Sunday, December 27, 2009

Chicken Coop OVERHAUL!

What a day! It was so pretty today, I knew it had to be spent outdoors. I convinced my dear husband to help me move the nesting boxes around. I wanted to place most of the nesting boxes out underneath the eves of the barn and move another smaller set into the adjacent coop. Then, I would take all of the roosts and put them in the one stall together. I think it's going to make cleaning out the coop a lot easier. Time will tell.

The first two pictures are shots of the existing structure in the barn. We had all of the nesting boxes and the large roost in one stall. The area underneath the eves had some lumber leaning against the side of the barn. We moved those out and hung some of the remaining siding.

Then, we removed all of the nesting boxes from the walls. They got a good cleaning while they were down! We sized up the situation and agreed the four sized nest box would go inside the adjacent stall. The other twelve boxes would go outside. We added some boards to the fronts to keep the litter in the boxes. After getting all of the nesting boxes moved and in place, we moved one of the roosts over into the stall with the larger roost.

Here's a picture of the stall with all of the roosts.

After finishing that, I decided to move the feeders outside, as well. The chickens just prefer being outside most of the day anyhow. So, out they went. We also have a hay feeder that the chickens enjoy laying in, too. So, it got put out under the eves, as well.
Here's a picture off all of the chickens up against the wall wondering what in the world we were doing!

I think it turned out pretty nice! I'm excited to see how this works out. Funny isn't it? Most women like moving their furniture around inside their house (I like doing that too). However, I sure get a kick out of making my outdoor area more productive, too!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas everyone! I hope your day was blessed with family, friends and merriment!

As most of you know, we had a blizzard of a snowstorm last night! Whew! We left church around 8:00 pm last night and the wind was whipping the snow everywhere! The kids were thrilled, to say the least. Barn chores were c o l d! This morning, I did my usual chores after the children opened all of their gifts.

The alpacas and horses were very happy out in the snow eating their hay. Both of our horses, an elderly alpaca, and the two babies all wore coats through the night. We went ahead and left them on today, for good measure. As you can see by the pictures, it was beautiful. The "twin" alpacas were romping around like crazy in the snow and slipping and sliding on the ice. I was worried they would break a leg! The "older" alpacas were more cautious, taking the walking ever so slowly. The horses...well what can I say? Their weight cracked right through the ice. The were thrilled when I turned the heater on in the waterer!

I feel so amazingly blessed. Politics, friends losing jobs, broken relationships, etc. tend to wear me down some days. Whenever I'm down, I just look up! I have Jesus Christ as my Lord and Saviour! No matter what happens in this world, I'm just passing through. This is not my home. I praise God that He gave His one and only Son to come to this earth to die on the cross for my sins. I am a sinner and need a Saviour. I will follow Him wherever He leads me, until He finally leads me home to be with Him forever. Do you know Him? Do you REALLY know Him? I pray that you do. May you all experience the love of Christ today and always! He's always waiting for you to come to Him. Come...

Praying your Christmas is blessed. "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father." James 1:17 NIV

Sunday, December 20, 2009

What a year!

Well, we finally got our hay for the winter...150 bales. We're set! The kids were a big help getting the hay unloaded and into the barn. Here's a little picture taken BEFORE the work began. See how happy they are here? The picture was quite different when we were done. :o)

We began getting carrots from our garden. Here is a picture of the kids holding one of the carrots. They aren't the biggest, but they sure are tasty! What a treat getting these from our own garden! I've got arugula, green leaf, spinach, parsley, onions, and carrots growing this winter. We hosted a luncheon for the Mendenhall Elementary staff on Friday. I was able to make a very, very large salad with the greens, carrots, and onions from my garden. What a treat!

Today we hosted a gathering of people from Chase Oaks Church to package 120 gifts for the residents of the Collinwood Nursing Home in Plano. After the packaging was complete, we made a trip to the pasture for everyone to see the two babies that were born last month. Both are doing well and are the attention of the visitors! It was an absolutely gorgeous day for packing / farm visiting! We are very blessed indeed!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

And then there were two

Well, at approximately 10 am yesterday morning, another baby cria was delivered. This time, the baby belonged to Nisha, our foundation, grey female. It is another boy. This little guy is a rich, deep black color. The two little males look so cute hanging out in the pasture together, soaking up the sunshine. I put coats on last night to keep the chill off of them. The newest male isn't nursing as well as we'd like, so we are keeping a close eye on him. We need to name both of these boys! We are trying to stick with names from the t.v. show, "Dallas". We've already used the name "Jock Ewing". What do you think we should name these two little guys?

Monday, November 2, 2009

And the winner is...

Dolly! She is the proud new mama of a baby boy, as of this morning! A beautiful, dark brown baby cria (alpaca) was found in our pasture at 11:00 am this morning, already dry and checking out his surroundings. He has been nursing well and has a very attentive mom.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Baby watch begins...

