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Archive for the ‘Animals’ Category

http://cutiechickens.weebly.com/exotic-breeds-of-chickens.html

French Black Copper Maran chicken French Black Copper Maran eggs

Amazing, beautiful…and expensive. 😉 With coyotes and raccoons that enjoy our poultry as much as we do, it wouldn’t make much sense to try them just now. Still, maybe someday….

In the back of my mind, I have a habit of picturing all kinds of beautiful egg crafts I’d like to do. These would make spectacular carved eggs, don’t you think? Of course, they are just as lovely on their own.

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Colorado Wildlife is a sister blog to this one, wherein I share stories, pictures, and facts about some of the wildlife we get to enjoy locally. I am delighted by all the species we get to see on a regular basis – mammals large and small, all kinds of birds, reptiles and amphibians, amazing insects, and more.

Go to Colorado Wildlife now.

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My gander, protective of his pretty goose:

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Ever since I was a child, I have wanted geese. We never had any growing up, and some acquaintances who did keep a flock assured us they were nasty, biting beasts.

Well, I wasn’t deterred.

So when some friends announced that they wished to thin their gaggle, Will and I jumped at the chance. We drove 45 minutes to our friends’ house to pick up the birds, intending to get some ducks, as well.

These friends own a greenhouse business, and the husband has 10 green thumbs and loves landscaping…so their yard is spectacular.  A haven in this windswept, drought-thirsty land. So, wandering amongst the trees, well-groomed grass, fish ponds, and brick walks were several varieties of poultry. Guineas clucked and hunted – a different variety from our one poor lonely hen, but grayish and mostly similar to ours. Then, I spied an angelic white guinea, seeming so sweet in the middle of the flock. Most of the geese were in their pen, as were most of the chickens. The ducks, on the other hand, scampered, waddling, throughout the stand of wild plum bushes just south of the yard.

The kids marveled at the fish ponds while I talked to our friends about which birds to catch and about how we should do it.

After some comical pursuit, we (the six of us) caught four Chinese geese…and no ducks. We gave up on the ducks. There were a handful of white ones, and one that looked a bit like a mallard drake. I never spent time around domestic ducks, and these were far more agile than I supposed they would be.

We made the geese, gentle and wondering, sit down in cardboard boxes and tucked the flaps together, setting them in the shade as we finished catching the last ones. That made a trunkful.

Our friends offered to try to catch the ducks at night, while they were sleepy, and also proposed trying to get a guinea out of a tree at night, where they roost. We told them we only need one male, but if they wanted to get rid of more, we like guineas.

The geese were mostly cooperative, and none of them tried to seriously nip. At any rate, I’d had far worse bites from my favorite tom turkey of two years ago. One was determined, however, not to sit in his box, but made five efforts to escape. He pushed apart the flaps of the box, kicked open the bottom (it wasn’t a very sturdy box), and required the attention of one of the children to guard him. But at last we were on our way.

We were concerned about the trunk being hot, but couldn’t think of a better way to transport the birds, without borrowing a truck and a cage.

When we got home, I proposed that I would open one box at a time, pick the goose up until it was calm and had got its bearings, then set it down to begin exploring the yard. None of us wanted to shut the geese up in the chicken house, as they had already been shut up and had a frightful journey…but we weren’t sure they would stick around. We decided to risk it, supposing we could catch them toward sundown, if necessary.

Three disoriented, sleepy-looking geese came out of their boxes, and began looking for their former friends. The fourth was dead in the box, its neck cocked at an interesting angle, bill jammed in a corner. It had not been dead above five minutes, I judged, and had probably experienced heart-failure, as its eyes were wide open, suggesting a very sudden death – not heat stroke or despair or a variety of other things.

With a heavy heart, I decided to do an “autopsy”, just to be sure there were no organ abnormalities, broken bones, or anything suspicious. Everything checked out fine. On the “up” side, we did get to experience what domestic goose meat tastes like. It is much better than wild goose flesh. I found this a relief, after hearing all my life of Victorian families devouring goose meat at Christmas. (Really? Ugh! I had decided, and hadn’t really cared that Will no longer hunts much. Beyond sandwiches with nothing but mayonnaise, there doesn’t seem to be a lot to do with wild goose meat. And I’ve been through a stack of suggestions.)

