Flock Friday for September 13

Welcome to a wet Flock Friday!

As hinted on my personal blog, we had a heron visit our pond this week. Twice.

Here’s the heron sliding off the edge of the pond (which slopes steeply) and taking a header in the pond:

Heron in pond

After it got out, it fluffed up most impressively:

Heron in pond

Heron next to the pond:

Heron next to pond

It flew over to below the pond deck, and one of the large koi swam up and startled it, causing it to jump back:

Heron startled by koi

Heron eat fish (and frogs and such), but I think the big koi are way too big for it to tackle. I didn’t see it catch anything; the smaller fish were wise enough to stay hidden.

Here it is flying above the pond:

Heron flying

The following night, a rat or similar rodent was spotted near the duck house, with the ducks warily eyeing it:

Rat

Here’s a shot of the ducks that kinda shows the delightful green iridescence of the cayuga duck:

Ducks

Ducks on the ramp:

Ducks on ramp

A few days later, hey look, the heron is back:

Heron again

In the pond:

Heron in pond

Heron startled by a koi again:

Heron startled by a koi again

Heron flying to the duck house:

Heron flying

Like an ornament on the duck house roof:

Heron on duck house

Those big koi are bullies; here’s one chasing the ducks, while another eats their mealworm treats:

Koi chasing ducks

Ducks from inside house:

Ducks from inside house

Ducks

On to the chickens. Here’s Buffy, one of the older girls:

Buffy chicken

Camilla:

Camilla chicken

Kiwi:

Kiwi chicken

Mo, starting to molt:

Mo chicken

And some pics of the young chickens:

Young chickens

Chickens

Chicken

Chickens

Did you see the YouTube video of our young chickens curiously clucking?

Cat update for week ending September 7

Continuing the cavalcade of Caturday!

Last weekend the cinderblock that the outdoor cat cam is housed within was knocked over:

Camera knocked over

Upon reviewing the footage, apparently that happened as a result of an encounter between the alien orange cat, Pumpkin, and two of our ferals, one in the feeder, and one on top of the camera housing:

Orange cat encounter

When the latter took off at great speed, it was enough force to dislodge the block, resulting in this exciting view of the ground:

Camera knocked over

One day I plan to build a nice wooden housing for the camera, but it isn’t a high priority, so the stack of cinderblocks will suffice for now.

One peek at a couple of cats inside:

Cats inside

Another alien cat encounter, between the gray cat (Paladout) and Porcini:

Gray cat encounter

After coming up behind unnoticed, she went around the back and hissed at him from the other side:

Gray cat encounter

Here Porcini is having a good stretch while licking her lips after eating:

Stretch & lick

Four cats (one eating, three outside):

Four cats

A raccoon looking at the camera:

Raccoon

Raccoon

Chasing a bug:

Chasing a bug

Another orange cat encounter; the feral is eating breakfast, oblivious to Pumpkin:

Orange cat encounter

Then notices, and runs away:

Orange cat encounter

Three cats, one looking at a bird:

Three cats

A couple of cats on the deck, a couple relaxing by the tree:

Four cats

Bella bapping a bug:

Bapping a bug

Porcini staring at a spider:

Staring at a bug

Flock Friday for August 30

Let’s check in with some of the homestead flock, shall we?

Duck butts:

Duck butts

Night swim:

Night swim

A sequence of three pictures of a duck flying from the bank into the pond:

Duck flying

Duck flying

Duck landing

Just like dogs and cats, ducks sometimes have zoomies, randomly flapping their wings and hydroplaning around the pond:

Duck zoomies

A raccoon waded through the edge of the pond, while the ducks watched from a safe distance:

Raccoon and ducks

Attempting an artistic shot of the ducks in the rain through a whirligig:

Ducks in rain through whirligig

The ducks in the pond during light rain:

Ducks in pond

Ducks in pond

Bert standing on one leg. I don’t recall seeing them on the bank in the northwest corner of the pond before:

Duck standing on one leg

Exploring the secret path on the west side of the pond:

Ducks exploring secret path

Ducks exploring secret path

Flapping wings:

Duck flapping wings

On to the chicks. Some of them are starting to cluck (instead of peep) now, so I think I’ll start calling them chickens instead of chicks. They aren’t quite fully grown yet, and won’t start laying for another month or two, but are getting there.

A bit of pecking order aggro:

Chicken aggro

Perhaps triggered by a wild bird in the coop; I hadn’t seen that before (must have come in the pop door):

Bird in coop

So far they prefer to roost above the nesting boxes at night (and above the window, not really an official roost). But I decided to put the poop tray back under the main roosts, in case they do switch to that someday:

Poop tray

Another coop invader: a cheeky squirrel:

Squirrel in coop

The squirrel came back a bit later, much to the confusion and concern of the chickens:

Squirrel in coop

I went out there and chased it out, and it hasn’t been back since (so far).

