Building a Community

20161127_161617It seems to me that life in the barnyard must be pretty dull. Each day is pretty much like the last and visits from those at the house come only a couple times a day. And so, it is heartening to me to observe my goats and chickens beginning to appreciate each other’s company.

I kept the chickens penned up this morning since we’d be away until after lunch. When I did get out to visit and opened their door, they streamed out excitedly and the whole pack of them headed into the goat shelter to look for stray food pellets. Ely sniffed around to investigate and the chickens paid him no mind other than to flap a little out of the way if his big clunky hooves got close.20161127_161332

I sense that they kind of enjoy one another’s company. That makes me happy. Watch out, it also makes me think about expanding the family.

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Wooly Sweaters in the Cold

Angora goats produce thick, warm mohair as their profession. When it is washed and sorted it is as soft and sweet-smelling as can be. On an outdoor goat, though, it gets dirty, stiff, and smells pretty much like a farm animal.

I’ve been a bit worried about my goats as we approach their first winter. We’ve gone below freezing several nights but I find that they choose to spend  the night lounging up on their wooden spools instead of cuddling together in their nice dry shelter. 20161122_073320Often when I go out to feed them in the morning, Ely is eagerly waiting with his back in curly whorls of icy frost. I have tried a few things to get them comfortable sleeping in their shed. I moved their food into a trough in the shed, I added straw, and earlier we’d enclosed the front with a tarp to keep the wind and wetness out. Still, I find this frosted hair in the morning. One especially wet and windy day they actually did huddle up in their shed, but the next two mornings there they were again, freezing in the yard.

The baby chicks, too, are resisting sleeping in the coop at night with the older chickens. They haven’t cracked the code of the poultry pecking order yet, and they don’t seem to feel they have the right to hop up onto the roost with the big girls and keep warm. Instead, they huddle into a close, feathery pile on top of a straw bale.

I can only hope that these animals are not too stupid to keep warm when the real snow begins to fly. The mother in me wants to force them to protect themselves, but I am trying to learn to let go and trust that it will all work out.

 

 

 

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Visiting Dignitaries

We are babysitting our daughter’s two little doggies for a few days and enjoying their discoveries on the farm. They are adapting gradually to our schedule and finding their places in the pack running around the house.

This afternoon we went out to visit the goats and there was a lot of curiosity on both sides of the fence.20161024_1318300

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Ramping up Defenses

20161024_112628Since our goats demonstrated that a little plastic fence will not contain them anymore, we brought out the big guns. Yesterday, we installed six-foot metal T-posts with insulators to attach another electric barrier. This time, it is only a small rectangle to keep the goats away from the entrance to the chicken run.

It was not such an easy job, even though we had installed many times more posts this summer to fence in the pasture.  We were out of practice and handled the heavy posts awkwardly. I grabbed for one that was falling and lost my balance, crashing to the ground and hurting myself. It was a good reminder that silly mistakes can have serious consequences, but fortunately this morning I am fine, albeit rather sore.

It did not dawn on me until half-way through that I should pen up the goats to keep them out of the way. They chewed on everything foreign that they could find, grabbing tools, jackets, and plastic bags of insulators when they were not up out of reach. They watched with eagle eyes any time the door to the chicken run looked like they could breach it and scooted with surprising speed around our legs in an attempt to squeeze in.

Once, the wind blew the unsecured door slightly ajar. Ely ran through before I could grab him and ran full tilt into the coop to steal chicken feed. I shoved him back out and closed the door and then hooked his head in my shepherd’s crook, dragging him all the way to the shelter to lock him in. The fencing job got easier after they were both locked up.  In their frustration, they spent the next half hour butting heads and wrestling as the walls of the shed shuddered and thumped.

So now, the goats are once again held back away from the chickens but they have access to the whole pasture instead of just half of it. The new electric fence is a bit trickier to open up because metal posts can easily take a charge if the wires touch them. You’d be surprised how frequently I forget and get shocked for my carelessness.

