Time to Redefine our Lives in Oregon

Posts tagged ‘dogs and chickens’

29 Hours on the Farm

I’ve come to realize that my life is all about the chickens…and of course Sir Benedict.

October 2014

They tell me, under no uncertain terms, when to wake up. On those rare mornings that I have not gotten out of bed before sunrise, Benedict loudly calls from his high roost, and the hens squawk and complain….and poop…everywhere. Since I clean their roosts, nesting boxes, and platforms in front of their nesting boxes every morning…it’s a good idea to get them out just as the sunlight crests the darkness. I fudge this timing, just a little on the weekends, but still need to get out there before the hens have need for their time of privacy.

No more rooms at the Inn!!

This flock dictates how late I can stay out at night…somebody has to close the door to the hen house after dark!! Predators in the forest = a definite need for security.

Moonlit Night Oct. 2014

The flock and I have a symbiotic relationship…..they poop…I pick it up. They eat…I buy more food. They get blown by the wind….I cover up the drafts…. (this will be the last time I do this….more on that in my next post.)

The UPS guy told me that that was the most "Red Neck" chicken coop he's ever seen...hahahaha!

The UPS guy told me that that was the most “Red Neck” chicken coop he’s ever seen…hahahaha!

…..they poop…I pick it up (yes, I said that twice…I spend a lot of time picking up chicken poop!) My flock free range. They follow their natural food sources, and always end up back in their house at night. Sometimes that means this……

Hey, get off the porch...that water is for the dogs!!

Hey, get off the porch…that water is for the dogs!!

….and this…..

Seriously...that is chicken poop...That's ridiculous!!!

Seriously…that is chicken poop…That’s ridiculous!!!

….so, I follow them around picking up their…not so golden surprises. In the end, I believe the flock is healthier (I know we are!) and happier.

If you have 41 seconds….take a look at our little video, 29 Hours on the Farm , …. this is the reason I let this flock run my life ….

….next stop….well, we’re looking at goats (any ideas?), but I think I need a trip to Disneyland first!!! I’ve definitely got the bug!!

Thank you, for visiting the farm this morning!! Have a wonderful Sunday!!

Your friend from Oregon,

Autumn is Fall-ing

I had help writing this morning…

Penni Sept. 2014

We’ve been seeing the tell-tale signs of the wilting and turning of leaves…some are starting to drop. The season is beginning, yet summer is giving its best effort to hang on. Yesterday, the last day of summer, Se˜or Verano, decided to flex his muscles for one more day here in the Pacific Northwest. Take a quick look at this comparison to areas that are typically on the hotter side this time of year……

1:40 p.m. PST (time that I looked at it )... 3:40 p.m. EST (actual time of temp.)

1:40 p.m. PST (time that I looked at it )… 3:40 p.m. EST (actual time of temp.)

September 2014
Sept. 2014

……What….doesn’t everyone have Disney World and Disneyland programmed into their phones?? Typically, the Bay Area gets hit with a late Indian Summer in Sept…uhhmmm, hmmmmm. In contrast….

Take a look....this was at 6:00 P.M.

Take a look….this was at 6:00 P.M.

it seems since we moved up to Oregon the sustaining heat followed us….don’t laugh too loudly!!! It’s been a hot, very dry summer. We, on this little farm including our fine feathered friends…

Ready for Fall 2014

…have had a collective, sigh, as the forecast shows dropping temperatures and RAIN in the forecast. For the flock this means the emergence of bugs, worms, and a bit of fresh, greens growing up out of the dry soil….for the humans it means sweaters, warm coffee, an eventual lift in the burn restrictions equaling in the ability to mow down those darn weeds, and the chance to build outdoor / indoor fires…yes, we are ready!!

Tomatoes 2014

While we wait, there are tomatoes to harvest, watermelon and pumpkin yet to ripen, a new hen house to build (that’s a different story), and hopefully one more blackberry harvest. I do hope the watermelon ripens!!

Watermelon 2014

Thank you for visiting the farm today!

Your friend from Oregon,

The Great Adventure part 2

The underside of a felled Douglas Fir tree.

The underside of a felled Douglas Fir tree.

(cont.) I gathered up these little babies, and out of the corner of my eye…I saw mama turkey carefully approaching……

….so did Penni, just fractions of a second before I did..but that was enough time for her brain to excite her body into “chase mode” and off she went. Mama turkey immediately took flight. I looked around the area, checking carefully before each step. Wild turkey poults instinctively hide, low and silent in tall grass. They are very difficult to see. Knowing that there were hidden babies right around me, I had to be careful not to step without caution.

A hidden poult!  With her head slightly raised, this one was actually a little easier to see.

A hidden poult! With her head slightly raised, this one was actually a little easier to see.

