Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Story of Blinky's Arrival

Cochin #2 - the red hen - is not a good mother. After the birth of black-bubby-cochin, she was sitting on eggs on and off... mostly off. At least once I found the eggs very cold in the nest, so I figured they weren't viable any more.

Went away on vacation for ten days, came back and found her (and her frizzle friend in a second nest box), firmly ensconced on eggs. Oh-kay - so we should expect more bubbies in about two weeks time (they take 3.5 weeks to cook).

Sunday I was picking pond weed out of the trough (green algae... it's good for them, right?) and heard miserably loud peeping coming from the chook house - and sure enough, lying upside down in the dirt was a yellow-n-bloody chicklet. Huh... two weeks early. Seems like this one must have started to cook right when the black chooklet was hatched. So much for non-viable eggs.

Picked it up - definitely didn't look good. The roosters, outraged by its presence, had been working on it for some time, apparently. It had hatched from the red hen's nest, dropped about 4 feet onto the ground (she probably pushed it), and then it was at the mercy of the Big Kids. One side of its head looked very bad and I figured it probably wouldn't make it. But it was still alive, so I put it in a small box with a heat pad and left it to sit quietly.

Blinky's "good" eye :(

Blinky's not so good side

About six hours later, I was mucking the paddock behind the hen house and I hear more peeping. Back to the chook house and look around carefully and found a second chooklet hiding in a bucket. Huh. This one had been minimally pecked and looked pretty healthy compared to its sibling.

Alive and well, with only slightly pecked legs,
the Sibling
So now I have two chooklets inna box.

Monday night, they were both still alive but had gummed-shut eyes. With a damp Q-tip, I was gently able to get both eyes open on the healthier of the two. No luck on the injured one's "better" eye, though.

Tuesday morning, the healthier one was eating and wobbling around. The injured one was still hanging in there - preening itself - but I don't think had figured out the eating thing yet - what with not being able to see anything. It is noticeably lighter than its sibling. But it has not given up yet and seems to be fighting for its right to be here.

We leave on our camping trip Wednesday night and with nowhere to plug in a heat pad, I asked a friend at work if she and her son would be interested in looking after them while we were gone. They had done a great job on a disabled baby chook a year or so ago (twisted leg - now full-grown into an egg-laying hen... still disabled, but cheerily drags around).

So the chooklets came to work with me this morning. The injured one has been christened "Blinky". Think the one eye is gone, but if they can get it's other eye ungummed I think it might just make it.

Time will tell.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Assembling flat-packed furniture

Third Week in July:

Traffic jam on Andy Wolf, Wednesday morning
It's very red. Roop races the dogs on the powerline road
Monday: Sorted out baby chooks - two new ones while we were gone, plus two dead ones (I was afraid of this, since there were multiple hens in the same nest, meaning the babies were cooking at different times, so would hatch at different times and would require a diligent mother. She wasn't.)

Tuesday: Trimmed Roo ready for riding (no longer curly elf-toes after five weeks)

Wednesday: Rode Roo to the bottom of the powerlines where we were thwarted by blackberry bushes that had sprung up since I was last down there. Next time, I go armed with snippers. The ride didn't start well with Spike disappearing on a jaunt before we were even out of the gate, but after five minutes yelling, he reappeared at top speed and we were able to get going. Roo felt pretty good and more or less trotted the entire way to the top of the powerlines (hill n' all). He was predictably hopeless going down the steep hill (toe dragging, unable to get underneath himself - nothing has changed really in six years) so I got off and speed-walked him down. He felt really good coming back up - smooth and strong, which surprised me - this is only the second time I've ridden him since his seven week hiatus. And we made it back home again in record time.

Thursday: Adjusted boots:

(Disclaimer: the rest of this post is about fiddling with Renegade hoof boots and probably offers little interest to anyone who doesn't use them).

This morning's chore was swapping out Renegade captivators with the Viper ones on Small Things's front boots, as well as switching out the long wires for some shorter ones - all part of fine-tuning the boots - they more or less fit, it's just a case of getting them "just right".

Before I started, I adjusted Roo's front boots. That went very smoothly and I was congratulating myself on my new-adjustment skills...

And then I started on ST's boots.