Even though they frustrate us to no end, my husband and I are kept in stitches by the antics of those stubborn, playful goats.  I wonder what they will come up with next to foil our defenses? We may have to dig a moat!

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We’ve Got a Problem

in-the-coopSince my two mischievous goats discovered the fun of getting into the chicken coop, they are routinely breaking down the electric fence posts and invading foreign territory.  We went out for the afternoon and came home to find them lounging comfortably in the chicken run. The rooster was frustrated, standing outside in the light rain, unable to do a thing about it.

I am stumped over how to prevent this anymore. The fence they are breaking down is the temporary one we use to divide the pasture into two alternate grazing areas. The posts are plastic and they have broken two of them to bits as they stomped their way through the barrier. I haven’t seen them doing it so I don’t know why the electric charge doesn’t faze them.
proud-rascalsThey were both clearly very proud of themselves and came to meet me at the fence to show off their accomplishment. It’s hard to get too mad at those adorable faces, but I’ve got to find a solution or I’ll have to start closing the door and penning the hens in their  chicken run instead of giving them freedom during the day. Then, what will be the next game for the goats to master?

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The Shadow of Winter

It frosted last night, prompting us to attend to the goats’ winter quarters. We nailed a nice tough tarp across most of their shelter to keep out the worst of the wet winds. 20161014_112243Eddy and Ely were really curious about the changes to their bedroom and tried mightily to get a good bite out of it. Eddie kept reaching out with his lips to grab the shadow of a chain hanging off the gate but just could not get a good hold on it. 20161014_111242The unexpected feature of the tarp was letting in lots of sun and creating a shadowbox looking out from the inside. Maybe they will come to enjoy playing with that.

We now have that nice indoor stall ready for the really bad weather, but I will be testing out the shed to keep them warm outdoors as long as possible. I think I’ll add straw bedding a little later in the season as well. The boys surprised me this week when they continued roaming about the field in the middle of a cold, blowing rainstorm. Their hair got wet and as it dried it got stiff and crusty. It must be great insulation, anyway.

 

 

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Getting My Goat

It turns out my goats have a sense of humor! I have made it my schedule at the first of every month to trim their hooves and give them their de-worming medicine, and here it is, October.

20161003_164922My husband has built me this wonderful little goat stall just inside the door to the chicken run in case it gets too cold this winter to leave them outside. It has a cushy rubber floor, a hay feeder, and a nice little swinging gate. I decided to set up their grooming table in the stall and bring them in one at a time for a trimming.

Eddie was so traumatized last month when I brought him into the barn to be sheared, he hid from me for the next two weeks. So this time, I started with Ely, dragging him through an opening in the electric fence into the barn and lifting him onto the table. He was agreeable about putting his head into the stand as long as there was a peanut waiting at the other end. Ely will do anything for a treat.

Trimming his hooves was not so hard. I’ve done it once before and I brushed up on the technique on you-tube videos first. Still, Ely shuffled and bleated while I wrestled his feet into position. My husband came to watch the entertainment and burst out laughing when suddenly, brushing past my legs, a white blur of goat crowded into the stall. Eddie did not want to be left behind in the goat yard.

I finished the job on Ely, shoving Eddie out of the way each time he tried to jump up to be next to his brother.  I pushed Ely out the door and turned to Eddie to get him up onto the table. He would have none of it. Each time I reached for him, he scooted around the other side of the table. I shoved it against the wall to corner him, and he squeezed underneath beyond my reach. When I finally grabbed him by the horns, I had to drag him up onto the table he previously was dying to share. He lay flat on his belly, forcing me to lift him up onto his feet. As I pulled and coaxed and shoved his head into the restraint, my husband yelled, “Ely is in the chicken coop!”

