Category Archives: Animals

Wild Rabbit Comeback

I went out and bought tame rabbits last year and now the wild rabbit population has exploded on the farm.
I love watching them and now the farm is alive with all sizes. I’m sure the coyotes, eagle, hawks and owls will keep the population in check though.

Fortunately for them we have lots of briar patches for them to hide in from predators.

Who couldn’t love that face!!! She never did run.

Snapping turtle

Every year our pond becomes invaded by snapping turtles that eat the fish and frogs from the ponds. A few weeks ago we found where some varmint had found several turtle egg nests on the farm on the side of a mountain spring that runs through the farm to Sinking Creek.

Dirt bank along side the branch where the turtles had climbed, dug perfect holes, laid their golf-ball-sized eggs and covered them to hatch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We think this was probably done by a coon, skunk or even a raven or two.  Every nest, and we counted at least six had been raided and what eggs were left will not hatch. 

You can see the shells along the side of the hole and below it.

But with that being said we don’t like having them in our pond so we set “trot lines”  (heavy nylon thread with a huge hook on the end ) to catch the beast that eat our frogs and fish.  We caught one night before last and our dinner that night was chicken fried turtle. fried potatoes, cantaloupe and asparagus.  So good!!!

Fried turtle is so good!!

Fried potatoes and onions on the left and fried turtle on the right.

Bunny World

The farm is alive with little animals everywhere, domestic and wild! On April 2nd my two rabbit does, Cleome and Marigold had a total of 16 little ones and 13 survived. I weaned them this week, placing them all together in a large pen and they’re so much fun to watch with each having their own personality and playful attitudes.

A few of the cute faces at three weeks of age.

The babies are all Lops which mean they have the droopy ears.

They can leave the farm this week

 

 

 

 

 

We have black, tan, tan and white, white, white with black spots, white with black eyes,   It’s hard not to fall in love with such beautiful creatures.

In their new play house!

This is one is so curious.

Group hug!

There are two this color, solid white but seem to have more fur and they love to rub noses with me.

Love those floppy ears

Looks like her mom.

Rabbit ration, carrots, apples and lots of green grass is their diet that they’ve been eating for three weeks. My granddaughters love bananas too.

Spring peepers

Have you ever heard of petoots or spring peepers?  It’s those noisy little beings we hear every spring when it starts to get warm!  I love hearing them but I’ve never seen them or ventured out to see what they looked like.  I’ve always assumed they were little tiny frogs.  This year I found out!!!

I went with hubby one morning to feed the cattle and in our back field we have a small pond that’s never gone dry (yet)!    As we drove by the pond we could see the pond just wiggling with life and the noise was deafening.  We went to the back-end of the field and dropped off the hay to roll off the hills to the cattle and then drove back to the pond.  I had my camera with me and finally got pictures of hundreds of the little noise-makers and they weren’t a bit afraid as I took their picture!  You can click on the photos to enlarge and see what I’m talking about.

Petoots of every size!

Usually where there’s one, there’s two!

The noise was deafening and hubby says when he spring turkey hunts you can’t hear the turkey for the frogs!

This isn’t a very big pond but the entire pond was covered with the little buggers! So, my friends, spring petoots, means mating season for frogs!!!

Now all I have to do is find out why we don’t hear the whippoorwill anymore!!  I love listening to them as much as the petoots and grouse drumming in the spring!

It’s just about time . . .

This little fat guy came to visit in 2015 and we had almost thirty that year. I had five or six feeders out and had to fill them twice a day.

April 15th is my deadline for putting out the hummingbird feeders. Last year I was late getting them out and didn’t have near as many.  This year I’ve got the jump on them I hope by putting out two feeders on the front porch this morning. I’m early but they might be too!!

First feeder out and ready!

I’ll start with two feeders and always in bright red. That seems to be their favorite color and I plan to have red and purple flowers all over the porch and yard this year. I’ll be watching out for the first fuchsia plant to hand on the porch too. Their vibrant colors really attract them.

Last year the few hummers that I had loved the butterfly bush, geraniums, bleeding hearts and the columbine.

That beak looks deadly, doesn’t it?

We have the ruby-throated hummingbirds here at the farm.

We think they’re stunning birds!

This was last years batch and I think the most we had at any given time was 10-12 and that was toward the end of the season.

Get those feeders out this weekend and let us know how many you have and when you first sighted them!

Here’s my recipe for the feeders, all natural:  1 cup sugar to 4 cups of water.  I mix it up in a pitcher and put it in the microwave for 6 1/2 minutes to sterilize it and keep it from fermenting.  I let it cool to touch and then pour in the feeders.

 

Spring Calving Season

Our spring calving season began on March 13 with this little girl (heifer) and it was such a beautiful day.  

This little bull started our calving on the 19th, followed by the next two within minutes of each other. Now we wait for the 25 to come!!

Preparing for Spring

We’ve had some glorious three weeks of spring-like weather and now the cold and wind is back!!

Crocus are blooming and the jonquils and daffodils are up.

Crocus are blooming and the jonquils and daffodils are up.

