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Higgins Rat Ranch Conservation Farm

By CanuckBock, Apr 22, 2014 | Updated: Jun 2, 2014 | | |
  1. CanuckBock
    Heel low:

    Guess it is time I post our facilities...all them coops & outbuildings at the Higgins Rat Ranch. [​IMG]

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    October 2003

    We have buildings...buildings to house our many creatures and store items we need to keep them well.
    Here's a list of the critters as of today...April 22, 2014:

    Waterfowl:
    DUCKS: Calls (24 varieties), East Indies, Mandarins (Wild & White), Crested Ducks (White, Black, & Grey), Australian Spotted (3 varieties), Dutch Hookbills (crested and non), & Appleyards (crested and non).
    GEESE: Buff, Buff Tufted, & Buff Pied American.
    Ruddy Shelduck/Shelgoose.
    SWANS: Australian Black.

    Landfowl:
    BANTAM Chickens: Brahmas (Dark, Light, Buff, & Partridge), Wyandottes (White, Blue Dilutions, Laced, Barred, & Crele), Booteds (MDF & White), & Chanteclers (Partridge, Buff & White).
    STANDARD Chickens: Chanteclers (Partridge, Buff, Red, & White).
    Heritage TURKEYS: Wishard Bronze, Red Bronze, Blue Bronze (Red/Bronze Slate/Fawn), Red Blue Bronze, Blue Slate, Rusty Black, Dilute Rusty Black, Narragansett, Jersey Buff, JB Grey downed, Bourbon Red, Lilac, White & Sweetgrass/Ronquière (Black, Red & White (Desert Palm/Sweetgrass tricolour/Yellow-shouldered Ronquière), Black & White (Royal Palm BLACK patterned Ronquière Jaspee), Red & White (Royal Palm RED patterned Ronquière Fauve), & Rich red/chocolate patterned (Ronquière Perdrix).
    PHEASANTS: Red Golden & Silver.

    Registered: Australian Cattle Dogs, Jacob Sheep, Nigerian Dwarf Dairy Goats, & Llamas.
    Pond Fish.
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    So dats the dependents at the Higgins Rat Ranch...and now...on about the housing & vehicles for them.

    Welcome to our world...

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    Two of the ruminant buildings looking down one of the pastures

    Both Rick and I partake in the poultry hobby...he likes the bigger birds as in the geese, shels, turkeys...we both like the chickens, pheasants, & swans, and I am one for the ducks and the NON-birds as in the ruminants (sheep, goats, llamas).


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    Australian Cattle Dog Muttley Crew

    We both adore and blame the Australian Cattle Dogs for getting us head over heels into the stock if there is any claim to how we both got herded into this hobby of poultry and livestock. Rotten dawgs!

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    One of Rick's many talents is he is a cabinet maker...so he designs and oversees the making of the building projects here. I am the head bottle washer, food & coffee maker, fetcher of sky hooks, drywall stretchers, and get to happily hold the "dumb end." [​IMG]

    If anyone finds this offensive...you have never witnessed me trying to paint something or fabricate! Best leave this to the experts as I am very good at wasting building materials--proven time and again, more paint on moi than the project. So am a self professed disaster when it comes to manufacturing something. But this is GOOD...this allows me to highly admire those with building skills...I simply don't really have those talents and adore those that do!

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    I do on occasion, get to add some stuff to the place...I do a bit of artsy stuff and carved a Cedar burl for the front gates with our surname on it.

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    Higgins Burl and Yoke

    And at the back gates, we have another buncha burls in a log Rick suspended.

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    Back Gates & Burl Log

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    We also have a flag pole that Rick made ...you can see by the red and white flying that we are from Canada! The Great White North, strong and free.
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    Fixins by the Flag Pole.

    On to more of the buildings we shall go. [​IMG]


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    Taj Mahal for our Mandarin Ducks


    This above link is where I introduced the last building my Hero Rick made for me--the Taj Mahal was completed in 2010...I am so loved and it shows!
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    October 2010 - the Taj is secured and ready for Winter


    We have some 30+ buildings that fill up our patch of paradise, our sanctuary for our creatures and ourselves. [​IMG]

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    Some of the various barns around the place.


    Our piece of heaven here on Earth. The Dirt! [​IMG]

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    View of the Garage and looking into the Bird Yard.


    Welcome to our private funny farm. No place where we would rather be...where the pursuit of happiness is the goal and much joy and silliness prevails!
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    The Yard - 2008

    Can get lost here quite easily or confused as to which building is being discussed...so for the most part, the buildings are named...

    Here is the list of buildings around the place, in no real particular order past the first made and the current last:

    Duck Barn - 2000
    de Coop fur Sure
    The Cabin
    Duece Coop
    Old Hay Shed
    Tack Room
    Hay & Straw Barn
    Heel Low/Doggone Palace (Dog Kennel)
    Eden Swan Building
    Man Porch
    Hatch House or Lil' Feed Room
    Turkey Barn
    Tom Run
    Nine Oh's Run (White Cane Chalet)
    Quarantine Pen
    Sheep Dip Inn (Ewe Barn)
    Screw Ewe Saloon
    Bachelor Pad (Ram Barn)
    Greenhouse
    Vegetable Garden Coop
    Pear A Dice Goose I
    Pear A Dice Goose II
    Garden Tool Shed
    Pump House
    Garage
    Fuel Stand
    Taj Mahal (Mandarin Building) - 2010


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    Three of the Six 1936 Chev Maple Leafs

    My husband restores vintage vehicles and I help where I am able (doing the glass etching, paperwork, any typing, and hunting for new old parts at the Swamp Meets). A hobby we both enjoy, I hope to see us turn our focus more and more to his trucks. Taking nice drives (all about the drive, never the destination) in the afternoons after I have completed chores for the morning. Whee--what FUN--many of the vintage big rig trucks going flat out at fifty! [​IMG]

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    "HyBlade" - truck named after our male Australian Cattle Dog


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    Side window I cream etched on the canopy of the 1984 4x4 red Chev

    I bought Rick this truck (HyBlade) for one of his birthdays; feeling a tad guilty the kid and I wore out his first ever new truck! Rick had this truck re-painted (added the canopy he had for the original Chev he started with & painted it to match this one), gone over her mechanically to make her reliable & safe--replacing what's needed but keeping it kinda sorta stock (we don't really prefer "hot rodding")...spiffed and pimped her out purdy with a few upgrades like LED lights. She's our regular ride. People like the whitewalls but to Rick and I, the original truck he had had whitewalls so not sure what all the fuss is about...guess I am showing our ages, eh?

