Friday, March 10, 2017

baby pix

It's odd how they all look so different but are all supposed to be Ameracaunas. I hope they all still look different when they grow up! Then they can have real names instead of Bandit I and Bandit II  :)
One (or some?) keep finding new ways to get out of the barn, then crying piteously to get back with sisters and mama. I hope the rest of the flock doesn't hurt them if they keep getting out to explore!

The yellow baby I have named Alexa, so far the others are Bandit and Smudger (I and II).

Sunday, March 5, 2017


I had a broody hen for over a week, she was very devoted to the idea. So I bought 5 Ameracauna chicks (colored eggs in fall! yippee!) from the feed store and slipped a couple under her wings each night. She adopted them without a murmur and seems quite proud of herself ROFL! They are so adorable, even more so when I don't have to stress out about if they are warm enough or is that heat lamp gonna fall....

Sunday, December 4, 2016


A drizzly, joyous day last week! We have been having drought for finally, this rain is a serious blessing, especially for the wildfires raging out of control in the region. Also, most of Gatlinburg burnt to the ground (except for the main street, which is ironic because that was the ugliest part). A sad night for thousands.

People may have been happy about the rain, but the donkeys weren't:

They do have a barn to go in, and in fact today (more rain) I fed them the ration balancer left over from Angel's stint with her poor baby before she died and then I tossed a bale of hay down into the stall where they can freely come and go. They munched for a while and enjoyed dry hay, as opposed to the now wet round hay bale in the field. I guess I need to build something to keep the round bales out of the elements in the future. Right now they are just covered with a tarp, to the left on this picture: 

So glad to see everything drinking up the water. I hope we don't lose the berry bushes, strawberry plants, garlic, rubarb, and any trees....I'm pretty sure the Jerusalem Artichokes didn't make it, but I'm leaving the tubers (whatever might be left) in the ground, hoping they will grow next year. Same with the berry bushes. You never know!

Monday, November 28, 2016

School stuff, but fascinating...

This is mostly a test ;) I want to see if this actually DOES embed the powerpoint into the post, since there isn't an "embed" button on my blogger dashboard that I can see...

A presentation about prions, the structure (not actually a microbe, oddly) responsible for mad cow disease and other diseases:   Prions, A Presentation

Here is the readings for the slides:
I'm going to talk about prions today. First off, there isn't really a consensus in the pronunciation - some say prions and some say "pree-ons" so sorry if I confuse you!

Prions are a misfolded protein found on many cell membranes, particularly nervous system tissue. we aren't sure exactly what is usually does. The normal configuration is referred to as PrPc (cellular). The misfolded configuration PrPsc (scrapie) where the structure alters from alpha helices into beta sheets that pack tightly together into amyeloid aggregates that disrupt the cell function and interfere with tissue function. The ends of the aggregates are fibrils, which contact adjoining prion proteins and trigger this post-translational rearrangement and add them to the aggregate.

Prion-based diseases are not curable and are fatal. Because of the affinity of the prion protein for neural tissue, the diseases are all neurodegenerative. Scrapie has been the bane of livestock farmers since at least the 1700’s, all they really knew was that it was incredibly infectious. Transmissible spongiform encephalopathy, or TSE, also known as mad cow disease, emerged in the 1980’s in Great Britain, where some infected sheep parts were rendered into cattle meal which infected the cows, and when the beef was eaten, it then infected people and eventually was strongly linked to sudden increased emergence of the variant Cruetzfeldt-Jakob disease. Chronic wasting disease, CWD, is the disease affecting
the cervid family – deer, moose, and elk. This was my research focus. There are also other prion based diseases.

CWD was first identified in Colorado in 1967 but now is found in 23 states and Canada, in
wild populations and deer farms. Like other prion-based diseases, CWD has an incubation
 time after infection from 18 months to over 20 years. During this phase, the deer may display muscle wasting, excessive salivation, and weight loss. Near the end, the acute clinical phase develops, asts around 2-6 months and includes hyper-excitibility, abnormal behavior, loss of bodily functions, and eventually death.

Transmission - Only cells that can express the PrP protein can become infected. Researchers have studied transmission routes. Plant leaves can become infected from direct contact with prions or plant root uptake from infected soil. After infection, even before the onset of the acute clinical phase, the deer shed infectious prion particles into the environment. Once death occurs, the body contains a large volume of infectious prions that can be carried to water sources via runoff, or contaminate the soil when the body decomposes. Contaminated water can also come from slaughtering facilities. Ecto-parasites such as certain fly larvae and mites can transmit prions from one species to another.
Holcomb et al, 2016, used computer modeling to determine the volume of shedding from infection until death from saliva, urine, and feces. it predicted that one lethal dose around 9 months post-infection increased drastically by 15 months, to over 10 lethal doses.

