Good Bye Thomas

It is with a heavy heart that we said good bye to Thomas a short while ago. He had learned that he could fly up to the rail of the outside run and jump down to the outside. He never left the side of the run but neither does Diesel. Those two have had a few encounters before and this last one didn’t end well.

I’m glad that I didn’t see what happened. My husband was kind enough to take care of the bird before I saw. The dog however, I love him dearly, but he may not have been with us today either had I caught him in the act. A chicken or guinea is one thing, Wilma’s best friend is another.

Wilma has always hid under or behind something, usually Thomas. The first few days without him I would go out to check on her and find her tucked behind the waterer or under someone under the roost. The poor dear. If I could bring her in the house to wander I would, but that’s one mess I just can’t justify (and even though there are patterns for chicken diapers, I’m not going there).

Hopefully she will find a new friend or decide to buck up and be a part of the flock.

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Oh, Lucy

WildFlowerFarm.orgSome days it seems as if I have made no progress at all with Lucy and other days I think I could just milk her right then (assuming she wasn’t dry).

The last couple days were great with her. I have moved from tying her to the gate post to tying her to a small pine tree in the new area between the barn and the corral. She is still not too fond of being tied up and for that reason I have not tried leading her around the corral. I’m hoping by next week we will be at that point.

Yesterday I was able to brush her after the grain bucket was removed from the area. This may not seem like much but considering up until now I couldn’t even give her a quick pet as she walked by, I would call that some good progress. I don’t want her to have to eat the whole time I’m milking, nor do I want the milking to take so long she gets impatient and needs to.

Today I was able to brush her again and remove the halter without her throwing her head. A horn to the arm or shoulder really isn’t too pleasant. I’m glad we are starting to get past that habit. I know it will still happen but at least it’s not daily anymore.

Per the advice of a reader, I looked into and bought a halter with a buckle that I can just clip a lead rope to rather than the slip knot one I have been using. So far I have not been able to get it on her. I don’t know if it is the jingle of the buckle or what but she gets pretty jumpy around it. I do think I would be handy, so we will continue to work with it and I’m sure one day she will be sporting it.

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The Best of Friends

Wildflowerfarm.orgFor a long while, Wilma- the one winged chicken and Thomas Thanksgiving- the turkey, shared a room in the coop. They became the best of friends it seems. When I would go in to get them feed and water or clean the coop, Thomas would always stand in front of Wilma as if to protect her almost.

Wildflowerfarm.orgOne Friday night about a month ago, things got wild on the farm. Ok, not really. I brought my husband out to the chicken coop to hold the flashlight so I could sort the birds I wanted to keep for laying hens and the one to be left for butcher. It was an exciting night for the chickens at least. They were clucking and feathers were flying as they ran from one side of the coop to the other. Under normal circumstances this wouldn’t have to be done in the dark but for the sake of Thomas and Wilma it did. They were residing in the room for the laying hens.

From what I have heard, if you are adding chickens to a flock it should be done in the dark. If they are added during the day the birds that were there first can kill the outsiders; in this case though, Thomas and Wilma would have been out numbered and I think they would have been the outsiders. If the birds are added in the dark, they all wake up in the morning and don’t notice anyone different. Hmm. I guess. That’s what we did and it worked.

Wildflowerfarm.orgI was curious to see what would become of the pair with addition of 30 birds, or so. In the beginning I had to look for Wilma, now she is pretty easy to pick out. Her and Thomas stay pretty close together yet. Even when they are out munching grass in the yard they are never too far away. He is very curious when you walk up to the run, he comes to the fence and checks you over pretty good before going on his way. If Wilma is near the fence when I walk up it is no time at all before Thomas is standing guard.

I’m glad to see those two are sticking close, even if they are a bit of an odd pair.

The Story of Wilma and Thomas
The Story of One Winged Wilma
An Update on Wilma
Wilma and the Dog
Wilma and Her New Roommate

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Tied to the Post

In my effort to get the cows halter broke before snow I have made some good progress over the last few weeks. I was advised to talk to my uncle as he has some good advice for such tasks, I have yet to figure out a time to try to sit down a chat with him (I can’t learn over the phone). When I do finally get to talk to him I am sure I will have an “I wish I would have talked to you sooner.” moment. For now I just continue as I am.

Two weeks ago already, I had mentioned Labor Day was the day I was going to attempt to actually put the halter on Lucy. I did… kinda. My cousin said she prefers to put the rope behind the ears first then the nose through. That is what I attempted. She was pretty jumpy that day (the cow, not my cousin), I think it was because the dogs were around and my husband was watching with concern as I was working with her. With the rope tied to the gate post,   I got the halter end around her horns and behind the ears. Then she threw her head causing the slip knot to tighten quickly pinching her ears against her horns; she was pissed. She continued to throw her head and stomp about while tied to the post. I had no choice but to back up and let her calm down. My husband was going to try to loosen the knot from the other side of the fence but she wouldn’t let him get close.

