Saturday, July 23, 2016

Milk Pads to Start Plants

What is it? It is a milk pad though a coffee strainer thingy, (I don't drink coffee.) would probably do just as well. I have this problem when I water my lettuce and such in the pots under the grow light. They wash to the side leaving large bare spots. Or they wash to the surface and then dry out and die.  
 
Can't remember what inspired the thought, no surprise since my memory is a atrocious.

I water over the pads and it slows the water keeping it from washing things out and spreads the disbursement. It also keeps the surface of the dirt moist longer. I don't use plastic over my pots. It is a eco thing of mine. Plastic takes too long to break down in the landfills so I try and avoid the highly disposable kind.
 
For the larger seeds it is no problem to do without the pads but for spinach, leafy lettuces, and herbs this works like a charm. I have quite a few new pots started for fall harvest in the sunroom. When the seeds sprout they push up the pad and I remove it. When I am through using the pads, I will wash them and put them aside for the next round of seeds. This is a must repeat idea.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

My Flower Garden

I am so enjoying my beans this year. They are my flower garden. There are quite a few varieties that I am trying. Not sure it is a fair trial though. There is a huge difference in the garden between where I've gardened before and new or newer ground. The old ground I have worked hard on improving and it really shows it. The previous owners of the place had completely depleted the soil. On the new ground the plants are not doing well but decidedly not as well as the area with the most amount of mulch added last winter (the old garden).
 
These curled leafed beans are on the newer ground but not newest ground. Every single time I plant beans, potatoes, and tomatoes on  new ground at this location the leaves curl and they look a bit sickly.

The next year all is well ---strange don't you think? This is beans grown where beans were grown before. Why would I do that? I am saying I put in a LOT of beans and that meant I needed LOTS of area. That also means I cut down drastically on the amount of corn I'm growing. It just has not done well. I'm trying a new variety grown in a new way. Just a small patch. But back to the beans. Most are dried bean varieties that I put in. This will be my third year of experimentation here and I will narrow the varieties wa.....y down next year. Next year I have a few fresh bean varieties I want to try. Nothing I have not grown before just a couple kinds I have not grown here. One is my grandpa's wax bean and the other a purple bean. There will be only small patches of those since we can only eat so many fresh beans.
Most of the bean flowers are white.
Contender beans have a purple flower.
 
This new variety bean variety belongs in a flower garden. Sorry can't remember this kind. I will have to look it up. I think it is a bean you can after the bean swells in the pod but before it dries. I put one of those in. Like I said I have a number of varieties I'm trying. Aren't the flowers gorgeous and there are in a huge profusion of them. These beans have me really excited to try. I hope there are beans for all those flowers.
 
Beans are simply beans I have discovered through researching. I was frustrated that the weather here often does not allow beans to dry in the garden so I spent hours studying trying to decided what I should grow. I consulted a gentlemen at Johnny's Seed company. He could not help me much. But just when I thought I would give up I discovered that varieties of beans simply stand out in one category or another. Fresh beans simply taste best when eaten fresh. They have a better texture and flavor. I would agree as my Contenders are the best thing I have ever canned and the best eaten fresh, and the best for growing where I live. They just lack the flavor I'm after in a dried bean.They can be used in a four bean soup of something though so they are not ruled out as a dried bean.
 
Dried beans have the best flavor dried. They also don't require canning but can be canned in the swollen pod stage. That really had me excited since it might mean I won't completely have wasted my time growing them some years when frost comes early. Theory and reality may say different, we shall see. Last summer we had a frost about the 23 of August killing most of the garden. That was rare but the beginning of September is not unusual so dried beans are a iffy project anyway.  
 
As for these scarlet flowered beans I think they are the ones best when just swollen in the pod and canned or eaten at this stage.  A stage that does not bode well for fresh beans. There you have it. After experimenting a little in our former home location and now here I think I am about done. About done experimenting. I will keep growing my favorites and save the best ones for growing the next year thereby using Mother Natures survival of the fittest to change the variety to best suit our climate.  
 
It is time to give the ground space up to an experiment with another crop. Not that I am not experimenting a little already. For instance I am trying white beets. Red beets have failed three times here. I need to adjust the soil more. The white beets are doing quite well and have needed very little attention. They are even in the newest section of the garden. Impressive so far. I'm anxious to taste them.
 
