Greetings from the Windy Hollow Guys

Opie, Virgil, and Otis: "Hey, y'all!  Have a blessed day!"  Sweet boys.

Graduation Day - not what you think!

A special day for me here on the farm --- my six little chicks are finally big enough  (and sporting their big girl feathers) to be brought outside into their new coop.  Hooray!  They've been in their bin in my laundry room for almost four weeks.  I stopped using their heat lamp about a week ago to get them accustomed to cooler temperatures.  It was a lot of work having them there, though.  Now I have re-claimed my laundry room! 

Here's a view of the chicken yard.  It's big (around 40 by 50 feet), and it's securely fenced.  It's surely large enough to house lots of chickens, but my older ones most likely won't be interested. ( Short version of their story:  They're all free-rangers.  They came with the farm as did the dog.  They sleep in the pine trees by the barn, all except little Thelma Lou; she returned to the chicken yard where she was raised some weeks back.)

Here's a close-up view of the sign I painted for the new girls.

Yes, it really says "Mayberry."  I am such a big fan of "The Andy Griffith Show"!  The girls are all named after characters in the show.  The white leghorns are Skippy, Daphne, and Aunt Bea; the aracaunas  are the Morrison sisters (Jennifer and Clarabelle) and Mrs. Mendenbreit.  (No one can ever accuse me of not having a good time with my critters!)
And now here are five of the girls getting to know their new digs:
It was pretty easy.  They adapted immediately with lots of chirping and busy-ness, pecking at the ground and finding bugs and other chicken delicacies.  This new coop and adjacent chicken run are somewhat small.  We're going to construct a bigger enclosed area in a couple of weeks.  The girls are going to be BIG hens and will need more space.  When they're a few weeks older, I'll let them out of their chicken run during the day and make sure they're back inside at night.  It's just a matter of getting them accustomed to using their coop. 
They've already discovered the roosting pole and the comfy straw in the coop and are using their ramp with ease.  Fred Mertz rooster, who is so sweet and kind and curious, has already been in the chicken yard to visit. 
So Happy Graduation Day, little ones.  Now y'all are really big girls.

Rest. Ahhhh...

Here's how my donkeys relax...

Opie and Otis enjoyed a little relaxation in the dappled sunlight this morning.  Their brother Virgil was grazing elsewhere in the pasture, filling his donkey tummy with sweet grass.

Otis wanted to linger a little longer...

Lucky the Farm Dog Meets the Third Donkey


                                                 "Mom!  Mom!  He's here! He's here!"

                                                  "Hey!  Are you my new brother?"

                                       "Mom!  Mom!  They're all doing a donkey dance!"

Yep.  Opie Taylor, our third donkey, arrived today!

Why Donkeys?

Folks have been asking why I'm now a donkey owner.  It's another part of our farm dreams come true; I've always loved these critters, and now we have room for them.  We actually have room for more than two - the pasture and barn are certainly big enough, and I believe in increase! 

A few donkey facts from Wikipedia:

They're used as working animals in many undeveloped countries and as pets and breeding animals elsewhere.  Non-working donkeys can live as long as 30 to 50 years.  (Wow!)  They're not really stubborn, just self-protective; a donkey won't do something that he perceives as dangerous.  Once he earns your confidence, though, he's willing and companionable.  Donkeys are smart, cautious, friendly, and eager to learn.

What I've learned from experience and not Wikipedia:

They're loyal.  My daughter-in-law told me that her grandfather used to ride his donkey back and forth to work every day.  They lived out in the country, and that was common in those days.  When her grandfather died, the donkey was apparently very lonely without his best friend, and he passed away just two weeks later, probably of a broken heart.  (I can just envision the two of them in heaven, reunited forever and riding all over the hills of heaven!)

There will be one dominant donkey in every herd.  My boy Otis is the boss of our pair.  If he wants Virgil to head into the barn or in a different direction in the pasture, he'll push him that way.  I think it's partly because Otis has not been neutered and Virgil has.  Their former owner said they kept Otis intact because he's spotted, and sometimes folks will pay stud fees for breeding with a spotted donkey. 

My boys are more interested in pasture grass than baled hay.  We raise hay for neighboring farmers' cattle and horses.  It's sweet and fragrant and keeps well; we still have 80-some bales in the field.  Otis and Virgil get fresh hay daily, but they love their grazing best.

They're lovers of sweet feed, a molasses and grain mixture, and they eat it right out of our hands.

Each donkey has a distinctive bray.  Otis sounds rather like a fog horn, while Virgil is a little more baritone.

And here's one of the best things about my donkeys:

Who can resist a face like this?  Otis posed so sweetly for the camera this morning.

Happy, happy days!

A Little Preview

The six baby chicks are doing beautifully; they're growing  fast and are such a delight to care for.  I moved their living quarters and brooder lamp into the laundry room a few days ago because the garage is still pretty cold.  (Hurry, warmer temperatures!)  I have to change their cedar shavings at least three times a day so their quarters stay dry.  They're messy little girls, very good at scratching and kicking stuff into their waterer and spilling it all over the place.  They're enthusiastically learning to be chickens, too, using their feeder as a roosting pole.  The babies look especially cute all lined up, sleeping soundly.  I tried to get a photo of them like that, but they're pretty watchful and refused to stay there!  Bless their hearts.  They surely grow fast.  The little leghorns' wings are turning from pale yellow to white.  The araucanas are developing the most beautiful spots on their wings and pretty little spots on their cheeks.

Since I couldn't get a good photo of the babies as they are today, I'm posting photos of someone else's chickens to give y'all a preview of how they'll look fully grown.  Here's the white leghorn:

A beautiful hen.  I love those pale pink legs!

Here's the araucana:

Another beautiful hen.  I love all her colors!

Important p.s. --- The donkeys are thriving, too.  Here's a current photo of Otis and Virgil:

Sweet, spunky boys.

The fun never stops here on Windy Hollow Farm!

More new babies!

New baby chicks today!  The little blondes are White Leghorns, the little brunettes Araucanas.  The babies are just two days old and are quite a lively bunch.  They will live in their brooder (and under their heat lamp) for four weeks.  When they're fully feathered and when the weather is warmer (and it will be soon!), they'll go out to their coop.  I've never raised chickens without the help of a mother hen before.  They'll get lots of loving care here, of course!
Chicken trivia:  If you wonder what color eggs a hen will lay, look at her little ears.  The Araucanas will have bluish-green ears while the Leghorns will have white.  And that's what they'll lay!  I think that's pretty neat.
Names for the babies: More Mayberry names from "The Andy Griffith Show."  The blondes will be Skippy and Daphne and Mrs. Mendelbreit.  I know it sounds almost absurd to name a baby chick Mrs. Mendelbreit, but I love her character on the show.  She owned the rooming house where Barney Fife lived, and she almost got completely duped by a con man, bless her heart.  Two of the brunettes will be the Morrison sisters, Jennifer and Clarabelle.  They were moonshiners and once gave Opie some "special flowers" for his little girlfriend.  The third little brown chick will be Aunt Bea.  Folks sometimes ask me why I name my critters after characters on old tv shows.  Well, I just love the shows!  I'm sure y'all have noticed that none of my chickens is named Fried, Barbecued, or Broiled!  They live out their sweet chicken lives here without ever being our meals.  (Bet you already knew that!)
Starting my new barn and coop signs tonight.  What fun!  I'll post photos when they're done.  I suppose y'all know that I'm having a wonderful time!