Friday, April 29, 2011

It Just Wasn't Meant to Be!

Darn plans! Who needs organization anyway?

I've got stars on my calendar marking the days that I want to order chickens and turkeys. My goal is to process between 700 and 800 birds this summer. I have to have space for 800 cluckers! So I made a plan. I got an aviary. I hired help. Despite my efforts, I have yet to get it together. I'm not talking about the aviary. My brain has become mush these last couple of weeks. I keep trying, but I just can't "think" an aviary into existence. I can, call Shelly from Home Depot because I forgot what size of screws to buy. Shelly can "eyeball" the example and tell me to purchase the wrong size. I can pretend that the straight metal frames will bend to the slim slope of the mountain side. Pretending didn't work out like I had expected.

I can make plans to work on the blasted thing, then cancel those plans, then decide to reinstate the original plan. I can drink too many cans of Pepsi, eat too many M&Ms, and put off milking the cow. I can chat and ask questions of my help, dig and delve into her private life! I still can't THINK an aviary into shape. complete aviary yet! It will happen though but for now I'm going to drink 7.2 glasses of milk, finish off my M&Ms, chat with Pepsi Cat and watch episodes of "The L Word" on Netflix. I may decide to get a nap in too, as I happened to wake up just in time for the Royal Wedding this morning and just couldn't force myself to go back to sleep. I'm telling ya! I just can't get it together.

Saturday, April 23, 2011


Jenny: What are those girls bringing home now?
Jersey: I hope it's not another donkey!

Jersey Cow and Jenny Cow welcomed a new roomie last night. Brownie arrived last night. Brownie is a Jersey Swiss we hauled home from Longmont. She's just a sweetheart. She's in milk and expecting in August.

Jersey was her regular, bossy self. She asked me, "Why? Am I not enough cow for you?" Don't fret Jersey, you will always be my favorite. Brownie has come to enable my addiction to raw milk. Jersey and Jenny both are due to calve in August.Jenny, wondered why Brownie was wearing her halter. I promised Jenny that I would buy her a new one with bling, just as soon as I make it to town. "I prefer emeralds." said Jenny.

Brownie was quiet and didn't say much at first. This morning she asked where her Sara was and how come the cats scream when I sing. She also requested that I make sure my hands are a bit warmer next time I go stealing her milk.

Brownie was a bit standoffish to the other girls at first but soon blended right in, well as much as a BROWN cow can blend with a couple of not so brown cows. Soon everyone was gossiping over the hay pile, including that pesky goat, Chloe.

Jersey was still skeptical. I promised her a new bell, since the last three have disappeared mysteriously. I thinks she's selling them on Ebay.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Eggs, eggs and more eggs....I hope.

I'm making and educated guess at the number chickens that are in molt. I'm guessing 45 of the 50. All but one hen and the roos are blowing feathers as if they have a contract with a pillow manufacturer. I continue to get one little green egg a day. Darn hormones. Try as I might, I can't get Shelly organized but I darn sure have those chickens on a tight schedule.

Gizmo duck is clicking along on her summer schedule quite nicely. I've collected 10 eggs from her now. I'm ignoring Bean's protests. Bean likes ducklings, I like duck egg omelets. As soon I as I get the "new to me" aviary assembled I'll be moving the ducks and their pool into it. Maybe then I'll let Gizmo sit on a few. Only if she promises to have hens, I'm all full up on drakes. She had two successful hatches last summer. One of the girls that comes by the ranch frequently, purchased the hens from me. I don't know what I was thinking. I would have been happy to sell the drakes too except Shelly and Bean became attached to them quite quickly. One has a puffball hair do and the other...I don't know why we kept him.

Hazel the turkey has started laying eggs too. I need to get her and George settled in their new home as well. Bean and Shelly are determined to incubate and hatch poults this summer too. I offered to make an incubator from a Styrofoam cooler, but Shelly declined. She's much rather spend money on a fancy one, with a fan and humidity control. Boring!

I'm just happy that Spring time at the ranch has something other than lambs to offer.

Monday, April 11, 2011


I am completely awesome. There is no doubt, at least to me!