Along with building a new cattle holding pen, hubby and I have been cleaning up around the farm while waiting on our lumber.   We had lots of trees come down during the fall and winter and we’ve been cutting them up for firewood and piling the brush to be burnt (if the wind ever quits blowing).  Hubby plowed the garden this week so if we had any cold weather (which we are experiencing now) the freeze and thaw would be great for the disking when we get ready to start the garden.

Starting to plow the garden.

Starting to plow the garden.

Dark rich soil for a promising 2017 garden crop.

Dark rich soil for a promising 2017 garden crop.

While he was plowing I started cleaning up the yard.  We have beautiful maple trees on three corners of the yard which provide us maple syrup in the spring and wonderous shade in the summer but in the fall and winter they shed their beautiful coats into our yard.  It takes lots of time and strong arms to rake it all up and pile on the compost pile.

Before the cleanup my yard and flower/rose beds are covered with leaves which protect them from the freezing cold.

Before the cleanup my yard and flower/rose beds are covered with leaves which protect them from the freezing cold.

 

 

 

After the cleanup, the yard starts looking like this before the  grass greens, the roses sprout leaves and the perennials show their pretty faces:

In front of the front porch after cleanup

In front of the front porch after cleanup

East backyard after cleanup

East backyard after cleanup

Front yard after cleanup

Front yard after cleanup

 

 

 

 

 

Now, all I have to do is the rose garden and the new perennial bed we made last spring.

We just have to wait for another warmup which we hope is on the way next week.  We’re also hoping that the warmup we had and this freezing weather doesn’t have any adverse effect on the honeybees because they sure were working hard to find food last week.

Spring means new life on the farm and we’re expecting 20+ cows to start calving in the next two weeks.  My hens have picked up on their production and I’m getting a dozen eggs a day now.

You just can't beat fresh farm eggs that come from free range chickens!

You just can’t beat fresh farm eggs that come from free range chickens!

The brownish-red hens with white tail feathers are my babies from last year.  Great brown egg layers!

The brownish-red hens with white tail feathers are my babies from last year. Great brown egg layers!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My rabbit does were bred this week and we should have kits around the 30th of March.  They’re all lops and last years babes were a huge assortment of colors.  I think the first batches this spring will go to new homes and the second mating will be meat rabbits.

Marigold visits Sebastian.

Marigold visits Sebastian.

Sebastian was glad to see his ladies.

Sebastian was glad to see his ladies.

 

 

 

 

 

Cleome waiting her turn.

Cleome waiting her turn.

Baby chicks and ducks will probably join us in April and our next big project is to get rid of the old chicken house which is in bad need of repair.

Chicken house is ancient and chickens should love their new abode which is a cinder block building that way back in the day was a hog house.

Chicken house is ancient and chickens should love their new abode which is a cinder block building that way back in the day was a hog house.

The hog house is bigger, has electricity and will be warmer for the chickens. We have lots of cleanup to do to the outside because the wild blackberries are surrounding it.  There's a no-freeze water spigot beside it and there's storage for feed on the inside.

The hog house is bigger, has electricity and will be warmer for the chickens. We have lots of cleanup to do to the outside because the wild blackberries are surrounding it. There’s a no-freeze water spigot beside it and there’s storage for feed on the inside.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Varmints on the Farm

GRAPHIC NATURE!!  I went to gather the eggs yesterday afternoon and found one of my last year ISA Brown hens behind the feed barrel dead.  Her head was missing and something had eaten all of the meat from her neck.

The brownish-red hens with white tail feathers are my babies from last year.  Great brown egg layers!

The brownish-red hens with white tail feathers are my babies from last year. Great brown egg layers!

We are having a spring full of varmints.  Hubby has set live traps and caught several huge opossums, three or four skunks and a bunch of feral cats.  We don’t have any cats and we think someone is dropping them on our road because they’re everywhere!  At night he has seen red foxes and a pair of gray foxes circling the pond.  We have a bald eagle, golden eagle and a numerous bunch of red-tail and chicken hawks.  I saw a young bobcat my last week of hunting season!  We are surrounded by the varmints and my egg production suffers from it!!!  I have two young roosters that warn of danger flying overhead but I think they’re too busy being the men of the henhouse to keep close watch on the ground danger!

Egg production has gained strength with the longer and warmer days and I’m getting 10-12 eggs per day out of 24 (23 now) hens.  The “eggs for sale” sign is back out at the end of the driveway and neighbors are starting to come looking for fresh, large eggs of many colors.

You just can't beat fresh farm eggs that come from free range chickens!

You just can’t beat fresh farm eggs that come from free range chickens!

 

Granddog spends the night

For about three weeks or more my daughter and her family have been losing a lot of sleep! The culprit:

This is Jippy!  He belongs to my daughters family and like most single house dogs, he rules the roost most of the time.

This is Jippy! He belongs to my daughter’s family and like most single house dogs, he rules the roost most of the time.

Jippy seems fine during the day but at night around 11:00 he can’t seem to lay for any length of time on his tummy.  He pants from then until 5:00 or 6:00 in the morning.  He wants to be snuggled, ears rubbed and he’s constantly up and down.  This behavior is causing the entire family to lose sleep which is much-needed when you are working away from home or going to school which applies to all in the house!

Heather asked me to meet our vet at her home on Thursday and Doc Bowman couldn’t find anything physically wrong with Jippy except for being a little overweight which he has been for over a year.  She drew blood and hoped to have the results back by today.