20161003_165026

Sure enough, rather than trot politely back to the goat yard while I was busy with his brother, Ely went exploring in the chicken run. First, he hopped up onto their little platform to look around. Then, he noticed the inviting little door with the ramp up into the coop. I’d have never thought he could squeeze in there but in he went with no hesitation. I had my hands full with Eddie, so my husband had to run out to push Ely back out and close the trap door.

At last, with all eight feet trimmed, I went to herd the boys back into their own yard. I was able to pull Ely by the horns across the normally electrified barrier, but each time I turned to go get Eddie, Ely tried to follow me. My husband went to stand guard over Ely while I chased Eddie down with the shepherd’s crook. He really did want to be with his brother, but dodging me was so much fun he had to make a fool of me just a little while longer.

Finally, two goats back in their yard and the mess on the floor swept up, I remembered that I needed to give them their medicine. Sure, I did not think to do it while they were restrained. I easily squirted a dose into Ely’s eager mouth, but I gave up on Eddie who kept up his game of keep-away. We’ll try again tomorrow, when he is hungry and not expecting it.

 

 

 

 

 

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Pastoral Experiences

20160924_164808I looked up the word “Pastoral” to make sure I was not misusing it. No, it means, “having the simplicity, charm, serenity, or other characteristics generally attributed to rural areas.” Some days are just like that.

My boys seem to look to me to be the top goat. They don’t venture out into their pasture much unless I lead them out there, which seems just crazy to me. We went to a lot of trouble to give them lots of space and good grazing, but they spend their days in the small area between their shed and the barn. When the mosquitoes aren’t too bad, I’ll grab a handful of peanuts and lure Ely out into the field. He quickly discovers the tasty grass and weeds and begins to chow down.

Eddie, however, is a big baby. He stands on the wooden spools watching us forlornly and bleating out that his heart is broken that he has been left alone. I try to call him out to join us, but he stays rooted to his familiar area. One time, he ran and hid in his metal shed and his cries reverberated so that I hurried back to make sure he was okay. I finally got him to come out and join us and although he was nervous about it, even Eddie figured out that this green stuff was pretty tasty. Still, when I begin to move back towards the barn they take off running, afraid to be left behind.

Each evening, I give them fresh food and water and bid them good night. I have to count the chickens to make sure everyone is fenced in before I close their gate. I’ve had trouble with the six babies. They run around the yard in a tight little pack and I have to herd them through the door into the fenced run.  If one decides she doesn’t want to go in yet, they all veer off back into the yard and I can’t help but laugh at myself in my futility as I chase them down.

20160925_184219Last night, I remembered that my brother had given me an old shepherd’s crook he’d found somewhere and I had hung on a nail in the barn. I took it out to help with the chicken herding. Wow, that was really effective! It extended my reach so that I did not have to bob and weave to keep them going in the same direction. Their peripheral vision caught movement everywhere behind them and I was able to scare them into the doorway in one try.

My hope is that eventually even the babies will naturally migrate to the coop at evening feeding time and then even up onto the roosting  bars with the rest of the flock to sleep. One evening when I went out a bit late to tuck them all in, the adults had already turned in. I quietly  scooped up two chicks at a time and placed them onto the roosting bars alongside their aunties. One or two hopped back down and out the door, but I at least gave them the idea. I have not yet figured out if they took the cue and are sleeping inside the coop on their own. They are all out by the time I come see them in the morning.

 

 

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Back to School

20160923_092708I have been realizing how much my computer skills have slipped out of step with the ongoing march of technology and I decided to do something about it. I signed up at the local college for a course in Web Development.  I have no designs on going back into the workforce and building a new career, but I don’t like feeling lost when I used to be confident in my ability to keep up.

Sharing a class with 19-year-olds is quite an eye-opening experience. It dawned on me that I am three times their age and the ancient history of web computing in the first chapter of the textbook sounds like yesterday to me. Wow. I do have an advantage over most of them in that, to me, it is not all a crazy alphabet soup of acronyms and the actual programming assignments, such as coding HTML, come to me quite naturally. I see things as interesting new ways to solve problems that I have run into before so I have a context onto which I can pin my brain.

