Cat update for week ending July 27

Pansy reaching for kibble in the back of the shop:

Pansy reaching for kibble

Raccoons are usually only active at night, but one has been visiting after dawn, raiding the breakfast dispensed for the cats:


Two cats:

Two cats

Two cats drinking from fountain; there are more convenient (and cleaner) water sources, but maybe they like the tadpole flavor:

Drinking from fountain

A cat laying on the ground, and another arriving for dinner:

Two cats

Porcini chasing a bug while waiting for breakfast:

Porcini chasing bug

Three cats at breakfast time:

Three cats

Porcini cautiously watching me as I come out the front door:

Porcini watching me by front steps

A twin relaxing on the front steps:

A twin relaxing on the front steps

Two cats at dinnertime:

Two cats

Two cats the next day:

Two cats

A late raccoon again (probably the same one); licking its lips at the raided food:


Two cats inside; they haven’t been in there much recently:

Two cats inside

One reason why, perhaps: a raccoon inside:

Raccoon inside

Three cats for breakfast:

Three cats

The raccoon again, at 07:23 this morning; I don’t think I’ve ever seen one about that late:


I had adjusted the feeder schedule to dispense after dawn, to avoid the raccoons, but this one seems to have learned that. And learned the sound of food being dispensed; I’ve seen it come back after food appears. I’m not sure what else I can do; I can’t manually dispense food when I see a cat (which is what I often do in the evenings, as I try to avoid leaving anything by dusk). It’s frustrating.

This morning I did keep a close eye on the feeder, though, and rushed out there with Rory to chase it off several times. Hopefully I can discourage it, but I doubt I’ll have much success. I’ve thought about a remote-controlled door to close off the feeder at night, or a door to trap the raccoon, but I don’t want to trap the cats.

I also have a design for a barrier to place in front of the cat house, with a platform to jump into it, that cats should be able to manage, but raccoons and possums shouldn’t be able to do. I might try that one day, though I have too many other projects.

Flock Friday for July 26

This week I opened the pop door of the duck house, and the ducks went for their first swim. Though not immediately.

When I first opened the door, the ducklings were unsurprisingly a bit freaked out by a strange portal opening in their wall:

Ducklings unsure about open door

The ducklings, looking in from the pond:

Ducklings through doorway

They peeked out for several hours, but nobody ventured out until the afternoon:

Partway out the door

Unsurprisingly, Gert, the Buff female, was the first out. Here she’s having her first swim, with Bert (the male) watching from the top of the ramp:

First swim

After a brief swim, she climbed onto the bank of the pond for a rest:

Resting on the bank of the pond

I really like that picture.

Then back into the pond for more swimming; she had no interest in going back into the duck house:

Duck swimming

I moved the mobile cam from watching the bird feeders to the northwest corner of the pond, for another vantage point, to fill in a blind spot of the main pond cam:

Duck swimming

Gert went under the pond deck for another break:

Duck under pond deck

She stayed out all night. Here she’s having an early morning swim:

Early morning swim

I moved the mobile camera to the northeast corner of the pond, as that gave a better view.

Gert resting on the edge of the pond around dawn:


Misty morning swim:

Misty morning swim

Gert spent a fair bit of time in the shallow water below the pond deck, where she can stand on the bottom, but still be in the water:

Duck below pond deck

In the afternoon, I grabbed her from the pond edge and returned her to the duck house, so she could tell the other ducks of her experience, and have some food and rest:

Duck returned to house

The three ducks in their house:

Ducks in house

I closed the duck house for the night.

A raccoon visited the pond that evening:

Raccoon in pond

Actually two raccoons; very likely the same two that have been frequenting the cat house (more on that tomorrow):

Two raccoons

I didn’t think raccoons could swim, since I’d only seen them wading in the shallow end of the pond. Apparently I was wrong; the pond is about six feet deep at this point:

Raccoon swimming

In the morning, I re-opened the pop door, and gave them the usual treats:


In the afternoon, everyone headed out:

Everyone out!

