Monday, February 25, 2013

Goose Goose Duck

I have always heard folks talk about being attacked by geese and being afraid of them. I have never had any of the geese attack me until the other day.
I have five geese, two white Embden females and one male, and a male and female grey Toulouse. I have had to separate them into their type of geese because the white male was terrorizing the grey male and one of them was roughing up the grey female. A white female (or both) is nesting and the male is VERY protective. As he should be. And now he has decided that I am the enemy, too. He has charged me before and I just grab him by the neck. But one of the guinea hens had gotten into the goose pen and I needed her out and to her roost for the night.  I went into the goose pen and he attacked me! I grabbed him by the neck and he bit the sleeve of my coat. And when that wasn't enough he hit me with his wings. Didn't hurt me of course but surprised me and was kind of funny. I think I will stay out of the pen as much as possible. I don't want to terrorize them. Hopefully the female will hatch the goslings. They would be the first geese born on the farm and it would be quite wonderful.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Chicken in the night

My husband and I were woken up at three this morning by what sounded like a cat close to the house. We don't have a cat. We got up and turned on the outside lights but could not see anything. This morning we found a trail of feathers leading from the back of the house, past the side yard and to the front field gate. Something got a chicken this morning. John followed the trail of feathers to the back and found a nest with fourteen brown eggs. Apparently she has not been coming into the chicken coop at night and had set up her own little nest.

The chickens are free range and I don't have any idea how many I have now. I count the guineas because I am down to five. And I have three roosters. But the chickens are mostly on their own. They have to make it back into the coop at night and then I shut the door. Last evening, two of the chickens were outside the west coop door which is closed due to the sheep. I had to pick them up and set them into the coop. They had already started to roost on the ground.
I have cooked the fourteen eggs for the chickens. They need the protein. I have to cook the eggs because I don't want to encourage them to eat raw eggs.

I will need to get new chicks this spring. I have some chickens that are two years old and  the rest are just over a year. I will need to replace and add to the flock to keep the egg production. The older chickens will slow down egg laying and will eventually go into the soup pot.
I think it is interesting that so much of the farming is about food production. I know that sounds apparent and I guess we could just set on the porch or take long walks. But my day is about keeping animals healthy and alive until we can kill them.

Friday, February 8, 2013

And now there are four....

We lost one of the male mallards. The one that was in the male/female pair. She called for him for a day and wondered about the farm looking for him. I wondered what the others would do.Then they started hanging with her. Now they are all paired off. It is a relief. Not that I have any control over such things. Nature works its magic.

I hesitate to write about the farm at times. It seems when I mention something good then something happens to that animal. I not a pessimist by any means, but something is always happening. I have learned to shut gates and pens with a passion. But we lost a chicken last week. I guess she did not go into the coop that night and a possum got her. Woke me up at about 1:00 am and I got up to look. Saw the possum under a pile of landscape timbers but I didn't see the chicken til the next morning. We set traps. But since I had not lost a chicken in a while, we don't have one set up right now.

Suppose to get a little wintry mix in the weather this week. Makes me plan my day a little better since I had to walk 2 miles in the icy snow a couple of weeks ago to get home. I just can't imagine how the poor folks in the northeast will handle the next couple of days/weeks without power. The farm is pretty much self sufficient. We have a well and a wood burning stove. And a generator. We haven't experienced any real power outages since we moved to the farm. But we lost power in town for three days a couple of years ago. I had my son come get all the deer meat in the freezer. Didn't want to loose that! And the ice causes problems somewhere in the state each winter. So we built the farm house with all that in mind.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Breaking the drought!

We live in the south. These past two years we have been experiencing the worst droughts. Our first three years we had such beautiful grass/pasture. We worked so hard putting out grass seed and clover. And then the droughts. We and about 60% of the nation have watched our pastures dry up. I know a farmer that sold 100 cows last summer, leaving him 10 breeders. He could not afford to feed them over the winter. We don't run that many and can rotate them through the pastures as the grass grows. Also we put in four ponds in the past three years with the help of our state agriculture center, NRCS. They help pay for cross fencing, ponds and watering systems. They are a farmers best friend. They are helping pay for replacement seeding this year. If we qualify.
So this winter we had a white christmas with 9 inches of snow!! and we have had a couple inches of rain this past month. And now most of our ponds are mostly full and this one is going over the spillway! This one is fed by the mountain ridge to the south. We could not make it through the drought without the ponds. We had to fed the cows hay in August. About a bale a week. That helped them through as the enced off pastures had a chance to grow some.

Donkeys in a pen

This was so funny. We are going to need to get the donkeys into a trailer when we give them away. We are getting guard dogs/puppies in March and trying to give the two donkeys away. They don't like new spaces. So then we see them in the duck pens. I think there was a little new grass in the pens. I think we will put feed into the trailer and see if they will begin to eat in the trailer. That's the way we caught the rams when they went to market. If it could just be that easy.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Movie from the Farm

Mallards on the pond

We have five mallards that call our farm home.
They are not wild.
 I raised them in my backyard in town
before we moved them to the farm.
I am asked all the time why they don't just fly away.
They really don't know where else to go.
Their food and shelter is here.
They come up every morning and evening to be fed.
Otherwise they fly between two close ponds. We have other ponds on the farm, within a half mile from the house,
but the ducks don't fly to them.
They have seperated themselves into two family units,
one male/female pair and one female/two males.
The one extra male had a female companion last year
but she did not make it through the winter.
I am hoping all of these make it
to have little mallards this spring.