Monday, July 27, 2009

HartSong Ranch ~ Hurray for The Dusty Divider's

The Dusty Divider’s 4-H Club paid a visit to HartSong on Saturday, January 31st, volunteering their time to help us out with some of the never ending project’s around the ranch. How cool is that!!! I’m certain a great day was had by all, even tho most of the time was spent moving ”something” from one spot to another. Armed with manure and pitch forks, the Dusty Divider’s spent the morning hours moving poop…a whole bunch of poop…from numerous pastures surrounding the old barn, all the way back to the manure pile(10 cows and 9 horses create an awful lot of patties and apples!!!). Ahhh!!!…such is life amongst the animals. Then, off to move “a whole bunch of big rocks” piled up by the caretakers cabin, all the way down to the dam on the south side of the pond. Hard work makes for big appetites…finally, lunch time! Then…you guessed it! Off to move “a whole bunch of downed branches” from the west side of the pond all the way over to the burn pile. Ahhh!!!…ranch life.

The day was also filled with laughter and lots of giggles. Some of HartSong’s residents had an adventurous time, as well. Chickita, the blind chicken, Lacey, the blind goat and her brother Nigel, all joined us on the east side of the property. Chickita(she’s one smart chicken) hitched a ride on the shoulders of Brandon Biersteker while Lacey and Nigel followed along.
The Biale family, however, provided the animal highlight of the day.

Showgirl Chickens~ZaZa & Obama

They brought along and introduced us to ZaZa and Obama, Showgirl Chickens, which are crosses between Silkes and Naked Necks. These very special chicks have black skin, featherless necks and five toes(most chickens have 4 toes). Incredibly cute! I want one…maybe two…OK, maybe three!

“I’m so pretty, I’m so pretty…”

Around 3 o’clock, we started to wrap things up for the day and said our good-byes to the Dusty Divider’s. What a great group of hard working, young people. Lily, Rachael, Natalia, Simone and all the parents…thank you for giving so generously of yourselves to HartSong. How wonderfully rewarding to spend the day in the presence of young people that make such a difference in their community. Awesome Job!!!

Chickita Cruisin’
At days’ end, Nigel, Lacey and sweet Chickita somehow managed to finagle a ride in the truck back to the west barn. Chickita made the entire trip roosted on the doorframe of Big Blue…and some people think animals are stupid…go figure!!!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

HartSong Ranch ~ More Than Blind Horses

Most folks know HartSong as a facility that offers permanent sanctuary to blind horses, but we also offer sanctuary to many other barnyard critters.

Lacey, the little blind goat

Lacey is a 2 year old Nigerian Dwarf goat. Born blind, she came to live at HartSong at 8 months of age. Oh, how we worried about her at first…how would she get around?…would she fall into the canal?…would she get lost? Well, have no fear for her brother and designated tour guide, Nigel, is here too!!! Most days Lacey can be found lounging in the pastures with our merry band of blind horses, but every now and then, she gets what we call “the goots”, just a- flippin’ and a-hoppin’ and a-springin’ all over the place. And all the while, she never bumps into anything! She is the happiest, little goat!!!

Spumoni, the beak-less chicken

Here you have it folks, a real life “chicken with lips”. Sweet Spumoni was the victim of a brutal dog attack. The pooch literally chewed her beak off. Unable to fend for herself, Spumoni was welcomed to the sanctuary in March of 2009. The good news, with proper care and a nutritous diet, her beak will grow back. But this is going to take some time. Maybe as much as a year. In all other regards, Spumoni is a normal, run-of-the-mill chicken. She struts around the barnyard everyday with her chicken buddy ”Flour”, takes dust baths and even lays eggs. For the moment, however, she has difficulty feeding herself(throw down 10 grapes and she might be able to gobble up 3). So, twice a day, we help her along by hand feeding her a mash of blended lentils, cheese, split peas and believe it or not, one raw egg, which she herself, graciously provides. Slowly but surely, her new beak is starting to grow. “Well, I’ll be darned”. Such a fascinating little bird.

Red, 1 minute old

Red was the first baby born at HartSong. 24 hours after his birth, we found him lying alone at the bottom of a ravine, barely alive. His mother, Jezabelle, developed mastitis, a painful infection of the udder that riddled her milk with bacteria. We hauled Red up to the barn, put him in a nice bed of soft shavings and called the vet. “Feed him” the vet said, and that’s exactly what we did, for 8 long months. At first, 4 bottles per day for two months, then three bottles, then two, then one and finally, none. Red was not happy, to say the least.

Red, slurping down his formula

Weaning him off the bottle was no easy task. He wanted his bottle more than anything in the whole wide world and would stand for hours in the barnyard Mooing and Mooing and Mooing…the most agonizing Moo you can imagine. We could hear him all over the ranch. “Where’s my milk”? “Why aren’t you feeding me”? Neighbor’s called with concerns and Jim and I found ourselves with a tremendous case of the guilts. Finally, after what seemed like forever, he gave up and accepted his fate to spend his days grazing in the pastures along side his mother and other cow companions.

Sweet, mischievous Red, all grown up

Today Red is a happy, emotionally balanced cow, one of HartSong’s nine organic lawnmowers, helping to keep our pastures clean, manicured and of course, very well fertilized. He is also a friend. A kind, sweet and gentle friend who just so happens to have a very mischievous personality. Whom ever coined the phrase, “curiosity of a cat”, never met Red!
We love that about him!!!