Learning to be grateful for kicking your own butt….

Animals: Gotta love 'em, Building the Dream, Permaculture: Crazy or Genius?

Over the past few weeks we have done a pretty good job of kicking our own butts.  Kem does so much more than I do, and I feel horrid when I complain, because I know this; however, when you throw your back out and every move you make feels as if someone is stabbing you repeatedly, it is hard to keep it shut.  LOL 


Chicken Tractors

Building the Dream, Permaculture: Crazy or Genius?

This weekend has been beyond busy… Kem started building chicken tractors for the new additions.  The Blue Andalusian girls WP_20150402_18_31_54_Pro[1] will be in the Chicken Palace above and the meat birds will go into something like the one in the far background (I’ll get better pics later)….


Eventually we will have a Chicken Palace #1, #2 and #3: one for the Blue Andalusians, one for the Welsummers that are coming (yep, I got my way 🙂 ), one for the Americanas/Auracanas/Easter-Eggers/Olive-Eggers. 🙂   The meat birds will be divided into 4 of the low tractors as they grow.

Next is the rabbit colony…. We have 8 babies and 3 pinkies…. add that to the 6 juniors, the buck and the 4 mamas….. we are having bunny explosions… because they are doing what bunnies do…….

We finally got the weeds cut – YAY! – between the push mower and the rider we cut probably 2/2.5 acres closest to the house… so about that… it kicked our butts!  But it is a happy sore, if you know what I mean.

Garden is now ready to be planted – we finally had a break in the rain that allowed us to pull weeds and work it to the point where we can actually plant.  We covered it in black plastic to discourage growth until we can plant this weekend.


The ducks are adjusting well.  This pic is from the day they arrived.  They will be ready to go into a transition brooder next week – where they will be outside in the daytime and inside at night; then once they are feathered Kem is building them a habitat by the smaller pond.  It will border the dog area, so predators will be less of an issue.

Turkeys and Welsummers will be delivered in May, more turkeys in July and probably more meat birds in August – these birds will eventually go in tractors over the garden for the winter – tilling, weed control and fertilization in one compact package… work smarter, not harder is our motto.

So that is about it – a ton accomplished reduced to a few sentences! LOL


Introduction to the critters

Animals: Gotta love 'em

Let’s begin with the productive girls: all 24 of them (I think). We have a couple of dozen laying hens that produce about 20 eggs a day. The oldest one is a 3 year old white leghorn that is still a daily producer of extra-large eggs. We also have 2 ‘yard chickens’ one escaped confinement while in the rental house and has never looked back (she was easy to move since she always runs out to greet Kem). The 2nd banty hen came with the property; well, she is “sort of” the neighbors – as their, perhaps, 12 year old son reminds me. She was laying in the barn when we got here and appreciates the scratch and feed we throw out to her, so she rewards us with extra small eggs that we send to work with Kem for one of his coworker’s 2 year old to enjoy. We (ironically) maybe go through a dozen eggs every 2 weeks, but Kem takes them into work and there are folks that swing by to pick them up… and the boys eat quite a few.
We were given a rooster from the feed store that we use in Powder Springs. [ Rant warning: We love this place (Wild Horse Tack and Feed). The owner is super kind and after 7 years it is hard to leave her behind, so Kem goes there about twice a month… even though it is out of the way he can “make it sort of on the way home.”]  I’ll have to get pics – he has a brother that will come home next time he goes in. Brother will be a designated yard chicken… I don’t want them fighting over the girls and stressing them out.
2 weeks ago we received an order of 50 assorted straight run hatchery chicks. We have never done a straight run as the hens were under the radar, but we certainly have the room now and chicken is probably 75% of our meat consumption, so other than the fact that butchering chickens in mass is a pain in the rear, why not. We are to receive a straight run of 30 Auracana/Americana crosses tomorrow as well. Kem wants to run only Auricana/Americanas after a few years. We’ll see if that changes, but it is the plan at this time.
I do not have pictures of the big girls and their man yet (yet), but will post when I do. Chick pics are below.

