July 5, 2010

Around The Homestead

Follow-ups, tid-bits, odds & ends, and miscellaneous doings since the last Around The Homestead.

--> Let's see, where to begin. Most on our minds at present, is the loss of our cat Rascal to Feline Lymphoma. He was my faithful garden companion and chore buddy for over 10 years, and was included in many a photo on this blog. Details at his blog, and a wonderful memorial tribute by my dear friend Tina, here. And a Farewell Limerick from another cat blogger here.
--> The kittens adored him though he barely tolerated them.

Riley & Katy, either playing or sleepingThey were very quiet the day Rascal died. I don't know how animals know about these things, but they do.
Riley, the adventurer

Katy, the lap cat

Can you tell which is which?
I'm glad we got them when we did, because it's hard to think about replacing a lost pet. But really, they aren't his replacement, they're just our next cats.
They are very affectionate and playful. Riley is bold, and Katy more of a scardy-cat. Both are pretty intelligent and Riley especially catches on quickly. It's a comfort to have them around.
--> When I blogged about our new hand tools, I showed you this shot...

Dan practicing the technique.... of DH using his new snath & scythe. Well, we raked up all his cuttings and gathered them in. Here is the result...

Our own hay!The former carport has become our hay mow. The good news is that the goats have relished the samples we've given them, so maybe we won't have to buy quite so much hay this winter.
--> Goats adjustments, by the by, are going so-so.

The goats want out?  No, food!Sometimes I think Surprise (on the left, a real drama queen) is finally one of the "herd" (do 3 goats make a herd???), and then I see Abigail chasing her away. Dan finally had to divide the stall because Abigail wouldn't let Surprise in at night. Baby likes her though.

--> I've set up my summer kitchen once again. I can do everything out there except can and bake Friday night pizza.

Lord Barred HollandLord B's bandaged bumblefoot--> Lord B developed bumblefoot.

This is a bacterial infection chickens get on the pad of their foot. I hit it with a quadruple whammy, putting garlic (our favorite antibiotic) in the chickens' drinking water, soaking his foot in an Epsom salt solution, applying boric acid ointment, and bandaging as shown on the video at this website.
There was marked improvement within 24 hours, and it continues to improve daily. Although he still favors that leg, the bandage cushions the pad well enough that he can get around quite well, with minimal limping.

--> The Ameraucanas started laying about a week after the Delaware. I'm now getting about three pullet sized eggs a day, ranging in weight from 1 to 1.5 ounce.

Aren't they pretty?My two Ameraucanas each lay a different color egg, one green, the other a pinkish tint. The big green one?

Our 1st double yolked eggMy 1st double-yolker. Oddly, it was laid the same day that I got two "rubber" (shell-less) eggs.

[UPDATE: 3:34 pm - My Barred Holland pullet just laid an egg. BUT, it's ivory rather than the expected white of the breed. Comparing it to the tinted eggs I thought were coming from an Ameraucana, I'm thinking some of them may actually be Holland eggs. No way to know for sure! Anyway, that's 4 eggs for the 1st time today.]

--> A year ago this month we planted a privacy hedge of Leyland Cypress trees....

Hedge of little Leyland Cypress treesHere they are a year later....

Hedge of growing Leyland Cypress treesDefinite growth though it can't be fast enough for me! We got them at 3 to 4 feet tall, and the tallest one now is about 6. You can also see the cedar corner fence post Dan put in, as we eventually plan to fence in this field.
--> Speaking of fences...

Our new zig-zag fence.  Rustic looking, isn't it.Our zig zag fence (above) is a wrap.

The end of the zig zag fenceWhen we planned it, my mind's eye could see my elder, raspberry, and blueberry bushes on one side, niches of flowers on the other. The reality is weeds and more weeds taking over, and the lay of the fence making it impossible to neatly trimmed. So we've taken it down. We want another fence to take it's place, something easier to maintain the grounds around. More on that in the future.

--> Lastly, I've been honored by Sue (Life Looms Large) with the Sunshine Award!
I don't even know where to begin to tell you what blogs bring sunshine into my life. But really, I'd like to pass this on to my readers. If you're reading this post, please consider yourself awarded! Do a right-click snatch and grab of the award and post it on your own site, as a thank you gift from me.

