Unique Creations by Shari Denise

From Writing to Chickens with lots in-between, Creativity Abounds!

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Brave Little White Cloud

Little White CloudLittle White Cloud has proven her bravery before. You may have remembered her from last spring when her gentle but independent personality began to emerge (Read about that here). You will see her little white dot of a body stepping the beat of her own little drum in many of the photos I post around Cackleberry Lane.

Little White Cloud is so independent that she prefers not to roost with the rest of the flock. She hops up onto her perch in the eave of the rafters inside the Cackleberry Inn. Little White Cloud, to say the least, has a lone heart. She cares nothing about visiting with the rest of the flock. She avoids them as much as possible but when necessary, should one of the other hens decide to pick on her, she stands her ground. She is indeed not a bully, but she will not tolerate BEING bullied either. As I watch this tiny life go about her normal day I find myself admiring her self-governing attitude. As independent as she is, one might find it unbelievable that she eagerly allows me to pick her up and stroke her soft feathered body. She is indeed an amazing addition to the critters around here.

Last evening when it was time to feed the Coffee Cats, I opened their usual cans of gravy coated shreds. I couldn’t help but find myself clicking on my phone video camera when I saw who had decided to dine with them. Of course, Roxi and Ivy were nearby as well and Roxi even offered to narrate the video that I filmed.

Keep in mind that the five Coffee Cats are mousers. DAILY we find the trophies they leave at our back door. Mice, moles, rats, weasels, and BIRDS!! To be honest, I held my breath as I videoed because I knew how successful these cats are with their daily hunts. I have never seen any aggression towards the chickens from any of the Coffee Cats but, just knowing that the birds they hunt and kill are not much different in size than Little White Cloud, it indeed makes me pause with concern.

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Gardening, Tis The Season…

IMG_5149Busy Days have filled my world lately. The sunshine is beautiful and the temperatures near perfect. It’s May and the season for gardening is here. From enjoying perennial flowers that make their way into a fabulous array of beauty, to planting the annuals that we must work harder to enjoy each year.  It’s been a busy month already! Roxi & Ivy are always curious to find out what is going to be the activity for the day. When I’m in the yard, they are content as long as they see me. Once I slip out of their view, EVERYBODY knows I’ve left their eyesight for their cries for me to come back are constant until I return.

IMG_5146After the long, cold winter we just had it is so refreshing that Spring is finally here and in full swing. Grass is growing, as well as WEEDS!! Since Roxi & Ivy love weeds better than grass, I want to stick them here and there and everywhere I see a little patch of weeds!

RoxiIvyMorningAs you may have seen in prior posts, I have different pens for different needs concerning my two little pygmy goats. Their “bedroom” (of which they are standing in the doorway of in the above photo) is their main stay. It is their safe place, located in the back of the Cackleberry Inn chicken house. A hanging dining table that holds a bale of hay keeps constant food available, especially when a couple of rainy, stormy days keeps them there more than out in one of their other pens.

IMG_5174Roxi & Ivy love to romp and play. so, they have their own play pen. I constructed it out of PVC pipe and wire. Their “mobile home” as well as their toys of barrels and crates keep them entertained. You will find my snapshots with this “corral” in several locations around the yard. I usually move it a few inches at a time, maneuvering it along easily. Roxi & Ivy have come to be very content in the corral and feel that is “their’ space. They LOVE to observe activity on the farm from their blue barrels!

IMG_4622With weeds popping up here and there and everywhere, and with Roxi & Ivy loving them so much, I wanted a way to move them around to little patches of weeds easier than in the corral. I mean let’s face it, the corral is for the large parts of the yard. So, the Weedeater’s Cube was created. Yes, they enjoy having free reign within the little cube and the bonnet gives them brief relief from the sun or a mid-day shower.

IMG_4886Our wood pile is always full of grass and weeds. They tend to find an easy place to grow around and through the chunks of wood. I built a temporary fence around the pile and let the girls have it. Their delight! Also, since they, as goats, are a cousin to deer, they need nutrition that they find in twigs, bark, and wooded leaves. The wood pile is one of their fun places since they can jump and climb all over the logs.

IMG_5148Lately I’ve been enjoying some time in the yard, cleaning out flower beds and pulling weeds. Sometimes, I’ll tie the girls to the area I’m working in and let them help me clean out the weeds. As I pull weeds and they pull weeds, I wondered if they think I, too eat the green leafy plants, or if they wonder why I DON’T eat such luscious greens. 🙂

IMG_4699Incorporating herbs into the lives of my goats and poultry has become rather important to me. I want to take as any measures for their health as I can. The more I read, the more I learn and become more fascinated in the benefits of herbs. Poultry and Goats both really benefit from adding fresh herbs like garlic and oregano into their diet. So, I planted lavender, oregano, basil, rosemary, sage and lemon balm around the Cackleberry Inn. I also created the Climb & Dine which puts a vertical twist to offering herbs to my little flocks day.