    Like me and my ducks...Rick has a few trucks! [​IMG]

    His rides consist of; six 1936 Chev Maple Leafs, two 1928 one ton Chevs ( with 2-3 parts trucks), 1989 4x4 navy one ton Chev & 1984 4x4 red Chev pickup (along with a coupla parts trucks).

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    Makins and one of the two 1928 Chev One Tons



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    The Pear a Dice two goose buildings and Eden, the swan building
    The complimentary vehicle-like units we have for the operation are:

    14 foot hydraulic dump trailer
    22 foot hydraulic tilt trailer
    53 Horse tractor with tiller, bale spike, pallet forks, two buckets, and a back blade.


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    Trailers; 14 foot on left & 22 foot on right; both rigged out with sides on

    Never wanted no big diamond ring..."Phhhhhht...what for?" From just a little girl, all I ever wanted and talked about was having my very own STOCK trailer...now we got me two and the best durn operator imaginable! [​IMG]


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    There's my Hero, lifting a tote of whole grains for me to hand balm in buckets into the feed room!

    Don't know how we ever managed without the tractor...love we can lift loads, dig holes & fill them in, move stuff, scrape snow & ice off our roads and haul the snow into big piles, and rototill the many pastures with used oat straw bedding...composting at its finest! [​IMG]


    In the works as in the trusses are here, supplies, lifts of stick lumber & sheet materials, with site preparations of down to the clay and 2 inch and 3/4 minus gravel bases in place to settle...

    Projects in progress for 2014 are:

    Parking Building for some of the Vintage Vehicles.
    Parking Stall for Two vehicles.
    Ruddy Shels' Home.


    Future in the works are:

    Waterplant Pond in New Orchard.
    Cabinet Shop.
    Apron around the Taj Mahal to create a better area to display all my oriental themed ornaments...here come the Foo Dogs! [​IMG]


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    1989 one ton Chev hauling home the round bales last fall - See the V of geese migrating?


    Our property is triple perimeter fenced and is half forested (spruce, pine and poplar with wild roses and native saskatoons) and half pasture land. Wood Ducks, Bluebirds, Robins, and Swallows have nested here and Sandhill Cranes can be heard on the bluffs up from our property, during spring nesting season. We also have two Snowshoe Hares that have taken up residence, soon to be how many?? [​IMG]


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    Fish Pond and Waterfall in 2013

    Other non-building features on our property are:

    Fish Pond and Waterfall
    Vegetable Garden
    Old Orchard
    New Orchard
    Human Yard with a Firepit
    Pastures for rams and for the ewes/goats/llamas
    Shelterbelts of caragana, white spruce, lilac, saskatoons, & seabuckthorn planted in 1998.
    Walls of wood, the firewood!
    Huge pile of river sand Rick hauled in for our bird buildings...boxes and boxes of glorious sand..."Wanna play in my pit? But no throwing, eh!" [​IMG]


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    Ram Pasture & New Orchard with Greenhouse

    So that's the summary of our COOPS & the crapola we got here...just a small and casual undertaking, eh! [​IMG]

    Doggone & Chicken UP!

    Tara Lee Higgins
    Higgins Rat Ranch Conservation Farm, Alberta, Canada

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    April 23, 2014

    As time allows, here are the additions I will try to keep adding...here's some pics on the buildings listed...


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    Peering into the bird yard in June


    Duck Barn
    Our first building that we built here at the Rat Ranch...the DUCK BARN!

    I try to take photos of both extremes of our seasons...the GREEN and the WHITE! [​IMG]

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    Duck Barn in Winter

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    Duck Barn in Summer

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    May 2008
    Calendar reads May in 2008...old man winter gave us another foot and a half just to keep us on our toes, eh?


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    Inside one of the pens...some of the bantam ducks that reside here

    Inside the Duck Barn...dug down to clay and removed the dirt...then topped it with river sand and oat straw.

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    Looking at the Duck Barn from one side and from another...


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    Fall photo of some of the resident ducks from the Duck Barn


    Winter came the next day, dump the pond and snuggle in Dearest Duckies...for the next seven to eight months. [​IMG]

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    Winter WHITE!!!!


    So on to the next building on the list we trot...which would be...

    de Coop fur Sure

    This is the first chicken coop Rick built and we use it to house the yard chickens (retired breeders and ones we don't need to breed from). This structure is designed by Rick as a tribute to our historical past in agriculture. Made to look like a Prairie Grain Elevator. Something sadly going extinct...most are being taken down without much ceremony! I miss these awesome structures and love that we have one here to enjoy and remember our roots by.

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    de Coop fur Sure in Summer & Winter

    We put up more tenplast on the sides to keep the blowing snow outta the run for nicer winter comfort.

    See the poplar tree happily growing up thru the pen roof? We like to do that, accommodate threes...got a few coops that have trees growing inside the runs.


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    Sign I painted up...Soup of the Day...chicken perhaps??

    Rick calls this building's name his play on how lousy he is at our second official language here in Canada...Rick's feeble attempt at French...sad sad sad..."N'est pas? Tres mauvais!" My French is hardly any better but at least I try to do this language of romance some justice.
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    de Coop fur Sure

    Rick is a HOOT! See the four diamonds each side near the roof? He can flick a switch inside and these light up. He grins evilly and tells me, "The boys are working late tonight!" [​IMG]

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    Cleaning day...