Penni’s distraction away from the hiding poults gave me a chance to assess the condition of the little ones I had been holding. If you will remember, Penni is a wanna-be-mama-dog. She has helped raise up all 4 broods of chicks, protecting them from hawks, and if Tucker or Karli got too close (she let them know in no uncertain terms that they shouldn’t get any closer to her chicks.)

Making sure all is right with her little puppy-chicks.

Making sure all is right with her little puppy-chicks.

I was confident that these beauties were perfectly fine. They were very young, and were still sporting that fashionable egg-tooth.

Still sporting a prominent egg tooth.

Still sporting a prominent egg tooth.

They were playing "possum" hoping I wouldn't see them.

They were playing “possum” hoping I wouldn’t see them.

My shirt was doing double duty, acting as, well, a shirt…and also a catch for the poults. They lay quietly in their cocoon, huddled together looking at me with their big eyes…I was surprised at how much larger their eyes are than chicken chicks eyes.

Wild Turkey poult #1.  The first little one found by Penni.

Wild Turkey poult #1. The first little one found by Penni.

Kermit!!!  See how much small her eyes are compared to the wild turkey poult.

Kermit!!! See how much small her eyes are compared to the wild turkey poult.

Following her nose, Penni came bounding back directly to me and the poults. She nudged the buldge in my slinged shirt, indicating that she needed to check on the babies. I let her take a quick look, and big sniff into the pile of young poults…and as is Penni’s style…she gave them a lick (No, not to taste them!!)

May 2014

Hoping that mama turkey would not be afraid to come back another time, I walked towards the house. My plan…as long as I had the poults, Penni would follow…she did! Securing her inside the garage, I headed back. In the background, Penni shouted her protests…loudly! By this time, my daughter had gotten home and joined me in the quest to reunite the family. She held a couple of the poults in her sweater, while we sat behind a tree….and we waited……

May 2014

(To be continued)….please come back tomorrow to read the rest of the story.

Hoping you have a wonderful weekend

Free Ranging Littles

Remember these beauties??!!

Chardonnay (Mama Hen), Kermit, Miss Piggy, Statler, and Waldorf!!

Chardonnay (Mama Hen), Kermit, Miss Piggy, Statler, and Waldorf!!

Here they are now!

Free Ranging and feeling great!!

Free Ranging and feeling great!!

The Littles (AKA the Muppets) are two months old today!! Honestly, I did not plan the writing of this post with the date…and I’m pretty sure we’re not celebrating with Twinkies…pretty sure!! 😉

So, as they’ve entered their awkward stage….

Definitely the awkward stage!

Definitely the awkward stage!

Sporting a wind-blown do!

Sporting a wind-blown do!

…..they have also found freedom to traverse around the farm as they see fit. The Littles are very integrated within the older flock and move around and within freely, although, they are the Littles…the newbies on the block…if an older hen wants to stand where they are, or eat what they have found, they do get “run out of dodge” for that moment. The word “hen” doesn’t really reflect the true nature of a female chicken’s attitude sometimes…they can be pretty…uhhmmm…what’s that “B” word??? Yeah…that one!

This Little flock within the flock are a pretty close knit group…..

They love to huddle together.

They love to huddle together.

Now that's a nice pile of Littles!!

Now that’s a nice pile of Littles!!

….and they love piling up next to each other to soak in the warmth of the sun. The older groups do this also…but usually in groups of 3 maybe 4 max.

These Littles…they’re fun…they’re adventurous…and they are very curious…

Penni and a Muppet (not sure which one) ...

Penni and a Muppet (not sure which one) …

…”Hey you, big dog…that’s my bug, go find your own!!”

The good news with this bunch…I have yet to completely identify a rooster (No, I’m not looking under their feathers!!) I have one that I suspect, possibly another, but none are standing out like in the other broods we’ve raised. A couple of the Littles have a bit of a larger comb, but I have had that with hens as well as roos. There is not the usual amount dominance posturing going on…a little, but young hens do that too. I’m just not seeing the difference in tail feathers…they’re mostly appearing like hens. Wouldn’t that be AWESOME!!!

Hoping you will have a wonderful day today! Thanks for taking this hike through the forest!

Catching Up…

I really dislike it when “life” gets in the way. There is a lot to update on the farm…I will let the pictures do the talking.

Five of the six Originals

Five of the six Originals

Riesling and her man Benedict!

Riesling and her man Benedict!

Jag....one of our Buff Orphington / Rhode Island Red mixed roosters...very handsome!

Jag….one of our Buff Orphington / Rhode Island Red mixed roosters…very handsome!

The Muppets and Chardonnay!

The Muppets and Chardonnay!

Benedict checking out his progeny!

Benedict checking out his progeny!

As the sun came out, so did those who inhabit this hilly forest…..

The Muppets, testing their feet on the green grass.

