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Higgins Rat Ranch UPDATES

Here are some updates 'round the place...

Waz Up?
Chicken UP!!

Vintage Chicken Ornaments...pretty much as old as I am! LOL

May 17, 2010: Well, well...we certainly have a good start on the year already!

Gettin' yer hands dirty is my kinda sport, so tilling up the East Point pasture, was just another feather in our caps. If life gives one poop, compost it! Rick hauled barn contents down there last year for composting and we had some really perfect conditions for tilling. This area is in need of soil rejuvenation as it is basically a gravel bar left over from when the Clearwater River ran here, ages and ages ago. I am now looking at the veg garden and where the ewe barn use to sit, will probably get to that this week or so.

May 27, 2010: Yeh, all done like dinner, tilled to the MAX...just in time for the RAINS (or is that snow there too?) to seriously start up! Now to go cast grass seed about...

My mother-in-law warns here in Alberta that one never plants tenders before June 1st and she is SO right! Since Rick has screened in his "man" porch (40' x 16'), there has not been too much cold making its way inside. We will have to acquire a nice tomato plant and some Martha Washington Geraniums again this year. We were harvesting tomatoes right into the late fall last year and the flowers just never seemed to stop! Rick has purchased hummingbird feeders this winter, so will see how that goes as far as making them stay...lots show up but always move on.

June 20, 2010: Hummingbirds are using the feeders! You may hear them buzzing around, right into the late evening.

Rounded up the Dogs for a Picy near some of the Alberta wild roses...at her age, Makins doesn't pose proper for pics anymore.
Click this!
See Styra's Mickey Mouse spot on her back?

July 2010

July 4, 2010: Been here now for twelve years. Seems like just yesterday that we were planting shelterbelt trees and here the caragana is, higher than the fence. Wild roses are in full bloom, the "July" flowering lilac bush is budding out, and the veg garden is going to get some heat this week (corn will be happy)...sounds good. Torrential downpours, sometimes mixed with hail are "normal" for this time of year.

Maple Sign for the Swan Abode
July 4, 2010

Decided to carve up a sign for the swan home, inspired by one of the visitors to this webite. Thank you Rocky! I was having a time trying to figure out an appropriate companion name for the "Pear A Dice" geese homes and you nailed it!

Rick decided to have a look at the two 1928 Chev horns I carted home; one from Reynolds Sales and one from the Swap Meet from this spring. He has really brought out some real gems under all that rust and what one fellow called "refurbished" black paint. He even salvaged the name plate on the "refurbished" one by gently using "brake clean" to take off the noxious layers & layers of black paint. Sure brought a smile to my face as I was flicking wood chips, when the Reynolds horn let out a huge "Ah-oogha!" I've never actually heard an authentic '28 horn in person, past what you might hear on an old time TV show or movie! Fine way to celebrate the place's anniversary; wood chips from a new sign scattered on Rickie's porch and an "Ah-oogha" carried away on the wind! A dozen years has flown by, but we have made time to enjoy & appreciate our good fortunes.

Swan Home (Eden) beside the Geese Homes (Paradise)
July 2010

If the weather ever smartens up and stays dry enough, maybe we can paint the swan pens??

Started pen cleaning in earnest. Many of the birds are finished moulting and making a mess in their pens (a pillow fight gone overboard postal...is there a bird somewhere in here still?) and the poultry are now growing out pretty new coats of feathers. Increased the whole oats mixed in their regular rations to assist with the production of feathers--more protein. Every evening, after cleaning another gauntlet of pens, I stop and listen...the Call Ducks are especially appreciative...little "squeaky coos" of extra happy birdles, digging in the new heaps of oat straw. I stand there, paused momentarily, covered in poop, straw, sore and tired to where you don't know if you should fall down or cry or do both...but those moments are ever precious...happy birds make light the work and put a spring back in your step! If only everyone would be so content over so little.

July 5, 2010: Well what a pleasant surprise this morn. What lay waiting in the "cleaned yesterday" Blue Fawn Call breeding pen...well two of the most perfect, green duck eggs, nestled in a new nest! "Thank you girls & boys, thank you!"


