Entertaining Articles

  • 100 Miles in One Day in 100 Degree Temperatures

    Considered to be a “grueling mountain marathon for horses”, the Western States Trail Ride, or The Tevis Cup, is one of the most challenging 100-mile rides in the world.  The Ride started on July 20th at 5:15 a. m. at Robie Park near Lake Tahoe with the first place finisher arriving in Auburn, California at 10:12 pm, by way of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.   160 riders took off with the goal of trying to reach Auburn within 24 hours, but by late Saturday night, 68 riders had already been pulled from the ride.

    But that didn’t stop local riders Beverly Gray of Kamas and Sue Hedgecock from Park City and their horses from finishing in the Top 10 at the 2013 Tevis Cup last weekend.  The duo successfully completed approximately 17,000 feet of climbs and 21,000 feet of descents in temperatures soaring above 100 degrees.  The high temperatures were considered a factor in the 47% completion rate; only 75 of 160 horses completed within the allowed 24 hours and vetted out completely sound.
    And less than five hours after the event ended, veterinarians evaluated the top ten equine finishers to select the winner of the Haggin Cup, which recognizes the horse found to be “in the most superior physical condition.”  The veterinarians presented this year's award to LZP Julios Last Chance, a 12-year-old gray Arabian gelding ridden by Park City’s own Suzanne Hedgecock; the pair completed the ride at 12:11 a.m. on July 21.

    Rusty Toth and Take A Break, an 8-year-old chestnut Arabian gelding, crossed the finish line first late on July 20 to win the 58th running of the Tevis Cup.

    “It was a fantastic race. My worry was the heat, 112+ in the canyons, said Bev Gray.  “Jolly Sickle did exceptional!”  Congratulations to Sue and Julio being awarded the Haggin Cup.  The Haggin Cup is a unique and special experience.  To be a part of the evaluation is a gift that I will cherish for my lifetime and have an equine companion that can offer me the gift of the experience.  I am humbled daily!!!!

    Rank Rider Rider # Checkpoint Time
    1 Toth, Rusty 4 Finish Line - IN 10:12PM
    2 Waitte, Jennifer 90 Finish Line - IN 10:29PM
    3 Smith, Jenni 89 Finish Line - IN 10:29PM
    4 Schork, Christoph 88 Finish Line - IN 10:46PM
    5 Myers, Kevin 3 Finish Line - IN 10:58PM
    6 Donley, Karen 35 Finish Line - IN 11:21PM
    7 Schuerman, Mark 115 Finish Line - IN 11:50PM
    8 Hedgecock, Suzanne 87 Finish Line - IN 12:11AM
    9 Gray, Beverly 170 Finish Line - IN 12:27AM
    10 Barnett, Ann Marie 64 Finish Line - IN 12:45AM

    Founded on a bet in 1955 by one of Auburn's prominent citizens, Wendell T. Robie, modern-day endurance riding began with what now is called the "TEVIS CUP." He is quoted as saying “A lump in my throat and on bended knee in gratitude to my equine with wings!!!!!

    Today there are hundreds of endurance riding events throughout the nation and in many countries overseas that are based upon the methods and standards originally established by this event.
    More on the Tevis Cup at www.teviscup.org

  • 10 Tips for Healthier Chickens

    Written By Kathy Shea Mormino, The Chicken Chick®

    All backyard chicken-keepers have an interest in keeping their pet chickens healthy and happy and making minor adjustments to various aspects of their care can have a significant impact on their health and longevity. There are a number of small steps that can be taken to promote the health of backyard chickens.

    1. Provide the correct feed: http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/11/feeding-chickens-at-different-ages.html
    As basic as it sounds, chickens must be fed properly to perform optimally and to be healthy. Even though our great grandparents may have fed their flocks cracked corn or scratch, advances in science and the work of poultry nutritionists reveals that backyard chickens require much more nutritionally to live long, healthy lives, while producing maximally nutritious eggs. Chickens at different stages of development require different feed formulations. While the feed manufacturer's recommendations for their products should always be followed, generally speaking, day old chicks through eight weeks old should be provided with starter feed. Adolescent chickens up to 18 weeks of age should be fed a grower or a flock-raiser type ration and laying hens http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/01/how-hen-makes-egg-egg-oddities.html
    should be fed layer ration no earlier than 18 weeks of age or the the appearance of their first egg. Layer feed contains calcium that laying hens need for eggshell production but can be detrimental to younger birds.

    While layer feed contains added calcium, an additional source of calcium, such as oyster shells or crushed eggshells, should be made available in a separate dish, http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2011/05/my-pvc-chicken-feeder-diy-instructions.html
    apart from the feed.

    2. Limit Treats: http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/08/chicken-treats-guide-dont-love-your.html
    The ingredients in commercially prepared chicken feed are carefully calculated by poultry nutritionists to ensure that a chicken’s daily vitamin, mineral and protein requirements are met. Supplemental foods (treats/snacks) http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/08/chicken-treats-guide-dont-love-your.html
    replace a portion of those essential dietary elements to some degree. Excessive treats, even healthy ones, can cause any of the following: obesity, malformed eggs, http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/01/how-hen-makes-egg-egg-oddities.html
    habitual laying of multiple-yolked eggs, vent prolapse, http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/04/prolapse-vent-causes-treatment-graphic.html
    protein deficiencies, feather-picking, http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2013/03/chicken-feather-loss-cannibalism-causes.html
    fatty liver syndrome, egg binding, http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/07/chicken-egg-binding-causes-symptoms.html
    reduced egg production, http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/12/decrease-in-egg-production-causes.html
    increased risk of heat stroke http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/04/beat-heat-how-to-help-chickens-survive.html
    and heart problems. No more than ten percent of a flock's daily dietary intake should consist of treats.