The Muppets, testing their feet on the green grass.

Not too sure about this...

Not too sure about this…

Hey Ma!!!  It's still a little cold out here!!!

Hey Ma!!! It’s still a little cold out here!!!

Penni watching over the youngest flock.

Penni watching over the youngest flock.

The Muppets following mama with no boarders!!

The Muppets following mama with no boarders!!

…and the trees decided it was time to make their long awaited appearance….

The first Cherry Blossoms!

The first Cherry Blossoms!

Apple trees

Apple trees

Beautiful Pear Trees

Beautiful Pear Trees

…but the Chestnut trees are still in that “groggy” state right before they wake up! The first pasture’s grass needing to be mowed down is completed (only 8 more hilly acres to go…uuggh..but also 🙂 …..

The back hillside is mowed....to be repeated at least 4 more times this season....

The back hillside is mowed….to be repeated at least 4 more times this season….

….producing this lovely, lovely product….

All these cuttings and not a single goat, cow, horse, or rabbit to feed it too...

All these cuttings and not a single goat, cow, horse, or rabbit to feed it too…

…hhhmmmmm maybe we need to rethink this……

Our neighbor's horse!

Our neighbor’s horse!

…but I don’t think we are quite ready yet…the good extra work of spring has worn us all out…

Tired old Tucker

Tired old Tucker

Karli catching some rays in the warmth of a beautiful spring day.

Karli catching some rays in the warmth of a beautiful spring day.

Hank, the cat, kicking back on Easter.

Hank, the cat, kicking back on Easter.

Tito and Lilly

Tito and Lilly

…but the epitome of being worn out due to excessive spring-like-I-can’t-believe-the-sun-is-out behavior goes to….Penni!!!

What a day!!!

What a day!!!

I hope you all had a wonderful and blessed Easter!! Enjoy the burgeoning springtime!!!



Remember that robot from Lost in Space?

That’s what our rooster, Benedict, was calling…”DANGER, DANGER, DANGER!!”

In all seriousness though, he was calling out for a reason! As I looked out the window to see what all the commotion was about, I saw one of the adult hens, Don Pedro, was outside the enclosure. She was running with wings flapping toward an outside covered area. Then I saw it…a huge hawk inside the chicken yard, trying to escape. She was getting caught up on the chicken wire fencing that kind of bends in.

I ran outside with my Great Dane, Penni,…..

Penni the Great Dane!  Protector of all things chicken!!

Penni the Great Dane! Protector of all things chicken!!

…..who caught site of the large bird now sitting on the ground outside of the enclosure. Penni ran at the hawk. Although beautiful, it is a natural enemy to my flock. The hawk had an easy exit and flew to a nearby tree. I didn’t see anything within her grasp.

It appeared everyone was inside…there certainly was enough noise coming from the house. I opened the door and started counting…1, 2, 3, 4…..with the one hiding outside all 8 adults were accounted for. Time for the Chicken Littles…1, 2, 3,….7…7…wait where’s #8? I counted again…still 7. Quickly exiting, I started looking for #8. This was deja vu to when we lost our little rooster, Gretchen (post from July 2013, A Sad Reality.) At the backside of the hen house, huddled in a corner was my little #8!! Was she alive? I opened the gate and she got up walking away from me…then I as called to her, she came back to me and let me pick her up. It was my little Austin Healey…the little chicken born lame! (See my previous post in December 2013 – Premature Chick Hatch)

Young Austin Healey

Young Austin Healey

She cuddled her head under my chin and sat quietly, shaking. I tried to reassure her, as much as you can reassure a chicken, checked her over a bit, and not seeing anything, brought her back to the flock.

As i walked back to the house, I saw this…

My little Austin was injured by the hawk!

My little Austin was injured by the hawk!

Oh nooo, she was injured! I went back and found a puncture hole through the skin layer of her chest, under her right wing. She was no longer bleeding, and I could see the lining under her skin. It seemed intact. My poor little Austin…but she is strong, she had to be to survive the beginning of her life. She will be fine, and a little smarter. Thank goodness for our rooster, Benedict, who always keeps his eye on the sky!!!

This guy is an AWESOME rooster!!

This guy is an AWESOME rooster!!

The Gentleman Rooster

There were once two roosters who argued loudly. They wanted to prove who reigned over their flock and farm. Day and night the roosters crowed, proclaiming each one’s own strength and power. One day, crowing turned into fighting. One rooster saw that the other rooster was hurt. He stopped fighting as his kindness would not allow him to continue. The other rooster proclaimed his victory. Flapping his wings, he crowed louder than ever before. Running into the openness of the pasture, he jumped onto a log and announced his victory again, and again, drawing the attention of a soaring eagle. With quiet accuracy, the eagle snatched the rooster off the log and carried him away.
The moral: Victory comes in humility and kindness, while boastful pride can cause destruction.

