ‘mother’ in it- it was all going to ferment, and make new mother anyhow, so I wasn’t worried. ๐Ÿ˜‰ } I use ACV anyhow; I figured a few glugs couldn’t hurt.

And then I waited.

I stirred a few times a day.

I left the lid cracked so the stuff flying around in the air could inoculate my feed with all the goodies {this is an anerobic process in an aerobic environment, this fermenting and getting the SCOBY}. I knew that my feed would grow in size; basically doubling, so I was cautious and watched to make sure I would have some trying to escape. I’ve read of folks who used glass jars, screwed on the lids, only to have them explode from the gas build-up in the jar. {Fermenting food will create gas, so if you hear burping, things are going well.ย  ๐Ÿ˜†} I also know of someone else who is keeping her feed in the shower, in the event she has another mess. ๐Ÿ˜†

About 4 days later, I decided my feed had adequately fermented and was ready to use. 20131208_162208

In my reading, I read about folks whose chickens didn’t like the fermented feed. Surprisingly, there are people who tell you their chickens won’t eat things like watermelon or spaghetti, which blows my mind. But that there were some whose chickens didn’t like fermented feed, well, I think they were probably just picky chickens.

I have never had picky chickens, and I wonder if it’s because of their free ranging time. I mean, when they are out eating everything, something new is nothing to eschew. It gets inhaled in minutes, before they have time to think about whether or not they should try it.

{And while we’re talking about diet, I will tell you- they are NOT vegetarian in their normal habitat. They will eat anything that moves if they can catch it. Don’t be bamboozled by “vegetarian eggs.” I’m pretty sure that’s an impossibility, because you cannot tell me there are no bugs where the battery hens are.

My chooks have eaten moles, voles, mice, frogs, bugs, horse food, snakes, and prolly tons of other stuff I’m forgetting about. They’ll also eat scorpions and black widow spiders, too. The point is- they’re natural omnivores and should be eating darn near everything- and mine do.}

I did keep some regular food out once the fermented feed had been gobbled up, as a means of making a slower transition, but honestly, they never gave it a second glance. Now, when I take their feed bowl out, they rush me. On the one hand, it’s hilarious to hear a flock of chickens stampeding toward you; on the other hand, it’s a bit disconcerting, and makes me glad every single time that they aren’t bigger, because I know *I’d* be on the menu, too {Good golly, don’t let me fall, don’t let me fall, don’t let me fall!!}. :mrgreen:

Because hanging feeders are designed for dry food, I got the idea to try my redneck feeder, which is a $6 10ft vinyl gutter cut into sections with end caps on the ends.20140116_090403

I needed something everyone could eat from that would also be portable. We cut 4 sections; 3 of which we regularly use. I also leave the bowl out because even if it’s empty, they still peck at it.ย  20140116_090352

So. What have I observed in all of this?

DEFINITELY their feathers are glossier. My birds have always looked really good; nice, shiny feathers. But with the fermented feed, they are downright glossy, and they all have a gorgeous sheen.

The poo smells marginally better. It makes a HUGE difference with the guineas, though, which compared to the chickens, the chicken poo is like smelling daisies. So that’s another win in my book.

I have always had very healthy birds {knock on wood} so time will tell if it has made them healthier. I will say that they have weathered the surprising winter weather marvelously, although we are very much looking forward to spring.

Where I’ve noticed the biggest difference is in my feed bill. No kidding, y’all, I’m saving a boatload of $$$ on feed. I’m documenting so I’ll know for sure for sure, but at this point, I know for certain I’m saving 2/3rds on feed. What I was going through every two weeks,ย  is now taking 6 weeks. That is *huge.*

I’m going to continue to document and observe, because I think there may be something to the thinking that there is a subtle difference in between pellets {which I use for dry food} and crumble {which makes a mess and is more wasted dry, imo} because of the binding agent to make the pellets. I’ll update once I know for sure. At this point, there is a difference in volume in the bags, and when I use more crumble, they don’t eat as much. Because I’m using my winter feed mix, come spring, I can isolate and figure out if it was crumble that made the difference or if it was the protein.

