Sunday, June 24, 2018

Sunday Walkabout 6-24

If every week has a theme, then I guess this week was all about distractions. Good and bad, more than once we found ourselves slightly off-course or doing the unexpected prior to whatever we had set out to do.

I truly believe John Lennon was right when he penned “life is what happens while you’re planning other things”. ("Beautiful Boy")  And, yes, I do know he certainly was NOT the first one to utter the phrase, but, it's a good song.  Things certainly can take a circuitous route sometimes.

When I headed out back to feed the lambs, I noticed the Boss circling the broiler pen in an odd way.  He didn’t respond when I hollered at him to see what was wrong. So, I fed the lambs and started back to feed Angus. That’s when the Boss finally came out of his reverie and asked me to come look at something when I finished.

With a sense of foreboding, I met him at the pen.

“Just look at that! You ever seen anything like that?”

Now, I must admit, at first I couldn’t even tell what THAT was.

It looked like…oh, my gosh…a chicken breast. (ready for the plate...well, not really) EWW!  What? How? And, where was the rest of it? What on earth happened? Were there any other casualties?

There were no signs of forced entry (digging underneath or torn up pen) .There was very little left of the chicken (absolutely NO feathers or entrails). The remains were INSIDE the pen.  There were a couple of other injured birds (who would succumb later) There was no trail to follow (to track the varmint). Although it did look like something had tried to pull the remains THROUGH the wire.

all that was left of a chicken

He found a couple of tiny spots on the pen that warranted some sort of repair. But, nothing to indicate what happened. He would set the big trap in hopes of catching the predator.

He told me to get some pictures and look for any clues as he headed off to the barn for supplies.

We were still mulling over this weird event when we went in for breakfast. So, I must admit, when there was a message from the hay guy, my first thought was not “oh goodie…we can get hay for winter!”  It was just one more unexpected thing to add to the TO-DO list that had already been highjacked before 7am on a Monday morning. (and for the record, I have absolutely NO idea when we will fit hay-hauling into the schedule)

Now, losing one chicken isn’t a big deal. There are a certain number of losses in every batch of broilers and on occasion we lose the odd and random hen. The concerning thing in this case was the lack of clues. Ordinarily, there is something fairly obvious that can be corrected, and the problem won’t recur. But, without any real clues, you just take a random shot in the dark and hope for the best. And, worry…you do lots of worrying.

Over the years, we have had all sorts of critters get into the chickens. This is just one of the BIG disadvantages to pasture-raised poultry. (and why I understand why the big producers utilize poultry houses) But, interestingly, I don’t think we have had the same type of attack twice. Which means we have found a solution to the different varmints. So, that’s a success. However, this one had us stymied.

But, things seemed to get back on course.

Until Karma decided to throw the “pool party to end all pool parties”.

Karma's "pool party" got a little out of control

I have absolutely NO idea what went through her puppy mind when she decided to EAT the little wading pool I bought a couple of weeks ago. But, it’s a goner.

The heat and humidity have been a real issue of late (so Karma’s really going to miss her pool). The weeds are thriving in this environment. The humans, not so much. But, if there was going to be any chance of a sweet corn crop this year, the Boss was going to have to wage a serious battle, no matter the weather conditions. He spent nearly a half a day tilling and weeding and cleaning up the corn patch. And, the fate of the crop still hangs in the balance.

tilling the corn

But, the trap worked and he caught a big raccoon! Hopefully that was the culprit in the chicken attack. The potential corn crop will also benefit from the dispatch of the destructive critter.

Since it’s been SO hot, I really hate to pen Karma up at night. She’s nearly 6 months old, so it’s time for her to learn how to be a big dog and roam the farm at night. While Gus didn’t seem too thrilled at the prospect of having her around constantly, it seemed like the right thing to do.

I began to have some doubts when we went out the next morning and she had ripped the backdoor mat into tiny pieces. I am still finding bits of astro-turf in odd places.

bits and pieces are still appearing

Ah…another distraction…and another item to pick up on our next trip to town.

Not to give you the wrong impression. There were some pleasant distractions this week…

there was a birthday cake to make

meet "the chicken-whisperer"

never too busy for a tractor ride

we even did some art

cool paint swirls...

...were worth the mess

In order to get the boys to sleep at the same time, we took a little drive through the countryside. It was a pleasant change of pace on a blistering hot afternoon.

I love our beautiful Valley!

The abundance of rain has caused an abundance of growth. And, not just the weeds. The trees next to the house have gotten out of control. This might not seem like a big issue, but they have begun to interfere with the internet antenna. Internet access out here is critical for communication, and sometimes it seems a constant struggle to keep it functional. Lately, the connection speed had slowed to a crawl, so it was time for a little tree trimming.
tree trimming

A “little tree trimming” ended up being a pick-up load of branches AND a trip down to the creek to add to the enormous brush pile. We’ve been saying we were going to have a big, family bonfire (complete with hotdogs and marshmallows) for about 5 years now. The lush leaf and weed growth means it's like going into the jungle down there, so I guess we’re going to wait a while longer. But, the wide variety of plants and wildlife may be worthy of their own post. Here are just a few examples...

honeybee in milkweed

Stinging Nettles are EVERYWHERE

water hemlock

Although that wasn’t at all what I had planned on doing when I walked out and found the Boss with the chainsaw, our internet speeds are back up and the sheep enjoyed a little snack of apple leaves.

ewes having a snack


Another day…another distraction…

This time, it was the side door mat.

what's left of the door mat

Oh, come on, Karma!

In the course of the week, she has eaten: a wading pool, two door mats and the Boss’ tiny cracked egg bucket. She’s been dragging a rubber feed pan around the farm and you never know where it will end up. She dug an enormous hole just outside the barn, where I can only assume she’s hunting rats. (I’ve found bits and pieces of rat in odd and random places----gross!) Then, she started taking logs out of the woodpile…


But, there may have been a reason for the raid on the woodpile.

As I was finishing up some paperwork, I heard the Boss open the backdoor. It sounded like he took something off the shelf. The backdoor slammed again.

As I was wondering what was going on, he came back.

I just shot a groundhog!

In the woodpile.

The woodpile next to the garden. (where Karma has been taking logs and digging)

Now, the other day I could have sworn I saw a groundhog in the garden. But, it was early in the day and the light was fairly dim. I figured it must have been the cat and didn’t give it any more thought. It probably was the groundhog, and that could have been disastrous.

So, maybe we should look at the seemingly annoying distractions in a positive light.

the motley crew was making a terrible ruckus at choretime

because "bucky" was stuck in the fence

I had to trudge all the way up the hill to free him
but, look at the view!

Because, in the end, all our work got done. The internet is faster. The chickens haven’t been attacked again. And, we had a good day at Market.

6-23 Market stand

We even had a cute distraction while we were there!
MrB came to visit

Although, we do have to get ANOTHER door mat on our next trip to town...

Hope you’re having a Happy Sunday! 
  Now, you'll have to excuse me...
the beans need picking!

Thanks for stopping by. Come back and “visit” again soon.

 Here's the link to the Boss' Market photos for this week.


  1. Oh I do enjoy your posts Barbara! I'm not sure how I found your site, but it is a wonderful learning experience for a city-dweller to hear how the farm world works to get produce to market. I laughed at the antics of your puppy. They do grow out of the chewing stage, but it does take soooo long! Thank you for sharing your lives.

    1. Hello and Welcome!
      Thanks for reading and commenting. I hope you'll come back often.
      Have a great week.