Horseback Riding!

I went horseback riding today at a local stable that offers trail rides. 

It was a good ride. I haven’t ridden for many years, and the last time I rode, we did nothing but walk. The horse I had, Gracie, came with instructions… “Don’t kick her…or she’ll take off. Just squeeze gently.” Additionally, I have always ridden horses that I could neck-rein, (if you want to go left, bring both reins to the left, pushing the horses neck in the direction you want to go). This horse didn’t do that. I had to actually pull on the left rein to go left. Gracie had a very soft mouth, and I really had to be gentle when pulling on the reins, or she’d turn sharply.

I asked if we could do some running, and the guide gave me a cautious yes. He reminded me that Gracie could really run, if I didn’t keep her under rein. So, we cantered for about 100 yards, or so. It was fun, but I was shocked at how badly I rode! I was bouncing around, and had to hold the horn. I guess that means I need to go more often!

Gracie was a very slow walker. I think she did that so we would have to trot or canter to catch up to the guide. She was very responsive though, and when I tugged the reins to slow her down. She reluctantly complied. I can’t wait to go again!

Rudy!

We got a Lowchen puppy and named him Rudy. My husband wanted a small dog, that was trainable, doesn’t shed and gets along with people, dogs and other animals. From what we researched, the Lowchen was the perfect breed for us.

Most of the time, he’s very sweet. But he’s also quite the little biter, and that’s really annoying! He likes playing “chase” with Archie, our 9 year old Shetland Sheepdog. He also likes picking fights with Archie, and eating his food. He’s got some habits we need to break, but he’s only 8 weeks old. Isn’t he adorable?

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Rain, Rain, Go Away!

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We had 2 inches of rain last Friday, another two, on Monday, and we’re expecting another severe storm with another three inches of rain, plus the possibility of tornadoes. Our coop has only about 6 square feet of space under it, so it’s a tight squeeze for 4 hens. But, they’re enduring. They still come of out the coop when it’s raining, but during the downpours, they seek cover.

I was home from work on both Friday and Monday, so when I went out to let the girls out to do some rangin’, I had to traipse through about three inches of standing water the whole way to the pen. Our soil is heavy clay, so it doesn’t drain well. All I can say is that the “sandbox” setup, (on which our coop sits), was genius! There are no puddles in the sand, so the girls can stay drier. And if they get mud on their feet, they have to walk through the sand to get back to the coop, so some of it will get brushed off along the way.

One of the design flaws of the coop we purchased is that the drip line of its roof is right at the hinge of the nesting box. So the nesting box gets wet inside when it rains. Not a good thing! All this rain prompted us to move more quickly of solving the rain/snow problem. So we purchased a kennel roof to fit on top of the pen. We ordered it online and haven’t yet seen it, but seems to attach with bungee cords. Hopefully, it will fit well, and be stable. It should be delivered any day now, so we’ll probably have it set up by next weekend. It will be nice to be dry when cleaning and feeding them. And, they won’t have to be cooped up to stay out of the rain.

New Girls

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Rosie and Butterscotch are getting used to their new home. Their older sisters are still picking on them though. We’ve been keeping them separated during the day. I set up the Peck & Play inside the pen, and put the young ones in it one day, and let the older girls have the run of the pen and coop. The next day, I switch and put the older ones in the Peck and Play, and give the young girls run of the pen. Then in the evenings, I let them all out to range for an hour or so, (with supervision, of course). The big girls pretty much leave them alone when they’re outside.

Today, however, was a rainy day. I don’t have a way to keep the Peck & Play sheltered from the rain. So I left them all in the pen together. Hopefully, the young ones will be fine when I get home.

I managed to pick up each of the hens. The older ones are a lot heavier than they were when we first got them. And Daphne’s comb is growing. I guess she’ll be laying in a few weeks. Can’t wait!

Hawk Attack

Well, yesterday we had the girls out free-ranging, unsupervised. My husband, Scott looked out the window and saw a hawk on top of Viola, our barred rock. By the time he got to her, and scared the hawk away, she was dead. He looked around and found Chi Chi, our Black Australorp hiding in some pachysandra in the corner of the yard. Our Rhode Island Red, Daphne was nowhere to be found.

My son and I wend out looking for her, but to no avail. About and hour or so later, my husband looked out the window and said, “Red’s back!” And, sure enough, Daphne was back, safe and sound, and was trying to get into the pen.

We went out today and pick up two more hens, a gold sex-link, (Butterscotch), and another Rhode Island Red, (Rosie). They are only 3 months old, and I was concerned about introducing them to the other two, older hens. I know we were supposed to quarantine them, and then keep them separated, but in sight of each other. But we don’t have the space or setup for that. So, we brought the older girls outside, and put the younger two inside the pen so they could get used to the pen and the coop.

When we finally put the older girls back in, the pecking and intimidation began. No blood has been drawn, but the younger ones were not going to go up to the roost. My husband and I grabbed them while they were sleeping, and moved them up to the nesting boxes, so they could move to the roost that is close to the boxes, (the other two were on the roost nearest the “roost door”). We’ll see how they are in the morning. Hopefully, they’ll be easily assimilated.

Chi Chi has been laying an egg almost every day since she arrived. Hopefully her egg production will continue, and soon Daphne will join her. Only time will tell.

Arrival day!

Well, the girls arrived yesterday. All three of them came in one box, (see photo). When I lifted them out of the box and put them into the coop, there was an egg in the box! It was small, but the shell was hard. I think it came from the Black Australorp. I suspect she is a few weeks older than the other two. She is larger, and her feathers, including her tail, are beautifully, completely in. And her comb and wattle are bright red, whereas the other two have pale pink ones.

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The first thing they did was drink water, (as I expected). Then they found the food and the grit container. Because of the placement of the feeder and waterer in the coop run, they had a hard time moving around as a trio. I had planned to keep them locked in the coop for a few days so they’d learn that that was their home, and so they’d roost inside it, not on top of it. But because of the difficulty they had moving around in there, I decided to let them out into the pen.

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They went right for the grass and started eating it right up. My Red found a worm. It was funny watching her eat it. I had some winter rye in pots that I brought into the pen area and put them where there wasn’t much grass. They weren’t terribly interested in it, but they did check it out more as the evening went on.

I added some kitchen scraps to one of the pots, (some carrot skins and string bean ends). They ate some of it. I figure that if they don’t eat it, it will degrade and go into the pot with the rye grass. At the very least, it will make it easier to remove the decaying material from the pen!

At around 9 p.m. I went out to “tuck them in.” It was really dark out. Two of them were in the coop, but the Black Autralorp was not. She was walking around the coop, making a sound like a moan/growl. I chased her around a little and finally caught her and put her into the coop. The other two figured out how to get up the ramp into the roosting area. Black couldn’t get up it. So, I guided/shoved her up the ramp and into the hole to the roost. The other two were in the way, and were laying on the poop tray. I figured they’d work it out. I checked on them at around 10:30 p.m. I opened the door to the roosting area, and shined my flashlight in. They were all awake, but settled, so I went to bed.

This morning, I checked on them at around 6:30 a.m. It was light out, but they were not down from the roost yet. They were still in the roost, but settled, so I went to work, and asked my husband to check on them before he left for work. He emailed me and said that they were down from the roost, but still inside the coop. I’m sure that by the time I get home, they’ll be wandering around the pen.

I wonder if they’re jet-lagged, or dealing with the time difference since on Tuesday, they were living in Iowa in the Central Time Zone. I’m hoping that by this weekend, they’ll be fully adjusted. We shall see!