Archive for October, 2009

Can Love Boost Egg Production in Chickens?

girl holding chickenCan love boost egg production? I definitely think so. Those of us who have chickens definitely benefit from loving our brood. Not only from minimized chasing and pecking when we enter their pens, but also from (I think) increased egg production.

That said, I must admit I am going all out to sustain my brood’s egg laying during the coming winter months.

Apparently, scientifically speaking, chickens need at least 12 to 14 hours of light each day to lay eggs regularly. So, as all you chicken people know, your hens “lay off” during the winter months when daylight hours are short and don’t produce many eggs at all. Hardly any, to tell the truth.

What is one to do to encourage regular egg-laying during those short, dark days of winter?

Much is to be found in answer to this question online. Indeed. And here are a few of the answers:

1. Provide your hens with 14 – 15 hours of light each day.

2. Provide your hens with warmth.

3. Put a little cayenne pepper in your hens’ water to pep up their internal thermostat.

… from here on out are my own suggestions. BUT, they are based on my own chicken research over the past decade or so.

4. Give your chickens fresh greens every day (yes, even if you have to buy them in the winter — or give them some of your horses’ alfalfa).

5. Go in your chickens’ pen every day at least 2 or 3 times and talk to them. Play like you are bringing new delectables, even if what you have isn’t that special.

6. Provide interesting water. Fresh and running, if possible. A fountain would be nice. Mine have a “pool” that I refresh twice a day in summer.

7. Talk to them. When one egg per day was being pecked apart and eaten a couple of months ago, I zeroed in on the errant hen and had a serious discussion with her about cannabilism. Since our talk not one egg has been ravaged.

So here we are. It is now suddenly winter. And here’s what I’ve done for my chickens, not only because I love them, but because I really, really want to have their eggs throughout the winter.

1. I built them a huge hen house, complete with electrical outlets for various accoutrements.

2. I roofed a small yard area just outside their door so that, even when we have snow, they will be protected and can go “outside.”

3. I fenced in and covered with bird mesh another yard, outside their “inside” yard, so that they can really, really go outdoors (the mesh is to protect them from predatory birds). That is where their summer pool is.

4. I have gates and doors between all areas to insure their security, and I lock them in very carefully every night.

5. They have a lovely camping ground spot (an old shed) for passing time during moderate seasons — I call it a hovel, but they seem to love it and demonstrate that by occasionally laying eggs in it and by sleeping on it’s low roof during warm evenings.

What else? Oh!

6. Yesterday I spent the entire afternoon hooking up bright lights on a timer in their house so they’ll have the prerequisite 15-16 daylight hours in which to do their duty (eggs!). I also hooked up two heat lamps over their swank, homemade nighttime roost (which, so far, they have snubbed their little beaks at in favor of the roof of the aforementioned,  hovel for sleeping on). And, last but not least, they now have a heated water bowl. Ta dum!

I trust all this will pay off. All I want is a few eggs a week out of the deal. That’s not an unfair trade for the hundreds of dollars and dozens of hours spent on my chickens’ behalf.

But you know what? I think my love for these guys matters the most. They know me. They get real excited when I come to their pen. They cluck and posture and beg and flap for whatever tidbits I might be bringing them. We have conversations. They love the attention.

Never mind that my rooster, Mr. Smarty Pants, immediately dive bombs my feet if I walk in wearing a pair of shoes or boots he doesn’t recognize. On the whole, I just know it’s all about love with these chickens. And I will report back on egg production mid-winter.


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Be Careful What You Wish For

So I went with my friend Cindy to the pre-arranged “viewing” she had helped organize of the herd of throwaway horses on Sunday afternoon (previously posted about HERE). Not because I was planning to take or wanted any of the horses, even though they were a beautiful lot and well bred. Besides, according to Cindy, there were more than enough applicants to ensure that all the horses would have good homes.

But I sure did love this little chestnut filly and was sorely tempted!

But I sure did love this little chestnut filly and was sorely tempted!

I went because, as I told her, “if there are any ‘leftovers,’ anybody no one wants to take, I will take them to my place until we can find them good homes.” I mean, we had all already agreed that certainly none of these beautiful equine specimens could be allowed to go to the auction, i.e. slaughter in Mexico.

So off we went. And a very successful afternoon it was, to be sure. There were, as anticipated, more than enough applicants to adopt the 10 horses that had been made available. There was even one group who had come all the way from Texas (who, in the end, were awarded 4 of the best of the lot, including the fabulous Arabian stallion).

