Wednesday, May 28, 2008

More spring babies

I can see why everyone loves springtime on a farm! So many new things and new babies!

Our Rhode Island Red hen that has been faithfully setting for 21 days, hatched her brood last Friday, May 23rd. We noticed the first "pips" of the shell, and within 24 hours, 9 of the 12 eggs were hatched into new baby chicks. (of the three that didn't ever hatch, two appeared to be unfertile, when we finally removed them from the nest, and one was undeveloped). That is an excellent rate of return for 12 eggs. And we've nearly doubled the number of our flock with this year's hatching.

Of course, we won't know until later how many females we have, to keep. The males will become freezer meat at some point.

It was great to watch this process using the real 'natural' method of the mother hen, and not an incubator. And watch how she protects them and talks to them and teaches them. It is awesome.

This is the nesting box Steven built for her -- using part of an old bee hive box and a portion of a metal barrel. She seems to like it.

For now, we have put a wire crate over her nesting area in the hen house, so that the babies are protected and stay in there with her until they are older -- yet that allows our other hens to continue to come and go as they always have.

We also got two new little white chicks from my daughter, who works at a farm supply store, and had bought two chicks to study in the science lab at college. Since the college was shutting down for summer, those young chickens came home with us. One is a pullet we will keep as an egg layer. The other is a broiler breed -- too heavy to survive long. That will become food.

Steven was given six new ducklings from our friends the Friesen's. (I don't have a photo of them yet). Multicolored and a basic mutt background, but Steven is thrilled with them and hopes to raise them out in the goat pen. He learned with the Cayuga's that once they imprint a certain area as "home" - it is hard to get them to roost anywhere else (the Cayuga ducks still think they have to be in the garden -- but they eat all the spinach!)

We had a wonderful gathering of people out here on Memorial Day, enjoying the chance to see all the new baby animals, and play softball, and games, and have a cookout. It was loads of fun (until the rain started) :)

Steven planting miloWe've had a very wet past couple of weeks. Two and a half inches on Monday alone -- and 11.5 inches for May overall. Makes for lots of weeds and lots of mowing, but it is good for the garden.

Steven also planted his 'milo field' in the middle of our front yard -- a protected area -- to grow our own chicken feed for this coming winter.

Amanda was home to enjoy the baby goats, and David helped to feed the doe a bit. We also have tons of baby kittens - which I always forget to mention because I'm not much of a cat person.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Summer pains

Ah... my muscles hurt so much this time of year getting back into shape with farm work. I have done a lot of mowing, and weeding, and general clean-up this week, and I'm feeling it. Sometimes I'm glad I have an job "outside" of the farm, just so I can rest!

Plowed up a portion of the front yard this week with the tiller - Steven wants to put milo in that plot, to grow for organic feed for the chickens for this winter. The front yard is one place the chickens can't currently get to. Since Steven hasn't planted it yet, though, or put wire around it, the dogs are loving their new freshly-plowed dirt ;). I took me four repeats over it with the tiller to make it really workable!

Other than that, we are very busily and hurriedly trying to get the place cleaned up and presentable for the big gathering we are having next Monday (Memorial Day) of Steven's friends from church. That, on top of our regular chores, it making for all-work-no-play for awhile. I'm sure there will be some stuff left undone despite our efforts. We hope the roof for the shed will get finished up this week as well (if the contractor ever comes back).

Chance of storms tomorrow - which means we will do cleaning inside the house while the weather is bad outside. And I'm taking the last two days of this week "off" from my regular job, just so I can stay home and get things done.

Monday, May 12, 2008

New Baby Goats!

FINALLY, we have new baby goats!!! The younger doe (T21) had twin girls on Saturday morning, May 10th. Of course, she picked the busiest scheduled day of our month for us! But we found time to get them over to the barn and separated from the rest, so we could check them out and make sure they were nursing.

One kid is much stronger/bigger than the other, and momma favors it when nursing. So we've had to "help" the other one quite a bit. The doe has a very lop-sided udder, with one side pretty normal and the other side very engorged. The strong kid nurses out the 'good' side until there is no milk, and the little runt can't get a good latch on the engorged nipple because it is too big. So we've had to do some intervention.

Probably later today I will also look at getting a bottle, and milking the doe into the bottle, then feeding that kid with the bottle until it gets big enough to latch well, or the doe's udder becomes more uniform.
They are adorably cute! and very vocal. They are so soft and cuddly.

It is a blessing that this went pretty well, after the disaster with our first kidding earlier this spring.

The daddy Boer has a much darker head that the doe, and the kids definitely take after daddy. One has a solid colored head, and the runt has a little white on her forehead.

So we have increased our herd by two -- and we will keep these to be breeding does for us over the next few years.

I'm also very happy that last week I got a "new" farm truck. Since the engine got blown in my '71, I was able to locate a 1969 GMC truck that will work with our stock rack. Runs like a top. Drove it to town on Saturday to put gas in it (although I forgot I didn't have a tag for it yet!) It will be a good, basic, dependable farm truck.