andyschickenscratch

city girl meets country living, chickens, adventures, humor

Niner

The horses were all tied to the rail and ready for my husband to try them out. As soon as he threw he’s leg over the first one it took of at light speed across the arena throwing in the odd buck as the owner yelled encouraging words and suggesting that he not squeeze with his legs. Then a complete miracle happened, when they reached the pipe fencing at the far end of the arena they actually stopped! The owners wife informed me that they won’t sell that horse to just anyone but since my husband could ride we could buy him…..we passed.
The next horse in the line up had a look in his eye like I dare you……we passed.
As we approached the next horse you couldn’t help but be impressed by the size of him. Then in a blink of an eye it happen! One minute all was calm the next the hulk in a horses body was getting the hell out of there and taking the 6 inch post he was tied to with him…..we passed!

Quite frankly we were about to walk away from what were obviously horse flippers when we noticed a horse tied at the far end of the arena. He’s head hung low and he didn’t seem all that concerned by all the action that was going on around him.
Even though you could tell he was full of worms, his winter coat was still hanging on despite the fact it was now late May. His tail was almost none existent and he had no mane to speak of but there was such kindness in his eyes and the fact that he was an Appolosa could explain some of his appearance.  We asked if we could try him and they hesitated but had a silent discussion with their eyes and finally he nodded yes.

My husband climbed on and off they went at a nice smooth walk, he didn’t make one wrong move when he asked for a trot or even a lope. We knew that this was exactly the kind of horse that we came to find that he would be the perfect addition to my dad’s herd.

We asked well is he for sale, his response was “well he’s my wife’s horse”, we all turned to her and for a long time she was quiet then she said “I guess so….” Right away my dad stepped in and made the arrangements to buy him.

We loaded him in our trailer and Niner new life began with us….We dewormed him several times, we brushed him lots and we loved him

For the day we got Niner I’m always thankful! And I don’t think he minded his life with my dad or us.

My dad rode him on mountain trips, he was the horse my husband learned to rope on and he added some, well actually a lot of colour to our herd.

I’m so thankful that we didn’t pass on him, on the horse that was so alone that day. We are so grateful for having him with us for all the years we did, a horse as true and as honest as that is a gift!

It’s with a heavy heart and tears in my eyes as I write this, today we had to say goodbye but I’ll always remember the day we got him and the great story to go with a great horse! Our time with our animals is always too short but to enjoy the time that we do have with them is a blessing!

Have a beautiful day☀️

 

 

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Scooter

It was a picture prefect fall morning, the trees were showing all the colours that makes fall special. The weather was cool and there was a dampness in the air from the light rain the night before. My Dad (Papa Cliff) had stopped out at our place to drop off some hay bales. I went out to meet him and when he got out of his truck the first thing he said was, “Andy, I am so sorry but I found your cat dead at the bottom of your driveway so I just put him in the box of the truck.” The tears started flowing right away for such an amazing cat.
We had got Scooter from the SPCA 2 years earlier for our son who’s cat had disappeared. Living in the country this sadly happens a lot. Because Mitch’s cat Tigger slept with him every night he was not sleeping with her gone so we made the trip to the SPCA to find him another companion. With in minutes of being there he announced that he had found the one. “Are you sure he’s the one, there are so many to choose from. ” I said. “Yep, I can just tell he’s the one.” He replied.
After completing the all the forms and were approved we took Scooter home and that night with Scooter curled up next to him they both slept a wonderful deep sleep. A little boy happy to have a cat again and a cat happy to have a little boy to love him.
Scooter was a big tabby male and he had a personality like no other. He was a free spirited cat and although he mostly lived at our house he often would wander to other houses for a snack and would even go in neighbours house for a nap but he always came home at night.
Now our sweet Scooter lay motionless in the back of Papa Cliff’s truck. There were no signs of trauma so he just looked like he was sleeping. The kids came out to see Papa and I broke the sad news to them. Grant went and got a box and we placed Scooter inside it then went inside to get changed into warmer clothes before we went out to bury Scooter.
Mitch was heartbroken and said, “mom I don’t think that’s Scooter.” My heartbreaking for him I said ” I am so sorry about Scooter sweetie but it is him.” I figured that Mitch didn’t want the accept that his buddy was gone. “Mom I’m telling you it’s not him, he wasn’t that fat.”
“Oh Mitch of course it’s Scooter, animals tend to swell up when they pass away. Now come on let’s go bury him.”
Papa Cliff had left so Grant, the kids and I headed up to a special spot to lay Scooter to rest. The kids each said something that they loved about him and we all said a little pray for such a great cat. When I looked over at Grant I saw that he even had tears falling too. After we buried him the kids and I went in the house and Grant stayed outside to do some yard work.
Once again Mitch said, “Mom, I don’t think that was Scooter there was to much brown on it.”
“Oh Mitch yes it was Scooter, he was just dirty. Don’t worry anymore about it.”
The kids and I put a movie on and snuggled in to watch it. I was hoping it would take their mind off things. The movie was just finishing when Grant opened the front door and said “Hey look what I’ve got.” There in his arms with a “hey how’s it going” look on his face was……Scooter.
The kids ran over and started mauling him and he was soaking it all up. Little did he now that we had just buried and said goodbye forever to him.
Seriously what the heck, Grant explained to me that he was working on the horse fence and Scooter just came walking over to him, “like hey what are you up too?”
Mitch looked at me with pure happiness and said, “see mom I told you it wasn’t Scooter!”
Well I guess that some times kids do know best and in this case I am very pleased it was true.
I have no idea who’s cat we buried that day but it did have a very nice service and is at rest in lovely spot and we have a great story to tell about the time we buried the cat that wasn’t ours.
Have A Beautiful Day 🙂

