Saturday, April 19, 2014

I Love Lucy and so did Bonnie

Well, I wanted to write a post either about the chickens or guineas and bring you to-to-date on their lives this past winter, but so much is happening, I just cannot slow down and talk about the past winter yet.  I'll get back to it...

With life comes sad times.  My favorite chicken of all times, ever, Lucy, died yesterday.  Rest in peace, Sweet Lucy.  My Lucy-Goosey.


Lucy was one of our original chicks - that makes her almost 5 years old.  That's old for a bantam hen.  Lucy was so tame.  She loved to be pet and have her neck rubbed.  She knew her name and always came when called.  I would go out into the chicken pen, look for Lucy and call her name.  She'd be thirty feet away, hear me calling her, stop her digging or whatever she was doing, and come running to me.  She always came running when I called her.  I'd always open the gate and let her out by herself.  She never attempted to run away from me and always let me pick her up, so I knew it was safe to let her out of the pen.  We don't let the chickens free-range without me around, too many foxes.  So Lucy and I would go for a short walk, she always walked beside me very well, and then we'd stop to dig.  I'd find a stick and she'd assist digging with her feet.  We'd dig for worms, which she'd gobble up.  She and I went for a walk and a dig right up to the end of her life when she could barely walk anymore.  I carried her these last few months to the digging spot because she couldn't walk.  Sometimes she'd almost fall over when we were digging, but she still tried to dig for worms.  She didn't "lose her mind" when she got old.  Her body got slow and frail, but she was still the same old Lucy.  She still reacted just like she always did to me.


Lucy never really cared for other chickens, she did her own thing.  She wasn't a follower.  Doing what other chickens do is normal flock behavior, but Lucy was unique.  The other chickens emulated her actions.


The last few months Lucy could barely walk.  She couldn't navigate the ramp to the outside pen to leave the coop.  We made sure she had food and water inside the coop.  She couldn't jump up on the roost at night, instead she slept on the floor of the coop underneath the other chickens by herself.  It was sad seeing her down on the floor by herself at night, but we knew she was a loner anyway, she probably didn't mind.

And then Bonnie started sleeping on the floor beside Lucy at night.


Big Bonnie, she is called.  Bonnie is the opposite of Lucy in looks.  Bonnie weighs about 20 pounds to Lucy's 2 pounds.  Bonnie is huge, she's a meat breed of bird, one that normally is raised to butcher for meat.  Bonnie was a shelter chicken - she rescued her from the local animal shelter.  She was caged in someone's house and fed table scraps and kept for her eggs.  She got very fat on table scraps.  I think she also ate fast food, whatever, her diet was terrible.  Then it seems she stopped laying eggs, probably because of her poor condition because of her bad diet, and whoever had her didn't want her anymore.  I bet you they got another chicken to abuse.  They didn't know what they were doing - they got a meat breed of bird instead of an egg-laying breed.  They were city people who wanted fresh eggs.  So Bonnie was tossed out into the city streets, left to wander on her own.  I guess they didn't know how to butcher a chicken or they probably would have butchered her.  Only Bonnie was so fat and because she was caged she had almost lost the ability to use her legs.  She had no strength in her legs.  And so animal control easily caught her, and the shelter called me, as I'm on the list of farms who will take chickens found in Washington DC.  And since then she has lived a good life at Razzberry Corner.  She learned how to walk again, lost quite a bit of weight, but still is one big bird.  Big Bonnie.  No one messes with Big Bonnie in our flock.  They probably talk about Big Bonnie behind her back - "did you hear that Bonnie was in prison before?" they probably say.

Big Bonnie

Anyway, Big Bonnie, the bird that doesn't let other chickens push her around, moved to the floor beside Lucy.  The two of them always sat their with their heads together, like they were talking.  We assumed because of Bonnie's weight she couldn't get up on the roost anymore.  During the days Bonnie stayed near Lucy on the coop floor.  Sometimes Bonnie would go outside and leave Lucy alone for a while, then she'd come back to sit beside sweet Lucy.  And Lucy, the chicken who really didn't like other chickens, liked Bonnie.


Lucy waddled around inside the coop as best as she could.  She liked to eat, even though she was very thin at the end.  In the winter during the snowy days none of the chickens went outside, so everyone stayed inside, including Bonnie and Lucy.  I'd feed them inside the coop.  Sometimes it got crazy with chickens running around at feeding time, but I noticed Bonnie always protected Lucy from the other chickens.  Bonnie would physically block the other birds with her large body, making it so they wouldn't knock Lucy over, as Lucy was unsteady.

