Wilma and the Dog

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As if Wilma hasn’t been through enough already, well, she got it again.

Wilma was moved from her kennel to a corner in the coop. It isn’t super well lit but she does get a little day light. I have been letting her out to munch the grass and get some fresh air while I do chores in the morning. She needs the sun too; I would think she would get depressed with out it. So there I am, hauling my 5 gallon bucket of water from the hose by the stock tank over to the coop, filling water and feed. I toss some scratch grain into the run and Wilma is gone.

I found her under the coop. The little pile of cracked corn did not bait her out and trying to scoot her out with a broom didn’t work either.

“Well crap!” The fox is back and I can’t get this darn chicken back to safety.

I talked with the cows for a while in hopes she would wander out. She didn’t. I gave up and went back to the house. I had plenty of other things to do than coax a chicken back to the nest.

I went out at 11:30 and she was out. I chased her around the coop before she darted underneath again. Again, I went back to the house to work on whatever I was doing.

12:30 I went back out and saw fresh feathers, the boards that are around the run (they look really tacky but the are temporary) were laying down and the hole in the wire was bent open again.

“And that’s the end of Wilma”

Just to be sure I laid back down on the ground to check under the coop and there she was! The fox got someone else and she was still there! This time I went to the barn and got Mike’s fishing net to catch her as she strolled out from under the coop.

This did not work either.

The poor dogs were itching to get outside all day and by 5 I had had enough. I opened the door and out they ran. The little boy and I went to the coop to see if maybe the ruckus of the dogs would scare her out one end.

It was a while later Mike, little boy and I were sitting in the grass that our lab came walking up all happy with Wilma in his mouth! I was furious! After everything she had been through he decided to giver her a chomp too! That was the last straw for me that day! I was in a bad mood until bed time.

In the light of morning, the chomping may have been a blessing in disguise. The sharp bone that was sticking out of her shoulder from the first attack was now gone. Something I didn’t have the confidence to try to remove. The wound this time around was much cleaner and not nearly as deep.

She is still in confinement and gets her peroxide twice a day. There are no maggots this time around and it appears that her skin will be able to heal over the socket. In the long run, this will be a much better heal for her.

She is one tough bird.

 

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Making “Friends” With the Cows

wildflowerfarm.orgWell, it’s been pretty slow going with the cows.

Last week was Fair Week. Our county fair is the best in the state and better than the ND State Fair. I know, I have been to both. I work at the fair here and this means the only thing that gets done at home is the animals are fed. Nothing else gets done. Dirty laundry piles up on the floor, clean laundry is tossed on the dining room table for later folding and sorting. Nothing gets cleaned or picked up. Those living there are on “fend for yourself” mode; meaning no meals are cooked unless you make it yourself, need laundry? better do that yourself too. As we discussed at the fair, the house is in “Fair Condition” during the week of the fair. All that being said my visits with the cows were very short last week.

This week I have been able to spend more time with them. I walk to pasture with them, and give them a little oats and/or cracked corn as a treat for them. When they are eating the grains it gives me a chance to scratch their heads and get close to them with them getting spooked.

Today I was able to scratch Lucy’s and Louise’s neck, which may not seem like much but I would call it progress.

I have to say, I really have no clue how to go about making friends with a cow; right now I’m treating them like and unbroken horse. Once They are used to being handled by me I think the halter breaking will be a challenge but not too bad. We will see when the time comes, I could be very wrong. The goal is halter broke before the snow comes.

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Old McDonald Didn’t Name His Animals

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By some standards I make a great farmer: I tend the animals, tend the gardens (this is lacking this year, I admit), tend the family, and would help with the field work if it were done when I was not working.

By other standards, not so much.

Case in point, I name my animals, even some that are going to end up on the supper plate.
Penny, one of the laying hens
Wilma, one winged laying hen
Cornelius, a butcher rooster that when panicked runs in circles rather than away
Lucy, the cow
Louise, the heifer – Yes, she my brothers cow. Yes, I named her, he wasn’t interested and she needed a name.
Just to name a few.
I have named pigs that turned into bacon and other animals that have made their way to the freezer. It’s not a common farm practice, but I like to know who I’m talking to.

Then there’s the wounded birds from the coop incident (yes, I’m still talking about it.). Any farmer in their right mind would have cut their losses and wrung the necks of the wounded birds and be done with it. Nope, not me, I make myself late for work because I have to put together a safe place for the birds to heal and dress the wounds before I go.

Knowing how last winter went, it wouldn’t surprise me if Louise was born in sub-zero temps and outside on top of it. She’s a tough cow and yet I need  to have a place in the barn for Lucy and Louise this winter. And probably a shelter of some sort to block the rain next summer. I don’t know if the cows have ever had any fly treatment whether on them or around them but that is next on the list. They flies keep biting them and that needs to stop too.

My farming habits may not all conform to the “norm” but everything that comes on this farm is well taken care of, that’s for sure!