One thing I have noticed in my reading is that some folks are convinced you need a ton of ingredients {like pickle juice or sauerkraut, for example, or even apple cider vinegar} to get the feed to ferment. I knew the theory behindย  the lack of need for these things, but hadn’t actually tested it myself. Because WE HAVE CHICKS!!!!ย  SQUEE!!!!, I went ahead and fermented chick starter just for them. I used ONLY their feed and water; again, left the container cracked to get the floaty air-borne stuff, and I’m happy to report it has fermented just fine, and smells just like the stuff for the big kids.

The biggest thing I love is how easy it is. Yes, that’s what I said; easy. ๐Ÿ˜† It is a bit more involved that shoveling food into a dry feeder, but overall, it takes minutes to make up a new batch. Once I get down to the bottom of the cooler and have just a layer there, I add my feed and my water, mix it up, and I’m good to go.

Because I have a layer of SCOBY already, I can see the bubbles {aka fermentation} starting as I’m mixing in the new feed. It’s that fast. Depending on how cold it is {they eat more when it’s cold}, a typicalย  batch lasts 4 days. I just give it a stir to mix it back up before feeding because there’s the drier, thicker, fluffier stuff on the top, then a layer of the liquid, which needs to get mixed back in. Scoop it into the bowl and take it out.

I cannot say how impressed I am. I will NEVER go back to traditional dry feed. I am pretty sure the feed manufactures don’t want this secret getting out because their profits would take a dive. But ya. NEVER. GOING. BACK.

If anyone asks you about fermented feed, you can tell them you know a user. :mrgreen:

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Yep. We’ve got one. *sigh*

Seems like there’s always something to worry about. Every time I’ve had to call for medical advice or help, it’s been for her. Her habits are dealt with daily; there’s always something we need to think about with her.

We had a choking horse yesterday.

If you know me in real life, you will often hear me shouting online about touching my horses. DON’T TOUCH THEM. DON’T FEED THEM.

With the amount of horses being stolen out of their barns and pastures and then sold to slaughter {yes, this really happens, and a lot more than you’d think. The lengths people go through- one horse a few weeks ago was stolen right out of the barn and then dyed to hide the distinguishing marks. This is no joke.}, I have rightfully been watchful.

Seriously, people stop all the time- literally a few times a week- to try to lure the horses to the fence. I’ve had people honk and honk and honk at the horses, trying to get them to come over to the fence. Ive had a bus full of people hanging over the fence trying to get the horses to come to them.

I’ve had people go IN the pasture and mess with the horses. Last week, it was the hunters accessing the woods behind the pasture. Later they said no one was touching them, but we SAW them. I don’t think that group meant any harm- the horses are gorgeous, after all- but I still don’t like it.

I would never go to someone else’s house and jump in and try to play with their animals. I don’t know their animals, and that is just asking for trouble.

My biggest concern, however, is that someone is going to feed my horse something. Don’t get me wrong- I don’t think it’s malicious, but it certainly is ignorant.

Despite popular belief, horses have a very sensitive and delicate digestion system. They can die from gas, y’all. From GAS.

That’s called colic, and it can be deadly, real fast. Colic is has many causes, but it presents as gas and bloating, and any other kind of abdominal distress. Colic isn’t a cause, it’s a symptom.

Horses colic for a whole lot of reasons- change in feed; change in weather; too much hay; too much grass. Pretty much anything can cause a horse to colic, and it can get deadly fast.

And then there’s founder, which can also be deadly. At the very least, the horse will have to wear special shoes {read: $$$$} for the rest of its life.

Are you starting to see that horses have delicate and yes, temperamental digestive systems?ย 

It can take 2 to 3 days for a horse to digest food. That’s how slowly things work their way through. Horses have very small stomachs, too, which means they need to graze 16 to 17 hours a day.

By far, the most worrisome issue is choking.

Yep. Horses choke. And you can’t do the Heimlich Maneuver on them, either.