The new tomato variety is not impressing me. The plants have lots and lots of blossoms but few tomatoes. They say they are for the far north but nothing has out produced my Siberia tomatoes. I am about to give up trying anything new there as far as tomatoes go.
 
Now you have seen a bit of my flower garden.
  

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

A Little Ranting

With the world in a mess let's just say the motivation factor has gone up for self-sufficiency. Up on your foreign affairs news? My sister thinks I'm nuts. My other sister thinks I go a bit overboard. I say I know too much to turn back now.

 Winston Churchill said ---
"The further back you can look, the further forward you are likely to see."
 I am no historian though I think too many historians are short sighted worried about dates and facts instead of the trail events lead to. With what I know, and no it did not come from school but personal study through the years, I can see that some of our leaders know enough history to use it to manipulate the population to an end goal. They know how Hitler gained power. They know how others have taken over a country peacefully. Putin, and Enrique Pena Nieto have been doing just that just on different time tables and in different countries. Muslims are the next set and they have a really big arena they are trying to move into. Don't misconstrue my words for I believe in helping others but there must be a balance and caution. You can't give what you don't have. Plus one must watch for hidden agendas. Some have them.

America isn't looking much at all like the one the founding fathers  sacrificed so much for. Actually, Obama has done a good job of that in the last eight year, not that others haven't done their share but he is really zealous to have his way. Government moves slowly for a good reason. Good may come at a slower pace but many bad things are diverted as time to contemplate is given.

A large group of our population is pushing for a progressive movement yet they know not where they are progressing towards. It is not where they think. There is nothing that is new. Gay rights, Black Lives Matter, nope nothing new. Well, new names maybe. The basic strengths, weaknesses, and personalities of the human race has been around since the beginning of time.

If insanity is taking the same path and expecting a different destination, then we are indeed insane. Where our government is headed on its present course is a no-brainer.

Extremely high government debt. Not new and what comes next is not either. Our government will be going after our money big time. Been done the world over in the same situation and a whole lot lately in a countries efforts to stave off disaster. Your money becoming theirs. It has already been talked about. WWIII is probably just around the corner. America is more divided than before the Civil War. Doesn't bode well for us. The world is no better.

"If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants."  Isaac Newton said. History is our giant. So why do we keep doing the same thing over and over again that gets us to the same place -insanity, ignorance, laziness or some of all three?  Maybe it is that people are too busy concerned with the here and the now and miss the direction they are headed which might lead to disaster in the future.  

American news media upsets me as it is one sided whether the right or the left and almost complete dark on what is happening in the world. We know little about how governments are rising and falling and there is a great deal of that right now. We know little about how the Muslim immigration is going elsewhere. What is happening is not just a lesson about Muslims but about any culture far different than the one they are transported to. People naturally seek to make their new environment more like home. The home they once knew. If the difference is great it tears their host country apart. Appeasing is not always a good thing. Sometimes we have to demand that people adapt or leave.

I like to read books on espionage. I learn so much about strategies of leaders. I learned about Putin's strategy for handling the invasion of Ukraine. It was a slow process of encouraging Russian citizens to immigrate and this gave him a position he would not otherwise have. The immigrants, unaware of their role, were a ploy in his hands. He probably made his move a bit too early in the game or he might have succeeded. I understand why Mexico wants lots of its citizens in America (the more illegals if at all possible)- money, and power are the answer. If Mexico waits long enough the illegals just might bring back California to Mexico or maybe much, much more without a single shot being fired or only a few shots. California is very willing to give equal rights to foreign as well as American born citizens. Why bother being a American citizen if you live there. Notice a lot of Mexican flags waving? It tells where their true allegiance lies.

A large number of Muslims of a far, far different culture will have far reaching changes for America. Obama has appointed a large number of Muslims into the government. They are sympathetic to the customs of the religion. Bring in mass numbers and soon they will be running the country. Oh wait, they pretty much are.

If this is not what we want we need to stand up and say NO!! We need to tell them to adapt or please leave because we love it here and they are guests until they acclimate. We want them to also be somewhere where they can be happy too. We ask that they just don't take our America away from us and turn it into the middle east which they escaped from. We don't just change the rules so others feel more at home.   

