Monthly Archives: March 2014

Birds – Meet The Flock

Chickens

For years and years and years I have wanted chickens.   (Not that anyone really wants chickens….what I wanted were the eggs.)  Each spring, the local feed stores have oodles of the little peepers.  I would look at them longingly, but the reality of no coop left me chickenless.   So last year my husband went to a local farm supply store and bought ten chicks.  Bantams.  Bantams!!!  What good are bantams!?!?  They lay tiny eggs and they’re about the size of a cornish game hen when in the stew pot.   (Why do I let him go to town alone?)

GusGus and chicks I have to say though, I kinda started to like those fluffy little feet of theirs and they seemed to have personality.  But then they started crowing….yup…SIX of the ten were roosters – no eggs!  Rooster noodle soup!

Rooster, Banty, Food, Pajari Girls, Funny Farm, chicken      omnom, rooster noodle soup, chicken noodle soup, homemade soup

 I made sure to order some layer/meat type birds to pick up the slack.  The beauty part is that once you have the chickens, you are FORCED to come up with a coop.  We should have done that years ago!

Here’s another chicken story, “The Trouble With Chickens”.

 GuineaFowl

A couple summers ago, Walli contracted Lyme’s disease.  Right then and there, I declared war on ticks.  I was told that the best (natural) way to eradicate those nasty little blood sucking bugs was with guineafowl(Here’s a link to Laura’s post on “Guinea Monsters From Hell”. She is PHOBIC about poultry!)

Turns out keeping guinea birds alive is trickier than one would think.  They like to wander, the entire flock shares one brain (not actually verified), they are not very trainable and their biggest defense from predators is yelling like crazy.   (Except when I am trying to catch them….then they are ninjas.)

baby gunieas, guinea fowl, cook's country connectionBaby guineas are sooo cute!  

guinea fowl, cooks country connection, poultry, pajari girls

Not so much when they get older…..uuuuuugggglllyyyy!

Luckily I don’t give up easily, as long as there are ticks I am GOING to have guinea birds.  I don’t care how noisy they are.  Besides, I have a bantam chicken trying to hatch a golf ball so if I give her some guinea eggs to sit on it will give her life purpose – I call that a “win-win”.

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Squirt – An Equally Naughty Pony

Squirt is another naughty miniature horse on the farm.  He isn’t even mine – technically he belongs to Laura next door.  (Not that that changes the situation,  but  I just wanted to clear that up from the start — because really ??– who in their right mind has three miniature horses?)

Squirt

Yeah, I know what you’re thinking….”but he’s so cute”.  Well guess what?  He’s lucky he is.

squirt in the yard

He is the only horse trained to do anything around here but you’ll rarely catch him.

mini paint pony

If you have a zoom lens, you can get some good pictures.

mini paint pony

If not, this is what he will look like. Short. And far away.

Pat Laura Itchy

Could be because he gets sick of hauling our butts up and down the driveway using his little cart.  He has been a “project animal”, so who knows, maybe this summer I will have the time to persuade him to cooperate.  Bahahahahahahahaha!!!!!

So how did we end up with this little guy?  Laura waited 20 years to go to the world’s largest draft horse auction in Waverly Iowa. (Where Disney World and such go to buy the beautiful, majestic teams you see at their parks.)  And THIS is what she came home with!!

PS:  We now believe the auction term “Amish-Broke” means “Hard to Catch”.

PPS: UPDATE! Just tried harnessing him yesterday. Read about it here!

PPPS: UPDATE! A video of him eating watermelon…

Itchy – The Very Naughty Pony

Itchy  is another of the miniature horses on the farm.   He came to us spring of 2007 as a new foal.  Talk about a little cutie!

Itchy has a way of always getting himself into trouble.  I would have to say he is the naughtiest animal on the farm.

pony, cook's country connection        Itchy

Over the years he has managed to nearly cut his leg off, had a big round hay bale dropped on himself, ended up under the neighbors deck, singed his behind on a bonfire and spends equal time in and out of the fence.

singed ItchyA singed pony behind….