Horses cannot breathe through their mouths. {This is why they can breathe while choking, as opposed to humans have their airways blocked.}

They also cannot throw up through their mouths. Nope, they cannot. They are not plumbed that way. When they throw up, it comes out their noses.


Yep, it does. It comes out their noses. It’s stringy and gross, but necessary.

And horses can choke on all kinds of things, including their normal grain.

Did you get that?

Horses can choke on their normal food, that they eat every single day.

In our case, it was Angel choking on her feed yesterday. Twice. You may remember Angel from her head gash episode.

She is the only horse we’ve had to call the vet with for emergencies.

While Angel is a bolter {meaning she plows through her feed, eating as quickly as she can} and we’ve taken measures to slow her down {ground pan with rocks} so the others can eat in leisure, she usually at least chews her food. Something happened yesterday during the first feeding, and I heard the yelling, “Angel can’t breathe! She’s choking!”

Now that we have horse anatomy 101 under our belts, and know that choking horses can breathe when they choke and block the esophagus and not the trachea, I knew that her not being able to breathe because she was choking was likely not actually happening. {And because they can still breathe, pneumonia can happen as a result of aspirating during a choke.}

She was, though, absolutely choking. She was coughing, stretching her neck, and vomiting through her nose. Often, a choke will resolve on its own. We felt for a lump on the left side of the her neck, where the esophagus is. If a lump is felt, it can be pushed down, but carefully so as not to cause worse lodging or perforate the esophagus.

We didn’t feel a lump.

After about 15 minutes, I called the vet. We talked. She wanted me to call her back in an hour if it hadn’t resolved. She found that most horses get the choke resolved in an hour to hour and a half on their own, without having to be tubed and rinsed by the vet. {And that is pretty nasty-ย  a tube goes in the nose and then the obstruction is blown out with water– but it gets the job done. You can imagine that this procedure does not come without $$$.}

While dealing with colic, rolling is not good and you want the horse up and walking, we were reassured that rolling in this case can help dislodge the blockage. Don’t let them drink water, though. If they can’t swallow the obstruction, they can’t swallow water, and they could actually aspirate. She said we’d know it had resolved when her neck relaxed and she began eating again.

Probably our stupidity, but we knew that after a choke, feed should be soaked for a considerable amount of time, so that’s what we did for dinner. We figured if it was mush {and she was eating hay and grazing}, she would be ok, seeing as it had been hours and she had been grazing all that time. She was not. She did manage to get it resolved in just a few minutes, but it goes without saying we’re giving her a break today and everyone is getting mush, even if they don’t need it.

So when you stop and try to feed my horse anything- and I mean ANYTHING, don’t get all annoyed with me when I come out yelling.ย  You could very well be KILLING my horse, even if you thought you were being nice and giving it a treat.


Just don’t.

If I know you and you want to come up to the house and ask for permission to give the horses a treat, I will gladly share a bag of shredded carrots with you. Even though they can choke on those, too, at least I’ll be there and will KNOW there’s a problem and can DO something about it. This is why we hang out and watch during every single meal, and for some time after.

So please, please, PLEASE don’t feed my horses.

Don’t pet them.

Don’t mess with them. {You know they can kick too, right? And given that you’ve gone in my pasture to mess with my horses, I have to assume you are ignorant and don’t know horse behavior and don’t know what to look for before they kick you.}

Admire them from the road, but be respectful and leave them alone.

It might well be a matter of life or death– yours or theirs.




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Sometimes, people I know will come to me with questions about chicken stuff. Ya, I know. ๐Ÿ˜† Sometimes, those questions have to do with chicken breeds.

Unlike common perception, all chickens do not look alike. It is astonishing how varied they are.

To start the identification of chickens, I like to start at the top and work my way down. One good place to start is with the comb.

There are eight different main chicken comb types, and several other sub types.