    Common sense should be the guide in treat selection. http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/08/chicken-treats-guide-dont-love-your.html
    The types of foods we require to maximize our own health are the foods we should consider when spoiling our chickens: high protein, whole grains, low salt, low sugar, fruits and vegetables. Dairy products are an exception to this general rule because birds are not equipped with the enzymes necessary to properly digest milk sugars. Some yogurt on occasion is fine and does contain beneficial bacterial cultures, but too much dairy can cause digestive upset and diarrhea. Opt for probiotics specially formulated for poultry http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2013/02/probiotics-natural-choice-for-healthy.html
    in lieu of yogurt for good gut health. http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/02/whats-scoop-on-chicken-poop-digestive.html

    Healthy Treats for Chickens
    Scrambled Eggs- it may seem ironic to feed chickens eggs, but eggs are an outstanding source of protein, vitamin A, vitamin E and beta carotene.2  Chickens will not develop a raw, egg-eating habit http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/10/egg-eating-chickens-how-to-break-habit.html
    as a result of eating scrambled eggs.  During a molt, http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2011/12/molting-what-is-it-and-how-to-manage-it.html
    eggs are one of the best sources of protein to feed a chicken.

    Pumpkins are packed with antioxidants, vitamins A, C and E, minerals including copper, calcium, potassium and phosphorus, dietary fiber and protein in the seeds. Pumpkin seeds contain 30 grams of protein per 100 grams of seeds.1  When  pumpkins are in season, I make my flock "Peeps' Pumpkin Pie," http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/10/chickens-pumpkin-seeds-and-worm
    for a nutritionally power-packed treat. Unsupported claims propose feeding pumpkin seeds to chickens as a “natural dewormer," however, there is no scientific evidence anywhere to suggest that pumpkin seeds are capable of deworming or reducing worm loads in chickens. As such, I do not rely on pumpkin seeds as a preventative measure or as a treatment option in my flock. I give my chickens pumpkins and pumpkin seeds simply because they're nutritious and they enjoy them.

     

    Meal worms are a good source of protein, reportedly containing 49% http://www.exoticnutrition.com/limein.html
    to 51%. http://www.happyhentreats.com/Products.html
    They can be purchased live or dried and can also be farmed very easily at home. During a molt, http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2011/12/molting-what-is-it-and-how-to-manage-it.html
    meal worms are an especially smart snack choice.

    Homemade Flock Block Substitute- http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/10/flock-block-substitute-recipe-healthy.html
    Flock Block is a commercially available treat for chickens that is intended to entertain them and fulfill their natural pecking instincts.They can be purchased at feed stores for approximately $13. I have purchased the product once or twice, but have always thought I could make a similar treat myself. I made my own treat block recently and am much happier knowing that my homemade Flock Block Substitute http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/10/flock-block-substitute-recipe-healthy.html
    is a healthy, fresh, nutritious treat for my flock. The recipe includes Omega Ultra Egg, which increases Omega-3 levels in eggs, improves laying rates and chickens' health and lends naturally occurring amino acids to the recipe, which serve as important building blocks of the protein in feathers and eggs.

    A note about scratch. Scratch is affectionately referred to as ‘chicken crack’ for a reason; chickens love it, can’t get enough of it and it’s not the best choice for them. Scratch typically consists of cracked corn and a mixture of grains, which tends to lack an appreciable amount of protein, vitamins and minerals. Scratch should be thought of as chicken candy and only given in small amounts occasionally. *Scratch should not be mixed into the flock’s feed.*

     

    3. Clean Water: http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/07/the-advantages-of-poultry-nipples.html
    Provide clean, fresh water to chickens at all times. Again, this sounds like common sense, but most backyard chickens drink from waterers harboring fecal matter, bacteria and other organisms that can make them sick. The solution to dirty water is employing poultry nipple waterers. "Nobody who is raising chickens professionally has used cups, bell drinkers or troughs in the past 25 years. ... Nipples have been used successfully on literally billions of chickens. The professional farmers across North America have made nipple drinkers the standard for all chickens. ... The disease reduction is so striking that there is no doubt which [system] is better." http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/07/the-advantages-of-poultry-nipples.html

    4. Apple Cider Vinegar in drinking water:
    Adding apple cider vinegar http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/07/make-raw-apple-cider-vinegar-acv-with.html
    with the mother to the drinking water of chickens can improve their gut health by changing the pH of the water, making it inhospitable to many organisms. "Acidifying water alters the gut’s bacteria, slowing the growth of nasty bacteria, and giving a boost to good bacteria. Acid also helps control coccidiosis and Clostridium bacteria, which can cause a fatal disease called necrotic enteritis." http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/07/make-raw-apple-cider-vinegar-acv-with.html
    One to two tablespoons per gallon of water is the suggested amount of vinegar.

    5. Clean Living Quarters
    A cleaner coop is a healthier coop. Chickens have sensitive respiratory systems which are easily irritated by mold and ammonia from accumulated droppings. Clean coops are less likely to house external parasites such as mites and poultry lice. http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/08/poultry-lice-and-mites-identification.html
    For five ways to keep a cleaner coop with less effort, click here. http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/10/5-tips-for-cleaner-coop-with-less-effort.html

    6. Dry Bedding:
    A wet environment created by accumulated droppings or spilled water, provides a breeding ground for coccidia and other harmful organisms to flourish. Coccidiosis http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/12/coccidiosis-what-backyard-chicken.html
    is an intestinal disease that can rapidly kill chickens if it goes undetected or untreated. Three ways to ensure the driest environment possible are:
    by employing a droppings board http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/04/droppings-boards-because-poop-happens.html
    and removing droppings from it daily
    by using sand as coop litter/bedding http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/09/chicken-coop-bedding-sand-litter.html
    and as ground cover in the run
    by keeping waterfowl and chickens in different yards (Less moisture results in fewer opportunities for organisms to grow that can make chickens sick.)
    Many diseases and illnesses are easily kept at bay by keeping living conditions dry.

    7. Observe Droppings:
    The first sign of a potential health problem often will be found in a chicken's droppings. Knowing which droppings are normal and which are abnormal http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/02/whats-scoop-on-chicken-poop-digestive.html
    is an extremely useful tool in assessing  chickens' health. Installing a droppings board underneath the roost provides a regular opportunity to observe abnormalities unobscured by shavings or other bedding material. Keeping a well-stocked first aid kit http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/01/chicken-sick-bay-first-aid-kit-be.html
    handy to treat some of the more common illness and disease early is highly recommended.