Me and Papa decided to give them a big break last night and I kidnapped him and brought him to our house to spend the night.  He was quiet and seemed content to be with us and usually is going outside a lot to look for his “mommy” but he didn’t last evening.

We went to bed at 11:00 and he snuggled right in close to me and was fine until 12:00 and he jumped up like something had hold of him.  He turned his head toward me and tucked his head under my hand and I started rubbing his ears (both) and it settled him unless I stopped.  We did this until about 2:00 and then he wanted to take a potty break.  I let him out and he stayed for about 15 minutes.  Once he came in he was restless and constantly panting.  At time he would get under the bed covers and crash for a 10-15 minutes with no panting and then he would come out from the covers and get right in my face panting and acting like he needed to tell me something. He continued wanting both ears rubbed and they were hot. This makes me think there’s something in his ears.  I tried to listen and feel for any tummy rumblings and sometimes I did but not enough to think he had a belly ache.  We’ve all been careful about what he eats since this started.  I felt so sorry for him and wished he could talk!!  Papa slept until 5:00 this morning and  let him outside to potty and then sat in the living room with him the rest of the morning watching westerns together.  I don’t know how Heather, Joel and Victoria have gotten any rest in the last few weeks.  Hopefully, Doc Bowman will find the answer in the blood work and fix the issue quick.  Flu season is all over the state and my kids need their rest to fight that off and stay healthy!

Jippy seems fine now, don’t ya think!

Sleeping peacefully on Sassy's bed in our bedroom while I write this post.

Sleeping peacefully on Sassy’s bed in our bedroom while I write this post.

Feed the Birds From the Garden

One of 27 of my hens that heads straight for the bird feeders as soon as the hen house door is opened.

One of 27 of my hens that heads straight for the bird feeders as soon as the hen-house door is opened.

Part of the bird feeding station.

Part of the bird feeding station.

I love feeding the wild birds in our back yard during the winter.  There’s just so many species that flock to the feeders all during the day including my chickens!

 

I have 10 feeders in the back yard and the wild birds depend on me during the winter months when they can’t find seeds and other food.  I use black oil sunflowers that we raise in our garden, wild bird feed from our local farm supply store, and saved grease from my kitchen which I save in foil pans and stick in the freezer all year round.  We also dry any leftover sweet corn from the garden.  I pick it, shuck it and air dry it in our grainery and then place in mesh bags which are stored in lidded trash cans until feeding time.  I put the corn on a squirrel feeder and the birds and squirrels love it.  We had such an abundance of corn leftover after freezing for ourselves and sharing with our family, friends and neighbors.  I hate waste and the birds love it and so do my rabbits.

Sweet corn dried from the garden and now feeds the birds and squirrels. They love it!

Sweet corn dried from the garden and now feeds the birds and squirrels. They love it!

 

 

 

Another feeder in the back yard.

Another feeder in the back yard.

The wildbirds scratch it out on the ground which the ground feeders love and so do the chickens!

The wild birds scratch it out on the ground which the ground feeders love and so do the chickens!  The bucket holds walnuts that I gathered in the fall, dried and de-hulled for the squirrels.  The bluejay like them too.  The metal feeder, box feeder w/gallon jar and the gourd feeder are all handmade.  At the back-end of the station is another handmade feeder with four sections which the wrens prefer over the others.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The collection of birds grows with each year:backyard-birds-2016-7 backyard-birds-2016-6 backyard-birds-2016-9 backyard-birds-2016-1 backyard-birds-2016-14 backyard-birds-2016-17 backyard-birds-2016-19 flocking-to-feeders-01092017-3 flocking-to-feeders-01092017-8 flocking-to-feeders-01092017-9 flocking-to-feeders-01092017-10 flocking-to-feeders-01092017-11

Furry Friends Enjoy the Back Yard

We have some fox squirrels that keep the feeders empty all year round.  I’ve made a point of gathering walnuts, hickory nuts and chestnuts for our squirrels every year.  We’ve had a few lean years in the way of food for all of the wildlife.  We have orchards for the deer to feed in but these guys will move out of the area if there isn’t any feed and we love watching them from our kitchen window.  I found out last year that all of the excess sweet corn at the end of the growing season is also great for the cattle but the squirrels, wild birds and deer will eat the sweet corn after it dries up.  We pick it off, shuck it, and then lay out on a screen to dry and then store the whole ear in barrels with a lid for the really bad winter when the ground is covered with snow and ice for long periods of time.  We saw a small buck in the garden last night digging up frozen turnips too.  If you love watching the wildlife as much as we do, help them out a little.  Baby, it’s cold out there.

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Eddie built this squirrel feeder about 10 years ago and the wildlife still love it. You’ll laugh yourself to death when you see a full-grown squirrel in that gallon jar!!!

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This guy watches me when I’m moving around in the kitchen or the bathroom.

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News Update. . .Lost in Time

Please forgive my silence. Between the garden, animals and the issues unforeseen, I’ve just been inundated with work and only open the computer a couple times a week.

The garden is full!!! With so much rain this summer, our pantry is running over.

The garden is full!!! With so much rain this summer, our pantry is running over.

Our granddaughter graduated from high school in June and starts college in a couple weeks.  Where has the time gone!!!