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A Bad Day

Franklin the Fabulous Frizzle rooster lived a fairly uneventful life, beside the night he spent outside things have been pretty normal for him, that was until one day last week. Franklin now has the most amazing story to tell and I a fairly confident that there aren’t many chickens out there that have lived to tell like he did.

The story actually starts about two 2 weeks ago when a hawk attacked and killed our little Polish rooster. Since then a few things have changed around here, the ducks moved out of their house and in with the chickens, safety in numbers I guess and our ducks and chickens have been living in lock down. I don’t think they minded to much I mean winter had come bringing with it cold and snow and they have the safety of a covered run attached to the coop that they are free to wander during the day, they just haven’t be able to free range around the yard like they once did.

The hawk and our little Polish rooster.

The hawk and our little Polish rooster.

After not seeing any sign of the hawks for at least a week I assumed that they had followed the migrating ducks and geese south for the winter, how wrong I was and for that Franklin’s life story was about to get a lot more interesting.

After opening the small door on the coop that is attached to the outside run for the chickens and ducks it became evident that they were sick of being cooped up. The boss hen, Plum was not shy about telling me what she thought about not be able to roam the yard like she always did so I caved to chicken pressure and I let the flock out for bit with the intention of keeping an eye on them. After watching them happily scratch through the straw that was around the run I headed to shop to do a few things. I had just made it about 100 yards away when the happy quacking and clucking turned in the sounds of sheer terror. Looking at the coop I could easily see what they were all so upset about. There in the run was the hawk, I took off running to save what ever I could from him and when I got to the run the hawk was in there completely motionless like a statue all that was moving on him was his eyes as he stared me down. I have to say it was a little unnerving as he wasn’t exactly small. I thought to quickly snap off a picture of him before I shooed him out because seriously who was going to believe this. He just sat there (insert chill down the spine) while I took his picture. I wasn’t until I moved in closer to get ready to do my best get the heck out of my coop and never come back lecture that he moved and that’s when my heart broke a little, under him I could now see our favorite little rooster, Franklin. Now I was mad no longer scared at all by the hawk I went into full mama bear mode and started yelling at the hawk and hitting the side of the run. He hopped up and made it out the run gate and as he did he dropped Franklin. Poor sweet little Franklin laid there in the straw on his back with his little wings out to his sides and his head tipped in an I am no longer alive angle. I was just kneeling down to pick up his lifeless little body when Franklin must have realised that he was not dead and he sprang to his feet and took off at a full run and instead of heading into the safety of the coop he ran right out the run gate in the same direction that the hawk had just gone.

Another hawk attack

The Hawk

I could not believe what I was seeing, Franklin had gone from dead to running around the yard in no particular direction squawking at the top of his lungs, I took off on in hot pursuit with the intension of getting Franklin back to the safety of the coop and at about the same time our Basset hound Ranger showed up to see what all the commotion was about.  It didn’t take Ranger long to figure out that I was trying to track the crazy little black thing and he joined in on the chase. Franklin had now made it to the safety of the little spruce trees behind the coop and I had no chance of catching him, there was no way I could get him out of there and there was no way I was going to leave him behind. Ranger was now nose to the ground and he seemed to be tracking Franklin. Now it important to know that Ranger is not a truly trained hunting dog but he was the only help I had so I was hoping that it would work. I kept telling Ranger “go find him boy,” and it was actually looking like he knew what he was doing. He picked up Franklin’s trail and went into the under brush after him. Poor Franklin could his day be any worse first he was attacked by a hawk and now he had to dog after him. I positioned myself just on the edge of the trees with the intension of grabbing him when he came out. It was easy to tell where he was by his squawking and when it got louder I got ready. He came shooting out of the trees and I made my move to grab him. As he was about to run past me I reached down and grabbed the only thing I could and I didn’t come up empty-handed, nope my hand was now full of Franklin’ tail feathers. I would say that he was now sounded like what I can only guess a hairy man sounds like at a waxing salon as the wax strips are ripped off. I dropped the feathers and took off after him again, he’s a fast little sucker! He was now hauling butt for the safety of the cover of the horse trailer which he quickly ducked under. It was then that I lost sight of him and Ranger came out of the spruce trees and over to me after stopping to sniff the pile of tail feathers on the ground with a look on his face like I did my job why didn’t you do yours?

