Isabella started riding lessons earlier this fall. She goes every other weekend to Outback Stables in Ledyard for a one hour lesson. It is a lot for her to focus on (and for a whole hour at a time). She needs to watch the position of her hands, make sure the horse keeps moving at the right pace, pay attention to where the horse is going, and not be distracted by the dogs wandering about. Plus probably a bunch of other stuff that I have know idea about since I have no clue how to ride a horse.
Not surprisingly she has wound up with the horse stopped facing a wall. Luckily there are lots of years left before she tries it with a car – at least a horse stops before running into the wall. She is making progress, and can usually get the horse out of a corner without help. I can tell it is getting a little easier for her. The first lesson she was pretty tired after 10-15 minutes and needed the teacher to walk the horse with her on it. Last lesson she almost made it the entire time on her own.
Will had been asking to get a dog of his own for several years. We weren’t quite ready to add a new dog to the family while he was still in school, and when we were ready in the middle of the pandemic, it was nearly impossible to find a dog.
This summer we discussed it more, and agreed that he would be able to get a dog after our trip to Europe. We got approved by one of the local rescue organizations, and found Hoagie. Hoagie was being fostered near New Haven, and over the labor day weekend we went to visit him. Will (and of course Izzy) fell in love with him at the meeting, and later that weekend we picked him up.
He is still getting adjusted to his new house and Will has put him in training. Izzy has lost a few toys, though she has plenty to spare, and we lost a remote, which we don’t have a spare.
I attempted a homemade repair to the dishwasher back in February. It lasted a few months and then started leaking again. This time I ordered the new diverter valve ($60) and Ben and I installed the part this morning. It seems to be working for now; however, some of the reviews state that the repair part only lasts a year or so before it starts leaking again. So maybe next summer I’ll be replacing it again.
I have been spending my workshop time over the past few months on organizing and cleaning, and haven’t really built anything in a while. I needed a shelf to store supplies for the chicken coop, had some twice reclaimed pine, and decided to get the hand tools out and build a very quick shelf.
The wood was already milled, but had cupped a bit. I decided to use it cupped, because it was going to be inside the barn, and I didn’t really want to thin out the boards too much just to get them flat. Plus flattening by hand was more work than I wanted to do this afternoon, and spinning up the jointer would defeat the purpose of a hand tool project.
As of this morning, we are down to 12 chickens and 6 ducks. We lost three chickens over he past few months, one of the chicks, and two of the original hens. The young ducks and hens have started to lay eggs, but not consistently. Over the past few days, we have been getting 3 eggs every 2 days from the ducks. And the ducks don’t use nesting boxes, so we have to go looking for them. We have been getting on or two eggs a day from the hens, with one fairly consistently from the old hen I think. Today we got a total of five eggs, two from the ducks and three from the chickens.
A few weeks ago a friend recommended a Facebook group for local hikes. That has been a goldmine of ideas. One of the places that was recommended was Wells Dinosaur Haven. Late April, Ben, Izzy and I visited Dinosaur Haven, a private house in Montville that is open to the public (as long as you call first to make sure they will be home). The homeowner met us and gave us a tour of the fiberglass dinosaurs he has been making for the past 40 years.
Izzy had a blast, and wants to go back. It probably helped that it was a very short walk.
Today we decided to give Susanna some time alone in the house. We headed to Preston City and hiked the Preston Nature Preserve Trail. The trail was lightly marked, but an easy 1.1 mile hike with Izzy. We found a box turtle and large rat snake along the way. After the hike we headed to Buttonwoods Farm for ice cream. My goal this summer is to explore as many of the short hikes around the area with Izzy – I just may have to bribe her with more ice cream.
We rounded out the afternoon by letting the new chickens and ducks out of the run into the back yard for an hour or so. Eventually we will build a ramp and let them out behind the garage and not in the fenced back yard, but at this time it seems best to keep them supervised; they are young enough to be easy pickings for a hawk. We are tying to figure out how many of the ducks are hens and how many are drakes, at this time our best guess is 4 hens and 2 drakes, but they are still young and we aren’t the best at telling the differences.
Izzy and I went to the Arboretum for a picnic lunch to day to give Susanna some space in the house. Izzy was able to catch two tadpoles and pet five dogs, so she had a good visit. I was able to get a few pictures of her today, without too much complaint.
Yesterday morning I had a few hours open before I had to drive with Ben to get his first round of COVID vaccine. So,Izzy and I decided to visit the Connecticut College Arboretum. She wanted to look for frogs and tadpoles, and we found some day or two old tadpoles in the swamp. She, for once, let me take pictures of her and didn’t just make silly faces. To top it off, and probably her favorite thing, there were a lot of people walking dogs there in the morning; she got to pet five of them. Here are pictures from the visit.
The trouble with ducks is that they like water. They like water a lot. And I mean a lot. From the first day they are in the brooder they play in the water. This is my second round with ducks, and I forgot how messy they can be. Every two days the brooder is totally soaked and starts to smell. I can’t imagine that having a wet brooder is good for either the ducklings or chicks.
If I cleaned out the brooder every day, I could probably keep up with it. But give it two days and 1/2 of the brooder is wet. Give it three and the entire thing is soaked. Earlier in the week I put a pan under the waterer, but they just filled that up and spilled it all over the coop. Time for a bit of engineering (i.e. a quick google search of what other ideas people had come up with). My solution was to make a tray to collect the water that the birds can’t get to – I’m not the first to do this, so I can’t take credit for this idea.
I picked up a $5 paint tray from the box store. I built a frame with mesh to cover the tray. The frame was made from 2×4 cutoffs and covered it with wire mesh that I rescued from the trash.
Ben and Izzy helped temporarily move the birds to the bathtub and I did a good clean of the brooder, taking the wet wood shavings out and putting clean bedding in. I installed the new tray and we returned the birds to their home.
The waterer sits on the mesh with the spill out going into the paint tray an now nearly reaches the top of the brooder. So far, so good. The ducks are making a mess as usual, but it appears to be mostly in the paint tray. I’ll still have to fill up the water several times a day and probably dump the tray daily, but hopefully it will keep the rest of the bedding dry.
I think I’ll try something like this in the coop, but maybe have the tray drain outside. I remember the last time we had ducks, they made a mess of the chicken run. Maybe this time I can keep it a little cleaner and we can keep having ducks.
Total cost: $5. Total time to assemble and clean: Approximately 1 hour.