Text and photos of Around The Homestead copyright July 2010 byLeigh at http://my5acredream.blogspot.com/


Theresa said...

Leigh, so MUCh progress on the homestead. It is looking fantastic. All of it. Bummer on the bumblefoot and the zig-zag fence. The rubber egg sounds perfectly awful. Oh yuck! But congrats on the double yolk one ;)
The kittens are adorable and what beautiful faces on both of them. I know you will enjoy them for many years to come. Sending out big Oregon hugs from all of us. Rascal was truly a special kitty.

Razzberry Corner said...

Leigh - I really enjoyed reading this blog. It motivates me to see others accomplishing tasks.

First of all, I'm so sorry about Rascal. It is truly saddening to lose a beloved pet.

I like the summer kitchen idea. I wish I had a room like that to enjoy.

Thanks so very much for the bumblefoot remedy. I have been thinking one of my hens, Raspberry, has been developing bumblefoot, although I'm not sure. She's still getting around perfectly, but has big pads on her feet. I will try your remedies. I love your different colored eggs. They are so bright and pretty. Are the pullets using your nest boxes?

Thanks for passing on the Sunshine Award to your readers! You are generous!


Woolly Bits said...

Leigh - I am very sorry to hear about Rascal, but I agree that it was the right thing to shorten his suffering. letting go is hard, but that's the downside of loving your pets.
good thing that you have your two little devils - and all the other critters to look after!

bspinner said...

Oh, Leigh I'm so sorry to hear you lost your beautiful cat Rascal!!!! You were truly lucky to have such a wonderful cat. The two little ones won't take Rascals place but they sure are cuties.

All your hard work is sure paying off. Your home is looking so nice.

Julie said...

Oh Leigh I'm so so sorry about Rascal. I'm glad that you have those adorable little kittens. I've been thinking hard about getting a couple of dogs with Pasiley getting so old and her health isn't very good I know it would help me when its her time!

The yard is looking so good, I can't believe how much you have gotten done in such a short time!

maggie said...

Oh Leigh, I'm so, so sorry about Rascal. I know you will miss him terribly, but I'm so glad you have the babies to provide some relief.

Renee Nefe said...

Thanks for all the updates around the homestead...to me it all looks great. Sorry that the zig zag fence didn't work out for you, it was a great idea...but of course the weeds have their way every time. I came back from my trip to a lovely garden full of them.

can you do anything with the rubber eggs? I suppose they make good chicken food.

Leigh said...

Theresa, thank you! The rubber eggs were pretty yuck. I saw one egg in the nest, reached in for it and was surprised that it was wet. I pulled out the straw and there was an egg with no shell. The membrane had been broken, which is why the next was wet.

Lynn, I'm delighted to help motivate others! That's one of the reasons I enjoy reading others blogs. I'd be interested in how the bumblefoot remedy works for you. Lord B still limps a little, but I can tell it doesn't bother him as much as it was. And the nest boxes? No joy! All three pullets lay in the same spot under the boxes. :(

Bettina, having the other animals has helped tremendously. They have needs so I keep going, keep busy, and don't have time to feel sorry for myself.

Barb, thanks. It's nice to sit down and take stock of our progress every few months. Otherwise we get overwhelmed with everything yet to do!

Julie, it did help to get the kittens before Rascal's time, so I would agree with you on getting more dogs. Yes, our yard is shaping up, finally! :)

Maggie, thanks so much. For the most part we see his death as an end of suffering. But sorrow catches me off guard at the oddest times. Like the other day at the grocery store. I was shocked when I realized that I didn't have to go spend 10 minutes in the catfood aisle, looking for something tasty to tempt Rascal into eating. Nor did I have to buy a weeks worth of baby food for him. Little things like that make one realize how much a part of our lives they become.

Renee, I shouldn't be amazed at how often reality doesn't match the ideas in my head! The rubber eggs probably could have been fed to the cats. I just put them in the compost. One was already broken and the other I had to scoop up off the coop floor. Most unusual!

Sara said...


My heart goes out to you on the loss of Rascal - but, I know that he had a wonderful home with you - and will be cherished and missed.

Sounds like things around the homestead are really going well.