A little hard to see, but all three ducks are at the bottom of the ramp:

Ducks at bottom of ramp

Gert shows the way, heading into the water:

Into the water

Bert joins her in the water:

Two in the water

The Cayuga duck (who we think is female, though aren’t sure) joins them, making a big splash that freaks out the Buffs:

All three in the pond

All three ducks swimming around the pond:

Three ducks in the pond

Three ducks in the pond

Three ducks in the pond

Three ducks in the pond

They stayed out all night. I’m beginning to think they don’t like the duck house… though who can blame them, compared to the great outdoors.

A midnight swim:

Midnight swim

I suppose this is the Flock Friday, not Duck Day, so here are some pics of the chickens to close this out.

An older chicken (Goldie) and a chick (Moana) meet through the fence:

Chicken and chick

Three chicks amongst the weeds:


The chicks roosting above the closed-off nesting boxes:

Chicks roosting

I went to check on the chicks at dusk, and found four roosting above the window… not really intended as a roost!

Chicks above window

The following evening, Moana was up there again:

Chicks roosting

Chickens do like roosting in high places. Once they get older, and larger, they won’t be able to get up there. But she can enjoy it while she can.

That’s it for this week! I hope you enjoyed the duck excursions.

Duck house: ramp

The ducks are 7 weeks old, which is old enough to swim outside. So today I built a ramp from the duck house to the pond.

I used four 4′ lengths of 2×6 boards, with thin ripped strips for traction, to make a wide ramp:

Underneath, I attached some larger strips to help hold the boards together, plus a thin cinderblock attached to stop it from floating:

Attaching the traction strips with the finish air nailer, using a couple of boards for spacing, and a square to check that they’re straight:

Finished top:

I used untreated boards, and didn’t paint it, to avoid leeching chemicals into the pond. It’ll probably rot away eventually, but I can always make a new one if so.

A pile of stuff on the cart, for transport out to the duck house:

Attached some spare plastic liner over the concrete block, to help protect the pond’s liner:

The ramp mounted to the duck house:

I attached some welded wire fencing, to help prevent raccoons etc from getting into the duck house (I hope):

The finished ramp:

It was getting late by the time I finished, so I’ll let the ducks out for the first time tomorrow. Stay tuned for the next Flock Friday for that!

Cat update for week ending July 20

It’s Saturday, Caturday.

Warning: sensitive readers may want to skip this post; a couple of GIFs that some might find troubling.

Let’s start with some innocuous pictures. A staring cat, and a second one in the feeder, probably startled by some noise:

Staring cat

Pansy in the shop:

Pansy in the shop

Pansy in the shop

Pepper in the shop:

Pepper in the shop

The alien orange cat, Pumpkin, caught a bird below the bird feeders. Rather than include a sequence of photos, here’s an animated GIF:

GIF of orange cat catching bird

One of our feral cats was interested:

Orange & feral cats

Raccoon vs possum at the feeder:

Raccoon vs possum

Another animated GIF, of a rather nasty encounter between Pumpkin and a raccoon inside the shelter. Pumpkin was inside the shelter, and saw the raccoon. The raccoon came running up, and after Pumpkin hissed at it a couple of times, the raccoon dove inside and attacked Pumpkin:

Pumpkin vs raccoon

I suspect that was a female raccoon feeling like she was protecting a youngster:

Big and little raccoons

One of our ferals checking out the shelter after that:

Sniffing cat

Let’s finish off with some more usual scenes. A couple of cats having dinner:


Three cats:

Three cats

I hope those GIFs weren’t too disturbing. Let me know if you think I should avoid such content in the future. It’s all part of nature, as uncomfortable as it may be sometimes.

Flock Friday for July 19

This week the chicks got to go outside for the first time. So let’s start with that.

First tentative step out the pop door of the coop, unsurprisingly by the bravest of the chicks, the Exchequer Leghorn, who we’ve named Moana (after the Disney princess):

First tentative step out the door

On the ramp:

On the ramp

On the ground:

On the ground

Via the run cam, the chicks exploring. Since the run has been vacant since we kicked out the older chickens shortly before getting the chicks, the weeds have taken over:


The chicks will enjoy grazing on the forest of weeds, and no doubt they’ll all be gone in a few weeks time. We did identify each of the weeds, and check that they are safe for chickens to eat.

