|Posted by Fluffy on January 14, 2013 at 11:50 PM||comments (0)|
Oh boy. Telling the difference between and rooster and hen when the chicks are young is not so easy with all breeds. With some, there is a marked difference in several aspects; colour, pattern, comb and the hangy down things called wattles. The legs are thicker and there is a cape of feather on a rooster that is not prominent on a hen. The broody hatched chicks 4 months old and a practiced eye and experience chicken farmer should be able to tell the sexes apart. There is a bit of a problem, an anomoly, with cross bred chicks though....one does not know what they are supposed to look like so there is nothing to compare to. Telling the Australorps apart was simple because the roosters grow a much larger comb than the hens , even at a very early age. The Orpingons were similar, but these cross breds are difficult. It is almost time for the rooster to go to the butcher shop, before the testosterone starts toughening the meat, which will be in a few weeks if their hormomes are on schedule. So far, they all stay, but that will only be until their sex can be determined for sure. Then, sadly, it is the fate of a cross bred rooster to be utilized for his caracass, sometimes feathers, but certainly not wasted. They cannot be sold - no one wants a cross bred rooster, so there is only one thing that can happen. Thank you little roosters for your lives and thank you Creator for thinking up chickens in that fantastic mind of yours. I am grateful to both.
|Posted by Fluffy on January 13, 2013 at 8:15 PM||comments (0)|
Alex arrived around Christmas. He was fat and friendly and not afraid of the other cats or the big dogs. As a matter of fact, he was good with all the animals on the farm, including the farmer. Obviously he was some one's house cat because every time the door was opened he was inside or attempting to get inside. Cats are not allowed in the house because I am allergic to them and I do not like the fact that cats cannot be trained to stay off the furniture or beds or kitchen counters or wherever they wish to go.
After advertising for several weeks on the local internet site, there was still no one claiming poor Alex. Fortunately for him, today, the man who delivers hay and grain, a local natural farmer, offered to take him home. He will either keep him as an inside cat for his own home or his father in law had mentioned that he was looking for a male cat. Either way, I am sure Alex will have a wonderful home and be well cared for. Good luck Alex!
|Posted by Fluffy on January 12, 2013 at 8:40 PM||comments (1)|
At minus 28 with a good foot and a half of snow cover on the ground, it is hard to think about summer. In this land, there are 4 distinct seasons: slush, construction, not much time til it freezes and winter. Because it can get so cold, animals only go into survival mode in winter. They try to eat enough to generate warmth and they sleep. During extreme frigid conditions , tender animals, like goats and chickens, may not eat enough and become sadly undernourished, then they cannot generate enough heat to keep themselves warm.
But today, the green pastures, tall trees, wild flowers, sun ripe berries, and warm air pictured in my mind, bring memories of summer; days that are long into the early hours, days that are sweet smelling and full of the humm of insects busy pollinating our food souces, days or running in the bush with the dogs, days of hot sun on fresh faces. It is good to remember these days, especially today, when the cold chills the bones of all who dare to challenge it. Winter is beautiful, with white jewelled trees covered with snowy gowns, clean pristine meadows crisscrossed with the tender footed deer tracks, and crisp air that bites the nose. How beautiful the Creator made this world! How amazing are the seasons? Ah, summer...
|Posted by Fluffy on January 11, 2013 at 7:00 PM||comments (0)|
The puppies are 5 months old. They were small for their age when they arrived, but it appears that they were not fed well if fed at all. They would eat the grain that I gave the ducks and chickens. I suspect they learned to eat grain from the sheep they were born with, because they were hungry and had no offers of other food. So, they were not as big as Maremmas should have been, but they appeared healthy in all other ways.
They also had no human contact since they were born, but it does appear that if a human did speak to them, they ran away. Finally, yesterday, Jenna, the shy one, no longer ran from me when I called her. Jade has been coming for a month now, but not Jenna. Jenna also barks indiscriminately, so I suspect she is still unsure of herself. She will bark at something she hears even when no other dog is barking, when she should be following the big dog's example. Jade does. She sits and watches Harley. If Harley does not bark, neither does Jade. Last night, Jenna was barking at whatever and would not stop. I told her 'no' and she looked at me, ran the other way and continued to bark. I finally took the broom to her, not to hit her, but to give her the message to stop. I did not even make contact with her bottom, but she did finally quit and went to lay down with the rest of the pack. I would never strike a dog anyhow, but I am glad she thinks I might and that got her attention.