Fix and a purdy Sunflower

This spring, both March and May, we have done two canine colour presentations. One in Caroline and one in Rocky Mountain House. Makins and HyBlade, students, teachers, and myself all had an excellent time! How's that for fun with a lil' dog hair...round our house, that's a "condiment!"

Makins and HyBlade
Berna; See Makes is wearing one of your Oz flag neckerchiefs...cherish them. The dogs look GOOD!
Caroline - Biology 30
March 2010

Pen to Paper...

Several articles have been published already this 2010 year. The Combs and Wattles in the Chantecler Chicken article was featured as centerfold in the May 2010 issue of the Feather Fancier and the article Poultry Rations is on the front page of the FF July/August combination edition. Chantecler Fanciers International is publishing the Chantie article in installments, first one arrived at the end of June 2010.

One of the photos from the Poultry Rations article

To read either of these articles go to: Tales from Rat World.

Weather and What Nots...

Herd of Cattle Mutts under Dolgo
June 14, 2009

Yeh, Alberta, "If you don't like the weather, wait ten minutes!" To dress for success, you have to follow the lead of some of the kids; toque, shorts, and flip flops...ready for anything! Snow, sun, the flood...too much water either from the waterbombers puttin' the forest fire out or the return of another 100 year flood, for the second time in seven years...arggh!!

July 5, 2010: June was a WET month, July is starting off the same but supposedly we are going to get some heat. The cherry tomatoe in the porch has one green "pimple" of a tomatoe started and it sure could do with some warmth.

Vintage Butter Churn - Refurbished by Rick
June 2010

June 22, 2010: No more waiting for the Ram Pasture to dry out to run the dogs (tho we did get a tiny sprinkle in the p.m. to wet down the dust)...conditions are perfect and the barn swallows just luv it...dogs running stirs up bugs to feed their hungry broods. Lilacs (brought some in the house to put on the butcher block--Rick says it smells like a "bus load of ol' ladies" in the kitchen now...use to take my flowers to my place of work, but flowers don't fair all that well on a school bus like they do in an accounting office! VBG), Silver Buffalo Berry, and Flowering Crabapples are all blooming, next will be the Alberta wild roses. Lettuce, peas, beans, potatoes, chard, and spinach are all up in the veg garden, Nasturtiums are poking thru in the mailbox planter...Summer is here! Pond Fish are enjoying the warm weather; every evening, we can sit by the pond and watch them leap with glee.

Was moving the Jersey Buffs and finally got to show Rick an example of some of their ingrained heritage turkey survival instincts. The grass was deep over by one of my shade planters and a hen started to make an alarm call. "Pop, pop, pop!," sounds jest like popcorn popping. So I went over to have a look see. Well, she was giving the alarm call alright, alarm for "SNAKE! Great big coily BROWN SNAKE!" All the hens gathered on round, ready to do battle...the POP call was missing an "O" as it was a pile of ACDog POOP! Bust a gut. Silly thing is, is that all of our turkeys have never EVEN seen a snake in any of their lives....not even a garter snake. Well the girls just won't move and the other birds were starting to stress, so I grabbed a dog poop pail and the trowel from Foamey's kennel and removed the "offending" yet "mesmorizing" snake so the hens would quiet down and move along. People can make all the jokes they want about turkeys being dumb, but with a internal "toolkit" like these heritage guys come hatched with, who can say dumb to a predisposition to identify potential troubles. A little off, but hey, maybe they were just voicing their disgust over somebody crapping in THEIR yard. Have to have a talkin' to the hired help about clean up duties being lax...oh yeh, I guess that's my fault too. Shuckee darn, and slop the chickens...five dogs runnin' round and I missed one. Sheep beans will be the turks NEXT complaint, "Clean up, pasture nine!"