OK, let me explain the rabbits…… I was gone on a business trip and when I came home our neighbors daughter came running in and said, “Mommy, have you seen the bunnies?” My response, “I have bunnies?” LOL Yes, I had bunnies. A few bunnies turned in to many bunnies and we have over the years sold many…. but while we were in the rental we had only 3 or 4 until just before we left when one of the females had a litter and we found one of them wandering outside during a torrential rain pour about 2 weeks after Easter. I got it dry and warm and the decision was made to try to hand raise it because of the (seriously) more than 50 cats in the neighborhood that had made short work of any kits previously. Kem built a cage out of an old garden cart and I fed B.B. (baby bunny) for about a week and a half until 2 more bunnies popped their heads out of their hiding spot… we left them with mom under close watch until the cats started paying attention then we brought them in as well. B.B. was on milk and an occasional carrot/grass/clover until the others came in – then it was all about pellets and clippings.
Fast forward to May: we have the 3 kits that are a couple of years old, 2 does and one buck – until we notice a doe with a tell tale tuft that has been recently ‘groomed’ – on the day we made the offer on the property. So, Kem made a sturdy cage for them (that dropped on my toe the first moving day and broke it – rendering me completely useless for the move) so we would have better control over the possibility of survival (without hand raising kits!)
Mama and kits were one of the first things to move – but had we known… We had no idea that a neighbor (about a quarter/half mile away) has dogs that run the neighborhood and terrorize every creature in their path. We put mom and babies cage in a safe place and left to make the 75 mile drive for another load of ‘stuff’ around 6pm. It started to rain (they were sheltered) and one thing led to another and we did not get back to the property until about 7am the following day – where we found the cage ripped open and nothing but pelts all over the yard. Unfortunate lesson learned for moving the remaining 2 adults (and surprise … 8 kits born on moving day!) a week later – the decision was made to move them only after I was going to be here full time.
Fast forward about 3 days after they were moved here and the newly fortified cage was in a different place altogether and all but on the back deck… and with our dogs roaming in and out we thought they had a safe temporary home… we thought. We woke up at our usual 4:30am to find the cage had been ripped out tat the bottom corner (we still question how that happened and mom and dad were gone… the kits were huddled in their nesting box in the fully protected side of the cage. Since the kits were warm, we knew that the cage tampering was very recent. And we hand raised this litter as well. We unfortunately lost the 2 runts, but the other 6 are happy and healthy. The aforementioned feed store owner has 3 of our bunnies at the store and sold 2 others to people that frequent her shop as pets. Pics of the 5 that we still have (I am too attached to let them go) are below.

The Dogs of Run Rover:
We have almost always had a dog – at least one – but now I am seriously contemplating a rescue since I have the desire and the space, but on to the ones we have now… in order of how they became family.
Molly has been with us since she was about 3 months old. She is an 8 year old Jack Russel Beagle cross rescue… When I say rescue I mean that. She was kept in a kennel in a garage and was so fearful it brought tears to my eyes. The very sweet lady we got her from said her husband (who she got her for because he had a beagle growing up and thought it would be a good surprise (UGH))hated her and he was coming home from a job and told her if she is not gone before he got home she would be when he got there… needless to say – she was not there. Molly had issues with bladder control – loud noises etc scared her senseless, but after hearing her story I was not surprised! That and I question the fact that she was spayed before we got her and how that type of surgery at such an early age (6 weeks according to the records) may have contributed to the bladder issues that she was soundly beat for in her previous life.
Max (former life name: Diesel) is a stubborn, gentle, sweet and extremely friendly approximately 2 year old pit bull cross (with Weimaraner we think) that has a penchant for running… never far, but very fast. He has the ears and coloring of a deer and living in the country is a concern for us with him…. that and even though we are in the country we are less than a half mile from a busy road that leads to one of the most beautiful lakes in GA and has a 55 MPH speed limit which means frequently it is traversed at 70+. Max thinks he is a lap dog and when he feels the need for Mom or Dad time, he has no issue leaping squarely in your lap – without a care if there is coffee in your hand or a keyboard on your lap. He came from a neighbor at the rental house. She had several rescues and Max was her escape artist. Kem came home for lunch one day and asked me if I had seen the pit puppy on the carport. I had not because I was working, but curiosity set in and the rest, as they say, is history. I let him in the house and he slept at my feet until I was done working. Then he got a bath – he was very dusty more than dirty. I found a collar and leash and when we went out side the neighbor said, “you found my dog” … I guess he found us – but still…. we got to talking and Max has been with us since that day.
Ida Wanda – as in I don’t wanna – (former life name Bella) is from the same neighbor that we got Max from. She is a sweet *highly* skiddish little over one year old Brindle pit. She has been a challenge, not in a ‘bad’ way, but in the fact that she has had very little human socialization. About 2 weeks after we moved her here (she came to us after we were fully moved in because I knew I was going to have to spend time with her) she shot out the back door one morning and I just knew she was *gone*! She hung around the property though. We had been working on property boundaries when walking and now I know why I have always done that! She would come up in the middle of the night to eat the food we left out for her and as time progressed she would come closer and closer to me when I was out with the other dogs. She was not a people dog, but *is* a dog dog. She is very well dog socialized. Anyway; on July 4th we had several of Matthew’s friends out for a barbeque/thank you for helping us move and curiosity got the best of her and we were able to bring her in again. She hid under the bed for weeks. I could reach under the bed and attach a leash and she would come right out to go for a walk – which we did 8 to 10 times a day – but other than that no human interaction. Kem modified the bed so that she can no longer get under there and we shut the house down where she has to stay in the living room/kitchen areas with us and her behavior is improving. She had gotten to the point where I would just call her and ask if she wanted to go out side rather than have to leash her, and she would come back in when I call her from outside. SUCCESS!!!
Penny (former life name Miley) is a terrier x lab (???) that is about a year old and her puppy shows *hourly*! Pen and Ida are great pals and will lay on the floor wrestling while the others sleep for hours, but her best pal is Max. She terrorizes him insistently! You would think she is the 60 pound pit rather than the 25 pound mutt. She is non-stop until she , literally, falls down done. She is named for “THE BIG BANG THEORY” character Penny (knock, knock, knock – “Penny” repeat twice…) because she is *so* stubborn. I would be willing to wager 80% of the words I speak daily are “Penny, No!”… Thank goodness she is adorable and we are very aware that it may be about age 3 before a terrier (terror) settles down. Jack Russell is our all-time favorite breed.
Pavlov (former life name Buddy). This is a special one! He is a pit cross from the neighbors that have the dogs that roam the world. The former owner thinks he was born last year and it does appear he is about a year old. Pav’s name fits him all too well. He is tongue-tied (surgery after I get him built up nutritionally) so when he eats he has excessive foamy saliva build up on his mouth and too drink he bites the water with his under bite and lifts his head to swallow to eat and drink – in short he is a mess! But, an adorable one. He comes when he is good and ready, but is so gentle! He is allergic to fleas and grass and was an outdoor dog… the poor baby was covered in scabs when he wandered up to the house on the 4th of July and never left. Scabs are gone, coat is filling in and instead of seeing the bottom of every rib because of the lack of muscle tone (I am amazed he could walk!) he is starting to fill in. Grain free high protein dog food free fed along with all the filtered water he can drink has done miracles for him.
Now for the part that has officially dubbed me “a dog lady” by my sons…. all but Ida sleep with us. Pav has recently joined the bed group and is very conscious about staying in his little corner, and Pen is generally in her laundry basket beside the bed after we settle in until about 4am, but that is 2 full sized pit/pit crosses and a 40 pound Molly in our bed nightly…but I don’t know that we would have it any other way… actually… Kem is making a bed for them in the newly constructed master bedroom that will be done this winter. I am betting they are not going to partake, but we shall see.


