More Chicken Mystery

When I got home from Austin, I found 9 eggs. They were all in one spot and all plain brown. The place where Fancy Pants lays was empty, and there were no pink or white eggs. Hmm.

Lee says he sees hens in weird places. Sure enough, I found two pink eggs in the far left corner of the garage.

Eggs were in there. Nice.

We looked in the rest of the garage, and there was Bertie Lee, sitting on a mop, in the far right corner of the garage.

Oh, Bertie.

I picked that egg up.

She makes big ones.

I still don’t see any Fancy Pants or Hedley eggs. Where can they be? Meanwhile, I found Sapphire on the mop. This is gonna be fun.

I give you nice egg boxes, but you lay eggs here??

Him reports that the brown hens are refusing to go in at night. They are in the white henhouse. Not good. It isn’t safe. I guess some chicken effort is needed! Hoping the family can help out!

That’s a Big One

Even not feeling great, I’m finding things to be excited about. I think that’s part of my charm. Perhaps. Today’s theme is big. For example, this is a big grasshopper, especially for a male. And it’s one of my better photos, right on my driveway!

Differential grasshopper, apparently tired, because he let me get really close. Note wings.

The extent of my walking yesterday was patrolling the back yard with Lee. While I regretted not meeting my activity goal, I still managed to find something big and beautiful. It’s one of my favorites, a yellow garden spider.

I had to take this over the fence. Notice her silver head. The scientific name, Argiope aurantia, means gilded silver-face.
This is her belly and some of her web. Obviously she’s an orb weaver!

And now, I’m sure you’ve been waiting for us to see what was inside Fancy Pants’s giant egg from a while back.

Giant egg!

It was still big after peeling. and still rather lumpy.

Peeled. Normal egg in background.

I got out the sharp knife and carefully sliced the big bruiser. Would it be a double yolk? Would it look weird?

That’s a BIG yolk.

I can’t tell if it’s double or not, but it sure is big! Way more yolk than white.

Compare to normal large egg. The normal one has way more white.

I wonder if this one would have had enough food in it to grow a chick? We will never know. But it does make me want to raise chicks. Maybe the next broody hen will get lucky!

So…what’s big in your life?

Buttercup the Hen Speaks Up

By Buttercup Wellsummer and Bruce Easteregger

BAWK! I’m Buttercup. I’m told I’m a Wellsummer hen. My friend, Butternut, and I have been living in a cozy place with a cozy inner safe space. We like it. It’s calmer since the giant gray chickens left. They were older and quite uppity. Hmph. One of them is already sitting in the leg-laying place.

Shut up, Buttercup. I’m cool and have all my wattles.
I laid an egg! It’s pink! So there, Buttercup!

Hey, I’m talking, Sapphire. We got to stay in our safe place, because we got extra-yummy food for growing but also on account of Butternut hurting her foot. The human with blue hair (she’d make a cool hen) didn’t want her getting hurt by the giant rooster or big hens on the outside.

I’m just looking for bugs over here. But yeah, I’m a bully. A very pretty bully.

We had a nice life. Butternut got better. We were good. Then, that dang human opened our doors! Other chickens came into our safe place! BAWK! We hid.

Sure, he’s a nice rooster, but he’s still a rooster!

We got braver when we realized bugs were out there. Mmmm. Bugs. We didn’t get many in our safe place. They escaped.

A bug! This is the life!

We stuck together. That’s how us chickens roll. We form little sub-flocks.

We survived sleeping last night and are feeling a lot better! I’m even joining the others by running up to the humans when they show up. We all like it when the human with the egg-shaped head opens our doors in the morning.

Look! I’m running with Gertie, who likes to chase me.

Butternut is still shy and hangs out in the safe place. She needs to get over it! It’s fun outside!

I’ll stay in here with Hedley. I’ll try to convince her to start laying again, says Butternut.

A Hello from Bruce’s Gang

COCK-a-DOODLE-DO! It’s me, Bruce, the crazy-looking rooster who everyone loves. I’ve been having so much fun lately!

Howdy! Isn’t my comb dashing?

