Category Archives: animals

Everything I Need To Know, I Learned From My Dogs

I was reflecting today upon the many important life lessons I’ve learned from my dogs. Here is their advice to you:


“You’re never too old to have a second childhood. Take time to enjoy the finer things in life, like a polo match and a glass of Pimm’s! Keep up with the whippersnappers and they’ll keep you young. Maintain a merry disposition. Share your blessings with others. Don’t let disabilities or aging get you down.” ~ Valentine, age, “Decrepit! But don’t order my urn yet!”; Springer Spaniel.


“Play hard. Get as much exercise as possible. Have a good appetite. Drink lots of water. Enjoy fresh air. Take a walk. Get enough sleep. Healthy living can help overcome illness. Give hugs often. Never pass up the opportunity to take a road trip.” ~ Boris, age two or three; Husky/Cattledog/other mix.


“Be grateful for what you’ve received. Be friendly to everyone you meet. Be curious about life. Be sweet. Don’t be shy. Go with the flow and adversity will pass you by.” ~ Otter, age about two; Labrador Retriever/other mix.


“Remain mindful and focused at all times. Don’t become ensnared by the power struggles of others. Have a sense of humor. Be present and poised for action. Deflect conflict with the strength of your Chi. Don’t abuse your power. Meditate: Om Mani Dobie Hum. Fiber is good for the digestion.” ~ Emma, The Doggie Lama, age three (plus several hundred reincarnated lifetimes); enlightened Doberman Pinscher.


“Take a bite out of life! Be tenacious for what you want. Fake it ‘til you make it. Make a lot of noise if you believe you’re right. A little mischief will often be forgiven if you’re cute. Have enough spunk, and you can stand up to anyone. Be kind to the weak and small. It’s good to have a schedule and stick to it, especially where meals are concerned. Give kisses freely.” ~ Molly, age two; Tasmanian Devil/Wolverine/Karelian Bear Dog/Heinzer

And from all of them…

“A little dust and dirt never hurt anyone. Life is short, so get out there and live it! The things that matter most are right in front of you… take time to pay attention.”

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New Arrivals

There are surprise babies at Tuppinz Farm!

A bunch of “scrubbing bubbles” appeared in the poultry food line yesterday:


“Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!”

We have 18 new guinea keets!

When the guinea fowl go broody, they do it in secret. We never know if a hawk or fox has made off with one of them (we wouldn’t mind too much as we love the wildlife also), or if they’re not coming home to roost at night because they’re on a nest. Apparently this time it was the latter. I think I spy another hen on a nest out in the sheep pasture… we’ll keep an eye on her to see if another clutch hatches out.

Our tick population is well under control, and guinea fowl are amazingly loud, so perhaps if all of these grow up to adulthood, we’ll fatten a few for the freezer.

Our chicken coop was also home to another hatch of babies – barn swallows:

The parents kept the coop insect-free while feeding their young, so have been quite welcome. Chef Jeff tells me he would give the babies a little pat on their heads each day. Don’t they look like they’re smiling? Having barn swallows grace our farm with their presence is something we look forward to each spring. They zoom around like tiny fighter jets all summer long, catching bugs on the fly. Beautiful birds. We always sigh and know it’s springtime when we see them return.

This is my favorite hen, Pigeon Pie. She is a Quail Antwerp Belgian bantam.

When it’s my turn to feed the poultry, she is first in line, and flies up onto my outstretched arm, or onto my head, or right into the feed scoop to fill her little beak and scatter food everywhere, creating a pile of chickens, ducks, guineas, and geese at my feet so that I can’t take a step. Today, she thought I had something special for her in my egg basket, and flew up to take a peek. Sorry, Pidge, just my work gloves and camera in there…

Weather is perfect here today – sunny, not too hot, breezy. Baby kestrels are learning to fly and hunt. Dogs are napping. Sounds like a plan. Blogger just ate a complete post I had done with it’s “autosave” feature (I hate that feature!) Perhaps they could nix that, and get the autopublish feature up and running again? Sigh.