Prions are notoriously difficult to eradicate from surfaces or to disinfect tissue. The prion in tissue has found to still be viable at 600 degrees Celsius. And of course, removing plants, soil, water, and ecto-parasites from infected pasture, fields, or forests is almost impossible. The World Health Organization recommendations from 1997 only include “Variable or partially effective” methods. I assume if they had better suggestions, they would have updated this information.

But, there are researchers investigating prion treatments. Ding and his associates have done many ozone treatment studies. Because prions will bind to solid organic particles in water, gravity separation to remove these from wastewater, followed by ozone treatment, can neutralize the water to a safe level.  Marciniuk is investigating the possibility of developing vaccines for protein aggregate diseases and others that may be similar, including Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s, and Parkinson’s diseases. There are some challenges involved but they are hoping to use the misfolded protein as an antigen. Hou’s research that our immune system uses infectious aggregates very similar to prion-caused aggregates suggest that this kind of infectious protein may be more common in the natural world than we realize.

I would like to raise deer on my farm, that is why I wanted to research this disease, and there are some risks. Unknowingly buying infected breeding stock has the potential to transmit prions via ectoparasites to other animals on my farm or to nearby farms. If contaminated, the pastures would be unusable for any animals raised for consumption (by humans or other animals) for an unknown length of time. Another would be the possible contamination of slaughterhouse facilities and its wastewater, and inability to safely decontaminate them. And, disposal of bodies after death and loss of investment money.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

hawk deterrant

I must protect the chickens! I've lost 2 to a brass balled hawk already! Although one he didn't get to eat, as I frightened him off.

Surprisingly he looked a tad bit smaller than my chickens. He's only eaten the smaller ones, so hopefully my big ones are safe. So I made a scarecrow of myself LOL!

And my boyfriend bought an owl statue, which freaks out my dogs! One in particular barks incessantly at it, good thing the owl will be living in the pasture, not the dog yard :)

and this morning was just beautiful, although my camera doesn't do it justice: 

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Egg hunt

Finally! A huge pile of eggs from under the kiddie swimming pool propped up against the wall of the barn....

With daily checking, the piles are much smaller. And more edible. 

Some are even being deposited IN the coop:  

No, not the top left...that's a fake egg. You mean you can't see the ones I talking about? let's get closer, then: 

Still don't see them? Let me lie down on the straw and streeeeeeetch: 

Sometimes there are 3 or 4 in this hard to reach nest! Stinkers! ;)

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Donkeys and a few chicken stories

Just because I love to look at them! Although it's surprisingly tough to get good donkey photos - almost as hard as getting good dog photos!

And Nina, my very favorite hen. She runs right up to me, talking to me in soft little clucks. She is also an odd one - for days now she sat on a nest in the barn, even at night a few times. I finally carried her down to the small coop, with her fake egg and the other egg (somebody else's egg!) and put them all in a nesting box. She chirped and squawked and ran off into the woods. Next day, she was sitting on the (now empty) nest again. CRAZY BIRD!!

And then there was Georgy Porgy, who began to tend towards some rather violent domestic abuse, cornering and then viciously pecking at hens who were not interested in sex. He tore the entire scalp off one; I had to put her down. I didn't see a chance of that healing up without infection in a barnyard, even assuming I could sew it up. The bones of her lower jaw were exposed and everything. It was gruesome. I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt, wondered if it was an accident. Apparently, chickens have skin that easily tears. But I was out there a few days later when he was going after another one who had gotten herself stuck in a thicket. I hate to interfere in interactions of other species, and she was hard to get to in the brush. he finally pecked her unnecessarily quite a few times on the head and stalked off. I hauled her out, praying she wasn't dead. Or massively injured. Her comb was torn in two, she had lost a LOT of feathers on the back of her head, and she had some lesions through the skin right there, too, but the skin was primarily intact, so I let her go. And pondered what to do with George. 

I manged to sneak up on him later (all that nonconfrontational nearness paid off!) and snatched him up and threw him (literally) into the small coop, to protect the others, while I decided long term plans. His gorgeous coloring made him a lovely candidate for making babies - and some of the hens didn't mind him mounting. So after a week, I put a few hens in with him who I've seen he breed with in the past without difficulty. Unfortunately, it seems he liked being violent and mean, as he went after one of those hens, too. In the ensuing ruckus, the first hen escaped, terrified. I hauled him off the second hen before she was injured, and flopped him around by the feet for a while until she left the coop. So, the end of the story is that now I have just one rooster, Goldy Roo, who so far is quite a darling although wow he is huge! Photo coming soon, with a comparison hen near by.