So, with good food, clean, fresh water, and lots of pets and love, the puppies are flourishing. Finally they both come when they are called and they wag their tails non stop. They prefer to sleep outside on the straw instead of inside in their houses. I suppose that thick fur of theirs is adequate to stay warm. They do not even curl up unless the wind is blowing. I tried to pick each one up yesterday and I bet they weigh at least 40 pounds or so each. They sure are growing quickly, but have not yet lost that cuteness of a young pup. So adorable, my little girls. Sweethearts!
|Posted by Fluffy on January 11, 2013 at 1:40 PM||comments (0)|
How much wood does it take to keep an 850 square foot house warm?
Well, that depends entirely on the temperature outside. When the outside temperature is 10 degrees above freezing, a warm fire, dampers almost closed down, will bring the interior temperature up to about 18, which is relatively comfortable. But, in minus 28, as it is today, the fire must be a roaring blaze, dampers both patially opened to oxygenate the flames and wood being fed on the average of 2 sticks an hour, which is double or more what it takes at even zero degrees outside. Granted, the little wood stove in the farmhouse is not 100 percent efficient. Although it is generally air tight, it does not "reburn" the wood gas, which is lost to the atmosphere. Reburning wood gas, also called gasification, results in higher temperatures achieved from the wood and extremely high efficiency in the burn, so less wood would be consumed. Since the wood is purchased for the farm currently, it almost makes sense to replace the little old wood stove with a high effieciency gasification model.
There is a gas forced air furnace in the house as well, but gas prices are astronimical and are going up, plus gas is not a renewable resource as wood is. The farm has been considering adding a small wood gasification cook stove unit, without an oven, but that could be plumbed to also provide hot water using the current hot water tank for storage. In order to realize value from any large purchase such as this, the owner must live on the farm using the new equipment for at least ten years. Thereafter, the unit is almost free. Decisions, decisions. In the meantime, it is pretty cozy to have the wood stove churning away, sipping on a hot cup of coffee and enjoying the morning sun streaming through the large eastern picture window. Ahhhh.
|Posted by Fluffy on January 10, 2013 at 1:50 AM||comments (0)|
Ofcharka is a year old as of December 10. Ideally, a livestock guardian dog that is designated to guard a flock should be reared wth the flock in order to bond to them as part of his own, but Ofcharka showed no interest in sheep and was not born or raised with them. He was rather timid, too and I suspected placing him with the sheep might have made a timid dog, not an ideal livestock guardian. Even now, if a sheep lowers her head to him, he runs away. This is good. Submissive behaviour with the sheep allows him to bond more closely to them.
Now, when chores are being done and he can be watched, he is in with the older ewes. Me must stay in the pen the entire time, which can be four hours or so. Initially, he was only required to be ten minutes, but it has progressively increased and he is able to stay with the sheep comfortably. He usually distances himself a little and lays down in the snow watching the sheep and me doing chores and playing with Robbie. When I finally call him out, he is wagging his tail and receives a great deal of praise for being good, calm and watchful. Barking at the sheep is not permitted and has been corrected enough that he hardly does so now. Yet, he will not be trusted with the sheep alone for a long time from now, possibly 6 months, right into summer, which will be perfect timing so he can go with them in the electric fence and guard them. He remains closely bonded to me, his human, but is becoming more aware of his duty as a guardian. One day, he will be magnificent and able to guard all his charges. He is a huge dog, and just starting to run and become agile. I will not teach him to jump the fence and hopefully he won't learn from Harley or Robbie, forcing him to stay inside the boundaries. Ofcharka is a good dog. One day, he will be a great dog!
|Posted by Fluffy on January 8, 2013 at 8:15 PM||comments (0)|
Thank goodness there are those in this world who care deeply about animals and take matters into their own hands when they know animals are suffering neglect or abuse.
Today, while just putting on my boots to go to town after finishing the last of the chores, there was a knock on the door. I bid the person to come in and he opened the door. Donning my last glove, I said hello. I could see he had an emblem that I was familiar with on his coat. He quickly explained that the SPCA had gotten quite a complaint about me and the farm and that he was obligated to investigate. The poor fellow drove all the way out from Edmonton as it seems there is no officer working this far north.
So, I left the truck running and began the tour for him. I did not want to miss a thing. We started with the horses. He petted both Willa and Zeb, observing that they seemed in great shape. I told him that the farrier had just done their feet and also said the same thing about them, as well as remarked on their quiet demeanour. Our next stop was the ram lambs. We observed the lambs, fresh hay in the feeder, fresh straw in their shelter and clean water to drink. The goats showed the same treatment as well. We observed the new baby piggies and the doeling who is keeping company with the new Flemish Giant buck. I explained that the does got out through a hole that the dogs may have created and met their demise. He could see I as upset by that and told me that on a farm with many animals, there will be casualties no matter how diligent we are.
