Sunday, May 29, 2011

Battling Parasites

One of my best and favorite alpines was not feeling well this morning. When I checked her eyes I was horrified to see how pale she was. I hurriedly dosed her with wormer and a vitamin drench. She picked at some grain but was really feeling lousy. Later in the day she seemed to be getting worse. I was getting worried that I might loose her. Tears of frustration and anger at myself for missing this fell throughout the day. I filled syringes with pedialite and forced her to stay hydrated every 1-2 hours. I also picked her favorite weeds and hand fed them to her as well. I stayed with her and prayed over her. Finally around ten when I did another check she was up and feeling better. I sat in the grass, hand feeding hay, grass and weeds and sobbed. I knew she would be ok.
This spring has been quite a challenge with parasites. It has been wet, hot and humid, a prime environment for the nasty things. Tomorrow I will rotate them to a clean pasture, check all eyes and hope for the best.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A Disappointing Discovery

A disappointing discovery indeed. Our first round of meat birds are NOT meat birds. They have turned out to be most likely White Rocks. Darn, darn, darn. I kept muttering over the last few weeks on their slow growth. When the second round of birds came in and exploded in growth I knew something was up. This really messes up my plans, since we were raising some to sell this year and this will cut out half of what we could have offered. I guess I will keep the hens as layers. Their only saving grace is that they do lay brown eggs. The roosters will have to go in the freezer at some point. One of those little bumps in the road...

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Last Of The Hay

Did I say 300 more bales? How about 541. A gross under estimate for sure. But thank goodness we sold some out of the field and the balance filled the loft full. A really good feeling! Now we can focus on other chores that have been pushed to the back burner since hay season is over. Mainly getting the rest of the garden in and finishing fence work.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

No Rest For The Weary!

Some hay was ready to come up today. With a chance of storms each evening we didn't want to chance the hay getting wet. Another 167 bales were put in the loft. Tomorrow we should be able to get the rest up. Another 300 or so, some sold and the balance to finish out the loft. That should be it for hay season until, fingers crossed, we cut in the Fall.
Today's harvest included our first cabbage, more broccoli and a half bushel of snow peas! Guess I'll be busy freezing tomorrow as well. The heat this week will most likely end the peas and we hope to finish getting the balance of the garden in.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

A Joyful Yet Solemn Day

Today my youngest son graduated from high school. He is my last little chicken to be leaving our nest. He will be headed off to NC State in the Fall. As I sat and watched this awesome young man give his speech I wondered how a heart could be filled with such pride and joy yet be breaking as well. He has been my sidekick, helper, source of joy (and stress!) for 19 years and I will certainly miss him while he is gone. For the next 10 weeks or so though I will treasure every minute and enjoy his company. I looked at my husband and said I guess I am stuck with you now ;o) How scary is that?!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Sheep Chores

Our Icelandic sheep have almost finished lambing and they have followed the path of the goats with having way more rams then ewes this year. ;o(( We have lots of gorgeous colors and patterns which make it all the harder to swallow. Ugh. That being said, it was time to rotate pastures, deworm, check feet and put in scrapie tags. The deworming went well and most of the feet were in good condition but the tagging was horrible. My tagger is old and after working with it today, I remember how many ugly words were mumbled the last time I used it. Today was by far the worst. On a couple of the lambs the tag went through but did not connect to the back side meaning I had to punch their poor little ears again. I was stressed to the max by the time I called it quits. I decided to only tag the ones that looked a lot alike and leave the rest until I order a new tagger. Once done, it was time to move them to the new pasture. I grabbed a bucket of grain and called for them to follow. 30 something sheep came running towards me, never slowed down and proceeded to knock me off my feet. They did not bother to go around me but trampled right over top of me in order to get the grain. I had to roll away from the little devils. Other than my pride, a bruised knee and palm were my only injuries and once back on my feet I was finally able to secure them in the pasture where they are now happily munching away. The pastures are beautiful and lush and finger's crossed this year our parasite problem will be minimal.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Shearing Day

