Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A "Best Friends" Kind of Morning

Yesterday morning I was treated to the most spectacular sunrise. As I headed out to the goats and chickens this was the view across the pasture....The sky looked as though it had been painted on a canvas....the most intense colors. I wondered if the animals appreciated the splendor. The goats seemed unimpressed and kept eating their breakfast. I, on the other hand, was enthralled with the sight.
Once it was fully light out, I put the Littles in the dry lot and started my daily poop patrol. While I scooped manure, the Littles chased each other. Meanwhile, TomTom and Bobby played a raucous game of tag through the dry lot fence. Ella looked on....a scowl on her face as usual. It seems that the two little boy kitties are quite enamored with each other and spend their days getting into all kinds of mischief....including sitting on the top of the chicken coop (both trying to figure out how to get inside and terrorize the hens). This is what I call "Double Trouble"!!!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

All Alone.....Finally

Yesterday was perhaps the first Monday that I did not publish a blog post since my vacation in early July. The reason for this was lack of time. I spent the day being "gopher" for our electrician. A trip to Lowes and a trip to our local hardware store took most all of my available time. I am not complaining....because yesterday marked the end of all construction. The electrician had stopped by to do the lighting in the screen porch and the decks.
Lamp posts on all of the decks will add to the night time ambiance.
Here is the pool deck....complete. I will have to paint the gates on each side of the deck. And, next spring I will put planters in each of the planter boxes at the far corners of the deck.
Today is the first day with no construction workers on the property in almost a year. What a year it has been. Now it is time to get back to living....daily routines without all of the extra "stuff" to do. I anticipate it will be a bit quiet around here...and that may take some getting used to. But, after all this time......I'm ready!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

A Day of Rest

This morning, like every other Sunday morning, Maddie got the front half out of bed and then decided to quit. A big yawn...........and back to sleep she fell...half in and half out of bed.
There are no days of rest on a farm. Each and every morning the chores are the same....and throughout the day, also. Most days the dogs like to run along with me for chores. However, each week by Sunday, Maddie is ready for a day of rest. Here is where she will stay most of the day. I guess it is hard work being a 140 lb. Newfie. She did spend yesterday playing with her best friend Sipke, so it is understandable why she is so tired today.

Ok Maddie.....you get some more sleep....and get some for the rest of us!!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Endings.....Beginnings

This week marks the end of construction at Bee Haven Acres. The main house decks are finished and today will be the completion of the deck on the guest house (pictures tomorrow). Yesterday we treated our construction team to a steak luncheon. I made homemade cole slaw from the last cabbage of our garden, roasted red potatoes and baked two cakes for dessert.
They seemed to enjoy the treat. We have sure enjoyed having these guys around. They are all young (young enough to be our kids)...but what amazing craftsmen they all are. These four built our dream home from the ground up with every one of our ideas incorporated in it (and a few great ideas of their own.) It is great to have the work finally finished.
To Joe, Joseph, Delbert, Brent, and John Earl....we say thank you for giving us the home of our dreams!

Addendum: Regarding yesterday's comment about having to herd the guineas back to their house every night.....I have come to the conclusion after many hours of studying animal behavior around the farm, that guineas share one common brain amongst the whole group. They move as one, they think as one. They learn, however, as though they only have half a brain. We will keep trying to train them to go back into their house to roost....although it is starting to look like a rather lofty goal. Oh, and by the way.....they are beginning to grow their "helmets" (that funny lump on the top of their heads). Perhaps that is where their brain goes....squashed out into their helmets....and not terribly useful.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Frog Dodging, and Other Farm Games

Last call for the night is right after sunset. We head out to the barn and tuck in the horses. Fresh hay for all....check water supply.....clean poop.....kiss goodnight X 4 and then out to close up the chickens and guineas...who have found their way into their coops to roost for the night (actually, we end up chasing the guineas back in....but that is a whole other subject). Last night was a drizzly night and we noticed dozens of frogs or toads on the driveway back to the house.Heading toward the garage, we had to drive with precision accuracy to avoid squashing toads on the driveway. Here is one big guy that we found heading for the garage. I have a feeling that many of these creatures head for the safety of our garage at night....a warm, dry place to sleep. All summer long I noticed that we had an abundance of toads living in the construction lumber piles. I think they all headed for the garage when construction was finished!
Update on Bobby (Socks):
Well it seems that all three barn cats have made this transition quite well. They are all amicably sharing the same space....not playing together yet (but I am sure that is in their future.) Bobby is quite needy and loves to be picked up. Like TomTom, he loves to supervise whatever work is being done in the barn. He seems to be secure inside the barn and has not ventured very far. He has been nose to nose with the Littles and seems to like them quite well, also....rubbing against their legs and arching his back to rub under their chins. I think he is a great addition to our barn. I look forward to watching his antics when he becomes totally comfortable and settled in.