    8. Break up Broody Hens: http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/05/broody-breaker-when-hens-mood-to-hatch.html
    A broody hen is one that is inspired to sit on a collection of eggs until she hatches chicks. Whether she is sitting on a clutch of fertile eggs or an empty nest, she will sit and wait for chicks to hatch indefinitely. In the 21 days normally required to hatch eggs, a broody leaves her nest briefly once or twice daily to eat, drink and relieve herself, neglecting her own health for the good of her anticipated chicks. Her comb will lose color, feathers lose sheen and she will lose a noticeable amount of weight. She can tolerate this drastic change in 21 day stints, but protracted periods of broodiness are unhealthy for her. She becomes vulnerable to external parasites, malnourished and emaciated.  Broody hens that will not be permitted to hatch chicks, either due to the unavailability of fertile eggs or the preference of the chicken-keeper, she should be broken/broken-up http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/05/broody-breaker-when-hens-mood-to-hatch.html
    as soon as possible to return them to their regular routines.

    9. No Supplemental Light for Youngsters: http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2011/09/supplemental-light-in-coop-why-how.html
    Providing supplemental lighting when natural daylight hours decrease to 13 hours or less is a safe and common practice undertaken to keep hens producing eggs in the autumn and winter months. However, adolescent chickens should not be exposed to supplemental lighting as it can cause them to reach sexual maturity too soon, resulting in egg-laying before their bodies are properly equipped. Egg-binding http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/07/chicken-egg-binding-causes-symptoms.html
    and prolapsed uterus http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/04/prolapse-vent-causes-treatment-graphic.html
    are two of the possible consequences of premature egg-laying.

    10. Provide Dust Bathing Areas:
    A dust bath http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2013/01/chicken-dust-baths-ultimate-spa.html
    is the chicken equivalent of a daily shower. Chickens dig shallow spots in dirt, sand, or even flower pots to work into their skin and feathers to aid in skin and feather maintenance and parasite control. A dust bath can be as simple as a dry patch of dirt in the backyard or a shallow bucket filled with sand. No additives or supplements are necessary to accomplish the objective. According to Gail Damerow http://www.utc.edu/Academic/TennesseeWriters/authors/damerow.gail.html
    in The Chicken Encyclopedia, :    http://bit.ly/10iY4Pt
    adding diatomaceous earth (DE) wood ashes or lime-and-sulfur garden powder to their dust bath is hazardous to their respiratory health http://shagbarkbantams.com/de.htm

    and should be avoided unless they are "seriously infested" with parasites. Even in that case, she writes, "the benefit may outweigh the danger of TEMPORARILY adding such materials" (p. 93, emphasis added).

    For an extensive list of healthy treats for chickens, visit my blog here. http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/08/chicken-treats-guide-dont-love-your.html

    The treat trail. They will follow me anywhere for treats!
    JOIN ME ON FACEBOOK! http://www.facebook.com/Egg.Carton.Labels.by.ADozenGirlz

    Further reading:
    1 http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/pumpkin.html
    2 http://www.motherearthnews.com/eggs.aspx#ixzz2AcKccLNq
    http://www.poultryhelp.com/toxicplants.html

  • The Little Girl Who Jumps Up and Down

    Written By Jenny Pavlovic (and Chase)

    There is nothing quite like the feeling of seeing a little girl jump up and down when your dog enters the library. Her joyful enthusiasm makes you smile. She read a story to your dog last month and wants to read to him again. She doesn't have a dog at home. Your dog knows just how to be calm while she jumps, then snuggle in next to her on the quilt and give her his undivided attention while she reads a story to him. She’s just learning to read and gets frustrated easily by new words. She’s been teased and bullied on the playground at school. You want so much to build her confidence, to let her know how beautiful and smart and wonderful she is. That when we encounter something unfamiliar, like a new word, we can discover it like a treasure.

    You’re grateful to your dog for everything about him that makes this little girl jump up and down. You knew the library visits would be about helping her learn to read. But now you’d like to think that you and your dog can also be an antidote to bullying, a couple of true friends in a world that sometimes feels very unkind. You hope that fifteen minutes per month of your friendship and undivided attention can not only build her confidence in her reading, but also make a positive difference in her life. And of course, help her learn to love and be kind to dogs.

    You call your mom, a retired teacher who specialized in reading, and ask her how to help the little girl with her stumbling blocks and frustration. You become closer to your mom. You’re amazed at how much she knows, and grateful that she instilled in you a love of reading, a love for books so deep that you not only read them, you write them too. You don’t have children of your own, and you realize that you love to sit and listen to kids read.

    As you watch the little girl’s confidence grow, you hope she will always have the enthusiasm that she shows for your dog, and for reading. Your dog is very intuitive; he knows just what she needs.  He led you into this work, and you realize that he knows just what you need too. You wonder who’s getting the most out of your visits, the little girl, your dog, or you.
    The fifteen minutes go by quickly and the next child is waiting, with book in hand. It’s time to say goodbye, until next time. All three of you, the little girl, your dog, and you, eagerly anticipate your next visit and the story you’ll share. During the month between, you often think of the little girl out there in the big world, and look for books she will like to read. You wonder if your dog thinks about her too.

    ~~~~~~
    Omega Fields Canine Shine and Omega Nuggets keep Chase healthy and give him a soft and shiny pettable coat that the kids like to snuggle up to.

  • Show Me the Way:Adventures in Tracking Training

    Written By Jenny Pavlovic

    The task was to teach each dog to touch a glove held in my hand, then to touch the glove on the floor, then to cross the room and touch the glove on the floor. The idea was to teach the dog to indicate when s/he had found the glove (or “article”) when out tracking in the great outdoors. In tracking practice or competition, another person would have left a track with articles (gloves, socks, bandannas, or similar) with their scent for the dog to find along the way. I would be following the dog on a long line, but in a test I wouldn’t know the locations of the articles, so the dog would have to sniff out each article and clearly indicate it to me without backtracking.

    I collected a glove, some treats, and a clicker and started the training with Bandit. First a note about clicker training, which is misunderstood by many. A clicker can be held in one hand and pressed to make a loud, distinct “click”. The point of using it for operative conditioning is to mark the exact time the dog does what you want. A clicker is very useful when the dog is working away from you, and in other situations when you want to mark the exact moment that the correct behavior is offered, even when you’re not able to give the dog a treat immediately. I had already done the groundwork needed for my dogs to associate the clicker with the reward that would soon follow. All three of them know very well that the “click” means a treat is on the way.