Well, it's official! We begin our baby watch today. Nisha and Dolly are both 30 days out from their delivery date, which means they can have their babies anywhere 30 days prior to or after their delivery dates (but we all know the best laid plans go astray, now don't we?). Nisha looks like she is ready to pop. The last couple of nights, she lifts her legs and sets them back down, one at a time, as if to tell us how uncomfortable she is right now. Dolly is just, well, Dolly. She's so funny. She lost her baby last year, a still birth. So, this will be her first year being a mommy. She cried last year so much when she lost her baby that I just know she'll be a great mom. She even tried to "steal" Nisha's baby last year! Too funny! Anyway, it's an overcast day with two days of rain in the the forecast. Please don't let the babies come the next two days!

And, just because I love them so much, here is a picture of the chickens peaking into the backyard, wanting so much to "get to the other side".

Friday, October 9, 2009

Lost Donkey

I know what you are thinking. "It looks like some sort of circus parade." It does, doesn't it? Last Saturday, I went out to feed our animals and I kept thinking someone was "watching" me. You know how you get that feeling, like there is a set of eyes following you every which way you move? I felt that way. I ignored it at first, but then, I got to looking around trying to figure out why I felt that way. Peeking over the top rung of our fence was a cute little donkey face, staring right at me. This wasn't an ordinary sized donkey. This was, well, miniature. What in the world was a miniature donkey doing in the street looking on into my alpaca pasture? Was he lonely? Was he hungry? Was he lost? Yep, yep, and yep. I went to the back door and hollered at my husband to come out and help me while I tried to catch this little donkey. He was hungry and came up for food almost immediately. However, when he saw Tim trying to put a rope around his neck, he panicked and began to run down the street. We could hear another donkey braying at him from down around the corner. He made it to the end of our neighborhood when he found what he was looking for. My neighbor had just brought home a FEMALE miniature donkey. Too funny! The little one that showed up at our house was a MALE. He was happy at last and very easy to catch. We realized that he belonged to another neighbor down the main road. She was called and hurried over. She explained that he was not halter trained and didn't know how we could get him home. So, the circus parade ensued. Mind you that while all of this is going on, the rest of the neighborhood is coming out to find out what is going on (thus, the audience and camera). I walked in front of the donkey with a bucket of feed, my daughter was holding out carrots, my husband was pushing from the back side of the donkey (don't EVEN go there), and our other neighbor held onto the rope, somewhat trying to direct where the donkey was heading. Quite a show, huh? And you thought living in the country was boring...

Monday, September 28, 2009

The good, the bad, and the ugly

Yep, that's what living on a farm can be. I love sitting outside and watching my chickens peck at the ground. I love watching new cria pronking around in the pasture when they've first discovered their new legs. I love watching my horses as they gallop around with their tails in the air as they see an unfamiliar sight. However, there are some bad days. A couple of days ago, Cotton Mandy, one of our alpacas, miscarried her baby, only two months away from her due date. The cria (baby alpaca) was beautiful. It was a mahogany brown male. We don't know what happened. We came out to the barn in the evening to find that she was delivering the placenta. The vet came out and determined that the baby was stuck inside. It had already passed. We cry tears for the missed opportunity to share time with the new little one, but we praise God that He has a bigger plan. We are so thankful for the ones that are born healthy. We look forward to new births in December.


Thursday, September 3, 2009

Thursday, Fiber day

Every Thursday I host a "fiber day" for women who either raise sheep, goats, alpacas, or some other fiber animal, or anyone who enjoys working with animal fleece, crocheting, or knitting. We have a few machine knitters and quite a few hand knitters. It's quite fun!

Last week, we had a record turnout. Cindy Telisak was here with her spinning wheel, Donna, Joyce, Iris, Linda, Marlene, and Peggy were handknitting, and I was machine knitting. So, I was anxious to see how many people would drop by today.

Today, I decided to make a cake for my guests. However, the crowd was rather small today, consisting of Donna, Iris and myself. We had a wonderful time! We had more cake to share, too!

I have had many problems learning to hand knit left handed. Too many friends trying to assist, to many conversion problems from right to left handed knitting, and too many varieties of hand knitting! Whew! It's exhausting! So, a friend mentioned that I should just get on YouTube and search for left handed knitting instructions. I did. I picked up a washcloth that I had started when all of the instruction problems began and decided to just keep working on it. I didn't rip out what I had already done. It was so easy and I am quite pleased with the results. You will notice that I cut off the left side of the washcloth in the picture. That is the "ratty" section from before. I just wanted to show the beautiful section from today. Isn't it neat? I'm so excited! I only did a garter stitch, but am getting my tension down. Now, I'm ready to purl! Yeehaw! I'm learning to hand knit!