    Floor is puckboard (very hockey of us) and walls are OSB covered in tenplast. Easy to wipe down when the bird dander gets overly rampant...came here to Alberta and was more use to the WEsT Coast like climates where chicken dander was not ever really much of a dusty problem! LOL [​IMG]


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    The kick in front of the door keeps the straw from migrating too far out the door


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    The hung five gallon pail holds a supply of extra oat straw for the three nest boxes
    At least that was the plan until a few determined setty hens decided this made a most awesome nest for brooding babes. Little exciting at pipping time and I have to make sure the hatchlings don't go the way of Mork from Ork's EGG--"fly be free"--SPLAT! [​IMG]

    Rick installed the piece of OSB as a roof over the pail to stop roosted chickens from plopping on the heads of the setty hens. He treats Momma birds so kind and considerately, eh? [​IMG]


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    Photo taken just last month in March

    You will note we have three storm glass windows on the side of de Coop fur Sure's pen run...those pieces of recycled glass stay up all year round and cut down on any winds plus is kinda sorta like a "greenhouse" and the chickens will dust bath in the sand of the run in front of the warm rays of sunshine. Chicken happiness amplifier! [​IMG]


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    Some of the chooks that reside in de Coop fur Sure - Bantams in Brahma, Wyandotte, and Booted

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    Higgins' Yard Birds

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    So the Brahma gang of yard birds dunna wanna get cold toes in the snow, eh?
    Rick noted the yard birds found a hole to scamper thru into the "human" yard from the bird yard.

    So he had me make up a very special sign for the hole under the fence...yes, very special sign...

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    "Yeh...keep it up chookers...luscious fat delectable chookers...we know what happens to lard butted retired chickens that won't mind their manners and stay put in the bird yard!"

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    April 24, 2014

    Next building to update on is;

    The Cabin

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    A log cabin that is affiliated to the local legend Kurt Browning (Canadian Figure Skater; 4-Time World Champion, 4-Time Canadian Champion, 3-Time Olympic Team Member, 3-Time World Professional Champion, & first man to land a quadruple jump in competition)...his Uncle built this cabin. A line cabin for elk hunters...we hauled it down from the mountains and set it here in the valley. A little bit of local history preserved and used.

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    Rick stained it, painted the accents...replaced the bottom logs which had rotted out, installed a new floor, the porch and the green metal roof & gutters/downspouts. He fitted all the wire and pen areas including the extension run on the side there.

    Wonderful character building for housing some of our pheasants. [​IMG]

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    Kept up the Navaho Red and White accents with Green Roof theme

    Laughed...whomever put these horseshoes originally on the door...hung them upside down so all their luck ran out. We took them off, painted them up and I guess our luck is full because we have the Cabin now, eh?

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    Red Golden Pheasant Hen

    Rick's father has passed but we took the chimney and the weather vane he welded up for his own garage. Painted it and placed it with great pride on the roof of the Cabin. Gentlest of breezes and we can see Frank lives onwards in his handy work! [​IMG]

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    Grandpa Higgins' Handiwork

    Here are some of the pheasants...

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    Red Golden hen

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    One of the Red Golden females having a snack in the Cabin.​

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    Silver male pheasant
    This male is so tame I often pet his toes as I am filling up his feeder! [​IMG]


    Hmm, over thirty years together, working on the dream as each is able! With over fifteen years, working towards 16 years here on the Ranch--man alive we have accomplished a lot. Got a long ways to go yet on the list...ha ha ha...oh well, keep plugging away here.


    With every day as exciting as the last, looking forward to the next day and what plans we will see completed by night fall. [​IMG]

    I can say some of the songs sure sum up my life with Rick here...my soul mate who compliments me...my Hero!

    Written and sung by Stevie Nicks as a duet recorded with Don Henley in 1981.

    Leather And Lace...
    You in the moonlight
    With your sleepy eyes
    Could you ever love a man like me
    And you were right
    When I walked into your house
    I knew I'd never want to leave

    Sometimes I'm a strong man
    Sometimes cold and scared
    And sometimes I cry

    But that time I saw you
    I knew with you to light my nights
    Somehow I'd get by
    First time I saw you
    I knew with you to light my nights
    Somehow I would get by

    Lovers forever face to face
    My city your mountains
    Stay with me stay
    I need you to love me
    I need you today

    Give to me your leather
    Take from me my lace

    So that is the wrap up on the historical Cabin for some of the pheasants...beautiful subtle wild type creatures.

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    Four male Red Golden pheasants
    Two 2 year olds & two 1 year olds (look like hens at this age--irises are yellow though!).​

    I laugh as Rick will go inside the Cabin and one of the males will perch on his hat...completely at ease with him in his domain. Not shy around either of us. We bring the good things...food, water, new straw bedding...we are not threat, just a benefit to them.

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    April 25, 2014

    Next, the ...

    Duece Coop

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    Duece Coop

    And why yes, I know I have painted up this sign (of a lil' deuce coupe) and spelled it weird...I call it paying our DUES! [​IMG]

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    This is the SECOND chicken coop that Rick built for us...

    He wanted wider doors on the runs than the regular hardware cloth came in (usually three feet wide) so we special ordered in wider wire and this is how the runs sat waiting for the wire to come in.

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    Duece Coop no wire on doors, then wire on the doors!

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    There are five inside compartments and five outside runs. The chickens enjoy fresh air all year round in the Duece Coop.

    Summer and winter photos....

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    2013

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    2014
    All of the chicken breeds we keep are encouraged to go setty and raise up babes...we love natural hatched birds and up until 2007, we did not own an incubator at all...so all our birds raised their own replacements until we bought a new high velocity fanned Sportsman (nfi).

