Friday, May 29, 2009

Stray Dogs

Occasionally I see stray dogs, and usually I can't help them. Mostly because it is inconvenient at that particular moment - I'm on my way somewhere I need to be, I already have a dog with me and don't want to risk picking up a stray dog, or there's no room for a strange bouncy dog in the car. And I always feel a little bad because if one of my dogs got lost I hope someone would help them get home. But today two stray dogs gave me no choice - they walked right into our store and behind the counter and made themselves at home!

I was sitting at the store and a cocker spaniel and a dachshund trotted in like they were just stopping by to have a look around. They came behind the counter and I offered them some water out of Barclay's bowl, and they lapped it up while I put up the gate to keep them back there. Hey, we were on an adventure here! Let us go!

Only one of them had a collar, and I called the number and left a message. I looked up the address and it was a ways north of town, looks like they walked a couple miles! The cocker was a girl and the weiner dog was an unfixed boy, and he only had one thing on his mind so I had to keep telling him to cut that out! Dude, you're in public!

They hung out here for a while, and seemed like very nice dogs, but after a while they started to get restless, so I called the local vet down the street. They looked up the number and said the dog had been a patient, but not for a long time. They suggested I try the other vet in town. So I called them and they said the same thing, but they also said that they are the humane society shelter for our town. So they suggested I call the cops (who get to act as animal control) and they will give them a ride over.

So I called the cops and gave them the info, and a little while later two nice officers showed up and they had already investigated it a bit and knew the dogs names (Jin Ju and Hershey) and where they lived, and were going to take them home. So a happy ending for all, and I finally had a chance to help out a couple of lost dogs (even if they didn't seem to think they needed help, they looked like they were having a great time!)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Selling my telescope, or not...

I have been selling off some of my extra toys, and I listed my telescope for sale on Craigslist. After all, I never use it anymore, it just takes up space and gathers dust in the garage. I am kind of attached to it, it's the very first thing I ever built with my own two hands, and I've had it over ten years now. I've taken it to many local 'sidewalk astronomy' public viewing get-togethers, two Table Mountain Star Parties in Central WA, and took it all the way to Oklahoma on our big trailer trip a few years ago. But ever since I started having cold hives (I get hives if my skin gets chilled even a bit, and it's miserable) I just don't want to stand around outside in the cold all night, and I can only use it if I'm bundled up like I'm going on a mountain expedition, even on a warm summer night. So I got it out and cleaned it up, and someone came over to look at it yesterday. They said they'd think about it and left.

So it was just sitting out there in the yard when it started getting dark, and there was a nice sliver of a moon out after sunset. I brought out an eyepiece and started looking at the moon. The sky was perfectly still and the view was superb! So I went inside and got another eyepiece, and put on a coat and my fleece pants. A bit later I came in for another eyepiece. Then my moon filter to pick out the details. Then I noticed the big dipper directly overhead and remembered there were some spectacular galaxies to look at in that area. So I went and got a star map and a flashlight. By the time I came back in around midnight I canceled the ad for the telescope.

Maybe the scope is one of those things I should just plan on keeping.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The glamorous life of a chicken keeper

My chickens have mites! Not their fault, they can get them from the wild birds who come visit to steal their food. Penny had a dirty bottom the other day, and when I caught her and turned her over to clean it off, I saw little buggies on her bum! Yikes! But when I got over being totally grossed out by that, I asked my chicken mentor what to do. She said to go get a powder at the feed store and powder her bum and under her wings, and treat the other birds and the nest boxes too. So tonight Dave and I went out after the birds had been asleep a few hours and caught them one by one and I flipped them over so he could powder their bottom, then I rolled them over and lifted each wing, and once they were done set them back on their perch where I found them, still sleepy and wondering what the heck happened!

No pictures of their indignity, needless to say!

Luckily chicken mites have no interest in people. But it's still creepy!

Chicks are feathering out

The chicks are getting their real feathers now, so they aren't cute fluffy chicks anymore, now they are gangly, scruffy-looking teenagers!

It looks like this is Penny's only chick in the whole batch, at least it's the only one with feathered legs.