Since Star and Sapphire got released from the other pen, where they were imprisoned with the Butters, we’ve formed a unit! These gals are strong, brave, and beautiful. My kind of gals.

We’ve been exploring all over our land now! There are so many places to check out. So many yummy bugs and plants!

Here we go, wandering around the humans’ pen.

We go into the place with big trees, which worries the humans, but we are fine. We also go hang out with the cows. Wow, there are so many bugs in the mud by their giant water hole. Yesterday, we tried to go into the human pen, but the human who loves the cows said we couldn’t. Bummer.

We just wanted to check for bugs in there! We provide a service!

We just keep going. We find yummy water in the big water holder near where the cows eat.

Love this greenish water. Humans are going to get fish to put in here. Wonder if we can eat them?

We hide under all the humans’ metal things. We eat!

Silly blue-haired human thought the gray hens were lost. This is a great hiding place.

Every night the human with the egg-shaped head shuts our doors so we can sleep in peace. Thanks, humans for the food and safety.

Why wasn’t I the star of this post?

Day Off, with Animals

Just wanna day woo. Taking the day off. So far I have played with dogs and chickens. I had a blast watching Gracie Lou playing with heifers. What’s nice is that they were all obviously playing. Here’s a sequence.

Gracie is stalking. Cows are approaching.
Note Gracie’s play bow.
There she goes!
There they go!

That was fun. Vlassic had to get in the act, but he got yelled at.

Tiny black dog is Vlassic.

I also just hung out with the chickens. Why not? They’re all so glad to see me. It’s great to be loved by tiny dinosaurs.

Love Gertie the Guinea and Fancy Pants.
Three roosters. Two real.

Okay. Further adventures await! You have a Good Friday. Lol. The phone capitalized the “good.”

I Discovered Something!

It’s been a great day, for many reasons, and a great weekend. We took Apache out again today, and he was his old self again! He and Spice were very brave when they came upon some people building a new gate between our two pastures.

This is as close as the horses would get.

But they had fun. Fiona kept plopping down and rolling whenever she found dirt.

The flies are bothering me.

I also had fun seeing things this weekend. One is that I see signs that I wasn’t mistaken, we DO have a loggerhead shrike this year. I didn’t see one last year, and I was bummed. Today I saw lots and lots of insects impaled on our fence, though!

Plus! I’m very happy to share that another chicken started laying. Her first egg is pinkish and has little blue spots! On the other hand, Hedley, the one that lays white eggs, has started spending a LOT of time in the nest box. She did lay today, but if she’s gone broody I’m just giving her three eggs and letting her go for it.

The new one is on the bottom. Cute!

I also found two new and interesting insects. First is the extremely cool Beelzebub Bee Killer Mallophora leschenaulti, which is a type of robber fly. This things is huge, loud, and intimidating. I saw two yesterday and two today.

The other new insect is what I’m excited about. It turns out that my entry of the Long-jawed Longhorn Beetle Dendrobias mandibularis is the first one Milam county and the farthest north it’s been seen.

I’m the first!

Also, this is one of the most beautiful insects I’ve ever seen. So colorful!

Look at those antennae! And it’s so shiny!

I’ve been waiting to finally see something new and different to share on iNaturalist and I finally did! I feel so scientific.

Fancy Watering Hole

Today is one of those meeting-filled and task-filled days that left me with no blogging time but lunch. So, I just have a few minutes to fill you in on a major improvement for out Hermits’ Rest livestock.

I already shared that the chickens’ water now is officially hooked up, and both pens can use the same water trough. Butternut and Buttercup especially like it when the water overflows.

Happy chickens and guinea enjoying water overflow. You can see one of the Butters sticking her head through the fence to drink. Mission accomplished there!

Yesterday, Chris brought up a bunch of very sturdy (and FREE) metal poles to use to anchor gates in our new fencing. Note the splatters. That’s all the rain we got, while Cameron got a quarter inch. Boo.

Big ole sturdy pipes, with rain droplets.

Along with the poles came something to dig the holes for the poles, a big auger.

Big ole auger, AKA post hole digger.

