Work keeps me busy – the Church where I work is an active one and the times I have stepped in to help kept me from the farm a lot of the fall. I enjoy the camaraderie and I enjoy the work, but there are days like today, with its bright sun and mild temperatures, where I feel a longing to be at home instead getting some of the never-ending list of chores done.
And never ending is exactly how it is on the farm – feeding, watering, cleaning, weeding, building, repairing – the list goes on and on.
Anyhow, this past year has been one of challenges and of joys… please read on to see just what I mean.
My last entry was in late July in the midst of the worst summer of heat that I have seen in Texas. We lost a good number of bunnies, many of our bees, and some birds. We lost most, if not all, of our plants – both in the orchard and in the gardens, and the heat continued right on into September.
Somewhere in all that heat, we managed to have a few moments of cool – just long enough for one of our angora bucks to “get busy” with the does. This Christmas will be remembered for the earliest kidding season since we started the farm, beginning on December 9 and just slowing down on the 22nd. There may still be some babies yet, but most are done. Ten in total, but our does were not in great shape this year after the summer heat and the rains that started falling relentlessly around Thanksgiving. Three survived, and only one is being bottle fed. Thank goodness for small miracles! (I’ll post pictures soon.)
The rabbits are doing well this fall and the first kindlings were expected right before Christmas. Nothing has happened yet, so there may not be many babies. I think I waited too long to breed them – it’s been awfully dark with all the rain for weeks now, and the bunnies need lots of daylight hours (like chickens) to breed successfully. This is perhaps a blessing, as I am still working on finishing the bunny barn and new cages for the new barn. I did make a “bunny run” up to Missouri and bought back some French angora babies. I also had some bunnies brought down from Ohio and West Virginia. Many thanks go out to Herbal Maid Fiber Farm, Ben Randolph, Nita Whatley and Lisa Rodenfels.
The turkeys are still with us and doing well. No more babies but First Lady Dolly has been trying. Mr. President (James Madison) is growing more and more protective as the months go by, but he has been well taught by the banty rooster Jimmy Cagney.
Speaking of Jimmy C., he has produced (with the Nazi hens) a pen full of very nice looking banty chickens. Unfortunately, as is the case with most of our animals, most of the surviving babies are MALE. And because the Nazi hens (Ursula, Eva and Hilda) are banty crosses, some of the rooster offspring are bigger than Jimmy. The first grandbaby chicks for Jimmy were born this December… who’s watching the calendar down there?
The other pen of chickens (mostly roosters now) is looking great. Having had the rest of the year now to regrow their feathers after this past summer’s molt, they are all looking quite spiffy. Since we got the variety pack in terms of the birds, we have beautiful colors, of all hues, and quite a few dapper tails – frizzles, silkies, buff orpingtons, reds, partridges, blacks with that beautiful green sheen – the rooster yard is quite magnificent at the moment.
The geese are grown now and very vocal. Spotty is definitely “head goose” – as long as DH is not around. The two females are looking very nice – full bodies, lots of down and gorgeous feathers. They are definitely Emdens. The white males (Spotty and Sweetie) are most likely White Chinese. Nibbles, Handsome and Gorgeous are Brown Chinese. All are fairly social, surprisingly enough, and they are quite demanding in terms of getting time for undivided attention.
The baby ducks from late summer are now adults – beautiful black, blue and one brown. Frankie, the sole surviving Cayuga from the first batch, is in love with the new ducks… Finally after a year he has some of his “own kind” in the pen with him. The crested white ducks and the pekins are doing well, I guess, or as well as can be done in a pen where the geese rule and the banty hens take all the best laying spots. Unfortunately they are a little bit lonely (for some ladies of their own) but it is their own fault. They were too rough with the ladies they had and now there are none. It is hard to feel sad for them – the cute and cuddly ducklings of 2010 are not very nice – nor cuddly at all- as adults. In fact, next the guineas, they are the most vicious of the farm birds we own.
All of the cats except Charlie have given up and moved into the house. Charlie, our resident barn cat, is busy at work in the barns but does venture up every few days for a “home cooked” meal and some loving. He really hates the dogs, I think, and will only venture up if he gets too lonely.
The dogs are – well, they are themselves, only more so… Pretty is slowing down some and prefers to stay inside, asleep on one of the beds. Lucky, while still a great guard dog, is turning over more and more of the night guard duties to Bubbles. Bubbles and Bouncy are very devoted to me right now and are my honor guard now that Red is gone and Lucky is facing retirement. Pauli, the small dog that the others rescued, is still DH’s dog, but is slowly weakening in her resolve to “diss me” at every opportunity. When before she would only grace me with her presence during severe thunderstorms (because quite frankly, I am “meaner than thunder”) she now will sneak into the bed and under the covers to sleep at my knees when it is cold out. And occasionally she will even play with me! (Yes, as obscure as it may be, we are making progress…)
Well, work beckons… so I will finish later. Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all.