Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Another (temporary) Farm Addition

This is Lexie. We're fostering her for That'll Do Border Collie Rescue - she is mostly Kelpie though, I think. We'll train her until she finds a good home. She's 6-7 months old and FULL of energy. She jumps and she's mouthy (I have the scratches and welts to prove it) but she loves other dogs and *loves* people. She's already having a lot of fun on the farm running around and playing ball. She isn't sure whether to lunge at the chickens (she's on leash around them) and she barks at the horses and sheep. I don't think she'll be hard to train, though, and she's really cute!

The sheep have pretty much grazed their whole pasture so for the last few days we've been letting them out into the 'general' farm area where there is still lots of grass. They've been fine every day - they usually put themselves back in their paddock in the afternoon. Today, though, as soon as I let them out they jumped through a gap in the wooden fence, then pushed through the electric fence to get into the paddock with Thomas and Zeb. "No big deal", I thought, "I'll just call them back out for grain" (we only want the sheep to be bred in October). I wasn't in a huge hurry since I've read that you sometimes won't even see sheep mating because the rams can be 'shy' and only do it when you aren't watching. Well, our Thomas is no shrinking violet, that's for sure. As soon as those ewes were in there he was on it, so to speak. Why do these things always happen when I'm here alone?? I raced to put Abby and Lexie away (new foster dog barking wouldn't have helped the situation) and grab some grain, then turned off the electric fence and jumped through, hoping that Thomas was too preoccupied to bother ramming me. I tried to get Ryan to go get the ewes but they wouldn't separate - the whole motley group, Zeb included, was running around, with Thomas trying desperately to mount the ewes as they ran. Oh, and did I mention there's a pony in that paddock, too? Because an angry stomping pony was exactly what was needed to complete the scene. Eventually I got the lambs to come over for grain. I think they were actually more relieved to get away from humpy Thomas than anything else. They ran through the fence and I sprinted to turn the electric fence back on before Thomas decided to make a break for it. Crisis averted...hopefully. If someone pops out a lamb in January we'll know why!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Take your Border Collie to Work Day

Ryan got to go to work with Nathan today. I'm not sure why that makes it seem like he's a 'real' farm dog - our farm is pretty real - but it somehow does.

I went there mid morning try a little sheep herding with Ryan on different sheep, and with a pen set up. He was really good, considering he still doesn't know directions. He ran really far to get them...but when the sheep scattered he started sniffing around because he wasn't sure what to do. Eventually he did gather them and together we pushed them back up the field and, eventually, into the pen.

Ryan and Nathan getting some bad tomatoes for the pigs.

Ryan and the scary pig.

Muddy pigs!

Ryan's bread reward at the end of a long work day.

Meanwhile, Abby and I worked on a sheep pen so that we'll have somewhere to corral the sheep into when we have to check their feet, eyes, etc...and also so that I can practice with Ryan.

Abby waiting at the gate. 

The sheep checking out their new pen.

They seem to like it - we'll try to keep it that way!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Goodbye Jane

Fully stocked farm stand! Except cucumbers - those seem to ripen in batches so we suddenly have 5 ripe and then a week with none.

I can't get enough of these cherry tomatoes...which is a good thing since we're picking this many every day right now!

Time to make some pesto for the freezer.

I thought there weren't any zucchini and then I looked a little harder...oops!

It was a sad morning for me yesterday when I went outside and found one of the chicks dead. I think she got her head through the mesh and got stuck, then the adult chickens on the outside pecked her to death. Apparently chickens (like dogs) will sometimes respond like that to distressed sounds.  It was kind of awful to find her like that. I've closed the yard so the chickens can't get close to the chick pen. RIP Jane. There are now 5 chicks left that we've named Walt, Skyler's Ts, Gus, Jesse and Saul (if they're hens, they just have to deal with their masculine names. We have a minor Breaking Bad addiction). I'll have to take some photos of them - they're huge, already!

Abby's healing up nicely. That's one of the dead fish (from a few months ago - bleh!) that she managed to find buried under blackberry bushes. We waste nothing around here...

Ryan is relieved to be taken off farm patrol duty.

We have 12 hens...I think: Speckles, Denise, Dorothy, Mother Clucker, Magpie, Pagpie, Little Brown, Tiny Brown, Raven, Sheba, Clarice, Squishy. Yup, 12. The young ones are 5 months old now so they should be laying eggs, but we're only finding 5-6 a day. I'm thinking there are hidden nests all over the farm but we can't find them!

"Nothing to see, here..." (this is in the hay pile). 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Planet Farm

We outdid ourselves with visitors this weekend - 3 different sets in 3 days! We hiked, had bbqs, swam in the river, went to an unexpectedly big party at our neighbours' house (who knew that our town had a real live jazz/blues band!?), ate pizza at a cidery, had a few campfires in our new auction-won firepit and taught two very awesome kids all about cloacas and ram testicles. 

I never had a chance to take any photos, so these are all courtesy of Jeff and Billy.

Planet Farm

Zebra Head announcing that it's mid morning..or maybe midday...early afternoon...late afternoon..