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    If a female decides she wants to raise some babes, I take three panels of a four foot high dog exercise pen and clip it to the side of the pen...instant secure and comfy place for the Momma to incubate and raise up a brood. I securely double fasten a heat lamp so if a babe wanders outside the pail nest...the baby is not chilled.

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    extra small meshed wire at the bottom to contain the chicks

    This is Hannibal, bantam Buff Brahma hen...she is holding hard boiled egg yolk so the Booted Bantams she hatched out may eat it right from her beak...what a BEST MOM EVER! [​IMG]

    The Duece Coop is where we house our breeder bantam chickens.

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    Some of our bantam hens in 2008

    Bantams in Brahmas, Booteds, and Wyandottes and one of my latest project...going onwards to over eight years in the works (time flies when you are having FUN)--Bantam Chanteclers! [​IMG]

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    Bantamizing the Standard Chanteclers
    Main aim is for bantam Chants in varieties of Buff, Partridge and White...have pretty decent Partis in F1's already, this years F4's look pretty decent in an exhibition White variety and well, guess the self-Buff is gonna torment me for a few generations more. That's what I get for wanting real BLOOD in the Bantam Chanteclers, eh? Donald Dearing is said to have created the first bantam Chants but he only used a few of the foundation breeds in Standard chickens, but in the Bantam size to recreate the breed in Bantams--NO Chantecler blood was used to create his Bantams in the White variety.


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    White cockerel from this winter's hatch

    Getting that nice "BRICK" shape Jeffrey's talks about wanting in Bantam Chanteclers. ​

    I have chosen to hatch the last two generations of project bantam Chanteclers in winter under setty project hens inside the Duece Coop...

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    F1 Bantam Chantecler Project Hens set on multiple breeds of our bantam eggs to incubate, hatch, and raise the next generation of bantam chickens.

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    F1 Hen and F4 chick

    So winter chicks to ensure the highest of toughness & tenancy in this project...have not lost a single chick this winter in the bantam project Chanteclers...a tribute to their ability to thrive in adversity AND how good the Duece Coop is at keeping them alive and well.

    In the summer, I also brood baby birds in the Duece Coop...very handy dandy building! [​IMG]


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    This is a recycled stainless steel sports therapy tub. Nice and deep and a great place for young birds to do some growing on up in.


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    May 2013 - Bird Yard


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    April 28, 2014

    Next on the list...

    Old Hay Shed

    This building was here and it had no porch, a roof in bad repair, and was not stained or painted--sorta a pole building I suppose with off cut slab planks for siding. Rick took her and put on a porch, changed the roofing to green metal, making the roof long enough to add a "porch." Gutters and white fascia for trim...

    He installed two "mock pane windows" and I hauled in some limerock from our reserve pile for the front of the porch area. We had some concrete blocks left over from another project, so those were installed to go under the four pine roof supports on the porch front.

    Why yes, you DO need porches on just a few of the buildings! Porches are important and very country themey...right??? LOL [​IMG]

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    Old Hay Shed
    Some of my antiques are under that porch roof...an old leather horse collar (gift from one of my BILs) on the door and a sharpening stone and stand off to the far left. A touch of white lattice and some white metal trim and she's purdy cute. Note one of my concrete (hail won't bust that bill!) ducks by the red and white barrel...gotta luv a duck, eh?

    Water runs off the roof and ends up in the tall plastic barrel and I use that rain water to help with some of the bird watering each day in summer and spring.

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    Training Call Ducks for Showing
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    first getting the birds use to being in a cage...so oat straw like in their pens,
    then later get them use to wood shavings like provided at the shows. ​

    We never did store any hay or straw bales in this building...just rubber pails and few crates and cages we have for things like show training and other whatnots...stuff that looks outta place and can make a place messy pretty quickly. Tucked and tidy--farms got lots of stuff and to be able to stow it away where you can find and use it when needed but keep it looking nice...that can be a challenge. [​IMG]


    So next building fer today's post is the...

    Tack Room

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    That's Vanna White...Uh, Fixins blending in with the red stain of the Tack Room!

    This building is on the back side of the Old Hay Shed and was here when we bought the place.

    Once again, in dire need of a new roof, so green metal roof with matching ridge cap. Gutters and down spouts which in spring and summer have a short plastic barrel to catch rain water in for bird watering. Stained it Navaho Red and yuppers, more storage for the farm. I even have some tacky Christmas ornaments in here...beware the Santa with Puppies...yeh, really gitchy! Ha ha ha. [​IMG]

    There is an nice light-providing window on the other side. No trim around it, but it is what it is. Works for moi!

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    Tack Room

    Next post will be a pretty detailed one with many photos...on the new Hay & Straw barn along with the Heel Low/Doggone Palace or the Dog Kennel...about hauling in provisions to the barn (supplies like straw) and this big barn is where we quarantine the new waterfowl for eight weeks when we bring them in...from the Ruddy Shels to the two Black Australian Swan pens and currently in there now are two pairs of Buff Tufted Geese and three adult Crested Ducks...but that will be next post...

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    Australian Black Swans / Ruddy Shel pair

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    Two pairs of Buff Tufted Geese / Crested Ducklings

    So there...no birds in the Old Hay Shed or the Tack Room...but there's some that are new waterfowl additions here...gone thru and going through the quarantine process...to be shown in the next post.

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    April 29, 2014

    So here we go...

    Hay & Straw Barn

    For the first little while, we tried the "hay" tarps...the long silver tarps designed for keeping forage and bedding dry. HA! First winter...rodents, them mices...chewed holes in the tarp. Always seemed to line it up so the hole was perfectly aligned with the corners of the stacked squares...so did not get one bale ruined...NO...let's get four ruined with one hole! Icrumba! [​IMG]

    Well, we started with small squares of alfalfa running about five bucks a bale...and watched it steadily climb...the bales (like chocolate bars) started to get smaller and prices jacked to where our annual purchase of three hundred squares (more as they got tinier!) went from $5 ($1,500) to double as in $10! That's three grand a year to keep a dozen Jacobs, handful of Nigerian Dwarfs and two llamas! I don't think so! And then to see the product we carefully hauled home and stacked get ruined by mice making holes in the tarps...Uh uh uh! Something HAD to be done.

