October 15, 2012

Our new babies...PONY type...come on people!

As most of you recall, we purchased a young POA mare this summer, Ms. B....my original intent was to train her up to be Randi's pony next year...as fate would have it, that plan didn't pan out....instead, Randi got a more suitable POA and mommy gets to have fun with Ms. B for a couple more years....

after which I hope she goes to Sophie or CJ...well, turns out I like this little mare so much that I decided to bring home her full sibling, Rusty....he was born just this year! He's a project of sorts to see if he turns out anything like his big sis...which would be a very good thing...would have ponies for both the punks covered in that case! We'll see...stay tuned for more as he grows and matures into a fun family show pony...

As luck would have it, my dear sister-in-law lives just down the road from Ms. B and Rusty's breeder and agreed to send us a yearling miniature mare for the punks to play with while their bigger ponies grow up..."Raindrop" is a complete doll, and has endeared herself very quickly to all the kids...Randi hopes to help teach her how to drive and do in-hand trail obstacles in the next couple years....she's already gotten started!

Happy Trails...

October 14, 2012

Randi's new 'Pal'...

We did it! Our year long search for a pony for Randi has ended...ironically, it ended exactly where we started a year ago - with Pal! Pal was the first pony we tried as we kicked off our search for her perfect match....alas, the time and circumstances just weren't right to make the deal....so we kept looking, and kept trying, and ultimately kept SPENDING money on ponies that were not working out....imagine my surprise when I contacted Pal's owner, certain he would have sold by now, only to find out that he was still available, and they wanted us to come get him right away!!! All good things in time...it turns out he had sold, but that sale did not go thru when the buyer ended up getting cold feet a few weeks after getting him home....I have to believe fate played a large part in this whole experience, because WE COULD NOT BE HAPPIER WITH PAL! See for yourself...

When she isn't paying attention, Sophie and I take him for a spin too ;)

Consider Randi's pony plate FULL...he has the knowledge and experience to be anything she ever needs...he has a forever home with us! Stay tuned as they learn to work together in preparation for the 2012 POAC show season as well as enjoy some good ole' trail rides and parade fun too!

Happy Trails,

October 08, 2012

An EGG-ceptionally EGG-citing Idea!!!

When proposing the idea of keeping chickens to my husband, the response is generally one of stifled laughter and then a look of "huh.. that might work"...ahh the romance and security of our own fabulous chicken flock! There are so many benefits of having a flock of our very own chickens...
  • Fresh, organic multi-colored eggs...eggs from home-raised chickens are so so much better tasting that the starch white eggs in the grocery store (in my opinion);
  • Soft sound of cluck, cluck, clucking;
  • Children scattering chicken feed;
  • .....
But wait... I need to be realistic... and focused. I needed to decide what would best meet the needs of my family.
  • Two adults and three rapidly growing children.
  • Where would I keep them?
  • How will I choose them?
  • How many do I get?
  • What will I feed them?
  • How will I deal with jealous friends and family?
Somewhere in it all I know there will also be chicken poop...lots of chicken poop...glorious chicken poop! It's like magical growing solution for your garden!
Sooooooooooo, I sat down and decided that I wouldn't be tempted by the cute little peeps from soft adorable chicks.. I would instead sit down and write down all the goals for my flock. Ahhhh, who am I kidding? I bought the first pair of chickens I fell in love with at a Chicken Swap in the Tractor Supply parking lot...No, I wasn't even going there for the event....fate had me in her grasp, and I couldn't break free...so this lovely pair of Lavendar Orpingtons became mine...and ours....and we could not be happier!
THEN I sat down and generated some goals for our new and growing flock:
  • Good & steady egg production
  • A non-agressive flock
  • Pretty... yes I said it.. Pretty.
With my goals in hand I had to find out what chickens would be productive enough to meet egg consumption of a family of five. I figure we eat about 10-12 medium eggs a week. Then I narrowed it down to the breeds that work best at being good/steady producers and do well in the Virginia climate.
Here's the list I came up with...
ORPINGTON- Lo and Behold my impulse purchase proved to be a great one...as usual....when will my husband come to terms with my ever so accurate and productive whims?? They are revered for their excellent egg laying abilities and good quality meat...although we don't intend on eating our girls, it's good to be prepared in the event of a zombie apocalypse and imminent shutdown of food processing establishments....just sayin'!

PROS: 4-5 Large brown eggs a week year round! These girls got work ethic! Not prone to try to fly away. Friendly. Easily Tamed. Great mothers (inportant for the sustainment of our flock)....and PRETTY! They come in a variety of colors...

CONS: None that I can find!

AUSTRALORP- Not the Marylin Monroe of chickens, but friendly, sweet and can produce more eggs than a Duggar. Australorps are the Australian take on the Orpington breed.
PROS: 4-5 Large brown eggs a week at a steady pace. Not prone to try to fly away. Can produce eggs even into the winter. Friendly. Docile.
CONS: Not so pretty and I worry that the chicken might know I'm only using her for her eggs.

EASTER EGGER- Many hatcheries will sell Easter Egger chickens and call them different names (Ameraucana, Americana). I think maybe some believe they will sell better with a schmancier name.
PROS: 4-5 Large pastel colored eggs a week. Good natured, friendly. Not prone to try to fly. Hens come in a variety of colors and usually with a cute soft ear and chin muff of feathers.
CONS: None chicken wise.. but while they are prettier than the Australorp they sit in the seats to watch the Silver Laced Wyandotte runway show.

SILVER LACED WYANDOTTE-Most popular and in most demand for a reason. They are just plain gorgeous birds. I picked the silver laced variety but they also come in Red and blue laced and white.
PROS: 3-4 eggs medium sized eggs a week. Good natured, friendly.. but most of all.. pretty, pretty, pretty.
CONS: The other hens may resent her for being so pretty AND not producing as many eggs.

In addition to my spontaneous impulse trip to the local Tractor Supply where I ultimately and unwittingly purchased a wonderful pair to start our egg laying family, I found the following sites really helpful in making my choices:

Many hatcheries and websites that sell chickens/chicks require that you purchase at least 15-25 chicks at a time and the shipping fees are almost always $35-$50. So getting them locally is a big plus. I have found craigslist to be very helpful in identifying local sellers...I will be picking up the rest of my little flock soon...

Looking forward to this adventure...stay tuned as our fowl family flourishes!