    Bandit, who is the oldest of my three dogs and has had the most training in different areas, had the biggest challenge. He needed to unlearn previous habits engrained in his bag of tricks, and he has a great imagination. Surely just going to the glove and touching it wasn’t all that I wanted. I remembered that when we trained in obedience utility exercises years ago, Bandit had learned to retrieve a glove. So he didn’t want to just touch the glove, he wanted to bring it back to me. But out on a track, I wouldn’t want him to turn around, I would want him to indicate the article to me, but continue facing in the right direction to keep following the track. So I decided to click Bandit just as he was about to touch the glove. Huh? He paused to think, and I rewarded him just as he touched the glove. Bingo! Marking the desired behavior at just the right time worked!


    Part of the exercise involved placing the glove on the floor across the room from me and having the dog go over to touch (“indicate”) it. Bandit went over to the glove, touched it, then turned around and sat down. While sitting or lying down to indicate the glove would be good, turning around was a problem that could move Bandit off the track. I realized that now he was offering behavior that he had been trained to do for a “go out”, another utility exercise that he learned a few years ago. So although I will eventually want him to indicate the article properly with me farther away, I moved up behind him and treated him before he had a chance to turn around. Then he was consistently going to the glove, with me quick to follow. Once he touched the glove, I was right there to reward him, to prevent him from turning. We’ll continue working on Bandit indicating the article without turning around as I begin to maintain the distance again.

    Chase got the simple touch part correct before the others because he had just enough experience without too much extraneous training to confuse him. He’s also very intuitive; I think that when I have the right picture in my mind, he reads it. First he reminded me that I hadn’t picked up my dirty socks. He touched the glove and was rewarded, then went over and touched my sock on the floor! He soon realized that he wouldn’t get rewarded for touching just anything on the floor and he went back to consistently touching the glove.


    Cayenne has always seemed developmentally delayed, especially socially. Cay and her littermates were rescued as small pups in the Tennessee wilderness and she didn’t learn all that she needed from her mother. I couldn’t even touch her when she first came here, but she has come a long way in the past few years. Now when I work one-on-one with Cay and minimize distractions, she learns very well and is amazingly bright. She was familiar with the clicker, but hadn’t had as much training as the other two dogs. Still, she responded well. At first I had to put a treat in the glove to get her interested. I sort of tricked her into offering the desired behavior: when she “accidentally” touched the glove, I clicked immediately to reinforce the behavior. She caught on immediately, and being the food-motivated child that she is, she quickly learned to touch the glove for the reward.

    Cay actually achieved the ultimate desired behavior on accident, before the other two dogs. I hadn’t attempted to train it yet, but she did it naturally and I rewarded her. Once she became obsessed with touching the glove, she would lie down next to it. When she did this, I clicked her right away because the next step in teaching article indication was to have the dog sit or lie down by the glove after touching it. Cay responded well and began consistently touching the glove and lying down. I would not have predicted that she would achieve this behavior first, but I know that all three dogs will achieve it with more training.
    Those are some of our adventures in tracking so far. Yes, we’ve done some tracking outside, but as I’m writing this it’s mid-April and we just had another snow and ice storm here in Minnesota. Over the coming months we’ll continue tracking outdoors, and I’ll continue feeding my dogs Omega Canine Shine and Omega Nuggets to keep them healthy and happy and support their endurance. I just hope I can keep up!

  • Bull's Eye! Lessons I Have Learned about Roosters from John Quincy

    Written By Lisa Steele, Fresh Eggs Daily

    We have been keeping chickens for several years, but have always bought sexed chicks so we have never had any roosters.  Then this past spring, we hatched our own brood and out of 17 chicks, ten ended up being roosters.  We obviously couldn't keep them all - the neighbors would have organized a lynch mob to protest all the crowing and our hens would have had something to say about it too - but I fortunately was able to find good homes for all but an Olive Egger named John Quincy Adams.


    In the  ten months we have had him, I have learned a lot about roosters and how they interact with the rest of the flock.  Here are some of the lessons I have learned:

     

    1.  You don't need a rooster to get eggs. I actually already knew that, but it bears emphasizing because it's an oft-asked question on our Facebook page.  Hens happily lay eggs without a rooster in residence. The only difference is that the eggs won't be fertile. But fertile or not, they look and taste the same, contain the same nutritional content and both are fine for eating.  The only difference is the 'bulls-eye' on the yolk of a fertilized egg which is the rooster's DNA material. An unfertilized egg will have only a tiny white pinhead dot which is the hen's DNA material.  A blood spot on the yolk does NOT indicate fertility, it's merely a broken blood vessel.  I had never seen the bull's eye in an egg in person before and it's pretty neat - and unmistakable.

    2.  The rooster is not always at the top of the pecking order.  Our alpha hen, Orange Chicken, and a few others have made it clear that they aren't going to give up their place in the pecking order. So John Quincy is somewhere in the upper middle - and even sleeps a few rungs down on the roost each night.

     

    3.  Roosters don't only crow in the morning....they crow all afternoon and into the evening too. I have heard that some roosters even crow in the dark! Fortunately John Quincy only crows during daylight hours. But the notion of hearing a roosters crow at sunup and then not again for the rest of the day is hogwash.  He crows pretty much all day long.

     

    4. Roosters really do work to protect the flock.  When I let the hens out into the pasture, John Quincy roams the perimeter very vigilantly and sounds an alarm if he senses danger.  A hawk swooping by recently caused him to round up the hens and herd them under a bush where they stayed while he ran into the middle of the pasture, as if offering himself up to the hawk. Fortunately the hawk decided it was no match for me, our dog plus John Quincy and moved on. Then JQ gave the girls the 'all clear' signal once he had determined it was safe to emerge.  I still won't free range our flock unsupervised, despite his presence, because many a rooster has lost his life protecting hens and that's not a sacrifice I am willing to let the little guy take.  He is no match for a determined hawk, fox or dog.

     

    5.  Roosters are gorgeously regal. I think a hen with glossy feathers, bright legs and feet and shiny eyes is beautiful.  But roosters take the cake. With their long tail feathers, proud erect poses and air of authority, a well-cared for rooster is a sight to behold.

