Life is a beautiful adventure.
Category Archives: country life
Josie Stole My Little Heart
So I haven’t written much about Josie, and I really don’t know why. She was our first puppy clever enough to figure out how to escape the enclosure in the house, and got stepped on by Elvis and scared me half to death when the pups were older and sleeping in the barn. She limped out of hiding, crying pitifully and holding her little stepped-on leg up, and came straight to me to be held. Bess got to experience her first day on the job and got her own blog post, but apparently Josie just got lumped in with Bess and has been kind of overlooked.
Josie at this point has had many first days on the job! These pups are so intelligent and showing promise of being cowy, and it has already been a treat to watch their instincts start to come out. Bess goes nuts when she hears Brad yelling at cows and barrels down the hill to find him. Josie is a little more subdued, but this morning when we were gathering cows from the calving lot into the corrals, Josie took a leap off the fourwheeler and ran to help get the cows rounded up. She managed to not get stepped on.
From the get-go, I guess I thought Bess would be my dog and Josie would be Brad’s, but somehow things got turned upside down and this little dog stole my little heart. And oh my goodness, is she a faithful little companion! She has been my lap-warmer during my morning devotions or when I’m writing, she’s my chicken chores buddy, and revels in our walks. She likes riding in the tractor, she doesn’t have her ATV legs yet, and she is fast. Very fast. She can also be extremely slow and has this irritating and adorable habit of plunking her little butt down and tilting her head to the side when she hears her name and is pretending she doesn’t remember it. Naptime is sacred as is her bedtime, and before bed potty breaks are met with dramatic resistance and suddenly forgetting how to walk. She likes cheese and hotdogs, and doesn’t like spinach. She follows me around the kitchen and preemptively “downs” when she thinks I might give her something. She thinks she has me figured out.
As far as her name is concerned, when I name a critter it is usually just because the name somehow fits. And then it sticks, and that’s that. And given Brad’s track record of names like “Yellow Cat” and “Grey Cat,” I don’t take any chances. But Josie’s dad’s name is Joe, and her grandpa was Jonas, so Josie seemed appropriate.
Welcome to the crew, Josie girl!
In Other’s Words | “The real things”
“The real things haven’t changed. It is still best to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasures; and have courage when things go wrong.” ~Laura Ingalls Wilder
In the Garden | March Garden Prep
How in the world is it March already? Spring is just around the corner. As bittersweet as it is in the fall to put the garden to bed, there really only ends up being a couple of months before the feed stores are stocking their seeds, seed catalogs get eagerly leafed through, leftover seeds are sorted and organized, new seeds are purchased, and all the plans get made to make this coming garden season the best one yet. It really is fun. And it is hard to beat leafing through the seed catalogs on a wintery, blustery day!
Based on last year’s experiment (really, every year is its own experiment), I’ll focus on my salsa garden, cucumbers, and winter squashes. My salsa garden was a bit of a bust last year due to grasshoppers, the heat, and the fact that my husband unknowingly sprayed my tomato bed with Milestone three years ago. Needless to say, I’ll be planting tomatoes somewhere else and getting a jump start on them with some early planting indoors. Mortgage Lifter, Black Krim, and Romas will be the key features! I’m planning on growing them all in pots in my hoop house, to extend our growing season a bit.
I already got a start on peppers, which take awhile to germinate. Anaheim, poblano, Hungarian wax peppers, and bell peppers are all sown in paper pots and sitting on heat mats in the bathroom. There’s a good chance these will also be pot-grown in the hoop house. Somehow I forgot about jalapenos, so those will be added at a future date!
We acquired some old railroad ties from a horse corral my grandpa built 40 years ago, and have those slated for a few projects, including raised beds for flowers. As we have decent weather to work outdoors, the raised beds will get built and be ready to go for spring planting. Zinnias and cosmos as well as sunflowers will be some of the cutting flowers – it should be beautiful.
On warm days when the soil is soft, I’ll be continuing to prep my garden beds, cleaning out last year’s old plants, turning the soil, wetting it down, and eventually covering the beds with plastic to help kill off weed seeds and further break down the compost I’ve already churned in. The root veggies – carrots, beets, and turnips – will need good, soft soil to grow in, so working the soil ahead of time will help.
Even though we’re a ways from planting outdoors, there is a lot that can be done to beat those winter blues and keep spring coming! If you have any new varieties of veggie you’re excited to try, share in the comments!
In the Garden | Winter Sowing
I am so excited to be trying something new! A random Facebook group popped up last week called “Winter Sowers” and after reading a bit about this method of seed starting, I decided I had to give it a try!
