Chicken Littles…

July 11, 2007
Right now we have some chicks. Only four, but what a varied assortment! We like diversity here. The mother is a Buff Orpington hen, and the father is a mix from a Polish Silver Laced rooster and Sicilian Buttercup hen. Almost sounds more like flowers than chickens, doesn’t it?
Polish Silver Laced + Sicilian Buttercup =

This Rooster + Buff Orpington Hen = Some interesting Little Chicks.
Here’s a more recent picture of the fast growing little chicks…
The fourth chick was abandoned in the nest by it’s mother. I tried to get the above hen to accept it, but it was a little younger than her chicks, so she figured out it wasn’t hers and kept pecking at it. For now it’s residing in a bird cage on our back porch.

We also had a bunch of Guinea keets. (Fowl lesson for the day: baby guineas are called “keets”, not chicks.) The guinea hens have been nesting in pairs this year, with double nests containing up to 50 eggs. One pair ended up with about 16 keets out of all those eggs, one set ended up with about 5 keets, and another set abandoned their eggs after a snake kept raiding the nest.
Guineas give new meaning to the phrase “bird brain.” They run up and down along a 4-foot high fence, trying to figure out how to get to the other side, when they can fly to the tops of very tall trees with ease. They’re also noisy, but they have one important virtue… they eat ticks. We had a real problem with ticks when we first moved here, and now see only one or two a summer.

Guinea hen and keets crossing our driveway.

The only fowl problem is we don’t have any peafowl chicks this year. I don’t seem to have much luck getting them to hatch out. I have a couple of incubators filled with eggs, but no chicks yet. I keep hoping!

Meanwhile, we’ll enjoy watching the fast growing chicks and keets scampering around after their mothers. It’s fun to see them hopping around, scratching and trying to do “big chicken” stuff.

Chicken Littles… gotta love ’em!

A stitch in time…

July 7, 2007
We’ve been selling and delivering a lot of sheep and goats lately. Usually the goats are livelier and harder to handle than the sheep, but our last two deliveries were the exact opposite.

Today we had 5 goats to deliver. The three of us rounded up all the goats, sorted out which ones we needed and had them loaded on the truck so quickly we had to sit around and kill time before we needed to leave. All Right!

Some of the goats munching leaves off a catalpa tree.

Our previous delivery was quite different. We only needed to load 4 sheep. Easy enough. Ha! And again I say, HA!

First off, if our sheep don’t go in the shed the first try, it’s a problem. After that they’re spooked, flighty, and downright hard to manage. Part of the sheep did go right in the shed, but unfortunately, two of those left out were ones we needed to deliver.

Worse, one of those still out was an old ewe that’s half blind. Since she can’t see very well, she gets spooked easily. She runs right past open gates, so instead of going into the lot where we wanted them, she started running round and round in the main pasture. Sheep being sheep, the other three escapees followed her.

The three of us tried spacing ourselves in the field and heading the sheep back towards the gate. The four of them continually zipped through spaces between us and continued their laps around the field. Over and over we tried to head them in the right direction. Over and over they went in the wrong direction.

It became painfully clear sheep and people were all getting hot and winded. We needed a new strategy. We decided to try letting them out into their day pasture, then use some feed to entice them through the gate they’re used to coming in each night.

It seemed like a good idea, but the sheep did NOT cooperate. Instead of running around the pasture, they were now running in frenzied circles around the aviary and sheds, leaping and bouncing against things along the way. More time passed as sheep and people ran themselves ragged in the muggy summer heat. Whose idea was it to try this?? Oh yeah, mine….

Finally the sheep went through a big gate into a lot by the shed and we were able to pen them up. However, it was quickly apparent our troubles weren’t over. One of the ewes had blood running down her face. Lots of blood.

Naturally, it was one of the ewes we were supposed to deliver. Upon close examination, I discovered she had a cut about 2 inches long above one eye, and the flap of skin drooped down every time she blinked. Oh great!

