Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The race is on!

With a slow start anyway... the first bit of prep work that we needed to get done before even thinking about raising the sunken pontoon boat (see yesterday's post!) was to free up our flatbed trailer which currently has a seven foot tall enclosed wooden box on it that is packed full of stuff from Neil's last load of stuff up from South Carolina. It was still packed on the trailer as their is just no place to put it all.

Neil worked all day unpacking the trailer onto the deck, into the house, attic and the shop building. We also moved stuff out of the house and into the attic and shop as well to make room for the stuff coming in. So, once agian we are stacked up the walls with boxes! Sigh! At least this is the last of the stuff to find homes for things.

The house is so full that we can't see the kitchen counters and can hardly walk anywhere! We went out to dinner finally at 9pm as I couldn't face clearing way to cook.

I did take some time this morning to move the chicken chicks out of the 3x6 brooder area and into the 10x12 chicken coup area. Chicks are not the brightest birds and didn't want to leave the safety of their brooder. I had to catch all 50 some of them by hand and move them the 5 feet to the other side of the wall. I got the kids to do the last 5-6 of them. Once moved and settled down from the chase they seemed quite happy to have more space and roosts to sleep on too!

Oh... duck update: Great news! I can't tell the difference between the ducks today so all is well... yeah!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Duck is still alive!

Great news this morning... the little injured duckling from yesterday is still alive!

He isn't perfect but he is drinking water for me still. He has a bit of a head tilt and I can't get him to walk at all. I am still not sure if anything got broken. He is articulating his neck well now so I think that is fine, his wings apear to be ok but I can't get him to stand up so I am a little worried about a broken leg.

Later in the afternoon the duckling was still looking better so I thought I would return him to his hatch mates to see if he was just depressed. When I first put him in the brooder he didn't want to move; even when the turkey poults walked on him. I sat back and watched for a while and soon he was scooting himself forward to get to the water! Yeah!

By evening chores he was up and walking to eat and drink and rest with his hatch mates. I could still tell which one was the hurt duck because it's back was hunched up and it held it's tail down and seemed to tire easily. But, yesterday I never would have thought he would make it this far so I am very happy!

Oh, Neil had gone to town this evening and when he returned he was very excited. You see, about two miles down the road there is a causeway that crosses over Mayo Lake on the way to town. For several months there has been a pontoon boat that is moored to the shore and is sunk on one side. It never moved and looked abandoned. Well, tonight Neil asked around with the local folks and found out who it belongs to. He returned so happy because the gentleman who owns the boat told Neil that if he was able to raise the boat and move it he would sign the title over to us for FREE! This is a 28 foot pontoon boat! It needs work but Neil loves that sort of thing. So now, Neil's head is spinning trying to figure out how to get it up as I guess several others have been made the same offer so it is a race of sorts!

Monday, May 28, 2007

Injured Duckling

Wow... what an day!

It all started out pretty well. I got up and did chores out at the barn as usual. While sitting in the chicken coup watching the birds, which I like to do daily to make sure everyone is eating and drinking and noone is getting picked on... plus it is really relaxing, I still had the door open and in buzzed a hummingbird! I wasn't expecting to see a hummer so when I heard the loud buzzing noise from outside I was a little conserned about what kind of fly it was. :) But, it turned out to be a beautiful hummingbird. It flew in just inside the door, hovered for a few seconds and then flew off just as quick. It was an pleasent addition to my morning.

After breakfest, I started a new project of trying to outfit one of Rick's (the previous owner) hoop style chicken tractors so I could put some of the birds outside for a while during the day. I scavanged some chicken wire out of the dump pile and attached it around three sides of the hoop house, then I covered the top with an old tarp to keep the sun out and the birds in. Neil took the door off of the second hoop house that was broken a bit too much for a quick fix and attached it to this house. Everything seemed secure so I went and got our 7 ducklings and a waterer and set them up in the outside house. At first the little ducks didn't know what to think of their new digs. A few nibbled on some grass but mainly they piled up and settled in for a nap. They seemed quiet so I left them to go 10-15 feet away to clean up the dry lot area behind the barn that the cows and donkeys use. It must have been 30 minutes or so when I looked up and saw a little duckling walking toward me!

I rushed over to scoop up the little duck but my dog Tate got there first! 70lbs of enthusiastic dog landed on the poor little duck! I was there seconds later or sooner. Scooped up the duck which was writhing in pain and looking very aginal. I was sure something must have gotten broken. I held the little duck to me for a long time but it was limp. His head would just hang down and I couldn't get much response from it at all. I was so sad. I felt responsible that it was able to find a way out of the house in the first place, then that I didn't control Tate prior to moving toward the duck. I was sitting down with the duck against my chest when I noticed that it was bleeding from it's right nostril. Not a good sign... most likely a head trauma. After about 45 mintues there wasn't much improvment and I couldn't hold the little thing all afternoon so I took it into the house and set up a cardboard box with a towel in it and settled the limp creature in it.

