Category Archives: Cats

When does then become now and vise-versa?

When your putting a little bit into a project on a regular basis you can lose track of progress. I lost a hen last night, not to anything scary or alarming, she fell into the duck pond and drowned simple as that. I’m not sure how she joined my little circus but I do know that she contributed in her own way and now there’s room for more. That’s what struck me when I found her this morning, six months ago losing a hen would piss me off! Thomas, the devious son, and I had a major rupture in our relationship over a chicken killing dog. That episode finally drove it into my thick head that animals are gonna behave like animals whether they are pets or livestock. We as their keepers have a responsibility to take care of them. The reality of that episode was that I wasn’t being a responsible chicken keeper by letting them free range on a 1/2 acre sub-urban lot, and Thomas wasn’t being fair to Michone (his Husky puppy) by just letting her run free on that same lot. We both blamed each other and felt as if the other had let us down but the truth was that we had both failed in our responsibilities to our animals. The hen I lost last night was an accident, nothing more, it was not a judgement on my skills and the realization that losing livestock to accidents is part of having livestock is something that I needed to learn.

The following pictures are from earlier this year when the trees were just going in and it was all one big space with chickens and ducks running everywhere. I thought I had everything all figured out and it was gonna run like clockwork.



Then came the itch of all of that nice ground between my fruit trees. From somewhere the idea for sunken beds came along, which eventually morphed into half-assed huglekulture beds. My head is filled even more now with ideas to squeeze even more outta my little 1/8 of an acre.



Things started greening up, more ideas formed and then surprises started showing up. Low and Behold maybe some of this stuff is gonna work! And most of all it feels good doing it, even on a miserable monsoony 114 degree August afternoon, I look forward to working in my orchard/chicken corral/garden.



I’ve come to realize that old ideas inspire new ideas and working through a problem really does require work. But the fruits of that labor, be it a fence that helps create harmony with your son, goofy nest boxes and separation that bring eggs to the table, or patience that helps develop a new friendship, is what life is really all about.



And then their are Black Copper Marans Roosters! Is anybody looking for one? or maybe 2 or 3?












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Starbucks Rewards and the Outriders of the Alien Invasion

The goal this weekend was to get the Comfrey plants in the ground, if they showed up that is.My nephew Steven called Friday to see if he could come over and hangout, the term “slave” instantly popped into my head. Steven is 15 and a great guy, he is a born cat person and loves to come over to play with Annabelle, Lola, Oscar, and sometimes even the devil incarnate Salem. His motivation this time was that I had posted some new pictures of Tri-pod on Facebook, commenting on how far he has come in 3 months. Tri-pod does come out from under the bed regularly now but his trust is centered mostly around me. He came out and let Steven pet him but only for a few minutes at a time. With me Tri-pod will come out and sit on my lap for quite a while making a general nuisance of himself by trying to swat my fingers while typing my blog posts. Now all I have to do is figure out how to broker a peace treaty between Annabelle and Tri-pod, the office had always been Annabelle’s domain and she is very bitchy about somebody else taking over her territory. The other cats come in the office, munch on Tri-pods food, use his litter box and just kinda hang out, Annabelle though goes into attack mode whenever Tri-pod shows his face. Hopefully I’ll figure out some way to ease this situation but I’m fresh outta ideas, if anyone has advice it would sure be appreciated.

Steven “volunteered” Saturday morning to help out at the Orchard. After going to breakfast with Sweety #1 & #2 we didn’t get a very early start. By the time we made it to the Orchard it was 10am and extremely hot & humid. We did get the seed for my custom fermenting mix and the GP poultry pellets unloaded and stored in the coop. Screening the compost didn’t work out so well and we moved on to the hole portion of the “fertile holes” I needed for my Comfrey. After 3 holes we both cried UNCLE and cleaned up and headed out. Usually I slip Steven $10 or so for helping out, work kept calling and I got distracted and forgot. Hopefully seeing as how he is 15, just got his learners permit and I let him drive my Jeep we may be even.