Together we headed across the yard and over to the horse trailer I got down on my hands and knees to see where he was as Ranger nose to the ground headed for the hay shed. There was absolutely no sign of him under the trailer but the hay shed was right behind it so it was possible that he had made it to there as he seemed to have slipped into a silent mode of survival. Ranger was fairly adamant that was where he was, hoping that this drama was all behind us and thinking that I would find Franklin hiding in the corner I made my way over to the hay shed. I have to say that when I got there I figured that Ranger and I were tracking two completely different things. There was no sign of Franklin at all, he wasn’t hiding in a corner or on any of the bales so I thought he must be under the trailer and I just hadn’t seen him and was just turning to go when Ranger let out a bark. Now this is where Ranger earned his hero biscuit that day. He kept poking something in a small crack with his nose and looking up at me with his tail wagging like isn’t this what you were looking for expression on his face. On closer inspection he was right, there in a little crack was Franklin in a I can’t see you, you can’t see me pose, head down butt up.

After everything that he had been through I wasn’t about to let him get away so when I bent down to grab him I made sure that I had a firm hold on him and pulled him gently out of his hiding place. He complained loudly at first but then I think he knew that he was safe and that his bad day was over so he tucked his beak into my arm and almost seemed to relax. I checked him over as best I could and then I put him back in the coop with his girls, he ran out of my arms and straight into the corner where he gave me the stink eye and I seriously think that the thing he was most upset about was his lack of tail feathers.

Franklin ruling the coop

Franklin ruling the roost

A week has passed since Franklin’s Bad Day but he doesn’t seem to fazed by it although he is still giving me the stink eye, I guess he’s still mad about the whole tail feather thing. None of the flock asks to come out of the run anymore and plans are in the works to build a huge enclosed run for them in the spring, as much as I love having them to roam free I am worried that the hawk won’t forget where an easy meal is. Ranger is back to doing what he does best, holding down the couch, the fame from being a hero hasn’t really gone to his head. As for me I guess I am sharing this story with, well the world, but I have to say I am so glad that we live in the country and that there were no witnesses to the whole thing.

If you would like to stay up to date with Franklin, Plum and the rest of the flock like Andy’s Chicken Scratch on Facebook

Have a beautiful day!

Ranger the Hero

Ranger the Hero

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I Do All My Own Stunts

I love my heating pad and especially in the colder months, which in Canada is about 10 months out of the year. There is nothing better than curling up with a fuzzy blanket and my heating pad and watching T.V. Seriously who would have thought that something as simple as plugging in my heating pad could become a life and death situation, I guess if you know me it wouldn’t be that hard to imagine though. This could be because some of my pervious accidents have included but not limited to breaking my foot by shutting it in the shop door, scratching my cornea with an overly aggressive spruce bow, tearing the ligaments in my ankle in an attempt to show off my best Footloose slide and the one thing I may never live down was when I accidentally poisoned myself.
So now you have some idea that plugging in a heating pad for some people may be a simple task but for me, well, here is how it turned into something that was anything but simple. Everyone had gone to bed for the night and I thought I would take the time to enjoy the peace and quiet. I planned to curl up on the couch with my fuzzy blanket and of course my heating pad and catch up on the PVR. I got my pj’s and my fuzzy socks on, gathered up my pillows, my fuzzy blanket (I was made for a much warmer climate) and my heating pad. Now because our couch is L shaped it is quite heavy and covers up the plug-in I needed for my heating pad. Grabbing the couch from the bottom I slid it across the laminate flooring just far enough so I could reach my arm between the couch and the wall and plug in and get the comfy party started. Standing in front of the couch I leaned forward and reached down with my right arm trying to find the outlet, I could just feel the top edge of it with my finger tips so I pushed up on to my tippy toes so I could just get that little more……my feet slipped and went out from under me, my body lurched forward moving the couch back in to it original position with only my arm in its way. It all happened so fast and when the dust bunnies settled I was totally and completely trapped. I was left with my feet hanging just above the floor, my body stretched completely out and right arm pinned between the couch and the wall. I mean there was no moving and it took me a minute to figure out how exactly to get out of this situation, I thought about yelling out for help but I didn’t want to wake up the whole household nor did I want to explain how I ended up like this. Obviously my cat-like reflexes had failed me and I am neither a Ninja nor a Yoga Master so for the first few minutes I flayed around like a fish out of water just praying to touch the floor so I could push myself up and get my arm, which was now starting to go numb, free. I was starting to think that this was something that a normal person would have to get a stunt double perform because of level of difficulty involved, in this case, was expert or dumb ass depending on how you looked at it. I had to get my lower body up on the couch so that I could get into a kneeling position and push away from the wall. Busting out my best dance moves I wiggled and squirmed my way up onto the couch so that I was finally able to get into the correct position. Once I had accomplished that I had to push with all my might againist the wall with my left arm to get the couch to move so that I could reach freedom. This however was not an easy task either but some how little by little I was able to move it back far enough to slide my arm out. After I was finally free had one last thing to decide, I mean as it stood the only witness to my latest adventure was the Basset Hound and I was pretty sure he wouldn’t rat me out, so to tell or to keep my latest mishap to myself…….
Have a beautiful day 🙂