Our rooster, Benedict, is a true gentleman rooster! He reigns over his flock with a firm hand, yet he is kind. He keeps the hens safe from the hawks that fly overhead (see previous post titled, “A Day in the Life…”), runs, I mean runs to a hen if she is calling out in distress, leads the flock to the chicken house when darkness approaches, and just a few days ago welcomed with open “wings” Chardonnay (our mama, broody hen) back to the flock. The more dominant hen, Don Pedro, tussled with Chardonnay as she first arrived…but Benedict jumped in between the two hens to stop the fighting.

As these events unfolded, the four oldest chicks had their first outing from the brooder. It happened to be a sunny day, and temps were in the 50’s so in full sun Lo Ri-dah, Jag, VW, and Pontiac stretched their legs! They were only out about 45 minutes before they lost their sun, but it was fun while it lasted!!

While I was out with the the four adventurers, Chardonnay jumped back in with those still in the brooder…and so did Benedict!! I was ready to jump in and save the babies in case Benny got aggressive, but this AWESOME rooster was a perfectly behaved “daddy” to his little brood. BTW, Benedict’s comb succumb to some frost bite this winter…the white patches are areas that were affected and are, hopefully, healing. The darker coloring on his feathers at the top of his neck is clinging dirt from the Vaseline, and NeoSporin I put on his comb.

The following movie stars Benedict, Chardonnay, Chevy, William Jr., Honda, and Austin Healey…

I’m hoping Benedict’s actions in the brooder is a good indication of the easy transition to come once the chicks are ready for the big leagues…joining the rest of the adult flock.

BTW, if you noticed, Austin Healey is doing FABULOUS (said in a very flamboyant manner!!!) Her legs / feet had some bruising as Chardonnay kept the little brood on their feet much of the day. As her legs have gained strength this bruising has calmed. Now that Chardonnay has left the brood completely, everyone is calmer and I have noticed there are more periods of resting. This has been good for our littlest member of the flock!!

My little cutie-ba-tutie!

My little cutie-ba-tutie!

Oh and in case your wondering if, Penni, our Great Dane is watching out for the new bunch of babies…you decide!! Hahahaha

Are you our Mother?

Are you our Mother?

I promise to watch over you... I may chase you, but I will protect you!

I promise to watch over you… I may chase you, but I will protect you!

Catching A Hatching

I have no words to say that would add to what the video already says….except maybe two things….my Great Dane, Penni, totally believes that all chick babies belong to her…and GOD IS COMPLETELY AWESOME!! I’ve never seen a complete hatching before, and I hope that the experience never grows old….

Have a GREAT Day everyone!!

A Day in the Life…..

….Of a Chicken!

It was a beautiful fall day. The sun was shining, giving warmth to the cool, damp, November morning. I had been away, not for more than a few hours. The welcome I received was as if a long, lost friend had returned from an extended absence.

There we were, my chickens and I, enjoying the warmth of the sun, basking in the knowledge that we were together again. Then it dawned on me, this flock of welcoming poultry were hoping that I had a bag of lettuce in my purse. But then, well, look what happened next…

Our reunion was interrupted as I went into the house. Within moments, I felt that I was being watched. I wondered from where the ever-present aura of watchfulness had sprung. Looking around, the culprit was exposed.

"Look guys, she's in there!"

“Look guys, she’s in there!”

My fascination with the flock was diminished as the reality of three dogs standing around with their legs crossed, looking up at me with pleading eyes led me back outside. Truth be told, the canine drive for eliminating outside was truly a blessing to our feathered friends.

The following events happened in an instant in time, yet slowly played out in great detail in front of my eyes. As the four of us opened the garage and walked out to the world awaiting us, Penni my Great Dane, ran to the right. Glancing that direction, a dark veil draped over the bliss of the morning. There swooping down toward the tiny patch of grass in front of our porch on which our chickens had just been gathered, was a very large, brown bird. Stealthy and silent, the hawk was quickly approaching. As if in a choreographed dance, Benedict our rooster, caught sight of the danger and started stomping and clucking loudly, sending out the alarm. The hens responded quickly and headed for the cover of the porch. As the hawk reached, what I would consider the striking vicinity, it must have noticed the approaching freight train named, Penni. Without hesitation, the hawk effortlessly turned to the left, and with completely silent movements disappeared into the horizon. Penni ran toward the direction it flew, but it was so quickly gone.

Quickly counting heads I found all present and accounted for. Benedict was doing his own counting…

The flock stayed hunkered down for several minutes under the chairs on the porch.

Hiding out from the big, bad monsters.

Hiding out from the big, bad monsters.