Tom over at Coes Comfrey exceeded my expectations! When I got home there was a nice little box waiting with 12 healthy looking comfrey plants inside along with a very informative planting and use guide. I had tried sending Tom several e-mails and had convinced myself he was like everyone else and out of stock for the season, not so! Tom means it when he says he prefers doing business by phone, his number is 828-321-4913 and he is a great guy to talk to. A bit of cloud cover crept into the valley during the afternoon so I ran back up to the Orchard and finished digging holes. Seven plants are going in along the fence that separates the chicken run from the orchard area with the remaining five going into my sunken beds interspersed between the fruit trees. The plants are spaced about 3′ apart along the fence and the plan is to put mulberry trees or some kind of chicken friendly shrub between each comfrey plant. What the hell is a chicken friendly shrub? something that produces leaves or fruit that my chickens can eat. Do you have any suggestions? The plants need to be somewhat drought and heat tolerant but other than that I am wide open to suggestions.

This mornings efforts focused on the fertile part of fertile holes. Before leaving last night I had filled all seven holes with water so that I wouldn’t have dry thirsty ground sucking all of the moisture away from my new plants. Then 5# of used coffee grounds from Starbucks went into each hole along with another filling of H2O. While emptying Starbucks bags I found another of their secret prizes! A couple of months ago I found a nifty stainless frothing cup in a bag of grounds that my middle son Thomas stole. Yeah I know he looks like a “Pretty Boy” but if you look closely at his eyes you can see a spark of deviousness. Until today I had thought this find was just a random occurrence precipitated by poor employee motivation at a particular Starbucks, but then third bag in this morning I find another heavy duty frothing mug! This is no coincidence caused by lazy employees. Obviously Starbucks has instituted some sort of “Starbucks Rewards” program for their eco-minded customers. I thoroughly searched Starbucks Rewards website and can find no mention of this innovative and intriguing program. The program must have been inspired by the “secret menu” at In-n-Out Burger. Let me know if you’re one of the lucky recipients of a Starbucks Rewards frothing mug and please keep this on the QT, we don’t want those not in the know running out and grabbing up all of those valuable grounds just trying to get one!

After the coffee grounds-slurry was in the holes I filled them up with a mixture of the unscreened compost, that I had let the chickens scratch through last night, and bagged cow manure from the home store. I do plan on developing a supply chain for manure in my local area but I aint quite there yet. After mixing well, the resultant slop made an excellent medium to plant my new Comfrey crowns into. All that is left is to extend my Greywater irrigation system down to that area. I think that project is going to wait for fall though, the combination of Vegas heat and Monsoon humidity is stifling. Overall this has been a productive weekend and who knows if the clouds roll in the work may not be finished. I would like to get my middle half-assed-hugel bed surrounded by fencing to keep the pigeons out.

By the way does anyone know an effective way to keep them demon spawned outriders of the alien invasion out of your garden?


This last picture is an update. When I removed my Starbucks Rewards frothing mug from the dishwasher I noticed a very disturbing thing: They personalized it! My name is embossed in high relief on both sides of the spout. How did they accomplish this remarkable feat of personalized marketing? I am confused and if truth be told just a little spooked!


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My Sweety, Karen, is the go to gal for our beloved family Vet, Doc Henderson. Whenever they need a critter bottle-fed or socialized his office calls up. Her giant Heart just won’t let her say no. A while back I introduced you all to Tri-Pod, the poor fella that somebody trapped because he had an injured leg. Unfortunately they didn’t bring him to Doc until he had been in the trap for a week. Consequently he got a double whammy, freak out from being locked up in a tiny trap for way to long and then strangers amputating his front leg. He was one seriously anti-social cat when we got him, in fact Doc had him pegged for a feral cat he was so freaky.







It has taken 2 months but Tri-Pod has finally started to come around. He is really very loving and craves attention but there is still a lot of freaky things going on in his head. Thats OK though if someone locked me up in a cage just barely big enough to turn around in then chopped my arm off I’d be purdy freaky too!