The three remaining geese wandered widely throughout the afternoon, and toward dark, we herded them a half-mile back to the house. But we could not catch them. At last, they dashed through a break in the tree row and headed out into the pasture. I gave up, tired, sore, and feeling they would probably make it alright until daylight if they’d just have the sense to bed down and stay put. But we decided to take one more peek at them before leaving them alone. Lo and behold, only one goose had materialized on the other side of the trees. The poor gander marched and honked and peered about for his gaggle-mates until we went to the house, praying for their survival.

What had happened to the other two geese? We’re not sure. Perhaps they bedded down in the trees and called it quits for the night, when the third one wasn’t looking. At any rate, the next morning, there were no honks resounding throughout the yard. Will went for a drive, to see if he could locate the gaggle…if there was one. He found two geese, over a mile away, in a field. He came back for the kids and I, and, together, we set out to catch them. Billy had rigged a leg-catcher out of stiff wire, and I felt this was our best chance…though I used it cautiously, you can be sure, realizing that these geese had nothing like the strength and resilience of Canada geese. Well, we had a stroke of luck. One of the pair jumped right in the open car door, as we chased her up the ditch.  Will dove in and grabbed her. We boxed her and put her in the trunk. Between the four of us, we corralled the gander, and boxed him, too.

They are currently lodging in the lamb’s kennel, where they can see out, but not wander, and where we can make friends before they get set free again.

We still have not heard from the third goose. But we still are hoping. Will alerted all the road-grader drivers to please keep on the lookout for our roaming pet goose. 🙂

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When we first walked into the yard, it was so full of tumbleweeds, and the trees were so thick, I couldn’t see the house. Will had to tell me which way to go. I found this view of the old clothesline amusing:

Been a few days since it was used. 😉

These next photos were taken a little later:
   
I like the way the trees form a tunnel over the driveway, though we had to trim some when HEA came in to replace the worn power line.


When we first saw the house, it was clear that deer had been bedding down by the doorstep. Unfortunately, the grass has been partially destroyed by the fact of using the yard.

Here’s a view from the roof, from November 2010, when Will and I did an initial repair around the chimney. The trees are a great comfort. They give occasion for not only beauty, but many kinds of birds and other wildlife, and provide constant entertainment for the kids. Will’s sister calls the place The Hundred Acre Wood.

Beyond the yard, these are the things that immediately attracted my attention:


We had fun counting duck and other waterfowl species at the rainfall ponds down the road north of the place. The kids waded and did all the things kids do with ponds. We even took them out in a small aluminum boat once.


I tried to imagine, as I examined what was left of the corrals, what had been raised here, what systems had been used, and what the attitudes had been like. For instance, did those who had raised the critters enjoy it, or was it merely something that needed to be done? I had plans for goats and sheep, poultry, and perhaps other animals.

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Billy went out to do chores on a bitter cold morning, and found an unkown bird lying in the emtpy granary, aka, empty chicken house. He said it looked like a falcon. I assumed he was mistaken, until I looked at it myself. It turned out to be a female kestrel – a kind of small falcon.

She had apparently been knocked silly in the windstorm, and just managed to get under shelter. She seemed to have a concussion, but no outward injuries, except a scratch on one leg.

The first thing I discovered is that she had a wonderfully strong reflex, gripping my finger and piercing my glove with her talons. Once she got a hold, it was difficult to get her to let go.

The next thing I discovered is that it is hard to find a good photo background for a bird of her colors. Finally settled on the rocking chair, which forced her to stand out some:

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We put her in a cage for recovery, and fed her bits of meat, with free-choice water:

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By the next morning, she was not only up and about, but feisty and alert. She seemed fully recovered. We were afraid she would injure herself against the bars of the cage, as she was clawing, climbing, and threat-posing too busily to want to visit or even eat. So as soon as the weather warmed up a bit, mid-morning, we released her.

Saying goodbyes…

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(Tyger is a bead-crowned princess in camouflage coveralls.)

