Sunday, December 29, 2013

One, Two, Three

Do bad things really happen in threes? At this point I hope it's true...

Abby and Ryan did their usual sprint down the driveway when we went outside around noon yesterday and chased a hawk from the blackberry bushes next to the driveway. Wait...a hawk on the ground? I knew that was very very bad for our chickens. Sure enough, SoZH had squeezed himself through the fence, in what I guess was an attempt to get away from the hawk, but he wasn't fast enough. The hawk had started to eat him alive and we were too late to save him. I jumped over the fence and picked him up (he half jumped into my arms...he was the cutest and tamest little/big chick) and we had to quickly kill him. 

We had seen that damn hawk almost every day and a friend of ours guessed that he was targeting our chickens - she was right. There really isn't much you can do about a hawk going after free ranging birds - even after locking them in for a few weeks people have had attacks again, after letting the birds back out. We don't want to stop our chickens from free ranging. It seems that maybe the hawks will only be a problem in the winter (fingers crossed) when they're hungrier. Today we moved our 6 smaller/older birds into the greenhouse (and, let's face it - the 6 that I'm the most attached to. Except Magpie. She refused to stay in the greenhouse. She's so fast and flighty though that I hope she is ok outside). 

Happy and spoiled in the greenhouse (with electronetting off but blocking lettuce and garlic).

The second solution was to hire Hawksley to work on the farm.

As your keen eyes may be able to tell...Hawksley is, in fact, a scarecrow made from some old clothes, a plastic bag head and a hat. The two most brilliant dogs in the world are waiting for Hawksley to throw their ball. They also brought him their frisbee and Ryan has greeted him like a long lost friend every time we've gone outside. I'll put the video of them with Hawksley up as soon as I get a chance. 

Off to buy some Blue Kote spray for May's infected horn bud. We thought it had been healed for months but it's all red and scabby again.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Holiday Ups and Downs

Our first farm Christmas didn't start out too well. On Tuesday, Nathan went outside again after morning chores and called me right away in a tone that I could tell meant nothing good... Skyler (our white Ameraucana) had flown over the fence into our neighbour's yard and been half eaten by their dog. It was pretty awful to see her like that, and to know that she died that way. 

We both felt so sad that it had happened but we said "at least it wasn't one of our four older girls". The 4 oldies (Dorothy, Denise, Speckles and Mother Clucker) have a special place with us since we got them from a not-so-nice living situation and they're the most friendly, personable chickens on the farm. I guess we spoke too soon :( The next afternoon, we went outside with some compost and noticed Denise hiding under the porch of the coop gasping for air. We thought she must be choking on some of the bread that was in the compost, but after trying everything we could think of (gave her some oil, apple cider vinegar, emptied her crop, looked down her throat) we realized there was something more going on. We separated her from the other girls but it wasn't looking good at all... by the morning she was barely responsive and she had died a few hours later. I tried to do a necropsy, mostly to check her throat and to see whether she'd had gape worms (they live in the trachea). I would have felt even worse than I already did if she had died from choking or from treatable worms. Her trachea and esophagus were both completely clear and healthy looking and her crop was empty other than some grass.  

We gave those chickens a really good life. Even though they're 'just chickens' it's hard to see our layers go...we get so much entertainment from watching their antics around the farm every day.

The rest of our Christmas was lovely! My family came to visit and we had a campfire out in the sun.

And this happened:

Thursday, December 19, 2013


 Zeb seems to look down on the world. 
He dislikes anything messy, noisy, dirty or new. This was his look when I pointed the camera at him. 

It didn't help that this was standing next to him:

"What? Do I have something on my face?"


I don't think I ever wrote that even though I feel sad when I think about Ewean, the lamb we have in our freezer is so delicious. We've had roasts, stews, curries and ribs and it has all been the best lamb I've had.

Thomas is a beast! I can't believe how big he is. He is very protective of his girls and this is the look he gives me when I feed them their hay.

When we got him we were told that he respects Border Collies and won't try to ram if you have a dog with you. He learned pretty quickly that he doesn't have to respect this Border Collie.

Ryan is too busy trying to share some breakfast with Thomas (no idea what Ryan was finding to eat in the hay) to notice Thomas backing up...

Bam! The next photo would have shown Ryan hiding behind me.

"It's ok! I'm ok!"

Ryan didn't let Thomas get him down - he decided to show off for Abby instead.

"Come onnnn play with me!"

"I take it back I take it back!"

 Poor Ryan. At least the goats respect him.

Or maybe not...they wouldn't let him jump up on that barrel. They even gave Queen Abby a hard time.

Abby is *so mad* that the goats push her around...