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Filed under animal of the day, animals, farm, farm animals, farm chickens, farm chores, farm guineas, food, nature, positivity, summer, weather

Holiday Weekend

It was a beautiful holiday weekend here in Wisconsin. We couldn’t have asked for better weather.

The Golden Laced Wyandotte chicks were moved out to their netted pasture. They are about a month old now. They’re loving the fresh air, sunlight, grass, and insects. Our broody Wyandotte hen hatched out nine adopted babies, so that little family was also put in the electric netting for “safekeeping”.

In addition to moving the chickens around, Jeff and our Farmhand Extraordinaire, Dakota, got us caught up on goat vaccinations and hoof trimming, fencing, yardwork, hay moving, and a billion other tasks. Thanks for all the hard work, guys!


We had a great time at the Altoona fireworks with our friends, Dakota’s family. Dakota’s brother, Tanner, gave us a private fireworks show in his backyard afterwards. This is his stash. It was quite an impressive display!

We watched Tanner’s fireworks from the comfort of our friends’ new screen porch, which is the ultimate in summer comfort. What a great area to relax with friends! These guys are great hosts and it’s always great to spend time with them.

That’s Dakota there in the center of the photograph. We are going to miss him when he goes off to college this fall. Jeff says that Tanner will have a job here on the farm as soon as he is old enough. Two finer young men can’t be found!


Knowing of our love for fishing, our friends generously invited us to access the Eau Claire River from their property. Chef Jeff and I had a lovely afternoon there yesterday. Though we didn’t catch anything, we enjoyed being out in the woods and seeing the gorgeous scenery.

Afterwards, the Chef prepared the catfish he’d caught last week according to a recipe from this beautiful book, which also included recipes for homemade refried black beans and great guacamole. It was an outstanding meal, though we somehow got our hands on a jalapeño that must have been grown near a nuclear reactor because that thing was HOT – and this judgment from people who use habañero sauce on a regular basis!


We are so glad that Otter is acclimating to her new home. The other dogs love her… well, Molly tolerates Otter, but Molly’s coming along (that’s just her way – growl first, make friends later.)

Otter has Lyme disease so she’s on antibiotics for a little while. She doesn’t seem to have had toys or chews before; she’s finally understanding that baked cow ears are a good thing:

When Otter was found she was suffering from heat exhaustion. We are so grateful to our wonderful vet for taking her in for us for treatment and boarding, despite her history being unknown. We intend to go to a town meeting to see how we may be able to change the policies and procedures of our township in order that stray animals may receive temporary housing and care in a more efficient manner; we are not served by the County shelter due to the lack of a financial agreement between them and our township. There has to be a better way, and we shudder to think what could happen if one of our own beloved dogs went missing.

So yes, now we are a five-dog family. I would think we were certifiably nuts, except that the entire vet staff said they hoped we’d keep Otter because they knew we’d be good parents. And Valentine is getting up there in years and has Cushing’s, so, after all, we may be back to a four-dog family in the not-too-distant future anyway.

But if I had my wish, there would be a loving home for every dog… until there is, we will take in whomever the Creator sends us, sharing our blessings.


In crafting news, I am this close to finishing up my Drops blue alpaca lace shawl… just on the final rows. I started a Koigu “mindless” sock for traveling-to-fishing-holes knitting, and I hope to do some sewing this week before Saturday’s MaryJane’s Farmgirls meeting, where everyone will ask me if I’ve made any progress on my current stitching project (not yet, and it’s already been three weeks since our last meeting!)

I’ve seen a cute sewing pattern made up on this blog, and I purchased a copy here. The construction looks super easy, and I think it will be a neat use for some of my Tanya Whelan/Free Spirit or 3 Sisters/Moda girly-girl, flower fabrics.

Have a wonderful day!

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This Week In Farming

Busy, busy week at Tuppinz Farm. Here are some of the highlights…

The sheep and goats were finally shorn! They are so relieved to be nekkid, as the days are starting to get very warm. That’s “Fontina” (whom we call “Caribou” for obvious reasons) in the foreground. Need fleece? We have LOTS!