It was like assembling IKEA flat-packed furniture. Insert Tab A into Slot B - only Tab A is the wrong shape... huh... these Viper Caps don't have the black doofah that the wire goes around - I'll just take it off this Ren Cap... uh, they are a different design.. OK, I'll just take it off this other Viper Cap... wait, why do I have this extra Viper Cap? Is it a different size? what size is it? how do I tell what size it is?

And predictably, I got distracted just as I was unscrewing the tiny screw and it dropped onto the rubber mat under my feet - to disappear and never be seen again. pft brought me the magnet-onna-stick and I eventually found it.

Went to put it on ST's foot, only to discover that because the Viper Caps are deeper, the sides protruded further forwards - which meant they were now butting up against the back sides of the boots and I couldn't tighten them enough to be snug on his foot. That won't work.

Back to the barn, remove the Viper Caps, inspect extra Viper Caps in case they are actually smaller, decide they aren't... decide in any case, I think I tried the smaller Viper caps on his front feet and they were *too* small... put the Ren Caps back on...

In the middle of all this, the banties decided to do a drive-by - five roosters came rushing through in pursuit of a single, uninterested hen. All my carefully laid out straps and bits flung.

At least I was clever enough to put Spike on the shorter length of his baling string (the one I use when I'm trimming so he can't get tangled in a horse-being-trimmed's feet) - thereby making sure that he too didn't "help".

Utah 2015 - San Rafael Swell


To be added upon as I get to it. Unfortunately I came back to find work had gone from 0 to 80 mph while I was absent, so free-time is a bit scarce right now.

* * *

Until this evening, I hadn't actually written anything about our trip last week, but I had gotten as far as downloading the pics off both cameras so that I was ready to do so at a moment's notice.

And now I've made this placeholder, so at least blob-entries will be in the correct order.

For now, suffice to say it was a most-excellent trip - we visited some of the finest scenery Utah has to offer; and reinforced the concept that things are way more fun if they turn into an adventure, rather than a pedestrian excursion; stayed in two of the best camping spots I've ever had the pleasure of erecting a tent on; saw rocks, rocks, and yet more rocks; laughed at the dogs a great deal; only combed my hair twice in ten days; drove a total of 1964 miles (including the journey home - 893 miles in one day... pft = 736, me = 157... a fair division of labour); and between us took 1415 photos.

* * *

This is where we went - as the guidebook helpfully told us, San Rafael Swell is a kidney-shaped geologic feature in Central Utah. Upon reflection, I decided I don't actually know what shape a kidney is - so here's the map:

It's the kidney-shaped lumpy bit in the middle of the map.

The three yellow blobs are where we spent our nights - Richfield (a not-very-restful-night in a Motel 6 as "somewhere to crash" - while in actual fact we spent most of our four hours "sleep" there trying to prevent the dogs from barking at all the other clientele - after arriving at 3 a.m. Utah time. Perhaps next time we'll just sleep in the truck - it might be more restful); The Wedge (north part of that Christmas-tree-shaped canyon); and Behind the Reef Rd near Temple Mountain:

* * *

Campsite #1 at the Wedge:


And this is what the "front yard" looked like (incidentally - that ridge is the background is Cedar Mountain which had a plenitude of cell towers on top of it. The Wedge had better cell coverage than we get at home):

And this is what the view was like just a few hundred yards away:

 And Campsite #2 - "Behind the Reef Road" near Temple Mountain:

It's rough but someone has to do it.

More later.

* * *

Highlights of the trip:
  • Nearly getting struck by lightning
  • Cycling the Good Water Rim Trail solo
  • Most amazing scenery. Everywhere
  • Most amazing camp sites - and there was nobody there
  • Slickrock hike puddles
  • Watching Spike upsidedown in the puddles on the slickrock hike
  • Using pft's ankles to hoist myself up a rock face (and watching Finn jump it in one bound - and very nearly not making it)
  • Tadpoles in Chute Canyon
  • Watching Spike chase swallows-shadows through the Little Wild Horse Slot Canyon
  • Watching the light on the cliffs (and being witness to the most amazing light, back-dropped by thunderclouds in Goblin Valley)
  • Getting the dogs through the water obstacles and up and over the big boulders ("Go Team!") in Little Wild Horse Slot Canyon - and watching the dogs grow in confidence as they realised "yes we can"
  • Getting the truck stuck - and getting it back out again
  • Complete solitude

Thursday, July 2, 2015

How Many Things Can You Fix in Two Weeks?

