January 26, 2016

Winter Stronghold

There was still water running in the Stronghold, thanks to snowfall at the beginning of the month, so we decided to hike the trail with our friend Mary and Emma's sisters. It was a cool but gorgeous day and we all had a great time. The dogs played in the stream and even took a number of dips in Half-moon Tank which was full but barely free of ice. Some memories below.

We are so fortunate have this as our backyard.

January 18, 2016

Free-range chicken

Our neighbor Dave, who has been raising our four new chicks along with his new flock, let us know last week that egg laying had begun, so it was time to bring the little hens to our coop and introduce them to their (one year older) sisters.

Catching them turned out to be a bit of an event as I managed to spook the entire flock and two of Dave's hens flew the yard. Young chickens are still light enough that they can truly fly. We managed to coax one of them back through the gate and apparently the other hen flew back later in the day, not liking it out there in the desert all by herself.

There were a few minor tussles between the established hens and the new four-some but after a day all is in a routine with a couple of them already laying beautiful little pullet eggs.

It is a gorgeous day today and Dan and I were working in the garden getting the beds ready for the new season. We heard a squawk and looked up to see Agnes, the most precocious of the new girls, standing on the upended "hospital cage", ready to fly our 6 foot fence with one of her sisters looking on and ready to follow! Dan talked her off her launching pad, and the hospital cage has been removed so there will be no repeat performance. It was a narrow escape. Those little hens may fly like birds and think they need to have a tree to survey the surroundings, but it is a dangerous place out there.

A couple of the new hens under the watchful eye of Goldie, Grande Dame du Coop.

January 7, 2016

Staying warm

It is easy for us, we have a nice house to protect us from the elements and if we want to feel really warm and cozy, we light a fire in the fireplace.

What about the animals? We do our best by providing lots of food and water for our domesticated as well as wild ones. We have a dry and cozy coop for the hens and our horses are out of the rain and wind in their stalls. Emma spends all her time with us, with the couch being her favorite spot during the day and she sleeps in her own bed at night.

Yet I feel for the horses, Bueno will be 20 this year and Cody 16. The latter is really hard to believe because this horse will never grow up and will always be a (very tall) colt. Not the brightest crayon in the box, but very sweet and a bit lazy.

When given the choice of staying in the stall or going outside, both horses will opt for outside where they can run, pester each other and roll in mud or dust to their heart's content. But considering their ages it might not be as easy to stay warm at night, no matter how much hay we put down, so I bought some light stable blankets. They will go on during night time freezes when the boys come in for dinner and will be removed when they leave their stalls in the morning.

Cody, in handsome Oregon green.

Bueno, in fetching blue.

I had thought the blankets would be well covered in mud this morning, considering the rain we have had this week (and yes those horses are in need of brushing), but they were clean. I will take that as a stamp of approval as they did not try to get rid of them by rolling.

January 6, 2016

Brrr ...

It has been raining the last couple of days. Nothing dramatic, more like "now-rain, now-sun", but the accumulation is on its way to 1 inch. The other morning we woke up and we were alone in the world: no neighbors, no mountains, no lights in the valley. We were in total fog and remained that way for most of the day. Dan and Emma went for the usual hike anyway and found that just some feet higher in elevation the sun was shining, though the trail was iced over in spots.

It is a great time to be inside and enjoy a fire in the fireplace. Dan is binging on tv shows on the computer while Emma and I are on the couch with a small knitting project. We are looking after the wildlife of course, birdseed is thrown out several times a day and we are finding interesting foot prints by the water dish. Coatimundi perhaps?