Evidently at one point this ewe bounced against the aviary and a bolt sticking out from it had ripped clear through the skin. After almost a decade of shepherding, I’d never had a sheep that needed stitches. This one did.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have any sutures. Also, I needed to know the buyer’s preference. Did she want me to keep the ewe until she was healed and deliver her later? Did she want to suture the wound herself? Did she want a vet to do it?

I called to see how they wanted to handle it, and at their request, we loaded the wounded ewe with the other sheep, and stopped at a vet’s office to have the cut stitched up while on the way to their farm. Nothing like sitting in a hot parking lot waiting on a busy vet after you’re already hot and tired from running half the morning.

Once the wound was washed out, sutured up, and the vet gave the ewe a couple of shots, AND I paid the bill (there goes the profit!), we were finally ready to get the sheep to their new home.

Our friend with one of her Great Pyranees and a few of her sheep.

Fortunately, unloading the sheep was pretty easy, and we were able to enjoy a nice visit with the buyer. She has beautiful sheep and wonderful guard dogs and we enjoy chatting with her, but I must admit it was a relief to finally make it home again and put that fiasco behind us.

Which just goes to prove, a stitch in time isn’t always a time-saver!

What Egg-xactly is it?

July 5, 2007

Some of our chickens like to lay eggs in a feed trough in the sheep shed. When I went out to gather eggs, here is what I saw:

Okay, true confession time. The top egg I placed in there for comparison. It’s a peafowl egg. Our peafowl are in a large aviary, so lay their eggs in there. Once in a while we find a chicken egg in the aviary, as our Golden Sebright’s can slip through the openings in the wire at the bottom, but generally speaking, the chicken eggs and peafowl eggs aren’t together.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering what peafowl are – I know some people get confused at the term peafowl! Think peacocks. Only peafowl is the real name for those type of birds, peahens are the girls, peachicks are the young birds, and peacocks are the boys, and the boys only.

Anyway, back to the nest of eggs! In the middle are two chicken eggs. The white one on the left comes from a Sicilian Buttercup hen. The one on the right comes from a Buff Orpington hen.

Now the bottom egg, I’m not sure egg-xactly what it is. With that odd shape, I believe it may have been a Polish Crescent Sliver Moon chicken.

Well, okay, maybe not. I do believe it came from our Polish Crested Silver Laced chicken however. I really don’t know what happened that she laid this egg with such a strange shape. They usually look just like the other chicken eggs.

I guess she just wanted this one to be egg-stra special!

The Birth of A Blog And Celebrating The Birth Of A Nation

July 4, 2007

Not only is today Independence Day in the United States, it’s also American Redneck Day, American Hillbilly Day, Barbeque Day, National Barbequed Spareribs Day, National Country Music Day, and even Tom Sawyer Fence-Painting Day in Hannibal, Missouri.

That all sounds pretty country to me, making this a great day to start a running commentary on life in the country — my ramblings about rural life.

Living in the country has its’ rhythms, flowing with the seasons. It has it quirks, with the unexpected happening with livestock, crops, pets and people. One minute it’s a peaceful existence, the next madness and mayhem. Sometimes it’s fun, sometimes it’s sad, but rarely is it boring. It’s a patchwork quilt of events of all shapes and colors, to wrap yourself in and find comfort.

Many people live the country life. Many more dream of doing it. And even more enjoy hearing about life in the country. “Rural Ramblings” will take you there. So drop in often, read the latest tale, and enjoy my take on life in rural America.

Y’all come back!


Welcome Ya’ll!

July 4, 2007

It’s the country life in the southeast with a few 4-legged critters and lots of fowl. Our Maremma sheepdog works hard to keep the predators away! I love to take pictures so there are lots of images of the farm critters, wildlife and nature. Plus some pictures from far afield now and then, when we do a tad of traveling. So sit down and visit a spell!