A few days ago while we were having dinner, the chickens started to make a ruckus. Michelle raced out to see what was up. She found one of the bottom “hot” wires still vibrating. Something was trying to have a chicken dinner! This happens every few months, something tries to get into the coop area. When we first set up the fence we placed some peanut butter on some tin foil and placed it on one of the lower wires. Well about 3am Michelle was awakened by a animal scream, something had tried the peanut butter. This is cause baiting the fence. You do this BEFORE you place your livestock in an area so that the local predators know this is not a place for them. Also we play a radio in the area at night. Wild animals generally fear humans. So the sound of a human voice tends to keep them at bay. In the years we have had chicken we have not lost a single one to predation. A few days later we saw that a opossum was hit along the road. We believe this is what tried to get into the area.
Here on the farm, chores have to be done regardless of the weather. When the weather is really bad it gets me thinking. In my free time, when ever that is, I like to study World War 2 history. This is very near and dear to me since my Dad was a WW2 combat vet. So when the weather turns bad and I need to go out into the fray I wonder; all I am doing is going out to do my chores and tending my livestock. When I am done, I can go inside and eat a hot meal and warm myself. But the combat vets did not have that option. They had to live and fight in the mud, numbing cold and every other conceivable weather you can imagine. What does it take to be able to mentally and physically handle living under such conditions! While all the time, trying to stay alive, men on the other side are shooting at you! Think about that for a moment; if nothing else just picture yourself living in the open, in weather like that!
Then after you have done that, do me a favor. Next time you see a vet, PLEASE go up to them and shake their hand and THANK THEM for their service to our country! Because FREEDOM IS NOT FREE! But is paid for with the blood of our troops!!
While cleaning out the storage barn, I heard a truck beeping its horn as it came my way. At first I just thought he was just saying “Hi” to a friend. But the beeping continued and grew louder. Off in the distance I saw something running out in front of the truck. It was too far away to get a clear look. first I thought it maybe some deer, then maybe some dogs. As they got closer I saw it and my heart skipped a beat! It was GOATS!!!! running down the road. As they drew closer I breathed a sigh of relief that it was not our goats. The next question is what do we do now? The driver called to me thinking they were mine, I told him they were not and I would call the Sheriff . As I drew my phone from my pocket The goats made a hard left turn and ran down the hollow. As they went they picked up speed and it became clear they were heading home after a 3/4 mile road trip! The driver and I both smiled and he went his way.
There is someone missing on the farm, one of our ducks is gone. Her name is Shine and she went looking for a greener pastures. When we are home and the weather is nice we let the chickens and ducks out to forage during the day. They freely roam the property looking for tasty things to eat. Then as the day draws to a close we round them up and herd them back into their area for safe keeping. Shine has all of her flight feathers as do most of the others ducks . The other ducks are content to roam the yard and sometimes they will walk to the pond and take a swim. But they all know where home is and as darkness closes in, they all gather near the coop area for their evening treat. Well that is when we have roll call and we count the ducks and chickens to see it anyone is being tardy coming back. Sometimes a duck or chicken will be a bit stubborn and not want to go in right away. But if they wanted to during the day they could just start walking or fly away. Shine has always been a wanderer, not wanting to come back in at night, staying at the pond till late. So sometime on Friday she took flight and has not been back. We keep counting the ducks during the day to see if against hope she would appear, but as of yet she has not come back. She probably not far but the are so many little ponds around that she could have visited. We will keep a look out for her but we know she is gone and will be sorely missed!
On the farm, we have many tools. But one tool is used more than any other. For us it is the dreaded Death Ray! “Death Ray” you ask; what in the world is that?? Let me enlighten you, it is a tool that strikes fear in the heart of all critters on the farm. The Death Ray is none other then….a water bottle!! Just a hand pump sprayer filled with the nastiest thing we could find, tap water! We have several of these around the farm.
We have found them very effective in dogs, cats, chickens, ducks, and goats. For the cats and the dogs it is used to repel them from counters and from the kitchen during meal times.
With chickens and ducks it is effective to keep them in the coop area during evening round-up and getting them away from the gate when we can not let them out due to weather.
The goats fear it the very most of all. When entering and leaving the goat’s area, the goats will try to barge their way around you to get to the milking area. You see that is where we store the grain we feed them. So for them it is an all you can eat candy store. For this reason we need to keep them out of this area. But when a 135 pound goat wants to go somewhere she goes and you are not going to stop her. So we have the Death Ray, with this powerful weapon even the most stubborn goat will run when the Death Ray is pointed at them. We have only needed to spray them a few times for them to get it. Now the meer sight of it will cause them back away from it.
An example of just how effective the Death Ray is; a few days ago while tending the goats. I placed the Death Ray on the gate during my chores. Well, as the gate closed the Death Ray fell from the gate and hit the ground. The goat scurried to the back of the barn to get away from it, all eyes firmly placed on this fearsome weapon. I then picked it up and put it away and peace was restored in the barn!
Our goats love to run and play; when we have time we go out into the pasture with them. It is for some goat bonding time, with the cooler weather the goats love to start on one end of the pasture and run at full speed to the other where we are standing. There is only six of them but you do get a sickening feeling when six goats each weighing around 100 pounds come running toward you at full speed. Do you move or not that is the question? Our largest goat is 135 pounds and our smallest goats are 90 pounds. So there we are with the thundering herd coming ever closer. I keep my eye on Harriet, our big girl if she hits me I am going over hard. Michelle is watching too trying to make small movements to dodge them all. Then here comes Sugar, one of our small does. She crashes into Michelle’s leg, she finds out just how hard of a head they really have! Both are fine until the next time…………….!
We planted a large in ground garden this year. With tomatoes, squash, sweet corn and sun flowers for the goats. All summer we watched and waited for the sun flowers to grow and mature. They grew well, the 50 plants did well in this virgin soil. As the cooler weather came the sun flowers died and started to dry. We had plans to harvest the seed heads over the winter and feed to the goat as a special treat. Being that the growing season was over I turned off the electric fence surrounding the garden. One a bright, cool day I went out to pick some seed heads for the goats. What I found was empty stalks. Each and every seed head were gone. The deer had gone in and helps themselves to the flowers and did not even brother to say thank you! This will not happen next year!
As the weather turns colder we keep working on all the things that need to be done before winter hits hard. One of those things is to put some lights under the chicken coops. Lights? you ask? read and follow along. During the winter when the snow is flying and the wind is howling the chickens and ducks do not go and roam the yard. The wind does bite, to the tune of 30 below zero wind chill as recorded on our weather station. So needless to say they do not go out in the cold and wind and will stay under the coops. But for them to lay they need 14 hours of “daylight” per day! So to help with this we installed some outdoor string lights under the coops. With three sides closed in to give them some shelter from the wind it was very dark under there. So now even if they spend the day under there they will still get their “sunlight” for the day!