This past weekend, Tony had enough downtime from work that he came out to the farm to hang out while I milked. I wasn’t surprised he didn’t think it was a lot of fun. There are a lot of things I do that aren’t company compatible. Assembling the cans is a one-person job because only employees are allowed in the milk house. Getting the animals from the field was something we did together (that’s the picture above…you can tell because they are all assembled at the fence, rather than scattered around the field). It’s hard to make milking a muti-person job if someone doesn’t have any idea what the routine is. I don’t think he had any interest in trying, even if it would have worked out. This is not me complaining. Filtering the milk and cleaning the cans happens in the milk house, so again, not something he could be part of. Taking the animals out was fun (we saw a hawk and the giant frog…seen in the picture below…it was 7-8 inches long for reference).
On to chick updates. We started with six, but we’re down to three…one black chick (a Maran cross is my best guess at this point), one buff (potential cross), and one Rhode Island red (potential cross). One was squashed by a snake and two have mysteriously vanished. My best guess is that they went through a gap in the deer fence around the bottom of the house (where their mom couldn’t protect them) and were snatched by something before we let the rest of the flock out. But they’ve got their wing feathers and they’re starting to get their tails, so they’re growing. I’m interested to see whether they are males or females. I’m guessing the Maran mix is a boy (it has really nice gold coloring on its wings…all the female Marans are nearly pure black).
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.
[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.
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.
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.