Friday, February 26, 2010

Mischievous Kids

Oh, those kids have grown so much and now are getting into all kinds of trouble.  Here is Myrtle's buckling on top of the hay feeder.  I guess it tastes much better when eaten from the top down.  Missy is saying "Myrtle, your son is on top of my hay feeder, could you please get him down!"  Myrtle just rolls her eye (yes, I said eye....she only has one!)  Then before you know it, his sister has joined him.  Oh my these two are trouble with a capital "T"!!


















Now this looks like something fun to play with!
I think not, little fellow!
The fainters are quite agile climbers when they are tiny.  This phase is short lived however.  Soon they will keep all four feet on the ground....except when they faint...and then all four feet are in the air (pointing toward the sky).

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Thursday, February 25, 2010

You Know You're Having a Bad Day When......

.....your best friend poops on you!!!

Poor O'Malley was found waddling (yes, she has that pregnant waddle) around the goat yard yesterday with a pile of goat berries on her back.  It's bad enough that Missy and Myrtle butt her with their heads whenever she gets near their kids.  And now THIS!!  O'Malley is the stiffest of our fainting goats....she is always just a hair away from falling over.  She is the sweetest gal, and one of our favorites.  She will be heading for the maternity ward in a number of weeks with at least two kids onboard.  The funny thing is....as slow as O'Malley is, her kids are the opposite.  On ultrasound, they were bouncing all over inside her uterus.  We are so excited for her to give birth.  The father is our dear departed MoJo.  He was the sweetest goat ever and so is she.  Hopefully her kids are as personable as their parents!
In case you are wondering how O'Malley got pooped on...... we guess it happened inside the little house that she shares with Sissy.  We think that Sissy stood up and dropped these goat berries right on the back of O'Malley, who was undoubtedly lying there beside her.  Talk about being at the wrong place at the wrong time...  Poor O'Malley!!
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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Heating Self-Sufficiency

A couple of years ago, we had a forestry expert come to look at our wooded acreage.  We had been noticing a lot of fallen trees after storms throughout the year.  He determined that our woods were in need of a bit of logging.  Thinning out the oldest trees would make for a healthier forest...allowing younger saplings to take hold and grow.  The tree trunks were sold and the tree tops were left behind.  This left us with enough firewood for a life time.  I suspect we will never have to cut down a tree to burn in our lives and maybe in the lives of our children.  Those treetops lying in the woods afford shelter for the wildlife, too.

Pennsylvania's electricity has been de-regulated.  As of last month the price of electricity has risen by about 30%.  With this added expense we have tried to cut our usage back as low as possible.  Our heat source for the log home is an electric geo-thermal heat pump.  This past weekend we turned it OFF.  We have switched over to the wood fireplace as our heat source.  I am happy to report that it is warmer in the house with the wood burning, than it was with the geo-thermal.  Our fireplace is a Fireplace Xtraordinare.  It has a catalytic converter that the smoke passes through...burning the smoke as well.  As a result, it has a lower impact on the environment than a normal fireplace.  A blower transfers the heat from the firebox into the room, making it highly efficient.

I am able to dry my hair in front of the blower, eliminating the need for my blowdryer.  Also, a wooden drying rack set in front of the fireplace replaces the need for our dryer on laundry day.  I am eager to see how this affects our electric bill.
(I'll have this all folded and put away before Hubbs gets home!)

By the way, it is cold and drizzly outside, but it is a toasty 72 degrees upstairs in the loft and sewing room and 69 degrees on the main level.  Much warmer than that is too warm for me and more so for my girls (dogs).

Eventually,when solar power technology becomes more advanced and affordable, we would like to get off the energy grid entirely.

And just because I hate to leave you without something cute...here is your smile for the day...
"Look how big we are getting.  Two weeks old, and already we are starting to eat hay from the hay feeder.  Oh, and we now have little horn buds on our heads."

Oh my, they don't stay kids for long, do they!
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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Tyrannosaurus Hank

Did you know that scientists have analyzed the DNA found in the skeletal remains of the Tyrannosaurus Rex and found that the modern day animal that has the most similar DNA is the chicken??  It's true!  And after this weekend, Hubbs will swear it so.  Our Hank, who you may recall, is our dominant, aggressive rooster.  You know, the one who ran poor Rod Stewart out of the henhouse!  Yes, cocky old Hank...the lone wolf.  You don't mess around with Hank....just ask Hubbs.

Sunday morning, Hubbs was doing the farm chores to give me a much needed break (yes, the man is a saint!).  