    So as always, hand Rick his builder's cape and stand back. [​IMG]

    He made me the Hay & Straw Barn. She is on very large pipe skids, in two sections (easily could be separated and sold off as TWO buildings that can be hauled away on the highway using a scookum trailer) and we hauled in boxes and boxes of gravel...then placed pallets over top of the gravel...nice flat, airy and dry surface for stacking plenty of small squares.

    The building is sixteen by forty feet. I told him when he was designing it...that's plumb near HALF what his cabinet shop would be...sigh!

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    Fixins and the Hay Straw Barn in 2007
    So over the years, things change, things progress...we get more efficient. We bought the tractor and now we have the liberty of purchasing ROUND bales of alfalfa hay for the ruminants. No more huge amounts of me loading and off loading small square hay bales. Now we still buy the oat straw bedding in small squares. That being because I use single bales inside bird pens to give the bantam ducks places to perch and nap...and I like to be able to toss a few squares on the hand cart to do individual pens with. So that won't change--a big operation with cattle, sure, round bales of oat straw would make sense...here we have small livestock and poultry.

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    Haulin' the oat straw squares in

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    We bring in about 300 oat straw squares every few years = 3 year supply thereabouts


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    Laugh...the dogs are always there to inspect
    Every time we haul in field crops...there is a new "crop" of mice genetics to add hybrid vigour to the resident populations here at the ranch. The dogs just can't help but do the sniffy snoot inspections...

    "Yes, yes, there are strange new MICE in these squares...MICE we say!"

    "Thanks guys...and what do you want me to do about that?" [​IMG]


    [​IMG]
    Rick has designed the fronts on the Hay & Straw Barn to come off...so off loading from the 22 foot trailer is dreamy. He takes the one side off the trailer with the tractor, side off the barn and voila..."Heave Ho...away the bales go!"
    [​IMG]

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    Oat Straw Square Bales inside Hay & Straw Barn

    That's one load of squares off and stacked in the barn...another load in the works the next weekend. Get them in and tucked...stowed away to be used as needed.

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    Load of Round Alfalfa Hay Bales

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    Round Alfalfa hay bales and tractor bale spike

    Round Hay bales - tucked away...yes, under a hay tarp...bwa ha ha...mice holes are not as damaging to rounds as to squares...at least I am telling myself this. Anyone to counter this misconception can be quiet...have Rick building another building to house ROUND bales...so Shhhhhhhh, I say! [​IMG]

    That man needs a cabinet shop up and if he keeps making buildings half the size of it...he'll never get to the shop...so hush up now!
    [​IMG]


    Quarantine in the Hay & Straw Barn
    So another use for the Hay & Straw Barn...quarantine area for new additions to the ranch. Because we now have all this extra room because the hay is in rounds not squares stored in the H & S Barn, I tend to keep some of our wire crates opened up and ready to hold
    creatures if the need arises.


    [​IMG]
    Jacob wagon Rick built me and some of the cages
    Ready and waiting should they be needed...hope not! [​IMG]

    Because of the 2005 Father's Day flood (flood of once every 150 years magnitude we are told...after a VERY rainy June...we got 4 to 5 days of 5-6 inches = 3 feet of water...agh! I know that math don't work but that's what roared down the ditches at us and perked up outta the very ground!), I have braided up halters for every ruminant and spares...have crates and cages galore to load up and haul the residents of the Ranch away...should we again get hit by fire, flood and/or tornado! Like we have had in the past here. Last year, 2013, it looked like we MIGHT get flooded again (so am I now 300 years old because I saw one and almost TWO floods of once every 150 years??) [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I had the opportunity to purchase two sets of three tiers of rabbit cages...I don't house birds on wire (think it is cruel) but if I put down a layer of oat straw over the wire...I figure these will make handy dandy evacuation units...double side and six of them that can be quickly filled and loaded onto the trailers should we need to. These will comfy house a bunch of our birds should the need arise we need to fleet in a hurry ever again.


    So this is the quarantine I set up for the two female Australian Black Swans we imported up from the Southern States last summer.

    Rick and I celebrated fifteen years here on the Ranch with the arrival of these two swan females.

    YEE HAW! Shucky darn and slop the chickens! How very REDnecked of us. [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    Quarantine setup for two Swans
    When their flight came in...they were in one small crate...I hate that...swans are BIG birds and require BIG places to be. [​IMG]

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    Here is Fixins smelling their airplane crate..."Did you bring me...did you bring me more SWANS!"

    So we had two large dog kennels in the truck ready to house each girl in a separate kennel for the truck ride home to their new forever home here. Fresh water, food and GREENS for the jaunt to home sweet home. [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    Swans in large crates...will travel better!

    For eight weeks, the swans resided in half of the Hay and Straw Barn. What a FUN summer that was. Me clicking pics, Fixins watching over her new additions and them girlies...just being swannies.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Two girls bathing...twinkle toeing in the kiddy pool.​

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    The girls did not like Fixins all that much at first ... Fixs likes to steal drinks from the pool and swans don't share nice nice!

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    Like puppy dogs...

    Everywhere I let them go, the swan pens would follow me...this is out on one of our fencing bees way down the pasture at the Point. Tall grass, no problemo...Parascopes UP!


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    Fixins is not intimidated and soon those swans learn...

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    Over time...Fixins is no threat and she gets accepted by all the creatures here

    She [​IMG]her stock!​


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    She's a stock dog with her STOCK & inspects EVERYTHING to make sure it is up to HER standards! [​IMG]


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    Night quarters for the Swanny Girls

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    The big webs padding on out for another day, heading pool side
    The birds adapt quickly and learn to accept where their temporary residence is. After eight weeks and me doing a fecal float to ensure no internal parasites were present...the girls joined the boys and harmonious peace was announce here in the Eden area reserved for the Australian Black Swans.