 

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The Fatties

In my update on Wilma I gave our bird count to date. In the count was 5 Fatties- which is now 3. This may sound a bit offensive but these birds are offensive.

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My husband and I were in Fleet (a farm supply store here) late this spring. We had just lost a few birds and were walking through to get, something, I’m not sure what. Anyway, they still had a few chicks for sale. We thought why not pick up a couple extra to replace a few that we lost. We took 5 chickens home that day. The next morning, I had discovered those 5 birds had eaten more food, and crapped just as much at the 25 I had in a different box! Then it hit me… I knew exactly what kind of bird we brought home and I was so disappointed! They were Cornish-x. The factory chickens that grow so big so fast that they can barely walk, they can’t reproduce naturally and are disproportionately sized. Exactly the opposite of anything we wanted on the farm.

In my opinion, if an animal can not breed naturally because it is physically incapable it should not be in existence. It’s not survival of the fittest, is animal kingdom Obama Care.
Too many animals have been bred to freakish creatures that are not at all what they used to be. This happened very rapidly after food production went from small family farms to mass produced food for grocery stores. These modern production animals may produce quickly and mass amount but they have lost flavor and in some cases nutrition.

Did you know the first grocery store did open in the US until around 1915? Chain grocery stores in the 1920’s were on the rise but still quite small buildings; comparable to our c-stores today. It wasn’t until 1940 when they really took off. 100 years is all it took to almost completely remove homegrown food from homes and replace it with mass produced, prepackaged foods filled with who knows what.

Anyways, back to the Fatties.

I know we have eaten this breed many times before. They tasted like chicken and we never though twice about it. I am quite particular about the meat I get from the store, my husband, well not so much. He does make an effort for me but if it were just him, it wouldn’t matter which kind he brought home.

We were out cleaning the coop the other day and talking about how gross those birds were. Seriously, all the do is eat and crap, usually at the same time. Both looking at them in disgust and he said “I don’t think I even want to eat those ones. They don’t look healthy compared to the other ones we have.”  I told him they are the same breed we have unknowingly eaten for years.  My uncle has given us a bunch of these and we’ve been more than happy to accept them. They do taste better than those bought in the store and both the ones from him and the ones raised on our farm are raised humanely. Plenty of room, they can go outside as they please, they have clean pens, clean water, and food that isn’t laced with hormones, antibiotics and who knows what else. By all standards they are living a good chicken life and yet they just don’t look edible.

There is one that I do get a chuckle out of. She’s the biggest one out there and every time I go in the pen to do chores she comes barreling at me in a slow motion waddle, her heavy feet pounding the floor. She sounds like a small elephant coming across the room. Too funny. Still doesn’t look like supper though.

 

Update: We are down to two fatties that will be put in the canner tomorrow.

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An Update on Wilma

As you may recall something got into the chicken coop last week and did quite a number on things. One Winged Wilma is a survivor (so far) of the event. Her wing stump is healing.

chicken

It turns out I can handle maggots in open wounds too. I wasn’t too sure about it, but it went ok. I am glad Vern warned me that it could happen though. It did. Not even 24 hours later, there they were wiggling around the open would and exposed bone. Yuck! After a quick google search I came up with a few answers:
1. The maggots are born sterile and will only eat the dead flesh. – This turned out true and false. Yes, they are born sterile. No, they will not stop at the dead flesh. If left on the bird they will eat it alive and if they make it to “fly” stage they will kill it for sure.
2. Screw worm spray, sprayed on the wound will kill the maggots. -True. Mike picked some up on his way home. We gave her a dousing of peroxide and then the worm spray. The new morning they are dead and gone!

She still gets a peroxide cleaning twice daily and it is looking much better. The skin is healing. I’m waiting for the bone to calcify over the open break. She will be in “sick bay” for a couple weeks yet I’m sure. I don’t want to put her back with the flock until she is fully healed.

The guinea that needed the amputation made it a couple days and then died.

As for the rest of the flock our numbers are not looking good. I finally was able to get a head count. We started the year with 6 turkey’s, 6 guinea‘s, 25 hens for laying, 75 to butcher and 5 “fatties” that we can discuss later. We lost about 10 butcher chicks to dying young and a turkey. They dogs have eaten 6 birds so far; I know this because the do so on the front porch. Something has been helping themselves to the other 20 or so birds that have vanished. Yep, they are gone without a trace! Leaving us with 1 turkey, 1 guinea, half our layers and short a lot of butchers. The butcher number will get smaller because some will turn into layers.

If you have enough birds in the coop in the winter they will keep it warm on their own. We (dad and my husband) built the coop with 2 chicken rooms. The whole thing is insulated so we have the option of wintering 25-30 birds in one room or we could use both rooms and winter an extra 30-40 depending on the birds- less if there are turkey’s or bigger birds. This year we will just keep the smaller of the two rooms full. The key is enough birds to keep it warm and few enough so they each have enough space for the long winter inside.

Operation Kill the Fox has commenced. He is no longer cute. He will be a pelt on the wall if I don’t fill him full of holes first!

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