Bella holding Speckles. We had to perform bumblefoot surgery on Specks since it seemed like I didn't get the infected 'plug' out the first time. This time we got a bunch of hardened gunk out so hopefully her foot will heal now.

Charlie and Skyler T. Those are blackberries in the food dish that the girls picked for the chicks.

Ryan bringing the sheep over so that we could feed them. There are 4 new horses here that are boarding in the sheep paddock. They're really sweet but they're making it hard to take care of the sheep. They push the sheep out of the way when I want to check eyes/feet and crowd the fence for any treats I have. I'm hoping we can put them in a different paddock soon or else divide the current field in two sections.

The new horses - I don't know their names yet.

Sam is also new to the farm. He's the biggest horse I've ever seen in my life.

Jax wasn't sure what to make of the farm animals. Here is he learning to ignore chickens.

We wanted Little Brown to come teach Jax a lesson when he barked at the chickens. She chases Abby and grabs bits of Abby's hair, if she can. She wouldn't do it to Jax.

I'd better go pick some tomatoes. We skipped a few mornings and there are so many ripe every day now!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Mish Mash

I was really hoping to do a blog post today where I could just put up some of the nice pictures that Nathan and I took over the weekend, instead of talking about ailing animals or plants. The animals, unfortunately, didn't cooperate with that plan. 

Abby had to be rushed to the vet on Saturday for staples after a visiting friend's dog chomped her head. He wasn't happy about being locked in the yard and Abby happened to be standing closest to him. Poor Abby - what a belated 9th birthday present. We're keeping her off the farm right now so that the wound stays clean. She has been pretty sleepy and swollen but I don't think there is an infection (keeping my fingers crossed). 

Ryan has had to take over duties as farm patroller. 

While Abby takes a more "hands-off" approach with her farm staff, always maintaining distance and professionalism, Ryan prefers to become one of the gang and form real relationships with the staff. He even takes lunch with them.

Sometimes this can lead to a bit of a power struggle when the workers forget who's boss. Unfortunately, Ryan ran away from the conflict and left his cucumber behind.

Meanwhile, Abby was inside having a power struggle of her own. She isn't sure why the other house patient seems to be getting much better treatment than her.

As if Speckles' bumblefoot issue last week wasn't enough, today I found Dorothy all puffed up with her eyes closed in the coop when I went to collect eggs. This is very unusual when all of the chickens are usually running around the farm foraging in the morning.

I'm not sure what's wrong with her so I tried a few treatments. First I gave her a warm bath in epsom salts in case she's egg-bound (can't pass her egg). 

Then I gave her some epsom salts in water orally in case she's constipated, and some apple cider vinegar in water for dehydration (and because apple cider vinegar is one of those 'cure-all' kind of things). Oh, and a bit of olive oil in case she her crop is blocked up. I basically covered most of the home cures in the book (or in the google, in this case). So far so good - she made a giant normal poop on the towel, is eating her scrambled egg and grain mix, and then perked up enough just now to jump on the table next to my computer to stare at me. 

It might seem funny to blog readers to see a post one day about slaughtering chickens and then a post a few days later about treating a sick chicken and serving her scrambled eggs on a plate (chickens love their own eggs). We want all of our animals to live happy, pain-free lives. Even if some of them are for eating, they still deserve to be healthy and well treated. That should be a given when keeping any kind of animal. 

We'll stop short, though, of orthodontics for our animals...even though I'm pretty sure Zeb could use a set of braces. Maybe a headgear, too.

The ever-so-photogenic Thomas.

You couldn't get a better setup if you tried. This little frog was hanging out on an artichoke flower.

Our artichokes were inedible! They were fibrous and the heart was just a mass of white strands. I'm not sure why... if you let them flower they sure are pretty. I don't think I'd bother growing them again, except maybe as decoration.

We never did get a swarm of bees in our hive but we are definitely getting pollinators in the greenhouse.

Lots of butternut squash were pollinated and are growing well. 

We planted our fall crop - cauliflower, carrots, broccoli, lettuce. 

Seedling sprouting in a grow bed.

The newest grow bed. This would be the perfect height for picking bush beans. Picking them from the ground is back breaking!

And finally, I call these "Three Girls", or alternatively, "A Good, Bad and Fantastic Date".

Friday, August 9, 2013

Lazy Friday

Speckles getting a drink the lazy way; make Zebra Head do the work and then drink from his beak.

Monday, August 5, 2013


We did our second round of rooster slaughtering this weekend. This time we decided to pre-brine the chickens.

Just kidding! That's Speckles in her foot bath. We noticed her limping and when we checked her foot, it was a bit swollen and there was this scab on it. 

Google to the rescue, again. This is called Bumblefoot and it's a staph infection that originates from a cut or scrape. Untreated it can get really bad and spread to the chicken's tendons and bones. Luckily we caught it early, so a soak in epsom salts, removal of the scab and then bandaging with antibiotic ointment should do the trick.

Speckles is such a good chicken - she fell asleep in her foot bath. She wasn't sure what to make of her bandage, though.

Zebra Head is the lucky rooster who gets to hang around. Abby wasn't about to let him near the carcasses in the ice bath, though. Disturbingly, all of the chickens would have been happy to indulge in cannibalism.