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    Two Australian Black Swan pairs residing at the EDEN Swan house

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    As of today...we have two sets of waterfowl going thru our traditional eight weeks of quarantine at the Hay & Straw Barn.

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    Barn set up and waiting for the new arrivals--geese & ducks

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    Like to have everything set up and in ready waiting for the new arrivals. Transport is stressful on a good day...get them home, get them into their new digs...eating and drinking with treaties...yes...get them all settled in to their new lives here. [​IMG]

    Inside the Hay & Straw Barn...


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    Two pairs of Buff Tufted Geese


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    Two pairs and the crates we transported them home in

    Outside the Hay & Straw Barn...

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    Plenty of opportunity for bathing

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    Note that stock dog Fixins is there in the background on guard (or sleeping...really...SLEEPING on the JOB?) for her newest of the STOCK.


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    Again, quick to learn where home is...loading up into the barn no prob


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    Six White Crested Ducklings & one in Black


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    Three adult Crested Duck hens

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    Crested Ducks; two in Black and one in Grey

    So that is the ditty about the Hay & Straw Barn...some transitions for its use but always useful these buildings that Rick built. [​IMG]



    Next one on the roster to post...

    Heel Low/Doggone Palace (Dog Kennel)

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    Dog Kennel in 2007

    Another of a monster of a building...20 foot 3" x 51 foot (House 20' 3"x 16' & Run is 20'3" by 35').


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    Dog Kennel Roof (rowf rowf?)

    Now that's a span of roofing metal, eh?​

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    Besides the dog kennel, there is room in here to store our son's canoe, my dog sled...etc.

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    Antique horse hames, sheep waterers, an East Coast lobster trap a BIL gave us. HUH? Yeh...now it is getting a tad scary. Lobster trap...really? So like when do we buy the Ocean Front Property here in Alberta? Lobster trap... [​IMG]


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    Rick built me another garden box like the one at the Hay & Straw Barn...I put in shade loving plants. ​


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    As with lots of the building here...any live trees are accommodated. This tall pine tree is on the end of the building...if not there, could have put out one more truss...but Rick tucked that extra truss back and should the tree ever pass...well the building will be extended the full width. In the meantime, let it live.


    Larger Feed Room in Dog Kennel
    Rick converted one of the sides of the Dog Kennel (gasp...not all for the dogs, eh? Blasphemy!) to be our main feed room when we out grew the smaller feed room (which will be converted over to be the Hatching House).


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    Some of the feed in the larger Feed Room for 2010

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    Feed from 2012...a growing concern

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    Feed Room yesterday...Old Mother Hubbard, went to the cupboard and ??? [​IMG]

    Bwa ha ha...got three full mixed grain totes in there...time to think about placing another order for the bagged species rations.

    The bagged species specific pelleted rations are always on the way down after a winter. Whole grains of heavy oats and hard red wheat stored in totes--still in good supply since we usually haul in a year's worth in the fall at one time.

    [​IMG]
    Four totes in the big trailer...whole heavy oats & whole hard red wheat...two of each


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    The five gallon BUCKET BRIGADE...carried by me in five bucket load lots into the Large Feed Room


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    Dog helper Styra Foamers...Cheering me on...

    "Lift that load, Tote that bale! You l00k tired...is it DOG TIME YET?" ​

    Bagged pelleted rations for waterfowl, turkeys and chickens are made up fresh for us at the feed mill, a few times each year.

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    Pallets off loaded & ready for Rick to bring to me to man handle into the Large Feed Room

    We go thru a ton (heavy ton @ 2,200 pounds) of rations per month here...so yeh, outgrew the first feed building. Go figure! [​IMG]


    [​IMG]

    A final view of the dog kennel...the two swan pens in quarantine having a bath...this was last summer so you can note the garden plants are bigger, more of the kennel has been stained red since back in 2007.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    May 9, 2014

    So had to do a bit of Spring has Sprung cleaning...got the Swanny Wanny or the Eden building cleared on out...so guess that is gonna be the next one to post about.

    Eden Swan building
    We have had the Australian Black Swans (Cygnus atratus) since 2009. These were something Rick and I have always wanted...the swans but you know, if it had never happened, that was OK too...but since it HAS happened...all I can say in review...YES...it IS that incredible...that incredible and more.
    [​IMG]




    So why did I decide to post about the Wannies today...well looky looky l00ky!

    Yes, yes...yes...in the palm of my hand...that sure IS what you think it IS!

    Pearla Girla Gal has given me the most precious of gifts...

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    This is Pearl's very first egg! A swan egg...MY first swan egg!

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    Holy Hannah it is a BIG egg...251.8 grams...imagine that omelet it could make! Tee Hee... [​IMG]

    So of course, since I have never held a swan egg, let alone known what it would looked like (it is this incredible shade of turquoise, like a Robin's egg almost but greener!), I have set it amongst other eggs I do know are much more common than swan eggs...

    [​IMG]
    Pearl's swan egg in middle...
    At the top is Crested Duck, to right is Buff Tufted Goose, bottom is Lilac turkey, and left is standard Chantecler chicken.​


    So I should touch base on the building first before the birds that go IN that building.


    [​IMG]

    I took a nice dry piece of maple and carved the Eden sign...

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    I take this sign down for winter...too cold and extreme on the wood

    I chose Eden for heaven because the geese gaggle already has the paradise theme going on. [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    Eden Swan building with two Pear a Dice (goose) buildings

    So first thing Rick did was build the house for the swans...house then the pen run.

    [​IMG]

    House is like a mini calf shelter in design. We removed the dirt in the run/pen and hauled in river sand as a base. Set up 3 by 12's around the perimeter to set the pen walls upon.

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    Pile of trusses, roof metal and ridge cap

    These above building materials are stacked and ready for the swan runs.