They came out and resumed their foraging, however, remained a little more on edge. Happily everyone survived, but the hawk now knows our address…she will be back. And she was back…today. I think she got a bit closer this time because I found a lot of feathers…a lot of Buff Orpington feathers which means either from Benedict (rooster), or Claudio (hen.)

My poor little chicken.

My poor little chicken.

All the other hens are Rhode Island Reds. Seeing the hawk once again, I found the flock split into two different hiding places. They managed to get enough courage to come back together, and my kids and I wrangled them into the chicken house…we then closed the door for the rest of the night. It was time to just stay indoors and calm down. Once again, all were accounted for.

So the big question is now….free range, or corralled under cover. One, obviously, has a larger danger factor than the other…but it also holds more freedom, better tasting eggs, and the ability to welcome me home. They seem happier since being able to free range, but maybe a bit less relaxed. What would you choose?

One Day in September

Life is full of “firsts”…some you can foresee, and some you never thought you’d experience. Two years ago and beyond, I never would have pictured the “first” that was necessary one day in September.

I had mentioned in a previous post about our “bad boy”, Merlot. This animated, exuberant rooster had changed his approach from assertive, to aggressive. His aim was the flock, and any hen not falling into place was to be punished….and punish he did! He chased, he pecked, he pulled out feathers, and he jumped forward with talons leading the way. The three hens that were loyal to Benedict…Don John, Don Pedro, and Claudio were the objects of Merlot’s main aggression. He was relentless in his pursuit, grabbing and pulling the hens by their combs….our entire chicken community was constantly disheveled and on edge.

Benedict, our buff orpington rooster, emerged as a lover, not a fighter. In the beginning he stood up for his three gals…chasing Merlot away…Merlot would respond. Until one day….one day in September. On that day, Merlot raised his talons to Benedict and Benedict cowered to Merlot’s rising aggression. It was 89 degrees that day…Merlot had the entire flock sequestered inside the hen house. Anytime they tried to get off of their roosts to get food or water….he punished them. They were breathing through their mouths and suffering in the heat of the day. As I chased Merlot out of the chicken house he turned on me biting and raising his neck feathers. He ran back inside, to reestablish the hostage situation, I decided it was time for his tyrant reign to end.

Merlot was separated from the flock that day. The solution was apparent. Given his aggressive nature, he would be vulnerable to getting into the wrong hands wanting him for fighting, and he was not appropriate to lead a flock. We decided that we would finish the responsibility we started when we added him to our little farm. He would meet a humane end. Everything went well…it was quick, and the processing without blemish. Merlot is now in our freezer awaiting to grace our table side-by-side with our Thanksgiving turkey. We think he deserves that place of honor!!

So please help us celebrate Merlot with a video tribute…light hearted, and exemplifying of the life that was Merlot’s!!

The Bully, The Rooster…. Meet Merlot

It is totally obvious that the boys, Benedict and Merlot, have definitely, and loudly hit their “roosterhood!!” They are both very handsome, young studs with a definitive following. Benedict has his three ladies: Don Pedro, Don John, and the beautiful Claudio. Merlot has four ladies that follow his every command: Riesling, Chardonnay, Champagne, and Sangria. They are both ever present Sultan’s with a separate, devoted harem. Everyone, generally, lives peacefully with one another. The hens co-mingle and get along quite nicely. The roosters seem to be tolerant of each other, and in the human world, would probably even kick back once in awhile at a BBQ or at the beach…. that is until this past week.

Something has changed in the “mind” of young Merlot. When that rooster stepped out of the chicken house on Wednesday morning, things were different. It was as if he looked around and said, “this kingdom is mine…it is all mine!!” He started wrangling the girls into a corner of their outside yard. Benedict’s harem were caught a little off guard and seemed confused…rapidly clucking, they followed Merlot’s direction, except Claudio. Claudio ran the opposite direction. She has never been amused with Merlot’s antics, and has chased him around the yard many times (Caludio is 2.5 weeks older.) This, apparently, did not sit well with young Merlot…his new demeanor was not accomodating, and he was determined to let everyone know.

Watch out Benedict...I'm ranglin' for your hens .. especially that beautiful Claudio!!

Watch out Benedict…I’m ranglin’ for your hens .. especially that beautiful Claudio!!

Later in the day, it was very apparent that Merlot was not only trying to win the affections of the flock, he was demanding it. It was like a switch came on overnight; he had become a mean, bully boy. Although Merlot was chasing and pecking any of the ladies who fell out of line, he was pursuing Claudio at a different level. He would dig deep into her back or above her tail with his beak, pulling out feathers while she desperately ran away squawking loudly. She had become afraid of Merlot, and by afternoon, was isolating herself from the rest of the flock. If he saw her trying to eat or drink, he would chase her away.

(Since this IS my first rodeo raising chickens (both hens and roosters) I’d be totally appreciative if you could tell me if this is normal rooster behavior, or is Merlot an aggressive rooster. I don’t want my girls stressed out. He also has taken to biting people. Thank you for your advice in advance!)