Well, it seems he went into the chicken pen where the "Fancies" and Hank live.  He spread a little scratch and cleaned the nesting boxes.  On his way out the door he felt a sharp peck on the back of the legs.  He turned to see Hank flying up towards him with his spurs outstretched....on the attack.  (Chickens have three toes in the front and one toe and one spur on the back of each foot.

 Hubbs took his manure rake and defended himself....blocking Hank from stabbing him in the legs.  Hank attacked again.  Then Hubbs did the only thing left to do.  He let out a loud "Er-er-er-er-Errrrrrrr"....his best crow that he could muster.  This caught Hank by surprise and Hubbs narrowly escaped out the chicken door....legs intact.

This is the first time Hank has attacked one of us.  He is quite bossy and pushy with other chickens.  But until now, he has only tried to dominate the birds.

So.....why did Hank turn into a Tyrannosaurus on Sunday?  Was it the bright orange gloves that Hubbs was wearing to clean the henhouse?

  Was it just a little too much testosterone for one chicken pen?  Perhaps we will never know.  From now on, maybe Hubbs should wear spurs, too......to even the playing field!!

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Monday, February 22, 2010

Squirrel Proof

I must admit, I have to laugh whenever I see a bird feeder that is advertised as squirrel-proof.  I have come to the conclusion that that particular item just does not exist.  We tried putting one of those large metal cone shaped squirrel proofers on the pole from which some of our bird feeders hang.  The squirrels just climbed the closest tree and jumped onto the feeders.

I caught the funniest scene on one of our bird feeders this weekend.  This little guy was hanging on for dear life...

by his toes....yes literally by his toes....  

He stayed there for several minutes, until his belly was full of tasty sunflower seeds.  Then he pulled himself back up onto the roof,  jumped back down to the ground and scampered away.

Although some see squirrels as  pests, we enjoy their antics almost as much as the birds.  So, we buy extra bird seed and feed the squirrels as well.  Squirrels play an important part around the farm.   If they are readily available, they serve as food for the owls and hawks, thus diminishing the predators' need for our chickens.  Squirrels build large nests high in the trees, which then become homes for owls and other birds.

The world is a perfect place without human intervention.  Each animal has its purpose...a sacredness to each tiny life.  Our job on this planet is to act as stewards and to care for the land.  We are a territorial species and like to think that we "own" the land.  But, the land belongs to the critters....it was theirs long before we moved in!  Perhaps the "pests" in this whole picture are us.

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Friday, February 19, 2010

More Playtime

Here is yesterday's playtime. It is amazing how athletic these kids are when they are young. As they mature, fainting goats become less and less athletic. By the time they are fully mature, they start to stiffen up (faint) any time they begin to run. We really enjoy the "hyper" activity of the kids while they are little like this!

I sit on their fort and just laugh while they run all around, jumping, hopping, and flipping with glee.



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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Got Treats?

We keep two stalls of the barn open to the dry lot during the winter so that Moonbeam and Donnie can access the barn to get our of the harsh winter weather.  I feel better knowing that they each have a dry, comfortable place to lie down and rest.  Each evening I muck those stalls (because for some reason they think that the purpose of the barn is for bathroom duties) and get them ready for the night.

Yesterday evening while I was cleaning stalls, Moonbeam would not leave me alone.

 He knows that I very often have treats in my pockets and he was bound and determined to get some treats.  He did his level best to drive me crazy, I think....biting the manure rake, stealing my glove (right off my hand) and grabbing my hat.

Ok, buddy, you want my hat?  Here you go....

I must smell like their favorite treat....frosted mini wheats.  I always have a pocket full of wheaty crumbs (imagine what happens to Frosted Mini Wheats in the pocket when the jacket goes through the laundry!)

The funny thing is....we don't even eat Frosted Mini Wheats.  But, I  buy them at the grocery store...just for the horses.  And no, they're NOT spoiled!!!
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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Playtime with Maddie

There  seems to be no shortage of cute around the farm this week.

Yesterday was nursery cleaning day.  Becky and I mucked out the goat house and replaced the bedding with fresh clean hay.  While we cleaned, the new kids played in the snow and Maddie (my Newfie) sat longingly at the gate to the goat pen.


Now, if you know anything about Newfies, you know that they are by nature gentle and extremely tolerant.  They make the perfect babysitters for just about any species.....especially baby goats.  She came into the goat yard and just sat and waited....watching the kids running and jumping all around.

Eventually the kids' curiosity got the best of them and they came over to check out this newcomer to their pen.


Maddie sat perfectly still while they sniffed her.
 Then, when it seemed that they were comfortable with her, she leaned down to sniff them and offer a big Newfie kiss......Slurrrrrrrrrrp!