Over the years Laura (and her kids) and Jill (and her kids) have spent more time retrieving this horse than any animal past or present.

itchy, pony, cooks country connection

Laura spent most of an afternoon one summer tromping around the pine hill looking for him after a call from the neighbors asking if we were “missing something”.  She ended up with so much pine pitch in her hair she had to have it cut out.

Meanwhile, Itchy  was back in the barn acting as if he had never left the farm – little imp.

itchy, pony, cooks country connection

PS:  Phone calls that start with “are you missing something” are never good when you have animals – especially if it’s from the sheriff’s department….just sayin’.

Stanley

Stanley is our barn cat.  He came to the farm the winter of 2012 – his name was “Kitty” but my friend’s daughter thought he should have a better name.  When asked what a better name might be, she said, “I don’t know…like Stanley or something”.   Good enough for me.

Stanley isn’t considered an “exhibit animal” but he is a cat, and wanders wherever he pleases.  He may or may not stroll through and say “hi” while you’re here.

Cat, barn cat, cook's country connection

I was worried that he wouldn’t want to stay here, but said I would give it a try.  JaiJai had been an absolute brat to our other cats.

cat, barn cat, ginormous white slobbering dogCats are NOT squeaky toys!!

As it turns out, Stanley is the perfect barn cat for the farm.  He doesn’t run from the Ginormous White Slobbering Dog…or any of the other dogs for that matter.

A cat that doesn’t run – doesn’t get chased.

cat, stanley, barn cat,  cook's country connection     cat, barn cat, farm, petting farm, cook's country connection

Genius!

Sophie

Sophie is the newest (and LAST) dog to come to the farm (at least for a long long time).  She is another Great Pyrenees. Because logic says, if you have one that doesn’t work for it’s intended purpose, you should get another one.      🙂

Sophie is a working dog and as such won’t be an “exhibit animal” but since she lives here on the farm, she gets her 15 minutes of fame!

Great Pyrenees, ginormous white slobbering dog, cook's country connection

So here was the thought process:

  1. JaiJai needs a partner.  The corgis are too small and just not that much fun for him.
  2. Hopefully this one will have some natural instinct.  (Cuz it’s pretty darn obvious that he doesn’t.)
  3. If nothing else, we have provided her with the farm environment she needed.

See – perfectly logical.

Great Pyrenees, ginormous white slobbering dog, cook's country connection, petting farm, Look how happy that JaiJai is!!!

Thus far we haven’t been able to really test Sophie’s aptitude for the whole Livestock Guardian Thing yet – another visit to Dr Fisher at Vermilion Vet Clinic to take care of this no-risk-of-having-puppies business and we will be on a roll.

great pyrenees, petting farm, big white dog, ginormous white slobbering dog,

We will keep you posted!

Rascal

Rascal is another cat here on the farm.  She isn’t considered an “exhibit animal” but she is a cat, and cats wander wherever they please.  It is highly unlikely you will see her while visiting though – she is super-shy of strangers.

She had to be the runt of the litter because all of her siblings are real oompa loompas and she is the teeeniest little girl ever! (Laura and Paul’s cat Peaches is her brother.)

Cat, manx, calico, tortoiseshell, cooks country connectionShe plays chess….

Cat, manx, cook's country connection, calico, tortoiseshell
Rascal drinking

She only drinks out of her paw….

cat, manx, calico, tortoiseshell, cooks country connection
Harley and Rascal

And she likes to tell people to be quiet too….”Hush Harley.”

We often get  asked if Rascal or Peaches had an accident, because they don’t have tails. Nope! They are half Manx!

Also, there has been some debate as to whether her coloring is  calico or tortoiseshell.  What’s your opinion?

Llamas – llama llama llama!!

So when and how exactly did I become a llama farmer???  Like most of the animals around here, they “needed a good home”.  (A line I am starting to meet with more and more skepticism.)

The first question everyone asks when they hear I have llamas is “do they spit?”.   Valid question and the answer is – it totally depends on what you are doing to them.

