More Snow!

A few weeks ago, there was another large snow storm – we got over 30 inches in a couple days.

A picture of the house and main barn a few days after the storm.

We already had over 30 inches in a single storm early in the winter. With this latest storm, it pushed us over our annual average snowfall for the winter.

A panoramic view of the snow from the woods behind the pastures.

Another picture of the pastures from the woods.

Starting a few days after the storm, the temperature warmed up and the snow has been steadily melting since then. We are now down to just a few piles of snow near the driveway. This storm may have been the last significant measurable snow of the winter.

A panoramic shot of the pasture covered in snow.

The animals usually stay inside while it is snowing. The chickens also don’t like to walk on soft snow but they will walk on harder packed snow.

The goats don’t really seem to mind the snow on the ground once the storm stops and the sun comes out – here is a shot of the goats hanging out in the snow next to the barn.

Goats hanging out near the barn.

Local Wildlife: Cooper’s Hawk

A couple weeks ago, a small hawk caught and killed a small bird just off the porch in our back yard. After a bit of research, I think it was a Cooper’s hawk.

Unfortunately, by the time, I got outside to get some closer pictures, the hawk had already flown away with its meal.

A picture of a Cooper’s hawk in the backyard.

Cooper’s hawks mainly eat small birds caught in flight and the hawks are too small to seriously bother our chickens.

The hawk on top of its kill.

Click through for a video of the hawk removing the feathers.

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The Old Stone Pillar

I think we have just solved the mystery of the single old stone pillar in our front yard.

The pillar is well away from the corner of the driveway and isn’t near the corner of the property line either. It didn’t really seem to serve a clear purpose marking any boundaries.

In addition, the stone and brick pillar was falling apart due to the many years of freezing and thawing cycles throughout the winters. It probably wouldn’t have made it more than a couple of more years before completely collapsing. We decided to repair it last fall and redo the mortar and bricks that had broken off.

You can see the multiple colors of bricks in the photo where new bricks were used to replace old bricks that had crumbled apart.

The stone and brick pillar – after repairs.

A neighbor recently provided us with a pencil sketch from the 1950s or 60s that solves the mystery pillar!

Click through to see the sketch and solve the mystery.

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Mindy the Miracle Chicken

As you may recall, we lost a hen last spring to what was likely a case of egg yolk peritonitis (EYP). EYP is when the egg does not form properly inside the hen and then the yolk can remain inside the hen and cause an internal infection. EYP is almost always fatal.

A few weeks ago, another of our hens, Mindy, was exhibiting similar symptoms. She was somewhat more lethargic than normal and she was also walking upright like a penguin. We recognized the symptoms from our prior experience.  We separated her from the flock.

After last time, we had asked around the area and had been given the names of several local vets who are willing to see chickens. We packed her up in a travel dog crate and took her to the vet at their first open slot.

Mindy in a crate ready for transport to the vet.

Not surprisingly, in the waiting room, we were the only one with a chicken instead of a dog or cat.

After meeting with the vet, the situation was not looking great. Mindy’s abdomen was enlarged and somewhat solid to the touch. The vet could not provide a specific diagnosis and there were a number of possibilities, most of them were very likely to be fatal.

Mindy’s only realistic chance was exploratory surgery. The vet could not provide any likelihood for success because there are very few chicken surgeries (the cost of a chicken is so low compared to the cost of surgery that few people ever take chickens to a vet at all, let alone for a surgery). We opted for the surgery.

Her surgery was the next morning. Click through to see how it turned out. Continue reading

Getting ready for the summer!

Aside

Even though we are still in the middle of winter, summer is not that far away!

Penny has had enough of the snow and is ready for some sun and warmth! Here she is wearing sunglasses (tinted doggles).

Penny getting ready for the summer.

Penny getting ready for the summer.

She actually needed to wear them at the vet to protect her eyes during a medical treatment, but she sure looks ready for the beach!

