The Fat Ewe Farm 
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Chickens at the Milk Bar

Posted by Fluffy on November 12, 2012 at 1:50 AM Comments comments (0)

In the old days, chickens got milk. Some milk was always spilled when milking the family cow and the free ranging chickens were sure to be there to clean it up, fighting the cats and dogs for it. Milk does provide some protein and fat, and being omnivorous, chickens do need both in their diets. It was not until the recent (in the time of the world history) cultivation of agricultural grain crops that birds were fed grain. In winter they got scraps from the kitchen along with some milk and even bones to pick. They ate a bit of the leaves from hay for their vegetables and hoped they could get through the cold winter. There were no such things as heat lamps, just a barn that could get quite below zero. 


Then as man began the grain madness, the birds' diets slowly switched to be grain dependent, much as man has forced ruminants to eat grain. It is not good for animals, humans included. Anyhow, chickens will and do eat milk so when there was some whipping cream that was off and outdated buttermilk, the chickens got some and so did the turkeys. The grateful birds quickly gobbled it up at the milk bar!

Little Chicks and Lost Sheep

Posted by Fluffy on August 25, 2012 at 1:55 AM Comments comments (1)

It was a fairly standard day, but rained lightly the whole day. I spent a great deal of time on the phone with the Telus people regarding the stick that I get internet through, not working.They finally conceeded that the problem was the thunderstorm last night and much of Alberta and Saskatchewan who rely on sticks are without internet. It has not worked for most of the day. 

After chores I took the dogs for our pack bonding walk in the woods. We went to the northeast trail and back through the center of the quarter. The sheep had not returned for the night and it was already getting dark. I took the dogs and we combing the northwest corner, then the bush to the west and finally the bush to the south along the middle. We went halfway down the meadow but the sheep have never gone that far, ever. They stay right around their pen. Sure enough they were in the southwest corner with the llamas. I wonder if they had been chased there by a dog or coyote or something. I was glad to see them but I could not get them to budge. They were frozen. Finally they began to follow me and I released the dogs. They herded them quickly and efiiciently all the way back to the pen. Robbie and Joseph were waiting for me when I finally got home, a lot slower than the sheep and dogs. I praised them profusely and am deeply grateful for their work tonight. 

The little chicks are doing marvellously. The hen with 12 has 8 little ones. After she abandoned her nest with only two hatchlings, I put a heat lamp on the rest and managed to hatch more, however, the eggs were so dry that two could not get out of the shell and two did not try. I am happy for the hen that she is a mother after 21 days of sacrifice. The other mom has 2 little ones and both hens are clucking proudly to the little ones, calling them to get warm under their fluffed up feathers. Nature has a wonderful way. It is much better to allow natural hatching and not incubate eggs. The mother hen knows exactly when to warm her little ones and when to take them to teach them to forage for food. She is showing them what to eat as well. The poor hatchery chicks are brooded in buildings, never seeing the sun or smelling the fresh air. How much better to allow the love to unfurl as it was meant to be. 

Gift chicks

Posted by Fluffy on August 22, 2012 at 11:50 PM Comments comments (0)

I went out for lunch today, a rare thing I do. It was the scheduled hatch day for the chicks, but the ducks will take another 7 days. When I got home a frantic hen was trying to access her 2 chicks which had gone through the wire into a pen. I got a flashlight to visit her nest because she had laid 2 eggs of her own, likely the two hatchlings she was after and I put 10 more under her, which she has completely abandoned. The chicks were 3 feet off the ground so either she pushed them out of the nest or they fell. I moved the hen and her two chicks to a hoop coop for safety and then brought the nest of eggs and set it under a heat lamp. It was pretty cold, but a couple of eggs showed little cracks and one had a hole so the babies were attempted to get out. The thing is, if they got too cold it would be very hard for them. 

3 more have hatched but the eggs are dry under the lamp and it is hard for the babies to get out, so I spritzed them with water. Stil lthe mom will not go near the nest, so once the chicks are out, I stick them beside her and they quickly burrow under her to keep warm. I did not know if she would kill them or accept them, but fortunately, she has been accepting them. 

The other hen who laid two eggs hatched them nicely and was too afraid to move. I physically picked her up and her chicks and put her in a different hoop shelter where she would be safe and warmer than where she was. I gave her some food and water and she quickly demolished it. The hens only eat and drink once a day when they are setting, so she must be half starved. It is quite amazing that the little ones are already up and spry and pecking the ground for tidbits. When they are incubated they are so coddled...must have this temperature at this humidity, no drafts, special food, but when the mother hen raised them, the day they are hatched they are chasing after her pecking at things and they are in the sun and the wind. When they feel chilled they run under her. That is so much healthier for the babies. 

I will have to check the nest again shortly before bed to see if the other two who zippered their shells have made it out and put them with the mother hen before I go to bed myself. 

The little sick goat is much better today, eating well and she was able to drink her electrolyte solution sucking from a bottle rather than having a syringy trickle the liquid down her throat. This was more natural and it was easier for both of us. She will still get penicillin for another 2 days, plus electrolyte solution and viatmins. Combatting that illness was a difficult thing, but she appears to have enough will to live to have done it. I am thankful for the life of the little goat and the lives of the baby chicks so desperately trying to survive even though they are abandoned by their mother, albeit surrogate. I wonder if somehow she knew those eggs were not the ones she laid?

New Peeps on the Farm

Posted by Fluffy on June 1, 2011 at 7:47 PM Comments comments (0)

It is well understood that Orpington chickens are great dual purpose backyard chickens because of their docile friendly natures. So, I got 40 newly hatched chicks and brought them home. They stayed in a Rubbermaid the first night, in the kitchen with a heat lamp, but they are noisy little things and by morning, they did not smell so great. I put them in the livestock tank with a wire covering over the whole thing. I cut one wire to hang the heat lamp and the board that was erroneously cut for the toilet reno was the perfect cover for half of the tank over the lamp. The temperature was dropping rapidly so I used the Rubbermaid top over some of the wire as more cover and made a teepee of two pieces of plywood which a covered with the old drapes from the house. The drapes were lined with a thermal cloth and I thought they would be perfect. When I checked on the peeps last night, they were running helter skelter, not huddled under the lamp so I figured the temperature was just about right. This morning though, they were huddled up under the lamp. By 9 am the temperature had warmed to 20 degrees so I opened the top, but left the wire. The kitten was "fishing" through the wire, so it was a good thing it was there. This evening is windy and cool and it will likely rain so I will cover the whole tank up with a larger plywood leaving a bit of space for ventilation and overheating. Fortunately the heat lamp has a high/low setting. With the cover, the low setting should be enough. 


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