We looked at the chickens and noted that they sure appeared strong and healthy. I did tell him that during the cold snap a few were lost as well as two ducks. I guess we were fortunate, because many had losses during that very frigid spell in December. Onto the ducks and geese, we noted that they had fresh green hay on the pen floors and were busy chatting to one another in their quacky language. There was clean water in all the pens. The final stop was the sheep pen with the large white breeds and dually noted were the fresh hay and water and new straw in their shelter.
The officer was very pleasant and said that if all farms were run as well as The Fat Ewe, he would be out of a job. Then he was off to the next call. At first, I was upset. I understand that people do not like change or others who do not follow standard procedures. It frightens them. The Fat Ewe is run a little differently than some farms. The ruminents only eat hay, no grain. The water is hauled in buckets and hay is forked over to the animals to promote physical interaction daily. The animals are calm and friendly, as I showed him when I petting Karin llama and rubbed noses with her. If only those who had complaints dared to come to the farm and speak to me face to face, their perceptions of how it is run would vanish and they would be assured all is well here. I allowed my anger to dissipate and resolved to work even harder to dispell negativity in my life and be grateful for people, even those I find it harder to understand. I thank the Creator for my blessings and for people who love animals enough to look out for their safety. Amen!
|Posted by Fluffy on January 8, 2013 at 1:30 AM||comments (0)|
Natasha and Boris, the little Berkshire weaner pigs, have never seen dogs before and of course, they are terrified of them, especially Robbie. Robbie has seen pigs before, big ones and little ones, but he was never allowed to chase them. Most of the time he was very good since he too was a pup when the pigs were babies. Now he is one and half years old, and very interested in herding anything that moves, including baby pigs.
Robbie knows his down command, though does not always perform when he should. Sometimes more interesting things just get his attention and a little forceful shove helps him remember his task at hand. While in the piggy pen, he was asked to go down which he reluctantly complied with and then was given the command, 'don't touch it'. That he knows from the hours of playing with his ball. There are times when he is not allowed to touch it, even when presented to his face. His lip curls and he wants to grab it, but he does not. Today he was excellent in with the litlte pigs, even when they ran right by him and almost over him. Good boy Robbie.
|Posted by Fluffy on January 6, 2013 at 7:20 PM||comments (0)|
The two little piggies, born at mid October, are weaned and eating solid food on their own. They are not too shy, but in their new digs, they were hiding. They have never seen a dog, let alone 5, so that was something to be afraid of. Hopefully, the dogs will leave them alone. They are in the pen that they broke the wire to get the rabbits out, but I have fortified the problems with logs and a straw bale. Tomorrow I will get some plywood to cut a low wall so the problem is not an issue and will not be in the future.
I had been saving some vegetable scraps for the little guys, brother and sister, and mixed with some dog kibbles, it will provide and interesting meal since all they have been fed is some whole grain. Pigs can actually die of malnutrition if that is all they are fed. Fortunately these little ones are strong and healthy. In another week, two other piglets will join them, Tamworth/Yorkshire crosses. The two that arrived today are high percentage Berkshire. By spring they will be large enough to rototill the sheep pens for me, yay. I am fortunate to be able to collect food from a restaurant for the pigs, so their diet will be varied and healthier. My major concerns raising them before were fencing and feeding. Now one of those is addressed so I have only to work on proper fencing so they can begin to clean the underbrush in the bush. Good little piggies.
|Posted by Fluffy on January 5, 2013 at 9:50 PM||comments (0)|
The Fat Ewe Farm now has 5 dogs and 4 cats. 4 of the dogs are young, with Ofcharka and the Maremma puppies being all under a year, Robbie, the border collie at a year and a half and the old dog, at 3 , Harley. The cats are 2 adults and 2 teenagers. Jane, the grey tabby kitten loves the dogs and for some reason, they do not harass her as much as the other cats. Poor Sally is now missing fur in her ruff from the insistent pulling on her or carrying her around, especially by Robbie and Ofcharka. But when nap time comes, the cats cuddle up to the dogs and their thick furry warmth. Jane is still young enough that she kneads the dogs' tummies as she would have her mother's when she was stimulating the milk to drop for her nursing. The dogs barely feel this gentle motion and if they do, they do not seem to mind. Sometimes I feel sorry for the cats on this farm, but Barbie knows when to hold 'em and when to fold 'em, and she gets outta Dodge the moment any dog gets a little too rambunctious with her. I think she is the smartest of them all. You have to admit that they do make nice couples though, don't they?and then there is Alex...the fence sitter. He is the new cat on the farm and ain't gonna cuddle up to no dog, no sir.