This year’s Largest Fleece award goes again to our Jacob ewe Montana. Jeff tells me the Shetland fleeces are again very nice and soft. I’m looking forward to keeping the two badger-faced Icelandics’ fleeces for my own use – they are identical in coloring so it will be nice to combine them and have enough matching wool for a big project.

I would have preferred that shearing not take place on the same day the farrier and vet were scheduled to attend to the donkeys, but on a farm, you have to roll with the punches. Farriers, farm vets, and sheep shearers are not as easy to coordinate as the business projects I was used to in my “former life”. There simply is no option to have a “Type A” personality on a farm.

Poor Michelle had to have her shearing appointment on a day when she couldn’t even be home! I hear her wether’s fleece is really nice…

Potatoes are up and growing nicely. We’re using this method.

My crazy junk garden is also doing well.

I tried to make raised beds using only materials I could scrounge up around here. I decorated with rusty bits of metal that were found on the property.

I’m growing lettuces, hot peppers, tomatoes, scallions, cucumbers, basil, cilantrol, parsley, three pumpkins, and sunflowers. We had lots and lots of rain this past week and the plants loved it.

We moved about 100 iris plants from the area that became the veggie garden, and popped them in the beds in front of the house. Several of them flowered despite this insult. We have planted echinacea I started from seed, as well as rudbeckia, in one bed, and roses in the other; next year it should be very pretty – all purple and yellow.

Little goats are growing like weeds, too. Here are sisters Elfine and Daisy May, almost all grown up (but still very tiny!)

The purchased Golden Laced Wyandotte chicks have their wing feathers now. Soon they will no longer need a heat lamp. They enjoy the thinnings from the veggie garden – feeding them teaches the chicks to eat greens (which they won’t learn without parents to raise them) and it gets some good vitamins into them.

We had a lovely Wyandotte hen go broody. Unfortunately, before we realized she was nesting, we gathered the eggs she was laying each day for the refrigerator. We then noticed that she – and she alone – was hanging around with our single Golden Laced Wyandotte rooster… the two chickens we most hoped would reproduce. Hobby Farm Mistake #1027 – when the chickens you want to breed actually do, let the eggs turn into chicks!

So as not to waste her broodiness, we collected two days’ worth of eggs which will hopefully become mixed-breed chicks, and stuck them under her. She accepted them readily. Hobby Farm Mistake #1028 – when you have a hen that is broody and you want to hatch out chicks, consider the fact that she is nesting in front of hay bales you will need to access in the next month – not the best choice of locations for anyone involved.

Last Saturday, we went to the farmers market in Eau Claire, at Phoenix Park. It was raining and quite cold, but we had a great time. On our walk back, I saw this Labyrinth in the park – what a neat thing!

On the way home, we stopped at a couple of places to fish for a little bit. Did I mention it was rainy and cold? The only trophy was an ugly thing I caught called a river chub, which went gently right back into the water. We gave up on a fish dinner and went to Tep’s Drive-In in Augusta, for their amazing garlic fries. Got to love a place with carhops – especially in an Amish village.

I ended up the week with a meeting of my MaryJane’s Farmgirls group yesterday. We met at Dee Dee’s Diner in Northfield and had a great time chatting and knitting and sharing pictures.


Dianne, Kayley, Dawn, Michelle

We meet on the second Saturday of each month to just hang out and do whatever… we talk about animals, crafts, gardening, and end up laughing. One doesn’t have to be a “real” farmgirl to join; as MaryJane Butters says, “‘Farmgirl’ is a condition of the heart.” We’re just a bunch of gals out to learn new things and meet new friends.

The weather has turned glorious. First hay cutting this week. Crickets, junebugs, and moths abound (one notices this when one takes up fly fishing…) Baby squirrels exploring their world. The glow of light as the sun begins to cross the horizon is more amazing each and every evening. What a wonderful time of year.

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Out and About

Delilah is doing so well that she has re-joined her herd!


Dexter and the Tulip Family (Samson, Mama Tulip, Delilah)

She’s been out to graze with her family, and now everyone’s back in the loafing area, chewing their cuds and soaking up the sun.


Pippin on platform; Delilah on far lower right.

That one above is worth bigifying to see Pippin’s yawn.

