Coming to a Close

It is hard to believe that 2017 is drawing to a close. I have been told that time speeds up as one ages and I can agree with that statement. 2017 has brought many changes to the farm and my personal life. Hopefully these changes will turn out to be good choices as 2018 progresses.

It is even harder to believe that the tiny pup I brought home in May turned nine months old today. Due to health issues, Tuck was retired from working this fall and Fix will assume his duties come spring when the livestock start getting moved back to pasture. In the meantime, Fix is enjoying being unemployed. . .

Yesterday late afternoon chore time

 

This morning with his new bone

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Thinking Outside the Box

I was talking with Fix’ (and Tuck’s) breeder several days ago and mentioned that I had been watering the horse in the pasture the previous night and forgotten to turn off the water. When I went out the next morning, the water was still running but since it had dropped below freezing, there were several patches of ice on the ground. Luckily, because the water was running, it prevented the frost-free hydrant from freezing.  Replacing hydrants is an expensive proposition, not even considering the work involved. Since even leaving a hose attached to a hydrant can cause the hydrant to freeze, I started unhooking the hose after every use year round so it became a habit and I didn’t have to stop and think about it during the winter months. She mentioned that she and her husband had often forgotten to turn off the water when they moved onto their farm and told me how they fixed that problem.

I couldn’t find the type of bands she uses, but a trip to the dollar store a few days ago netted five, glow in the dark, hair bands for a dollar. When the water is turned on, the band goes on my wrist. If I am wearing the band, it is a reminder that I need to turn off the water. When the water is turned off, the band is put back onto the hydrant. According to my friend, she and her husband haven’t forgotten the water since they implemented this system about six years ago. So here’s hoping the solution works as well for me.

Odd Weather

The weather this fall was unusually warm. However, the cold weather has moved in with a vengeance this past week. The other morning it was in the teens when I got up and was still below freezing shortly after 9 am. I think the high  was only 43 degrees. I had scheduled a propane delivery for next week, mainly just to take advantage of the propane pricing I had locked in last year that will expire shortly; however, if this weather continues I may actually have need of the delivery.

The borrowed ram has returned home and I’m hoping that he bred at least one ewe while he was here. The hogs are now gone – it was apparent that they weren’t going to pay for themselves and I didn’t want to spend another winter having to carry water out to the pasture every day.

 

On Loan

I sold off almost all of my breeding ewes when I sold lambs this past spring. I kept one ewe which had earned a retirement with me (no. 86) and four ewes which I considered “cull” ewes; i.e., if I had continued breeding for lamb I would have not kept these four either because of bag issues or because of poor productivity. However, since I had the ewes, and my neighbor who breeds New Mexico Dahl sheep was willing to loan me a young ram for breeding, I decided to breed the ewes for spring lamb which I could butcher for myself. In the past, I could never afford to put lamb in my freezer as I needed to make as much as I could off selling lamb and the meat in my freezer was generally mutton (which is actually quite good.)

Here is the young ram. He has been here a little over a week and will be leaving in early December. Am hoping that he manages to breed at least one ewe.

Autumn Gold

The weather has not been predictable for the past few years and this year has been no exception. It has been warmer than usual and the fall colors are just now peaking. I have only seen and heard a couple of groups of migratory birds over head – a far cry from the November ten years ago when I moved here.

The Old and the New

The OLD: My hens are all molting and have stopped laying. These were the chicks that came in September 2013, while my driveway was under water.

At 4 years of age, the productivity of the hens was on the downward slope which is the reason I bought new chicks this fall.

The NEW: Readers of the blog may remember my failed attempt to add Icelandic Chickens to my farm a couple of years ago. A friend of mine has a son who purchased hatching eggs this year and had much better success in hatching out chicks. He gave part of the chicks to his mom and when she discovered that she had two Icelandic Roosters, she offered me one. I brought him home Friday night and put him in with the almost 10 week old chicks. He is five months old and is a very handsome fella.

More Random Farm Photos

I built another cattle panel shelter last weekend. The first two were built with two people and the shelters went up quickly and easily. Unfortunately, I am not tall enough to be able to easily “walk” a panel so putting up a shelter for the sheep was not as easy or quick. However, I did manage it. I bought a tarp to cover it last Wednesday so after work on Thursday, I tarped the shelter.

The chicks will be nine weeks old tomorrow.

Buff Orpington front left; Red Star front right; Delaware behind Red Star; Barred Rock in back. The Bantams are a Japanese and Red Frizzles.  It is really easy to see the size difference between the Bantams and the full-size chickens.