I hated to leave it but I had other things I really needed to get done. I got my squashes replanted again after I lost them all to the freak frost at the beginning of the month. Set out some more pepper seedlings I had started. I moved the reamaining ducks back into the brooder with the turkeys. Finally, when I went back into the house to check to see if the duck was still alive I was pleased to see that it was sitting up a little more sternal. I offered it some water with some electrolytes in it and it made an effort to swallow some. Good signs!

This evening it was still with us, taking sips of water for me. I can only hope for the best overnight as it could still easily die from shock or internal damage overnight.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

On the lake at last!

Well, Neil worked really hard on the boat motor this morning and by early afternoon it was running great. We packed up some drinks, snacks and put on bathing suits (well... not me, mine is still packed in some unknown location) and headed out to Lake Kerr in Virgina. It is an Army Corp of Enginers lake and is very well maintained. We tolled around the lake for a while running the boat all the way up to Clarksville, VA which is advertised as the only lake side community (aka town on the water) in the whole state of Virgina!

Then we turned around and headed back toward the boat landing. Along the way we found a sandy beachy spot so we stopped and let the kids (and Neil) swim for a while. Evan said he never wanted to leave and that we should collect the logs in the woods to build a house right there! Finally, it was getting late so we headed out and made it back home before dusk, just in time to feed the animals. It was a good afternoon.

To learn more about the recreation available on Kerr Lake visit:

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Slow day around the house.

Well, Neil spent most of the day getting to boat tuned up and re-registered here in NC. That ment going to town to get new decal letters and numbers, tearing down the engine and just general cleaning up. His goal was to get us out on the lake today but at almost 5pm I think a family outings is out for today. Neil did take the boat to the lake by himself to give it a test run.

So, I desided to spend the day updating our farm website ( a little. We have been getting a few calls about having available stock. Mostly for chickens and ducks but also had someone inquire about goats. So, I figured I should update the site and create a sales list for our livestock (besides the alpacas). I listed our bull calf and our turkeys for now. Hopefully by Fall I will be able to list some other poultry.

After that I took some time to straighten up the house which had gotten a little out of control from the kids toys while we were fencing. I had no energy at night to clean.

Thursday, May 24, 2007


We have been so busy putting in fencing here at the farm that most nights I just drop onto the couch after dinner and fall asleep with the kids piled on top of me! We have gotten a lot done and all the animals now have large areas of pasture that they can graze finally. I wish I hadn't broken the camera I would love to post some photos of how things are shaping up around here.

The chicks, poults and duckings are all growing great! They have more then tripled in size in almost two weeks. They are starting to get their real feathers in. I love to sit and watch them. The chicken cockerals are starting to use theirs wings and jump up to try to fly. The turkey toms are posturing already which is so funny to watch.

One of the big jobs that we got done today was to finally move the large and heavy poultry house/tractor that the previous owner had sitting out in the pasture. It is so big that he could not fit it on his livestock trailer to move it to his new farm. Here is a photo with the house in it, taken before we bought the farm, so you can see what I am talking about:

Anyway, we got it moved out of the pasture and pulled behind the barn until we can figure out exactly where we want it. It is a good strong building made mostly of oak. My goal is to outfit it to be our goat barn. It is large enough inside for me to comfortably stand so I think I could even milk the goats in there with no problem.

Oh, speaking of goats, the gentleman that we are getting our two Nigerian Dwarf doelings from sent me a photo of one of our doelings that was just born last week. She is chocolate colored with some white. We will have to think of a name for her soon. Once the rest of his does kid out we can pick a second doeling. Then we will go up in a few weeks to pick them up. He also has a few chickens that I will be getting from him at that time too. More to add to our growing flock!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Sandwhich bread recipe

I have been having great fun with my bread machine. We haven't purchased a loaf of bread since we got it. I have experimented with many different recipes though trying to find a good bread for the kids to make sandwiches with. I think I finally found it! Made this today and it is so soft and light. I will be making this as my white sandwich bread from now on:

1 1/4 cups lukewarm water
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup dry milk powder
1 1/2 tablespoons white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons active dry yeast

Place ingredients in the pan of the bread machine in the order suggested by the manufacturer.
Select Basic or White Bread setting, and press Start. When done, place on wire rack for at least 10 minutes before slicing.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

The Bunnies are here!

