Wednesday, July 31, 2013


Little things get me excited sometimes. Like when I took my recycling this week and found that they had cut bigger holes in the dumpster so I could dump everything in all at once. The holes used to be about 6 inches high and I would have to push everything in, one piece at a time. Like I said, little things.

I've been a recycling nerd for years. I would challenge myself to set out only one bag of rubbish for the weekly collections. But to do that you've got to recycle all the things you can.

Trash is a perpetual problem when you live in the country. Our rural area doesn't have a trash collection unless you pay extra for it ($200/yr). And about half the year there's a burn ban in effect which prevents burning any trash on our property. So for the past year, I've been taking my rubbish and recycling to the nearest place I could find - which is about 10 miles away. This place takes most things for recycling, except glass. The recycling dumpster is huge and you can mix everything. And you can dump your trash for $1 a bag. The trash bag can be any size, too. So I make a trip over there every couple of weeks or whenever the recycling piles up.

This is the only sign you see down this little side road.

The entrance has a little sign with the hours. The recycling is on the left. The trash is on the right.

The recycling dumpster has three slots.

I was thrilled when I slid the door open and found the bigger opening for recycling.

It's pretty crude metal cutting, but it works just fine.

I use an odd collection of plastic tubs and old laundry baskets to carry my recycling.

I drive up the hill to the two trash dumpsters.

I had two bags of trash for two weeks. 2 bags cost $2 to dump.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013


We have lots of grasshoppers around the property. The good news is that the chickens love them. The bad news is that they love anything green, including the vegetables.

Friday, July 19, 2013

One Inch

We had one full inch of rain the other day. It rained lightly over a 24 hour period. We'll take it. The ground needed the little soaking.

Thursday, July 18, 2013


We had success with the bigger trap. We caught a raccoon. I was a little disappointed because I wanted a bobcat rug to wipe my feet on. I'm not convinced it is our only culprit, so we will keep the trap set for awhile.

We dealt with it as humanely as it dealt with my chickens.


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Live Traps

Locking the chickens up at night seems to be working well. But an animal is still getting inside the fencing somehow. It chewed up the little window trying to get in the coop.

After speaking with the retired ranch Foreman at church, he offered to set a trap to catch the animal. He suspected it was a bobcat.

The first night the animal eluded us, eating the bait, releasing the door, but also getting out.

So I went out the next day and bought a bigger trap. 

The coop window before.

The coop window after. The animal is tall enough to reach the window and strong enough to bend the wire.

Foreman set the trap with fish bait and put it in the area where we found the feathers.

Once the animal steps on the metal plate, the door shuts behind it.

The next morning the fish was gone and the door shut, but no animal.

The trap comes fully assembled.

The trap was suitable for small to medium sized animals.

Suggested bait only helps if you know what you're hunting.

From the box: Step 1

From the box: Step 2

From the box: Step 3 (although we probably won't be following this step)

We used battered fish fillets I had in the freezer, soaked in cherry Kool-Aid (per farm store suggestion).

Set both traps next to each other.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

5 Chickens

Sadly, we lost five chickens the other night to an animal predator. I first noticed something wrong with a section of the fencing dangling loose at the bottom. Then I found a dead, headless chicken (one of the suspected roosters) near the feeder. After a careful headcount, I found that we had lost four more chickens. The white chicken was among them.

We searched around the area hoping that the chickens had simply gotten out. Then found and followed a trail of feathers into the woods. Son dealt with the dead chicken for me.

I felt badly because it was mostly my fault. For one, I hadn't been locking them inside the coop at night. They seemed happy doing their own thing, either sitting around the edge, on the roof, or inside the coop. At a friend's suggestion, I had tried locking them inside the coop for a couple of days, but they still wanted to sleep outside. Plus, they are almost impossible to catch. I reassured myself that they were safe inside the electronet fencing.

Secondly, I wasn't being very careful when I came and went inside the fencing. The ground was very dry at the time and the posts were very hard to push in. So I began to untie the end post and just step through the gap. I'm not sure I was always careful about tying it up when I left. It hadn't been a problem up until then, so I became too casual about it.

Here are a few lessons I've learned the hard way.

Lock up the chickens in the coop after dark. About half want to be inside and the other half are very easy to catch once they have gone to sleep. Actually, they are really dopey when they fall asleep. It takes about ten minutes of my time, about a half hour after dark. They sleep better. I sleep better.

Make sure there are no gaps in the fencing. Even though electrified, some animals can squeeze through a small gap even though they get zapped a little.

Dry ground reduces the charge. I poured water around the grounding pin and along the bottom of the fencing and around the connections. Wet ground increases the charge. The increase in charge was an audible difference.

Guv'nor took this of me and the chickens a few days before we lost some.

We will miss the white chicken the most.

A small gap under the fence can allow an animal through.

I poured water around the grounding pin.
A trail of feathers led to the woods.

A few feathers here.

A feather there.

A few more feathers.

Friday, July 12, 2013


The last trace of rain we've had has been over a month ago. Everything is looking dry around here.  The grass is yellow. The driveway is dusty. The ponds are low. Plus it's about 100 degrees outside. We're praying for a good rain.

The grass is looking yellow.

More dry fields.

Everyone else seems to get the rain.

The water in this pond is low.

A little storm blew over us yesterday, but no rain here.

Monday, July 8, 2013


The chickens scratched the ground down to the dirt, so it was time to move them. We intend to add wheels to the coop, but for now it's small enough to be carried a short distance. The electronet fencing is designed to be moved around. Guv'nor chose a new spot behind the house under a few trees which should provide more shade. 

It was rather comical as we tried to lead and herd and carry the chickens down to their new spot. We lost one chicken in the process because it ran out into the woods. It was gone for a few hours then reappeared long enough to catch it and return it with the others.

Three chickens are developing a more distinct comb and wattle (I'm learning the terms). So we think they might be roosters. We'd be happy with that since it would mean we have 12 hens. The white chicken just gets more and more ridiculous looking.

We think the chicken on the right may be a rooster. What do you think?

I don't know how the white chicken sees through all those feathers.

The ground is scratched down to the dirt around the coop.

The chicken area is even drier than the rest of the yard.

Guv'nor mowed a path down to the new area.

We set the coop under the shade of a few trees.

The chickens tend to stay together.

We'll see how long it takes them to scratch this area clean.