the barn in fall

the barn in fall

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

And Then There Was One . . . Maybe

I am down to one chicken.  My adventurous brown Aricauna was gone when I went to the barn yesterday evening.  When she wants back in after one of her escapes, she usually hangs around the stalls, or roosts on top of the chicken yard, waiting for me. 

I looked; no chicken. 

I called; no response to my inviting clucking. 

With growing trepidation I walked around the barn, and searched inside, looking for a mass of brown feathers that would confirm my fears.  No feathers. 

I searched farther afield, looking through the pasture and in the trees behind it, far out of her usual range.  No feathers.  Baffled, I walked the entire hay field next to us, where I have seen a fox take a stolen chicken to eat it, then play with the remains.  But still no feathers. 

This is puzzling, but I've figured it out.   My chicken has gone on a grand chicken-adventure, perhaps getting lost for a time.  One day I will walk out to the coop, and there she'll be, waiting to be let inside.

This is what happens when you watch too many Disney movies.

Meanwhile, the last chicken and Zoe, the chicken coop cat, don't miss their aggressive roommate a bit.  They were sunning themselves in the dirt today.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


A few years ago one of these plants appeared in my pasture by the manure pile.  It was pretty and amazingly fast growing - you could almost see daily progress.  (click on the photo to enlarge; it's a majestic weed!)

It quickly grew to 7 or 8 feet, and had green berries that turned to shiny black in the fall, eaten by birds.
The berries make a red ink or dye.
Wikipedia "fact" - the U.S. constituion was written with ink made from pokeberries.

Another fact, this one from personal experience:  pokeweed is prolific.  It loves horse manure and urine-soaked wood shavings.  This is now my manure pile every summer:

It's covered with a tangle of pokeweed.  The roots are buried so deeply in manure there's no getting them out, and weed killers barely faze it.  What's the point in waging a war I can never win?  I've decided to like it.  Pokeweed is part of my green contribution to the local wildlife.

But any stray berries that take root in my pasture are ruthlessly mowed to shreds.  Two manure piles make for quite enough pokeweed.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Fritz, Superhorse and Man of Mystery

Fritz is nearly back to normal!  This is from today, with the injured front hoof nearest to the camera.

For a horse that could barely touch his toe to the ground 3 weeks ago, his progress is amazing.  And the final verdict on the cause - we still can't be sure, but the farrier has now reversed his decision, and says it wasn't an abscess.  The evidence would show up by now.  Sooo, the best guess is a ruptured or detached tendon, perhaps the flexor tendon where it attaches to the coffin bone.  (For all you anatomy nerds.)  All I care is that my baby is going to make it.

He nearly didn't.  My farrier confessed that the last time he saw him he thought he was about a day away from . . . this was where he made motions of shooting a finger-gun at his head.  No one wanted to ever say it in front of me, but I could see as well as they could that we'd run out of options.

Fritz lost a lot of weight from the constant pain combined with the 100 degree heat, and he no longer wanted the magic oatmeal that was a staple for him.  I switched to applesauce.  He was thrilled!  He's been going through one 3-lb jar every day while I've been fattening him back up, and it works well.  I'm trying to wean him off his habit by diluting it with water, and so far he thinks that's okay.  Not having many teeth limits my options.  (The horse, not me.  I still have my teeth.) 

I mix the applesauce with Equine Senior pellets, which according to my one-year old granddaughter are yummy enough even when eaten plain.  Not that I encourage eating horse food (note to her parents,) but she popped one into her mouth before I could stop her.  It wasn't hazardous enough to risk getting my fingers bit off by going after it, but I tried to discourage her by saying "No!  Ick!"  She disagreed.  Giving me her sincere big blue eyes, she said, "Mmm!"  So for the record, Equine Senior might make a good breakfast cereal.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Fritz Update - Progress?

When I left for conference, Fritz could hardly stand to put his toe down to take a step.  His hoof was in a poultice for the week I was gone, and when I got back he was putting some weight on his foot.  Today he walks with a pronounced limp, but he walks, using the whole hoof. 

We expected that the abscess would find a route out and we would see a sudden improvement.  Instead, we're getting a slow improvement.  Swelling and heat are both down around the coronary band, and the underside of the hoof is sensitive in front.  If there's a small seepage I can't see it.  But heck, I'll take whatever progess I can at this point.