The horses were beautiful! And of very, very good bloodlines. It was unimaginable that these fabulous equines were simply being given away. But apparently the owners/ranchers realized they had gotten way in over their heads in the last three years with letting the herd run free, so there were many babies on the ground and nothing to be done with them. Their business was cattle, after all, not breeding Arabian-Quarter Horses.

DSCN3279Cindy fell instantly in love with a dainty, but large and refined, year-and-a-half-old bay filly who will no doubt become one of the loves of her life. They bonded immediately, even though the filly had barely been handled and did not respond to any of the other lookers. Their match was a no-brainer. Cindy had no intentions of adopting one of these horses, but she and this filly belong together. Period. Done deal.

Other applicants filled out their forms, often requesting 3 or 4 horses each. Even all the wild-child weanlings were quickly spoken for.

At the end of the day we did a tally to see who had asked for which horses, to divvy up duplicate requests, and to make sure none were left over or not requested. And … uh oh … there was one, only one, who no one had spoken for. She was one of the three Quarter Horse brood mares, an 8-year-old bay. Being rather chunky and large and quiet, she was pretty much unnoticeable during the entire proceedings, and certainly did not stand out as a good prospect for a work horse or show horse. She had good bone, good color, and seemingly a very mellow disposition. She was, in fact, the mother of Cindy’s new heartthrob.

So, as we were leaving, someone in charge said to me, “Leta, please fill out one of the forms because we’ll be putting No. 2 in your name. The brand inspector who will be coming out will have to have the name of the new owner for each horse, and since you said you would take care of any leftovers, she’ll be in your name.”

Here she is, "Miss Leftover"

Here she is, "Miss Leftover" (now known as "Lopeh")


I took a deep breath and dutifully filled out the form. I had promised this, hadn’t I? There are, hopefully, two different parties who could not attend today’s proceedings who might want this mare. Meanwhile, she will be coming home with me in one week to await her fate.

The catch is: When I heard about this herd that was up for grabs I had thought to myself: “I don’t want another horse — I already have three, but if I did I would only be interested in one of the 3 or 4 QH broodmares, one that is quiet and mature and is very ridable, so we might have a second riding horse at my place.” And, another thought, just a day or two ago: “I so wish I could have another Quarter Horse some day who is as wonderful and wise as my old man Copper.”

I wish I hadn’t even had those thoughts because it looks like they may have conjured up this mare. I guess it remains to be seen. But, for sure, being the odd man out today, and the non-looker, she surely would have wound up in the slaughter house, so I am still glad I made the offer to take the “leftovers.” And, since she’s in my name, I guess I have first dibs. If she does indeed live up to those dreamy thoughts I had, well then, maybe she has a permanent home here after all. …. to be continued ….

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Throw Away Horses

This is a little mare I rescued from a herd of horses that was headed for the auction block last October if not removed from the ranch they lived on by November 1st. This meant that probably at least half of them would end up going to Mexico for slaughter. They were basically being thrown away.

If you’re a horse lover, and especially if you have horses, you are probably familiar with this phenomenon. Especially when the economy is in a nosedive as ours presently is. Folks fall on hard times and, if they have horses, those are often the first to suffer. They are often underfed and, worse, sometimes  just turned loose to fend for themselves because their owners can’t afford any feed at all.

I am blessed to live in an animal-loving area where all manner of rescue takes place, for just about any species. I don’t know why but this frame of mind is much more prevalent here than it was where I came from in Texas. There are more shelters for dogs, cats, and horses than I’ve ever seen anywhere. And there is a huge network that relays information via email, the local paper, and phone calls when there is a dire need.

Quarabs2So last October the call went out to hundreds: a small herd of about fifteen horses on a nearby ranch had to be removed from the ranch or adopted by November 1st or else off to the auction block they would go — and that would mean slaughter for many.

As is so often the case in this community, two or three individuals jumped right in, spread the word to hundreds, complete with pictures, ages, breeding, etc., and organized a visit to the ranch  by all interested potential adopters. They even took applications and screened the prospective owners. I contacted one of the women to find out more about it, and she told me they already had more than enough applications to provide homes for all these horses.

My fingers and toes were crossed that this indeed would come to pass and that these beautiful animals would be safely in new homes soon.