As for myself I do not want to live under Muslim rules. I am far too independent for that. I appreciate diversity. Too much diversity though and a nation is pulled apart. It is a fact that too much diversity leads to everyone becoming centrally focused on their own little group. And don't construe this as a color comment. I don't give a hoot what your skin color is. Okay, I do. I have often wanted to just stare at someone because I am fascinated by their skin, no particular tone just some is so rich in color and texture. I'm weird like that.

If you look at American history you will see that different cultures settled in different areas of the U.S. It was comforting since there was much in common. Much in common means that there is far less contention. So wake up America!! We should be coming together. We should be seeking our commonality, not our differences.

I'm just waiting for someone to say to me, my ancestors were treated horribly so I deserve something. Mine had an extermination order put out on them in Missouri. No one alive today carried out a single act of violence during that time period. None of my family alive today had a single thing done to them personally since they were not even born yet. Is some of my inheritance lost? Maybe, but it does not matter because my ancestors might just have done that all on their own. The simple truth is selfishness makes someone want things they have not earned. Somebody who wants something for nothing does not care what it does to others as long as they are better off themselves. So get over it. Live in the present. Conquering was a cruel way of life and it has not ended and it will not for some time to come. Start looking outward instead of in and we will have a start to making a better world. Each of us will begin to build a reputation that proceeds us for the good.

Quit your pity party special interest groups. Quit using labels like bi-racial, black, gay, Native American, or whatever to set yourselves apart. If we all want to be equal then we need to speak and act equal. If you want treated with respect then act respectful toward others. We will not agree on everything but let's quit separating ourselves and just be Americans----period. I admire those citizens of Japanese decent in American during WWII. Now they had something to bellyache about but they have just moved on.

Have I known prejudice. You bet! Kirk and I did not get in anyone's face about it though they did in ours. Yes, we felt the heat from many but over time it went away. We treated these people with respect and eventually they returned the respect and some became friends. Friends that admitted that as we quietly went about our business that they began to see they were wrong.

Gordon B. Hinkley said, "Stand for something or fall for anything." That is pretty much where we are at in American history, fall for anything as we worry about pleasing everyone. You can't. As a Christian we have a saying, "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." For Christians it is common ground though we all may not agree on everything, there are basics we all can agree on. That gives stability.

It is about time America found common ground. Other countries are in chaos from too much diversity. We need to assert rules steeped in tradition. If you can not adapt then please find the door and discover a wonderful place where you can find common ground and live in peace. That or return home and rebuilt the nation you love.

 Our forefathers studied history long and hard to find the form of government that lasted the test of time. We have left the time honored path. Let's find the good traditions that have served us so well in the past like common curtsey which no longer is common.  If we don't know what's next? It has already begun. It has already been written about in the pages of time. It only needs to be given a label in time of once again. I will never be prepared but I can try and in doing so hopefully gain a measure of security.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Please Be Hens


Just one hen left with her brood. They are a gangly looking lot as they gain their feathers. This hen is a good momma. She is the one who took Up Tight Momma's two chicks to raise as her own.
 
Cross your fingers that there are lots of hens in this batch.  
Can't tell for sure on four of them just who are their mother's. Are they Australorps, Rhode Island Reds, or Easter Eggers? The dad of course is Sir Gallop. I don't suppose it rightly matters as the Easter Egger breed is a motely crew anyway but man are Easter Eggers heavy birds and I love their relaxed mannerisms, fast maturing, and egg laying ability. Relaxed chickens is a must around here like last night once again Honey Butter after dark was out sitting amongst the calves instead of tucked safely in the coop against night predators. I scooped her up and put her next to the coop door and firmly told her to go in so I could close the door up for the night. 
As for these chicks who are beyond needing a mom but not quite large enough to let loose amongst the flock lest they get picked on or worse eaten by our young cat Duke  -- I hope they are hens too.
 
Especially the white one at the very least. The kids have named it O like the character in the movie, Home and have their hearts set on keeping this one.
 
The self-sufficiency plan is for nearly half the flock to be replacements each year. We had a bad start. The first batch raised by a hen this year had three roosters and one hen. The roosters are in the pot and the hen was eaten by a fox. She was wild and I could not catch her to put her in the coop at night. No replacements there. These last batches hopefully we will do better with.
 