The kids and I drove to Snow Camp, NC today to a local rabbit show to meet with the couple that we are getting our American Chinchilla Rabbits from. It was a fun day and we came home with our first jr doe (Parslane) and jr buck (Sasspirella).

Thursday, May 17, 2007

My fowl week continues!

I took both the house phone and my cell phone to bed last night as I was afraid that the post office would call early to let me know my turkey poults and ducklings were in and that would wake the children up. I need'nt have worried... the phones never rang. I got up before 8am as usual and got dressed and checked my e-mail real quick. I was just about to go out the door to do chores when Evan stumbled into the kitchen. He wanted to come help feed the animals so a few minutes later after getting him dressed we headed out to the barn.

My routine now is to give Cherry Blossom and Riona their scoop of grain as a treat and then throw some hay down in the barn and then some in two places out in the pasture runout. This allows Cherry Blossom, Riona and the two mini donkeys to all eat some hay without getting in Blossom's way. Blossom will still usually check out every pile of hay before settling on the one she wants that day. I pick up the grain bowls and return them to the grain pail for tomorrow.

Next, I scoop food into two bowls for Emie and Berk our LGDs. I also scoop alpaca grain into the three bowls for Peter, Celtie and Joy. I take all five bowls around to the alpaca runout. I feed the dogs first then put the grain down for the alpacas. At this point I need to stand gaurd for the alpacas as Emie and Berk at four months old with stick their noses in and eat the paca grain if I'm not there. Once the pacas are done with their grain I pick up all the bowls and return them to the barn and return with more hay for them. I dump the water buckets, give them a quick scrub if needed and refill with fresh water.

Finally, it is off to the chicken coop. Our little chickens are four days old now and have almost doubled in size from Monday. Feeders get cleaned out and refilled as well as the waterers. Once done I just lean back on the wall and watch the cute chicks run around doing their thing.

This morning though, as I was finshing up with the chicks I finally got the phone call from the post office. My turkeys are here, but no ducks! The ducks were only quaranteed to arrive by tomorrow at 3pm. Evan and I headed to the house just as McKayla was coming out to check on us. We hurried in and got McKayla dressed and drove to the PO. Once home we got the 15 little turkeys all settled into the brooder next to the chickens. These little guys (and girls hopefully) were quick! They would zoom from one end of the brooder to the other. I had to be extra carefull not to step on any of them!

We hadn't been back in the house long when a mail car pulled into the driveway... the ducklings! The kids were in the living room eating lunch so I snuck out and got the little ducks and took them right down to the barn. I opened up the box and out stepped seven little ducklings. Oh... these little ones were the cutest babies yet! The wattled around finding the water and food. So, now our poultry house is complete... chickens, turkeys and ducks. I can't wait to watch them all grow up!

This evening at feeding time I made great progress with the donkeys. Mal ate about 5-6 horse cookies right from my hand and I got to give him a few short strokes on the muzzle. His sister Inora is still a little reserved. She sniffed at the cookies but wouldn't take them. They both stood and ate hay while I was standing right in front of them. These are all BIG steps forward for both of them. I am very pleased!

Side note: I broke the digital camera today just as the ducks arrived! So, no more photos for a while until we figure out what to do about that. Darn!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Here chicken, chicken!

Woke up early this morning and realized I hadn't brought the phone to bed with me... I was expecting a call from the Post Office letting me know our chicken chicks had arrived. Popped out of bed and checked the messages and and yes the PO had called already! I quickly got dressed and let Neil know that I was headed out to pick them up.

It is so funny to go to the post office to pick up live birds. They were chirping so loud... no wonder the PO staff wanted them gone! :)

Once I got home I had to set them up temporarilly in cardboard boxes on the kitchen counter as I only got the chicken coup 80% cleaned out yesterday. So, into the boxes under a heat lamp with food and water until later today when they will be in the larger brooder pens in the coup. It was nice that these were already built when we moved here. They were dirty but at least we didn't need to build from scratch.

Here they are in one of the two boxes in the kitchen:

And here they are in the chicken coup brooder:

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

An unexpected visitor....

On May 1st I was outside myself late in the afternoon at the farm. I was driving the tractor in front of the barn and I saw something move in the grass. I quickly realized it was a snake. Not a big snake, maybe only 18 inches long and little bigger then a pencil around. I stopped the tractor and ran inside to get my camera... hoping that the snake would stay put until I get back.

Well, he did and I got a few good shots before it began to move along. I moved over to the big tree between the kid's playground and the woods. I was a little surprised to see him go right up the tree. I snapped a few more photos and then left him alone and went back to work.