Rick has been putting the sandblaster to good use. He's done up a whole bunch of '28 & '36 truck parts, even four wigwags got blasted, primed and painted. His butter churn is the latest of his projects and looks pretty darn spiffy now, sittin' in his porch...Churn that! LOL And this eve, had our most favourite dinner of all...BQ'd hotdogs and hamburgers on Rickie's porch with the dawgs begging for handouts. Sure could get use to this high end falootin' style of livin'. :-D

Natural Hatch Day Old American Goslings
June 12, 2010

June 18, 2010: Finally some more appropriate weather, besides rain in June (can't believe the flood was FIVE years ago today!). For the most part we have had sunny weekends. The May Day blossoms are done, Lilacs will start up soon and the Saskatoons are in full bloom. Veg garden was planted some time ago, had moisture to germinate...bring on some SUN please...jest a little tho! No more covering up the plants in the porch; geraniums look fine. No sign of hummingbirds at the feeders yet. Bluebirds and Barn Swallows are feeding babies, and another set of Buff American goslings have hatched out and are being guarded and cared for by mommy and daddy goose.

Porch Flower
June 2010

May 27, 2010: Received over two inches in moisture (combination of first snow then rain) this past week. The "May" Day (more a June tree here) tree has started to blossom and the Dolgo "wants" to bust out, but the flowers may just rot if it does not warm up a bit (zero this morn!). The Lilacs down the driveway got hit hard and are suffering some frost damage but look like they will be OK. Gotta be tough to live in the Rocky Mountain Foothills--what don't outright kill yah, makes you strong!

Coast Snow!!
May 5, 2008

Last year, we got a dump of snow on June 6th, the year prior early May (like a FOOT & a HALF of Coast Snow!), so maybe this is gettin' to be "normal" for here now??

Wall of Wood
May 23, 2010

May 25, 2010: Nice long weekend. Got three more wood racks built and filled (the walls of wood go on forever!), Rick got started on the swan pen runs, and we hauled in 80 bales of hay. While it rained off and on all weekend (grass is GREEN!), somehow it seemed to work with us as it never rained on the bales when we loaded, hauled, or stowed them away--yah!

Some of the American goslings hatched out...

Natural Hatch Day Old Goslings
May 2010

Coupla weeks and we'll see other goslings arrive plus one of the Red Golden hens should hatch out her clutch.

Red Golden Pheasant Hen
Sittin' tight on her eggies!
See that tail...the way in which she is sitting almost looks like a fancy lady's HAT...Hilarious!!!

June 9; Psst...she had FOUR chicks and all are doing GREAT!

Four Red Golden Chicks
June 21, 2010
Boy are they ever able to blend into their surroundings!

May 21, 2010: After listening to the drone of trucks/trailers heading for the forestry reserves yesterday while it rained "cats & dogs" all evening, Rick tells me it snowed north of Rocky. May long weekend pretty much guaranteed flakes on the rodeo parade!

May 17, 2010: It was 32 Celcius in Rocky on Saturday when we went in to pick up parts for the grader. Rick just called, rain scheduled for the long weekend. We are a little behind here in the Rocky Mountain Foothills (April showers brings spring flowers?) but the rain will be most welcome. Watching the pastures turn greener and the tree leaves bustin' out. Been carefully watching the grasses grow, the Jacobs and goats (llamas too) will welcome the time out on the greens. The swans have been nipping grass for the past month but the geese are all on nests, so have not been out on the grass, that will come shortly tho, babes in tow.

L00kit what the Spring Run Off brung in??
March 2008

We get frost and snow here ALL year round. Every single month of the year can see snow blanketting the ground. Yes, even in July and August (brought Makins and her pups home from the University of Saskatoon from a BAER hearing test in 2001 to a snow storm in August!). You gotta be hardy to make it here. Ah, but you DO get two seasons here (spring and fall last for about the blink of an eye, so don't really count!), winter for seven months and then CONSTRUCTION season...

Step of the Greenhouse
Frost has already nipped some blossoms!

July 2008

Trucks and Ducks...