While all of this was going on, Benedict just stood around looking like a deer in the headlights. Normally, this Buff Orpington gave Merlot a very small allowance; there was not much that he would tolerate from the smaller Rhode Island Red. Was Merlot taking over the throne? While they are both Sultan’s…Benedict has been the real King over this chicken coop. I was hoping that he was going to step up and put Merlot in his place. Benedict is, normally, kinder to the hens than Merlot tends to be.

As Friday rolled around, something was happening within the flock. The older girls (the Shakespeareans, AKA The Untouchables [see earlier posts]) started standing up to Merlot. Benedict had had enough of Merlot chasing around his girl, Claudio, and was standing up for her….chasing Merlot whenever he came close. Also at this time, Benedict found his voice. His crowing became louder and more forceful…he was not going to let Merlot rule his kingdom…neither were the girls!

As the weekend has progressed, there is calm in the kingdom. The two sultans are with their proper harems, and Merlot has been moved back into place where he originally resided within the pecking order. It’s a good thing too…because given the choice of having to eliminate a bully rooster from the flock, and/or reduce one sultan to bring peace back to the hens…wellllllll…there’s a reason why Benedict is one of the “Untouchables.” I truly hope Merlot understands that………. 😉

Watch'a talkin' about Willis??

Watch’you talkin’ about Willis??

{popular tagline from the 1970’s T.V. series – Different Strokes
Different Strokes

Chicken, Beef, Septic Systems, and Pancreatitis

I learned a lesson this past week, the hard way! Actually, our dog, Tucker, suffered the most. Tucker is a 12 year old. German Wirehaired / German Shorthaired Pointer mix. He’s a good old boy that is all wiry….with the exception of his spots, the top of his head, and his ears…they are smooth, and short. Tucker is the last remaining pup from a litter bred by Tony’s dad’s German Shorthaired Pointer, and his Uncle’s German Wirehaired Pointer. He is a friendly, rambunctious, goofy, chase-that-ball-till-you-drop, great dog and buddy. Tony brought him home one morning when he was just 7 weeks old, and sat him on top of my son while he slept. Will woke up to that little scrunchy face staring down at him….never have you seen a happier little boy than that moment. I’ll never forget it!

What a handsome pup!!

What a handsome pup!!

Little boy Tucker!

Little boy Tucker!

Well as time goes on…little boys and puppies grow older. Will is now 24 and Tucker is 12. Will is in the prime of his life, Tucker is settling into old age. What do chickens, beef, septic systems, and pancreatitis have to do with an old dog named, Tucker? Here is that story…..

Since moving to our home in the woods, I have gotten to experience living with a septic system vs. the well defined sewer systems of the bay area in California. There is a shift of thinking for cleaning products, use of a garbage disposal, keeping an eye on your leach field, and arranging a Honey Truck visit every so often. One thing that is a big no-no (which I have always done being connected to the sewer system) is putting pan drippings down the drain. Recently, I’ve found creative ways to rid ourselves of that product. The most recent is to pour it into a container, refrigerate it so most of the fat rises to the top, remove that fat, and use the flavorful drippings in my dogs’ kibble as an extra treat. I don’t use all of it at once, but divide it between 3 dogs, and about three feedings. Sounds good…apparently, not for my old guy!

The other GREAT idea that I have had recently, is to buy a whole chicken…use the white meat for people consumption, and give the dogs the dark meat including the skin, and the fat-removed-drippings as stated above. I would then boil the bones to get a good broth…and add the de-fatted drippings to the broth. Again, this would be added to their kibble over many feedings…divided by three dogs. Economically speaking…this was way cheaper than buying canned dog food…and healthier…so I thought, but apparently, not for my old guy!

As with the chicken story above, I buy beef…the kind that is marked down to where I can get like 3 pounds of beef for about $8.00…this would last me a good 8 feedings times 3 dogs…so 24 meals! A great alternative to buying canned dog food….apparently, not for my old guy!

So this week, our old Tucker dog became very ill. He started vomiting, and within a 14 hour period wherein, it became very noticeable that this was not just a minor event, and we could get him into the vet’s office…he threw up 12 times. He was also drinking a ton of water. He was very ill, and his life was totally in the balance. His pancreas was totally inflamed, with sky-high values of Lipase 2,300 (highest normal level is 1200) and Amylase at 9,000 (highest normal level is 750!!!) He was a really sick boy. So it was either pancreatic cancer, or pancreatitis caused by something he ate. This can happen when dogs get into the garbage, or eat foods with a high fat content. You know that sinking feeling when the world kind of zeros in on you, and that dark curtain kind of lowers down over your thinking when you realize…you could have caused the problem? That is exactly what I felt when the vet told us what was going on with our Tucker boy. AHHHHHH!! The night before, I had bought some fried chicken from the grocery store…it seemed really greasy, so I took the fried skin off the chicken, but I fed the dogs the dark meat. Obviously…the grease had saturated the meat of the chicken….hoping that it wasn’t cancer…the alternative was that I hurt him by the food I gave him the night before….I’ll take that…just don’t let it be cancer!!