As I noted in the last post, I was tired of cleaning out the chicken waterer every day so decided I would try using a hanging waterer with “nipples.” The one I bought worked well enough that I wanted another for the main chicken coop, but wasn’t willing to buy another one ($19.99 plus tax). I bought four nipples and then found two plastic buckets in my recycling. The smallest one is 1 gallon — too small for summer use but should be useful in the winter when I can’t leave water out overnight to freeze. The larger bucket is 3.5 gallons.

I put the smaller waterer together using a drill bit that was too small so I was pleasantly surprised when my attempts to enlarge the hole sufficiently didn’t result in a too large hole. I did buy the correct size drill bit before making the second waterer. The nipples came to just under 1.50 each and I used two nipples for each bucket (rather than the four nipples on the 5 gallon waterer I bought). I can add two more nipples to the 3.5 gallon waterer if needed in the future.

Random Farm Photos

The chicks turned 6 weeks old on Monday. I started opening up the pop door to the outside run for the chicks this past weekend and they have been having a grand time with the extra room. I had bought a Hen Hydrator which is a 5 gallon bucket that hangs with nipples for the chickens to drink from because I was tired of having to clean out the trays on the ground waterers. It plainly states it is not for chicks, but I went ahead and lowered it to chick height and  the chicks have been happily using it for the past few days.

The bantam chicks are noticeably smaller than the other chicks

 

The frizzles look like they stuck their beaks in a light socket

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cosmos, the youngest buckling, does not quite understand the proper way to go down a slide.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The kids are three weeks old today.

 

 

 

And here is Fix – who is starting to mature into a very nice looking dog.

Warm and fuzzy . . . NOT

I had bought two does exposed to bucks in May. Just Charmin kidded out a week ago this past Thursday. My absolute least favorite part of owning goats is disbudding. I have tried using a paste, which produced hit and miss results (heavily weighted to the miss), and banding, more successful IF bands are replaced promptly when they break. Last year I finally ordered a disbudding iron. The first one was damaged when I opened the box and by the time the replacement arrived it was too late for a successful disbudding of the kids. I should have disbudded Charmin’s kids, or at least the buckling, no later than Monday morning, but he was so small I put it off. Then the usual number of things happened so it wasn’t until last evening that I managed to disbud both kids and give them CDT vaccinations to guard against tetanus. It was a miserable experience for all concerned and I am hoping that it was successful and we didn’t all go through the trauma for naught. Evidently from what I’ve read and heard, Nigerian Dwarfs are the hardest of all the dairy goats to disbud and the bucklings are the hardest, with most developing scurs even at the best of times.

This came on the heels of the second doe, who never bagged up so I wasn’t sure she had been bred, suddenly going into labor Thursday late afternoon. Luckily I was home as I ended up having to pull a kid – which was stillborn. Buttons still isn’t out of the woods yet so I’m hoping I don’t lose her as well.

I enjoy the farm and the various animals. There is nothing cuter than a goat kid sproinging about. However, there is a downside to breeding any animals — the very real likelihood of not only the loss of the offspring but also the dam. WHO estimated that in 2015 303,000 women would die from complications of pregnancy or childbirth. Actually, I’m always surprised at the low number of complications I’ve had with my sheep and goats over the years when one considers all of the things that could go wrong.

 

Farm Dog 101: Place Command – Part Three

Once your dog will “place” for at least two minutes with you moving around the room, you are ready to progress to Step Two – teaching your dog to travel to its “place.”

Step Two: Place your mat or rug one step in front of your dog. Toss a treat on the mat and tell your dog to “go place”. When your dog steps onto the mat and eats the treat, Praise and Release.

Duration: Gradually increase the length of time the dog remains on the mat before the Release.

Distance: Once your dog is able to leave your side and go one step to the mat without assistance and remain there for 2 minutes, you will start to increase the distance away from the mat that your dog is sent one step at a time. Each time you add distance, reduce the length of time the dog remains on the mat and gradually increase the time again. Until the dog is successfully completing a “go place” at two steps without physical assistance you will not move further away. Each increase in distance should be one step at a time. Continue until you can send your dog 20 feet to a mat and the dog stays until Released.

Distractions: Reduce the distance you stand from the mat back to one step and have a distraction ten feet away. If you have been working without a leash, make sure you put a leash back on your dog so that you can prevent him from going to the distraction. Send your dog to the mat. When your dog is successfully ignoring the distraction, move the distraction one foot closer and repeat. Continue to move the distraction closer only when the dog is able to successfully ignore it.

Difficulty: Once your dog is ignoring a distraction and able to “go place” from one step away, start increasing the distance you send your dog one step at a time and begin with the distraction ten feet away again. Continue to vary the distance you send the dog, the type and location of distraction and duration of the stay on the mat.

Much larger treat than I normally use but I wanted it to be visible.

Fix moves onto “Place” when told “Go Place”