Our 7 year old was anxious for me to butcher the three young roosters until it happened. She learned that when you have a relation with the animal it is much harder to put them into the stew pot. Tears erupted and knowing this little girl dear to my heart has a mind that works much like mine I approached her logically. I simply pointed out things she had observed. The roosters were harassing the hens so they were not laying as many eggs. She had observed that one young rooster was challenging Sir Gallop and he was backing off. I explained that Sir Gallop needs to feel tough so he will continue to rush to the aid of the hens when they let out a squawk. He rounds up the bulk of the hens and puts them in the coop at night. We love Sir Gallop because he is so good. And of course the roosters had to be caught each night, which was not easy, to be put them into the coop. If they went into the coop on their own then the hens did not want to be in there. That was even worse. There was no balance with them in the flock.
 
Life on the farm, as the kids call it around here, is all about making hard choices and learning common sense. No Common Sense is not something natural but a accumulation of experiences that teach lessons. Common Sense is often learned by experiencing hard lessons. This summer I learned chicken wire is not small enough to keep in baby chicks. Chicks lost their lives over that mistake.
 
You can't fall apart over loss of life because it is a part of the balance of life. My part is to keep it to a minimum. I reason that if I do not interfere then even more lives would be lost. In this months case it would have been all the chicks as the cats would have eaten well. Without the cats we would be over run with mice and disease. A balance is what nature is all about and since we are surrounded by wildlife we have observed the balance hunting plays. If not enough animals are harvested then there is not enough feed so the animals become weak and susceptible to disease. Disease is cruel and wipes out far more than hunting. It is indiscriminate who it takes.
 
As for the two dens of fox we discovered, most are still out there causing havoc on our bird population. I'm not talking about chickens though the neighbors has observed fox wandering through our yard early in the morning. The neighbors and us have thinned a few out but the pheasant who wandered our yard is gone and the flock that hung around the neighbors is gone. Most of the Hungarian Partridge that came into the driveway for gravel for their craws are gone and I have not seen a Sharp tail Grouse in quite sometimes.  Too many fox wipe out the wild bird population. We need to eliminate some more fox. Not all, just enough to find the balance once more.
 
Meanwhile as I find those balances, I learn from my errors and though I seldom make the same mistakes, I do go on to make others. Next year I have high hopes that things will smooth out a bit in the chicken department. Rearing chicks with their mothers has definitely been a whole new experience.
 
 

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Over The Rainbow

Over the Rainbow


Over the Rainbow
By Melody Gardot
 
Somewhere over the rainbow,
Way up high.
There's a land that I've heard of,
Once in a lullaby.
Somewhere over the rainbow,
Skies are blue.
And the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true.
Someday I wish upon a star,
And wake up where the clouds are far behind me
Where
 my troubles melt like lemon drops.
Way above the chimney tops, 
That is where you will find me.
 
My dream is green fields, my green fields, filled with wild flowers and Ellie eating placidly with two calves at her side. Nibbling nearby are three does tailed by kids. In the yard are pens filled with bouncing rabbits and mother hens puffed up clucking to their brood of chicks. The garden is lush and reaching for the sky. Is it just once in a lullaby? That is what I wished for when I saw this incredible FULL double rainbow. May my dreams come to after this storm. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The Picture of Cuteness

 
Sh...... it's nap time. Ellie here does not want to get up. She is all cuteness and the beginning I hope of great things to come. This is our new milk cow. She is not for milk consumption so much as to raise a few calves on each year when she is of age.
 
Cutey pie is a Brown Swiss / Normandy cross. Swiss being known for sweet disposition, easy keeper (good feed conversion), and excellent milk production. They are from the alps so she should feel right at home here in the winter time. The Normandy is known for a sweet disposition, besides being a dual purpose animal with a more beefy frame. They still are a good milk producer. Right now I'm just glad Ellie has gained a bit of coordination. This momma was panicked for the first five days. I was sure she was going to break a leg. Poor girl just could not get those appendages coordinated and still she ran full tilt around the barnyard. Her legs seemed unattached, flying outward in all directions.  



