Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Chicken Drama and Giant Eggs

After the saga the other day of losing the chicken and it finding its way home, I was so done with losing chickens. I'm not getting anymore chickens without building a pen to keep them in so they don't get lost. Right now there's a downed tree where I want to put the pen, so it can't go up overnight. Also we used the lumber I was planning to use for it for a sweet practice target for shooting.

So with all that, the choices were lock up the chicks in a dog crate during the day so they can't wander, or let them wander. I want them to get in with the adults and join the flock, so I made the decision to let them go out with the adults.

At 9:30am, a little more than an hour after releasing them, I regretted that decision. I went outside for my regularly scheduled chicken check, and discovered that three (THREE?!) of the babies were missing. Three out of five chicks were missing from the yard. The two remaining chicks were following the adults around, cheeping sadly and loudly for their lost friends.

The search began immediately. I walked around our property, the neighbor's property, all the way down the street, through the woods, and everyplace I thought a baby chick might go to. I searched for at least an hour and a half. Literally, not a peep from any chicks.

We had errands to run, so we left the house for several hours, griping about the vulnerability of those poor chicks. Hours later we returned to find...

All chicks had returned and were casually walking around the yard! Where on earth did they go?! I guess we will never know....

Today, they wandered around the yard without getting lost. Thank goodness.

Now to change the subject: Today's Amazing Chicken Accomplishment!

Holy moly!

Oh Belvedere, such an over-achiever

Belvedere shot out this giant egg today. Here's all of today's egg haul, minus the store bought.

Left to right: Belvedere (fat egg from a fat chicken), store bought, Nessie (easter egger), Fluffers (beloved silkie), Spoof (second beloved silkie) 
It doesn't even fit in an egg carton. So we had to eat it. It had two yolks, so perhaps it was the equivalent of chicken twins.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Lost Little Chicken Comes Home

The time had come to release the little baby chickens outside. They were big enough for it. I had kept them inside for about 6 weeks, longer than any of my other chickens. I was afraid of losing them.

For two days, they were fine. I locked them up in a dog crate at night, and released them in the coop during the day. Then I lost one. A tiny black and white bantam cochin. The others were still in the coop, so I assumed that the little one had fallen out, and didn't know how to get back into the coop. I searched for her for about an hour, but she was no where to be found.

Yesterday, I put them out in the yard. I figured they'd be less vulnerable if they could be together as a group. I left to run errands. I came back, and another one was missing. I was very upset. This time, it was a little brown speckled sussex missing. I searched again, but found no sign of her. It was very upsetting.

Later that day, I spotted the neighbor's cat hunting the chicks in my backyard. I ran it off, collected all the babies and put them in the dog crate to keep them safe. I assumed the cat had hunted down and killed the others.

Hours later, I was with the horses out in the field. I'd been out there for about a half hour, when a little brown chicken waltzed right up to me, peeping. I immediately abandoned what I was doing, and caught the little chicken. I couldn't believe it. The missing chicken, out in the horse pasture, very far away from the chicken coop, had recognized me, and knew to come to me.

I rushed it back to the chicken coop to rejoin it with the others. The sweetest part was when the little chicks heard their friend peeping, and all chicks began peeping excitedly. The little sussex was reunited with its friends, and all was well as it could be. The little black and white one is still missing, but once they've been out overnight, the chances of finding them are next to nothing.

The happy family, brought together.

The rest of the chickens have been indifferent to the chicks. Hopefully they'll all be friends soon.

Breakfast time!
Not a chicken or chicken related.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The New Chicken Coop

With so many chickens crammed into my old A-frame chicken coop, I decided to build them a new one. Here is the completed coop. I thought afterward that perhaps I should have taken photos of the process, but I forgot to have my phone on me. Eh. 

The girls enjoy it. Here's their fluffy butts on the roosting pole.  

They were so excited about it, they left me presents! Some of their fluffy little butts began shooting out eggs!

I could not get the color to show up enough on my camera. We have here a cream egg, a brown egg, and a green egg. Colors more vibrant in person, I promise.
The cream one is from my super silkie, Fluffers. She has my heart like no other chicken ever could. But she's been popping out eggs for a while now. I now have two new layers. One is definitely Nessie, my easter egger. That is her green egg. I believe the brown one is from Bellvadire (bell-va-deer, noun, a noble name for a chicken). She is a Marans, who are known for laying chocolate brown eggs. I was expecting a darker brown from her, though. But she's been hanging around the coop a lot, so I can only assume it is her. The only other chicken it could be is Legs, the buff orphington, who will also be laying brown eggs, but of a lighter color than the Marans. 