The kestrel flew too quickly to get a parting photo. But Will said he has seen a few of these kestrels around, so perhaps she will nest nearby this year.

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My yard began coming truly alive again in April this year. The sun fairly glows in the young grass, and through every bud.

Old rusty car.

No one knows when this car was parked. It has become part of the landscape, cherished in its way as much as the trees, rabbit burrows, and silent owls.

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Master Bedroom, Messy, House Blueprints Visible - Farm House - August 2009In this room (chosen for the master bedroom), we discovered the original blueprints of the house, and had fun calculating the changes that had been made. It seems the wood which was intended for the attic floor was put into walls in the “extra” basement (“extra” means the basement didn’t exist in the original plans). It was peculiar to me that such a large part of the house had been ignored, except to fill it with Christmas decorations, empty cardboard boxes, and old jeans [smile], but I suppose there was a good reason behind the omissions. (Perhaps new fences were more needful than a floor upstairs?)

On the walls there appeared to be nothing – bare plaster – but on closer inspection, I saw that there was one thin coat of white calcimine….a chalk-like substance, intended to be painted on once a spring, to freshen up a house dimmed by smoke from wood or coal. The ceiling revealed that the attic had sometimes leaked during vicious rains, and there were stains in which one could make out animals or beings or parts of words, similar to the shapes in clouds. Also – and most mysterious – when the sun shone just so, I could see paw-prints on the ceiling. Dog type paw-prints – large, as from a German Shepherd or larger. How they got there, I don’t know. Plaster, of course, is applied in place – and has no opportunity to get tracked up, as might drywall. I cannot think of one logical explanation for this phenomena. Just to be sure I was seeing things right, I showed the prints to my husband. He agreed they are there, and plain in the afternoon sun.

Here’s an idea of how this west room looked in spring 2013:

The clothing arrangements are haphazard, as the closet is small and Will and I wear a lot of jeans and long-sleeved shirts. (The snow lasts for most of the year, and my friend from Florida says our insects out here are vicious.) So Will gets the dresser, and I keep half my stuff in a Rubbermaid tub in the closet. I’ve lived out of this tub since college, and am more careful about how I keep my things than Will is. So it makes sense to save myself work and let him have the more convenient area.

We planned gun racks for both Will and the kids (though theirs is pretty empty, seeing as they were out playing when this photo was taken). A good place for bows, hula hoops, and the like, too.

Wedding and Family Camp 011

Will installed an ugly fan (seen on the wall at the side of the bed) for air transfer, prior to installing a large stove upstairs. (The cookstove in the kitchen turned out to be inadequate for heating the main house on a windy day, though it worked alright in the previous, smaller house. It’s not too efficient, though I like it:

July-September 2013 365He had gotten me an itty bitty heating stove for the bedroom and back of the house in 2011:
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I want to make some other chimney arrangement, but am glad simply to have the stove. The brick heat shield needs installed correctly, but is serving its purpose as-is. Other than this, the bedroom is pretty plain. I don’t intend to do tons with it until I get the walls painted or papered (still deciding what to do), and don’t want a lot of pictures and knick knacks to dust. Still, here is a puzzle from my childhood which is quite significant, as it inspired me to write a fantasy story which kept my brain in overdrive for quite some time. It is a picture which seems more like a window into Somewhere Else. It is called “Sad Puppy”.

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Other decorations include a romantically-lighted painting entitled, “The Bluebird of Happiness”:

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This was given to my daughter, but it goes better in my room. It is a picture of perpetual spring in this land of no real springs, and the bluebirds that visit us hold a special place in my soul. (It’s all about a role bluebirds play in one of my favorite stories, “The Harvester”, by Gene Stratton Porter.)

Lastly, September 25, I did find some curtains I liked, and which cheer me up. (I hope you can make them out alright; all I have for a camera is an iphone without flash capabilities, and the bedroom is frequently either too dark or too back-lit for a decent photo.) Still, this window provides a lovely view of the lilac-fortified backyard, and much wildlife.

Yellow Bedroom Curtains - Sep. 25, 2013

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