Sunday, April 23, 2017

Pigs, Gophers, and Other Critters

We have had some really beautiful weather lately,  but not today!

Big wet flakes this  morning, cloudy, damp, and chilly the rest of the day.

Backing up a couple of days, I have to take a minute to relate an anecdote about my husband.  We both took Friday off from our paying jobs to do farm related things.  I was in the kitchen that morning when through the window I saw Kevin stride purposely by.  He was carrying a shotgun and had the look of a man on a mission.  Probably crows, I thought.

Later, he appeared at the kitchen door.  "That's it, we're going to have to kick Lily back outside!" he declared.  I stared at him - what???

You may recall that after 12 years or so as an outdoor/shop cat, Lily moved into the house and rarely ventures out of it.

"The field is FULL of gophers!  We never had so many gophers out there before!"  He had concluded that Lily must be the gopher extermination expert from among our 3 cats.  Funny guy, that Kevin.

I pondered his logic for a moment before responding.  "You must be right - I haven't seen a single gopher in the house since she moved in."  Ha!

We took part in an Earth Day event yesterday afternoon and then went to pick up our new piglets.  We knew they would be small, just one week over weaning age so we had brought along just 1 large crate in the back of our Suburban put them in.  They are indeed smallish, but 6 of them in that crate was a very tight squeeze and instead of settling in for a snooze for the hour or so it took to drive home, they kept up a pretty constant squabbling and ear piercing squealing the entire time.  So along with their characteristic odor, the racket made it a pretty unpleasant drive home.  All good now though - they are pretty shy of us so far but seem to be enjoying the accommodations.

There are 3 black pigs 2 red ones, and one that is a little different - brownish, sort of furry,  and smaller than the rest.  That's the one the smiling farmer is holding above.

Other critter updates:  The little turks and kids are growing fast and there is still no sign of impending birth from Echo.  I have eggs in the incubator again from the hens, but after candling them today, I am thinking we will have a very poor hatch from this batch.  They have a couple of weeks to go and I will be reloading as soon as I can to start a new bunch.

I'll be back in a week or so with a new post for this blog.  Until then, be well friends.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Happy Easter 2017!

We do things  a little different around here... some people enjoy an egg hunt on Easter - we enjoyed a beautiful afternoon by having a rock hunt!

Words farm kids have dreaded for generations:  "Come on, get on the wagon - we're going to pick rock".  I was one of those kids.  On the farm I grew up on, just a couple of miles from here, we had a field full of rocks - there was an endless supply.  Where Kevin grew up and we live now there isn't many at all.  Just one small spot in one field.  When you actually have to go out and search for them, instead of being overwhelmed by them, it's not such a bad job.  There were a few big ones that just had to go - and a bunch of smaller specimens.  After a tasty ham dinner and a short digestion time, off we went.
Kevin driving the cub, then Kori, Kurt, Ardis, & Lori
Monday as I drove home from work I was thinking that the first thing I should do when I got home should be to check the humidity in the incubator as the eggs would be hatching in a day or two.  Well, surprise!
The chick room of the coop was not ready so into the bathtub they went.  At first there were only four, but with a little assistance, number 5 hatched the next morning.

Yesterday, the little turkeys moved out to the chick room of the coop.  They've grown a bit already!

The goat kids are doing well - they spent their first night in a crate last night so I could milk this morning.  They did just fine and are having a great time jumping on top of the crate to tap dance.  I got some pictures outside this afternoon (after rock picking).  No sign of impending birth from Echo.

It will be planting time soon.  We have been planting and replanting our own oats for many years, but since we had such a mustard infestation last year, Kevin decided to purchase some really clean new seed.  He, Rollie, and Ardis took a day to drive to Albert Lea to pick up oats, hull-less oats, and spring wheat to plant.

Meanwhile, the Turkey Red winter wheat is greening up.

So that's enough for this week I think.  Next week, I should have some little pigs to show you!  Until then, be well friends.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

April Update

Sometimes it's hard to come up with a title for a post on this blog.  Maybe I should look back at last year and recycle!

Things are going fine out in the goat barn.  Violet and Garrus are 10 days old now and have visibly grown.  They (and we) had to endure the disbudding process on Wednesday.  Pretty awful for everyone involved but necessary in our opinion.  Little Garrus is walking up on his hooves now although one of his feet seems to still trouble him some.  Still no baby action from Echo but it can't be too long now.