8 Primary Comb Types

Sub- comb types

Sub- comb types

One of the first things to look for when determining breed is comb type. Then there’s the color of the beak; color of the shanks; how many toes (some breeds, like silkies or sultans, have more than 4 toes on purpose); are the feet and legs feathered or not; and the color of the skin. What color are their ears? Do they have muffs? Beards? Vulture hocks? For those who really know chickens, there’s the body type and feathers to look at, particularly tail feathers, even on the girls.

It can be confusing and overwhelming. If I have the time, I’m usually willing to take a gander and make a guess.

Today was one of those days. ๐Ÿ˜†

My friend shared a picture with me and asked me if I could identify it.

Below, you’ll find my portion of the conversation.


That’s a golden speckled silver long- tailed widget. They are very rare and hard to breed to standards (because of their rarity). I’ve heard reports of them being found in the wild in heavily industrialized areas, but these are skittish and hard to tame.

Their eggs are a lovely silver color, and while they don’t lay frequently, it’s typical for them to lay two at once.


I am not sure they are much good for cooking because they are so small.

I should add- that’s a true bantam. We know they’re a project breed stemming from this fellow, the curvy tailed scrap anvil. These are most often found near nuclear sites and are somewhat of an anomaly themselves. There are a few breeds resulting from these mixes, but this breed is the daddy of them all. I’ll try to tack down the mother breed.


Upon further research, it appears that the mother of the golden speckled silver long- tailed widget crossed with the curvy- tailed scrap anvil is the ornamental Asian bronze-coated clunker. This breed is a bantam, as you can see. They had to do some work to breed out the extra long beak and to work on the conical breast, which was a recessive trait, but once they got it consistently, the were allowed as a new breed.


The ornamental Asian bronze-coated clunker lays delightful small bronze eggs, and while is not as elusive as either the curvy-tailed scrap anvil or the golden speckled silver long- tailed widget, it is only found in the Asiatic countries that are tropical. While one might think the humidity is a detriment to the coat, it actually contributes to a gorgeous patina in the long run.

Because of the small size, ornamental Asian bronze-coated clunkers roost in the tops of trees, which made catching them for the breeding project quite the task. Once caught, there was some issue with her sharp edges cutting hands, too, but eventually that got sorted out with the aid of a magnet.


Apparently satisfied with my expert identification of rare breeds skills, she came back with another breed that had her stumped.  Here was her next mystery chicken:


My reply as follows:

Oh goodness, I haven’t seen this breed in years! I’m so glad it’s still around, even though they didn’t pursue this for a distinct breed of its own. Indeed, this is a Norse springy barrel-chested domed leifgizmo. They are incredibly rare. This was part of the afore-mentioned breeding project.

You can tell that while stunted, of course, its father also was the curvy tailed scrap anvil. You may have also guessed by now that its distant cousin is none other than the golden speckled silver long- tailed widget, There were several different things about this breeding project, which I’ll detail in other comments.

For now, you can enjoy their fascinating eggs. Because of the cold climate, they are seasonal layers. Although they only lay in spring and summer, due to the climate, the eggs are a lovely amber shade. They also lay in pairs; mostly to avoid losing the nest in the snow. The darker egg color also helps them to find the nest after scratching around.


She agreed that the eggs were, “beautifully distinctive.”  ๐Ÿ˜€

I continued,

One thing you can’t see because his head is turned, is his long ice-breaking beak. This comes directly from his mother, the bronze tipped ice breaker. While there are a few different body shapes to the ice-breakers, the strain I believe he came from is the barrel chested ice-breaker, as you can see.

His lovely, pointy helmet came via his daddy’s genes, and isn’t he a lucky fellow? If his beak gets impaled in a sheet of thick ice, he can bang his head down to help chop it up. I honestly don’t know why they didn’t refine and pursue this to standards, because it’s lovely. My guess is that there are a lot more people interested in long-tailed chickens as opposed to long-beaked chickens. Plus, people in the US in particular are still fighting over who really discovered the continent, so the poor Vikings get swept under the rug as usual. If I was a conspiracy theorist, I’d say this definitely fits the pattern.

