Sunday, May 3, 2009

Oh, No! No ! Nana!

This is how we feed the barn cats. Some time ago, the kids all got too long legged for the jungle gym. And the slide was in the way, so it got taken down... and most of the ladder rungs have rotted.

But hey... cats can climb... and dogs can NOT! The cats can eat in peace!

Or CAN they???

WHAT? How did she get up there???? Turns out she merely jumped up... like it was no trouble at all. ARRGHH... Now where do we feed the cats?

Here, you can see Daisy, happily minding her own business below. Bless her little short legs!~

Sigh... I love the big dog... I really, really do.

Spring peas!

Sunday lunch veggies! Fresh from the garden!

This was one week ago.

And this was this morning!

Ok, so I'm catching up...

The baby kitties have eyes!

And they have fat little tummies!

And they don't really like to be awakened from their naps to have their weekly photoshoot!

And I might be willing to admit that I sometimes sit in my comfy chair with all three for a few minutes in the evening. The mama doesn't seem to mind at all. (Especially if you bribe her with some tasty tidbit treats!)

Spring Chickens!

Yes! It is that time of year again, where chicken enthusiasts all over, awaken in the middle of the night to the sound of peeping from the incubator.

And no matter how much, how very, very, very much you do NOT need any more chickens, the moment the warm incubator becomes empty, you feel COMPELLED by an unknown force to search out fertile eggs and fill it again.

All kidding aside (,,, I'm not kidding, but we CAN pretend here, right!?!), spring is that time of renewal on a farm. You raise some biddies in order to have fresh young laying hens, and fresh young fryers. They add immeasurable to that early spring feeling in way that words simply can't describe.

I prefer the incubator method. I have a Hovabator with a turner and forced air. It works well, is easy and wasn't very expensive. I purchased it last year, after using a still air Hovabator for the last 25 years. I've really enjoyed not having to hand turn the eggs several times a day and have gotten excellent hatches from it.

I set these eggs late at night, and true to form, 21 days later, I heard the first one about 3 am.
This is what they look like coming out of the incubator. They're in various stages of 'drying'. I remove mine when I get a batch about this size, as the bator was FULL of eggs and I wanted to free up some room. They're not the cute little fuzzballs in the first few hours that they will become later!I move them to my brooder, which is cleaned and waiting and set at right at 100 degrees F.
My brooder was used when I bought it 26 years ago. It's very effective at maintaining temperature and keeping them safe that first couple of weeks. It has thermostatically controlled lightbulbs for heat and a ventilation window. The first week or so, I put the foam type shelf liner down to keep them from developing spraddled legs. When it gets dirty, or when I get tired of cleaning and drying it, I use recycled large pizza boxes, which fit the brooder bottom perfectly when opened.

On the right you see 6 'newbies', drying under the lights and on the left you see three curious fluffballs who were probably 4 or 5 hours earlier to hatch. Hatching usually continues for about 24 hours.

Note the difference. Cute little furballs versus passed out pathetic little creatures. You get to the point, though that you like the 'wet' phase. You examine them closely for deformities and defects and then wait for the amazing transformation to happen.

These two are snuggly, cuddly warm! The one on the right is still drying a bit. Getting hatched is such hard work!
This little one already has personality galore. It is more curious and chases my hand around. It's super soft. I like being able to see personality early.

These ladies and gents are 3 weeks old. They're in a junior outdoor pen, with a tarp and a light due to low nighttime temperatures. Note their feathers and size. Pretty amazing in three short weeks!

I really enjoy keeping chickens!

"Mom... Look what I found..."

You know, when they're nearly 16, you're not anticipating this anymore...

Although in retrospect, it was kinda funny.

I'm sitting at the computer, reading emails, when the kid bursts through the front door saying "Mom... look what I found in your pond!"

Pond = ornamental fish pond which lately has served as swimming area for large, gigantic dog, who has discovered both the cooling effect of water and the tasty 6 inch long goldfish.

So, he takes the steps by threes... and just at that moment that I turn around and with hysterically horrific timing, I both see this creature... AND it springs loose in a long legged attempt to make away from it's captor.

Yes, I'll admit to girly squeeling (not because I'm a woosie when it comes to frogs, mind you, but because of the sudden, unlikely notion that it's trying to GET ME~! ) and I might have jumped up and down a bit. It was NOT my screaming however that alerted the dogs from their peacable Sunday afternoon naps that Mom was in dire straights... they just sensed the danger!

It bounced around the room for what seemed like an interminable amount of time, with a gangly teenager in hot pursuit.

So, for the record, in a world where 15 year old boys can be up to all kinds of scary bad stuff... my kid spent Sunday afternoon catching pretty green frogs and scaring the life half outta me!

Thank you, Lord, for giving me children that enrich my life and keep my days and nights quite lively.

And you've gotta admit, that is one gorgeous frog... and a cute young-un too, what with needing to pull up his pants, and all!