We love home grown tomatoes. a few years ago I began canning tomatoes and it’s a sad day when I go to my pantry and there’s no canned tomatoes to cook with. We also like a jalapeño relish I began making and canning a while back. The pantry bounty has about run out so, growing tomatoes and peppers are a priority for us this year. Then I learned about companion planting. How one plant assists another if planted near each other. Well, how cool!! Roses love garlic (who knew?!)

As I continued nestling plants and seedlings into soil, I came across a great idea on Pinterest. I now call it my Italian basket. An upside down tomato in the bottom with Italian herbs on top. italian.herb.baskets

Rest assured the tomato plants look tiny and weird hanging upside down, but let’s give the little things a chance in their new environment.  Now, the rest of my “Crop” is strategically placed within our old Mercury garden. It is surrounded by old tires which are awesome “homes” for plants since the tires hold water like a well during dry times. Originally, this area was the chicken lot to the old chicken house. Then it became the Mercury garden. As my love of chickens was renewed, I fenced it in again for chickens, using the old Mercury as a shelter. Later, I used this area as a place to keep Roxi & Ivy. Now, the fencing has come down, Roxi & Ivy helped me remove the weeds, and now tomatoes, peppers and herbs adorned this little garden.

My Blackberry bushes are planted just to the side of this vintage garden. My blackberry bushes, *sigh… well, I got a little too excited about pruning a while back and I think I may have pruned too much. This did not kill my blackberries, however, we may not have much of a berry harvest this year. See, i’ve learned that Blackberries grow “canes” one year and then berries grow on those canes the next year. When pruning, one should only cut off old canes, and leave the new canes since they are the ones that will bare the fruit. Lesson learned a  bit to late for this season. However, in preparing for said new canes to grow (for possibly next year’s berries) I have started a wooden fence that would provide a strong resting place for the upcoming cane filled bushes. With the help of my fella and his grandsons posts were set properly with the intention of wooden rails to follow in the future. Well, this weekend the future became present. It was time to install the rails. Always eager to use my handy, dandy screw gun, I jumped to the challenge. In my excitement of getting the board positioned at the height I wanted it, and then assuring it was level, I incorporated the assistance of some old saw horses. As I stood back for a view of my handiwork, I suddenly realized, something was wrong. IMG_5203

Before panicking, I sighed and put my screw gun in reverse mode, removed the screws on one end of the board and released the saw horse from it’s captivity.  IMG_5204

As you can see in these photos, the reclaimed, rustic garden in the background is ready for sunshine and rain as it prepares to produce wonderful veggies and herbs to delight our taste buds.

Meanwhile, the Coffee Cats hang out with the chickens as they enjoy a perfect evening of free range pecking and scratching before it’s time to turn in to the roost for the evening. IMG_5171

No, not all mulching is done, not all garden grooming is complete, Roxi found a way out of the corral so it now must be reinforced, and we won’t even think of the chores that await inside the Cackleberry Inn, much less inside our own home. But today, all is calm and I love Spring.

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Climb & Dine Phase 2; SUCCESS!!

Climb & Dine Gutter Garden

Climb & Dine Gutter Garden

You may have read my earlier posts about the idea I had to incorporate Herbs and more activity options to the Cackleberry Inn Patio. With such wonderful, sturdy rafters I wanted to make use of the “dead space” above my little chickens heads. So, let’s go vertical! And we did. 🙂 Designing and then constructing a collection of wire shelves into stairs (phase 1), I gave more space and activity to my little flock of chickens and guineas. Next (phase 2) was to construct a salad bar for them to munch from. Hanging a Gutter Garden was the perfect solution.

Morning sunlight glistens on tender herbs growing in the Gutter Garden.

Morning sunlight glistens on tender herbs in the Gutter Garden.

Seedlings were started inside, then transplanted to the PVC gutter pipes, still remaining inside while threats of frost continued outdoors. Now it’s time to bring the Gutter Garden PVC pipes out for REAL Sunshine. My little herb seedlings are still small and tender but big enough to grow outside. It was exciting to actually hang the plant filled pipes from the sturdy rafter. Currently the plants are out of reach of the Cackleberry Flock, however, as the herbs grow and overflow, I will adjust the hanging chains for easier access from the “stairs” of the Climb & Dine.  I truly had the attention of all the birds as I hung the Gutter Garden. They observed with fascination.

IMG_4881Oh, and see that lemon balm in the flower bed below it? That’s there for a reason. Read more on why I planted lemon balm around the Cackleberry Inn.

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Climb & Dine phase 1; Success!

IMG_4563It’s just cool. No, it’s more than cool, it’s INCREDIBLE! I have dislikes, issues or problems and the wheels in my head start turning. Looking for a solution, looking for improvement. Then I gather the tools and items necessary for the project. Finally comes the moment to put the brain storm into action. I will admit, my physical ability runs short of the plan created in my head (in other words, I’m not too good at carpentry, plumbing, building, etc) but I sure have fun trying! For every idea that actually works, there’s a few that didn’t, or had to be revised, etc. So when something does work you can see why I get elated. Well, I came up with this idea for my little flock. Would it work? One never knows unless one tries. Well, this past weekend I completed phase 1 of a 2-phased project called the Cackleberry Climb & Dine. So, this afternoon I came home to find that indeed, Phase 1 is a success!! I love seeing one of my guineas enjoying a little climb today. Made me smile. 🙂  Click here for more about the Cackleberry Climb & Dine.

