The Country Life: Christmas gifts for the critters

By Bill Radford Published: December 17, 2013 | 9:45 am 0

Dear Santa:

Hey, how's it going? You would have felt right at home here recently, with North Pole-like subzero temperatures.

I'm helping our critters with their Christmas wish lists. You'd be a better judge of this than I would, but I think they've been more nice than naughty during the year. (Though the rooster is kind of a jerk, as you'll read below.)

Our dogs, cats, guinea pigs and parrots? They want their usual assortment of holiday treats (dog bones, catnip, treat sticks, etc.) The outside animals have more unusual requests. Here are some ideas, along with some places to get them if the workshop is running on empty.

For Nikki, our horse.

- A barn. Nikki has a decent run-in shelter, with protection from the wind on three sides and a metal roof to shield her from the snow and rain. And we put in a concrete foundation this spring, replacing the cinder blocks it had rested on. Still, she'd like an actual barn, with stalls, doors that shut, electricity, a tack room, hay storage - the whole bit. MDBarnmaster (www.mdbarnmaster.com) has an online "barn visualizer" where you can design the barn of your dreams. Nikki likes the barns in the company's "Estate Series."

- A hood. Nikki has a horse blanket to help keep her warm when the temperatures fall, but her face still gets cold. She wants a face mask like we humans wear when it's really cold. Big R sells a Mane Stay Lycra Hood for horses for about $50.

For Molly the mule.

- A trip to Lucky Three Ranch in Loveland. Reader Chuck Brown sent me a brochure for the ranch, which touts to be "home to some of the finest mules and donkeys in the country." As Molly lives with a horse, she'd like a chance to visit with some of her own kind. Founded in 1980 as a mule breeding and training facility, the 127-acre spread also includes the Loveland Longears Museum & Sculpture Park. "It is a fabulous place," says Brown, who visited last summer. www.luckythreeranch.com.

- Heavy Duty Mule and Donkey Saddle Pads. Made specifically to fit mules and donkeys. With "soft, colorfast Herculon tops, genuine buffalo leather and non-slip, antibacterial bottom." $125, plus $20 shipping and handling, www.muleranch.com.

For the goats, Nana and Christmas

- Holiday ornaments. Since they don't have a Christmas tree in their pen, I'm not sure of the point, but they'd like some goat Christmas ornaments. You can find them at zazzle.com/getyergoat/gifts (click on Christmas Goats) for $17.95. I'd suggest the Nigerian Dwarf Goat Santa Hat Christmas Ornament.

- A goat donated in their name to help an impoverished family. World Vision (worldvision.org), a Christian humanitarian organization, is among groups through which you can give livestock to families around the globe to make them more self-sufficient. You can give a goat for $75. "Goats nourish hungry children and families with healthy milk, cheese, and yogurt," World Vision's website notes. "Goats also give a much-needed income boost by providing offspring and extra dairy products for sale at the market."

For the rabbits, Lois and Lana.

- Litter box. Lois and Lana poop in their house. They need an All Living Things Deluxe Scatterless Litter Pan for Rabbits & Ferrets. Rabbits can indeed be trained to use a litter box; this one fits into the corner of a rabbit's cage or pen and is made of odor- and stain-resistant plastic. Available in assorted colors. Large size for $17.99 at PetSmart.com. - Marshall Woven Grass Play Ball. Also from PetSmart, for $3.99. "This naturally woven grass ball provides hours of fun for your pet."

For the chickens.

- Happy Hen Treats. A "premium treat" for chickens - 100 percent whole-dried meal worms that offer chickens "the treat they want without the inconvenience of storing or handling live worms." Resealable 10-ounce tub contains about 10,000 dried meal worms. At strombergschickens.com for $35.95.

- Warning sign. Our rooster has a bad habit of trying to run us off by slamming into us - not painful, but it can be a surprise if you're not looking. Amazon.com has warning signs - "Caution: Area patrolled by attack rooster" - for $6.95.

-

Bill Radford and his wife live in the countryside east of Colorado Springs. Contact him: Twitter @billradfordiii, gazettebillradford on Facebook. Follow his blog at blogs.gazette.com/thecountrylife.

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