mouse season

Today the dog hauled his blanket out of his house and tore a lot of it apart, as well.  It was unusual behaviour for him, but I didn’t hesitate to scold him.

Then, I discovered that there had been a mouse nest.  In his blanket.  There were mouse babies, quite recently born, now dead.  Hence the uncharacteristic destruction.  Gah!  Vermin!  Get it out!  In my house?!  How dare they?

Not the brightest mouse in the maze, that one.  No mouse parenting awards.  Let’s have babies in the dog’s house.  We’ll live in the blanket, right underneath the dog! It’s warm there.  Not a mensa mouse.

One of those rarest of days when I actually do get everything stroked off the list.  Of course, I was up at 4:30, there was lots of frantic dashing about and just barely’s (which is not how I want to live or conduct myself),  and I got splattered with chicken manure ten minutes before going out into public.  What is that alluring aroma?

Rebel chicks

The New Chicks Are Thriving

The white chicks are like the 6th or 7th children compared to the firstborn- they don’t get as much attention, and it’s harder to keep track of them.  How many of them are there, even?

These chicks happen to be giving star chick performances, though, and/or the white hen has upped her mom game.

There is frequent mom warming required
There is frequent mom warming required

Just when I had my theory all firmed up, that chicks have a developmental stage, much like babies and peekaboo, when they grasp that just because they can’t see mom, it does not mean she has ceased to exist.  Which if you think about it must be one of life’s epiphanies of the largest order of magnitude, but we’re too young to remember.

Anyways, that dawn of realization seems to happen in chicks around a week-ten days, which means a few days of morning and evening chick rescue in the interim until they can comprehend corners.  She’s GONE!  AllislostWe’regoingtoDIEEEEE!  … Oh, there she is.

With this pair of chicks, I’ve only had to crawl under the coop once-  once! to stuff abandoned chicks upstairs after mom’s gone to bed without them.  Likewise, only once had to shoo a chick out of the coop after mom left for breakfast without her young keeping up.

I worried a bit about the reaction of the teenagers to the tiny and vulnerable, but the small chicks (SO tiny) are all up in the mix, scampering and flitting like water bugs, no problems.

Days past:

Well, shall we off to bed then?
Well, shall we off to bed then?
Are the kids coming?
Are the kids coming?

 

Bedtime, kids! Get on up to bed!
Just the older ones.  Bedtime, kids! Get on up to bed!
We aren't ready for bed! Haha! Fun times!
We aren’t ready for bed! Haha! We’re chicks and we’re gonna par-tayyyy!  Fun times!
Oh crap! We're all alone. It's the end of the world!
Oh crap! We’re all alone. It’s the end of the world!
Huddle up and wait for the end....
Huddle up and wait.  Hopefully the end will be swift and painless.
(chucking them up to the top of the ramp) confused...
Wise older chick thinks younger siblings are dumb.
HEY! Are you TOUCHING my chicks!?
HEY! Are you TOUCHING my chicks!?

 

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Especially because Zazzle is having a wicked sale on right now- 60% off calendars, just until Monday (the 19th).  Coupon code is PREP4HOLIDAY.  Perfect time for early Christmas planning!  You can choose your own size (price is according to size) of calendar under Customize It.

Winter has said, yes, she will visit again soon

Here the heavy frosts have come.  Almost every morning the goldenrod and grasses are stiff and white, and there is a disc of ice on top of the chicken water.  The trees are all “in their colours”, one of the most beautiful times of year in Nova Scotia, since there are so many deciduous trees to blaze up in reds and yellows.

The garden is finished, and the greenhouse will soon have the winter tenants move in.  The dog is finally comfortable in his fur coat after months of miserably slinking into shady corners, and the outdoors is naturally refrigerated. We have lit a fire more than once, to take the edge off a morning.

Now winter is RSVPing yes, and it’s time to get ready for her arrival.

Pigs loooove cucumbers.

They reaaalllly love cucumbers.

Because of their size and power now, I usually feed them and then, while they’re busy eating, wrestle with cleaning their water bowl.  If I don’t, then I get a thorough going-over with muddy pig snouts and  total, eager, pig participation in the process, which is quite unhelpful and unwelcome.

The other day I gave them some cucumbers for distraction and tackled the water.  I heard some steady oinking approaching me from across the pig yard.  Oh. Great, I thought.  Rudy came oinking up to me.  Instead of taking advantage of my crouching pose and doing his best to knock me over, he came up face to face with me, still chewing a bit of cuke.  He looked me in the eyes, and holding them, oinked deliberately at me for a long few seconds.  Then turning on his trotter, he pranced away again.

I was left a little dazed.  I just got talked to by a pig.

He came over just to say what he said, and he was very happy, and I’m quite sure I got the gist of his communicado:  I looove cucumbers!  Thank you for the cucumbers!  I just love cucumbers!

Pig smiles

One of the pigs mudded himself up in an almost exact half mud, half clean split.  Brown/pink.

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Outside the pig palace

 

 

The pigs are growing slowly but steadily.  They are thick and strong enough now to be a little scary, and I don’t go in their pen anymore.  If I do I get enthusiastically leaned on and greeted with a vigorous head rub, which I’m afraid any day now will knock me over.

2015-09-19 18.31.52

They’re always into a good neck scratching or behind-the-ears rub, though.

 

 

 

2015-09-19 18.31.26
Oooooh, favorite…they enjoy this with closed-eyes stillness, just like a dog.

Porcupines to grubs

I’ve put two roadkill porcupines in the grub generator now.

There are often porcupines dead on the road here.  This little rodent is not loved in Nova Scotia.

I’ve been skeptically eyeballing roadkill with grub generation in mind for a while now, but on the chance occasion that I actually had a shovel and a bucket in the truck, I acted on the impulse.

However, I was not super keen on being sighted in the act of collecting a mangled corpse off the asphalt, sooo…

Pull over, feigning a cell phone call.  When the coast is clear of vehicles, dash into the road with a shovel.  Dash back with bloody cargo and slam it into the truck.  Leap back into driver’s seat (cell phone call very important).  Rejoin traffic.

So far, so good on the sneaky roadkill snatching.  I have not been seen.

The porc-épic‘s in the bucket are excellent for making grubs.  Day after day, the grubs keep climbing out, far more than the dead chicken and small rabbits.  They must be quite dense.  What’s very interesting is that as the grubs ooze out of the crack in the upper bucket, they push quills out with them!  How?  What is happening?  A whole handful of loose quills comes poking and falling out with the grubs (!?).

2015-09-24 08.13.09
Every day, the hens get grubs for breakfast before their grain.

Grub generation: flies lay their eggs in carrion.  The eggs hatch, and at a certain stage of growth and motility, the grubs feel the biological urge to bury themselves in the earth to enter their next stage of growth.  So they climb out of the carrion bucket, in order to drop to the ground.  Alas, they are caught and trapped by the second bucket, and fed to the chickens.