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Karen and I are semi empty nesters that are never happier than when we can bring some babies into our house, luckily we currently have quite a few in residence. The first ones are my two Barnies.

A lot went into these two cute little fluffy butts. My sweety,Karen, had got me 16 Barnevelder eggs from one of her customers in Utah. Once they were in my hands though things kinda went sideways. I’m still struggling with humidity control in my new Brinsea OCTAGON 20 advance incubator which I think is resulting in over or underdeveloped embryo’s that just don’t hatch. At 2 weeks half the eggs were clear, of the 8 left 6 hatched, 2 died within hours, 2 were fully formed but never hatched, and 2 had spraddle legs and lasted about a week leaving these two beautiful, healthy Barnies! Hopefully Karen will get me another batch of eggs next time she makes a delivery to Utah.

This is Tri-pod, he came to us from our awesome Vet, Doc Henderson. Doc is a true animal lover that shuts down his practice once a week to let the local Heaven can Wait group use his facility to do low-cost or no-cost spay and neutering. Tri-pod came to him after someone had trapped him to have his injured front leg treated, unfortunately by the time he got to into Doc’s care he had been left in the trap for over a week and there was no option but to amputate the limb. Tri-pod was very traumatized and in desperate need of some TLC and socialization. As happens quite often Doc’s daughter Katy called Karen and told her she had a project for her, usually this means they have a batch of feral kittens that are quite literally “scaredy cats” that after a couple of weeks around our menagerie calm right down and turn into the type of kittens that are easy to adopt out, not this time though. Tri-pod came home and spent the first couple weeks in the office just chillin out, we never saw him but the food bowl would be empty and fresh dubage in the litter box every morning.

On one of Lexi’s visits the office door got left open and Tri-pod promptly took up residency under our bed. He started venturing out in the evenings to let us know he was hungry and slowly gained enough confidence to venture out in the middle of the night to say hi. Now he comes out any time Karen has something to eat and joins right in the beggin que with the rest of the critters! Tri-pod has really grown on me and I sincerely doubt that he will be going anywhere.

Karen’s all time favorite exotic birds are African Grey‘s, she currently has 3, Magoo & Molly that are supposed to be breeding, and Sheila who is her absolute favorite. This evil looking creature is a baby that Karen is currently hand-feeding, she jokes that the babies she raises are priceless which most of her customers tend to agree with. Whenever we run into people who have purchased Grey’s from her they all rave about what wonderful birds they have. Karens secret is the attention and love she gives them, some people believe that squirting hand feeding formula out of a syringe into the birds crop through the bars of a cage makes the babies pattern on humans and therefore good pets. That may be true but Karens goal is to create companions not pets, so her babies are always fed while she holds and talks to them. They also get a lot of attention outside of feeding time so that they don’t just tolerate people that actively seek interaction.

Because of Magoo’s apparent incompetence Karen had to purchase the one baby African Grey she is currently feeding, the Quakers shown above though were hatched right here in our bird room. The first 2 hatched out just fine in the nest box and the parents are doing a good job feeding and caring for them. When they get bigger Karen will pull them to hand feed and socialize them. The little tyke in the second picture came from an egg that the parents had buried in a corner of the nest box but luckily Karen found. The egg was cracked and almost got tossed but Karen decided to do an eggtopsy and discovered that the baby was still alive! After carefully removing the shell with tweezers she tried putting the baby into the brooder with the baby Grey but raising the temperature to what the Quaker needed overheated the Grey. Luckily she thought of my incubator and it has worked perfect as a brooder, the fancy digital temperature controls came in handy. I, and I believe Karen to, did not expect this tiny little Quaker to make it but it’s 4 days later and the little sucker is still doing well. I am so lucky to have a friend, lover, and wife like Karen to share these things with. While I may not quite understand her fascination with parrots and cats, its for damn sure that she’s confused by my wanna be chicken rancher/farmer obsession but we both enjoy each others passion in our separate interests. And after all isn’t that what a relationship is supposed to be about?

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