    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Rick seems to always build so smart...measures twice, cuts once attitude. He builds the pen and building first Unpainted/stained.

    [​IMG]
    Pen run painted with hardware cloth applied

    Fits it all together and then disassembles it. Paints/stains it and assembles it all back together...yes Folks...he builds the barn, unbuilds it, then paints it and builds it again. LOL

    [​IMG]
    Note the anti-dig planks and design to keep predators from busting in

    [​IMG]

    Meant to last, these buildings built like this are protected a lot better than if you build it and paint/stain it assembled. Can't get in the nooks and crannies once all together.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Eden - Swan Building

    [​IMG]


    So have posted some swan photos here already but I suppose formal introductions are required...do this up proper like.

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    This is Fire Ember and Black Pearl, the pens (girl swans)

    [​IMG]
    For our 15 year anniversary of owning this property, we imported two unrelated pens up from the Southern States.
    Pearl is in the foreground in the photograph above and she is probably about six months older than Ember. You can tell this by how much clean white is in the wings....

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    Pearl - older with more clean white on primaries

    [​IMG]
    Ember - younger as she still has more lacings on her primaries

    Yes, Black Swans have white wing feathers. Why? Well...because the strongest of the wing feathers are ones that are white...black feathers are less strong and I guess Mother Nature decided Black Swans needed tres strong WINGS! Smart Mother Nature, eh? [​IMG]


    All our swans are pinioned which means the top portion of one wing was removed. I like to take FLAP photos...nothing more JOYOUS and HAPPY than birds flapping their wings!

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Usually they shout out too...when flapping. Very musical and pretty!
    [​IMG]


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    This is Smoke Stack and Stove Pipe, the cobs (boy swans)

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    Smokey (left) is an Alberta Ontario cross and Piper (right) is an import from Holland


    Here is the Eden building with the two pairs of Australian Black Swans.

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    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]
    I spent last summer enjoying the eight week quarantine period for the two females swans. Was a GREAT way to spend a summer, I think at least! [​IMG]

    [​IMG] [​IMG]



    [​IMG]

    Of course Fixins seemed to be always there too...she loved our special times with the swans.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    Ember in front, Fixins to the right and Pearl making a big flap!
    Pearl would follow the dogs and I everywhere, so if I forgot to shut a gate like when I was fencing this summer, there the two would be...hilarious how close they wanted to stay...like puppy dogs...very LOOONG necked puppers... [​IMG]

    [​IMG] [​IMG]


    Following along....and then into the deep deep grasses!


    [​IMG]
    Swans love to bill up Romaine lettuce off the pool surface...floating snacks!

    [​IMG]

    Spent a lot of time kiddy pool side...took thousands of photos...what a FUN summer 2013 was!

    I did DNA gendering tests (blood on the boys and feathers on the girls) for the first time on birds. I have DNA colour tested canines, but not messed with any bird bird things yet. It was fun, kewl and a great learning experience for me. Technical sciency and all that jazz! [​IMG]

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Feathers for DNA gendering were the simplest to do!

    I also did fecals since there is hardly any winter kill down South. So when there was no signs of parasites and after the eight week quarantine wait, we breathed a huge sigh of relief.

    [​IMG]
    Doing our own Fecal Floats on the four swans

    As my posts previous here already say, we run a biosecure Conservation Farm, so follow many strict protocols about adding new beings to what we have here. We owe a duty of care to the creatures already here to keep them safe, healthy and such.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Quarantine setup (sleeping quarters--otherwise they were out and about in a quarantine area) for the two swan girls for eight weeks.​

    [​IMG]
    Special room service!


    [​IMG]
    Ember & Pearl out snacking on pasture greens
    Swans like to eat clover and tender grasses...they sometimes have to share pasture with other grass consumers...like the Jacobs.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Are the swans laughing at the wool or the Jacobs laughing at the feathers



    Swans are certainly not for everyone...if geese or a tom turkey might scare you...I would recommend you not get swans.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Smoke on the left, and Piper on the right - not really putting out the Welcome mat, eh? [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The cobs may be very aggressive in the Blacks; not the best breed for parks as they love to chase and attack small children or timid adults even. I am a very strong tempered person that loves taming the wild ones like Heelers and Shelduck/geese (known to kill others of their own kind and even domestic geese), so I just laugh when Smoke (the oldest cob) puts on a big show...wing slams and bill bites...he's after MEAT, eh? Well so am I...roast swan tongues anyone....I hear it is a Victorian delicacy or was that peafowl tongues?? I forget! I'm allowed, I'm OLD!
    [​IMG]


    As I mentioned, Ember is younger than Pearl and not as forward as she is. Pearla Girla does tricks for me...no end to the amusements...

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    She balances romaine lettuce leaves on her nose...


    [​IMG]
    She shines up my black chore boots...


    [​IMG]
    Pearl will even head bop and count 1 + 1, 2 + 2, ...

    [​IMG]
    Pearla the Girla

    The dogs had better watch out, them big webbed, long necked birds are pretty handy dandy too... [​IMG]


    Swans come in handy for greetings too...seasonal greetings...so many uses for them yah know... [​IMG]

    I got to use the Wannies for three of my Christmas greetings:


    [​IMG]
    Careful now...count how many swans are ACTUALLY swimming in this one! [​IMG]


    [​IMG]

    L00kit the ballerinas dancing...

    [​IMG]
    Yes, very useful having them swans!


    Two pairs of Australian Swans a swimming...

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Ember and Smoke swimming with Piper and Pearl looking on

    [​IMG]
    Piper and Pearl swimming yesterday

    While the pair enjoyed a nice bath yesterday...I cleared out the one side of the Eden House and run. Now it is nice and ready for the swans' summer stay. [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    So here are the one pair (Piper and Pearl) in their summer quarters at the Eden Building....