     

    6. Roosters can be mean.  But so can hens.  And the rooster isn't being mean for the sake of being mean. He takes his job seriously, and at times, even you are a threat to his flock.  Having hand-raised my roosters, I think they trusted and accepted me a lot more than they would had I acquired them as pullets, but there have been a few times when John Quincy has pecked me or gone at me, spurs first.  The latest was when I was trying to squirt saline into one of our hen's eyes. She was blinking and I wanted to rinse out any dust. She was squawking and putting up a fuss and John Quincy came right over and basically attacked me. But in his mind, I was hurting one of 'his' girls.

     

    7.  Roosters will protect the smaller and weaker members of the flock. John Quincy will routinely break up squabbles between the hens.  He steps right in whether two hens are fighting over a treat or space under a bush.  He also pecks any hens who pick on our smaller, younger pullets, who have taken to hanging around him for 'protection'.  Like a typical man, he can't stand female 'drama' and makes sure there isn't any in our  his run.

    8.  Roosters delight in finding 'treasures' and calling the hens over. I had heard about this but never seen it first hand. When they are out free ranging or I toss treats in their yard, John Quincy will make a high pitched, excited sound and then pick up a treat and drop it at the feet of the hen who he wants to have it.  It's very sweet.

     

    9.  Roosters don't need as much food as hens and won't touch free-choice crushed oyster- or egg-shell. Because they lay eggs, hens expend a lot of energy and nutrients and therefore have a higher calorie requirement than roosters or non-laying hens. Layers also need supplemental calcium to ensure strong egg shells.  The calcium should always be served free-choice in a separate bowl and not mixed into the feed so each hen can eat what she needs, and the roosters and non-layers won't eat any of it. If they ingest too much calcium, it can lead to kidney damage, and somehow they know that.

     

    10. Roosters often flap their wings before crowing to push oxygen into their lungs. Because they have very small lungs and a complicated respiratory system, and because crowing takes a lot of lung power, often a rooster will flap his wings just prior to crowing to push as much oxygen into his lungs as possible so his crowing will be as long - and as loud - as possible  Now aren't you glad they have learned to do that!

  • Reading Books, Touching Hearts

    Written By Jenny Pavlovic

    Last month I wrote about Godwinks, and I’ve written about my dog Chase many times. You may have read the story of how Chase and I came together in the book 8 State Hurricane Kate: The Journey and Legacy of a Katrina Cattle Dog. The short version is that I met Sarah while caring for rescued animals in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina. We stayed in contact after we returned home to Virginia and Minnesota. God winked one day when “Fred” caught my eye as I viewed Sarah’s rescue website, www.lostfantasystables.com. Despite his unhappy expression, the little guy was cute. He had the sable coloring and white ruff of a collie, with red and white speckles on his chest and legs. I felt an immediate connection.

    Sarah rescued “Fred” from a man who was going to shoot him for chasing sheep. Fred had a strong herding instinct and was probably just trying to keep the place organized. But the man, in a rage, stuffed him into a tiny chicken crate and threatened to shoot him. When Sarah intervened and saved the terrified little guy, she held him on her lap for a long time before he stopped shaking. He knew the fate he had just escaped.

    Seeing that Fred was described as a “red heeler mix” and wanting to support Sarah’s rescue efforts in an impoverished area of rural Virginia, I followed up. My Australian Cattle Dog Bandit, who had recently lost his best dog pal and playmate, needed a new friend. Sarah and I determined that Chase would likely be a good fit for my family. With much planning and the help of many volunteers who transported him, Fred made the long journey from Virginia to Minnesota over Memorial weekend in 2006. He enjoyed the adventure and his series of chauffeurs commented on what a handsome and loving dog he was. He arrived with a beautiful greeting card chronicling his journey and wishing him a happy new life, signed by Sarah and everyone who had met him along the way.

    I called him Fred for a while. I could say fun things like, “It’s time for bed Fred!” But eventually he became “Chase”, claiming the name. After living with and observing him for a while, I decided that he’s most likely a Smooth Coated Collie - Australian Cattle Dog mix. He is long in body with the thick undercoat, narrow ears and muzzle, and beautiful coloring of a smooth coated collie. He has a collie’s shrieky bark and likes to patrol perimeters like a collie. But he is stockier and lower to the ground like a cattle dog. He has a dose of cattle dog chutzpah and cattle dog speckles on his legs, belly, and running down his chin like spilled milk.

    Chase settled in pretty well here, becoming fast friends with Bandit. One morning, I was puzzled when Chase wouldn’t go into the garage with me. I later learned that the violent man used to throw him in the garage by himself for hours. Chase apparently didn’t want to go in with me because he thought I was going to leave him there… alone… for hours, the worst kind of punishment for him.

    Bandit and Chase enjoyed playing ball, running in the woods and fields, and bobbing for fallen apples in the kiddie pool. Chase and I went to obedience and agility classes, learned to track together, and enjoyed herding sheep and ducks. No matter what, Chase always gave love.

    Early on, Chase appeared to have some flashbacks to the violence he’d been subjected to before being rescued, but he knows he’s safe now and seems to have fully recovered. By the end of the day, his back is usually sore and stiff, probably from being stuffed into that tiny chicken crate back in Virginia.

    Chase taught me that another man’s trash could be my treasure. He is the sweetest, handsomest, most sensitive dog who used to worry about making a mistake, because he knew that the “mistake” of acting on his herding instinct could have cost him his life. He trusts me now and we have learned to work together to herd sheep and ducks so he can express this wonderful talent without fearing for his life. He taught me that you can start over again and recover from abuse and violence to be who you were meant to be.

    Chase has created some interesting jobs for himself. Herding dogs are especially alert to anything that’s out of order because they’re used to watching over their flock. Chase likes to notify me when anything is different. He lets me know when the garbage truck and snowplow are coming long before I hear them. He lets out a special bark when the feral cat is around. When we go outside, Chase patrols the perimeter as a collie will. He follows his nose, which tells him what other creatures have passed through. He spots birds way up in the sky and has alerted me to a bald eagle soaring high above.