Better late than never. I should have done this weeks ago, but conflicting schedules did not allow for it. I am not sure what impact this will have on my fall fleeces. The spring shearing is mostly trash and fall brings the lovely cleaner fleeces. I guess we shall see. Today was only the shearing. Wednesday I will trim hooves, deworm, tag lambs and rotate them to new pastures. As usual Austin and Jessica did a great job and everyone looked much better!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Removing the Bees

Today we removed the swarm of bees that built in the siding of our barn. Those girls had been busy these last few weeks. The boys started at the site entrance and slowly removed the boards one by one, checking closely for the queen. They started on the ground, moved to a ladder and finally had to be lifted up in the backhoe bucket! Once they reached the top they slowly cut the comb and took great care to rubber band each piece in the frames, all the while searching for the queen. It was truly fascinating to watch and the bees were quite calm until the end. You can see our experienced bee keeper had to finally put on his suit and Doug had to duck tape his pant legs closed as they were crawling up his legs. I took pictures as long as possible, working right around beside the guys most of the time. Once the bees got testy though and I got zapped on the face, I said adios and headed off to milk. Unfortunately, I did not get to see them capture the queen but they did and left her in a cage. She will stay there for a couple of days as the bees navigate to the hive. We will release her Monday morning and Monday night will move them down the road a few miles for a couple of weeks to let them adjust and prevent them from going back in the barn. At that time we will bring them back to the farm.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Back Online

A wicked storm fried my computer last week and I just got it repaired. However, life on the farm did not slow a bit.

We had two more lambs born. I finally had a hen go broody so I set several turkey eggs under her. I have been milking daily and FINALLY weaned all the early kids from bottles. Hallelujah! The garden blessed us with several pounds of snow peas, carrots and kale. I have been freezing peas about every other day. The potatoes are blooming and the squash is up. The potato beetles have found us though and as hard as I try to pick them off it looks like I will be dragging out the sprayer. I also harvested garlic scapes this week. Those will become a yummy pesto to be tossed with pasta and served on baked potatoes.

Hay was ready to be mowed. 573 bales have been stored thus far and we have two fields left to go. The weather is not going to be stable for the next few days and so they will have to wait. The animals are thrilled and have been munching contentedly nonstop.

On Sunday we picked up my hive that we had dropped to have a nuc installed. They seem to be doing well. They absolutely love the kale blossoms.

And lastly today we had a visitor. When I headed to the garden and to feed the chickens a turkey was perched on the top of the run. I yelled- How did you get out?! But it was NOT my turkey. It was a wild one that was very enamored with my hen. He tried to pick a fight through the fence. I guess he thinks my turkeys' sexy.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Another Monday Morning

I got up a bit earlier than usual today. My plan was to go to the gym and take a spinning class. Never made it. My one large cup of coffee finished I headed to the barn. What greeted me bordered on chaos. The livestock guardian pup, now about 7 months old, was loose. He had scattered bags and trash throughout the back yard. When I opened the gate to the milking parlor, he made a mad dash in and started giving merry chase to every barn cat he could find. Buckets went sailing and hay was scattered. Obviously at that age they are deaf because he never heard me yelling to stop. Finally he was back in his appointed pasture and I was able to start milking. The naughty Nigerian dwarf kids that somehow skinny under the gate every morning appeared. They drive the milk does crazy causing grunts and growls and feet stomping if they near the stand. Today the entertained themselves on the already destroyed hay bales and the feed barrels. Jumping from one to the next, over and over again. Suddenly, I heard frantic screams and jumped up to see the problem. Little goat had flipped itself IN the feed barrel and was stuck. Kid rescued, back to milking. Foot in bucket. Back to house to get clean and sterilized pails. Next goat up was one of my heaviest producers. Her production had skyrocketed the last day or so and as I was stripping her out, pink milk. UGH. Sometimes when production increases so much capillaries break and cause blood in the milk. Chicken food. Finally all the milking was finished and I headed to the house only to be greeted by piles of dirty milking pails, buckets and such. I loaded the dishwasher with the first of three loads to be washed and sterilized. It was 9:30. Class missed. The phone rang. It was my mom. Did I want her to bring the 50 meat chicks home from the feed store. That would be peachy had the second brooder been set up and it was not. Back at the barn I finished filling water buckets and feeding hay. Mom arrived with chicks and I shoved them in with the turkeys until I get the other brooder together. THEN I went for a run!