Violet is the more adventurous of the two - here they investigate the milking stand when we let them out of their pen.  Speaking of the milking stand, I am milking Vinca at evening chore time - just getting what the kids haven't taken.  They  are keeping up pretty well now.  Next weekend we will begin crating them at night so I can milk in the morning. 

We are just a couple of days out from the turkey eggs hatching so one of the things on my "to do" list this weekend was to clean out the chick room of the winter coop.  Kevin helped me out and did it for me - THANK YOU KEVIN!

I let the chickens roam around outside of their pen this weekend - they really enjoy that!  The hens were all over the place.

In just a short time Julio has transformed himself from a gangling, shy, and silent bird to a strutting, crowing and very full of himself rooster. 
There isn't much green food to be had in our parts yet, but this hen found something she was pretty excited about!

That's about it for this evening.  Next time I hope to be able to show you some baby turkeys, and maybe a new kid or two... and hopefully sometime soon we will find some little pigs to purchase.

Be well friends. 

Monday, April 3, 2017

Spring Arrivals

At the time of the last post on this blog, we were waiting for goat kids.  Knowing that Vinca was not due until the 29th or 30th of March made no difference - she just looked ready - more than ready - to deliver those kids.  This meant I felt compelled to pull on some pants, boots, coat and hat in the middle of the night, put on my handy headlight, and stumble out to the barn to check on her.  Night after night I would get the same puzzled looks from the does and no sign of kids.  Some nights the stars were worth the trip anyway!

Thursday was the 30th.  After a last barn check at dawn, I headed off to work.  Kevin, suffering from some of those dreaded "flu like symptoms", went back to bed.   Later, he texted me a couple of time during the day - the last being "Echo outside, Vinca inside, just laying around."  I arrived home shortly after 4:30 - changed clothes and went to the barn and... there they were, fluffy and almost dry.

One buckling 11 lbs, one doeling 9 lbs.  We are calling her Violet - officially she will be Flowers Ole Lake Violet, and he is Garrus (Kurt named him - something video game related). 
 It hasn't been entirely smooth sailing.  Little Garrus is weak in the ankles.  While not desirable certainly, it's not super uncommon.  There are a few possible causes but the good news is that kids usually get through it and have normal legs in pretty short order.  We did splint his legs for a couple of days and we do see improvement already.  Vinca is a great mom and has a LOT of milk.  So much so that I have been milking a little out already to give her some relief.  The kids will soon catch up with the volume.  This evening though, she seemed to have some sort of obstruction and the one teat was not allowing any milk flow  Poor gal was really full on that side too.  We massaged with a warm washcloth and worked it and that did get things moving again.  I milked out over a quart from that side, and it was rather difficult for quite a while.  We got little Violet up on the stand too and she helped us out by taking a turn.  After a while it seemed like things just let go and then the milk really came easily.  Some sort of obstruction - I have been researching milk stones this evening.

Little Garrus with his splints
While I was milking this evening, the kids explored the general area of the barn - This is Violet checking out Roye

And Garrus, splints off now
This is Vinca's "I've had about enough of this" look...
In other news, we have candled the turkey eggs in the incubator and only a few of them are developing.  Guess they just weren't fertile.  That's fine I guess, I don't need all that many of them.

Spring is such a great time of year!  Welcome back birds!  The little plants in greenhouse are coming along and I'll be transplanting the little lettuces in the bed in there - probably next weekend.  There is a lot to do out in the garden - things that should have been done last fall, but I am happy to see that the rhubarb did survive the excavation efforts of my hens.

So with that I will close.  I hope to have more and better pictures of Vinca's kids next post, and maybe Echo's' too... but I have to confess I have no clue when she is due.  Until next time (next week?  in two weeks?) be well friends.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Counting Down

255 days until Thanksgiving. Time to get started right?

These are turkey eggs from the Hurd farm  in my  new incubator, doing their thing.  As you can see, it has some nice features which I appreciate, including a turner.  In this photo, the gauge on the left is telling me to add some water to get the humidity up. 