 She was so pleased with these new little friends... that is until Mama Missy decided enough was enough.  Missy marched over to Maddie and head butted her.
 Maddie quickly retreated behind me and crawled up onto the fainters' fort.....out of the reach of Missy.
 We spent quite a bit of time there just loving those babies....Maddie and me.  It was pure heaven for both of us.  Eventually Missy let her guard down and sauntered off to eat.

What a magical time!
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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Bee Haven Acrobats

Here we are in the middle of the Winter Olympics and our barn kitties are practicing for the Summer Olympics.  Each of our kitties has his own special talent.  Bobby's is the balance beam and the tight rope.  Here is my little acrobat, Bobby, practicing his balancing beam routine.....



Uh oh...Oh goodness, now what do I do?  
"Excuse me, could you give me a hand, here?"
Great recovery, Bobby!
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Monday, February 15, 2010

Rooster Update

Ending up with more roosters than we had planned on has given us a few challenges. We have experimented with living arrangements in an effort to keep all of our chickens happy and unstressed. What we have learned is this......

Some roosters are naturally aggressive (that would be our Hank!) Some roosters are wimpy (Rod Stewart). And some roosters just don't care (Elvis). If we had only had these three roosters...life would be easy. Unfortunately with the arrival of last summer's chicks came two more roosters....enter Kenny Rogers and Brad Paisley. If you have been following my blog, you know all of these fellows quite well. If you are new, no worries....but I encourage you to go back and read some of the rooster relocation escapades.

Our last rooster story ended with Kenny and Brad sharing the smaller henhouse along with 12 hens. All seemed cozy and quiet amongst this clan until the time that the girls reached maturity. Then all of a sudden it was war.....and apparently Kenny was winning. Brad started hiding out in the henhouse all by himself.

(What a handsome fellow!)
After much thought, I decided to try moving Brad to our largest henhouse yard. This is where Elvis lives with about 50 hens. There are two large henhouses that open into this large enclosed yard. Thinking that each rooster could then have his own henhouse, I made the move.
Amazingly, there was very little commotion over this new addition to the henhouses. Brad moved in without much fuss, spent a couple of weeks very close to the house that I placed him in, and then comfortably settled into the flock.

(And you should hear me sing!)

The thing that surprises me most is that at night both Elvis and Brad share the same henhouse, without any incident. It seems that there are plenty of hens to go around, so there is no competition. What I have learned is that harmony is definitely dependant upon the dispositions of the roosters! Elvis and Brad are both mellow fellows...which makes for great henhouse karma.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Just Kidding Around

There is nothing better than spending a little time in the goat nursery! Yesterday afternoon I sat with Missy's twins. They are just adorable....and starting to play now. The earlier pictures that I showed you had the buckling in the forefront and the doeling laying down. I received comments about how shy she seemed. I am happy to say she is not a bit shy. This little cutie loves climbing all over you and she crawls up so that she can give you little goatie kisses on the mouth. It is just the cutest thing! Nettie is her name and she is a keeper. We will be adding her to our breeding stock as a replacement for Missy, when she retires from breeding.

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If you are feeling blue, just stop by the farm for a little "kid" therapy. Nettie's kisses will most definitely cheer you up!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Blizzard!

Ok, enough is enough! We have had a total of 3 foot of snow so far this month.... and we are not even half way through February. Although it is beautiful to look at, it does make farm life a bit more challenging. Yesterday was a crazy day! I went out at 7 AM to feed the animals and spent the rest of the day moving snow. I left my trusty gator in the garage, and used the four wheeler with the snow blade for chores. Hauling water was a bit of a challenge. But, at least I did not get stuck in the snow! The animals stayed indoors most of the day....seeking shelter in their individual houses. The Dwarf Nigerians, however, emerged at feeding time (no wonder they are so chubby....they never miss a meal!) The chickens took one look at the snow and shook their heads..."no way" was their response to my invitation to come out to play this morning. The horses were the only ones brave enough to venture out to pasture...a few flakes of hay were all it took to entice them. Farm work is physically tiring....add another foot of snow on top of that, and "tiring" is an understatement! Hopefully, the lanes around the farm will remain open and today's chores can be done by gator.








Wednesday, February 10, 2010

And Then There Were Five!

The stork has been extra busy this week!

Two more kids have been born at Bee Haven Acres.

Missy gave birth to her twins....one girl, one boy,

and they are quite striking looking...with blue eyes.

Mama and babies are doing great.

Here is a peek into their warming hut.....
Isn't she adorable? Check out that little white spot on her chin...
Her brother is quite curious....and that white spot on his lip is a little milk residue.
Got Milk?
He is quite leggy and has wonderful color!

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