Chickens on the roosts:

Chickens on roosts

Chickens

Moana looking at me:

Moana looking at me

Four on the floor:

Chickens

Moana eating mealworms from my hand:

Moana eating mealworms from my hand

The chickens outside in their run. Still lots of weeds, which is fine; dual purpose of snacks and shade from the sun for them:

Chickens outside

No pictures of the old chickens this week. I’ll try to get some for next time!

Flock Friday for August 23

For Flock Friday, let’s check in with the ducks first, as usual.

The ducks enjoy resting in various spots on the edge of the pond; this is one of their favorites (some fish visible, too):

Ducks on bank, fish in pond

Ducks and fish eating treats:

Ducks and fish in pond

Next to their house, watching a landscaper trimming a tree:

Ducks next to their house

Ducks in the pond:

Ducks in pond

Early this morning, the alien gray cat (“Paladout”) visited the duck house, when they were on the bank on the other side of it:

Alien gray cat

The cat approached the duck house, and the ducks slowly swam into the safety of the pond:

Alien gray cat and ducks

Speaking of unwelcome visitors, I saw a pair of raccoons in the chicken run in the pre-dawn morning (when the chicks were all safely closed in the coop):

Raccoons in chicken run

Here one is peeking at the camera, before climbing the fence:

Raccoon in chicken run

The new run does have a bird-netting roof, but there are big gaps due to snow damage. One thing on my long list of homestead projects is to replace that with welded wire; I just haven’t gotten around to it yet.

One more visitor, a cheeky squirrel in the coop:

Squirrel in chicken coop

Chicks on the roosts in their run:

Chicks on run roosts

Flowers self-seeded from the old hanging baskets above:

Self-seeded flowers

Some more pictures of the chicks in their run:

Chicks

Chicks

Chicks

Chick

Chick

Chicks

They’re getting quite big, but still not fully grown, and still peeping instead of clucking. Here you can see the new and old chickens in their adjacent runs:

Chicks and chickens

They’ll be kept apart until after the new ones are fully grown and start laying. In the meantime, they can get used to each other through the fence, which will make integration later a little easier.

Cat update for week ending August 17

Saturday means Caturday, checking in with the feral cats we care for.

Two cats sleeping inside the cat house shelter:

Two cats inside

Reaching for a bug on the wall below the feeder camera:

Reaching for a bug

Up close:

Up close

The alien gray cat and Poppy; she just wandered off, and let the gray cat finish eating:

Gray cat and feral

Three cats looking at something (probably Rory on the deck):

Three cats

Sleepy cats:

Sleepy cats

Chasing a moth:

Chasing a moth

Three cats inside the shelter, when the gray cat visits after midnight:

Four cats

Three snuggly cats:

Three cats

Still three upstairs, when one more arrives:

Four cats

Spud staring at a bug:

Staring at a bug

Four cats inside; I also saw Spud in the feeder again at this time. It’s rare to see all five cats, but I’m glad when I do; it’s nice to confirm that they’re all still alive:

Four cats

Those aren’t cats: two raccoons inside:

Two raccoons

The alien gray cat arrives, followed by the alien orange cat:

Orange and gray cats

Both are probably pet cats of neighbors. We’ve named the orange cat Pumpkin, but haven’t named the gray cat (which has a collar, so is definitely a pet). Since he looks like an outdoor edition of our cat Paladin, maybe we should call him Paladout? 😉

Orange and gray cats:

Orange and gray cats

Two cats, doing the feral startled stare:

Two cats

The gray cat arrives when one of our ferals is sitting next to the deck; they seem to be somewhat getting used to each other:

Gray and feral cats

Two cats sniffing noses in greeting:

Two cats

Poppy has been spending several hours each night sleeping in the shelter, which makes me happy; she was a very good mother to her kittens, and deserves a comfortable retirement:

Sleepy poppy

Cat update for week ending August 3

Welcome to Caturday!

Three cats, with the one coming out of the shelter having a good stretch:

Three cats

Peeking around the corner, while waiting for breakfast:

Three cats

Snuggles:

Snuggles

A raccoon walking down a tree; they are really good at climbing:

Raccoon walking down a tree

Four cats:

Four cats

Dinner queue:

Three cats

More snuggles; they haven’t been using the shelter very much of late, so I enjoy seeing when they do:

Snuggles

Three cats:

Three cats

A fourth arrives:

Four cats

Porcini looking at a bug on the wall below the camera:

Three cats

Four cats:

Four cats

Raccoon:

Raccoon

Possum:

Possum

Pumpkin, the alien orange cat:

Orange cat

Daytime raccoon:

Daytime raccoon

Pepper in the shop:

Pepper in the shop

Two cats, with chairs in the field for our party today:

Two cats

I expect the cats will avoid visiting tonight, with more humans and dogs roaming around. Hopefully they’ll fill up before that.

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:

Raccoon

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:

Raccoon

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:

Raccoon

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:

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:

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:

Chicks

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.

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:

Cats

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.