This morning the toilet chose to block. This was the latest in a long line of malfunctioning things going on at home, which has kept pft busier than he's ever been. Of course we're supposed to be leaving on vacation at the end of the week, and supposed to be packing for that, but so far, other than make a list of "things to take", no packing has happened.

In the last few weeks, in no particular order, he's had to fix:
  • Brakes on truck
  • Intermittent miss on the miata (still ongoing, after several things replaced)
  • Completely re-doing 55 foot of fencing
  • Repairing electric fence
  • Cutting down a tree leaning on the electric fence
  • Killing a rattlesnake that was in the horse paddock
  • Dealing with a well-pump controller problem which meant we kept losing all our water pressure on a daily basis
  • Fixing the freezer that chose to start leaking when a hose went bad (on a 100°F day)(possibly related to the above)
  • Assembling a multiple-mtn-bike-travelling-mount for the truck
  • Wrapping my chook crĂȘche in chicken wire to prevent a) babby chooks falling out between the bars* and b) raccoons extracting babby chooks and their mothers out through the bars
  • Fetching hay
  • Cleaning the house ready for guests who won't arrive for another four weeks, but we won't be around much to do it closer to the time
  • Re-riveting the running board on the trailer that popped off when we had to do a tight U-turn camping a few weeks ago and ended up dragging through some earth (actually not done yet, not needed for a couple of weeks, but it's on the list).
(* this happened earlier in the week when I was trimming Hopi - all the chickens were suddenly  making a ruckus, so I came up for air to see what the fuss was, only to find the latest addition walking around on the ground looking traumatized.)

* * *

I've been trying to keep things going at my end by performing at least one task every morning.

A poor exhausted Roo after nearly two miles.
Miraculously cured on the way home.

Monday I took Roop on his first outing in 7 weeks (unless you count the day I led him down the driveway to close the gate at the bottom, and then rode him back up to the top, bareback). He was awful on the way out, weaving and seemingly having a hard time staying on the road - that is until pft on his mtn bike and the dogs took off down a hill and left him behind - at which point he suddenly developed some impulsion. And of course on the way home, he was raring to go, even if he was travelling in a banana-shape... no idea what that's about.

Tuesday I was relieved to finally get around to trim a long-overdue* Hopi - and we finished on a good note, despite discovering when I came indoors that it had been 109°F out there in the barn  (wondered why I was dripping so much). I stopped before he got pissy and, although that meant his back toes didn't get rolled, at least they are short and de-chipped.

(* Hopi always ends up being overdue because he's difficult to trim, has kicked me at least once and I've never forgiven him, so I don't look forwards to it, so can usually find something else to do instead. Luckily he has the best feet of all of them, so even when he overgrows, I can trim and - voila - his feet look perfect again).

Wednesday I lopped branches and vines away from the electric fence. This proved a mistake. I've had some chronic tendonitis (at least that's what I assume it is) going on in my left elbow and it turns out that it really dislikes weed-whacking and lopping (it hurts enough that I can't pick up a glass of water at certain angles... phooey).

And this morning I re-spliced the electric fence where the weed whacker inevitably leapt and grabbed it. At this point the fence should be intact again and we can turn it back on.

* * *

Oh, and backtracking to Sunday evening, pft and I waited until it cooled off and then took Small Thing and a mtn bike out to Cool for an hour's ride. Around dusk (8:45 pm ish) we came across this little guy in the grass right next to the trail. He was a bit surprised by us, I think, and bounded off a ways before stopping to check us out - standing up on his back legs for a better look through the tall grass.

Needless to say, ST was more concerned by the water trough (Instrument of Torture) at the trailhead that I tried to persuade him to drink out of than the bear (Mildly Interesting) - he doesn't suffer histrionics very often.

This was the first time he'd worn back boots in probably over a year and there was much bucking going on. In retrospect, the pastern straps were probably also too tight - I'm gradually learning the new boots and hopefully the next excursion will go a little smoother.

Oh - and I had to laugh at this pic (below) that pft took of us following last week's post about how his feet grow funny. Wonder why that would be?

He can stand normally, I promise. He was just miffed that we should be Getting On With It.