A few weeks ago I was reading that rabbits could live together, I always thought that if you put two females in together they would fight. Then I started searching for plans to build a place for our bunnies to live, since I hate the hutches they are in now. I remembered in the barn they are located in has an area behind it that would be perfect for them, its roughly 8′ by 5′ by 8′. We emptied out the area of chicken wire, glass bottles, and other various trash I didn’t want them living with. Then I smoothed out the dirt and folded chicken wire into the corners so they couldn’t dig out. We bought a baby hog feeder and put their rabbit pellets in that, covered the ground with straw and put an 8 gallon waterer with a heated base in. The next day the rabbits went in, it has been a week since and they are doing great!
So finally, after a long summer of no eggs, my chickens are laying again and we are back in business! Last night we ordered 25 flattop egg cartons which we will add a custom top to. After we make sure these are good quality, we will order more.
We have an algae problem brewing on the lake this winter. Algae runs rampant when excessive nitrogen enters the water. On a cattle ranch, the source of this nitrogen is usually pretty obvious. But for the last two summers, cow pies have been fairly scarce in the watershed. I suspect that the source of our problem is American-Lotus-Gone-Wild. Lotus is that rather attractive large lily pad plant with awesome large yellow flowers. I wish we could have about 5 blossoms and 10 lily pads each year. But last year we had about 1000 lily pads. The lake was a sorry sight in the fall. When all of those pads died, I imagine that it was like chucking manure straight into the water.
My plan to control the algae and lotus should take 2 summers. I considered purchasing about $3000 worth of 2,4-D herbicide formulated for lake use. But we use a gravity based watering system. Dumping garbage in the water that my cows drink rubs me the wrong way. So my two year plan was to buy a cheap bass boat and manually pluck the flowers before they opened. I would still have a large kill event with the pads, and more algae next year, but I think that would probably work over time.
It is a little known fact that it takes about one hour and 15 minutes for all good plans on the farm to degenerate to a Bud Light “Real Man of Genius” tribute song. My boat requirements were simple: something that I wouldn’t have to bail out constantly and having a flat deck to make gathering the water weeds easy. Of course, Karen knows the real ploy here is a shiny new addition to the family. I started my cheap boat search on Craigslist. I was thrilled with the selection but sadly disappointed with the prices. I was expecting to pay $750 for something that easily goes for $3500. I went to BassPro.com for a reality check. The site confirmed my pricing conundrum but it does have a photo gallery that makes it very apparent: BassTracker has taken ordinary aluminum jon boats and jacked the price up with simple decking and nice carpeting. “I could do that”, I thought.
As it turns out, I am about the 12,000th person that has thought that. There is quite the crowd that is converting ordinary jon boats into impressive bass boats. Plans and ideas for this task abound on the net. But I had to keep my simple requirements in focus. Knowing me, the lotus plants would be in their 8th summer of propagation before I drilled my first hole the the hull. Drawing from my smashing success of using a chunk of hard pink styrofoam insulation for a floating duck house, I quickly considered a DIY pontoon boat. Surely I could get a 4×8 sheet of plywood afloat with a two man crew. I have scads of pink foam, gobs of nearly airtight barrels, and plenty of other floating matter. Something slightly less ridiculous that this guy’s rig would be perfect.
It was time to google DIY pontoon plans, just to make sure my poorly engineered idea wouldn’t drown the kids. In less than 1.5 hours from when this quest started, I found a DIY pontoon forum with a Q&A that went something like this:
After a very long stretch of peace in the House of Chloe, we finally suffered tragedy. Our only maran was killed by a allegedly ferocious dog. A feral dog to be precise. I asked my dad why they call them ‘feral’, and he said it is so we can kill them guilt-free. He really likes feral cats. Anyway, there weren’t any witnesses to this crime. Our neighbor Roy saw a strange dog very close by. Strange dog, feral dog, whatever. That is a no-brainer in this case, but I would protect my hens. It would be very hard to protect my chickens when I know someone’s pet is doing the damage. But I would.
The maran’s name was Turtle. She layed perfect rich milk-chocolate colored eggs, that were my mom’s favorite. My dad strung her dead body to the high-voltage electric fence to bait some innocent scavenger into a jolt. With a chuckle he said he did it to ‘avenge her death’. I think he is devious.
Another fine hen was also seriously wounded in the attack. Clover nearly lost her wing, and one of her eyes is closed. Her comb is very bloody. I don’t know how bad her wounds are, but I am concerned for her. She is a very friendly hen, that likes to be carried around. Tonight, she didn’t roost. Instead, she huddled behind a brooding box. What was extremely fascinating about this whole event is that our other long-time surviving hen from last years fox attack was huddled against her. Fluffy is her name. It was like Fluffy was laying against her and saying, “Hang in there sister. If I can survive, you can too.”
Are animals a living soul? I know we are. What are emotions? What is a living soul? I really don’t know what Fluffy was thinking. For all I know, she was trying to steal some body heat from a wounded chicken. But I do see overwhelming evidence in these hens, the goats, our cows, and our especially our dogs, that there is much more going on inside than simple animal instinct. Hang in there sister. Tonight will be cold.
Chloe’s Henhouse was named after my favorite chicken, Chloe. She is a Cinnamon Queen. I like her more than just because she lays good eggs, but because she has a very funny way around. She lays in all sorts of different places. As soon as I find one place, she moves onto the next, probably because she likes to lay on a dozen eggs at once or something weird like that. Just the other day I found a bunch of her eggs in the barn in some straw. Apparently Mocha, my Starbright, always follows her around from nest to nest. I always have to pitch those eggs because I never know how old they are.
About a week ago, she started laying in the chicken coop, where she is supposed to. I guess she is innocent now, but someone else in the coop isn’t. I found some eggs in a feed bag a few days ago in our feed barn. I don’t know who was laying in there, but I wanted to show my dad their new hiding spot. When we were in the feed barn, Zoe, my favorite bantam, popped her head out of an unknown box and startled me. I was afraid I had found yet another secret stash. I grabbed some buckets to stand on and found out she had been laying in there for quite a while now. I pitched those ten eggs, one of which I think was of the summer, and have put a board over that box so she can’t get in there. I didn’t put a stop to the bag though because I know if I stop that they will send me on another wild goose hunt to find the next laying spot.
Old eggs are gross. I only keep or sell the eggs that I know are fresh. With the others, I practice my fastball. Loosing a few eggs because of a sneaky hen is a small price to pay to let them live free.