caught red-handed, I mean red lipped – with her hand, I mean head in..

Sheila got out while I was moving the chicks into their Ark. Ton went into high alert.


The first I saw she was munching the dregs of the dropped apples  under the Apple Pie Apple tree.  As laid back and nonchalant as you please. Lumbering about. Then when I returned with a bucket of feed and a big steering stick, she  had wandered off and  reappeared on the other side of the garden with her head in a bowl of newly harvested tomatoes that someone had kindly left in the path for her. Munching on the last of them. Red juice glistening on her fat piggy smile. Ton right behind.  After I got her back in her field I  discovered that she had begun her walk in the shed, ripping open a bag of pig feed and having a good go at eating all of that. So she may have been out a while before I saw her. Luckily she did not go into the corn field, but TonTon would have found her.


The chicks and their Ark were carried out to the field yesterday. Doesn’t Boo look like a Dingo in this shot? Which is unsurprising as there is Dingo in his anscestry.  I will never forgive those people for cutting that dogs tail off.


Yesterday the chicks discovered that they could fly to the top of their box gate,  which sent Ton on point,  right foot raised, head thrust forward, trying to decide how to keep  them all in. They were threatening to stage an escape of their own, so out of the stock trailer they came and onto the nice clean green pasture. It just makes you happy to see them on the grass doesn’t it?! With the constant shifting they will be on clean green pasture all the time. They were up and wandering about immediately, tasting the grass.  And exploring their new home.


So much better. The Ark is the next generation of housing for  summer chickens. I am going to design roosting boxes for the next one and next summer the laying chickens will be out of the Chook House  and the Chook House will become winter quarters.  I hate cleaning out the Chook House.


Here is the Clatter Box in position.  I will describe how I saw it  works for my favourite townies: Do you see that thin central metal belt with its metal links, it looks a little like a long watch strap?  That runs all the way up to the top and loops around and runs back underneath like the treads on an old tank.  Or the belt at the supermarket. Except this one has spikes. Someone  places a bale on the base of the rattling belt, the rising spikes nip into the bale and off it goes clattering away to the top and someone else collects it at the top. I stand at the top and just as it is about to drop off I grab it and swing it into the stack.  You know how when you leave the escalators in the airport you have a little momentum, sometimes making you hop to slow down,  well that works for the bale too so it is slightly tossed off the top. This little bit of speed helps me. All I do is grab it and direct it towards the stack, using considerably less energy.


Getting it into position was a bit of a challenge, it is not a light beast, however it was so exciting to see the bales chug up to the loft I was about ready to throw them back down  so I could do it all over again.  Luckily The Matriarch (Our John’s Mum) called us in to dinner just in time.

Good morning. I am looking forward to today.   I will push the stock trailer into the field and hose it out then park that up again.  There is a weedy little rat house field that needs topping. (I should never have resown those fields they have all been taken over by weeds.) Lots of fun stuff to do. The big chook house really does need cleaning out but I might put that off for another day and garden instead. The brasssica’s are all growing for the autumn garden and I will sow some more lettuce seed today. No tomatoes to process though, someone ATE them!!  We will be putting Greek Peppers into jars instead.

Have a lovely day. A lovely, lovely day.

your friend, celi

67 Comments on “caught red-handed, I mean red lipped – with her hand, I mean head in..

    • It does, natalia. It makes the work much more sustainable in that we can heave bales about for many years to come without causing injury to our well worked backs. c

  1. How do the bales get on the belt? Is someone below dropping them on?
    My 2 pups are missing their long, beautiful tails, too – cockers. Why??

  2. Well. my huge joy for the day is to see the meat chickens out on grass: all that room they have: a room with a view like a first class hotel 🙂 ! And thank you for explaining the clatterbox: alright you pick the bales off at the top: but someone has to feed them onto it from the bottom? And, so Sheila got some extra lycopene . . . oh, methinks she has had a bit of a rough ride and the red lips do suit 😀 !!!

    • Yes someone pops them on the bottom and i collect them from the top! Easy peasy. This morning i went out to feed the field chickens and as i gently pulled the ark along the chicks RAN to the new grass. Missions accomplished. Deeply satisfying! That made me smile too!

      • My morning laugh 🙂 ! So glad that is working! Fancy having a new ‘Room with a View’ every few days . . . a great ‘game’ for them too with fresh food at the end . . . it looks and sounds that they have some dry tucker as well?!