In this case the horses were highly desirable, being Arab or Quarter HorseQuarabs5 or a cross of both — with a registered Arab stallion in the herd — and, at least from their pictures, being relatively healthy and in good shape. That fact surely made this  rescue more successful.

I am happy to say though, that, even when this is not the case and when the horses at stake are old or in poor condition, rescue efforts in this area are always underway.

I was poised to take one of these horses if not enough homes could be found. And as you can read about in a future blog post, that did in fact happen, and one little mare no one wanted came home with me.

If you’re a horse lover, I urge you to become aware of the need in your area for horses in dire straits. And if you can’t adopt one yourself, help get the word out or send whatever donation you can to your local rescue groups.

The plight of the horse in our country is not pretty. There are over 30,000 captive Mustangs languishing in holding pens who will probably never be adopted. And then there are situations like this one too, where those we have already domesticated are just being thrown away.

Let’s ALL try to help in some way.

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Making Peace With the Desert

This is what it's like in the high desert where I live.

This is what it's like in the high desert where I live.

It’s been a year and a half since I left my home state, Texas, for good, and hauled 17 animals and myself to our new abode in the revered Galisteo Basin, on 40 acres just south of Santa Fe, New Mexico. I’d been looking at properties  for over a year when our new home practically fell in my lap through a series of what I can only call miracles. But you can call them syncronicities if you are more comfortable with that  (and, if you care to, you can read about what happened HERE).

Everything about the place seemed blessed; perfect for my lifestyle and family. Then, the first three months here, I was put to the test.

My brother, a decades-long resident of Santa Fe, had warned me. “Leta, are you sure you want to do this?” he asked with a grave expression on his face. “I’ve seen people move to the Santa Fe area who have been dying to do so for years, only to have their marriages fall apart, their businesses fail, and all kinds of hell break loose in their lives. They buy million dollar homes and then they flee as soon as possible.”

“Yes,” I’m sure, I said.

So we arrive. A month later I have a break-in and burglary and all my jewelry and laptop are stolen. Nothing like this had ever happened on the property before.  One of my dogs developed a raging cancer and was gone within weeks during the second month. Two of my cats were carried off by coyotes, one on the first day after arriving (I didn’t even know how he got outside!). And there was more. Very strange things happened in my house and on my land, as if the spirits that abide here were truly putting me to a test.

I remember during those first few months confidentially stating to a dear friend that I really didn’t know if I would be able to stay here. I couldn’t believe I was even saying it out loud, after all the anticipation of relocating here, but I needed someone to know. I was having trouble bearing the weight of it all by myself.

I look back now and find notes I wrote in my journal during those first three months:

The high desert in Northern New Mexico is truly a force to be dealt with. At 6000’ elevation and higher, with vast stretches of arid terrain and jagged mountain peaks visible in every direction, the elements frolic together as recklessly as the drunken, cloven-hooved Bacchus of mythology. One moment the sun is blasting down mercilessly upon the land and all upon it, the next towers of writhing black clouds are pouring across the sky, pushed by winds full of portent and power. Sometimes rains come with, sometimes not. Sometimes in mere sprinkles, sometimes in torrents causing the myriad dry arroyos that lace the land to become miniature rivers in flood.                    ………….. and

After the harsh, sec winds of what seemed like an interminable spring, this season is more than welcome. Those winds swept the landscape with a fury, moving so much dry, red dust with them that it was often impossible to see any of the mountainous horizon. We had such winds in Texas too, and I’ve always hated high wind, but somehow the winds here seemed more alive and full of not just mischievousness, but malignant overtones. Perhaps it’s because there’s no real shelter on the desert, no large shade trees to block and redirect the wind currents, no creeks or pools of water to soften their impact. Seedlings and blooming fruit trees shudder and often dry up permanently. The horses stand with their backs to the west, the direction from which the winds come tearing –  heads down, looking depressed and miserable.

That first one was an unusually windy spring, I know now. And afterward, whatever spirits on the land were testing me finally decided it was okay for me to stay and ceased their malevolent “pranks.”

I adore it here, is the bottom line, and have ever since the passing of those first three months. So do all my animals. We have not only all adapted but feel blessed and special to live in such spectacular surroundings. It is not only the land here that is awe-inspiring and grand, it is the history of the area itself. This is one of the most hallowed places in North America, with its countless sites and remnants of ancient civilization.

They say this land is watched over, by the spirits of all those who came before. I believe it. I think you have to pay your dues and really understand the energy to be successful here, and I am thankful that I’ve passed the test.

