I said I wouldn’t bring politics to this blog, but what happened yesterday requires outrage. Our democracy is under attack – and as Abraham Lincoln said in 1838, “At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freeman, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.” Trump yesterday tweeted that he thinks the November 3rd election should be postponed until it is safer for voters to go to the polls. (While he lacks the authority to make such a change and so far the Republicans are unwilling to entertain such a change, the fact that a sitting president would even make such a suggestion is chilling.) This is the same person who insists it is safe for US citizens to go back to work (while Republican senators are trying to pass legislation to protect employers from lawsuits if their employees or patrons are infected with COVID-19, thus ensuring that businesses don’t have to implement safety practices as recommended by the CDC*.) This is the same person who insists it is safe for children to go back to school, even though most schools believe it is not possible to implement necessary safety measures to ensure that children, teachers, school workers and the adults the children go home to every day will be safe from infection. But according to Trump, it would not be safe for voters to go out to the polls on a single day. At the same time he tweets that mail in ballots would result in a fraudulent election, thus trying to scare people from using mail in ballots. Even though there is absolutely no difference between mail in ballots and absentee ballots (which he claims to be safe) and even though he can cite to no study to support his tweets and there are several studies which dispute it. Can it be any clearer to ANY person that Trump is afraid he will lose the election and is trying to subvert democracy to ensure he and his cronies retain positions that allow them to destroy our Constitution and our Country? EVERYONE – Republican, Democrat, Independent – should renounce this attempt to subvert democracy. EVERY American citizen eligible to vote should ensure they protect this right by voting in the upcoming election. I may not agree (let’s be honest, I would totally disagree) with anyone who believes that Trump deserves a second term but I will absolutely fight to protect that citizen’s right to vote. If you chose to vote by mail, please make sure you request a ballot and return it timely so that your vote counts. (Postal workers are now saying that changes implemented by the new Postal Inspector appointed by Trump will significantly slow down delivery of the post.) If you chose to vote in person, if early voting is an option, do that and avoid the lines on election day. If you have no choice but to vote in person on November 3rd, wear a mask, stay apart from others and take any and all precautions to protect your health. Regardless of which option you choose make sure you are REGISTERED to VOTE and VOTE!!!!
* Please do not misunderstand me. I am wholly onboard with protecting individuals and businesses from nuisance lawsuits. I am equally opposed to blanket immunity which is essentially what the current proposed bill from the Republicans is promoting. Several states have asked OSHA for regulations that would impose certain requirements on businesses that would help protect workers against contracting COVID-19. The CDC guidelines are just that – guidelines. To ensure compliance would require federal regulations and OSHA has steadfastly refused to implement such regulations. This is inadequate to provide employee (and consumer) protections but is totally expected from a federal government which has abdicated any responsibility for addressing the current pandemic and which is therefore totally responsible for the economic situation that the country now faces.
I had thrown five roosters (all Range Sussex) out of the chicken coop for fighting. I figured if they all survived a week it would probably be safe to start letting the hens out during the day. Of course, the morning I was planning on starting to free range again when I went out there were only four roosters to be found. Since four of the five had been ganging up on one poor rooster I was figuring it was most likely he had finally been killed by another rooster. However, he was one of the four so it transpired that one of the bigger and more aggressive roosters was missing. Needless to say, the hens haven’t started to free range again.
Since I’ve been stopping any attack on the one rooster whenever I’ve been outside, I guess he has decided that I (and the dogs) are safe. Anytime I go out now, he comes out from hiding and starts following me (in heel position, next to the dogs) Bug and Fix will move the other roosters back to the coop, but they have started ignoring this one.
For some reason that I’ve yet to determine, the mortality rate with both the first and second batch of chicks mailed this year was incredibly high. However, those that managed to survive their first two weeks seem to be healthy and doing well.
The April chicks (it appears that 8 of the remaining chicks are Icelandics – 13 were shipped – and the other 8 are Egyptian Fayoumi – 9 were shipped. Apparently I lost all of the Spangled Hamburgs) needed more room so the other day I dismantled last year’s attempt to divide the outside run into two sides and after hauling out the cattle panel and orange snow fence, brought three sections of dog kennel in to set up against the chicken coop. These jobs take so much longer without help and I got one piece stuck (everything has to be carefully angled to be able to fit through two doors which are perpendicular to each other) necessitating me having to climb through the pop hatch myself to get out of the enclosure. However, I eventually got the kennel panels up, used chicken wire to cover the gaps between the kennel panels and coop and covered the kennel so the chicks couldn’t fly out and the older chickens couldn’t fly in. This is a day solution so I have to move chicks out in the morning and back again at the end of the day. We won’t discuss how many escaped chicks I’ve had to catch during the past couple of days – am still working on the logistics.