Victoria and proud Uncle Shawn

Victoria and proud Uncle Shawn

Parents, Victoria, and maternal grandparents.

Parents, Victoria, and maternal grandparents.

On top of that we have a brand new grandson born three months early and he’s in New Jersey (450+ miles from Virginia). He’s in a neonatal unit at Children’s Hospital in New Jersey. His mother had some major health issues which caused toxemia and the baby had to be delivered early on July 8th. He weighed 2 pounds and 2 ounces and 14 inches long. He’s a little fighter and gained some weight and now weighs 3 pounds and 15 inches long. Declan Bryant is his name. He’s having some serious issues this week and the little guy is exhausted. Shawn, our son, is in New Jersey this weekend to see him for the second time and he’s keeping us updated.

Shawn's first visit with his son.

Shawn’s first visit with his son.

I’ve been canning and freezing green beans, broccoli, cabbage, pickles, squash, apples, rhubarb and Eddie told me last night that I’ll have more beans in the coming week and corn after that. We’ve pulled the onions and waiting on the brussel sprouts. We have a crock of kraut fermenting now and hope it’ll be ready before anything else comes in.

Pickles, pickles and more pickles!

Pickles, pickles and more pickles!

Squash pickles

Squash pickles

Canned fresh squash

Canned fresh squash

Green beans and we're not done yet!!! I think we'll sell the ones coming in now.

Green beans and we’re not done yet!!! I think we’ll sell the ones coming in now.

I’ve taken on two part-time jobs working on websites for two sisters and working away from the house on one of them 2-3 days a week. The other one I do from home. It’s a little extra spending money. Our big yardsale/estate sale was for one day and we cleaned out one house on the farm and made around $2500.00. I’m in the process of filling it up again from the other buildings and we may have one more sale next spring just to get rid of it all.

This is enough news for now but will catch up again later. I haven’t touched my blog in some time but haven’t given up on it.

One more bit of news, neighborhood dogs that aren’t watched after cleaned out our duck population in one night back in June, I think, and another one got in my chickens this week. I’m down to 21 hens and two roosters at this point.

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This is just a quick catch up and I’ll hopefully be back soon! Love you my friends and want to ask you all to keep our grandson and son in your prayers.

Busy Day

I slept late this morning and didn’t get up until  7:45 so started breakfast pretty quick.  I think a good breakfast starts the day out right.  We had waffles and link sausage and cantaloupe.  After breakfast I washed up the dishes, made the bed and turn on the computer.  I turn it on and walk away when I have things I want to get done because I can get wrapped up in it pretty quick and lose track of time.

The cookie tins were depleted this weekend so the first thing I did was fill up one tin with Oatmeal Raisin Cookies and the other with Snickerdoodles.

Snickerdoodles is one of the easiest recipes you can make and they're really good.

Snickerdoodles is one of the easiest recipes you can make and they’re really good.

My favorite recipe for Oatmeal Raisin cookies and the Mr.'s favorite.

My favorite recipe for Oatmeal Raisin cookies and the Mr.’s favorite.

After these were in the tins and the mess cleaned up, hubby asked Heather and I to go to the back fields and count the fall calves and see if we thought we should send them on to the market.  We did this and checked them all out for pinkeye or other abnormalities and found none.

Heather helped me pull two large baskets of grass for the rabbits and I cleaned out their cages and made sure they had enough water, grain and sunflower seeds and then she headed home.

I came in fed Sassy her lunch and headed to the henhouse to check on the water, feed and sitting hen situation.  I have a ISA Brown hen and a Sexlink hatching this weekend.  I testing something I read last year about the shape of eggs can determine the sex of the chicks the hens hatch.  More on that later!!

I filled up the lawn mower and mowed the inside yard and waiting for the sun to cool off before finishing.  I would like to get all of the trimming done before the showers move in tonight.  Then I dead-headed all of the roses.  They’ve been so beautiful this year.

Now it’s time to fix some supper but hubby won’t be out of the hayfield for probably another hour or so and I have plenty of time.  We’re having fried turkey biscuits, potato salad, green beans and cantaloupe.

It’s been a productive day but cookie baking took most of the morning!  I hope everyone has had a very good day!

Spring calving

2016 spring herd grazing along.

2016 spring herd grazing along.

Most of our morning was spent with our cattle, my daughter & son-in-law, and two very good friends.  We had 24 calves from this herd and they all received their baby vaccinations, pinkeye and tetanus shots, eartagged and banded if they were bull calves.  Everything went smoothly and only took about two hours.  We have some beauties in this herd and the last one was born last week.

2016 (3)Big Herd cows calves 2016 (6)Big Herd cows calves 2016 (8)Big Herd cows calves

After taking care of all of them we turned Clyde and Sam (new bull) in with the herd.  This is always a big chore but went quickly this morning since we had such wonderful help.  I hope they all know how much we appreciate giving us their time and muscles.

Now we watch them grow!!

Eddie likes to play with the little ones when they're just a couple days old.

Eddie likes to play with the little ones when they’re just a couple days old.

2016 (11)Big Herd cows calves

New Babes on the Farm

We’ve added stock of a different kind on the farm that we’ve not had here in a long time or never.
First to arrive were two Swedish Black ducks that were supposed to be mallard ducks. Our granddaughter fell in love with them right off at Tractor Supply.