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A Long Night

Picture if you will a dark and stormy night and a little fabulous Frizzle rooster named Franklin, lost in the woods…..
No, seriously it really was a dark and stormy night and the wind that howled carried with it a reminder that winter would soon be here, in fact the wind had blown so hard that it had blown the coop door shut. With no way to get in to the coop the girls and one fabulous Frizzle rooster had figured out different places to roost for the night. Plum (my favorite hen) was roosted on the duck house so I carefully picked her up and carried her to the coop, the whole way she informed me about her displeasure of being locked out of her own house for the night. I in returned explained that I was so sorry and did what any responsible adult would do and I blamed it on the kids. I set her gently on the coop floor and told her I was truly sorry. I then went back and got one of her chicks that had been roosted next to her and carried her to the coop, thankfully she chose the the silent treatment. Okay that’s 2 down now only 8 more hens, and one fabulous Frizzle rooster left to round up,no problem. I mean really how hard can it be to find a bunch of chickens in the dark, not to worry I have an app for that, well not for finding chickens, although a tracking device for locating free ranging chickens would be an awesome idea, but my app is a flashlight on my phone. I stood in the middle of the yard armed with my mighty phone flash light and looked around hoping that I would hear a little “hey over here.” the only thing I could hear was the howling of the wind and Plum she was now roosted in the hen-house still expressing her displeasure, I actually hoped that all her clucking would get some response from the missing ones, but nope of course it can’t be that easy. Where to start and then it dawned on me, the hay shed.
Sure enough I found Red we use to have a Blue, 29 ,I got her for my birthday and I named her after my age of course, okay so that may have been my age a few years ago but who’s counting and Grace our beautiful Lavender Orpington all roosted on the back braces of the shed. Directly below them on a pile of hay was One Fabulous Frizzle named Franklin, you see the very thing that makes Franklin so amazingly handsome is also the same thing that makes him unable to fly, his curly feathers. The hens were high enough up that I figured that they would be safe for the night but little Franklin was prime for the picking being that he was pretty much roosted on the ground so I reached down and picked him up and that’s when he let out what I can only describe as a chicken scream and jumped out of my arms. He did not stick around for me to pick him up again, he actually took off at full speed across the yard. Concerned for his safety I ran after him shining my flashlight on him like I was the police with a spotlight and he was one of America’s Most Wanted. I was gaining on him when kicked in his jet pack, his little legs were moving at top speed and then to make the chase more interesting he added the old “bob and weave, bob and weave move.” We were just about to the coop when he zigged and I zagged at full speed and he ran straight into a the harrows on the ground. The sound he made before was nothing compared to this death cry. I figured that any coyotes that missed hearing exactly where the first cry had come from were surely locked on to his location now. Some how he just bounced off the harrows and with his speed not slowing he headed straight in to the bushes behind our house. Now the fact that he can’t hardly fly and he’s now crying at the top of his lungs I just knew that he would be gone before morning. A rooster with his amazingly good looks does not come around every day and I headed in for the night thinking that I would never be able to replace him……it was a long night! The next morning I headed out to see what we had left for Chickens and I was happy to hear the little Cock a Doodle Doo that I have come to love. There stood Franklin in the middle of the yard, standing proud with his little head held high in the air and he was calling his girls in. Thankful they all survived the night.

They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder.......

They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder…….