We recently raised some new roosters from chicks, and they started running around mating with all the hens.  Bonnie always moved in front of Lucy when those roosters came in the coop scoping out mates.  It truly seemed like Bonnie was protecting Lucy.  Lucy went along with Bonnie's actions, standing behind her, letting herself be protected.  Sometimes when the chickens were all cooped up for days on end in the snowy months they would all have cabin fever, walking around, pacing the coop floor non-stop.  Lucy would go into one of the bottom nestboxes that was on the floor for protection from all the crazy chickens.  Then of course if a chicken sees another in a nestbox, they want to go in there and lay an egg in that nestbox, even if there's a dozen empty nestboxes.  (It's that crazy chicken behavior where they all need to follow what the other is doing.)  But Bonnie starting sitting her large body right in front of Lucy's nestbox, blocking Lucy in, keeping everyone else away from Lucy.  Bonnie was so big she totally shielded the nestbox.  When Lucy wanted out of the nestbox she just stood up and Bonnie got up and immediately moved out of her way.  It was so neat to see that Big Bonnie had become Lucy's guardian, her protector.  They always had their heads together, appearing as if they were talking. They were best friends.

Big Bonnie is the big bird in the center

My husband said it was because Bonnie was getting old, too.  At this same time Bonnie stopped laying eggs.  He said Bonnie probably couldn't get up on the roost anymore, she was too big and was probably loosing her balance, that's why she was on the floor all the time now. 

So months went by like this.  We knew Lucy wasn't going to live much longer, she was so frail.  Lucy died Thur during the day while we were out at work.  Her body lay on the coop floor near the waterer, with Bonnie sitting nearby, until we came home Thur night.  Bonnie stayed on the floor in that same location Thur night.  Another chicken, named Ruffles, slept down on the floor with Bonnie that night, with her head near Bonnie's.  That was odd.  Ruffles is a much younger bird and there's no reason she would be on the floor and not on the roost with the other chickens.


And then tonight, Friday night, Bonnie is back up on the roost sleeping with the other chickens.

It appears Bonnie was able to roost all along, but she chose to stay on the ground with Lucy all these months.  Bonnie is one special bird.  And Ruffles.  And of course, Lucy was a special bird, my favorite chicken ever.  My husband is speechless, now that he knows Bonnie can roost.  He said she will probably start laying eggs again now, too.

We buried Lucy in the animal cemetery beside Tommy the cat and the other chickens that have died through the years.  I will always miss sweet Lucy.

People that don't have chickens don't realize that chickens have personalities.  They don't know what they're missing.


Monday, April 14, 2014

Ben and Brindle Update

Yes, I'm back and writing again.  It's been a long, cold, hard winter.  I've wanted to write, to share the farm with everyone, but time was short.  Days and nights flew by, weeks got jumbled together, and before I knew it, spring is here!  And not soon enough!

The animals hated the long cold winter.  It snowed so many times.  Let me tell you right from the beginning, I'm not a cold-weather kind of gal.  I like it hot and sunny.  You can keep the snow!  But this winter it certainly snowed a whole lot!

The two outside cats, Benjamin and Brindle, were C-O-L-D outside.  Since we put up heatlamps for the chickens in the coop, we got the bright idea to setup a heatlamp for the outside cats.  So the cats got a heatlamp.  They sleep on a piece of rug which sits on a wooden bench on the front porch.  We aimed the heatlamp on the bench, and they both cuddled up every night under the lamp.

After a few extremely cold and blustery snowy nights, we realized the heatlamp really wasn't helping much.  The snow was blowing sideways up onto the cats and soaking their bed and the cats, too.  And the thought occurred to me - we DO have an empty guestroom...  And these stray cats ARE guests...

And so Ben and Brindle moved inside to the guestroom.  I know, I'm a sucker for animals.  My husband puts up with me...  Just so you know, they both had already been taken to the vet, been dewormed, deflead, deticked, had all their shots, and were fixed.  Also they were tested and found to be negative for all feline diseases.  Yes, they used to be strays, Brindle even was feral - you can see she has a clipped ear.  Any outside cat here has to go thru that routine, and even still, I dare to call them a stray cat.  I should just call them an "outside cat", not a stray.