Yesterday started out, usual. Usual for us here at the ole rancho. Shelly ran off to piddle the morning away. She swears she's doing dog chores (feeding, watering, scooping poo) but she must be kissing puppies way too long. It takes her and the hired hand FOREVER to finish. She had to work on the greenhouse, her excuse! Upon her return to the ranch she gobbled down a sandwich, barked off a few orders to me (I don't know what those orders were, I NEVER listen to orders) and scurried around collecting tools. After reminding me several times to print off an invoice for a fence client, I told her several times that it was already printed off and on the table, she rushed off to finish the fence. Or so I thought. After about thirty minutes, the little blue trucks comes rumbling back up the driveway. I was standing on the porch waiting on Banshee Dog to finish her "after lunch business" when she rolled out of the truck with lamb in hand. I think my facial expression must have been audible! I hate lambs in the house. Goat kids are different, I like goats. I don't like sheep. Sheep smell, they don't snuggle and...they smell. Shelly explains that it was fine except that the mama ewe couldn't be found. The ewe was in a run with some other ewes and babies. I could understand if the mama ewe was in a six acre pasture with forest and a river running through. I sometimes think that Shelly sees a baby that is five or six feet away from it's caregiver so she plots, runs in and scoops it up before the mom knows what is happening. She was all a tizz, sputtering about how the baby's mom just didn't care, she didn't know who the mom was, and the lamb was so skinny. She pleaded with me to make up some colostrum and bottle feed it until she returned home. I asked what would happen when she came home. It's moments like these that I need to remember to run and grab something to record her responses. I SWEAR she told me that we would go reattach it the ewe when she returned. There was no reattaching anything in my future. Instead, she piddled at the fence job. I know this because I had to drive right by the fence she was supposed to be working on. It's on the way to the bus stop, I had to pick up the kiddo after school. Instead of working she was, leaning on her shovel and talking to a friend of ours. It didn't look like the hired hand was working either. He wasn't leaning like she was but it was plain to see, there was no working. She was working so hard at not working that she was able to see me driving on the hardtop and could refrain from leaning just long enough to flash a smile and give me a wave. As I was returning from the bus stop, about 20 minutes later, it didn't look like anyone had changed positions. She was still leaning. When she returned to the ranch, an hour later than she had promised, she rushed off to let the In-Law's dog out and then to unload the new aviary from the trailer. No mention of the bummer lamb. I grabbed her long enough tell her that I was going to the barn to milk and then to put the chickens back in the coop. I asked about the lamb and suggested she bring it to the barn. She gave me a puzzled look, as if to ask why would I want the lamb in the barn. After a few fleeting seconds of what I can only imagine was dead air in her brain, she donned her jacket and ran off. I scooted the lamb into a kennel, the kennel that we seem to permanently have for just such occasions and zipped down to the barn. I fed my broiler chickens, milked the goats and played with the new donkeys. I was getting lead lines on the donkeys when she and Bean pulled up in the little blue truck. Both girls clambered out of the Toyota and headed to the barn. There was no clambering by a bummer lamb. I asked about the lamb. Shelly gave me that puzzled look again with no verbal answer. She headed down to the stall where the lamb was found. As she was peering in I asked, "Is everything okay?" Shelly always answers my questions, most times I just don't pick up on the telepathy. I wandered over and peered in the stall as well. Outside, about halfway down the run I see a ewe stand up with some bloody ick hanging from her hind end. I suggest to Shelly that this is the lamb's mama. I also suggest again, that we bring the lamb back. If we could get the lamb to nurse then the ewe with pass the afterbirth without too much trouble. Shelly shook off my suggestion again and followed me into the run to get a closer look. She wasn't trying to pass afterbirth, she as having a lamb. The nose of the creature was protruding from her backside, no feet just nose. She would periodically stop and squat during her contractions. Still no feet just nose shown from the ewe. I instructed Bean to go and get me some gloves from the truck and Shelly to help me catch the sheep. We managed to trap her in the stall and Shelly straddled her in an attempt to keep her still. I squatted down and checked out the baby. I feared that she had been laboring since the morning, right after the other one was born. The lamb was still alive, suckled on my finger. I slipped a finger in around the head of the lamb to check for feet. No feet with in an finger distance. Not a good sign. I slipped more of my hand in, found the shoulders and worked my down looking for the lambs legs. Both legs were WAY back. I pushed as much of the baby back in and managed to find one leg and was able to pull it forward. After several attempts, with and without Shelly barking instructions, to find the other leg I gave up. I waited for the ewe to contract and gave a tug. The baby delivered completely. The mama ewe flopped her head down, exhausted. Bean brought a few towels in and dried of the baby. The baby, a girl shook her head and flung slime all over me. We placed the lamb near the ewe's head and she right away started licking and grunting at the baby. After placing more straw in the stall, a heat lamp, some food and water for the ewe, and cleaning up the baby towels we FINALLY headed back to the house. I suggested again that we take the bummer lamb down and reattach it. Shelly was having NONE of it. The bummer lamb stayed, slept in the kennel, screamed every two hours for a bottle and stunk up the room. Sheep smell! This morning I asked Shelly why she never dons the purple gloves and sticks her hand into the nether regions of animals. I didn't get an answer. Instead a I got a kiss, a happy birthday wish and a new metal detector so that I may explore the ranch.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Getting my Bum Kicked!