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Wild and Free

In addition to our five acres that we have at our place well also have a quarter of land that has been in our family for generations. The Quarter is 180 acres total with 40 of it being hay pasture, and the rest is trees, trails and a dugout. So for the horses it is a paradise where they can be wild and free. This is where our senior horses live and when we aren’t using our horses at home we take them out there to enjoy some freedom as well. There is only one problem with this and that is when they get up there they don’t want to leave. This was the case with one horse named Bond and when I say he didn’t want to be caught I mean he really didn’t want to be caught.
We had owed Bond for a few months and he was on the skinny side so we thought we would take him up and let him have free range grazing, what I didn’t know was that his genetic code was going to reset back to his ancestors and he was going to take the role of being wild and free seriously.
Bond was booked in at the trainers for the next day so my dad (Papa Cliff) and I headed up to the quarter to go catch him and bring him home so he was ready to go. The quarter is crossed fenced and Papa Cliff has the horses trained so that when they hear the truck and the horn honk they get a treat. There was nine horses up there that day including Bond and they all came happily running across the field and into the 20 acre section to get their oats. Once they were all in I shut the gate and Papa Cliff poured out the piles of oats. We do this for two reasons, one so that we can always do a herd health inspection when we need to and as so we can easily catch them, I guess Bond missed the memo about this making it easier to catch him. With the oats out the horses settled in to eat them. It was at this point it became “operation capture Bond.”
I have caught enough hard to catch horses in my life to know that sometimes you have to be “sneaky” in your approach. I rolled up some binder twine and put it in the front pocket of my jeans and then I tucked the halter into the back of jeans so he wouldn’t know my intentions. I walked around the herd petting and talking to everyone but him, not giving him the time of day so that he would feel left out and be so happy that I even paid any attention to him that he would be a breeze to catch….wrong
When I finally made it over to him he did not seem to be grateful at all in fact he acted like he knew what was up. I employed my sweet loving horse voice and gently talked to him as I moved closer, he didn’t leave his pile of oats but he didn’t look all that committed to them either. I made it up to him with my ninja like moves and put my hand on his neck, I reached into my pocket with the skill of a seasoned pocket picker and started to remove the twine to place on him so that I could then put the halter on. Well, even though I employed all my stealthy skills he took off at a full gallop across the small field. Fine time to break out the next trick, the old keep them out of the herd so that they will want to be caught move. I have used this method before with success so I didn’t see any reason for it not to work on this day. He would turn and try to come back to the herd and I would cut him off, we went on like this for a while until some of the other horses saw that a game was in progress and they thought they would join in. Now the only way for the keep them out of the herd method to work is if the herd isn’t now galloping across the field with the horse your trying to separate. I mean they were having a blast running, kicking up their heels and even letting the odd buck go. No catching him now, he had safety in numbers. I just stood back and waited for them to figure out that I had stopped playing.
After what seems like forever they finally settled down and started grazing and going in to a zen like state, this is the perfect time to catch that wildie now. I picked some grass and headed over in Bond’s direction pretending that I too was enjoy the lovely grass and not all interested in him, I even threw in a couple, “yum this grass is soooo good,” while avoiding eye contact that would cause him to suspect other wise. Once again I made it to him and even got my hand on his neck but this time I didn’t even get a chance to reach for the twine and he was gone. So I did what every mature person would do, I threw the halter in the direction of his form as he put some distant between us and I called him by his new names, there were quite a few. I then started off in a full run with the honest intension of running him down. Now it might be good to point out that I usually do not run unless there is something chasing me so to say that I was in marathon shape would be a lie but I was mad and this was good enough to spur me on ward towards my goal that is now at this point running around with his tail in the air and not a care in the world except to ditch the crazy chick that was chasing him. I was really starting to feel like I was gaining some ground on him when Papa Cliff yelled out,”be careful of you bad ankle.” I had hurt my ankle in a dancing accident and it never really healed, in fact sometimes it gives out on me. I guess my body heard what Papa said and it was then at a full run that my ankle went out and down I went. Well that was enough to make Bond stop at a safe distance look at me long enough to give me a new name and walk off with no fear of being caught now.
I limped back to the truck with my pride low and got in. Papa was doing a good job of not laughing out loud and keep a straight face and said “tomorrow well come up and make the catch pen bigger.”
So now on the Quarter not only is there a hay-field, trees, trails and a dug out but there is also a huge catch pen that the horses have to go into to get their oats.

Have A Beautiful Day!

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The Store Is Now Closing

We were at the 4-H Regional horse show in Red Deer this spring with Meggie when my Dad (Papa Cliff) stopped in to say hi and after a quick visit he left. I assumed he was heading home but I should have known differently. You see my dad is an addict and he is addicted to fly fishing and everything about it. He started a few year ago tying his own flies and when I look in his fly tying room I can’t help but think that maybe this addiction will require some serious intervention. My Dad has always be a busy man and when he retired after 36 years with the Alberta Forest Service I was happy that he found a hobby to keep him busy. I honestly think that things had gotten a little out of control and I now have proof of that.
We had just sat down for our potluck dinner at the horse show when the text came in, I guess he didn’t head home after all. The text read:

Papa Cliff:

Called 911
Locked in Sportsmen’s Den
Waiting for owner and the RCMP

Now I have to say that I had to reread the text a couple of times before replying with:

Seriously?

Then I handed my phone to Grant so he too could confirm what I had just read.

Papa Cliff:

Yes, locked in was engrossed in the fly tying supplies and got locked in.

At this point I have to admit that I had tears stream down my face from laughing. The Sportsmen’s Den is by no meanings one of the larger hunting/fishing supply stores out there. It is locally owned and located in a strip mall, so while not huge it is a good size store…..apparently large enough to get missed at closing time.

Papa Cliff:

Called the RCMP so that they don’t shoot me when they arrive
Alarm is very loud

Now I am almost doubled over laughing as I can picture this take down going on. In court dad would have to confess his addiction and tell the judge,”honestly your honor I just got “engrossed” in the fly tying supplies.”

Before I could reply again Papa Cliff next text read:

Made it out!

Okay time to phone him and get the whole story, which I might add was even better than the texts. The following is the tale of events told to me personally by Papa Cliff.

After leaving the horse show he thought he would swing in to Sportmen’s Den and see what they had in stock. Upon entering the store he stopped to talk to the owner at the till and then made his way to the back to check out the fly tying supplies. He said that there was no warning, ie the store will be closing soon announcement and he didn’t realize that they had closed. He took his purchases up to the till to pay for them only to discover that there was no one there, “guess he forgot I was in there,” that most of the light were off and that the motion sensors had triggered the alarm when he headed for the till and that the front door was locked. He phoned 911 who put in touch with the responding officer so that he could explain the situation so that they did not come in guns drawn thinking he was a robber. In the mean time the security company was trying to locate the owner. The whole time the alarms were ringing a defining tone and he had no choice but to wait it out. It took about a half in hour for the owner to be located and to free him.

Writing this I can’t help but laugh and think back to being a kid and thinking how great it would be to be locked in a toy store. After hearing my dad’s story and knowing that to him this was the equivalent of a toy store that I am glad it never happened. It will be a story that we share over and over and like all good tales I am sure the events will change some over time. It has not slowed down my dad and his quest for all things fly fishing related but I wonder if he plans his shopping a little earlier.