Pablo and Gwen were Victoria's first real farm animals, I believe. She'll correct me if I am wrong.

Pablo and Gwen were Victoria’s first real farm animals, I believe. She’ll correct me if I am wrong.  They’re laying on her butt while she’s reading a book at our house.

Like all babies they grow so fast and boy did they!

But they were still captivated by their mommie!! Wherever she went they went and she took them for walks every day.

But they were still captivated by their mommie!! Wherever she went they went and she took them for walks every day.

Victoria’s boyfriend, Cody, built them a nice hutch which we kept close to the pond but had it shielded from predators.

Duckling hutch

Duckling hutch

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Hutch with shade and close to the pond.

Hutch with shade and close to the pond.

They kept growing.IMG_0025 IMG_0024 IMG_0023

Papa told her they weren’t mallard ducks and she did the research to find out what kind of duck they were.  In the meantime and while she thought they were mallard ducks, Papa told her that mallard ducks would migrate in the fall unless they grew up with domestic ducks.  She was devastated and talked him into letting her have a couple white ducks to grow up with and he relented.  She came home with seven white ducklings.  Pablo and Gwen were jealous and soon taught them they were the head-honchos on this farm!!IMG_0014 IMG_0024 IMG_0025

Here’s the gaggle of ducks (or is that for geese?)!  We also inherited another duck from a lady that got one for Easter and kept it in her home (after full-grown) and finally decided a full-grown duck did not belong in the house.  Her name is Fiona and she is full-grown compared to these and they all live happily together on the pond.

Then we decided to raise rabbits and I bought two female lops from a friend of ours and a un-related buck.  We’ve had them since the first week of April and they were bred a few days before I picked them up.

This is Cleome.

This is Cleome.

This is Marigold.

This is Marigold.

This is our buck, Sebastian!

This is our buck, Sebastian!

On May 8th, Cleome had three little ones but one did not make it. It was a three weeks before Marigold introduced her little ones to me and we thought she had seven but today after weaning them from their mama’s we found out she had eight.  They are all now in their big playpen together and giving mom’s a much needed rest so they can gain back some weight and grown their beautiful coats back.  Here are the two litters combined and they have been eating fresh grass, rabbit grain, apples and carrots for a week now.IMG_0010

The hutch has an enclosed room with hay for them to eat or stay warm in.

The hutch has an enclosed room with hay for them to eat or stay warm in.

We have two solid black ones.

We have two solid black ones.

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They have plenty of feed and I pull grass for them three times a day and more if they eat it up.

They have plenty of feed and I pull grass for them three times a day and more if they eat it up.

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There only two that look alike and they're both solid black.

There only two that look-alike and they’re both solid black.

They really seem to like their new nest and have been playing and running all afternoon.

They really seem to like their new nest and have been playing and running all afternoon.

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I can't tell if this little solid white one is enjoying his new nest or if he's eating his nest but it is content!

I can’t tell if this little solid white one is enjoying his new nest or if he’s eating his nest but it is content!

One of the white ones have black dots on both eyes and one has a black streak down it's back.

One of the white ones have black dots on both eyes and one has a black streak down it’s back.

This shows their play area and where they eat and get their water.  I need to get them a couple salt blocks since the weather is heating up.  They're hutch gets more shade than their mother's hutches.

This shows their play area and where they eat and get their water. I need to get them a couple salt blocks since the weather is heating up. They’re hutch gets more shade than their mother’s hutches.

We used chicken wire on the sides of the play area and a tighter wire on the floor.

We used chicken wire on the sides of the play area and a tighter wire on the floor.

So, we have 10 ducks, 13 rabbits, 29 chickens and about 75 head of cows and calves on the farm currently.  Today one of my older hens decided to go broody and set so I foresee baby chicks in a few weeks to add to the menagerie!

 

Beautiful New Stock

Our two-year old heifers will soon meet the one of the men of their life.  These girls have turned out so much better than we hoped.

Six of eight heifers born in March & April of 2014.

Six of eight heifers born in March & April of 2014.

The other two have got out and went back to a closer herd of cattle.  One may have gotten bred in March right before we sold one of our bulls.  We put the date on our calendars to watch since we try to keep close tabs on heifers when having their first babies.  The other one recently decided to take out some old fence and join that herd as well.  She and the other six will be back together in mid-June when one of the new bulls, Buckshot, will meet his first ever small herd. There are six Angus and the other two are Angus White-faced.

The cattle market prices have dropped drastically since last fall and now will be the time to add bought heifers but these were raised on the farm.  Their mothers are good milkers and their daddy came from a Holstein mother.  We can only hope and pray they are great nurturing mothers with lots of milk!

1st Hummingbird of the Season

It's amazing how something so tiny could be so fast!

It’s amazing how something so tiny could be so fast!

This is a 2015 hummingbird but looks much like the one that arrived yesterday.

This is a 2015 hummingbird but looks much like the one that arrived yesterday.

My first hummingbird of 2016 arrived around 6:00 p.m. yesterday afternoon. He’s a fat little male and so beautiful! He was too quick to get pictures but they have arrived!! I hope you have a very blessed 2016 spring!