A friend of mine has a summer kitchen that she just loves and a few years ago she built a brick oven - maybe you can get one built after a while..

Sounds like all the animals are doing well and getting along...

Kathy said...

Thanks so much for the updates, Leigh. You have been in my mind lately as I so know what you are going through. I still miss cats I had years ago, knowing there is never a replacement for them but allowing my heart to open enough for new loves to enter.
I know how hard the chores are without your little buddy there to help. I'm sure you both got more than you thought ever possible out of the relationship - Rascal & you. And you gave his thoughts and deeds to us as if he was there telling you what to write. He was quite the character and all of us will remember him for "just being Rascal". I, for one, am so glad he (and you) have touched my life.
Those kittens have some might big paws to fill - but I know they will. Soon, you'll have helpers again.

Kathy said...

The eggs will start to become more regulated in size after the hens' bodies adjust to the laying process, Leigh. You may keep getting a few double-yolkers now and then. That seems to be genetic as well.
The girls will get to laying one egg every 25 hours. After their first molt next fall, the eggs will get a bit fewer, but larger. If you keep a light on to make sure they get 14 hours of light daily, you'll have eggs all winter, too.
The rubber eggs will stop after the pullets' shell capacity gets up and running more efficiently. Just be sure to offer them oyster shell at free choice to aid in their calcium requirments. Don't ever feed eggshell back to them unless you crush it to power as eating shells will encourage them to start egg-eating, a deadly sin in any hen house.

Mama Pea said...

Leigh, just wanted to tell you how sorry I am to hear of Rascal's passing. You making sure he didn't suffer terribly at the end shows just how much you loved him. And how fantastic that his last day was spent as it was! You just have to remember that you gave him a wonderful life.

Razzberry Corner said...

Leigh, can you tell me how you prepare the garlic water for the chickens? Do you mush it and put it in the water? How much garlic and water? Thanks, I'm going to try it for my chickens!

Leigh said...

Sara, Dan wants to build an outdoor barbeque and smoke house, so I've already put in that request for an outdoor oven!

Thank you Kathy, I appreciate that. Like I told Maggie, it's all the Rascal points in my routine that are the tough spots. :(

I've been feeding the chickens both oyster shell, and egg shell, which I dry and then crush in my blender. I think it would be ideal to hatch out a few chicks each year, to keep egg production up and keep the flock fresh. Don't know if that will work out though.

Mama Pea, it is comforting to think on those things. I know he hadn't been feeling as well toward the end, and catch myself worrying that maybe he was suffering more than we knew. That kind of think isn't good to dwell on though, and there is also comfort in seeing him so at peace after death. I appreciate your kind thoughts.

Lynn, I actually got the garlic in water from Robin, over at Farm Folly. She was using it for runny poops, but it's a powerful antibiotic so I wanted to use it for Lord B's infection as well. I added about a clove and a half per gallon to water in my blender and liquified it. The chickens don't seem to mind and drink it right down. By the next day the swelling had gone down as well as the redness, though the foot was still warm to touch. We're in our 3rd day of treatment with improvement each day. Best of all I know he's feeling better because he's developed a limping gallop to chase the other roosters away! He was just sitting around prior to that. Hopefully it will be completely cured soon.

Theresa said...

I happened to catch something on the tube last night, a commercial from Lennox offer solar hot water/heat etc.
in a new system and thought of you. They also mentioned rebates etc. Anyway, may be terribly expensive but if they have matched a system might also be worth taking a look see.

Geodyne said...

You're really, really moving ahead.

One of the things I love about my Araucanas is that I can tell who's laid which egg. It really helps with keeping track.

I'm looking forward to the day when I can be giving eggs away again...or better, preserving them for winter.

Geodyne said...

Also, I'm truly sorry to hear about Rascal.

Nina said...

The kitties are wonderful.. my heartfelt condolences for Rascal. While the kittens won't replace him, they are real cuties. A lap cat might be nice to have though. Our kitty is an I'll sit near you or you can come pet me, over here, on the floor in the corner which is hard to reach.. hehehe
That's a good looking supply of hay! I hope it lasts longer than you anticipate.. Way to go.

Benita said...