Have a Beautiful Day!

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Hatching Time…..Ya I got this

You know I have never been very good at waiting, patience therefore is not my strong suit. After waiting 26 days for the ducklings to hatch the true test of my patience was about to begin. Everything that I had read had explained that ducks do not hatch fast and the best you can do is sit on your hands and wait. To be honest it is like waiting for your Christmas present to open itself. The ducklings had internally pipped and the next step was an external pip. Grant said, “a watched egg doesn’t hatch,” and he was right. I headed outside to feed the chickens, feed Plum and her babies, and just get some fresh air. When I came back I was thrilled to see that Grant was indeed right and that a “watched egg doesn’t hatch” which it hadn’t but there was now an external pip.

Bean's egg with the pip

Bean’s egg with the pip

After 12 hours of no progress I helped them a little by very carefully removing some of the shell and outer membrane around the area that they had broken through and headed to bed. I got up again at 4:00am to see that they had indeed made more progress and again at 6:00am. They now had a good section of the shell opened and you could see their little beaks peeking out. But by 10:30am they hadn’t made any more progress and you could see that the inside membrane was starting to shrink-wrap around them and that they were struggling. Oh boy this is not good, they were not going to make it with out help. This is where my knowledge of hatching ended and I knew that I was going to need the help of someone with experience. I looked at Grant and said,”well I am going to have to call the vet and take them in.” The look on his face was that of a man thinking that his wife has had no sleep in the last 2 days and has officially gone crazy. He might have been slightly right in thinking that cause the fact was since the first peep I was running on about 4 hours of sleep, my hair standing on end and I had glassy-eyed appearance. Hard to convince someone you are making sane decision looking the way I did. “Seriously Grant I don’t know how else to help them and I don’t want to have come this far and lose them.” I picked up the phone and called to see if there was even a vet available to help me. As luck would have it the same vet that we take Meggie’s little parrot Charlie to was there and willing to help.
I unplugged the incubator and placed it in a box with a towel wrapped around it and made a speedy trip in to the vets. I couldn’t help but think that explaining to a police officer why I was speeding would result in the same look Grant had given me earlier. Thankful for living in a small town I made it in record time and the girls at the office had a room all ready to go.

All plugged in at the Vets

All plugged in at the Vets

Dr. Trish and her assistant came in and they started right away on what I now refer to as the “egg C Section”. The first duckling they delivered was Beans. Here is where I give the warning that the following couple of pictures my be a little grafic for some people but really they are not that bad. Duckling like chicks diffidently do not come in to this world fluffy and cute.

Beans after her being born by c section

Beans after her being born by c section

Sammy after being delivered by c section

Sammy after being delivered by c section

They both had some yolk left to absorb so I placed them back in the incubator so rest and recover and to get them home.

Out of the shell and resting

Out of the shell and resting

Out of her shell and recovering

Out of her shell and recovering

As soon as I got home I plugged the incubator back in and left them to rest while Grant and I got the nursery ready. I mean if we are going to say that they were delivered by c section we might as well call the brooder the nursery. After about an hour Beans started to waddle around and Sammy was still looking weak. I moved them to the nursery under the heat lamp and hoped for the best. Beans was up and around in no time and her yolk sack was almost completely absored where as Sammy was not looking very good at all. I filled a medicine dropper with sugar water and gave them both little amounts at a time to help get their energy up. By that evening Sammy yolk sack was absorbed too and they were both moving around eating and drinking on their own. Watching them was quite entertaining they would waddle, fall over, sleep, waddle , fall over, sleep all with in a 6 inch area just to make it to the food and water.
They have continued to do great and are on the move now. They have actually adopted Meggie as their Mama and as I type this they are in the nursery peeping for her. It is actually surprising how something so little can make so much noise.
I know that I won’t live down the fact that I took a couple duck eggs to the vet but that’s okay it was totally worth it! I will continue to update my blog on a regular basis with pictures and videos on how they are doing. As for the other 3 eggs there was only one with movement and as of yet there has been no action but we will leave to incubator plugged for another day cause you never know.

The first night

The first night

Bed time cuddles with Meggie and Ranger

Bed time cuddles with Meggie and Ranger

Getting big

Getting big

Have A Beautiful Day!

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Going To The Birds

After seeing Call Ducks online I decided that we need to add some to our flock. I started an email campaign that ended up with a gentleman from Nova Scotia offering to ship me 12 eggs. Well, if we were going to add Call Ducks to our family we might as well make it an adventure. I happily paid him for the eggs and the shipping and he mailed them out via Canada post on a Monday morning by Thursday morning they were received on our end and 11 eggs went in to our incubator. 11 being all the eggs our incubator could hold I placed one under our broody hen Plum for safe keeping.

The box containing the Call Duck Eggs

The box containing the Call Duck Eggs

We weren’t the only ones Excited about the parcel….Our Basset Hound Ranger is a big fan of birds and loved the last two batches of chicks we hatched as if they were his own.