The primary reason for moving out the older chicks during the day was that the surviving chicks from earlier this month were getting too large to spend all their time in the brooder and I wanted to give them daytime access to the larger area of the coop now that they are starting to feather up. They were hesitant to come out until I raised the brooder lid, but seem to be getting more comfortable spending time “outside”.
The heater plate is a new experiment and appears to work well. It is supposed to simulate being underneath a hen and is adjustable in height so can be raised to accommodate growing chicks. I don’t know yet how many surviving chicks are the Icelandics I wanted (there were 10 in this batch). Two are white crested black polish – distinctive enough to be able to identify at day one.
While my dogs are first and foremost companions (not pets), the dogs I obtain as puppies are all chosen with hopes that they will become useful working dogs. When Bug first came home, she was a self-confident little pup but knew her limitations. She would keep a safe distance from the chickens and generally would observe me feeding livestock from a place on the deck. I wasn’t worried as I knew that as long as I didn’t push her into something that scared her, she would eventually become comfortable closer to the chickens and goats. Sure enough, a few mornings ago I went out to discover the two bucks had escaped their pen overnight. Fix and I put them back and when they escaped the next morning (in a different way) Bug was right there to help. Of course, her “help” consisted on standing in front of them while Fix was trying to move them forward and preventing them from moving. Since just one of the bucks outweighs her and could have trampled her into the ground it was pretty impressive for her to challenge – and stop – two bucks in their tracks.
With an ongoing coyote problem this spring, I have stopped letting chickens out to free-range. Just as I was getting ready to start letting them out again, my neighbor lost a full-grown ram to coyotes so those plans were set aside for the time being. However, I have (had) too many roosters in the enclosed run/coop and went out a few mornings ago to find one dead. Coming back after disposing of the carcass I found two more roosters fighting. I grabbed the instigator and threw him outside the coop. This bothered Fix enormously as he kept trying to bring the rooster back so I could put it back in the coop. Over the course of the last few days, I have tossed out all but the Icelandic roosters. I figure if they are still alive after a week, it should be safe to let the hens out during the day again. But, in the meantime, Fix has been diligently trying to round up roosters and Bug has started to help.
Spring on a farm can vary – weather isn’t always predictable, sometimes there will be new animals but lately most often not – but the one constant is the need to replenish dwindling hay supplies. A few years back I would have been buying 3 to 4 times the amount of hay I now need. Fitting that much hay into the barn meant stacking hay up to the rafters. Now I can get by with only stacking three layers which means I no longer have to clamber up a stack to throw off bales to feed through a week.
Sunday morning I moved my few remaining bales of alfalfa over to the side with the grass hay to clear room for a new delivery of alfalfa. I had about 2/3 of the number of bales I expect to need delivered and thankfully help in stacking as well. I’ll get the remainder of alfalfa from another cutting and I will pick up the grass hay I need myself but I always feel better when I know I have hay in the barn.
This year is the first time I have raised more than one batch of chicks (not by choice) and so when I got the second batch in early May it meant I had to move the first chicks out of the brooder sooner than my normal practice. I set up a shelter for the chicks in the coop section with the brooder and then blocked off the entry back into the brooder so the older chicks would have to stay in that section. Sure enough, the first night when I went out to check, the older chicks were all piled together in front of the brooder entrance. I picked them up and placed them into their new shelter. The next night, they were piled in front of the opening to their new shelter. I again moved them into the shelter. The third night they seemed to know the new routine and were all in the shelter. The next few nights were uneventful. Then a couple of days ago I went out and half the chicks (the Icelandics that I had ordered and not the chicks which were used as “filler” chicks to make up a sufficient number to ship) were huddled together on a wooden platform about half way up off the floor. I again moved chicks to the shelter. Then Saturday night when I went out I couldn’t find half the chicks — when I looked up there were 8 chicks roosting on the rafter. I wasn’t willing to go haul out the step ladder to be able to reach them so just hoped that they would survive the nighttime temperatures (they did). Last night (Sunday) when I went out, ten chicks – mostly Icelandic – were on the rafter so this is evidently the new nighttime routine.
Bug will be five months old on Tuesday – here she is Sunday.
Bug is 4 months old today. Someone asked me awhile back about her name and I told them that it depended upon the day of the week – phase of the moon. Sometimes Bug meant “cute as a bug” and sometimes it meant “pest”. As she is heading into adolescence, she is heading into her gangly stage where she is looking easty-westy in the front and her rear is high. And because she is teething her ears are doing funky things. All of this will sort itself out — the general rule of thumb is that a pup at 8 weeks will show the structure the dog will have as an adult and she was very nicely put together at 8 weeks of age. It does mean, however, that “cute as a bug” doesn’t really apply anymore. Everyone with experience with a teenager is also familiar with the stage she is entering where she is starting to flip me a paw, so “pest” is very apropros right now.