I almost forgot… the cat. We call her Meow Mix because at the rental house she would stay in the corner just out of our sight and meow loudly every time we walked out the door if the food we put down for the neighborhood cats (so they would leave the chickens and bunnies alone).  When we discovered she was sleeping with the bunnies – they had an open habitat there (and will here, eventually) we decided she was our forever cat.  So we moved her here with us.  Mind you, she has still figured out a way to sleep with the bunnies….2014-09-10 15.26.24-1

Miss Molly: guess what she was named for???  She had a "brother" Montana's Stout Murphy for the first 6 years she was with us.  Lesson never let your children that are Irish descendants and fans of Irish beer name your dogs....

Miss Molly: guess what she was named for??? She had a “brother” Montana’s Stout Murphy for the first 6 years she was with us. Lesson never let your children that are Irish descendants and fans of Irish beer name your dogs….



Ms. Penny in a relatively quite pose

Pav after about 3 weeks

Pav after about 3 weeks

Pav (in his usual stance at this juncture and Ida before she received her invisible fence collar.

Pav (in his usual stance at this juncture) and Ida before she received her invisible fence collar.

50 (actually 53) chicks the day of arrival

50 (actually 53) chicks the day of arrival

Max, Penny and Ida at the front (pasture side) door.

Max, Penny and Ida at the front (pasture side) door.

If only she would do this more often!

If only she would do this more often!

Ms Ida the day we brought her home.

Ms Ida the day we brought her home.

About a week after Pav arrived... what you don't see is my foot is about 2 inches from his face.  Where I was, there he was.

About a week after Pav arrived… what you don’t see is my foot is less than a foot from his face. Where I was, there he was.

3 down, 2 to go.

3 down (yes, I consider this a nap for Penny some days!), 2 to go. Notice my foot in relation to Pav.  He has gotten better, but still defaults to touching me in some way when sleeping.

What you don't see... this is on the front (pasture side) deck about 8 feet to the ground from the bottom.  Under the hutch we are putting a vermiculture box.  We had a ton of worms on the property, why not let them come to us???

What you don’t see… this is on the front (pasture side) deck about 8 feet to the ground from the bottom. Under the hutch we are putting a vermiculture box. We have a ton of worms on the property, why not let them come to us???

My Max

My Max

2 week old assorted chicks

2 week old assorted chicks