Here’s a looky loo at his lovely, chunky mum. Her body shape might give her a muffin-top, but it’s incredibly well-suited to the very cold climate of which she is a native.

It’s not often that I get a chance to talk about these rare and elusive breeds. I’m so pleased to know some folks that are as interested in chickens as I am, even if they aren’t quite sure what they are. :mrgreen:

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Because I’m annoyed right now, I’m going to write about an issue I guess I didn’t think needed this much discussion outside of research. That issue is supplemental stuff for chickens during winter. But here you go.

I’m going to throw out some facts that seem to be confusing for many folks. {And it’s ok, really- we all learn sometime.} My personal stance is that before you ‘accidentally’ acquire animals, let’s say, chickens, for example, you {and yes, I do mean YOU personally! They’re YOUR responsibility!} really ought to do us all a favor and do your research first.

There are a good number of chicken resources on the internet, my personal favorite is, of course, Back Yard Chickens. The forums are free, and are LOADED with great information. You can hang out and lurk, or you can register for free and ask your questions. There are a number of fantastic articles on the basics and getting started. Did I mention it’s free?ย  ๐Ÿ˜€

Because it’s going into winter and people are all worked up, I’m going to address the two biggest issues I have seen rampant every single year. You’re welcome. ๐Ÿ™‚

People often bemoan the slow down of egg laying that often happens during the fall and winter. Some believe that it’s because it’s getting cold. I even saw a comment that when they stop laying eggs, it’s called molting. Um, no.

Molting is when they lose their feathers and spend their energy growing new feathers instead of laying eggs. Chickens have two {minor} juvenile molts before the big one which happens around 15-18 months old. For those that were hatched during the spring, this means they molt the following fall, which then results in this confusion. The molt will happen every year thereafter, in the fall.

The key to egg laying is daylight. Chickens need about 26 hours to lay an egg. I know people who swear their eggs lay in the morning, every morning, by 10 am. I have never had one of those breeds. ๐Ÿ˜†

My girls lay a little later and a little later every day, until they skip a day.

Because daylight is the key, many people will give supplemental light to make their girls lay during the winter. I will never do supplemental lighting, for a number of reasons.

Chickens don’t need extra light during winter. For any variety of reasons, they don’t. And they don’t need extra light to continue laying. You could, of course, do it anyhow and make them crank out an egg a day despite their natural inclination. If you can settle for a more natural decreased egg laying solution during the winter, there are other {and in my opinion, BETTER} options to get eggs without adding supplemental lighting, which is evil. ๐Ÿ‘ฟย  ๐Ÿ˜‰

Chickens, like female humans, are born with all the ova (which become eggs) they will lay. I’ve read some articles that suggest that forcing a chicken to lay during the winter when she’d normally take a break might well shorten her life. I have no idea if it’s true or not, but here again, I defer to nature.

I, personally, don’t think there’s anything wrong with letting the girls take a bit of a break.

And then, there’s the bit {below} about the dangers of light bulbs in coops.

Despite my lack of offering non-natural lighting during the winter, and with the consideration of giving the girls a little bit of a break, I will say that mine have laid all winter long, although not quite at the gang-buster rate of the rest of the year.


I up the protein. ๐Ÿ˜€

One of the things that will result in a chicken at or past point of lay (POL) not laying is stress. Stress from a predator; stress from moving; stress from loss of a friend {yes, chickens DO have other chicken friends and are affected when their friends get injured or die}; stress from sub-optimal nutrition- can all cause hens/pullets not to lay.

Did you get that? I’ll explain in more detail when we talk about supplemental heating. Once you read that, it will make sense, I promise. ๐Ÿ˜€

Now that you know you can still get eggs without adding supplemental light, are you still worried that your feathered friends will be too cold, out there in the cold, dark coop at night?

Chickens don’t need a heat lamp during winter.

No, really, they don’t. They do not need supplemental heat, and I’ll tell you why.