You can tell by llamas (and alpacas) ears, how annoying they are finding their current circumstances.  And I have discovered that there are varying degrees and intensities of “spit”.

llama spitThis is my “look out – you’re gonna get it” look.

Before any spitting happens there is a warning look.  If you are paying attention and don’t have to continue doing what you are doing, you won’t get spit on.

After the warning look, and if you, the assailant, hasn’t backed off, there is a warning spit.  This is mostly whatever is in their mouth at the moment and it’s usually directed over the offender’s ( your) head.  Most often they do this to each other over food.

Llamas don’t have much for defense mechanisms – they can run away or they can spit.  The “I’m really ticked off” or “I’m absolutely terrified” spit is the stuff you need to look out for.  This is the nastiest, most vile- smelling yuk ever!  It is projectile vomit right from the bottom of their third stomach.  It shouldn’t even be called “spit” if you ask me.  A different “s” word comes to mind and more closely describes that stuff.

The only time I have gotten this is when I am doing something really unpleasant or scary.  Shots, shearing, sometimes haltering…. anything that involves cornering or tackling has landed me in the crosshairs.

Moral of the story:  Don’t harass or annoy the llamas and you’ll be fine!

Sprout and Sophie AGAIN

Spitting aside, I find that the llamas are curious, inquisitive and a whole lot of fun to have around!

Meet the herd!

Nelly  Nelly

Sophie the llama

Sophie

coco

Coco

July 2011 009

Bella

IMG_2663

Jill

And just for fun, here is the llama song we sing ALL. THE. TIME.

BaaBaa

BaaBaa is a Barbados Blackbelly Sheep.  These sheep are raised for meat, not fiber. Not that we plan on eating him; most animals around here are on a retirement plan.

IMG_1008Friends– NOT food!

Many people think he is a goat because of his small horn buds, but I think they are just a byproduct of a bad de-horning session as a lamb.

baabaa in the feederSeems that he has learned some bad habits from that goat Feta!

BaaBaa was a bottle raised lamb that we adopted by accident.  See, I was adopting three llamas….I didn’t know they came with a sheep.  Hmmmm…..

Toby

Toby came to the farm around 2004. We should have known he was trouble right from the start.

His original selling price was out of budget, considering he was just another roving lawn ornament.  I should have been suspicious when the asking price was reduced by 90%!

Donkey, Cook's Country Connection, mn, petting farmDon’t get me wrong…he’s a good guy…mostly.

Even though he can be a poop, Toby has an important job. He is the self proclaimed guardian of the farm, as well as project foreman (nothing gets his attention faster than a hammer or chainsaw).

He doesn’t care if you are a human or a coyote…you are not welcome in his fence…don’t even think about it!!

You can see where this has some advantage – he keeps predators and hooligans out.  Much less of an advantage when he needs shots, worming, hoof trimming or halter changing.

Donkey, Cook's Country Connection, mn, petting farm

To his credit, he is also the full time guardian of his friend Traveling Jack. Jack is an old guy and Toby takes good care of him. Toby walks him to the water tank, makes sure that he shares his oats and protects Jack if Itchy and Squirt get too feisty. (Click here to read more about Travelin’ Jack.) 

Donkey, Cook's Country Connection, mn, petting farm

MollyMoo

MollyMoo came to the farm in April 2013. She was about 24 hours old and rode home in the back of Jill’s suburban.

Molly Moo car ride

I have to admit, I wasn’t convinced she would survive. She had been separated from her mother in a sleet, snow, spring-type, yuk storm, stepped on by another cow, and was sooo little!

molly moo 2

 But survive she did! The first few weeks I was making bottles every four hours day and night. She  had to wear a kid’s size vest to keep her warm due to a wound on her side.

From there, we increased the amount of milk and lengthened the time between bottles until she graduated to two bottles a day. From bottle to bucket and then to solid food, she went from that cute little baby to one BIG BODACIOUS BOVINE!

MollyMoo

Did I mention that she is Paul’s favorite animal on the farm?

cow, cook's country connection, petting farm