I am so sorry about Rascal! We still miss Neil something fierce so we totally understand how you are feeling right now. Watching the kittens play and grow is a great disctraction, but you are right, they are no replacement for him.

Too bad you had to take down the zig-zag fence - it was so pretty! Still, you guys have enough work to do on the place without having the additional hassle of keeping that fence line clean of weeds.

I love the colorful eggs. This looks like the egg bowl we had growing up - lots of different breeds (and mixes thereof) made for some very colorful eggs. Lovely!

Leigh said...

Theresa, I appreciate that! We have absolutely been stuck on this one. Of all the available HVAC systems, there is a major problem with each one. But here we are, in the middle of July with no AC and midday temps in the 90s with humidity to match. I'm amazed we're surviving so well. Dan's going to get various technicians out here over the next couple of weeks for estimates and to answer our questions. Hopefully we'll have something installed by the time winter gets here. :)

Geodyne, I love doing these posts because it helps me focus on how much we have done, rather than how much we have to do! I love all the different color eggs, but I'm stumped because my Barred Holland is supposed to lay white eggs, but she's laying a color close to one of the Ameraucanas. I think her's are smaller and the Ameraucana's are pinker, but I'll have to keep observing to verify that. I'm definitely planning to preserve some for winter. I'll freeze mine, how do you preserve yours?

Nina thank you. I've wanted a lap cat for about 15 years and this is my first! We're thinking that we can get a 2nd cutting of hay, so that will help this winter even more. :)

Benita, I really liked the zig zag fence too, but Dan wasn't really all that happy with it. It leaves that part of the place so exposed though. Something will be taking it's place soon!

Dorothy said...

Hi Leigh, I'm glad you got the little kitties in time for them to know Rascal. It's good to still have cats around the house as all cats are in their own ways wonderful creatures.

What a shame the goats aren't good stable mates, I hope they settle down.

Lovely eggs!!!

Sharon said...

That egg is huge. I wonder what that chicken looks like~

Leigh said...

Dorothy, so good to hear from you. In know you're busy with your new venture. Yes, I'm very glad the kittens got to Know Rascal. I realize they won't remember him in time, but I think it will make a difference in their lives anyway.

Sharon, I have a photo of that pullet here. Actually, she's been laying the largest eggs consistently, which is nice. I'm keeping track of weight and color for the time being, so it will be interesting to see how they all do when they're more mature!

Lee said...

So sorry to hear about the loss of Rascal. It's hard to lose a pet, especially one that makes itself such a part of your life. My cat is 16 (we've only had him for 6 years) and I know the day probably isn't too far off that I'll no longer have him leaping on my lap every 10 minutes for attention.

I'm so impressed that you both cut your hay with a scythe and then brought it in under cover. Awesome! How long did you let it dry? Did you loft or turn it any with a hay fork? This is so on my ToDo list (once we get sheep .. and a scythe).

I can understand your pain with the zig-zag fence. I have similar feelings about our livestock fence. The closely spaced verticals are great for retaining livestock, but keeping the weeds down with a string trimmer is very difficult and burns a lot of line. I've decided a high tensile smooth wire fence with wood posts is the optimal fence with respects to maintenance. You can easily adjust the tension, and the smooth wires and wood posts means that it can be kept trimmed using either a string trimmer or a scythe with a brush blade. (I'd probably wreck a blade if I used it around metal T-posts or field fencing.)

We are seriously considering fencing our remaining property lines using only high tensile.

Leigh said...

Thanks Lee. Gosh, 16 years old is pretty good for a cat. But who knows, he may live another 5 years yet.

The lovely thing about cutting the grass with the scythe is that it cut it into lovely long piles, which dried on their own without needing to be turned. I started gathering it by the wheelbarrow load, but one day we just loaded it all into the pickup truck and then "shoveled" it into the carport for storage. We're planning on a second cutting, but Dan got a new scythe he wants to try out on that. The new one is an Austrian snath and scythe, as opposed to the American one he used the first time. He's only experimented with the new one, but already prefers it. Hopefully after than 2nd cutting we can do a comparison of the two types and their results.

We discussed a smooth wire high tensile fence for our place. With goats, it would have to be electrified, but at this point we have too much brush to be able to maintain it easily. We may try it in the future though, since we have two more areas that need to be fenced in.