Looks like Bobby may have found TomTom's stash of soccer balls. What a team we will have with twice as many players!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

We Have Grass

Well, Hubbs has been on vacation this week, so we have been tackling projects like landscaping and tanbark. Today was a day of hard labor, but our labor payed off. The front of the house is looking a bit more complete with some shrubs and a tree. The past 3 weeks of seeding and watering has paid off, too. Finally, we have a decent carpet of green around the house. Pretty amazing transformation, isn't it?

Now we need a bit of rain, so that we can actually relax during this "vacation".

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Welcome Bobby

Please welcome the newest member of the Bee Haven Acres Barn Kitty team......Bobby. This handsome guy came to us today after a phone call from Doctor Becky. It seems one of her clients was elderly and had this cat who was just a little too playful for her. Bobby kept getting under her feet and tripping her, and with Parkinson's syndrome, she was a bit too unsteady to dance around a playful kittie. So, Becky called explaining that Bobby was a very sweet cat who was destined for the Humane Society, and would I like to adopt him? Oh, how could I say no. So I talked with Tom Tom and Ella Bella and they both said that they would give him a chance to join the ranks.
Here he is on arrival...
Introductions to Ella and TomTom went smoothly...no hissing, no hair standing on end. We shall see how things develop over the next few days.

Bobby is quite a large cat...and he is just about a year old. He looks as though he may have some Maine Coon cat in him, with a very thick and furry tail. He wears a white sock on each of his paws, so maybe the name Bobby is short for Bobby Socks!

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Laws of Attraction

Every species has a way of ensuring its continuation....an attractiveness between male and female. And, for different species it is different qualities. For example, male birds are showy and ofter resort to intricate dances to attract their mate. Humans? Well, we all know there are certain things that men do to make themselves more attractive to women. Perhaps the most creative species of all, though, are goats. Male goats, or Bucks, understand the importance of pheromones, or nature's cologne, and use a liberal dose of it to attract their would-be girlfriends. They spend hours primping and preening until their natural odor is all but irresistible. They use the tried and true technique of urinating on their beards, necks and the backs of their front legs, turning the hair, there, tobacco brown and pungent with a musky rancidity.
Ordinarily, Smoochie's beard and forelock are white. However, with this being mating season, they are stained and stinky. Although the urine stains are less visible in Chip and Skip (since they are both mostly black), the odor is just as pungent.


MoJo, on the other hand is just learning this technique. He has not been very effective in actually hitting his chin, and most of his urine ends up on the ground. Although he may be less attractive to the does, we humans find spending time with him much less distasteful. I am sure, though, with time and a bit of practice, he will be just as attractive as the older bucks. As far as I am concerned, he can take his time.
Kind of glad you're a human, aren't you?

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Elvis Crows


Phillip crows, not! video

Hank Crows

videoMost days these two spend much of their time crowing. It is almost as if they are calling back and forth to each other. They are both quite proud of their voices and apparently enjoy hearing themselves. It is not difficult to get these two to perform for the camera. Phillip, however, is another story. He is quite camera shy. And as it seems he is still perfecting his voice, he only crows when no one is watching...and that is only very early in the morning. Oh, and by the way, Becky thinks we should rename Phillip : Rod Stewart! What do you think. There is a resemblance, I think

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Peter Principle



(The theory that employees will advance to their highest level of competency....and then be promoted....ending up totally incompetent). Well, I am not sure if this is actually what is happening but for some reason....this came to mind when I thought about this cat situation.


So......I have promoted both of the "mousing incompetent" barn kitties to Farm Supervisor!



All kidding aside, though, I have to admit that these two are just about the best barn cats you could hope for (mousing abilities overlooked). They are my constant companions and a daily source of comic relief. They are totally comfortable around the horses, pose no threat to the birds and never venture too far from the barn. Why should they, afterall? They have it way too good!


The other evening I took a little time and sat in the middle of the "Little's" stall. Both kitties jumped in the stall with me. And for a short while I had two cats in my lap and a miniature horse snout on each of my shoulders. It was the most perfect few moments I have ever had. Three species just sharing the same space and enjoying the sensations of smell and touch....a truly sensual experience for all. Those times are some of my favorite. It is always so interesting to see these cross-species interactions....no fear, no aggression, just peaceful co-existence. It is moments like this that make all of the daily chores worthwhile!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Wanted: Mouser

For Sale: Two Useless (but adorable) Barn Kitties.....Cheap!
Actually, they are not for sale. However, it occurred to me this morning, that they are not keeping up their end of the bargain. These two fun loving felines have a warm place to sleep, two meals a day (the good stuff, too), acres to roam, lots of lovin (any cat would give their tail to live here). All of these amenities come with only one stipulation: they must keep the barn free from mice.
Last evening as I was working in the barn, I was aware of the scurrying footsteps of little mousies above my head in the rafters. And this morning, I found these two kitties playing with a rather well-fed mouse. The mouse ran from kitty to kitty, in no apparent hurry to escape...and neither cat seemed interested in turning him into a meal. Even Sadie was amused by this tiny creature.
After watching this cat and mouse game for about ten minutes, I proceeded into the barn...followed by two hungry kitties who hopped up on the workbench and begged for their breakfast.