The Beauty of our National Bird

The pictures say it all!

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Bald Eagle 02272016 (4)

Bald Eagle 02272016 (3)

Bald Eagle 02272016 (2)We watched him and took the pictures from our front porch.  These were taken over a month ago but we saw it and a younger one that hadn’t matured with the white feathering last week.  We also had a golden eagle here most of the winter.

Sassy

A couple weeks ago Sassy, our last “child” was having a terrible time finding a place cool enough to sleep. She panted a lot at night, moved from room to room and wanted outside in the bitter cold a lot.

Sassy likes her bed during storms.

Sassy likes her bed during storms.

Sassy is a blonde cocker spaniel and like her “mommie” she about 20 pounds overweight.  Her coat is as thick as a Dorset sheep and I mean really wooly!!

My precious wooley girl, Sassy!

My precious wooly girl, Sassy!

We tried to wait on her spring trip to the beauty shop (four or five times a year is why she is so wooly).  She was miserable and we needed a full night of sleep so I call Robin our wonder groomer of Classy Pets and Robin had an opening which we grabbed.

All of the ear rubbing and treats all the way to the groomer did not calm Sassy down much because as soon as we went down the mountain and took a right on Rt 311, she knew what was coming!  Four hours later my baby came home excited and couldn’t wait to get in the house in her warm bed.  She looks 20 pounds lighter don’t you think???

Sassy girl with her new do.

Sassy girl with her new do.

Wrinkles do show up more if you cut your hair!  :)

Wrinkles do show up more if you cut your hair! 🙂  She has a crooked smile due to a mini stroke a couple of years ago.  

She doesn't look as thin from the side view but neither do I.

She doesn’t look as thin from the side view but neither do I.

The Saga of Cindy

Cindy-1 week after we brought her home to care for and her eyes had opened.  She was a little bit bigger than my thumb!

Cindy-1 week after we brought her home to care for and her eyes had opened. She was a little bit bigger than my thumb!

Good day but sad day as the saga of Cindy ends with the Caldwell family. You will remember back in August we had some friends cutting firewood on the farm and one of the trees cut held the home of Cindy, her two siblings and her Mom. Mom was killed when the tree fell and her two siblings lived for two days. Cindy lived and I nursed to a full grown squirrel.

After one month she was running around everywhere.

After one month she was running around everywhere.

I had planned to release her in late fall but there wasn’t any squirrel food available due to several late frosts in spring 2015 that killed most of the nut crop and fruit crop that squirrels live on during the winter. At that point I didn’t want her to starve to death so we had planned to release her this spring when the plants came up in the woods along with a suitcase of her bed linens, toys and food that we purchased.
In January, something happened to her and she couldn’t walk and I was convinced it had to do with something missing from her diet or a late complication from the tree fall.  I called the Wildlife Alliance to ask for their help in what to do but all they were interested in was why I had her and that it was against the law!  They gave me the number of some Wildlife Rehabs in the area and wanted me to call them.  That afternoon my phone number had been tracked on caller ID and  our address located and by 4:00 p.m. the Game Commission was in our driveway talking to Eddie and wanted the squirrel turned over.  He had quite the conversation with them and poor little Cindy broke my heart when I turned her over to them.  Before they left, Eddie was issued a citation for harboring a wild animal and his court date was this morning.

Now let me say this on our behalf,  we are animal lovers and I love all animals  but will do anything to protect and save any animal wild or domesticated.  They become one of my children until it’s time to let them go.  I don’t purposely orphan any animal just for grins and whistles.

Long story short, Eddie went to court without me this morning and was back home within an hour.  The case was dismissed!  The game warden told the judge the complete story about why we had it and that we had planned to release her.  He said that Mr. Caldwell was cooperative and he believed we intended to release the animal.  Then the Commonwealths Attorney told Mr. Caldwell and the judge that although it was against the law to harbor a wild animal of any kind he believed that we were truly rescuing an injured animal and believed the case should be dismissed.  Mr. Caldwell “Eddie” didn’t have to say anything except that he did admit to being guilty of having the animal.    The game warden did say in court that Cindy had been taken to a wildlife rehab and was found to have a broken back and was euthanized!!  I find this hard to believe since I had played with her most of the morning and she was asleep in her house when I found her unable to walk and this is why the organizations were called.

Life goes on and I’ll always have my memories, pictures and videos of one of the happiest and well cared for little creatures in the world.  I still cry when I think about her looking up at me when I had to give her up so we’ll end this saga and I pray everyone will understand why we were such horrible law breakers!!

Cindy 092015IMG_2868 IMG_2866 IMG_2863 IMG_0004 DSCN7408 Cindy 09032015 (5) Cindy 092015Cindy 10032015 (13) Cindy 12142015 (1) Cindy 12142015 (3) DSCN7848

Cindy is growing like a weed.

She's always smelling my hands to make sure I haven't held someone else.  I always wash my hands good with Dove soap before handling and this is the scent she knows is Mom!

She was always smelling my hands to make sure I haven’t held someone else. I always wash my hands good with Dove soap before handling and this is the scent she knew as Mom!

She likes stretching out too when she's eating.

She liked stretching out too when she was eating her bottle.

