2017 Chicks and Rooster Processing

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We were pretty surprised when one of our seven month old hens decided she was broody, but we’re drowning in eggs, so we thought we would let her hatch a clutch. She had 14-ish eggs and 6 of them hatched (from what I’ve read, 50% hatch rate is about average). We lost one to a small black snake (the snake was rehomed…black snakes are useful…away from the chickens), but otherwise they are doing well so far. We have one Rhode Island red (cross?), one buff Orpington (cross?), and three black chicks. I don’t remember how to tell which is which and most of them (if not all) are crosses.

The hen’s been taking them out of the house since about the second day, which surprised me, since Buffy kept hers in for over a week. They are keeping up with her pretty well. We tossed the babies up into the house for her the first couple of days, but they’ve figured out (somehow) how to get in on their own now.

One of the nice things about this hen (who has no name) is that she’s pretty unconcerned about us messing with her babies, especially compared to Buffy (last year’s mom). It made helping her get her babies into the house a lot easier. Tony also said that as long as the dogs aren’t being too rambunctious, she isn’t bothered by them being around.

In other news, the three roosters were overwhelming the hens, so we finally took care of processing the two we decided not to keep (the buff Orpington and the Rhode Island red). We were surprised at how large they were, but definitely not disappointed. Between their size, the practice I got last year (I spent a day processing chickens on a farm about an hour from home last year), and only doing two, it felt more worthwhile than the days we spent last year culling our flock.

Bonus: Flash Flooding

[One very important thing to remember for this story: the goats and the sheep both hate getting their feet wet. Even the smallest mud puddle is skirted like a snake-infested river. If the ground is wet, they tiptoe through the least muddy parts and dance from grass tuft to grass tuft whenever possible.]

On Thursday, work was pounded with rain the entire time I was milking (two hours and change). Fortunately, the rain stopped right as I was ready to take the animals out to their paddock for the night. I didn’t have any kind of water proof/resistant jacket (it’s a 40 minute walk, round-trip, to that particular paddock, plus the time to close up the fence) and had more work to do before I could go home, so I wasn’t excited about getting soaked.

I was merrily leading the animals out to their paddock and noticed that the path to one of the other fields was blocked by an overflowing creek (usually the creek runs under the road). I enjoyed listening to the sound of the rushing water and ogling the scene, but didn’t really think much of it.

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Then I got to the road to the paddock the animals were supposed to go into and realized that was a mistake. The path was completely covered by a lot of water. I was getting my phone out to text my boss to see if there was a backup plan, when three of the goats charged across the water to their paddock. Following them was the rest of the herd. At that point, I gave up on a backup plan and watched to make sure they all made it across the water and closed them in for the night.

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Fortunately, I had my rubber boots on, but even then, I put my foot down in one spot where the water came in over the top of my boot just a little (for reference, they’re 13 inch boots). Fortunately, the animals all made it across without floating away and only two of the goats (the white one, who’s going the wrong way in this picture and one of the others) made any kind of fuss about crossing the water.

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For reference, this is the same spot as the first picture the afternoon after all the rain.

Goats, Goats, and More Goats

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Things have been chaotic (chorus for the summer, I think), so I’m going for more pictures and fewer words.

There were two (human) babies expected at work, a month apart. They came one day after the other. While they planned to let the parents take time off, I’m not sure how much time they’ll actually get before they have to come back to work. There’s only one full-time person, me (about 25 hours per week), and another girl (about 10 hours per week), so losing two full-time people at the same time is hard (especially since full-time is more than 40 hours).

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Dad came out to the farm last weekend and I showed him what I’ve been doing, which was fun. He enjoyed feeding the goats some maple leaves.

Our goats are doing better since losing the one (I think I wrote about her? I don’t remember). The pigs are happy, though I think they wish it would rain. It’s pretty dry and they seem to like a little damp dirt/mud.

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May Update

May was an incredibly busy month. Twenty Paces work really picked up for me, Tony was out of town for two weeks (and he’s had a lot of stuff going on at work), there was a lot of (bad) excitement with the goats, and we acquired three pigs (!!). I’ve been wiped out and haven’t even taken that many pictures.

Twenty Paces Work

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All (or nearly all) of the babies have been born at this point, so we’re milking about 80 animals twice per day. I only have three milking shifts, but trying to get them all done in the allotted time is a challenge (it’s entirely achievable, which is nice). I’ve also got two days per week that I spend working on farm stuff. I do a lot of mucking (less of that with the lady they hired to help with that during the week), a lot of hosing down the milking parlor, some fence repair, a lot of fence moving, and generally doing whatever I can to be useful. I love the chance to see more of the operation of the farm.

Goats & Pigs

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The goats have been…everything people say about goats. It’s a little baffling to me because I feel like the goats at work have a much better personality than ours, but we’re seeing how things go. My current analogy is that if goats are to horses as sheep are to cows, our goats are ponies. Those ponies are doing great work for us (they’ve cleared out the blueberries near the chicken house to make it harder for foxes to sneak super close), but in the last two weeks, two of them got themselves tangled in the electric fence and one of them died. This is not an auspicious start to the first year of goat ownership.

The pigs have been off to great start (admittedly, as of my writing this, they haven’t even been here half a week). I put them in the hard fence (the goats were still being reminded about electric when the pigs came home), even though the lady I bought them from had already done a lot of electric fence training for them. I wanted to make sure that there wasn’t any confusion since my fence is different from hers. As far as I can tell, they haven’t even touched the fence yet. They’re very standoffish, which bothers Tony, but I reminded him that the pigs from last year were shy at the beginning, but super personable by the time we took them to be processed.

The next couple of months will probably be just as wild as this one was. One baby at work is due to have already been born and the other is due at the end of June, so work may pick up a little. Our goats are due to kid at the beginning of August, so that’ll be exciting and busy-making. Tony’s got a lot of travel this summer, so that’s also going to create some chaos. I apologize if posting this summer is slow, but some days, I’m just trying to keep up with myself.