  3. Poor nekkid Kupa 🙂 Does Clatter Box only have a forward gear – or can you put it into reverse and run the bales down as well? Sheila sure seemed to enjoy her sumptuous Saturday morning brunch! Love the chicken ark. Laura

    • Good question laura, but it only goes one way (I think) but when I feed out on the winter i just heave the bales over the side of the mezzanine, no need to cart them carefully down again.. c

  4. Good morning Celi; thanks for making us LOL this morning . thanks for showing us the electric motor on the ladder . Lacy is right it takes two people to operate that ladder, but you can load up the ladder if it is set up right to where you can drop a few off up top then go up and stack them . pigs drive me nuts , they don’t understand that if they make us nuts we will eat them. be a blessing mike

    • Morning Mike! Yes i am hoping to work out a system whereby i can load a few at a time by myself. However our time will be halved using this machine so it is possible I won’t be left to do the work alone now. Wouldn’t that be a joy! c

  5. The Clatter Box – what a wonderful name…SO appropriate! Angel got a huge kick out of the Piggie Brunch. Most likely because she’s done the same thing herself 😉

  6. Our former neighbours had their boxer’s ears operated on so the ears would stand up straight to fall in line with show dog standards. I was so mad! That poor dog was in a cone and bandages for months. For what? It saddened me there was a vet in town that was ok doing that as well. Made me want to immediately do a dog show for normal goofy dogs.

  7. Sheila really does have a big grin on her face! What a pig! fancy eating apples and tomotoes and pig feed..greedy girl…
    Love Kupa’s lost feather..they are so beautiful….
    I agree with Gardenfreshtomoatoes..what a great name for the hay shifter..The Clatter Box…. I do so love how everything on the Farmy , fields, trees and machinery has a name…it makes it more personal

  8. Oh those chickens look so happy! What will you do with them in the winter – or will they be old enough to process by then? Will they lay eggs meanwhile?
    Went to the local orchard yesterday and bought Apples, Peaches and Prune Plums. Loaded up my De-hydrator for the very first time this morning. Have had to put it in the laundry room out of the way of the kittens (I will be so glad when they are big enough to go out side, they are in to everything!). No one told me what a wonderful smell is produced while the machine does its job! My laundry room smells of apples, peaches and plums! Think I might put it in my bedroom next time LOL. Or next year I could dry my lavender in it, again in the bedroom? My mind is now wiring with ideas to make each room in my house smell nice!!

    • No they won’t get old enough to lay eggs, though my Peghorn Leghorns are already laying! they were fast! These ones will go the lovely Amish poultry abbatoir at the end of October as they do not do outside (of their community) processing in November. And December will be too cold out in the field. It goes without saying that I don’t want to grow these until they are TOO fat. I want healthy two people roasts! c

  9. Oh poor Miss Piggy was hungry and decided to go find her own food. She is adorable.

  10. I am proud of Sheila for dining out and about! She is one smart Beauty! Perhaps she has taken to eating anything in her path, as she is traumatized by all the attacks from Charlotte the Harlot! Thanks for the great snaps of my favorite animal in the World, the Pig! And who would ever call a pig dumb?!!!!! Smartest animal on the Farm.

  11. Your posts make me smile everyday! What a beautifully designed Ark full of happy chicks. You could also add a couple of horizontal pole perches so they can roost. You can make them free-standing so you can move them along with the Ark. They would love it!

    • Yes Melanie, i was thinking if i ran them high enough and longways then they would not be knocked over by them as i pull it. I would like to get them off the ground in the night time.. I am on the look out for some 10 foot poles, slim enough and strong enough. cc

      • Home Depot has long round wood dowels like that in 1″ or 2″ diameters. They also have long poles used for stair railings. The cross/end view is round with a flat side so they’re D-shaped. I hope you have a Home Depot out in the boonies where you are! I live out in the country, too, so I can say that good-naturedly! Your local hardware store probably has them. I bet you could find a couple of natural tree branches on your property that would work. That’s even better since you like the “use what you already have” philosophy. You are a special lady. I love your resourcefulness!

        • Nope no Home Depot. But I found some bits and pieces of sticks and broom handles to poke through from corner to corner and they sit on them in the day, but at night they still seem to want to all sit together in the corner, even when it is 70 degrees out! And there are 46 of them!! c

  12. Sheila looks so pleased with herself, smiling with her tomato red lipstick! I’m excited to see a chicken Ark in action. Have read about them and how they help build the ecosystem by fertilizing, etc., not to mention very happy and well fed chicks. Do you move it every day?

    • Yes every day, though by the look of the patch this afternoon as they are bigger i will be moving it twice a day! Spreading the goodness! c

  13. This has to be the very best picture of Sheila ever! Her eyes are wide open and she’s really smiling–plus TonTon is alert behind her. Great shot.
    My border collie’s tail was cut off too. His previous mom doesnt know why either. It just killed me though. That’s why I adore TonTon ‘s. I always think what could have been Blackjack’s.
    And thank you for the explanation of the Clatterbox. Your comparison of the belt to a wristwatch strap was perfect.

