Sunday, January 31, 2010

Snow Much Fun

We got our second good snow of the season and everyone is loving it.  It measures 10 inches in some places!
Last night we woke up to horrible wailing noises from somewhere outside.  We're guessing it was coyotes. It was a horrible howling/screaming sound.  It also sounded way too close for comfort!  This morning we went walking around to investigate and look for tracks.  Just as we started looking, Buddy caught the scent of a rabbit.

Unfortunately for him, it got away when his back was turned.

We continued on with our mission to find the coyote tracks.

We found numerous tracks, but the snow is so deep, it's hard to tell what made them.

The tracks that closest resemble coyote tracks were circling the chicken coop.  Good thing the girls were all locked up tight!

Here are a few pictures I took on our hike that I think are pretty cool.


Back at the house, we finished up the daily chores.  The girls love the new (expensive) alfalfa hay. 


The chickens said, "No thanks, we are NOT going out there today."

I got a surprise when I opened the nest boxes.  I wasn't quick enough with the camera, but she was curled up in a next box.  I guess she got locked in there last night and had a nice warm spot to sleep in all night. 


Just another morning on our farm...

Friday, January 29, 2010

Cast of Characters-Part 3

I love that it takes three posts to introduce my family.  Some would question that chickens and all the other animals running around outside are not "part of my family".  I disagree.  I believe that all animals are unique individuals that are not meant to be "owned" by humans, but to be willing participates in sharing their lives with us.  It's mutual co-operation.  I want them to all enjoy being in our "pack".    I may have to change my story when we have to butcher our first animal, but I'll cross that road when we get there. 

Anyway, when we moved here there were 5 horses already here.  I didn't have the heart to kick them out of their home, so we bought them all.  I've questioned my sanity many times since then.  You see, I knew absolutely nothing about horses.  I've always loved and admired them from afar, but have never had the opportunity to really get to know a horse on a personal level.  I was and still am determined to learn how to develop a relationship with these beautiful animals.  In the last couple of months, I've read every book and watched every video I could find about "Natural Horsemanship".  It's all about building a partnership between horse and human that closely resembles the relationships that exist between horses.  It's about getting the horse's respect so she will do what I want because she trusts me, not because she fears me.  I have made a little progress with these girls, but still have a long way to go. 

Like I said, we started with five mares.  Unfortunately, we lost our sweet "Maggie", a 30+ yr-old Shetland pony, a couple of weeks ago.
Here is Pokie, our big, beautiful, pregnant paint mare. 

This is "Star", Pokie's  9 month old foal. 


Here are my "wild girls"

They didn't really like having their picture taken, they took off with all kinds of attitude.  

The mare with the darker mane is Babe.  She is a sweetheart and the leader of the pack.  The one with the lighter mane is Honey.  That's about as close as she'll come to me.  She refuses to let me touch her.  She is my biggest challenge.

Okay, so that wraps up the horse introductions!  Last, but not least, our barn cats!  They have the hardest, but most appreciated job on the farm -catching mice.  They do a fabulous job at it, too!  This is what I usually see when I stand on my porch.  The black one hiding in the back is Lily.  From left to right on the table are: Isabelle, Darlin', Fluffy, and Snowflake.  There is another male black cat named Oreo that comes over to hang out occasionally, if you know what I mean....

 Snowflake and Isabelle

I love this picture because Snowflake is hanging out with our rooster, Fred.
Snowflake's, biggest fan:
Fluffy looking so sweet and innocent, but don't let her fool you.

She has no intention of making friends today, or any day, with Buddy and Otto.

Here is our sweet Darlin', who's belly is growing bigger by the minute.  I think we should have kittens any day now.


Darlin' hanging out with the chickens

and here she is again thinking about making friends with Buddy and Otto

So far, so good!

Snowflake and Isabelle

Snowflake up a tree

Isabelle eating scraps and telling Fred, "I dare you to try something!"


Showdown over cheese

Beautiful Isabelle posing for the camera

Lily participating in the hen gathering on the porch

Well, that does it for our family introductions.  Now comes the fun stuff, the day-to-day adventures of a city family trying to figure out country living.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Cast of Characters-Part 2

We have always been huge animal lovers.  Up until now, we've only had dogs in our family, and for 2 years we had pet rats.  I know, sounds gross, but they were actually really sweet and cute in a ratty sort of way. 

Otto is our first family dog.  He is a total moma's boy, spoiled rotten, and the best snuggler ever.
He hates the cold, loves to lay under the wood stove, and steals my shoes to snuggle with when we're not home.  I am constantly searching for shoes because Otto always carried them off.  He isn't the toughest dog in the world, in fact he spends most of his time shivering, but we love him anyway!

Buddy is our newest dog.  We found him right before we moved to the farm in November.  We were searching for a "farm dog", a dog who could roam the property with the kids and protect them and our animals.  We answered an ad on craigslist about a wandering stray Australian Shepherd.   We went to meet him, and he was dirty and terrified.  Reece talked us into bringing him home for one night to get to know him.  He looked and acted like he may have run away from an abusive home.  He was so jumpy.  All it took was raising an arm in the air, and he would cower.  We gave him a bath and lots of love.  We fell in love with him and decided to keep him.  He has turned out to be an amazing dog.  He knows his job is to protect the kids and sleeps on the floor between their beds every night.  When we're outside, he follows every step, except occasionally when he gets a whiff of a rabbit and loses his mind!  He loves the snow and playing chase with Otto. 

When we moved here, we inherited 12 hens.  Being "city people" we've never even been around chickens much. I've always bought farm eggs from local farms, so I was super excited about having our own eggs!  They are a blast to have in the yard!  The kids have so much fun with them.  Unfortunately, we lost one of them last week.  All we found were feathers and a foot.  Welcome to farm life.  Now we have 11. 

The girls get lots of hugs!

and they eat very well!  All you have to do is say "Here chick, chick, chick", and they all coming running as fast as their little legs will carry them.

We just added a rooster to the mix.  His name is Fred. We think he's beautiful!
It took him a few days to try to show 12 women who the boss was.  I think they let him think he's the boss, but secretly the girls run the show.  We can't wait until Spring so we can hatch some baby chicks. 

Here are some of our girls:

Okay, so now you've met 18 of us.  Only 10 to go!