That said, I am gaining some respect for the depth of knowledge required to put together a web site from scratch. WordPress does so much for you that you have to know almost nothing. I got started on this in order to be able to provide technical support for my church’s new website but I am discovering that the complex tasks of programming in the background are beyond the scope of the class I am taking. At least I will have conquered the first step by Christmas, so I can try to learn the rest on my own as my new year’s resolution.

The down side of this all is that much of my free time is now tied up with studying, homework, and rushing off to classes. I caught up on reading the blogs I follow today and discovered I was almost two weeks behind. I kind of liked my relaxed retirement schedule and this intrusion is making it look all the more precious.

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My First Dye Job

My goat’s first soft pile of sheared mohair is a pretty big deal, and I wanted to make it as beautiful as possible by dying it with a rainbow of color. I was aiming for a variegated mixture of blues, hot pink, and saffron yellow. I tried to follow the instructions meticulously, but clearly I learned a lot that I can improve on the next time.

20160909_154716I started with the clean natural color, soaked in a new pot I bought just for dying. I added vinegar to make the water acidic.

20160909_155904I added the four colors in a pie pattern, as instructed, pushing gently to the bottom of the pot so that all the hair would be touched with color. I was taking a chance because I’m not sure how I’ll intermingle the colors when I spin it so that it takes the best advantage of the colors in the mixture.

20160909_161526Now, I began to worry as the color mixed and the water became a deep, muddy brown! When it is done, the water should lose most of its color because the dye will be taken up by the fibers. It did not seem to be clearing at all, so I added more acid (vinegar) and salt to boost the process. I was feeling very dumb and inept at this point.

After an hour of simmering, I placed the pot outside to cool overnight. The water was still a deep burgundy brown. This morning, I poured off the water, which was now a pale purple. I rinsed it several times from the garden hose, squeezing it out until the color ran mostly clear. Then, I laid it all out on a table and turned on the overhead fan to dry it.

20160910_104909It is much more uniform than I’d hoped, but it still shows a hint of the alternate colors. Next time I won’t stir, I will use less dye, and I won’t be as nervous about handling the chemicals.

It will be months before I get this spun into yarn, so don’t expect to see any finished products for a long time. I am a little itchy to get to it, though!

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Chickens In The Mist

It is a slow September morning on the farm and the cool, wet fog is dampening the sights and sounds around me. I went out for my morning visit to the barn to feed and greet the animals and had to slap several mosquitoes that found my small patches of unprotected skin. They are really thick this month, due to the heavy rains and I have to wear long sleeves, long pants, tall rubber boots and sometimes a hooded jacket on top of it. They still find a way to buzz my ears and catch a ride back into the house to torment me later.

I enjoy my morning trip to the barn because I am greeted with enthusiasm by my little menagerie. The goats start bleating as soon as they hear the garage door go up and the clang of the metal lid on the goat food bin. They circle my legs and lean in as I try to walk to their food dish and I have to trick them to get them out of the way long enough for me to pick up the rubber dish and dump out last night’s leftovers. Then, they push and shove with their bony foreheads in a race to eat the other’s share of breakfast.

The chickens crowd around the door to their run, waiting for me to free them to run out into the world looking for bugs. The little chicks are growing fast and now only half of them are small enough to slip in and out of the fence. Soon, they will be confined at night like their aunties. 20160909_080312I have not decided yet whether they will need help finding their way into the coop to roost with the rest of the flock. I believe they are still sleeping on the little bar I put in their private area but they are up and about too early in the morning for me to see.

As I headed back into the house, I came upon the tracks of a lone hen who’d hurried out to the garden to beat the crowds. Funny, some of the chickens want to be close to the flock but others prefer their privacy. Isa was out patrolling the garden fence.20160909_080522

20160909_080624This is one of those early fall mornings where the dew highlights the spiderwebs that are so prolific this time of the year. It makes me think of walking to school, as a child. Speaking of school, I am taking a class at the local college this fall! I decided to get more educated in web design so I am in a class with a bunch of very young adults, working on a team project. I suspect the immaturity factor will drive me up a wall, but I may learn some things about popular culture.