    In spite of his past, Chase is very loving and friendly. He loves to meet people and wants to connect with everyone. If we’re in a room full of people, like at a book signing, he’s bothered if he doesn’t get to greet each person individually. He’d probably make a fantastic greeter at Wal-Mart! After his difficult beginning in life, he may be trying to make up for lost time on the love front.

    Chase intuitively picks up on any unrest among animals or people. He reads people’s moods and seems to know just what they need. At home, he goes into the bathroom and puts his front feet up on the stool, waiting for a hug. I used to think he did this because he wanted attention. I slowly came to realize that he does this when he senses that I need a hug. He’s thinking about me and is much wiser than most people realize.

    I’ve felt for a long time that part of Chase’s calling in life is to be a therapy dog. Last spring we completed Delta Pet Partners training (Chase: Why Dog is Love, http://www.omegafields.com/blog/chase-why-dog-is-love/). I looked into starting a reading dog program at our local library, which has suffered from budget cuts, but I got sidetracked.

    God winked again when I received an e-mail message from a local librarian who was determined to start a “Dog Gone Reading” program. Now Chase and I volunteer at our small local library for two hours per month. Kids read to Chase, developing their reading abilities in a supportive environment. Chase listens intently while each child reads him a story. He enjoys any story, is great company and isn’t judgmental. While reading out loud to Chase, kids build confidence and gain a friend. Kids who don’t have pets at home get to connect with a dog. Chase, who doesn’t have a kid at home, gets to bond with kids and fulfill his purpose to give love. The kids get to know the local library and all that it offers. Chase and I teach them how to approach a dog, to pet him gently, and to be kind and respectful to animals. Chase is a natural! He knows how important it is to be kind.

    Chase, now about 7 ½ years old, has been waiting for years for me to give him this opportunity to reach his potential. I’m so excited that he’s fulfilling his purpose of sharing love, helping kids develop their reading abilities, and supporting our local library. As an author who loves to read, I don’t want the joy of reading real books to be lost. I want kids to know the pleasure of reading from a printed book held in their hands.

     

    I’m very grateful to Sarah for saving Chase’s life and for the long journey that brought him home to Minnesota. I’m also grateful to Omega Fields for providing the Canine Shine and Omega Nuggets that boost Chase’s good health and make his coat so soft, shiny and wonderful to snuggle up to.

    Chase already knows the important stuff. He knows how to forgive and how to give love. His heart is wide open; he is an open book.

    Learn more about:

    Delta Pet Partners: http://www.petpartners.org/

    The National Reading Education Assistance Dogs (R.E.A.D.) Program: http://www.therapyanimals.org/R.E.A.D.html

    R.E.A.D. Dogs Minnesota: http://www.readdogsmn.org/

    The Washington County (Minnesota) Dog Gone Reading Program: http://www.co.washington.mn.us/DocumentCenter/View/2711

  • HOW TO MAKE YOUR HORSE SMARTER

    Written By Walt Friedrich

    Feral horses are smart horses. Living in a vast geography, they know where all the water holes are, where to find the best grass, where the mountain lions hang out. Very smart, indeed – but it’s all built around feral living. The feral has much, much more learning to do before he’s capable of routine, daily life with humans – yet the domestic horses we live with and enjoy, same species, identical animals – seem much smarter by comparison. But not really – it’s just that they’ve had opportunity to further develop their minds. It’s said that the human brain is capable of so much more than it typically uses. Same thing with horses. The domestics just give us a clue about what’s possible – and their thinking powers can be quite surprising.

    To illustrate: Gail was riding her horse, Rocky, on a pleasant cross-country outing one warm summer day. Off in the distance, an interesting rock formation covered with wildflowers attracted Gail, and so she had Rocky leave the trail and walk through the brush toward it. The brush got thicker and thicker as Rocky plowed on, until he found himself unable to continue, with his legs tightly tangled in brush and vines. He was struggling to proceed, unsuccessfully, when Gail stopped him and asked him to stand still. She dismounted to examine the situation, saw that it was hopeless to plod through, and so she took out the small garden shears from her riding kit and calmly snipped away the entrapping vines, then led Rocky away from that patch of brush. Rocky followed her, calmly, and when clear, she remounted, patted his neck to tell him what a good, smart boy he was, and continued her ride.

    Many horses, in that situation, might have panicked, thrown Gail, hurt themselves in the process. But Rocky understood that Gail will help him out of any difficult situation; he kept his cool and allowed her to do so. He showed far broader comprehension of unusual circumstances than would a herd-raised horse without human experience. But what made Rocky capable of controlling panic so well? Why is he so smart?

    A horse’s lifetime is one of continuous learning. The two basic learning environments are his herd and the geography in which he resides. We’ll examine both, but first, let’s have a look at what happens between his ears, that makes it all possible -- the controlling factors that set the parameters for how he perceives and copes with those social conditions.

    Learning by developing his cognition:

    How he develops mentally is strongly influenced by what he views his physical limitations to be, what are his likes and dislikes, and does he know when he needs help, for example. But -- and this is tricky – we’re talking about understanding self-awareness in an animal, a challenging subject that’s difficult to define for even humans, about whom we do know something. It must be considered as the foundation on which knowledge is based because everything we see and understand is observed from a totally personalized standpoint. It seems unlikely that the relationship we humans have with our horses, as with our dogs, could exist if animals act only out of instinct. As we shall discuss, horses shape their behavior to fit the herd’s requirements; there seems to be some evidence, perhaps only intuitive, that they would do likewise in the company of humans. And it works both ways – a positive environment elicits positive attitude, and negative elicits negative.

    Learning from the herd:

    We know that the group environment is a highly influential factor in developing cognition. How smart a horse becomes is defined by the circumstances into which he is born and in which he develops – and it is a continuing process. Every event he experiences contributes to his fund of knowledge, and thus his intelligence. It follows, as studies confirm, that youngsters develop best in a herd environment, where its members have established complex interrelationships among themselves. The youngster comes to understand hierarchy, and that he must comport himself accordingly. But herd dynamics is much more than an unwritten rulebook – it’s also a blueprint for comfortable and safe living within a broad society, and to participate, he must learn it. The importance of the social environment cannot be overstressed. If you and I were to learn only at our mother’s knee until we were adults, we would be quite ill-prepared to exist in a society of people who developed within the broad panoply of school, playmates, close friends, neighbors, society in general. Likewise, a foal, growing up in such a group environment, will be far better prepared to cope with life’s events than one who knows only his mother and perhaps a few others during his developmental years.