Tucker feeling really badly.

Tucker feeling really badly.

Over the next few days, a lot of IV fluids, no food, rest, and then a reintroduction of a special EN (Gastroenteric) diet Tucker has gotten stronger!! His pancreatic levels are down to 1,826 and 1,000 (huge reduction from 9,000.) Although still too high, way better than before. We have to be careful from here on out…no more beef, only white meat on the chicken…no skin, and no more de-fatted drippings. He’s not out of the woods yet, and he’s kind of a day-by-day doggy now, but he’s home, and he’s wagging his stubby tail!!

Tucker feeling better!!

Tucker feeling better!!

Animal Antics

Nature, domestic and wild, is really a great form of entertainment. During the last couple of weeks, we have witnessed a myriad of heartwarming animal antics that brought with them tears, laughter, and contemplation. For true effect, I’m writing about them in time order….

The five “Fine Wines” were moved to the chicken house (actually this was more like 4 weeks ago) and merged with the four “Shakespearean Untouchables” with great excitement!! They loved their new house! Benedict, our young-but-oldest rooster, set down the law very quickly. He chased the smaller hens around a lot, and was especially attentive to, Merlot, our younger rooster. There was some mild pecking going on from the older group, but no blood was ever drawn, nor feathers plucked. The most heartwarming thing that occurred every night through their transition was that no matter the disdain from the older brood toward the younger, at night when seeking safety inside the house, everyone was accepted to roost. There was some cackling going on as they all found their spot, but the chasing and pecking was at a minimum. The inherent understanding of the dangers that could befall each other if left outside was incredible to witness. I am continually amazed and entertained by my feathered friends.

The Roosting Broods

The Roosting Broods

Two young red-tailed hawks have left their nest and are looking for a feeding ground. The chickens have learned to listen to the birds in the trees, and run inside when they strike the alarm. Benedict’s eyes have learned to watch the skies for dangers and darkness. He leads the brood in and out of their house as safety permits, and has determined the level of darkness that he will allow them to stay outside…after that, he rounds up any hens that are outside, into the house…it is so cool to watch. Here is the call that brings the brood indoors….


Our Great Dane, Penni loves, loves, LOVES our neighbor’s dog, Daisy. Daisy is a true farm dog, of the Great Pyrenees variety, that protects their livestock. Daisy and Penni have a through-the-fence friendship. They actively run back and forth, stick their heads through the fence squares to say, “Hi,” and just lay down and spend time with each other. One day, Penni seemed confused by Daisy. Daisy was just laying there, Penni was trying to engage her, but it was a no-go. Penni looked back at me several times, so I thought I should check things out. As I approached Daisy, I saw something very strange…then it dawned on me…Daisy had a snout and mouth full of porcupine quills. PORCUPINE QUILLS??!!! I didn’t even know we had porcupines in our neck of the woods, but it makes perfect sense…we’re in the woods!! Long story short, Daisy’s human took her to the vet…wherein she was not only de-quilled…she gave birth to 6 puppies!!

This unfortunate guy made his way into the chicken’s yard area….
Garter Snake July 2013
I didn’t see it, but he didn’t last very long. I found the brood close to it…the snake was already dead.

It seems that it is that time of year again….the Peacocks have arrived!!

This picture was taken last spring...they made a visit to the chicken yard this past week.

This picture was taken last spring…they made a visit to the chicken yard this past week.

Beyond all of this…Tucker has gotten into burr bushes 5 times in the last 3 days,

Our poor Tucker doggy and those darn burrs.

Our poor Tucker doggy and those darn burrs.

the family of quail living under a wild blackberry bush have been exercising their bevy of tiny wonders, deer mommies are cautiously bringing out their spotted fawns from under cover, and the neighbor’s goats have been kidding and telling the world about it.

The highlight of all these animal antics, however, has to be the running of 1500 ducks down the main creek winding through town…..Enjoy!!

A Sad Reality

My next-day post turned into a week later…..the realities of life sometimes get in the way of those things, like writing, that I’d rather be doing.

There are other realities in life that we encounter less frequently (hopefully), but always, when they occur, too often. Before I get to that, I have some updating to attend to.

So obviously, the chickens have continued to grow. Since my last post, the “Fine Wines” have feathered out nicely and have been spending time in the small pen that Tony built for the “Shakespeareans”, aka…the “Untouchables.”