Meanwhile, we have been so busy that I had forgotten about the little snake until today when Neil called out to me when I was in the barn. He and Evan were watching a snake in the same place I saw one last week. It looked just the same but this one was only about 12 inches long. Evan and I watched it move along toward the chicken coop end of the barn.

Here is one of the photos from last week...

I figured I should find out what kind of snake it was for sure... even though I thought I knew what it was. So, I went to the "Snakes of North Carolina" web site. I was glad to discover it was what I thought it was: a juvenile Black Rat Snake. Here is a photo from the web site and the description:

Description: Black Rat Snakes (Elaphe obsoleta obsoleta) range between 3.3 ft. and 6.6 ft. (1.02-2.03 m) in length. As the common name infers, the dorsal coloration of the Black Rat snake is black. Some specimens are solid black, some have faint blotches on the their dorsum, and others' dorsums are patterned with light fleckingbetween the scales. Juveniles have dark dorsal patterns on light gray backgrounds. The ventralside of these snakes is white or gray and frequently it is mottled with gray.

Range/Habitat: Black Rat Snakes are common in the mountains and Piedmont. They interbreed with Yellow Rat Snakes in the northeastern Coastal Plain. Yellow Rat snakes are common throughout the eastern Coastal Plain. Both subspecies inhabit wooded areas and nearby habitat.

Reproduction: Rat Snakes in the Carolinas breed from April to June and during the fall. The female lays between 5 and 40 elongated eggs between June and August.

Prey: Rat snakes are excellent climbers and they are frequently found in trees. Their arboreal nature enables them to feed on birds and their eggs. They also eat small mammals and lizards.

Behavior: Rat Snakes may crawl away when they are confronted but often they remain motionless and sometimes kink their body. If escape is not possible they may vibrate their tails and strike.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

It's a Mystery!

When we came to look at this farm over a year ago both old oak trees in our front yard were fully leafed out. They weren't the healthyist looking trees in the world but they where big and green and gave lots of shade to that area.

When this Spring came we noticed that the tree closest to the pasture wasn't leafing out like all the rest of the trees on the property. By April it was pretty clear that the tree was dead. Not a single leaf ever came out. I thought it was odd that a tree would completly die in one winter. There was no sign to our untrained eyes of why it would have died. But it needed to go. Our new fence for the alpacas needed to go very close to this tree so we needed to cut it down before we started to do the fencing so it didn't fall and flatten the fence in the future.

So, Neil dug out the chain saw and dropped the tree into where the pasture will be soon. After we had it on the ground we learned from our neighbor that lives in the corner of our property the answer to why it died. He witnessed it get struck by lightning 3-4 months ago. He said it struck the top of the tree and came out a hollowed out area near the ground. Well, mystery solved!

Friday, May 04, 2007

Cold and wet today.

Today was a rainy and cold day. I had lots of things I wanted to get done... especially plant my tomato seedings out in the garden. Maybe tomorrow. What Neil and I did get done was to install the two electric net fences to give the cows and donkeys an area of grass that they could graze. It also relieved some stress that all the animals were feeling as they got crammed together most of yesterday and then overnight in about 40x40 dry lot area that was half in the barn and half out. They were all very happy to get out onto the pasture and graze on the grass there.

After that, Neil and I did some work in the house some. Neil started playing with the kids so I went to lay down for a few minutes... ended up waking up 5 hours later! Neil had let me sleep meanwhile he unloaded the suburban from his trip up from SC yesterday as well. He set up all the electronics/tv in the living room. I felt guilty about it but I very rarely take naps so I figured I must have needed it.

Once agian the house looks like a whirlwind has gone through it. But, this was our last and final trip of stuff to come up from SC! YEAH! Now we just need to find a place for, or get rid of enough stuff that we can move around our own house!

Thursday, May 03, 2007

The first to arrive...

Fourteen hours in a car with a 3 year old, a 5 year old, a 70lb dog, and towing a livestock trailer. Why? Well, today was the day to pick up the first of our livestock that has been boarded at three different farms in SC and NC. Our Irish Dexter cow Cherry Blossom and her two week old bull calf got picked up first in SC right along the Georgia boarder. Next, a drive to Hartsville, SC to get our other Irish Dexter cow Riona. Then from there up to NC to pick up the two Mini Donkeys, which are to be a surpise for Neil as a graduation present from the kids and I. It was a long day and a tight squeeze getting all the animals in the two horse trailer. I pulled into the farm just about at midnight. Stayed out in the barn until about 1am to make sure everyone settled in ok. I will have photos up in a few days once we all recover!