A Sandbox for the Chickens

Chickens like to scratch in the dirt, leaf litter and other areas to look for bugs to eat. To help them exercise their natural instincts, we decided to build a sandbox for the chickens near their coop.

Here is a video of the chickens enjoying their sandbox for the first time last fall. You can see them scratching at the surface and then looking for anything that might be edible.

The construction was very simple and cheap. We used 4 logs from downed trees on our property. We just placed them into a rectangle.

The sandbox.

Then, for the sand to fill the sandbox, we used excess sand that was kicked up from the drilling rig when it drilled the holes for our geothermal heating system. I used the loader on the tractor to move the sand. It cleaned up the excess sand in the yard and helped the chickens at the same time.

Chickens explore the sandbox.

Occasionally we rake the top layer if the sand becomes too packed. We also throw some seeds or other food on top of the sandbox to re-generate interest in the sand from the chickens.

Chickens in the Sandbox in the distance.

Snow!

Last winter was very mild overall – we only received around half of the typical snowfall totals (just over 60 inches where normal is over 120 inches). This winter started off on a different note.

First big snowstorm of winter 2016-2017.

The first big storm came right before Thanksgiving – we received almost 30 inches in the first big snowstorm alone.

Here is a picture measuring the snowfall total during the first night of the storm – it was close to 20 inches the first night and near 30 inches when it stopped snowing.

Measuring the snowfall.

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Rainie settles in

Rainie (short for her registered name of “JT’s Elegant Rain”) has now been at her new home for several weeks and has started to settle in.

Her journey from Canada took most of a day – although only about 5 hours of driving – there was an additional multi-hour delay at the border crossing for customs paperwork.  We used a horse transport company that was familiar with the process that made it easy on us to arrange. We used The Horse Limo from Ontario. If you need to ship a horse to or from their neck of the woods, check them out!

I wasn’t quick enough to get any pictures of Rainie actually on the trailer before she was unloaded – but I did manage to get a single shot of the trailer as it pulled away after dropping her off.  Due to a cancellation for another horse and the unique locations on both ends of the route, Rainie got to ride in a large 4 horse trailer by herself which was helpful as Rainie doesn’t like small or cramped trailers.

Horse trailer that delivered Rainie.

After her first night settling in, we stopped by the stable to get to know Rainie better and decided to groom her.

Here is a picture of Rainie about to get groomed – you can see her curly coat.

Rainie preparing for grooming.

Here is a close-up of Rainie’s coat – you can see how her hair is wavy with a little curl.

Close-up of Rainie’s hair.

After a few days of settling in, my wife was able to take Rainie for her first ride since her arrival.

Rainie on a ride.

Both horse and (mostly) rider have a lot to learn and need to get used to each other.

A Horse!

We bought a horse!

Rainie preparing for a test ride.

We spent several weekends in the late fall traveling around the region looking for a horse. Due to horse allergies, we needed to locate a specific breed of horse which is more hypoallergenic than normal horses. That breed is the Bashkir Curly, also called the North American Curly Horse, or simply Curlies. Curlies have finer, curly hair (somewhat similar to a poodle or other hypoallergenic dog) compared to other horse breeds.

After several weekend trips the northeast U.S., we took a trip to Ontario, Canada to visit several more Curly breeders / owners. It was there that we met Rainie, a 9-year old Bay-colored Curly-Friesian cross.

Rainie out on a test ride.

Rainie out on a test ride.

Click through for more pictures, video and information about Rainie.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving from Lucky Penny Acres!

It is hard to picture Thanksgiving without thinking of turkey.

We have a local flock of wild turkeys that visits our yard every few days, especially during the spring and summer. This year, the primary visitors were a single hen with around 4 poults (baby turkeys).  Occasionally, the flock would consist of several hens with even more young turkeys.

They tend to avoid people and if anyone tries to approach too closely, they usually scatter into the trees.

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Wild turkeys in the front yard.

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Wild turkeys in the backyard.