|Posted by Fluffy on December 17, 2012 at 1:05 AM||comments (1)|
Upon my return home, I was greeted by 5 happy hounds, tails wagging so hard their entire bodies were in motion. The air was fresh and clean and the sun peeked through the clouds. Even though it was minus 9, it did not feel as cold as the wet coast at 2 degrees. But then, there was sadness.
During my absence the border collie had to be tied all day because he took to chasing the llamas and horses. Well, guess what? So did my livestock guardian dog, Harley, chase the horses and neither dog would respond to come back. This must be immediately corrected or there will be danger of packing and killing livestock, not only mine, but others. I did buy shock collars recently and must resort to using them for training to save some good dogs.
The Muscovy drake was found dead in his pen, likely had been for a few days, but was not noticed. He was so friendly and tame too. There was no evidence of trauma and I have no idea why he died. It was bitterly cold a few nights, but the animals all have shelters. They did not have new straw to help absorb some of the cold from the ground though and their eyes appeared dehydrated somewhat, so perhaps they did not have enough water to dip their heads in or the water froze quickly. I will never know.
When a cord that draped slightly over the edge of the gate was pulled by opening the gate, the heat lamps in the chicken coop were disconnected and the beautiful little Old English Game hen froze in the water bowl. She was left in the pen upside down with the bucket on her so I had to chip her out of the ice and take her body away. Also, the barnyard rooster succumbed somehow...the jury is out on that one, but the dogs were found gnawing on his frozen carcass too. The rest of the Japanese bantams hens are missing, but there is no sign of their bodies.
It seemed the horses prefer to eat over on the llamas side and when I went to get them to go home, the colt turned to give me the boots with two back legs. I whacked his butt with the hammer, and he bolted but he and his mamma would not leave or listen either, so there is work to be done there too. The goat's water was frozen solid to the core as well as the ram lamb's. The ram's bucket is housed under a layer of droppings and hay and does not freeze readily from the bottom, so that is a puzzle.
The hay fed to the animals was the small square bales, even though, round bales were available, but that required forking the hay over. Squares are easier and so much more costly, at $4.00 a bale versus 50 dollars for one round bale which is 1200 pounds. The square bales are about 60-75 pounds, so the cost to equal a round pound for pound is considerably more. One stack is completely diminished, about 75 bales. That makes sense at 6 bales a day for the livestock, for 10 days. Unfortunately, the sheep were not all able to eat the hay because it was only put in the one feeder that the sheep without horns can eat from. Both feeders need to be used so horned and polled sheep can eat. The water and grain were generally just tossed over the fence without going into the pens which could account for the dead duck not being noticed.
The plants were forgotten, too, so 4 died and there is a possibility that two may come back, but 2 were still OK. Tomorrow, I will work on house cleaning, which has not been done since I left. I will tackle the floors first, which seem to be the worst, then the bathroom. The place was left clutterred due to my own lack of organization and I vow to take care of that before Christmas so cleaning is easier.
I shoveled the back stairs which had accumluated over a foot of drifted snow, and shoveled a pathway to the front driveway, which had been done. Tomorrow I will shovel the lower patio pathway and do a little decorating for the B & B guests celebrating their anniversary on Tuesday. I did shed a few tears of sadness for the poor animals, especially those who lives were lost, and the plants as well. I am sad and feel I should not have left the farm. The person looking after the animals is staying with me temporarily, but works full time, so did not have the time to spend with the critters and he is not a farmer, so was not aware of what to do or look for when problems arose. I feel as though I let my farm down and I am sorry. I won't leave again without proper management in place.
|Posted by Fluffy on November 5, 2012 at 12:40 AM||comments (0)|
There are two sets of bantam chickens at the Fat Ewe Farm, plus one Old English Game Hen. She hangs out with the Buff Japanese bantams. The other 6 bantams are Polish/Ameraucana crosses and the 4 hens and 1 rooster stay in the main coop, but the lonely little rooster is ostracized for some reason. I felt sorry for the bantams and have decided to let them out of their cage in the coop so they can enjoy some of amenities the farm has to offer, like the dust bath and the oyster shells.
The dust bath is comprised of wood ash from the wood stove in the farm house and sand/dirt from the farm house basement. During the first months at the farm, trying to stop the mice from entering the farm house was quite something and took several months. One project was to dig the dirt away from the old doorway where there were stairs to the outside at one time prior to the porch being build. Then the doorway was covered over with concrete board and all the gaps were sealed with steel wool and insulation foam, which mice do not care to chew through. The dirt was bagged for later use somewhere. Feeding it to the chickens or allowing them to dustbathe was the perfect choice when the ground is frozen and no dirt can be seen. And they do enjoy it so!