I woke up today with anticipation of a day with no appointments and a big project! This is the day I’m going to dye Eddie’s mohair. I’ve been researching how to do it, using several resources because they all suggest different recipes and I am having to combine them into a plan that fits my ingredients and equipment. I hope my next blog entry shows some beautiful rainbow mohair!

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Here it is, in Black and White

We sheared goat number two, Ely, and now I am taking the next steps in processing their coats. All the mohair has been thoroughly washed and I am most of the way through the process of picking it all apart and pulling out the weeds, hay,and straw that was stuck in it. 20160904_101401Eddie’s soft and fluffy white mohair is all done and I laid it all on a table in the heat yesterday to dry. Eli’s is a big matted black mess and has a completely different character than his brother’s. Some patches are straight, stiff black hair that I have to toss out, and some are fluffy and gray, with lots in between. (You can’t see by the photo very well, but the first hour’s sorting of the black fleece is on the table too.)

Since the first shearing of a kid is really special and the softest it will ever get, I am going to do all the spinning and creating by myself, even though I am no master at knitting or crocheting. I am planning to dye the white mohair in multiple colors according to my Angora Goat book’s instructions. By the time I’m done I will feel much more expert in the ins and outs of the whole process.

The goats, themselves, look pretty pathetic. Their hair is flat and oily and if they were dogs I’d long ago have given them good soapy baths. I don’t think I could get these guys to stand still for a scrubbing, but they sure need it. I was quite worried about Eddie for the first week after he was sheared because he hid away in his shed most of the time and was very unhappy, barely eating or drinking anything. He is finally back almost to normal so I am breathing a sigh of relief.

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One Down, One To Go

Yesterday, I took the plunge and sheared my first goat! When I took out my shearing machine for the first time, it was pretty intimidating – large, heavy, and with “sharp pointy teeth.” I read the tiny print in the instruction booklet several times, absorbing all the dire warnings, and set up an old bed sheet on the floor of the barn with the table in the middle and all my other equipment nearby.

Eddie was my guinea pig. I locked Ely in their shed so I could focus on wrangling one animal at a time, and pulled Eddie by the beard and the horn out of their pasture and into the barn. Funny, he didn’t cooperatively hop up onto the table this time! I had to lift him by his middle and force him into the head holder. I tried peanuts and green beans to coax him in but he is no fool. He must have thought I was crazy to think he’d eat at a time like this.

So, I started with his back, sliding the roaring buzzer from his neck to his tail. The fleece did cut but I was so nervous about hurting him that I left way more on his body than I should have. Running it down his sides was harder because he bent his body sideways and down to avoid the blade and my husband had to stand on the other side and hold him so he did not fall off the table. I was horrified to see that I nicked him, twice! He did not yelp or anything, but suddenly I saw blood and my heart just ached. He’d trusted me and I slipped up.

The last area to trim was his belly, and the book said to hold him between your knees on his rump to get to that area. Right. I did my best with a scissors while he stood on the table and that area was really gross. Male goats pee directly down from their middle and it was not pretty. I trimmed the best I could not fully knowing how his anatomy was laid out, and threw away the soiled mohair from under there.

20160829_154441When I returned Eddie to the pasture and let out his buddy, they made quite a contrast. Notice the length of Eddie’s legs next to his brother’s. I put a piece of packing tape over his worse wound so the flies would leave him alone. I hope it works. As  you can see, he’s still pretty nappy, so I wasted a lot of good fiber but we were both so nervous.