 

I’m Heartbroken

My orphan squirrel Cindy was taken from me today by the Virginia Game Commission. I made the mistake of talking to the Wildlife Rehab Alliance to find out how to treat Cindy for a medical condition. I didn’t give them my name but apparently they traced our phone number and came to the house this afternoon and took her away and gave us a summons for having wildlife in our care.

I’m heartbroken and keep seeing her little face looking up at me as I was taking her to their car! My tears will not quit falling and Eddie is so mad I was afraid he was going to get in trouble because he let them know in no uncertain terms how he felt!!

It’s going to be a rough few days to pull myself together of this!  It’s going to be tough getting her little cabin, toys, feed and play area off the back porch!!

Cindy taking her bottle.

Cindy taking her bottle.

Cindy in her new home. We found a hollow tree and cut it short, filled it with flannel pieces of cloth and this is where she hides when strangers come to visit or she just doesn't want to be bothered.

Cindy in her new home. We found a hollow tree and cut it short, filled it with flannel pieces of cloth and this is where she hides when strangers come to visit or she just doesn’t want to be bothered.

Her sewing basket is in the bottom section of the bird cage and she hoards nuts and dried fruit in it.

Her sewing basket is in the bottom section of the bird cage and she hoards nuts and dried fruit in it.

She's always smelling my hands to make sure I haven't held someone else. I always wash my hands good with Dove soap before handling and this is the scent she knows is Mom!

She’s always smelling my hands to make sure I haven’t held someone else. I always wash my hands good with Dove soap before handling and this is the scent she knows is Mom!

Loves that bottle of warm milk.

Loves that bottle of warm milk.

Her "lookout" pose!

Her “lookout” pose!

She likes being wrapped up in a wash cloth after eating. This is usually when I bathe her.

She likes being wrapped up in a wash cloth after eating. This is usually when I bathe her.

She likes scampering around in the living room floor usually chasing after Sassy.

She likes scampering around in the living room floor usually chasing after Sassy.

 

 

Baby, it’s cold outside!!!

This is our outdoor weather station that I got hubby for his birthday.

This is our outdoor weather station that I got hubby for his birthday.

We named him Robin Reed after our local weather forecaster.

We named him Robin Reed after our local weather forecaster.

Our pond had about a two inches of ice on it and now there's patches of snow on top of the ice.

Our pond had about a two inches of ice on it and now there’s patches of snow on top of the ice.

My wood pile is disappearing and I'm the only one using it!

My wood pile is disappearing and I’m the only one using it!

Clear blues skies on Wednesday, January 13, 2016!

Clear blues skies on Wednesday, January 13, 2016!

Hubby's new weather station.  It's been used more than any he's ever had.

Hubby’s new weather station. It’s been used more than any he’s ever had.

Yes, it’s wintertime and it’s supposed to be cold but darn it we just got teased really bad with 50 and 60 degree weather and my body is just not liking this one bit!  I can stand the cold if there’s sunshine to go along with it but that wind is wicked!!  My son thinks I’m a wimp but one of these days he’ll understand where I’m coming from. Right, Shawn???

I know I have to stick it out for at least three or four more months so I guess I’ll be quilting, crocheting, reading, cooking, embroidering, and blogging a lot to keep me occupied for a while.  I’ll be making hourly trips to the henhouse for eggs and taking them warm water.  I’ll be checking in on Roscoe three or four times a day and making sure he’s okay with just his fur coat and watching to make sure hubby’s hounds will have plenty of protein for food and hay in their boxes for warmth.  We have their houses facing the morning sun to keep them warm as well.  Mother Nature will take care of everything else.

Now, to find my seed catalogs and make a list!!!

Feeding the Wild Birds

Winter is finally here and my wildbirds are looking for food.  I had noticed that I didn’t have very many around but had not put out the birdfeeders because of my chickens which will devour the seeds.

Wildbird seed

Wildbird seed

Two feeders cleaned and ready to fill

Two feeders cleaned and ready to fill

With the snow we received and blew away yesterday, I decided to fill all the feeders.

All during the year I save any grease from bacon, sausage and more.  After cooking I drain the grease into mini aluminum loaf pans and store it in the freezer until cold weather arrives.  I have all sorts of woodpeckers that love the firm lard and they get lots of protein from it.

Small tins of frozen grease-these are bacon and sausage drippings saved from our kitchen.

Small tins of frozen grease-these are bacon and sausage drippings saved from our kitchen.

The aluminum disposable tins are a quick and easy way to save grease over time. I pour what little grease comes from our meat and add to the tin until full. Great for the birds.

The aluminum disposable tins are a quick and easy way to save grease over time. I pour what little grease comes from our meat and add to the tin until full. Great for the birds.

I’ll place these on my hanging flower table that Eddie made me and all the birds can get on the table together if they want.

Hanging plant table used year round.

Hanging plant table used year round.  The bird feeders fit well there too but the chickens fly up on the fence and then onto the table when they see the wild birds feeding there.

Along with the birdseed I put out ears of field corn, sunflowers, peanuts and dried bread crumbs.

Two for one shot!

Two for one shot!

2015 grown sunflowers. I hung about 30 of them and they're just about gone but they were fed mostly to the chickens in the henhouse.

2015 grown sunflowers. I hung about 30 of them and they’re just about gone but they were fed mostly to the chickens in the henhouse.