I feel like I’ve belonged here forever.

The view from my courtyard -- how could one not love being here?

The view from my courtyard -- how could one not love being here?

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Do You Have a One-Person Horse? Or Dog? Or Cat?

kissing horseThe larger question is whether animals CAN be “one-person” individuals. And yes, of course they can. They come in as many different personality types as we do,  so why should they be any different?

I just spoke to an aging show jumper — “Cinder” (to protect anonymity) — to see if the work was getting a little too difficult for her. Her person — we’ll call her “Jamie” — is eager not to overface her. Plus, they have been together for 13 years (the horse is 19), and Jamie refers to Cinder as her “beloved,” so she very much wants and respects her input on such important questions.

The answer from Cinder was that yes, the work is a bit much for her older body and joints at this point, so Jamie will now tailor their riding and working time together appropriately.

But the interesting aspect of this session was how absolutely devoted Cinder is to Jamie. And only to Jamie.

Years and years ago, before Jamie finally decided to buy Cinder, she consulted a well known Native American animal communicator on the West Coast, by the name of Fred. (Fred is no longer with us, but those who had the good fortune of having him talk to their animals have never forgotten him.) At the time Cinder told Fred she hated all humans, but she was married to Jamie!

These days Cinder tells me that being with Jamie for 13 years has really opened her heart, so she is just fine with other people and, in fact, likes many of the staff at her barn. But she is still, positively, absolutely, a one-person horse, and her person is Jamie.

Madalyn Ward, D.V.M., has written a fascinating book about horse personality types, Horse Harmony – Understanding Horse Types and Temperaments . . . Are You and Your Horse a Good Match?, which talks a lot about how some types will work for only one person, or must have the respect of their person in order to cooperate, or become very depressed or ill if separated from their person. Some people seem to be surprised by this, I guess wondering how a horse could have such emotions that many attribute only to humans.

But we horse lovers and dog lovers and cat lovers and bird lovers understand. Our domesticated friends come in as many different personalities as we do, so it is best never to underestimate them or make a judgment call about what they are feeling unless you really understand them.

Of course there is the opposite personality type as well — the one who could kinda care less what you think and is not at all dependent upon your love and support to enjoy his or her life.

The important point here is perhaps that, since it has fairly well been proven that this wide variance of personalities does exist amongst our furry friends, be absolutely SURE you are teaming up with the right type for your own personality, your lifestyle, and your needs.

As for me, I happen to love the one-person type, and have more than one animal like this, amongst them my beautiful Mustang mare, Bella. In this case it pays. She will do anything she can to please me. But have someone else who she doesn’t know or respect ask her to do something special and she’ll go into a big sull — or buck them off!

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Blue-Green Algae: The Proof is in the Pudding . . I Mean, The Old Horse

"Why does everybody get SO bent out of shape about this aging thing?" asks Copper.

"Why does everybody get SO bent out of shape about the aging thing?" asks Copper.

A few days ago Copper, my 32-year-old Quarter Horse, says to me, “I have had, ahem, a little setback.”

He’s referring to a punishing kick in the chest from one of  his herd mates exactly one week ago. But true to form, even though Copper considers this a “little setback,” he hasn’t missed a meal or limped a step.

We were appalled when we found the huge lump growing on his chest like something out of Alien— complete with hoofprint stamped thereupon. It was about as big as a small watermelon and within hours was as hard as a rock.

Homeopathic, high potency Arnica to the rescue. Lots of doses for three days then tapering off. The lump stayed about the same, though softened a bit, and the heat left it. And Copper just kept chomping through his rations. And, might I add, a 32-year-old horse doesn’t have many teeth left, so chomping on anything is quite a feat. But Copper does it very well. In fact he can still eat grass hay and even graze, a true miracle at his age.

So here we are, a week later, the watermelon has turned to mush, hair is falling out, and the whole thing is about to become Mount Vesuvius and massively erupt as what may become known as the mother of all abscesses. It’s going to be a gory sight — a nasty and smelly business. But Copper seems like he could care less, and we of course are going to see him through.

I know what is going through your mind. Where is the vet? Aren’t you totally freaked out? To answer, the vet is coming in 3 days — to check the horses’ teeth, so I’ll have him check the abscess too, just to cover all bases. And no, I am not freaking out. In fact, I am thrilled.