These chicks are a week younger than the other batch, but they are feathering out too. They're about four weeks old now.

Mom is still very protective.

We moved the tractors to a new grazing area today. They are tucked under the trees next to the chicken pen/orchard.

The spot where they were sitting is well picked over and fertilized, I'm guessing the grass will recover pretty quickly.

Meanwhile in the coop the third game hen mix has gone broody, so I gave her a nest box and ten eggs to sit on. So in 21 days we should have some more chicks.

The turkeys are doing fine, growing wing feathers and eating like little piggies! I'll get some pics of them again soon.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Sleeping Beauty

Not far from Trout Lake is a popular trail hike to the top of a rocky outcrop called Sleeping Beauty. This trip I clearly saw how she got her name.

As the sun went down and silhouetted the horizon she clearly looked like a woman laying on her back! Apparently she had more of a nose before the CCC blasted it off to put a fire lookout up there in the 30's.

In the morning I was shocked to see she looked even more like a woman! The early sun highlighted the shape of the rocks to give the impression of flowing hair and a neck line. Beautiful! What an amazing natural formation!

Trout Lake Campout

Every year our friends with Airstream trailers get together for a campout at Trout Lake. There's no lake at Trout Lake, but there is a mountain, and a river running behind the campground. It is our top secret hideaway. I think it is paradise, the most beautiful place on Earth! Fields of grass lead up to miles of national forest land and wilderness area, all the way to the slopes of Mt Adams.

23 trailers and motorhomes gathered at camp. We weren't going to go, but friends sent pictures of what it looked like there (we've been several times, so we already knew it was beautiful!) and emailed us to get our butts in the car and get up there! It's only two hours away, and a very relaxed and pleasant drive. So we closed the store early on Sunday and drove over in time for dinner.

No point roughing it, so we hooked up the airstream and took it along. It's nice to have a comfy bed and your own bathroom.

Barclay waded around in the water. We left Alki and Jack at home. Neither enjoys car rides anymore, and they could keep each other company.

Folks gathered around the campfire after dinner and played music until well into the night.

Hank appointed himself guardian of the marshmallows.

Dave and Barclay went to bed earlier than I did. Barclay had been playing with all the other dogs and was pretty tapped out by dark! I stayed up til 1am laughing and telling stories around the campfire.

Early in the morning Barclay had burrowed under the covers and kept our feet warm.

In the morning we packed up and hit the road home in time to open the store on Monday. Can't wait to go back again, there's never enough time to spend relaxing with friends around the campfire. Glad we got to escape for a little bit.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Lots and lots of llamas!

Today we had a 4H meeting at my house (since some of the llamas were already here). So people brought nine more llamas and alpacas, and we had quite a crowd!

Once everyone was there and settled down, they did a little show practice. After that we all headed off on a little hike. We walked across the street and about a hundred yards up the road to a trail entrance to the state park across the street. One of the leaders drove behind our group with her hazard lights on to keep traffic from coming up fast behind us. Once all the kids were on the trail she drove back and parked the car and came and joined up. Then we walked along the horse trail to group camp where we all stopped fo a rest.

There's the llamas that used to live with me, Scoops and Patrone :)

Cameron gives a thumbs up to hiking with his new buddy, Julio!

The alpacas are oh so cute!

Along the way we met a horse, but the horse was very well behaved and the rider was in control, and we were able to move off to the side and the rider calmly took her past all the scary llamas safely.

Then we all hiked back home and had cookies and milk. It was a beautiful day for a hike!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Jack and the Llamas

Jack is finding it hard to adjust to the invaders in the pasture. I'm hoping he'll get used to them soon, as you can hear below!

Meanwhile, at the synchronized napping competition...

Very nice! The judges are giving them a 9.8 for that performance! They'll be very excited, I'm sure, after they wake up...

Llama shearing

Last week our llama 4-H club had shearing day scheduled. To prepare for it Martha (the other club leader) and I got together on Mother's day and built a chute to shear the llamas in.