 

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Sunny Sunday

IMG_4548Well, it didn’t start out that way, the rain, the clouds, the gloom… but they have all move on out and the Sunshine moved in!

The Cackleberry Inn, with the mobile Cackleberry Corral resting next to it began a bit damp and wet, but as soon as the rain stopped….

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Out popped Roxi & Ivy! Yes, they were eager to get to work again today!IMG_4553 So, back in the weed eater box they went. As you can see, they made a great showing yesterday and the box had to be moved over. Won’t be long before they will be ready for it to be moved once again. They are so silly.

Now, over at the Cackleberry Inn, a new adventure has begun. The first phase of constructing the “Climb & Dine” has been completed. Come on over and have a look…. Cackleberry Climb & Dine.

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Excuse the Mess. My Critters are Making Memories

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Fun Day on the Lane.

IMG_4709Yesterday was such a fun day. Nothing special, nothing earth shaking, just a fun ordinary day. You know, the kind that you always dream of. A happy, and contented day of joy.
I started out by mixing a feed recipe that I found from Fresh Eggs Daily. She calls it the Breakfast of Champion Layers. Well, it appears it passed the taste test here on Cackleberry Lane. Looks like we will be adding this to our Breakfast Menu at the Cackleberry InnIMG_4246

I also set out a “Flock Block” (photo above) that I had picked up this week at Tractor Supply. Gives my little flock something to peck on with nutritional benefits.

IMG_4168Later, mid afternoon I shared a bit of a suet ring that I had made earlier this week. The Guineas LOVED it!!  And where did I get my recipe? You guessed it, Fresh Eggs Daily. I love that lady and her vital info about chickens!

IMG_4258As the Coffee Cats scampered around me with every step I took, I spent a bit of time socializing with the Cackleberry Kids. Roxi & Ivy are always a joy to be around. They never cease to make me giggle with their Kid Play.

I set my chair back up against the old Mercury that Roxi & Ivy enjoy using as a shelter. Immediately Ivy had to take a seat.IMG_4267 Then, as many times before, she just had to jump a bit higher.

It never ceases to amaze me how their little hooves can hang onto most any surface.

As they run and romp and jump and stomp, it is obvious they are contented and happy little goats.

TIMG_4266o end the day, I put them on their leashes and took them for a little walk around the farm, allowing them to nibble on whatever green stuff they might find here in this mid-winter season. Yes, here in Tennessee, even with ice and snow only days ago, there is green stuff still around to nibble on.

The evening continued the easy-going pace with roast from the crock pot and then some relaxing in our easy chairs soaking up the warmth and aroma of the crackling fire in the fireplace while watching a good movie.

Yes, it was a good day.

🙂

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GroundHog Day 2014

IMG_4201It’s Groundhog day. And the furry rodent has seen his shadow. Not happy about that. We’ve had enough winter already. It’s also Super Bowl day. Lots of activity about that.

Here on Cackleberry Lane, we are taking it in the slow lane. Tomorrow will bring the rat race once again and that will come way too soon.

My Guineas have refused to leave their suite since they arrived as little keets. Well, today I “encouraged” them to venture out to the patio area of the Cackleberry Inn. This was the first day Hitchcock (my hugh black rooster) has been around them except for seeing them through the chicken wire that separates their suites inside the Inn. I was rather proud of how sociable Hitchcock was. The Guineas handled their outing rather well even though they were a bit skittish. And of course, the Coffee Cats were always in and around all activity.

Here’s a taste of our Day. Come join us.

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Feed The Birds

Our below average winter temps are beginning to take a toll on all creatures big and small. I don’t heat the Cackleberry Inn. According to experts such as Tilley’s Nest and The Chicken Whisperer, our feathered friends handle cold temps much better than hot. Providing a insulated, draft-free home is what they need most. The Chicken Whisperer made a good point once. He said chickens are very much like the wild birds in our trees. We don’t see little heaters dotting the bird nests in the trees. Our feathered friends have a very cold-resistent coat that serves them well. Poultry falls in this same category. That said, our sweet feathered friends do need plenty of food which provides energy for their internal heat source. See, they generate their heat from within and their downy coat of feathers keeps the heat from escaping their bodies.

IMG_4114With this thought path, I decided I needed to not only make sure my Cackleberry Critters have plenty to eat, but the wild birds needed a bit of a treat as well. I decided on a Crystal Tea Cup Feeder and set out to make one. This was a fun and fast project and it now adorns the front of the Cackleberry Inn.

 

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Cackleberry Cold

As the temps drop and snowflakes fall, the Cackleberry Critters want to wish all of you a warm winter.