It is a common sense method of early (early early!) seed starting that utilizes the natural freeze-thaw cycles to germinate seeds. Essentially, plant seeds in closed containers, creating what amounts to mini greenhouses, in the middle of winter and the seeds will germinate when they are ready. Especially considering how many perennials can be sown in the fall and will germinate in the spring, this method makes a lot of sense. If all goes well, and from what I can tell people have a lot of success with this method, you have exceptionally hardy young plants to eventually transplant to your garden. Why have I never heard of this before? In western South Dakota, we have a short growing season (we’ve been known to have frosts as late as June and as early as August), and very changeable weather, so anything I can do to jump start my gardening is a plus!
So far I have started a number of perennials – lavender, coreopsis, lupine, some wildflower mixes, coneflowers, black eyed Susans – and some greens and veggies – asparagus, kale, spring onions, spinach, arugula, and chives. I planted in a variety of containers and will take notes, containers ranging from Ziploc bags with holes cut in the bottoms, paper pots, old lettuce containers, and seed pots leftover from greenhouse plants last year. After a kerfuffle with the animals, the winter-sown seeds are safely inside the woven-wire fences we put around our trees. I may start others as I accumulate more containers (and inevitably accumulate more seeds).
Check out the Winter Sowers Facebook page if you want details and extensive how-tos! I’m excited to see how this goes!
In the Coop | Treating Coccidiosis
Although some people probably manage to get through their chicken keeping career without dealing with a coccidiosis outbreak, this is a really common flock sickness caused by a common parasite and it definitely pays to be able to recognize the symptoms before your entire flock is infected!
Before getting started on this article, I want to add a healthy disclaimer here: I am not a vet. All I want to do is share a little about coccidiosis and how I successfully treated it, and why I think it worked.
So, what is coccidiosis?
Coccidiosis is a relatively common infection that can affect all manner of livestock and wild animals, caused by a single-cell parasite in the GI tract. This parasite lives in the soil and is actively spread by wild animals. Symptoms in chickens include lethargy, not eating or drinking, watery/mucousy stools, and bloody stools.
Treating or preventing an outbreak
If you discover a case of coccidiosis in one chick or chicken, you need to treat the entire flock, regardless of symptoms. Treatment is super simple but it takes some time. Using liquid Corid (sold at feedstores and online), for 5-7 days, add 1 teaspoon of Corid to 1 gallon of water (for a moderate outbreak) OR 2 teaspoons of Corid to 1 gallon of water (for a severe outbreak). After the 5-7 day initial treatment, follow with another 5-7 days of 1/2 teaspoon per gallon of water. Don’t give any other water except this Corid-medicated water, and make it fresh daily.
Treating the Sick Bird
This part is important: if you have a single chick (or chicken) that is showing symptoms of acute coccidiosis, and is displaying the tell-tale lethargy, watery droppings, and not eating, the flock treatment method will not work by itself. By the time you notice your chick not eating and drinking, it is fruitless to add Corid to their water and expect any sort of improvement. They’re not eating or drinking so any medication administered free-choice isn’t going to be consumed.
Let’s be specific here: It is the dehydration and malnutrition caused by not eating and drinking that will kill the chick, not the parasite itself. So don’t just put Corid in the water and call it good. The chick needs nutrients and rehydration as well.
Late this past summer, I had a chick suddenly get sick with all the classic coccidiosis symptoms. I isolated the chick and took a common-sense approach to treatment. My thought process was that the chick needed rehydration and needed the medication, which it wasn’t getting from free-choice water. The sick chick got dropper feedings multiple times per day of a slurry of egg yolk, yogurt, molasses, sometimes thinned with Corid medicated water (using the dosage listed above), sometimes with a few drops of Nutri-drench, and was also given medicated water by dropper as well. The first couple of days I gave her a concentrated dose of Corid by syringe. I would draw up probably a quarter of a cc of Corid into a syringe, draw up a cc or so of water, and administer that to the sick chick. I don’t have a digital scale and Corid, by my understanding, is a pretty safe medication. The chick was in bad enough shape I was willing to risk overdoing it to get enough medication actually in her. My goal was something like 5 or 6 cc’s of this medicated slurry and fluids per day, kind of whatever I could get in her without too much trouble. Based on the size of the chick you’re treating, it might be more or less than this. Use common sense. Any amount is better than the chick sitting in the brooder and not eating anything.
Don’t take my word as expert by any means, but sometimes you have to think a little outside the box – in this case, it worked really well. Obviously treating a chick or chicken individually takes a time commitment (honestly, just a few minutes a few times per day), but if you’re wanting to try to save a coccidiosis-infected bird, that’s what it will take.
I’d love to hear any other tips or advice on treating coccidiosis! It is a pretty common infection but sometimes the information can be pretty confusing on how to treat it. Happy chicken keeping!