Now, I have a big pile of fleece wrapped up in a sheet on the back porch waiting for the next step. It was so hot and humid yesterday that I was soaking wet and miserable when I came into the cool house. I will need to build up another big reserve of fortitude before I tackle Ely. For now, I have to keep an eye on how Eddie heals and teach him to trust me again. Hopefully, Ely hasn’t asked him what went on in the barn because he may refuse to come anywhere near it when it is his turn.

 

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Approaching Haircuts

My two Angora goats, Eddie and Ely, are only five months old, but they have grown enough mohair that they are about ready for their first shearing. I’m going to do it. Yes, I know, this is a big undertaking for a beginner, but I am intrepid and perhaps stupid as well.

Before I could embark on this mission, I knew I needed a good sturdy table with a way to tie the goats so they don’t jump off. My husband could make one, but he worried that it would be too heavy to ever move so I went ahead and purchased a folding metal table this week. It wasn’t cheap, but all the notes I’ve read indicate that it makes everything so much easier.

20160823_151602I set up the new table in the goat pasture and turned to get them some peanuts to lure them up onto it and teach them to stand still. When I returned, I discovered that no luring was going to be required. They were already battling to see who could get up there first!

I figured out how to secure their heads in the holder and used my new hoof shears to trim all their hooves. I’d watched the breeder do it and read my books so I had a pretty good idea how and I think it went well. They really needed it.

So, now that they understand that they can stand patiently on the table and they’ll get lots of peanuts as a reward, I am working up to upcoming shearing. I thought I’d put them up on the table with the shearing tool running just to get them comfortable with the buzz, and then the next time I’ll actually do the deed. I need to come up with a scissors to trim off the hair around their rear ends where poop pellets like to swing in the breeze. Sounds kind of gross, but I’m sure I’ll get used to it.

20160820_103310Last weekend, we attended the Michigan Fiber Fest up in Allegan. We watched the youth showing their Angora goats – from 18-year-olds to a sweet little tyke who could hardly control his animal.  I was pleased to see that my goats look pretty much like all the others so I must not be doing anything terribly wrong.

20160820_111222We also got to watch a sheep shearing demo. Man, those sheep are BIG! I don’t think I’d try to wrangle one down onto the floor to shear but the guy who was doing it was able to flip his sheep this way and that so that he got the whole job done in about five minutes. I’m sure my experience will be vastly more clumsy.

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Don’t Count Your Chickens…

I was sad yesterday, when I went out to check on the chickens and found that two babies had gone missing. They are small enough to slip in and out of their cage so I chalked it up to natural selection. Some predator had gotten a nice little nighttime snack.

20160818_133605When I went out later to say hello, lo and behold, there were six of them again! It’s a mystery. Perhaps two had walked up the ramp and slept in the chicken coop. Maybe they’d found a warm hiding place underneath the coop floor. Whatever, I am glad to have my full half dozen back and growing their big-girl feathers as fast as they can.

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More Deluge Surprises

20160816_111825I went out to inspect the animals to see how the heavy rain impacted them. The cardboard box the baby chicks called home was soaked and falling apart. They were pecking holes in it already, so I quickly constructed a chicken wire box for them and moved them in. This was in my plan for next week anyway, so I just moved up the schedule. Now the other chickens will begin getting used to seeing them and hopefully in three more weeks I can allow them to mingle. The chicks can wiggle through the holes but not for long and hopefully they can find their way back in if they do.

The goats were feeling frisky after being cooped up by the rain. I enjoyed watching them butting heads and playing at being ferocious rams. (My precious babies!)

20160816_103046Last, I went to check the pond, which had overflowed. Funny, I ran the hose into it overnight just a week ago because it had gotten so low. I was pleased to see that the overflow ditch worked perfectly so the extra flowed down into the woods and not into the neighbor’s yard. I saw strange wiggling movements in the ditch among the grasses and went to investigate. 20160816_112531Apparently, the minnows got confused with their pond flowing downhill and they were stranded. I scooped up several handfuls and tossed them back into the pond but then I looked farther down the hill and saw this was a bigger job than I’d anticipated. I decided to let the local blue heron come and clean up the rest.20160816_112724

 

 

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Heavy Rain on a Parched Farm

20160816_081141This has been an extremely dry summer on the farm, and any little rain has been met with smiles and dancing. Yesterday, however, we got a downpour like a faucet turned on full and it went on for hours and hours. I woke up this morning eager to go check our rain gauge to see if we got four or maybe even five inches. Here is what I found. The top measurement is seven inches, but another inch above that the water had already overflowed. That’s rain!

