Thursday, June 24, 2010

Chicken Update!

Just a day late this time. We've been busy here. I've had to push back the date for the plucking party as my "neck slicer" has a high school reunion. She went to the same school as I did, scary stuff. Can't believe I may be attending my 20 year reunion next summer. Then again maybe not, not sure if anyone is even planning one. Anyway on to the chickens. They continue to do well. They have been restricted to the coop yard as I have a fox or a hawk picking off layers. They seem to be content as long as they have a pile of food in front of them.

Monday, June 21, 2010


Yesterday, after taking Grandpa Larry to dinner in the Creek the girls and I came back home for some much needed veggin'. Shelly and Jolene settled into the family room with a bad movie and talk of tomorrow's chores. I headed off to the room to snuggle with my Pepsi Cat and to watch some cooking show. Generally when I beam the TV to the Food Network I make sure that I have just eaten. It's kind of like going to the grocery store. It's important to have a full tummy. Since I had just finished some yummy catfish, red beans and rice, and part of Jolene's oyster Po Boy I really thought I was safe. I got myself a big glass of sweet tea, propped up my pillows and settled in. I started watching a rerun of Alton Brown's, "Dining on Asphalt." He was traveling through Missouri, Kansas, Colorado and Utah. He even made a stop in La Junta at the Copper Kitchen. I called Jolene in so she could see that part of the segment. She was amazed. Jolene hung around the bedroom for a few minutes and chatted about the events of the upcoming day. Suddenly Alton was in Mancos CO. Jolene left and Alton started making FRY BREAD! I was suddenly hungry and ready to fry some flour. When I was young, oh so many years ago, I enjoyed many Saturday afternoons at my Grandma McDaniel's house with a mouthful of fry bread. My Grandparents McDaniel lived in Saguache CO. They owned and operated the Ute Theater for many years. My grandma worked at the courthouse and grandpa at the sawmill. Certain things in life life remind me of my childhood, a smell or a sound. Fry bread is one of those things. So, the force was just too much for me to handle yesterday and I had to make some. Since, for some reason (that is completely unexplainable to me and incomprehensible) I have no cast iron cookware, I cheated a bit and fried it in the deep fryer. It was pretty good, not Grandma Mac good but still good. Halfway through my second helping the pager went off and Shelly and I had to head out to get the ambulance. BUMMER! Maybe it was the universe looking out for me in some weird way, I would have eaten too many had I not had to leave. I ate too many anyway.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

It's Chicken Time Again.

That title sounds like an old country song. Oh wait, maybe that should be "It's Crying Time Again." I'm not crying though. Chicken update...I'm on time this week and the chickens are doing awesome. I had a few getting a bit top heavy so I backed off on the high protein feed and gave them a couple days of a general flock maintenance feed. I allowed them out of the coop for a a couple of hours yesterday to roam around the long grass under the trees. Things are coming along great. They are five weeks old today. Three more weeks until BEER CAN CHICKEN Q!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A new member!

The new Gato, Shadow!
Black Cats Rule!

This past winter we had the opportunity to hire a little extra help. Our hired help lived in Woodland Park. I happened to be running behind one day. I know, big surprise there! I entrusted a couple dozen eggs to the hand, gave him what I thought were adequate directions to the home of one of my customers and asked him to deliver the eggs. Several days later I received a phone call from the recipient of the eggs. It wasn't my usual customer on the other end of the line. Instead it was a new, bright and shiny voice that was singing the praises of my layer's gifts. After chit chatting for a bit I gained a new customer. For the past several months I've been delivering eggs, milk, and meat to this new customer friend. This wonderful family passed my name and information along to others and I've gained many new homes in which egg deliveries are made. Business is good, I'm thankful for the mistake the hired hand made.

Last week I received an email from that original "mistake" family. They were searching for a new home for their family cat. After a couple of phone calls, several emails and a visit to the ranch my family has been honored with another member. We welcomed Shadow to our clan. After a couple of days of adjustment he is starting to get the hang of things. He has become fast friends with one of our other cats, Thompson. They curl up together in one of the cat beds, eat from the same bowl and prowl around the basement harassing Mama Kitty.

I know what some of you are saying....Just keep it to yourselves. I'm happy, my family is happy. I am thankful to the universe that I have the means to provide homes for all of my critters.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Always late with the chicken!