More exploring:

Chicks outside

Moana on the grazing box, which will provide ongoing grazing once they’ve mowed down all of the weeds:

Chick on grazing box

If you look back at the chicken run cam picture above, you may notice a very straight edge of the weeds on the left side, about a foot from the fence. That fence separates the old and new runs. Here you can see why, on the right side of this picture: one of the older chickens poking her head through fence to eat the weeds within reach:

Chicken reaching through fence

I’ve seen several of them do that. And today I pushed some of the weeds to be closer for them. No reason why the chicks should have all the fun.

Some more pictures of the older chickens, enjoying treats from our veggie garden:

Chickens with treats


Chickens with treats

Fluffy chicken butt:

Chickens with treats

On to the ducklings and their treats:


Water on the face:






The wings are getting quite big:


Eating from the feeder tube:


I’ll make a ramp for the ducklings soon (maybe Sunday?), so they’ll be able to go out into the pond. That’ll be very interesting; I wonder if the non-swimming one will brave it? Stay tuned for the next update!

Cat update for week ending July 13

Let’s start Caturday with a cat climbing a pole behind the cat house:

Cat climbing pole

A raccoon and possum have an encounter on the deck:

Raccoon vs possum

Three cats:

Three cats

Actually, there were four cats; one more inside the shelter, as seen in this screenshot:

Four cats

In another screenshot, we can see a raccoon in the feeder while two cats are in the shelter:

Raccoon while cats inside

Not content with that, the raccoon came in the shelter with the cats, who gently suggested it might want to be elsewhere, with much hissing and growling:

Raccoon in shelter with cats

Surprisingly, they didn’t evacuate after that; they just curled up for more snuggles:

Cat snuggles

A possum also visited (yes, the same night), and was also directed towards the exit:

Possum in shelter with cats

More snuggles:

More snuggles

As if the raccoon and possum weren’t enough for one night, Pumpkin, the orange cat, also paid a visit, and was more forcefully told he wasn’t welcome; they were more vocal with him than the wildlife:

Orange cat in shelter

Why won’t they be my friends?

Orange cat

Porcini looking at the camera on the way in to breakfast:

Porcini looking at the camera

They’ve been using the shelter more this week, despite the unwelcome visitors:


Flock Friday for July 12

Let’s start Flock Friday with the ducklings:


I’m still not completely sure of the duckling genders, but the left Buff is now quacking, and the right one is making a much quieter vocalization. Fun fact: generally only female ducks quack, which suggests that the left one is female. So I am fairly confident that the left Buff is Gert, the female, and the right one is Bert, the male:





Here are the Cayuga ducklings:


And some sad news: the little one died Monday evening. I’m not sure of the cause; the size could be a factor, since it hasn’t grown as much as the others, perhaps due to some health issue, or something else. It wasn’t as active as the others, and looking at the video footage, it just sat in a corner for some time, then keeled over. Very unfortunate, especially after losing some chicks a few weeks ago. All part of the experience of keeping animals, though. I just hope we don’t lose any more any time soon.

Anyway, it was time to install a feeder tube for the ducks. So I removed the barrier closing off the nesting boxes:

Removing nesting boxes barrier

The ducklings were excited to explore their expanded accommodations:

Ducklings in nesting boxes

A duckling in a nesting box, as seen from outside — there’s a gap below the cupboard shelf, to reach in to eventually collect eggs, if they deign to lay them in a box (ducks lay anywhere):

Duckling in nesting box

In the cupboard, a jug of food tops the feeder tube, providing several days capacity:

Jug of food for dispenser

The tube goes through the shelf on the edge of a nesting box, resting on a support:

Food tube

The tube in the duck house, and a duckling eating from it. The yellow cap on the end can be removed to clean out the tube:

Duckling eating from food tube

Ducklings hoovering up rice:

Ducklings hoovering up rice

I also added a feeder tube in the chick coop. I was going to make a new — larger diameter — one like in the duck house, but decided to re-install the old tube for now. I might redo it later, when the chicks are bigger:

Chick feeder tube

The chicks didn’t take long to figure out the feeder tube:

Chicks eating from feeder tube

Chicks eating rice from my hand:

Chicks eating rice from my hand



A chick in the hand:

A chick in the hand

On top of the nesting boxes:


On the nesting boxes center bar (the nesting boxes are still closed off, till they’re ready to lay eggs):


Synchronized chicks on the bar, and others eating from the tube:

Syncronized chicks

Finally, on to the older chickens. Here they’re watching Jenn work in the veggie garden:

Chickens watching Jenn

Me adding some dirt to a tire, for them to use as a dust bath:

David adding dirt to a tire

Camilla the escape chicken; she has always been the best flyer of the chickens, and flew onto the chicken coop, and out, then spent the night outside, and met me on the path to the coop in the morning:

Camilla the escape chicken

Cat update for week ending July 6

It’s cat update time!