Time is short...fleeting...and down right MEAN! At least when you don't have enough of it. Time sits in the corner of my bedroom and when I finally flop my bones down for some rest, Time sticks it's tongue out, blows a raspberry and commands the pager to blare tones. So at this very moment, I'm giving Time the finger. I don't care what have to do until 420, then I have to care. I have to pick up Bean from the bus. Until then, here's what has been going on.

We are still lambing. Lambs, lambs and more lambs. I don't take pictures anymore. I don't like lambs. We have a handful of bummer lambs right now. One of the Suffolk ewes labored long with triplets. All three babies are fine but the mama ewe decided that she'd rather go back to her bar hopping and ram flirting rather than nurse three babies. We gave her a little tough love and set her up in the barn with all the bummer lambs. She's very vocal about being jailed with the babies. In addition to her three, she's babysitting a couple more and Gaston the goat buckling. Since I made the incredibly wise decision not to breed any goats this season, I didn't have any milk to feed these babies. I managed to find a couple of Nubians in milk in Black Forest. Bean and I picked them up of an afternoon and we were in business. The girls, Kenya and Leisel are black with loud, obnoxious Nubian personalities. I've been milking them twice a day but it seems don't have the presence of mind to take pictures.We also adopted two more donkeys from LongHopes Donkey Rescue. Ahura and Angel came to Rolling Thunder last week. Angel is just over a year old and loves attention. It doesn't matter who the attention comes from. She is nose to nose with the Nubians and the lambs that flank both sides of the run. Ahura is Angel's mom and is very shy. She is warming up nicely with the help of daily apple treats. We now have six donkeys if you count the minis as a whole each. Clover and Mookie (mini donkeys) have a direct line of sight of Angel and Ahura. There have been more than a few LOUD conversations. Tansy, Ellie and Angel, Ahura will all be working at the ranch in Guffey this summer guarding stock. I know it's the reason why we have them but I will miss them in the coming months. I don't make it out to the other ranch often. I'm too busy forgetting my camera.

The first batch of summer broiler chickens are doing great. They will be four weeks old on Wednesday. Half of their short live is gone. I decided to experiment with this batch and have not been leaving the grower food in front of them all the time. I started feeding them once, then twice and now four times per day. So far all seems to be fine. They are strong and I've had minimal losses. They will be moved to the outdoor coop this week and the brooding stall will be made ready for the next batch due in on Saturday. Never ending.

The wind had been HORRIBLE. That's all I have to say about that.

In the middle of trying to adjust to early mornings, helping with homework (which I am LOVING, except math), and trying to please everyone's taste buds, Maggie Mae my ancient Saanen doe kidded two bucklings out in her pasture. I had placed her in the pasture with Abraham my old Saanen buck last November as I was moving around animals in the barn. She wasn't in season and shouldn't have come into heat for at least two weeks. Five days after I placed her in the pasture Abraham died. I wasn't worried about her being pregnant. Abraham and Maggie have always been tight so I guess it fitting that the last few days they spent together were meaningful. I now have two boys to choose from in replacing Abraham. Maggie true to form is producing a massive amount of milk. She is cranky about one of the bucks and does not let him nurse often so I'm bottle feeding him a couple of times per day.

We also had Fly Dog visit for a week. I love Fly Dog. Her visit was not just for fun, we the humans had a motive--Fly Dog puppies. She had a daily date with Will one of the Border Collies that chase sheep around here. Things seem to go according to plan, so I'm counting down the 63 days until I can smell puppy breath. Since we already have nine dogs running around most of the time another one is not a big deal. Fly is an easy keeper. She grew up around here and knows the routine, AND...I got to give her back at the end of the week. Unfortunately having her here gave Shelly the thought that we handle another dog. I've tried to keep Shelly busy. We've had an occurrence at the other ranch that has made her think we could slide another canine in among the pack.
Tessa, had puppies. Tessa and her beau Jesse are Australian Kelpies. More sheep dogs. Puppies are cute and wonderful but I keep having dreams of seeing my image on "Animal Hoarders." I've got three male Kelpies for sale if anyone is interested.

Amid the cat hair, hound slobber, dust, goat milking and egg collection, Pepsi has decided to lighten up and share the bed with Ichabod. How sweet. I think Pepsi is just waiting until the time is right and then he'll whop on him! We all know that Pepsi only has a sweet side toward those with thumbs and only when those thumbs have food.

I'm also getting ready for Easter. I love Easter. Not for any religious reasons, I'm definitely not religious. I like it because I can rip apart ties, and use them to dye store bought white eggs. I was hoping that Gizmo Duck would start laying eggs and I could make them pretty but she's got other ideas. She's too busy bossing the drakes around. I'm sorry that the kiddo is growing up so fast and doesn't care about things like an egg laying bunny anymore.

Other than that, everything is pretty normal. Taco Dog still thinks he can push around Dillweed Hound and I still need a good nap.