But, what’s made all the animals happy is the other thing he brought: a big water trough and one of those handy cut-off attachments that keeps the water level full at all times. Fiona is jealous (the one where she is leaks). Vlassic spent a lot of time thinking about whether to jump in there or not.

That looks pretty darned deep!

I foresee some happy cattle, and hopefully at some point horses and donkeys enjoying this new improvement. We’re a fancy ranch now!

Now It’s Chicken Heaven

Today Chris and his dad did a lot of work on a new water line for the chicken coop and new barn area. That required digging a trench.

Chickens like freshly dug dirt, a lot. Not only is it fun to explore, it has new and exciting bugs in it.

Carlton wanted to help. the blue stuff is the future water line.

Every time I checked on them today, they were all excitedly climbing around.

One good thing about the water being cut off is that I had to fill the chicken water in the garage. That gave me a chance to scrub the water dishes. I think they liked it.

Like the chickens, Rip and the new heifers also explored their new territory a lot. The other bull calves ate and ate. Eventually the new gals figured out where the cubes are and came up to the pen, but it was too dark for a photo. But I got portraits.

Everything is back in working order at the chicken coop. I even got the distressed fake rooster upright and out of the way.

Fake Rooster is guardian of the Wellsummer girls.

I wish everyone had a pet, wild animal, or other natural phenomenon to watch and enjoy. It sure makes these uneasy times easier to bear.

The beautiful Sapphire.

Great Day to Be a Calf – Not So Great to Be a Pullet

Yep, I got back to the ranch yesterday, just in time for some fun and news. Upon my arrival, I saw this:

There is a new fence in the front pasture, formerly known as a field. Apparently Chris came back to town and spent all Thursday night erecting this. The flags are very helpful, since it’s otherwise invisible. Why the rush to erect the fence?

Just cows

Kathleen brought back two of her cows from the farm in Yorktown to hang out here and join the three little bull calves. One of them is pregnant; I believe the brown one. They are daughters of her lovely bull, Johnny. They don’t have names, because they are just cows, and not pets (got it). The brown one is not real friendly, which is fine with me; I’ve never made it a habit of petting adult cattle unless someone says it’s okay (in other words, the only ones I have ever petted were Kathleen’s former bottle calves).

Now, what’s this?

To top off the excitement, Kathleen let the little guys out of their small pen. Their reactions were true to their personalities. Rip went crazy with glee. He ran and ran, jumped in the air, and made circles around the rock pile.

Rip flies around the rocks.

He’s still got a cough, poor guy, but that only held him up a little. He then proceeded to climb up the rock pile and try every kind of grass there was.

This is SO MUCH FUN.

Meanwhile, the other two discovered taller grass than was in their pen, and started munching away. I think they will be delicious and Rip will be a scrawny little dude forever. In any case, it was the best day of their lives. Everyone enjoyed scratching their heads on the trailer, too.

MMM, this is great, long as that dog stays on his side of the trailer.
One happy calf.

After they all settled down, the new heifers came to investigate the calves, lick on them, and start to “herd up,” as they say. Chris is working on getting the ladies more tame, by enticing them with cattle cubes (also beloved of dogs). I know the little ones feel better with some older bovines to hang out with.

I look forward to watching all of Kathleen’s herd grow. I know she and Chris are both a lot happier with some cattle to work with up here.

As for the Chickens

Today was freedom day for the two Blue Star pullets. They are a month older than the Welsummers and HUGE. They were starting to bully the smaller pullets, especially Buttercup, who hurt her foot, so we decided to let them out. Of course, that didn’t go as planned, and instead of them leaving when I opened the door, most of the other chickens came into their pen. Oops.

I quickly got rid of the roosters, so no one else would get smooshed to death, but it took Chris’s help to get Star and Sapphire out, while keeping the other two in.

We are officially hiding.

The first thing Star and Sapphire did was go check out the feed in the other coop. That meant they were prime rooster targets, which did not thrill Sapphire one bit.

Why did you put us in here with THIS brute? (Hate to tell them, but the OTHER one is the brute.)