    Not only does the foal learn the dynamics of living with his mother, he also learns the relative position of  every member of the herd toward himself, his mother and each other. Processing this data and understanding it, then living within it, develops his social intelligence so that he can quickly and efficiently continue the process going forward. Most importantly, this mental development forms the foundation for his ability to “fit in”, without unwarranted fear or anxiety, in new and different social situations. That means joining a new herd, for example, when he changes homes; it means handling show environments, joining strange horses in group rides, training experiences, and especially events with humans – as witness Rocky’s performance when tangled in the vines.

    Learning from the environment:

    Since a horse is such a physical animal and he lives in a primarily physical world, that physical environment is a major teaching aid in his mental development. It is the violin from which the music emanates. The objective is to allow the horse as great a range of experience as possible, with the understanding that the most threatening thing for many horses is, simply, change. But constant changeless environments set the horse up to react badly when change does occur. He learns to deal with changes by experiencing changes. Developing his experiences and thus his intelligence is squarely in our bailiwick. Keep him bottled up and we can expect him to be frightened of anything unfamiliar. But keep him in a complex social group and manage his terrain to promote frequent learning, and he will develop the ability to operate intelligently within his environment no matter how dynamic.

    Jaime Jackson recognized that a plain vanilla environment is a boring place, for domestic horse as well as human. He also understood horses’ need for constant movement in order to maintain physical condition. He developed the concept of the Paddock Paradise, a whole new way for the average person with a bit of land and a drive to practice optimal husbandry, to create a stimulating world for her horses, for their health and deep contentment. The difference between Jackson's approach and the usual fenced acreage is like the difference between an animal safari park and a zoo with barred cages. Creating physical, social, even emotional environments in which animals can believe they're in their primordial setup, yields fascinating results when applied to horses.

    Here's how Pasture Paradise works: instead of housing our horses in rectangular fields where they just stand in one spot and eat, an additional "inside" fence is added to create a "track" system. The track shape and width can vary - the narrower the track the more the horses will move. The topography can be changed quickly and easily, rock piles, sandy areas and water locations added. Hay can be piled in different locations within the track every day. The electric fencing can be moved to change the pathways, also allowing grazed areas to recover before being grazed again. The more innovative and creative our management methods become the more likely it is that we can create a real harmony between the needs of the horse and the space he lives in. It’s easy to change around, and it all can be done quite cheaply and quickly using electric fencing. It’s well worth the effort when you see how much happier and healthier he becomes. Horses adapt to such an extent that they look forward to changes in the route, watching while modifications take place. Once a change is complete they move into it without any need for pressure.

    The sum of the parts:

    The foal raised within the herd, an environment of diverse and interesting activity, builds a great deal of knowledge that influences his relationships, personality,  decisions and actions into and through his own adulthood – it makes him a “smarter” horse, very much better prepared for your teaching and training when he joins you as your equine partner. And when he is your partner, allow his natural intelligence to continue to develop in an environment of diverse and interesting activity. The more he learns, the greater his capacity to learn still more, and the greater will be your own pleasure and safety. It’s one of the best investments you can make.

  • The Puppy Who Came with Godwinks

    Written By Jenny Pavlovic

    For Christmas, my mom gave me a book about Godwinks, amazing “coincidences” that are really winks from God. My mom said that God winked when, through an amazing set of “coincidences”, my cattle dog puppy Bandit found me in 2004. This story is told in “Bandit, My Bolt Out of the Blue, My Miracle” (http://www.omegafields.com/blog/bandit-my-bolt-out-of-the-blue-miracle/).

    When I was a kid, we couldn’t have a dog because my sister was allergic to them. We had gerbils, and when I was nine years old my parents indulged my love for animals by letting me get a pony. But I still also longed for a dog. I walked the neighborhood dogs and took care of them when their families went on vacation. Yet, I wanted a dog of my own.

    When I was twelve years old, a puppy appeared on our front porch one morning, lost and scared and hungry. My mom found the small brown and white puppy with floppy ears when she stepped outside to pick up the morning paper. We brought the puppy in, but Mom said it was only until we found his real owners, period! I headed off right away on my bike to get him some dog food from the store. The puppy, probably a border collie-spaniel mix, became my constant companion. We bonded right away and he even slept by my bed at night.

    A couple of days later, the phone rang and when my mom answered I heard her talking about the puppy. His original owners were on the phone. I got a knot in my stomach and held my breath. I could hear Mom’s side of the conversation. Some kids had won the puppy at the fair. They had been playing tennis across the street when the puppy wandered away and got lost. But the conversation didn’t simply end with exchanging information on how to return the puppy. The family already had a dog that didn’t get along with the pup and their mom said they couldn’t keep him. Amazingly enough, I was listening to a negotiation! By then, we had already learned that my sister wasn’t allergic to the puppy, and my parents decided to keep him! I already thought of him as my dog. The kids had called him “Fuzzer” and the name stuck, silly as it was.

    God must have developed an eye twitch, as the kids won Fuzzer at the fair, brought him home, decided to take him to the tennis court across the street and lost him, little Fuzz safely crossed our busy street and wandered over to our front porch, and we found him the next morning. We had him long enough to discover that my sister wasn’t allergic to him. Then when we found out who the puppy belonged to, their mom put her foot down and said they couldn’t keep him. That’s an impressive string of Godwinks!

    My first dog was delivered with a series of Godwinks, and dogs (including 8 State Hurricane Kate) have been finding me ever since. What Godwinks occurred as special animals and people came into your life? If you pay attention, you will begin to notice more Godwinks.

    Note: Canine Shine helps keep your dogs healthy during stressful winter months. In February, my dog Chase will begin a monthly gig at the local library, where children read to him. We like to support our local library and Chase loves listening to children read stories as they develop their reading abilities. Canine Shine gives Chase a soft and shiny coat that makes snuggling with him extra special for the children.