The turkey eggs will be followed up with some eggs from my own flock if our new rooster gets on with the job.  You may recall that my last rooster, Rubio, did not last very long. Before he came to us though, Rubio made a stop at another farm and fertilized some eggs - Julio here is one of the results of that.  So he is a young guy - big and awkward looking - and I have yet to hear him crow although he has been here a week.

Another countdown, and that is about 10 days to kids.  Many of our farmer friends have spring babies - calves, lambs, kids, etc. but we just have to be patient.  If I don't blog again for 2 weeks, I'm thinking there will be kid news.

Another spring activity is getting plants started.  I don't get going as early as some gardeners - I do not see a lot of value to having big and lanky tomato plants.  I do have some lettuce going which will be transplanted into the greenhouse pretty soon.  Today it was nice and warm so I moved the flat out there, although it will come back in the house when the sun goes down.  I also have started the peppers, some herbs. and some flowers.  Patience, patience...

So, we wait.  Until then, be well friends.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

A little this and some of that - General People and Critter Updates

There isn't much to say about the weather that hasn't been said before is there?  The old worn-out saying "if you don't like the weather in Minnesota, just wait a minute" is as good as any.  Since my last post, we have had really warm weather which melted most of our snow and transformed the farmyard from glacier to mudbog.  Then it got cold, then it snowed ... on and on it goes. We had snow last night which continued for a good portion of this morning - then it turned sunny and was just really lovely out.

People who have goats quickly find out that the old adage that "goats will eat anything" couldn't be further than the truth.  We recently acquired some really nice alfalfa hay through a hay for straw barter.  You would think the does would have been delighted.  Hmmm, not so much.  The chickens however, are delighted.
 Vinca has four more weeks to carry her babies...

 The hens were all indoors after lunch but quickly came out to check out the slabs of hay.
 First just a few...
Then the rest of the flock.

Later in the afternoon this is what was left:

People are seeing a LOT of deer around the area lately.  These were south of the house this afternoon - nine of them and there were more across the road.

With the warmer weather you would think that Spot would be wanting to get out of the shop.  In reality, she is quite content to say indoors, thank you very much.  Spot's "thing" is that she loves riding on people's shoulders.  She surprised Kevin the other day at chore time by launching herself onto him unannounced!

Hoover generally wants to be where I am but he is NOT allowed in the "laundry basement" (not to be confused with "Kurt's basement" or the "way-down basement" - we have an unusual house!) which houses not only the laundry but also the cat food and litter boxes.     

One more thing to say... if you really want purple hair... go for it!  You rock Kori!

See you in a couple of weeks - be well!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

It's always something, right?

Life gives us obstacles sometimes.  Today it is the pump - no water and of course it is Sunday.  Something so ordinary becomes so precious when you don't have it.  We are pretty fortunate (in many ways) to live so close to Ardis & Rollie's house.  Kevin hauled water from there for us and the animals; also washed a load of laundry and we had supper and our showers there this evening.

Hoover and I are really on low mileage this winter.  This morning it was about twenty degrees so we went out to the highway only to find it very icy due to the warm temperatures yesterday that had melted some of our snow.  We ran on the shoulder off the ice a little but there was a brisk breeze that was freezing my cheeks so we didn't stay out too long.  This photo shows you what our dirt road is like:

 Yesterday we were gone all day to the Minnesota Sustainable Farming Associate Annual meeting - I was surprised to see how little snow they had in to the south and west of us - although we have had a couple of days in the forties, we still have snow cover:

The lads enjoyed the sunshine today.  The does I had to coax outside with treats to get photos.  Vinca's picture is fuzzy anyway, but you get the idea... wide load!  Her kids are not due until April poor thing!  Echo is not nearly so bulbous and sometimes I wonder if she is even pregnant.  Kevin reminds me that I wondered the same thing last year.

Some of you know that I am an avid composter.  Some of my co-workers probably think of me as the nut-job who hauls the coffee grounds home every day and who scolds them (politely I hope) when I catch them tossing a banana peel in the trash.  I noticed today that the pile has sunk somewhat so took the thermometer out - it read about seventy degrees.  This thermometer does not have a very long probe on it, only about four inches so I would suspect it is much warmer lower down.   Pretty neat - at least I think so!
Garden gold in the making! 

So that is February.  I probably won't have a post again until March and then we will really be thinking about spring and the garden and goat kids coming - Yeah!!.  Until then, be well friends!