The only way to be sure is to wait and see if the next egg is darker, or lighter. Hopefully the next chicken will start laying soon! 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Vintage Bareback Challenge. Accepted, and Completed.

Vintage has always been super sensitive and very easy to get speedy. While fun to ride in a saddle, I have been terrified to ride her bareback faster than a walk. I have always been afraid I won't have good enough balance, she will shoot forward and I will slip off. Heck, I've only ridden her without stirrups a handful of times.

I will mention that I am not new to bareback riding on other horses. Other than the required bareback lessons, I rode my old gelding bareback quite a bit. He was a quiet quarter horse who had a horrible spine that protruded into your behind. I kept him at a riding school one summer, and acted like a show off on him by riding him bareback and helmet-less in front of the kids. It often backfired, as I fell off bareback on that horse more times than I can count. I would be riding happily along and he would suddenly decide "eh, this ride is over" and slam on the breaks. So I would be airborne over his head and he would stare at me with the most innocent face.

I had Vintage at the same time as my old gelding, and she had a nice fatty back that seemed like a Cadillac compared to the gelding's bony back. That comfortable back called to me, but at the same time, it seemed like a deathtrap. She was (and to a lesser extent, still is) a little ball of energy. But her back was so soft! No jagged spine to dig into your seat! I wanted to ride her bareback. Over the years, I gained the courage to ride her bareback at a walk for various things. I rode her to the river bareback to go swimming. I once rode her bareback around the pasture just to do it - so pretty much about two times I have ridden her bareback.

But, I decided I must push myself. It's not an option anymore. I'm going to get on her, and ride her bareback, and if I fall off, well, I'll get back on.

I started out gradually. The first step, I just got on her bareback in the pasture. I pointed her up a hill in case she took off and asked for a trot. No problem, she answers and off we trot. Super comfy trot on my couch of a mare.

So then I began trotting her in the arena. Easy peas, no problem. Trotting around happily on my couch.

Today, I took the next step. I cantered her bareback. I was afraid for a moment, but I pushed it aside. She did get quick, but then I started doing trot canter transitions. I forgot I was bareback, and reverted back to my "normal" riding. Then it was like a light bulb went off... normal riding either with or without a saddle = normal riding. If I rode the way I always did, she acted the way she always did.

I did do a little slip and slide around a bit, but no falling. I have to give credit to my cool horse who took my slipping sideways as a cue to go sideways and therefore caught me. Good girl.

My fear was crippling me. I was scared, but I did not need to be. It makes me realize, like most things with my riding, once I push through the fear, it's not scary. It's easy. It's only my own fears holding me back.

I still have to jump her bareback, but I'll work on that once I can do it with a saddle. I have a tendency to jump ahead of her and my release sucks. Weird how it's easier for me to jump Berry, the horse who just learned to jump. But Berry has a much calmer personality, and she jumps flat.

Vintage says, "are we done yet?"
Next up, I will ride Berry bareback. But not anytime soon, because she has a bony back and I'm not in any hurry to have bruises on my seat. I'll stick to Vintage for a little bit.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Show Photos

You know how you go to a show, and then the show photographer doesn't send you your show photos until months afterward? Well, the same thing happened to me! Except replace "show photographer" with mother, and it's basically the same thing, minus her being paid. She was paid by the love in my heart. Thanks, Mom.

Here's the summary of the show in three pictures.

Warm up jump
Yay! Excited to go into the ring!

Still alive and jumping at jump 7B. It appears my eyes are closed though. 

The end....?

I think I'll hire my mother to come to all my shows and take pictures of me. She seems like a very cost effective option.

So... I built my own riding arena...

It is only going to be grass, but come on, I only had so much to work with. I'm not so amazing that I can turn dirt into stone dust/sand/fiber/rubber.

And because I love this horse, here's my Vinny jumping in my arena.

And here she is flicking her tail after a jump!

And here she is doing some other thing!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Minor improvements

I cleaned my tack room. It was pretty messy in there.

I have two horses and one pony that all need to be worked. I went into the tack room to pull out someone's tack and I realized it was a disaster in there. How can I expect to work efficiently in such a mess? I will never find what I need!

So I did some rearranging. The tack box was in a nonsensical location... why did I put in under the saddle racks when I just have to pull it out to open it? It was moved to the other side of the room. The trash was all collected. Items were lined up. The room was swept.

I was the day's entertainment.

I discovered water damage. I already knew the room was leaking, but it is still annoying. This room was an add-on to the original barn and was built very poorly to begin with. I need to build a new one and knock this one down.

And then, ta-da! Clean tack room.

Easier to walk in, easier to get to everything I need. The horses are most pleased that I can get to their gear more efficiently (I imagine).

Now to fantasize about my new tack room