The chute turned out really nice. She had a plan in mind, and I am pretty good at building things, so we just dove in and did it. It's portable so they can move it around with the tractor. For shearing day, since it was raining, they put an easy-up over it. It worked really well!

Even the crankiest llamas pretty much gave up and let us do what needed to be done once they found themselves in the chute.

The kids took turns helping hold their llamas and keeping them calm, while the little kids picked up wool and bagged it. We ended up with a LOT of wool. Now we need to plan some activities and show the kids what to do with it. Sorry I don't have any nudie pics of the finished llamas!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Turkey's, llamas, and kitties, oh my!

The turkeys survived their first day. Last night when I went to check on them before bed one was laying on it's side and didn't look good at all! I picked it up and saw it's butt was 'pasted up' with dried poo. So I tucked it under my shirt and took it inside and washed the poop off with a warm wet tissue, then took it back out to the brooder. I didn't think it would make it, but sure enough this morning everyone was walking around eating and drinking, and I couldn't even tell which one was so miserable last night.

Today was the 4H llama area show, and afterwards I invited our club leader to bring the club llamas and drop them off in our pasture for a few weeks. We have lots of grass for them to eat, and her pasture is getting a little tired after being grazed all winter. So now we have six llamas, well four llamas and two alpacas actually. Jack went nuts when he saw them, baying and barking LOUD and non-stop like we'd been invaded! Barclay wanted to go play with them, but I wouldn't let him. He doesn't know not all llamas want to play with him like Houdini did, these llamas might just trample him!

Lastly, Mighty took a moment to pose for me in front of the spring flowers, and the orange sunset light seemed to make her glow! Pretty Kitty!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Turkey poults

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Chickens and soon..Turkeys!

For my friends who get eggs from us, here's our happy flock hanging out in the pen :)

I set that chair out there so I could sit out there and enjoy the chickens, but they like to perch on it, and from the amount of poop on it, I have to admit that chair is pretty much theirs forever now - ew! I go in and hose it off every now and then.

Lots of grass and trees in our orchard for the chickens to hang around in and scratch around hunting for buggies and stuff. Of course their favorite area is right by the gate, so they have that scratched down to mud.

Nice shot of Penny

Big Red and her happy chicks in the 'maternity ward' enjoying a warm afternoon. It was just starting to get chilly as the sun went down, and the chicks snuggled up under her to stay warm.

Big Bird and I have established an uneasy truce. When I tell him to leave the coop so I can pick up eggs, he does, and he will eat out of my hands and let me pet him and pick him up. I still don't turn my back on him though. The other day I told him to get out of the coop and he looked right at me, pecked my foot, and then ran out as fast as he could - sneaky bird!

And this is the brooder box with a heat lamp I set up today for the turkeys! Yep, I said turkeys. This weekend hopefully we'll be getting a few Bourbon Red Turkey babies. I talked to the breeder this morning and he said they were just starting to hatch today. I intend for these turkeys to be food - holiday turkeys. He said they should be close to 20lbs by Thanksgiving. But knowing us by the time the holidays roll around they'll have turned into pets. Unlike my hen-raised chicks, the turkeys will be in a brooder box getting attention from me every day, which should help make them extra tame, and that's important with a bird as big as a turkey! But that also will make them harder to eat when the time comes. These are the first animals on our 'farm' that are intended to be food, so we'll see how that goes.

Chick update

Little Red and her 7 chicks are doing great. She's very protective still, but the chicks are starting to figure out that I bring treats, and that I might be ok despite Mom's warnings!

These are Big Red's chicks, and they are getting much bigger, and starting to get real feathers on their wings!

And this one is starting to get feathers on her legs too! That means she is one of Penny's babies, part Cochin. I hope it's a girl :)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Little Red and the chicks

Little Red is the most skittish of all my hens, so if she even sees us looking at her from the window of the house she goes on alert, and if we go outside she takes the chicks back into the dog carrier and hides them. If we want the chicks to grow up to be friendly chickens I should probably take them away from her and raise them ourselves, but that's a lot of work and she's doing a good job with them so far. I think I'll just let her keep at it for now.