After dinner last night, I debated whether it was worth going out to give the goats their evening snack in the downpour. Fortunately, I decided to do it because I discovered Cooper, the rooster, drenched and forlorn on the front porch of the barn, unable to return to his hens because the barn was locked up. I had not yet closed the door to the chicken run to keep them in and he had slipped out the fence to check on someone. He doesn’t believe he can squeeze back in the other direction, so he waits for me to escort him through the barn to return to the coop. The hens can slip in and out with no problem. When he got back into the chicken run, he took out his frustrations on the girls and I heard lots of squawking and cackling as they tried to escape his advances. Chicken society has rules I really don’t understand.

We recently attached a triangular tarp contraption off the roof of the goat shed to give them a little more shade out front. This was fortunate because after I dumped out their flooded dish and filled it with food, I set it down under the tarp and they could stand in the dry area and eat their dinner out of the deluge.

My last thing to check was the baby chicks. Their cardboard box was getting soaked so I pulled them further into the covered area away from the elements. I’ll see this morning how they did. If the box is wet and falling apart I’ll have to come up with a new cage solution for them today.

 

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The Younger Generation

20160811_082356We found a farm store with two-week-old chicks and I bought 6 of them, so now we have 16 chickens on the farm. A two week head start is better than nothing, although it would have been nice to start with hens who were already laying.

I’ve looked up the process for integrating baby chicks into an existing flock, and it is pretty involved. Without a mother hen to protect them, there is a good likelihood that the babies will not be safe for the first six weeks.

First, you have to give them a protected area to eat their own food meant for growing chicks. We set up a box in the corner and although the adults were curious, I did not see anyone trying to attack. They were actually thrilled when I cleaned out the chick feeder and dumped the food for them to peck at.  That is what is going on in the background of this photo. All the hens are picking out the “grower” feed I poured out onto the ground.

This morning one chick had hopped out of the box. I don’t know if it was the first time for this, but there are still six and they are all alive. I’ve tightened down the netting so I hope they all make it to adulthood.

 

 

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The Mutant Jumbo Egg

My one Isa Brown hen lays a jumbo egg every single day. I have been mulling over trying to hatch a few of them to grow my own flock of Isa’s. I have noticed lately that her eggshells are getting weirder and weirder, though. Maybe her genetic makeup is not as great as I was thinking?20160804_091226

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Primping For The Fair

I want a couple more chickens to pump up our egg production. A friend suggested that rather than starting from chicks, maybe I could buy some at the livestock auction at the county fair. So, tonight I went over and scoped it out. 20160803_192644At the poultry barn, 4-H kids were preparing their birds for the big show tomorrow, and I found it pretty amusing. This one was getting a bath and a manicure.

I had to ask around at the barns, but apparently you can’t bid on laying hens, just meat chickens, aka “Broilers.” (Is that a cruel nomenclature, or what?) So, that endeavor was a bust but I still got a delicious elephant ear out of the trip.

20160802_091509On another topic, I am full into my August chores of weeding, picking, cleaning, and processing vegetables from the garden. It quickly gets overwhelming. I stopped to check on the green beans yesterday morning and the next thing I knew I was dripping wet and hauling in a bushel basket full of work to do. Fresh stuff from your own farm is a delight, except for the guilt over the old produce still on the kitchen sink while the new stuff waits on the back porch.

 

Posted in Farm Animals, Gardening | Tagged , | 3 Comments