  14. You could rig up the clatter box so that it could raise you in and out of the loft. Start at the bottom, load a couple of bales on. Step on the human transport platform and ride it to the top. Stack the bales, and ride back down again.

    Or just have a helper.

  15. Sheila does look delighted. Poor Ton, doesn’t seem to know quite what to do with that wayward pig. I laughed and had to share with hubby you were going to do the hay twice, except for the call to dinner. 😉 What a wonderful, supportive farmy fellowship you have to fix you up with a hay elevator so quickly.

  16. It is amazing how much one pig can get done in a short time! Never mind, Celi. I bet those tomatoes were the sweetest thing she has ever tasted. Seize the day. And the tomato bowl.

  17. Our Aussie Mischief came with no tail. Her main breeding is the Border Collie. They look lovely waving their plume about. Go figure on who set up the so called rules for breeds. Love your Ark! Great idea, especially the wheels. Sheila looks so happy with her “Who Me!” look during her time out. Enjoy your Sunday. Thanks for the smiles!

    • Morning bev.. i hate rules!! The wheels make my life easier but i am going to be developing some pretty good muscles in the next few weeks! c

    • I had thought of that too, but I think they docked them.. the tail gives a dog extra balance, so it is a shame when they lose it, esp when they are swimmers like these dogs. c

  18. Dear Sheila, in her piggy gloriousness what a lovely girl. My girl is doing well and the babies are getting about like nobodys business, yesterday we finished the pig palace so there are now no escape holes. The creep is now where it is supposed to be and right away the piglets explored all the nice new hay and their special box with light over it and then went and curled up in the temporary (but for them usual) place except now there is no light over it. Luckily it was not too cold last night and I can only hope they are sensible enough to use the new creep if they do get cold. The piglets have become very vocal, you are right they do giggle and chatter away together, no other way to describe it really. Also they are fast, bombing around at top speed and very fighty with each other. Baby is very zen about all of this, she just lies down and calls them to her then they all scrap again over which teat they will have. I so love the way Baby honks away at them all through the feeding, which is quicker than I thought but happens very often? I am assuming they are getting enough to eat as they are growing so fast. What did you start yours on when you moved to solid food? I would like to feed them something whilst they are still on Baby to make weaning easier and around now seems to be the right time I think. They are interested in Baby’s dinner but dont get a look in there. Love the wee meat birds and their Ark and so good they know to run when you move it!

    • I started to put a bowl of baby piggie food in the creep when they were about two weeks old I think, maybe earlier, so they can have a nibble if they want to.. You are right, if they are sniffing at mama’s feed then it is time to put theirs down… the creep is perfect for this, as she cannot get in there..and 6 weeks comes along awfully fast.. What are you going to do with all those piglets? c

  19. That Sheila! Feed, apples and tomatoes. She must have ordered the “All You Can Eat” buffet. What a pig! Those chicks are looking more like chickens everyday. Amazing how fast they’ve grown. The ark was a great idea and Ton can keep an eye on them much easier now. When I got Max from the shelter, one of the conditions was that I wouldn’t clip his tail. I shuddered at the thought of doing that to any puppy, let alone one that was 7 or 8 weeks old.
    Have a great evening, Celi.

  20. Greetings, c, and good evening to the farmy. I can’t wait to see that clatter box in action. Do you have a video option on your camera?

    • I have no idea if there is a vid option, but if i do a series of action shots maybe you can scroll down really fast, of course then there is the problem of WHO is doing the actual work if I have the camera in my hand..! c

  21. Love the idea of the chicken ark. When I get a place with space – that’s what I’ll be doing too. I hate cleaning out the chicken house.

    I’m sooooo looking forward to spring planting here! Preparing the gardens 🙂

  22. Never a dull moment with your animals. I love the ark; hope it’s not too heavy for you.

  23. Damn I love the mobile Hoekoe box… I wish I’d known about that whilst still on the farm… could have used a lot of those and saved a fortune on time spent cleaning chicken runs…
    I just love that pig… gets her nose into all the right places… and the dog just trails along behind…

  24. That naughty, naughty girl! Ah, but you love her anyway. Right, Celi? Wow, and next on my long list of things to make is that lovely, and easily constructed chicken tractor! Of course, that will be waiting awhile… 😉

  25. Geez, Sheila’s a real pig…I mean in addition to be an actual pig! She does look nice all made up though & just waiting for her photo shoot.
    Slinging hay bales – you have got to have arm muscles like Popeye.

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