Watching over both broods, Penni is a very busy Mommy!

Watching over both broods, Penni is a very busy Mommy!

For three days, their outdoor run was not in the location you see above.  We had them across the driveway, closer to their brooder inside the garage.  They LOVED the great outdoors, and were very quick to get the idea that they could eat the grass, and bugs under their feet.   Our first group didn’t seem to catch onto this concept quite as fast.  Maybe it’s because they were raised by a Great Dane, and not a hen…hahahaha!  This younger brood has taught us a lot about chicken behavior, and some of the dangers they face.  They just, in all aspects, act more like the typical caricature model of those feathered fowl you see in cartoons.  Younger than our first brood, these “Fine Wines” have scratched the dirt, found that grass is a great substitute to feed, chased bugs, and found a roosting place earlier and with more ease than the “Shakespeareans.”

The Fine Wines decided this was a good place to spend the night!

The Fine Wines decided this was a good place to spend the night!

They don’t really want to be held (unlike Claudio), but have found that it is a necessary evil to getting outside.  There is one exception to this, “not wanting to be held” tendency that I will detail in a bit.

The “Untouchable Shakespearean Four” have settled very nicely into the chicken house. We started out having to coral them at nighttime back to indoor safety around 8:30 to 9:00. The sun hasn’t been setting until about 9:30ish, and since, at this point, we manually close their access door we lose patience around 8:30. One night we waited, and it was so cool…it was about 9:15 p.m…our neighbor’s rooster called out…our little man and ladies lifted their heads and ran straight into their house! It was the most awesome sight!! Once the sun starts setting a little earlier, I’ll have patience to wait for this crew to begin doing that on their own…for right now, we do the nighttime coral dance. =o)

Well, now to get to the title of this post…during the week that we were introducing the “Fine Wines” to life outdoors, we had a real-life homesteading lesson. We left the brood out in their covered pen while we went to dinner. I wasn’t concerned as I had left the older group out many times with no problems…Tony, on the other hand, mentioned that we should bring them in…my thoughts won-over the moment, and we went to town…the 6 glasses of wine stayed out. As we were coming up the driveway back home, a hawk took off from a ground level position…near the outside brooder. I glanced at the six smaller chickens…they seemed ok. My concern was mostly on the older four, their outdoor pen is not top covered….they were not outside. Taking a peek into the chicken house, my fears were quelled…they were all there, but they didn’t come out to greet me. Something scary must have happened.

My attention then turned back to the “Fine Wines”…they were all grouped together in one corner of the pen, except one…it was laying, crumpled against the side of the pen…the opposite side of the pen. I thought, “Oh no!!” And within the few seconds it took for me to get to the brood, the additional thoughts that went through my head were…”Which one is it? I think it’s going to be the rooster…he’d try to protect the girls…he always does…Oh no is it Gretchen?” By the time I formed that last question, I realized that it WAS Gretchen….he was dead.

Little Getchen.....the rooster.

Little Getchen…..the rooster.

The little hen who would be a rooster!!

The little hen who would be a rooster!!

Our imagination tells us that Gretchen (the Rooster) must have run forward in front of the flock to protect them. Even though he was still so young, Gretchen always put himself in front of the girls when he sensed something. The hawk must have grabbed him through the wire mesh wall. It was very sad, and it was a very good lesson of true nature…it is all around us up here in Oregon. We have less of a threat of the artificial dangers such as animals being hit by cars, but a more prominent possibility of predators. This requires a different level of thinking and planning. We’re still figuring it out…like the fact that we now put a cat carrier into the outdoor pen so these little ladies and gentlemen have a place to run to for protection.

Do you remember me saying that the younger brood of 6 (now 5) do not like to be held….well, the night of the hawk made things a little different. Those little glasses of wine stood absolutely still while we picked them up to move them inside. They actually relaxed into the crevice of my arm and almost all of them closed their eyes as I walked them back to their home. They were scared, and exhausted. Huddling together, they ate, got a drink of water, then huddled together and took a good sleep. They were somewhat quiet for a little over a day, but something really cool started to emerge….we had a new little rooster. Up to that point I hadn’t noticed that we had two, except for a little “chest pounding” by Gretchen and this little one….welcome to the cockerel section, little Merlot!!

This little guy stepped up to the plate after Gretchen died.

This little guy stepped up to the plate after Gretchen died.

My concern now….will little Merlot be big enough to stand up to Benedict if necessary? Hmmmmm……..

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Our French Oasis


House by the water.

From blank block to new home in Mandurah, Western Australia.

Chantel Mickaela


A Bright Ray of Hope

I'm a temporarily staying-at-home mom of two living in Oregon, learning all over again (after 15 years of city life) how to garden, harvest, and put up food. You might see posts about baking, parenting, crafting, organization - anything that strikes my fancy!

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