Let me introduce you to Hesston. He is a bull calf. Never raised a Holstein before but hopefully we get an opportunity. Hesston is hanging on to life by a thread. Up one hour and down two from that. He has had the scours something fierce. See the slight hump in the back? This is Hesston upon his arrival here. He had a belly ache and was a bit constipated. I fed him his feedings four times a day, made sure he made lots of trips to the water trough, and fed him additional milk flavored bottles of water just to hydrate him well and stimulate the bowels. I mean very heavy on the water and just enough milk to get him to drink it.

Hesston is also trying to take a nap. He doesn't want to show you a picture of himself standing up as he is all bones. He got the scours and I have doused the poor thing with cow medicine up to the wazooo to no avail. We have fought the fight for four days. I decided to just stay home for a few days despite a cazillion things I need to go and do. I have got to try and get him on his feet. Despite treatment and feedings four times a day I have about lost him a number of times. He would look like he might turn the corner, his sides filling out a bit, and then he would crash once more shooting fluids out the back end.
 
I am doing six feedings a day today as then I can do smaller doses of milk or milk and electrolytes. Smaller also doses of Pepto-Bismol. The Pepto-Bismol is doing better than calf scour pills. Hesston can suck a short time and then he opens his mouth and I use the calf tuber. I don't put it into his stomach but put the tube a short distance down the back of his throat and he just swallows the milk or electrolytes. I'm also doing vitamin B shots as it gives an animal, and I suspect a human, an appetite. He has had lots of penicillin meds besides the sulfa drug with no improvement so I've stopped those.
It will really tear me up if I lose this sweet, sweet calf as he has stolen my heart. He likes back rubs. I suspect the dairy got busy and forgot to give this calf his colostrum. That or an inadequate amount. That is the consensus of another dairyman I spoke to the other day when I outlined what all I had done to see if he had any suggestions.
Ellie on the other hand clamors for her bottle and Hesston's bottle too as soon as she is done with her own. I've learned to lock Hesston and I up in the stall and her outside when I'm trying to feed him. That girl has got some suction on her. I swear she could suck the entire hind end off a rhino. Despite turning the bottle every few sucks to try and break her lock on the nipple, she still collapses the nipple and caves in the sides of the hard plastic bottle. If your lucky you only have to disassemble the bottle four times during a feeding. That is unscrew the cap, pull with considerable force the nipple that has a death lock on the hard plastic bottle. 

Ellie is eating a gallon and a half of milk a day in four feedings and is looking quite nice. The second day here our 9 year old grand daughter found her sweet spot. I thought her eyes were going to roll back into her head. She was in heaven.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Chicks Hatched the Easy Way

30 plus years of raising chickens on my own and repeatedly I am reminded of just how inexperienced I am as I try and do more myself. For instance we lost three chicks the third week in June while I learned about proper coops for raising chicks in.  We have never had a hen who was seriously interest. Oh we have had sit on for a week and loose interest. Smash part of the eggs and smathering yolk and poo all over the others while attempting to set. But never a really broody hen. I chalk that up to the choice of hatcheries we have used since most breed broodiness out of their flocks. Also the breeds I have bought are not particularly broody anyway.

This year though we have had four hens set. Three hens setting at  the same time. Hence the steep learning curve. Previously this spring, calm, sweet Honey-Butter did just fine in the small white coop raising her brood. Five hatched and four made it to the turn them out to free-range stage. We later lost one adolescent hen, the only hen, to a kit fox because she refused to go into the large coop at night but that was no fault of the 'hatch your own project'. 

 I thought the little white coop was going to work out great, then came Up Tight Mamma, another Easter Egger hen. When the chicks arrived she turned into a Tasmanian Devil of beating wings, pecking beak, and gouging spurs every time I opened the door to fill the waterer and feed dishes. She just annoyed me as she sent food and water flying but her chicks stressed out. They screamed and scattered in all directions flipping out Up Tight Momma even worse. It was a disaster.

Chicks began to go missing. We were perplexed. Then during one of her tirades we discovered that the chicks could sneak under a spot in the white coop and scoot out into barn cat territory. Yum, yum for them. Fixed that and another chick went missing. We found out that the entire run only kept Up Tight Momma in because the chicks could pop in and out the chicken wire unimpaired. After the third chick was missing I tried to move the whole crew to a rabbit cage in the chicken coop. The wire mesh in the cage was much smaller but Up Tight Mamma just would not settle down creating continual havoc.