I went about my chores while she calmed down. I got the chicken coop cleaned and scrubbed out the stock tank. By that time the dogs had gone and my husband was working on something elsewhere. She had calmed down and I was able to walk up and remove the halter, of course she pitched her head a bit but nothing like earlier.

The next week went by and continued to pester her with the halter. By the end of the week I was putting the halter on and off of her while she ate. I didn’t leave it on for any amount of time but just got her used to the motion.

This week I have been able to put the halter on and have her again tied to the post. She pulls at times but then realizes she isn’t going anywhere. For now having her tied to the post is safer than my just holding a loose rope. If and when she throws a fit I can easily get out of the area and she, although unhappy, will remain in one spot where she can’t get hurt. After a while of having her tied to the post, she will understand that when she has the halter on she is stuck. That is when it will be easier for me hold the rope and lead her about the corral.

For now, I would say this has been some good progress with Lucy. Louise, I am sure I could get the halter on her because she doesn’t mind me messing with the rope around her face but I have yet to put it on and tie her up.

Soon though.

I have a tendency to rush things. I know this, which is why I have been trying very hard to take this slow. I admit there have been days where I get out to the pasture and want to skip some steps and other days I get Lucy’s horn to the arm as she’s being crabby and I just want to quit. Give up, get a bottle calf and start with it from the very beginning. Start with a cow the size of a large dog, something easy to handle. But I can talk myself into and out of almost anything. If I give up that easily with this cow how do I plan to milk her? There will be good days and bad days with that too. Not to mention, breaking a wild mustang from one of the rescue programs is on my bucket list. If I can’t halter break a half-pint cow I surely wouldn’t have what it takes to break the horse. So I press on. Slowly. (Well as slow as I can.)

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Even Little Cows Can Jump High

wildflowerfarm.orgAs I said previously, I have never halter broke a cow and aside from the advice of a few friends and family and the bit of reading I’ve done, I really don’t know what I’m doing. That being said I do think I am making some good progress.

Both the girls are fine with me scratching them, nose to tail and their front legs while they eat their treat of grains. Since the beginning I have brought one of the rope halters with me when I go into the pasture to work with them. This way they are used to seeing it, when they are eating it swings by them and they can smell it if they like. My thought is that it will lessen the chances that they get spooked by it. Even little cows can jump high.

Last week I started putting the rope on them, just laying it behind their ears, letting the end hang much closer to their face while they eat and just kinda pestering them with it. This week I’ve been going one step further; while the rope is behind their ears and in their face I have begun to rub their nose, under their chin and their cheeks, pretty much where that actual halter will go. The thought again is that they will get used to me handling their face and the rope at the same time.

Surprisingly, it’s going very well. If we keep progressing like this, I plan to put the halter on them this Sunday. They will be tied to a gate post; it should work well. I am assuming they are going to be rather unhappy at first having them tied there will mean they aren’t running loose about the pasture with the halter rope dragging, possibly sending them through the fence. They are also going to be in a spot without electric or barbed wire to prevent those injuries.

Last night it felt like a cool fall night with spring rain/mist not the greatest weather. I decided the cows needed more pasture and last night was the night to do it. Our beautiful wood post fence line isn’t quite done with. We had such an amazing crop of alfalfa that we decided to get a couple hayings off it before we put the barbed wire up. They had eaten pretty much everything in the space they had and were belloring at me when I would do the chicken chores.

I moved the girls into the corral and we removed a good portion of the old fence. The neighbor was out on his tractor with his brush mower and offered to mow a path for the new fence line. After that was done it was pound a few posts restring the wire and add some.Then release the cows. This is how I know even little cows can jump high.

The girls really haven’t had me worried until last night. Usually when I have a bucket of grain for them they coming running, literally. Last night I had no grain for them and when I opened the gate out they came, running, bucking and all out jumping after me. I know cows have a great view range but their sight really isn’t that great. I made sure we removed the old posts so they didn’t think the fence was still up but there was still a definite line of tall grass the used to be on the other side. So in all my helpfulness I calmly lead them out to the new pasture, jumping and bucking the whole way and yet staying behind me. That was the kinds scary part, they were making all this ruckus and making sure they didn’t go ahead of me.

It all worked out. They chowed down on the new salad bar. Mike brought the extra posts to the barn, the boy and I brought the rest of the fencing pieces. By the time we got in it was time for a warm bath for the little boy and the usual late supper for us. I can’t wait for the day that we have family supper at 6 regularly again.

It was a good day working with the cows and they went to bed happy too.

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