Okay, get off my back! I know I'm late with the chicken pictures. It's been a busy week. What week isn't? I transferred the cockerels to the coop last week. Last time I had broiler chickens in the coop I lost about 20 to a patient hawk. The hawk would perch atop the layer coop and lay in wait until one of the broiler chickens would stick its head and neck through the chainlink trying to get a morsel on the outside. The hawk would pounce or dive or whatever hawks do. It would kill the chick and eat whatever it could pull through the fence. If the hawk had dinner after I had put the birds up for the night, a fox would come along and try to get whatever the hawk couldn't. Nightmare, I tell ya. At any rate, this year I built a smaller chicken wire fence inside the coop until they were larger in hopes of foiling the hawk. They have graduated from the smaller yard inside the coop. They now run amok inside the coop yard and the coop. The still eat as if they've been wandering the desert for days without an oasis. They are getting big fast. They've got feathers but nothing like the layer chickens. They were 4 weeks old on Wednesday. Four weeks to go before beer can chicken. I am getting very excited.
Other things about the ranch are busy as usual. The Nubians finally kidded out. I don't think we will be expecting any more babies around here for awhile. Tawny had a boy and a girl Wednesday afternoon. Ivory decided to show no signs of labor and had a boy and a girl around 1130 that evening.
All are doing well. Along with babies, I've been finding lamb's tails about the barn yards. We band tails with a castrator band at about 3 days old and now they are dropping like flies. I try and pick them up and throw them in a trash bag or toss them into the grave yard. If left, one of the dogs will sneak them off for a treat. A treat for the dogs means a long smelly evening for the family. Fun on the ole rancho.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

New Roo!

Several months ago I opened up the coop to find my old, crotchety rooster in eternal slumber. I only had one. When I broke the news to the girls, their faces barely changed expression. Since then amidst protest I have been looking for a new roo. Yesterday I found a perfect fit. He has survived his first night among 50 layers. His name is Herschel and he's a beauty. He has a fabulous crow and puffs up his chest feathers just right. He may not have a practical purpose, as I'm not eating him and I'm not breeding him but he sure makes my day a little brighter.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Another year, another naked sheep.

Coming in for a summer 'do

Shearing is finally done for another year. I like to talk big about how I love my life here on the ranch and how I'm happy that I can pass along "teachable moments" to my kid via some retro, back in the day, how they use to do it skill. I hate shearing though. The first year I was excited about it. I'd never seen it done other than an occasional demo at a county fair. Shearing at our ranch is hot, smelly, and generally filled with at least two women who are teetering on the edge of a hormone explosion. I'm usually so pooped by the end of it all, I pass out in my bath. This year, although it was hot and smelly, I didn't have to pluck and haul sheep. Shelly's menace of a ram, Nubie didn't plow me over leaving yet another bruise.
Uncle Working REALLY HARD

Jolene was relieved of her wool picking up duty by a group of women from a local spinning club. She was able to spend her day tromping around the ranch with someone of her own age, with seemingly the same interests in weird kid things. (I don't remember being interested in weird kid things)
Discussing Wool

The lady spinners chit chatted all day about this type of wool, and that type of wool, virgin wool, baby doll wool, cotswold wool, smelly wool with poop infused in it, etc. They talked about wool. I chatted with my Aunt, drank lots of soda, sweated and counted naked sheep. I'm tired but not nearly as tired as years past. I'm so thrilled that I was able to be in the company of family without hearing a eulogy on another relative.
Whew! So much cooler.

Even though sometimes the conversations turned to maggots and hang overs, it was great. I can't say I'm looking forward to shearing next year but I am looking forward to family visits, no matter what form they take.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Slipping into reverse!

Whew! I have been whining about the summer taking FOREVER to arrive and now I'm wishing I would have shut my pie-hole. Even though I love the summer weather and many activities that come along with the season, I'm slipping into reverse. I had the honor of having my family visit yesterday. I was great fun. Everyone is so busy with life as usual that I rarely have time to drop by for a visit, and I know it's the same with them. I have three sister-friends who are all teachers. I'm not a teacher. I dabbled it in when I was younger but then decided that I did not have stamina. It really pisses me off when some parent or even non-parent offers up their opinion on the "state of the country's education" or why they think we pay educators too much. I could go on for days and tell you what I really think but that is not what this blurb today is about. It's about my ability to get nothing done.
Yesterday the broiler chickens were three weeks old. I didn't get a picture taken or a blog written. I intended to get them transferred to the coup yesterday but instead I kissed the Little Alien and Sooper Cooper. So I thought I would be able to do the transfer today, but instead I have a softball game to attend in the valley. No matter, there is always tomorrow. Please pardon the poor picture quality. The broilers think that anything near the ground is food and since I'm operating with a camera that only has most of it's functions working, I took the picture through the stall door. They are growing up fast. The Buff Orpington and Black Sex Link pullets that are the same age are about half the size. Can't wait to have my family back for a Chicken Q!

In the meantime there are a lot of other things that need to be done on the ranch. We have sheep shearing this weekend and the barn is full of dirty stalls and lambs. The vet came out to float teeth today and check on the new mare.

Shelly will be left to do evening milking on her own as I will be spitting sunflower seeds in heat and yelling for my kiddo and her team. Whew....I'll catch up sometime.