I am amazed at Delilah’s resilience and strength… and tolerance of us sticking her with needles twice a day. She gets a chewable Vitamin C as a reward (and to give her stressed immune system a boost).

Go, Delilah!

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New Beginnings

This year’s batch of baby Golden Laced Wyandotte chicks arrived today!

Of course we play classical music in the chicken coop… doesn’t everyone?


Hope this makes you smile today!

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She’s A Witch!

No, not Ysoldashe is perfectly charming! Although we got to YDK too late to join in the weekly Knit Night, we were able to tag along as Dixie and her gang took Ysolda to The Livery for snacks and drinks afterward. We ordered up a plate of smelt for Ysolda to try, because you can’t come to Wisconsin and not eat smelt, right? She gamely tried them and even took a couple more on her own.

No, I refer instead to our poor dear Delilah, who is recovering well from her surgery yesterday.

You can click the pic below if you have an interest in seeing the actual surgical amputation site (clean, but not for the meek).

Dr. Bender in Whitehall did an excellent job. We are truly grateful that we can always rely on him. Delilah was feeling so much better after the operation that she attempted to gallop out to pasture with her herdmates! No more “dead weight” (ugh) holding her down and making her wobbly.

“Whoa, there, Nellie, you’re supposed to be in recovery in the box stall for three days!” We finally caught our girl (a little loopy on the pain medications she’ll be on for a while) and convinced her that there were fresh dandelions aplenty – along with hay, mineral, kelp, and a cool bucket of water – waiting for her in her private chamber. She’s enjoying her pampering and the hand-picked weeds being delivered to her door. Her appetite is very good, which is a great sign.

Thank goodness Dr. Bourdon had come out as soon as we noticed Delilah limping. He got her on penicillin therapy right away, so that we were able to halt the progression of the disease through the tissue as quickly as possible, saving Delilah’s life! Again, we are so blessed to have yet another good on-farm goat doctor – they are really few and far-between.


Delilah Just After Birth


Baby Samson and Delilah


Delilah and Samson, One Day Old


Mama Tulip, Baby Delilah, Jeff

After consulting three vets and doing research on our own, Jeff and I were still stumped about what caused Delilah’s leg to go bad. There was no sign of injury in a fence or by another animal; the illness didn’t present correctly for “blackleg” (a tetanus-type infection); and everyone was scratching their heads as to what caused the blood clot that destroyed her leg with no warning… until Dr. Bender mentioned something to Jeff.

“I’ve never seen it in practice, but I remember studying it in vet school – ergot.”

“You mean like rye and witches?” asked Jeff.

That’s exactly what he meant (and if you are Dianne RJ, you get bonus points for knowing what I was talking about when I ran into you today!) But for everyone else, I will “‘splain, Lucy”…


Samson and Delilah at Two Months, with Mama Tulip


Baby Samson and Delilah, nibbling on my scarf.

Remember the Salem Witch Trials? And how young girls were murdered for “being witches” – having tremors, being possessed, seeing visions, going spastic? One theory which explains their behavior is that they had ergot poisoning. Though I see on Wiki that that’s disputed, what isn’t is the effects of ergot poisoning on animals.


Delilah at Three Months

We won’t ever know the source (pasture, hay, grain, oat straw used for bedding), but thanks to Dr. Bender’s recollection we were able to look it up in our copy of The Merck Veterinary Manual (thanks forever for that, Pamela! We use it ALL the time!), confirm Delilah’s symptoms and progression, and solve our little mystery.


Samson, Delilah, Mama Tulip

I guess if something completely odd and out of the ordinary will happen, it’s going to happen at Tuppinz Farm.


In other farm news, due to the ground being litterally covered with fledgling birds, barn cat Barley is being held prisoner in the house (confined due to his penchant for beating the crap out of the other cats). He’ll remain indoors until the birdlings can actually fly on their own. The chickens are quite amused by all the little ones and seem to think they are baby chicks that they are supposed to guard.


Baby Blackbird with Sumatran Rooster

Animals are just so… odd.

Have a great day! I get to sit and knit with Ysolda at Michelle’s tonight!!

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