Here are Porcini and Poppy:


A nose-sniff greeting:


Pansy in the back of the shop, arriving for lunch:

Pansy in the shop

Pumpkin, the alien orange cat, is getting more bold. This past week he went into the shelter when Portabella was already there… and amazingly Bella didn’t object:

Pumpkin and Portabella in the shelter

Bella even went back to sleep, with him on the lower level:

Pumpkin and Bella in the shelter

Meanwhile, a deer came by to eat some berries off the tree, while another cat (Porcini, I think) watched:

Deer and cat

Back inside:

Pumpkin and Bella in the shelter

Pumpkin got a bit too close, which Bella wasn’t keen on, but she didn’t run away, perhaps feeling like he’d chase if she jumped down:

Pumpkin and Bella in the shelter

At one point Pumpkin left, ate some food, then returned, again without objection. After both being in there for over an hour, Pumpkin left peacefully.

Then about an hour later, when Bella was by the bird feeders (look closely to the right of the leftmost feeders), Pumpkin again approached:

Pumpkin and Bella by the bird feeders

He got within a couple of feet of her, then she retreated a short distance, till he wandered off:

Pumpkin and Bella by the bird feeders

At least those two seem to be getting used to each other.

Here’s Porcini in the swimming pool area, after I flushed her out of the bird feeder grasses, while refilling the feeders. She was happy to watch me from a safe distance:

Porcini in the pool area

Bella by the cat house:


That evening, though, there was a less friendly encounter between Pumpkin and one of the twins (probably Spud), where Pumpkin chased him to under the cherry tree by the front steps:

Pumpkin chasing Spud

Pumpkin chasing Spud

Pumpkin chasing Spud

They separated when I came out, having heard the ruckus:

Pumpkin chasing Spud

The alien gray cat:

Alien gray cat

Another nose-sniffing greeting:


One of the twins watching birds by the feeders:

Cat watching birds

Flock Friday for July 5

It’s Friday, that means it’s time for a flock update.

Let’s start with the chicks this time:






A chick pecking the camera (probably the green light below the lens):

Chick pecking camera

On to the big girls. A chicken laid a surprise egg in the middle of the coop floor; probably thought it was a large poop (yes, they both come out the same hole):

Chickens with a surprise egg

All the other chickens rushed over to look at it:

Chickens with a surprise egg

Chickens out in the run:

Chickens outside

Me topping up the pine shavings bedding; I just toss rough piles, and the chickens scratch through it, spreading it around:

David adding pine shavings

Quacker time. Literally; one of the ducklings has started a proto-quack, while the others are still peeping. They’re growing up!

We’ve also chosen provisional names for the ducks: Bill for the male Cayuga, Gilly (Gill) for the female Cayuga, Bert for the male Buff, and Gertrude (Gert) for the female Buff. We’re still not sure which is male and which is female, though.

Here are Bert and Gert checking the temperature:

Ducklings checking temperature

I replaced the waterer with the big duck one. This can be heated, to avoid it freezing in winter, though it isn’t plugged in yet. It is designed for ducks, with nice deep bowls, but small enough that the ducks can’t climb inside, removable filters to make it easier to clean, and a larger capacity reservoir:

Big duck waterer

Ducklings splashing:

Ducklings splashing

The little Cayuga duckling, covered in water droplets:


The big Cayuga; look at those wings!

Duckling wings

Ducklings are very messy, including when eating:

Duckling messy eating

Duckling treat:

Duckling treat

The Buffs watching me:


A view of the duck house across the pond; they should be ready to go out there in a few weeks time:

Duck house across pond

Finally, a token picture of the wild birds, with a deer munching on the tall grass by their feeders:

Deer by bird feeders