Most chickens, while not mammals, are usually very well adapted to a fluctuation of temperatures. Living in the desert before, I wanted chickens that were both heat tolerant and also cold hardy. When you live in the desert, you get the extremes. It’s not always hot. {It’s usually windy, but not always hot and windy. :D}

Surprisingly, they weren’t that hard to find. I’d say it seemed to me that were significantly more chicken breeds that were cold hardy than were heat tolerant. And I was pleasantly surprised to see a number of chickens that were both.

I will confess to getting really annoyed ๐Ÿ˜ก when I hear people going on and on about how they “have” to heat their coops. Some of them use space heaters; more often people are using heat lamps.

I have read horror stories about people whose coops burned down and killed all their chickens because of a faulty bulb. I’ve read about chickens who got hurt when light bulbs broke. I’ve read about faulty wiring or frayed extension cord setting the coop on fire.

I’ve read about chickens who weren’t given the chance to acclimate to their natural environment, and then the power went out. For like a week. The chickens survived, but it was dicey for a while. The people moved the chickens INTO their house.

What really annoys me is that THEY DON’T NEED IT.

Nope, they don’t. Chickens aren’t mammals, of course, and they can freeze. The keys to keeping chickens unrfozen and alive during the winter are pretty simple.

The coop needs to be dry and draft free. It should be appropriately sized so that they can heat the space up sufficiently. Yes, that’s right; chickens generate heat. ๐Ÿ˜†

You can’t expect that a coop sized for 40 chickens is going to work very well for 6 chickens during the winter. You aren’t actually doing them any favors by having it that big. You can partition it or something if you need to, but the key here is to give them space that will retain their heat.

{We know chickens don’t sweat, which is why during the summer you’ll see them with their wings out and away from their bodies and you won’t see them snuggling on the roost, either.} Researching coop design is time well spent, and should be done before you get your chickens.

The roost should be wide enough for them to completely cover their toes, so they don’t risk frostbite. The more of their feet they can get under their bodies, the better.

If you are worried about frostbite on combs, you can put some Vaseline/petroleum jelly on the comb. This is actually one of those things you’ll want to keep on hand. It can work wonders for scaly leg mites, too.

The second part to this is food. If you have chickens and give them free access to food {which I personally do and suggest}, you will no doubt notice that they pound it down as it gets closer to winter. They do this for a reason. They are packing on their fat layer for winter.

This layer helps to insulate them, as you can imagine. Between their fat layer and their dry, draft free coop, they will have NO PROBLEM keeping warm during the winter.

If you don’t believe me, here’s a thread on BYC that is looooooong, but really so well worth reading.ย  If we allow chickens to do what they need to do to prepare for winter, they will be JUST FINE.

Really. Nature actually does work! ๐Ÿ˜€

Here’s a few tid bits on winter heating help: some folks use the deep litter method to help generate heat in the coop. Are you starting to see a pattern?ย  Coops need to be well ventilated, but draft free. ๐Ÿ˜†

One thing I like to do very rarely, i.e, when it snows, is to throw out some scratch. Scratch grains are one of those things that every one has an opinion on.

Some always only feed scratch; I, personally do not. Scratch grains aren’t really nutritionally balanced for every day food, and I certainly don’t give it all the time. Some grains are high energy grains, and these are commonly found in scratch. I am not one to really diddle with trying to find particular scratch grains depending on the time of year because my kids are free ranged and spend their time foraging.

One time I will give scratch, though, is during the winter. Most scratch grains are mostly corn, which produces more energy during digestion than other grains.

Energy = heat. So, as they go to town on the scratch {which also helps keep them busy foraging when the ground is covered and snowy and is frozen}, they are generating more heat to help keep them warm. I usually give them some in the morning and then again before they go to bed at night, giving them about an hour or two to get to it when they are eating, too.

As long as they have the right nutrition, chickens can lay {albeit at a somewhat decreased rate} all winter long and they won’t freeze to death without supplemental heat or light!

Now, if you’re still worried and need something to do, I’d suggest you knit your chooks some clothes. Apparently, there’s quite a selection to choose from.ย  :mrgreen: ๐Ÿ˜†






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