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    Eden - occupied

    [​IMG]

    Took these photos today...overcast and raining today but waterfowl don't mind a few drip drops ​

    [​IMG]
    Waving GOOD BYE for NOW!





    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    June 2, 2014

    So lots on the go...

    Pond fishies got transferred, plants are growing, got the Veg Garden started, two c-cans for Parking Building are in place, Hatch House is cleared out and plywood bought and hauled home yesterday, Taj opened up, put out some more Bluebird houses, and the Man Porch got new furnishings along with summerish plants put in.


    Taj Mahal Open for the Season
    June 1st, winter fronts off the Mandarin Building...the Taj has opened up!

    [​IMG]


    Bluebird houses
    Yesterday, Rick and I put out two more houses.

    [​IMG]

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    Foamy and Fixins were lots of help with the houses... [​IMG]


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    "Yes, Fixins...we need a red bally to install Bluebird houses..." [​IMG]

    Pond Fish Moved
    May 10, Rick has transferred the fish from inside the garage to their summer quarters...the pond and waterfall.

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Fixins was so happy for the fish, she did the hoochey koochey...

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    Oldest of the pond fish is this orange and black one...going on 17+ years now. The biggest fish, well let's just say he took out the pond gator...no problemo! [​IMG]

    [​IMG] [​IMG]


    Spring has SPRUNG!!!
    First flowers...Haskaps from Russia.

    May 21st, the Honeyberry is blooming...

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Produces long purple berries.​

    Rhubarb is beginning to show up...

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    Vegetable Garden
    May 13, 2014, garden tilled for the first round.

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    Raised beds made with my tiller's furrow attachment.​

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    Planting has begun...potatoes and onions are in. ​
    [​IMG]


    Vehicle Parking Building
    Parking building has two cans in place now--most exciting! [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    Hatch House
    Former feed room is in the works to become my hatching house.

    [​IMG]
    Winter 2013/2014

    Now have it cleared out (outgrew it as a feed room by leaps and bounds). [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    And this building is ready and waiting for insulation, vapour barrier, and walls...then nice grey painting, some shelving and voila...HATCH HOUSE!

    [​IMG]

    Will need to do up a new sign for the Hatch House too...


    So now for a posting on another of our buildings...

    Man Porch
    Here is the porch Rick built; sixteen feet wide by forty feet long. What we refer to as the MAN Porch. [​IMG]

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    Furnished to be functional, it is a place we hang out in...bug free (thanks to the screening) and all out spacious.

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    A great place to kick up one's feet...

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    Happy place for dougals, plants, and the humans alike...

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    We love the Man Porch so much...
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    Our son was married here on the porch...

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    No white doves...so white Call ducks had to fill in.

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    and since they wanted the wedding to happen in October...Rick went and installed a wood stove with hearth.

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    Woodbox in the Man Porch

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    We use the Man Porch a lot. So it has a man sized barbeque...

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    My favorite meal in the whole wide world is hotdogs or hamburgers...WHY? Because that means the family and I are at home, lounging on the man porch!
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    Oh the meals we have had on the man porch...

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    From reg BLT's to ...

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    Spring/Summer Spread - grab a plate, eh? [​IMG]

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    Smokies, beans, cottage cheese, potato and mac salad.

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    Caesar salads and veggies with dip to ...​

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    Alexander brought this one!

    Desserts and ...
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    Homemade chicken and potato soup and yet more desserts... ​

    The Man Porch is a place to display some of the antiques we collect... truck stuff, bird stuff..."bring out yer junk" stuff.

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    Even antiques Rick has refurbished like this butter churn he completed in 2010.

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    Course I like to add poultry to just about any situation; so my decoys showed up to compliment the scenery in the Man Porch.... [​IMG]

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    Some of my antique egg crates...

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    and even a bee hive smoker...

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    Plants love it in the Man Porch.

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    Geraniums...​

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    Cala Lily and PINK Strawberries...

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    Trying out mini roses this year...see how they do. [​IMG]

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    Rick chooses to plant tomatoes and they do very nicely in the Man Porch.

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    My son has given me a dog planter for Mother's Day and I enjoy planting an annual in it each year.

    2013

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    2014
    [​IMG]

    So we upgraded the porch to new furniture...something more comfy for us to flop in.

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    First order of biz was to clear out the one side of the porch and make it ready for the new furniture to arrive.

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    Fixins was a big help with the Man Porch furniture additions ...
    Guarding the porch potatoes I had out sprouting for the garden. [​IMG]

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    Yawning and wondering when LUNCH was being served..

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    Half the porch furniture in the Man Porch.

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    More furniture...

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    Rainy and wet weekend...even had the lights on it was so overcast....​

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    Cold too...let the sleeping old dog lie, eh? So cute, covered up and snuggy in a blankey. Man Porch is dog approved.

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    Furniture in place... [​IMG]

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    Bought a big ol' storage box to store the cushions from the chairs that were in the Man Porch ...

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    And now these former porch chairs are our outside chairs. Wonderful!

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    Rick bought two new hummer feeders to try out...

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    First visit by a Hummingbird was this weekend. Yee Haw! [​IMG]

    So this is the Man Porch as of May 31st...

    [​IMG]



    So that be that for now... [​IMG]

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    Doggone & Chicken UP!

    Tara Lee Higgins
    Higgins Rat Ranch Conservation Farm, Alberta, Canada

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Comments

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  1. Mountain Peeps
    Amazing job!! Gorgeous chickens and good humor in pic "Take out!"
  2. The Old Yolks
    What an amazing operation you have. I commend you.
  3. scottcaddy
    That is some kinda crapola you've got going there!
    Very Nice
    Scott
  4. crazyfeathers
    Wow what a spoiled rotten girl you are lol. Beautiful out buildings. I also am in to tractors but I'd still like a bigger diamond ring (cubic zirconia no one will know unless you tell them) lol. You are very blessed.
  5. ChemicalchiCkns
    Woot woot stock trailor.

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