  • Get Ready For A Spring Tack Sale: Find Cash In Your Tack Box

    Find Cash In Your Tack Box:  Get Ready For A Spring Tack Sale

    Nearly every 4-H horse club and many breed and show organizations now sponsor spring tack sales or swaps.
    “For horse owners these tack sales can bring in some extra cash and they’re also an incentive to clean out tack boxes and tack rooms,” says Laurie Cerny, editor and publisher of www.good-horsekeeping.com.  “If you’re not using it, or if it doesn’t fit – whether it’s tack or show clothing, it should go.” 

    Cerny warns against keeping tack and apparel for sentimental reasons.  “These things get dated in a couple of years, so keeping a show halter from your retired showmanship horse is probably not a good idea.”  She added, “When tack and show clothing are still in style, and if these things are in good shape, you should be able to get at least 50-60 percent of what you paid for it new.  Years down the road you might be lucky to even find a buyer for it.”

    Here are some tips for selling items at an upcoming tack sale:

    • Clean tack and wash and press clothing, blankets, and other soft goods.

    • Get your items gathered and organized at least a week before the sale.

    • Mark sale tags with the size and price of the item.  Either purchase tags from an office supply store, or make your own – using small squares of paper.  These can be stapled to the clothing tag (located in the collar of a shirt or in the waist band on a pair of pants), or around the browband, cheek piece, etc. of a halter or bridle.  Self-adhesive labels should only be used on items where they have a solid surface for adhering to - like on the shank of a bit, or on the cover of a book.

    • Use rubber bands or string to tie together reins and other strap items like lead ropes and lunge lings.

    • For large ticket items (like saddles, show halters/bridles, chaps, etc.) make take-away cards for potential buyers that have the item, price, and your phone number on them.  These cards can be really helpful at large tack sales - where shoppers may want to look around first, but then forget where your table is at, etc.  It also gives them a way to contact you after the sale – should you still have the item and they still want to buy it.

    • Take at least $20 to make change with (13 singles, one five, and two dollars in quarters).

    • Use a fanny pack as a moneybox.  This way your change and the money you take in are always on you.  Have a separate location to keep checks and to put large bills and extra cash once you start to make sales.

    • Take a variety of bags.  Buyers really appreciate having something to carry their purchases in.

    • Arrive to the sale location early and be ready at least 15 minutes before the start of the sale.  There’s nothing worse than trying to set up while people are shopping your table.

    • Think height when it comes to organizing your table.  Take a couple of milk crates (or similar containers) to set on your table.  These will give you more display space, and will give buyers somewhere else to look besides your table.
     

  • Making a Mountain Lion Out of a Mole

    Written By Jenny Pavlovic

    Willis and I were in the backyard for his last potty stop, late at night. It was almost Halloween, and the moon was just about full. I heard a rustling in the leaves and saw a small rodent coming into the yard under the chain link fence on the south side. I turned and moved toward him, to steer him away from the house. Willis followed me and the rodent paused, then turned and went back out through the fence, shuffling it seemed, by the coarse rustling of leaves.

    Willis and I went back to our games so he could unwind a bit before bed time. A few minutes later, we were both paused by a loud rustling of leaves in the woods behind the yard. Was it a coyote? A dog? A deer? A mountain lion? The rustling got louder, like a whole string of deer moving through the woods, or maybe something worse—think “Blair Witch Project”! Willis cocked his head and moved toward the back fence. He “woofed” a few times, let out a low growl, and focused on the rustling leaves as the creature moved through the dark woods.

    The rustling came closer, approaching the fence again, this time on the north side. Willis and I stood frozen, waiting in suspense for the intrepid creature to emerge from the dark. Our gazes were fixed straight ahead, but then we had to lower them as we discovered that the commotion was coming from… the same little rodent. When deterred from crossing the yard inside the fence, he had detoured around the perimeter and continued marching.

    The little guy came back in under the chain link fence from the back corner. I held Willis back as he strained against his collar. The rodent was too big and heavy to be a mouse, but certainly not large enough to be a rat. He paused, sensing us but not seeing, moving his head back and forth trying to detect what stood in front of him. I realized that he was blind and must be a mole, a critter usually found underground, not rustling around on the surface. Willis and I stepped toward him again and kindly steered him back toward the fence.  He went back out underneath it on the north side, then headed north and kept on shuffling through the leaves, clearly intent on getting wherever he was going.

    I felt kind of sheepish for thinking that this blind little guy was a big scary creature in the woods. Willis had hesitated and backed up too, for a while, when we could hear the mole, but couldn’t see him. The little guy must have been plowing through some deep leaves!

    What message are we to take from this? That something that sounds big and scary (making a mountain lion out of a mole) might just be a small creature on a big mission who can be diverted by taking a few steps in his direction? What about from the mole’s perspective? That a blind determined little mole who knows where he wants to go will get there one way or another? That even when you get off track, you can keep going and get where you were meant to go? That even if your goal is not in sight, it’s out there and if you keep going, you’ll get there eventually? That a bold and determined little guy can get around two big guys; if he really wants to, he’ll find a way?

    The mole reminded me of something I told myself a few years ago and decided to write down: “Nothing silences doubt like putting one foot in front of the other, moving in the direction of your dreams. Keep taking that next step.” I’m not sure why the little mole was traveling above ground or where he was going, but I have no doubt that he got there, eventually. If you follow his example, you will get where you intend to go too. Set your intentions now, for the journeys you will take in 2013. Remember the little mole, and have a Happy New Year!

    Ironically, not long after this incident with the mole, on November 1st I sighted a cougar in our home town of Afton, MN. I have lived here for almost 23 years and had never seen one before, but there was no question as this long, low animal turned his face to look straight into my headlights. I looked up cougar sightings online and learned that cougars have been reported here along the St. Croix River.

    ~~~
    My dog Bandit had to have surgery in November after tearing one of his dewclaws several times. His veterinarian commented on how quickly and how well he healed. I attribute that to daily exercise and good nutrition, including his daily dose of Omega Fields Canine Shine. Get your pets off to a good start in 2013 by giving them the superior nutrition of Omega Fields Canine Shine and Omega Nuggets. Best wishes for a happy new year to you and your four-legged friends!

Items 1 to 10 of 60 total

Page:
  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  6. 6