Ranger inspecting the special parcel

Ranger inspecting the special parcel

The box that contained the eggs

The box that contained the eggs

After carefully removing the eggs from their “nest” we candled them to make sure that they had in deed made it safely and that there were no cracks or flaws in the shells. They all passed inspection an into the incubator they went.

11 eggs in the incubator ready to go

11 eggs in the incubator ready to go

The first week went great and when we candled the eggs the start of the second week we were happy to see that 8 of the eggs were developing and discarded the 3 that weren’t. It was a few days later that we started to notice a faint odor coming from the incubator, something that with our chickens eggs never happened. I wrongly thought that it was the little bit of poop that was on the eggs that was starting to cook. The smell continued to get worse and got to the point that it could be smelled even when the incubator was closed. At this time we were mostly staying in at the Stampede and had come home the morning after the Big and Rich concert only to discover that the smell in the house was almost unbearable. I have to admit that after a night of indulging Budweiser that this was not a welcoming odor at all!!! I turned on all the air freshers in the house, opened the windows and took a couple Advil so that my head would stop throbbing enough that I could Google the solution to this awful problem.
It turns out the solution was and trust me I checked every website that came up on my search was to smell each egg individually. The odor was caused from an egg gone bad and if left the bacteria can grow to the point that the egg will explode and ruin the rest of the good eggs. Okay, now after of night of living like a rock star it was not only my head that was hurting but I wouldn’t say that my stomach was committed to holding on to its contents either. I had no volunteers to help me with my investigation, so I said a little prayer and set about discovering the culprit in the smell crime. Another thing that each website said that there will be no mistaken which egg is rotten, that when you smell the bad one you will know it for sure, oh goody! I remember thinking back to my younger days and how my dad would punish me if I miss curfew or was not feeling too “perky” the next morning by making me mow the lawn in the heat of summer, or help with yard work when all I wanted to do was crawl in to bed and sleep off the not fun part of having a fun night out. Seriously, sniffing for rotten eggs when your hungover is not recommend if it can be avoided, which in my case it couldn’t.
Time to bare down and get it done. Meggie and I took the eggs in to the washroom as it is the only place in the house with no window so that we could candle the eggs as well. I picked up the first egg as if it have a ticking time bomb inside (which technically one or more of them did) and gingerly placed it close to my nose and sniffed, nope nothing no odor at all. Okay that’s one down 7 to go. I repeated the same method a few more times with the same result. I was almost starting to get complacent and thinking that Google had led me astray. On to egg number 7, by now my method had become quite bold and I would just pick the egg up and sniff it to get it over with. Now it is important to remember that the reason that you are smelling each one individually is because the rotten one will be VERY obvious……Sniff sniff “oh sweet mother of….” don’t panic I had found one of the bad ones. My stomach rolled dangerously close to losing everything, my eyes now watering and Meggie asking, “Is it bad?” Well that was an understatement!!!! My gag reflexes were now kicking in and I was left holding the darn thing because I was scared if I moved the bomb would go off. My Ninja like reflexes had totally abandoned me and I was left there trying to understand how something so little could smell sooooooo bad. I dispatched Meggie to go get a bunch of grocery bags and when she returned I very gently placed the egg inside them. There I lived through that (barely) and one more egg to go but I felt safe in the knowledge that the rotten one was safely contained in 8 layers of plastic, couldn’t be to safe when it came to keeping the smell confined. Sniff Sniff “oh sweet mother of……” gag reflexes displaying their strong desire to rid me of water I had slowly drank that morning, full on tears now running down my face, a second bad egg was found. It too was placed in the protective bags and I couldn’t help but wondered if they had ever considered rotten eggs as Eco friendly weapons of war. The rotten eggs confined in the bag, the other eggs were placed back in to the incubator to continue to develop which they were doing till two days ago when that oh so familiar smell started to creep out of the incubator. Not disabled this time I quickly went through and smelled the remaining six eggs and it did not take long at all to figure out which one it was.
We have now entered lock down on the 5 remaining eggs, this means that humidity is increased and that we stop turning the eggs as they prepare to hatch. They are due on Wednesday and I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am. From all the research that I have done Call Ducks tend to have a hard time hatching and may require help. This will mean that from the first pip I won’t sleep but that’s okay because it has been a long 25 days to get to this point. I well make to update my blog and keep you posted on how they are making out.

Have A Beautiful Day

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Time To Shine Up Your Boots

The intermission in my blogging has been brought to you by the 78th annual Ponoka Stampede, this year it was June 25th to July 1st. It is absolutely amazing to watch our small community of 6500 grow by the thousands! The Stampede offers free camping at the grounds and holiday trailers of every shape and size begin to roll into town. Soon all the camping spaces are full and it is a sea of RV’s. Being a city girl I have to admit that I don’t mind the extra people and traffic at all and like most of the locals I know to stock my pantry before hand. We used to be part of the get out of dodge group but for the past 5 years we have hauled our trailer to the grounds and dug in our heels for a great time.
To me the Ponoka Stampede offers a rodeo experience that you can’t get at the big city rodeos. The infield bar and concession is a common meeting place for people with infield seats. There you can visit with old friends, meet new ones and hangout with the stars of the rodeo world, to me it’s like being back stage. I mean when is the last time a person went to a big sporting event and got to hang out with the players? I have to say that every year I have had more fun then the last and always think it couldn’t get any better.
Like all people that are fans of the rodeo world I have my favorites and I have been very lucky to be able to meet them. Because it’s a rodeo one of my favorites was a four-legged star named Willy a Steer Wresting Horse. Not only did I get to meet Willy but I also got to sit on him. Seriously you could not wipe the smile off my face that day.