We once again made the pilgrimage to the Vintage Vehicle Spring Swap Meet--we SO look forward to that, even resting up for it. As always, we did very well. Acing some original 1928 truck advertisements for framing along with a 1935 Maple Leaf truck ad too, Rick found two original taillight housings (they do not even make reproductions of these!) and at Bob Jone's table (nice to see Mr. Jones there again!), Rick actually found not one but TWO original taillight lenses! Whooohoo! I packed along my decrepit example of a 1928 horn and found a rejuvenated one there for sale; horns ARE getting harder to come across all the time. Picked up several fuel sediment glass bowls (one even has an original brass filter), a radiator splash guard (for the atrocious price of $5!), an original 1928 Chevrolet (Canadian version!) manual (so much MORE info than the US reproduction version!), a tire rim, and a tire tool, jack and handle rounded out the bounty. There was a pretty 1928 Chev car there for sale too; always neat stuff!

Non-Vehicle Purchases

I did purchase some non-vehicle related items (there are some good non-vehicle antiques finds to be had!); a pair of blue glass ducks, some Wade figurines to add to my growing collection, plus a made in "Occupied Japan" Mallard drake...I already have one inherited from my grandmother but this one is different but obviously made by the same outfit...what a catch! Last year, I bought the pair of blue Mandarins.

July 5, 2010: Ever diligent, Rick has sandblasted a mess of 1928 Chev parts. He's got four "wigwags" cleaned, primed and painted. The glass reflectors sit waiting to be installed. I already mentioned that he is working on the two horns and he says he is almost finished blasting all the wheel bolts/nuts. Some of this seems quite tedious, but the work chugs along and we both can see the efforts are all worth it. The trucks are going to be gorgeous.

Bird News and Views...

Bantam Blue Laced Red Wyandotte Hen & Blue Laced White Roo
January 2009

Those people already waiting on fall birds will be delighted to hear that the incubator is sterilized and whirling away. Yes, I have dragged my feet this year about getting an early start but must say, I am REALLY looking forward to the hatchlings now.

Bantam Call Ducklings
June 2010

It was another looong winter this year and only now I see the bantam ducks serious about laying eggs and getting down to the business of setting/brooding.

Bantam Light Brahma Chick - Two Days Old
June 2010

The chickens have been doing fab, more eggs than we know what to do with... The Chanties have been amazing; they started up laying around Christmas and have not taken a break. There are three that have gone setty, but one would expect that to happen given the nice weather and their robust need to fulfill their basic mothering instincts!

Standard Buff & Red Chantecler Chicks - 2 days old
June 2010

Bantam Wyandotte Chicks - 2 days old
June 2010

June 18, 2010: Just a TON of baby chickens and more hatching daily... Bantam Wyandottes (Blue Laced Reds, Blue Laced Whites, Silver Laced, Golden Laced, Partridge, Silver Pencilled, Whites, even got Self-Blue this year PLUS a special little one, Gomer looks like a BLUE Pyle, but he probably won't stay this way).

Bantam Wyandotte Chick - Gomer the Blue Pyle Chick ~ almost 2 weeks old
June 2010

Brahmas (Dark, Buff, Light,and Partridge), Booteds (pretty much even numbers in Whites and MDFs), and whole bunches of Standard Partridge, Buff, and Red Chanteclers (first time for the Reds and they are really quite pretty). Got American Geese eggs in the bator, Call ducks are hatching fast and furious, Silver Appleyards, Hookbills (Dusky and Whites), Australian Spotteds, Indies...heritage turkettes too. So between pen cleanings, garden weed tending, and hatchlings. The summer is off to a great start. Ah, what FUN!

Bantam Partridge Brahma Chicks - Two Days old
June 2010

The weather was nice enough, we could set up some pens and let the chicks out on the lawn to enjoy themselves. One Chantie chick found a dandelion bud and the chase was on! Rick tossed in a few more and the chicks decided the novelty had worn off.