They went outside and tried their darnedest to get back into their other pen, but I am sure once they realize how many bugs there are out in the grass, they will be fine. They are already bigger than Hedley, so they can hold their own.

Speaking of the other hens, I think, but cannot confirm it, that all five of the adult hens are finally laying. I found three eggs this morning, and they were all solid brown. The absence of a white or ombre egg means Hedley and Fancy Pants had not laid yet. Well, that took a while. And big ole Springsteen, the Jersey Giant, is now making very large eggs. What a gal!

OMG! That giant rooster is DEAD! It’s the apocalypse! Run!

Being with the animals helps me a lot. I’m so happy to have them all. I’m still a bit shaky around people and having trouble communicating, but maybe by tomorrow I will be relaxed!

Remember, beloved readers, it’s okay to acknowledge your rough times and trouble dealing with things. It helps remind everyone we aren’t alone in having challenges these days. I can be having anxiety struggles and worry about world events (fires, floods, fighting) and still enjoy what’s good in my life and be thankful for kind friends and patient family.

Mad as a Wet Hen?

I was a bit worried about how the chickens were going to do in all this rain, as I mentioned earlier, so I made a shelter inside the pullet house for the two who like to hide and covered the cage in there.

Star and Henley check out my sad little shelter. Henley likes to hide in enclosed areas, but her cardboard box died in the rain.
The hens can still roost on top, but they can have more shelter if they want it. Meanwhile, Sapphire is relieved to have some dry food.

I really was wondering if they’d drown or something, especially with the way the skies looked all day.

Looking to the east.

However, every time I look outside, I see them roaming all over the place, delighting in all the new bugs the rain has served up. Usually the black hens stay close to the henhouse, but today they were all way out in the field. Still, when I called, they hauled butt to see me.

This is later, after I came back with more food. They come quickly!

So, none of the wet hens seem mad at all. The roosters are happy, too! Like Chris said, they’re just chickens. But, if I want to pamper them, I can, right (if you count piling tin roof materials up as pampering)?

It’s too muddy in the back of the pen, so I gave them fresh food at the front.

It was also raining like crazy when I went to the horses, so they get grass for dinner again. At least the calves are fine. They have a nice shelter. Too bad not everyone likes their accommodations.

“I still want to be in the pullet house, dammit.” Poor Patty.

Sure, There’s Fun in There, Somewhere

The last few days have not been in the realm of “fun” for me, for the most part. Just because I CAN do things doesn’t mean they aren’t stressful and tiring. I knew I had to change my team and work in a different way than before, so I did, but between actually doing it, needing support, and spending a LOT of time supporting confused people, by the time last night rolled around I was pooped.

The back pond is full again. And the grass is greener already. Photo by Lee Bruns.

When I got home, I was not up for wading through mud to feed the horses, and besides, I knew they had food and water, due to all the rain (the grass IMMEDIATELY grew). I did check on the very wet chickens and their very wet food (I can’t open one of their feeders, so, it was all in a very wet bowl). As I was checking on the new chickens, Patty ran into the pullet area and wouldn’t come back out. She went right over to poor Henley (who still doesn’t look great, but she’s eating and drinking). I tried as long as I could do remove her, but failed.

I am NOT leaving.

I crawled into bed and had ice cream for dinner. Self care! That was fun.

Today, it’s been raining all day again. The weather around here is just plain weird. But, it’s not hot. And the chimney leaked a lot less than yesterday. See, how great is that?

After surviving (set the bar low, Lee said) the three days of planning meetings with hundreds of people on Zoom, I was happy to find a box on the porch. It contained my new autumn wreath. It’s not too fancy, but will look good on my office door. I wanted to wait until after Labor Day, but I needed some fun, darn it! That will get me through another couple of months, anyway.

Velvet Pumpkins!

My boss said to take the afternoon off, because we’ve earned it, but of course I’ve had to deal with an ornery aging computer genius, and my team all want me to to one on ones and teach them complicated document formatting techniques. I wonder if I can do that while completely empty of mental strength?

I AM taking tomorrow off. Maybe it won’t rain and I can make it up to Apache and Fiona!