My smile says it all.

My smile says it all.

My husband Grant has his favorites too, Gary Rempel is one of the best pickup men on the rodeo circuit. One of the things that Grant has always admired about Gary is how he can rope anything and in 2010 Gary roped a bull just as it jumped into the crowd at the CFR. Grant and I met Gary in 2011 at the Stampede and he gave Grant that very rope. The rope is now proudly on display in our family room in a shadow box with a leather tag on it that Gary made that simply reads Gary Rempel 2010 CFR.

Our daughter Meghan is of course a big fan of Barrel Racing and her favorite is Lindsey Sears and her horse Martha. Meghan got to meet Lindsey and Martha at the Ponoka Stampede in 2013.

Meggie and her favorite Barrel Racer Lindsey Sears and her horse Martha

Meggie and her favorite Barrel Racer Lindsey Sears and her horse Martha

Every year I think that was the best Ponoka Stampede, how could it get any better? Well it did this year and I capture it with selfies. At this point I would like to point out I am not a professional selfie taker and you can tell by the photos. Seriously I need longer arms to pull of a good selfie. Okay here we go….

I was trying to take a selfie with CrAsh and this guy kept photo bombing us.

I was trying to take a selfie with CrAsh and this guy kept photo bombing us.

Yeah, I didn’t know it was Corb Lund, Alberta singing star and that nights entertainer. I was showing my girlfriend Theresa the pictures and explaining that this guy kept photo bombing us. “You Dork!!!!” she said “that is Corb Lund!” Now I have to say I love Corb Lund and his songs but I guess I didn’t really know what he looked like. Some of my favorite songs of his include, The truck got Stuck, Hair In My Eye Like a Highland Steer, Going To Shine Up My Boots

Take 2

Take 2

Next are the voices of the Ponoka Stampede, Dr. Lynn Phillips and Les MacIntyre

Dr. Lynn Phillips Rodeo Announcer

Dr. Lynn Phillips Rodeo Announcer

Les McIntyre Rodeo announcer

Les McIntyre Rodeo announcer

Oh look who just walked by another Alberta singer Gord Bamford

Gord Bamford who's hits include Drinkin Buddy

Gord Bamford whose hits include Drinkin Buddy

Concert Night and this years entertainment was Big and Rich. My friend Kathy said that since I had gotten all the other selfies she wanted one with me and Big and Rich, challenge accepted. First was the meet and greet but they have a lot of people there waiting to get their picture with the band so a selfie at that point was not an option. I was standing off to the side with my friend Wendy visiting and before I knew it the crowd was gone and Big and Rich were still standing outside their tour bus. Well god hates a coward so I asked and yep you guess it, I got a selfie.

the Meet and Greet with Big and Rich and Cowboy Troy

the Meet and Greet with Big and Rich and Cowboy Troy

Now for the selfie

Challenge accepted and completed.  Selfie with Big Kenny

Challenge accepted and completed. Selfie with Big Kenny

Finally what has to be my favorite moment of the Stampede, I got to meet my all time favorite Tie Down Roper…..Matt Shiozawa. He was also kind enough to give me a rope. Now I didn’t leave this Kodak moment to my selfies and lack of ability to take a good one. You can actually watch Matt rope right now in Pool “B” at the Calgary Stampede.

My favorite Tie Down Roper

My favorite Tie Down Roper

Finally selfies with 2 of my favorite cowboys, my dad who we all call “Papa Cliff” and my husband Grant.

Me and Grant taking in the rodeo

Me and Grant taking in the rodeo

Me and my Dad

Me and my Dad

As I write this I can only wonder want next year will bring? I believe life is an adventure to be lived and can’t wait for next year!

Now for a quick chicken update, Plum our little black hen hatched out 6 of the cutest little chicks ever. She has proved to be a great mom and I really enjoy watching her show her babies how to scratch and look for treats in the dirt. I will post pictures and video soon. Also the Call Duck eggs are due to hatch next week. I candled 2 days ago and we have 6 eggs that have very active ducklings in them. I have never been so nervous for a hatch before but hopeful that everything that will go well.

Have A Beautiful Day

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Celebration of Now

Discover Your Inner Truth

Miles Away Farm Blog

The how to, from scratch, growing, harvesting, preserving, fermenting, savoring food farm blog

Ask Sophia

Bingung? Lagi ada problem? Masalah dengan pacar? ortu? atau mau nanya tentang iman Kristen? Anda pun bisa bertanya kepada Sophia

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Photographer and photo editor Geoffrey Hiller has created Verve Photo to feature photographs and interviews by the finest contemporary image makers today.

Old World Garden Farms

Gardening, Cooking & DIY Living

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