Chantie Chicks Running with Dandelion Bud - 2 days old
June 2010

Buff and Dark bantam Brahma Chicks - Two Days Old
June 2010

July 5, 2010: The hatchlings are growing strong, big and I do have to laugh at some of their outfits; the partridge Chanties are getting their junvenile barred plumage, some of the Wyandottes are tickle me cute with their checker board plumage patterns, Brahmas are feathering up enough you can start guessing genders, the MDF Booteds-some are putting on the cutest white dotty dots- and the White Booteds are seriously vivid, and the turkeys are feathering out in pleasing colours and patterns, hinting at what they will look like as adults! The Appleyard, Crested, & Hookbill ducks are getting big and serious about life in general. Bantam Ducks are in four separate growing groups...from day olds onwards. With the nicer weather, I have put some of the older Chanties in a transition pen in the Deuce Coop...get them ready to go out in the Veg Garden Bird Building. We will be following the advice of some of the oldtimers and placing an adult Chantecler Rooster in amongst them to "keep the peace." Works great with an older "uncle" keeping an eye on silly fights over dominance...pecking order so to speak! The Red Chanteclers are really magnificentt...I wonder why more people do not raise this variety, they are gorgeous!

Bracing myself for the second set of chicken hatches; new matings, different pedigrees than the first hatch. Sure didn't take them long to moult and get back into laying condition; throwing eggs at me constantly..."Good girls!" Bantam production is pretty much an egg a day from each hen in the Deuce Coop. Two BLR Wyandottes have gone setty, so no eggs from them, jest a loud complaint and a few pecks for good measure when I collect up Wyandotte (a.k.a. "whiney") eggs. :-p

The heritage turkeys have been amazing...I have heard others say these birds are "seasonal layers" HA! Only season they know is one all year long! Another repeat from last year...tho eggs started a little more sensibly (not mid-January like in 2009!) about March and we have had a constant flow though all the hens have taken a break to go setty on and off. We like that, so continue on ladies. We would really like them to not lay so often as we figure it is hard on them.

Some of the ducks are moulting, yet some are still laying, so I will continue to collect and set but do look forward to tearing down the breeding pens and letting everyone out on the grassy lawns to chase bugs, nip grass and sleep in the shade or paddle puddle duck in their pond. Freedom to be in a big bevy, now that is certainly something to QUACK about!

Australian Black Swans - Pen on Left / Cob on Right
July 2010

The Australian Black Swans have both cast off all their old plumage and are now showing off gorgeous, deep black & in some cases ruffly, feathers, contrasted by vivid white flights. We have no idea if they will produce young this year, but have been told we will have to wait until about October to find out. Whether they do or not, they look radiant and both are getting territorial. The Cob put the run on Fixins the other day and the Pen told me today in no simpler terms, "Bugger Off!", when I was draining and filling their pond! Gotta luv that...when an animal feels confident and comfortable enough to put the run on the unpaid help, you know they are feeling good about their situation! LOL

Baby Geese, not so little anymore!
July 2010

Goslings are out with the parents on grass, every chance we get to let them out pending the weather. Not little cush cush downies anymore...but still charming, growing out little wing feathers (look like Weebles!) and chowing down so they can get seriously big. Ma's and Pa's are taking very good care of their precious offspring. The last of the goslings are hatching in the incubator...two new additions!

Shelterbelt Lilacs (odd white plants in the group) down Driveway
Tara's Carved Cedar Burl Higgins Sign in Rick's Pine Yoke
July 2010

Putting up this website "relevant to the birds" has been a very rewarding endeavour. It has left me scrambling trying to get photos together and organized. Yes, I do take lots of pictures, but it seems that when the birds are at their best, taking photographs is the furthest thing from our minds. I will continue to strive to do better and do the birds justice. Look out for more pictures seeing as I got the basic skeletal structure up and posted now.

In the meantime, bust a gut and go on and see these ones!

Chick WARS!! Photo Humour - Chick Wars

We hope all who visit here, find this site fun.

That's all for now....

Doggone & Chicken UP!


HyBlading into the Sunset.

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Updated July 5, 2010
Higgins Rat Ranch