Squirrel feeder and the jar is filled with peanuts in a shell. The woodpecker breeds love these as do the cardinals.

Squirrel feeder and the jar is filled with peanuts in a shell. The woodpecker breeds love these as do the cardinals.

Field corn strapped to the fince post.

Field corn strapped to the fence post.

So far this winter I have woodpeckers of several varieties, doves, nuthatches, wrens, snowbirds, bluejays, Juncos, cardinals and Carolina wrens feeding at my stations.

Culling Chickens

Our chicken population exploded over the summer with chicks I hatched, chickens given to us by friends that decided they shouldn’t have them and chicks my hens hatched.  My last total was 52 which included three roosters and the hen-house had to be cleaned out weekly instead of monthly because of the ammonia smell.  I had about 20 hens that have quit laying eggs but stayed in the hen-house all day on the roost.

This is a 2013 photo but I have some chickens that are over seven years old.

This is a 2013 photo but I have some chickens that are over seven years old.

Last week we chose a new location for a chicken house that won’t be too expensive to remodel and we’ll burn down the old chicken house once the chickens are moved.  This is the new location:

Tractor shed attached to smokehouse.

Tractor shed attached to smokehouse.

Future home of new chicken house

Future home of new chicken house

This building is not any closer to the house but I won’t have to climb an icy hill now in the winter time.  I had one too many falls on the ice last winter.  The tractor will be moved to the stable which has been cleaned out and has more room for equipment now and most of the equipment will be stored in the same location instead of all over the farm.  This is a large building and the back 1/3 will be blocked off for a storage room for feed, garden tools and maybe our tillers.  The garden is on the back side of this building. More about this later.

To prepare for this move I have culled 18 of my old hens and gave them to a family in the county that can use the hens for meat or for “setting hens” in the spring.  My bantam rooster Barney went with this group because I don’t especially want small eggs and I’m trying to bring in hens that will lay larger eggs.  I lost a few chickens to hawks and old age during the early fall.

Barney is a bantam cross rooster and very small but thinks he's a giant!

Barney is a bantam cross rooster and very small but thinks he’s a giant!

Since I have three hens that like to go broody in the spring this should provide me with some new hens next summer that lay large brown eggs.  I really like my Red River roosters  and Red River’s produce the eggs we want.

This is one of my Red River roosters named Fred.  Fred had some red and brown mottled through his feathers.

This is one of my Red River roosters named Fred. Fred had some red and brown mottled through his feathers.

My Red River rooster named "Rooster".  He is white with just a hint of yellow through his feathers.

My Red River rooster named “Rooster”. He is white with just a hint of yellow through his feathers.

With my new hens and some of my older large hens I should have lots of brown, pink, green and blue eggs to sale next summer.

Fresh eggs (1)

The hens have all got their feathers back from molting just in time for the cold weather and some have started laying again.  I’m now getting 8-10 eggs instead of the 20-30 and my buyers are screaming for eggs.  The molting and colder weather will keep production down because I don’t keep lights in the hen-house and most of my hens are cold hardy including the Americaunas.

The red with white tell feathers are the new hens and they're laying now.

The red with white tail feathers are the new hens and they’re laying now.  They started laying at six months and these are my youngest hens.

We now have 31 total and that’s a plenty for what we need.  I just need to cull more often to keep good egg production.  This woman tends to get attached to all the animals on the farm no matter their age or productivity.

 

Have you ever eat a turtle

We have a pretty large pond in front of our house that is stocked with large mouth bass and bluegill fish.  We both love to fish and don’t fish from the pond a lot because we’re trying to let the pond stock itself and get the fish to a good frying size.

We’re constantly fighting off predators of the fish such as fish hawks, cranes and something my husband calls a “shikepoke” (6-8 inch tall black bird with webbed feet and long beak).  We also have to deal with huge mud turtles that come of the small stream that goes around the pond and down through the property.  Turtles can eat  up the fish pretty quick so we catch them and eat them.  Small ones are caught and released in larger creeks around the county.

Caught him in the pond in front of our home.

Caught him in the pond in front of our home.

They're mean and eat our fish every year.

They’re mean and eat our fish every year.

DSCN7206

He was eating our bass so now we're going to eat him.

He was eating our bass so now we’re going to eat him.

The meat is beautiful and really good.  We’re told there are seven different types of meat in a turtle including chicken, beef, pork, fish, and I’m not sure what the other meats are but we like it all.

Fresh turtle meat!  We fry it like chicken.  White meat, dark meat, really good.

Fresh turtle meat! We fry it like chicken. White meat, dark meat, really good.

When I cook it I first soak it in salt water overnight and then pressure cook it for about 30 -45 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure.  I then check to make sure it’s tender and if it is, I roll it in seasoned flour and fry it in butter.  It tastes just like fried chicken.

I also freeze it and when I do I place about five or six pieces in a Ziploc freezer bag, fill bag half full of water, press out the excess air and freeze.  I know it’ll keep at least 12 months frozen like this but we never have any last that long.  We also put the same amount in our food saver bags and vacuum seal and it keeps well like this too.

We try to always process and can or freeze everything we kill EXCEPT for coons and possums!!  NO THANK YOU!