They always look like they're smiling - they probably are! They get a nice hay filled barn to sleep in and climb around in all to themselves, grain twice a day and pretty much any other time I look at them and am overcome by their cuteness, and the rest of the time they explore the farm and get into trouble. They shove their way in to share Mischa (one of the horses)'s breakfast, they pick at the best of the sheep hay and they steal chicken food whenever they get a chance.

I can't get over how cute these goats are. They are so so naughty and funny! Nathan found them sleeping in the hay barn at the very top of a stack 5 bales high and they were so cozy in there that when I tried to call them to put them away in the evening, they didn't want to come out. Today they were yelling and yelling outside and since they're normally quiet (unless they lose sight of one another), I rushed outside to see what was going on. They were just standing by the door to their barn...I guess they were too cold outside and wanted to be let back in.

Pure Innocence (yeah right!).

You know who definitely isn't innocent anymore? The roosters of the Breaking Bad gang. They're 5 months old now and they're at that stage that I hate where all they do is chase the hens around. I'm going to put Hank and Walt online and see if anyone wants them (if not, we'll slaughter them), and we'll try keeping Saul.

Gorgeous Walt:

Hank of the overly long neck.


After much hoping, finger crossing and deliberation, SoZH is unfortunately a he. Too many boys!

Some tentative plans for next year include raising broiler chickens and pigs on pasture and having a bigger veggie patch in the orchard. We are trying to figure out how much we'd have time for if we're both working full time off the farm, and we think we can fit a lot in as long as we're prepared for it all in advance. The day to day chores aren't that time consuming - it's things like suddenly having to fix broken fencing, or treating a health problem, or dealing with fungus on the tomatoes, that takes up time. We're going to try to get as much ready for the busy season as we can over the winter. So far so good - Nathan built this awesome broiler chicken tractor for under $10 using found parts!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Taste of Tilapia

Even with the compost pile doing a good job of heating the water, it was getting way too cold for the Tilapia to grow so it was time to process them. They aren't huge but we managed to get decent sized fillets from them and our first taste was delicious! They're a flaky white fish that doesn't taste at all 'fishy'. Nathan pan fried them with a spicy seasoning mix.

Saturday, December 7, 2013


Breaking the ice on the sheep water this morning...if I hadn't been doing it every day it would be impossible by now! I still can't believe how cold it is here.

This Border Collie knows where the heat comes from...

Friday, December 6, 2013


 A very little bit of snow, but it's absolutely freezing out. Since when do we have -10 weather?? I'm  looking forward to going to work today where it's nice and warm instead of freezing here in the house. The house is like an ice box. It has single pane windows (which Nathan's dad insulated with plastic for us) and an open crawl space so the floor is unbearably cold. I'm typing under a blanket right now with 2 dogs on top of me, fleece pants and jacket and a hat and the space heater on...

I t had to bring warm water out to the chickens this morning since their water kept freezing! 

Goats were shivering on our morning walk but they still found stuff to graze on.

Looking down at our new ice rink (I wish the ice was thick enough to actually skate on!)

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Post from the Field

Literally - I'm sitting in the beautiful winter sun with the goats and the dogs. The silly goats love going into the big pasture to eat blackberry leaves,  but they won't go in without us with them (even though they easily crawl under the horse fence). I've been walking them back here whenever I have a chance. I can't say I mind walking on the frosty, sunny field while the dogs run around and the goats come up and nudge me for grain. Today I only fed Maggie (she's more hand shy) when I was grabbing her collar at the same time. May had her collar held and then I picked her up before feeding her. They're both getting much better - May was trying to eat grain out of my pocket as I awkwardly held her. They're going to be big goats so it's especially important that we can handle them easily. The picking up part is for my benefit... They're so warm and cuddly! The dogs and goats aren't sure what to make of each other.  Yesterday May walked up behind Abby and head butted her... and a few days before that Ryan play bowed to Maggie and then licked her chin.

 The sheep feet all seem good (knock on wood). We dewormed them a few days ago when they had their long foot bath (goats,  too). We had the hardest time getting Zeb to even dip his feet. Who knew llamas were so dainty!  He was stretching into the oddest positions to try and easy the grain without getting his feet wet. Finally we had to settle for just his front feet in (after he leapt the 4' foot bath barrier easily). We even put a 5' long foam mat soaked in zinc sulfate at the gate for him to step on on his way in... and he gracefully cleared it.

The sheep aren't sleeping in their nice cozy barn even though it has been -5 at night.  They sleep just outside of it. They also seem to prefer grazing still and aren't eating much hay. 

SoZH, Squishy and the ZH himself. I hope I never have to bet on it, but I really doubt a hawk would have a chance with ZH. He is a giant among roosters.

After thinking SoZH might be a she,  I'm back to thinking he's a he. He's a funny little (big) chick. He prefers cuddling with the goats and most nights we have to go get him and move him into the coop.

Everyone enjoying some food scraps in the sun.