The two formerly "stray" cats absolutely LOVED the guest bed.  They loved being inside.  They both became extremely friendly, and love to be pet and hugged and held.  We never thought that wild Brindle could become such a lovebug.  They both even like their bellies rubbed!  And most of all, they love stretching out to sleep on the soft guest bed.

Benjamin especially loves to be held on Randy's shoulder.  Ben sits up on the bed and begs, stretching his front legs up in the air, waiting to be picked up.  Brindle loves to cuddle and then lick us, which is quite annoying when you don't want to be licked, which is, well, always.

We kept Ben and Brindle separate from the inside cats.  It was easier that way - no cat fights.  The inside cats weren't too fond of the guest cats.  So we kept the guestroom door closed at all times.  Sometimes Jack, the Houdini cat who can open doors, snuck in to visit.  Jack's very accepting and friendly.  If only everyone could be as sweet as Jack...  

When the cold winter nights passed, we opened the window (the guest room is on the first floor) and Ben and Brindle went back outside.  They were so happy to be out again.  But it seems they miss their bed.  If we open the guest room window again they will come right back inside and curl up on the bed.  Randy sometimes sleeps in the guest room during the day when he's working the crazy night shift.  When he does, he opens the window, within minutes Ben and Brindle are cuddled up with him on the bed, and they all sleep the day away.

I guess they aren't outdoor cats anymore, they've become indoor-outdoor cats.  They both are great farm cats - they love to help us with our outside chores.  They always walk us to the barn, stand guard while we work in the chicken coop.  Once a chicken escaped out the coop door and Ben stood and watched, helping me to catch it.  The chicken was terrified of the cat and just froze, making it easy to catch.  Brindle loves to run with the guineas.  When I throw bread for the guineas she's right out there with them - she loves to catch pieces of bread and eat it, just like the guineas.  Both cats, but especially Brindle, are always mouse and bird hunting.  Any little bird that comes near her, and any mouse on the property, will meet it's end if Brindle has her way.

Recently a fox moved into our front yard, of all places, and before that a raccoon was acting very strange, falling over when standing, extremely friendly, etc.  When those animals were around at nighttime we ushered Ben and Brindle into the house to keep them safe.  I didn't want little Brindle to be fox food, nor did I want either cat to get rabies from a possible infected coon. The cats didn't know what was going on, all they knew was they had access to their beautiful guest bed again, and they loved it and slept soundly all night. 

So that's the update on Ben and Brindle, the indoor-outdoor cats.  It was a good winter for them.  Next up I'll discuss either the chickens or the guineas, and will tell you how they made it thru the long cold winter months.   

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Razzberry Corner is back!!!

Wow!!!  A lot of time has passed since my last post!  So much has been going on here at Razzberry Corner!  ...Where to begin????

Let's start with the humans...  What's going on with us?

Over the winter I joined an awesome online weight-loss group called Lose It! (  It's a great support group that encourages you to eat less and exercise more, and teaches you how to count calories.  They have workout challenges, groups where discussions take place, and endless possibilities to make friends with similar exercise and weight-loss goals.  With this app I lost about 20 pounds.  I highly recommend it to everyone!  Best thing is, Lose It! is free.  Costs nothing to join the basic service, and $39.95 for a year of premium membership.  With the basic membership you can set only one weight loss goal, with the premium membership the number of goals you can set are almost endless, from weight goals to blood pressure, exercise minutes, steps taken, hydration (to encourage you to drink more water), nutritional goals are available, such as sodium, carbs, protein, fiber, you can even set a goal to sleep a certain number of hours every night.  Anyway, it's a pretty cool group and has motivated me to be healthy and happier.  Check it out if you want to lose weight.

I've been traveling a lot for my work, and am still putting in a lot of hours at work.  What else is new?

My husband has been working shiftwork for his job, often working nights with days off.  This means I have to take care of the animals most of the time, leaving me little to no free time to do things I enjoy, like write.

I have been very sick this year.  It's crazy because I believe that I'm healthier than I've ever been in my life. I got the flu in January, then the Norovirus in March, and now have an upper respiratory infection in April.  The Norovirus was no fun - I've never been that sick, ever.  It seems everyone is catching it - very contagious. If someone you know has it - run away as fast as you can!

Next post I'll move on to the interesting stuff - we'll discuss the farm critters and tell you how they all survived the long cold winter.  Lot's of craziness going on.  Wasn't that winter just the worst ever?