I am going to have to review their contracts...they just don't seem to get the point of being barn kitties.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Dating Game

It is mating season here on the farm. The other morning, Becky and I did a bit of rearranging and paired up bucks and does for mating. None of the does wanted to leave their pen, so we had to move everyone together and then remove the ones who were not going to be "involved". As you can see there is always a bit of anarchy involved with goat activities.Next we lead the bucks from their pen. We are mating two does with two separate bucks now. Later in the fall, we will be mating two more does with a third buck. This buck is Chip. He is the oldest of our bucks at just two years old. He is quite a handsome guy and is going to make a fine suitor for Missy goat.Missy does her best to entice Chip with her athletic prowess.....with a finely choreographed balance beam routine. It looks like he's impressed!Smoochie is one of our bucks that was born a year and a half ago. He was chosen for Myrtle. Smoochie is a kind and gentle buck and will treat Myrtle with the utmost respect....that is if he can take his eyes off the dwarf Nigerian does long enough to pay some attention to Myrtle.Moving Smoochie was a bit of an effort. About half way down to the does' pen, he just laid down and refused to go. After much prodding, we had to resort to dragging him by his horns. We kept telling him he'd have a good time once he got there....but he wasn't buying that story.Poor Myrtle, Smoochie seems more interested in talking to Chip. I sure hope he hasn't noticed that Myrtle only has one eye! If all goes as planned, we should have two babies from each of these does in late Winter. Kidding season is the best time of all on the farm! Make sure you visit us in the spring, as there is nothing cuter than a new born kid.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Baby Steps

I have come to the conclusion that guinea fowl are not the sharpest tools in the shed. It seems to take forever for them to learn new behavior. Our 24 keets are now large enough to safely go out into their yard and not be able to escape through the fencing. It's a very big day for them....one I am sure they have been anticipating. I often catch them standing at their door looking longingly at the outside...wishing they could get out and explore. Based on this, I thought as soon as I propped their door open they would scurry towards freedom. Not so.....back up on their roosting ladder for safety they went. Hours later....still no guinea emergence. It took Hubbs going into their coop and chasing them out to get them to leave the house.
And getting them back in the house to roost....well, that took a bit of effort, too. Hopefully, these youngsters will get the hang of it...and come to think of their house as a permanent roosting place. I don't plan to let them out to free range outside their yard until way after they begin laying eggs. Hopefully, they will get the idea to lay in their boxes and not all over the farm! We love guinea eggs to eat, so if all works as planned, we should have a good supply of them. But then, I must remember.....guineas are not the smartest bird (just the handsomest)!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Delivery-Ready

Sunday was the day we were finally allowed to drive on our new macadam. That meant it was time to finally put up the new mailbox and hang the new entrance sign. It looks great to finally have the property spruced up and ready for mail delivery. (Yes, I painted this sign. It matches the one that I painted earlier that hangs at the entrance by the barn.) The mailbox was a birthday present from Hubbs. It is metal and extra large....sure hope it gets lots of activity!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Mini Love

A few pictures from this past weekend. Looks like Red really liked Andy and Lindsey.
How about a kiss for the pretty girl?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

It's Official

Well, I just got back in the house from doing the afternoon feed...and I have to report that this Phyllis chicken is officially a Phillip!! I was close enough to their yard when I heard the unusual crowing....just one "dooo" short of a "cock-a-doodle". He is obviously just in the learning phase for rooster crowing. I guess this explains why all of a sudden one of the "Phyllis"s developed a bad hair day that just never went away! Oh my, now we will awaken to three roosters crowing in the morning....no hopes of ever sleeping in.

Deck Furniture

I have had a few questions about our wooden deck furniture. When we started out to search for deck furniture, we realized that we needed something that would withstand the weather well. We seem to get a fair amount of rainfall during the temperate months (and during the Winter, we will cover all of the furniture). Teak is always a good choice because it holds up well in the moisture. The only problem is that it takes many many years to replenish a teak forest. So we were in search of something more renewable. Eucalyptus was our choice. It takes only 5 years to renew eucalyptus and it is equally durable in the weather extremes. It is available thru many sites on the internet. It comes partially assembled (and partially not....hence hours of furniture construction). It is less expensive than teak, also. Every three months it will need to be coated with teak oil so that it retains its color....otherwise it changes to grey (which would no longer match the exterior of our house.....so we will definitely be oiling it regularly.)

Construction Update

Work on the outside of the house has continued over the past several weeks....at what seemed like a snail's pace. Finally, the gutters are hung, the front deck is complete, the screen porch is finished and the blacktop has been laid. All that remains is for the grass that we planted to finish growing and the deck around the pool to be completed. After that....no more construction workers!! YEA!!!

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