Summer garden still growing!

I am amazed at how well the garden has done this year! I am getting a lot of green bell peppers, chili peppers, banana peppers, and squash still. The zucchini has slowed way down. The tomatoes are almost not existent anymore. One of my green bell peppers even began turning yellow. Can anyone tell me about that?

This has been so much fun this year! The raised beds have truly made it easier. The compost from the manure has been doing wonders, too. Amazing...simply amazing. I'm already making plans for what I'm going to plant next year.

We only got two watermelons off of our watermelon patch. The rabbits beat us to all of the rest of the melons. So, the chickens got some wonderful treats! The strawberry plants never produced anything but lots of foliage. The banana peppers win with the most produced. As fun as it was, I am looking forward to the cooler weather. Aren't you?

Hope you are having a bountiful end of summer!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Life on the farm...

Well, there is a part of farming that is really, really great. There is also the bad part. We got to experience another bad part this morning.

Last night, we noticed we were missing one chicken (yes, we now do head counts in the coop due to our overly zealous livestock dog, Jane). We looked and looked in the dark for the one lost chicken. We finally gave up and hoped she would stay hunkered down until day break, when we could see better. That didn't happen. This morning, we found the remains of the one lost chicken. Yes, Jane had indeed found the chicken some time during the night. The worst part about this? This was my friend, Joyce's chicken. Her chickens are staying here for a spell until she gets things straightened out at her house. Ugh... double bummer. I have to explain to my dear friend that I have failed to keep her chicken safe. I explained to her up front, before bringing her chickens over here, that things do "happen" out here. I fully didn't expect for it to happen so soon, though. Harrison and I had a little burial for her this morning, along with one of our chickens that died during the night in the coop. It's hard. I won't lie to you. Sometimes I cry, sometimes I don't. Each of the animals here has a special place in our hearts, from the big horses down to the small chickens and everything in between. Life is hard, but God is good. God reminds me that there is a season for everything. I can thank Him for what He entrusts me with here on this earth, for as little or as much time given. So, I choose to thank God for the good things and pray He helps me through the bad. May you choose to thank Him for the good He has provided you with today...


Monday, August 3, 2009


For the past two nights, we have had visitors in the barn. SNAKES! I was bragging in an earlier post about how we had only one encounter thus far with a snake this summer. I spoke too soon! Hailey was collecting chicken eggs again when she spotted the snake in one of the roosting boxes. Tim to the rescue!

The very next evening, Hailey is back out collecting chicken eggs when she noticed another visitor. This was the third and biggest snake this summer. We didn't get a picture of the last snake, but we did get one from the night before. The latest snake coughed up FOUR chicken eggs when Tim held him by his tail.

We don't kill these snakes around here. Yes, they are a hassle and they do eat our chickens eggs, which is why we don't want them on our property. However, these snakes are very beneficial to have in the area for keeping the rodent population down. So, we usually take the snakes to another area, usually by a creek, and release them.

Let's hope this is the last snake for the summer! There is no telling how many eggs we are losing to these guys!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Fiber Picking

A friend of Cindy Telisak's, from Jacobs Reward Farm, came by for a visit today. Dawn was interested in finding out more about the alpaca breeding business. Dawn grew up with parents in the cattle industry, so she understands the "farm" life. Alpacas are really easy to care for. I spend approximately 45 minutes each morning feeding the alpacas, horses, and chickens. I check water buckets, hay buckets, and let the chickens out to begin their free ranging. The pregnant mamas are closed in their stalls for the day and the misters are turned on. Everyone has access to a stall with fans and misters.

In the evening, Hayden and Hailey assist with the barn chores. Hailey is responsible for the horses and the chickens, and then refills hay feeders for the alpacas. Hayden feeds the alpacas grain and refills all of the water buckets. I am responsible for cleaning the stalls and overhang areas. This usually takes approximately 45 minutes for all of us combined. It's not too bad. Those are the daily chores. Of course, there are days when we trim toenails, do weighings, give annual shots, collect fecals for tests, shearing, etc. All in all, alpacas are pretty darn easy to care for.

After returning to the house, Dawn mentioned she would be interested in the fiber aspect of raising alpacas and asked if I would show her how to clean a fleece. So, into the breezeway we went. Nisha's fiber was already on the skirting table. We began picking the hay out of the fleece and skirting it as we went. Before I knew it, we were done! Wow! It goes so much faster when you have a friend to do it with! As you can see, the results are beautiful! Nisha's fiber is now ready to be washed and sent off to the processor. It is a beautiful grey "cloud" of fiber. Ahhh... this is the part I love...putting my hands in all of this gorgeous fiber! It's soooo soft. It reminds me of those Charmin commercials. "It is so squeezably soft!" Grin... Go ahead. You can squeeze the alpaca fiber all you want!