Directly above this cage was another hen who had hatched out her babies the day I put Up Tight Momma below her so I gave the traumatized chicks to the Australorp hen. She excepted them as her own but Up Tight Mamma was having none of that. She continued to scream for her babies. They of course tried to get back to her. One found a unsecure spot in the old wire cage and fell down four feet to Up Tight Mamma. I fixed the hole and put the chick  back. Then I gave some eggs to Up Tight Mamma to quiet her and hopefully get her to set all over again. I figured I could always raise her babies on my own. Up Tight Momma sat quiet on the eggs for part of a day and then decided she had been there done that and wasn't ready to do it again so soon. It was okay because this gave her chicks time to settle in with their new family. I felt no loss of the use of 6 eggs as they had done their job. 

We will soon move the Australorp hen and the six chicks to the metal coop. The four chicks in that coop are quite feathered out  and will go into the larger white coop. They won't slip out by the same methods as the babies as they are too large. But first we have some baby proofing to do on the metal coop. When I saw a baby chick pop through the chicken wire, I took one of them over to the metal coop and checked out the channel iron. Sure enough it could slip through it too. No problem for the Austrolorp hen that had set and hatched in the coop previously because she was calm and kept her little ones close by. I now know not every hen will be like her and Honey-Butter. 

Yes, we have lost some chicks this year. One or two will not hatch properly and die. Normally I save these chicks when I incubate as I've become good at helping them hatch without helping too much. The hatching process builds needed muscle strength but the point is to allow hens to do the process on their own. One or two eggs will be infertile I've learned. One will develop part way and for reasons unknown to me stop developing. This brings the eight eggs I put under the hen down to five or six chicks that grow alongside momma. One might get trampled or some other disaster happen to them but I still feel the costs of letting the hens do the work is far less.   

The incubator requires electricity. The chicks hatched require heat lamps. When hatched by the hens I don't need any additional heat in the summer, only in early spring for short periods of time to insure it is warm enough for the chicks to come out from under their mommas to eat and drink. I did this with the first momma hen in early spring putting the heat lamp on at night. I am not feeding 25 chicks and so the feed costs are lower. The momma hen teaches the chicks to forage in the run and so they quickly learn to scrounge up part of their own food. Yes, I can't just order hens from a hatchery. that gives me roosters that need to go into the stew pot but that isn't a bad thing.

My hope is to get enough desirable hens each year to replace a few older hens thus keeping the flock with a mixture of ages. Of the first four only one was a hen and the fox ate her. The next batch of four I am not sure of. The last two batches combined to make six are still pretty tiny. I hope to have four hen chicks to put back into the flock each year if not six. This would keep my flock at a steady two years old. Hopefully some of the eggs that hatch will be hens from the mommas that are setters. That would perpetuate the broody genetics. Yearling hens lay more eggs than two year olds but the two year olds lay larger eggs. The older hens have more of a tendency to set also.

I like the idea of hatching our own chicks because if I do not, I have to order 25 chicks as is the requirement of the hatcheries. Then the costs goes wa....y up. I have fallen in love with the Easter Eggers and they don't carry those in any of our local stores so there is no way to pick up just a few chicks. I also like the Austrolorps but the hatchery the stores buy from breeds out the broody trait. So you can see it is do it myself or do without the quality I desire.

The one hen that hatched out in the rabbit cages did quite well so I will try that again. It is plenty warm in the coop at night so I don't need additional heat and the cage wire is a much smaller pattern than the chicken wire. Besides the cages are empty this time of year as the rabbits are all outside. Double duty for the same equipment is not a bad idea. I do have to do a simple modification of putting cardboard on the bottom of the cages and place some pine shavings inside but that is no problem as cardboard is easy to come by.

Yes, I will definitely do this again and keep my broody hens. I have bought leg bands to mark the chickens but won't need them yet as I plan in time on reducing my flock to just Austrolorps and Easter-Eggers anyway. The two breeds will end up cross-breeding but that could be a good thing as there are traits from both that really appeal to me. Since  this year I don't think I will get enough hens for replacements a few Rhode Island Reds might make the cut. I've grown rather fond of Henny Penney who visits me while I milk and she has a red companion that frequently visits also. She drinks nicely with our cat Duke but her friend has a tendency to be notty. Her future is less certain.