The fact that the immune system of a 32-year-old horse has the wherewithall to form and dispose of abscess material within a week, in a normal way — by erupting,  is a phenomenon worth celebrating. Contrary to what one would think, one does not want to suppress the infection in an abscess by giving antibiotics. This just drives the energy of the infection deeper into the body, and it will show up later as more serious symptoms.

So we are celebrating as we speak. Awaiting the smelly pus and blood and gore to begin flowing out, hopefully tomorrow. We will help it along with hot compresses and will keep it open and “clean” (an oxymoron in this case) so it can do its deed and rid dear Copper’s body of the offending infection.

The moral to this story is: how and why can a horse Copper’s age be so healthy and his system so effective at clearing such a heinous injury? I have to believe it is all due to the absolutely superb nutrition he has had since he was given to me as a throwaway horse 10 years ago. During that time he has also received no vaccines (since he doesn’t ever travel or go on the show circuit — though I’m sure he could if he wanted to), and his worming is mostly handled herbally.

I’ll admit, Copper gets a LOT of superb supplements, but so do I and so do the rest of my animals. Our mainstay is the superfood blue-green algae by Simplexity, in many different forms. It is such a perfect, easily assimilable, food that it literally fills pretty much all nutritional gaps. I urge you to try it, for yourself and your old horses — and for your kids and other animals too.

So, in case you’re interested, Copper’s blue-green algae each day is:

2 Enzymes

1 Bifidus

1 Acidophilus

1 T.  APA blend

1 tsp. Simply SBGA

And on the new moon and the full moon he gets 15 Spectrabiotic to power up his gut to rid itself of offending parasites! He hardly ever requires a chemical worming.

Go Copper!!!!!

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Animal Communication – How Do Animals Perceive?

The Skull of a Giraffe

The Skull of a Giraffe

This is a big, big question, and one that is receiving more and more study and attention as time goes by. Learning more about how our planetary co-habitants perceive and understand their environment offers us humans invaluable information for moving forward both scientifically and sociologically.

I am certainly no scientist — not even close — but I find this question a fascinating one so am interested not only in the results of ongoing studies, but also in anything my animal communication clients can share with me on the subject.

We human animals have virtually tuned out any modes of perceiving except through the five senses we depend on most: seeing, hearing, tasting, touching, and smelling. Not so with other species. While most of them share the “big five,” many also have other means of receiving information. Or their use of their five senses is keener or differently honed.

For instance, it is a widely known fact that both dogs and cats have a kitten smellingsense of smell that is phenomenally greater than a human’s, and in fact they often use this sense first in determining the nature or identification of an object or person. This heightened sense of smell is often reflected in my animal communication sessions. Just recently, Joseph, an alpha male cat in a household of three plus two dogs, told me he was not allowing the petsitter to see him while he was in her care because he didn’t like her smell. We can’t change that person’s smell, but explaining to him the importance of her laying eyes on him so she’d know he was all right did help solve this problem.

Similarly, my Mustang mare, Bella, has always relied on her sense of smell to gather information — about everything. She always sniffs people’s hair before deciding what she thinks of them, and this was, in fact, the very first thing she did with me when I traveled to Colorado several years ago to pick her up. One thing she is looking for, she tells me, is any hint of fear or anything to be fearful of, as her wild-animal instincts still rule her actions.

Many times in my practice animals have shown me what they “see” whenghosts something is amiss that their person can’t figure out. What they show me usually looks like vibrational waves or  cloudy fog and represents everything from ghosts, to vortexes, to contaminated auric fields around humans. They may look something like this picture and generally do not have any color.

What about other ways of perceiving? We know whales and dolphins communicate through sonar. And a current study is underway about the meaning of the vibrational messages elephants may be sending when they stamp the earth with their feet.

I took the picture of the giraffe skull a few years ago in Africa and was utterly fascinated by the big knob on its forehead. When I asked our guide what it was for, he was clearly at a loss and told me no one knew . I haven’t found the answer to that yet (if anyone does or knows, please get in touch), but to me it appears obvious — another sonar device, for exactly what purpose I can only imagine, the giraffe’s head being located so high up in the air. Maybe communicating with UFO’s?

If one of your animals is acting strangely, or you notice behavioral changes, please keep in mind that there are possible and probable answers that exist that you and I would never be aware of. Give your friend the benefit of the doubt and ask him to try to tell or show you what is going on. And if you still feel at a loss, consider asking for help from someone who does animal communication. You may be amazed to learn what your animal friend is perceiving, and how.



Can Cats See Ghosts?

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