Though winter is “almost” gone I’ve been blessed with two pair of beautiful cardinals all winter. I’m seeing them less now but they still come to the feeding stations on cold, wet, windy days.
Hubby says it’s the biggest hutch he’s ever seen and thinks it’s a big family of them. This spring the kits will be sent out to make their own homes in another area but usually close to the parents.
We let them stay as long as they’re not flooding any of the pasture or routing the water that will harm neighboring property. They’re amazing construction creatures and fun to watch at work when they think no humans are close and watching.
Well the aggravating coyotes are terrorizing our livestock again.
Please don’t give us grief for killing the beast. When we’re trying so hard to make a living these day with our cattle, we do everything possible to save the calves born and then stolen away by these vicious animals.
Our area is full of them and they keep our dogs upset night and day but we don’t dare let them out to protect because a pack or even a large male coyote would tear our dogs to bits.
We had a professional hunter come in to hunt them but with no luck! These animals are so alert to the sounds the callers make and won’t come near them, so he was not successful in seeing or hearing them. This is why we and neighboring farms set snares for them.
We have heard in recent nights, three – four different packs in our area. There is no bounty and the wildlife officers are too busy with hunting violations to give any assistance so we do what we can on our own.
I’ve had these two ducks for almost three years and Daisy has given me beautiful eggs almost the entire time. She currently is in winter hiatus, I believe. I’ve been looking for more Pekin ducks for over a year with no luck.
If I don’t find 3-5 more by spring I will raise some and hopefully the majority of them will be ducks and not drakes.
So spring will find me bringing new ducks, chickens and turkeys to the farm. With all this poultry and the greenhouse, I should be a busy but very happy farm girl!!
From 50+ hens to 18 in one summer/fall season is not a good thing on the farm.
Each spring I add days old chicks to the farm livestock. This year we added five each of ISA browns, Rhode Island reds, black Australorps and Americaunas. They grew out beautiful and very healthy. My spring chicks grow out in five to six months and start laying when my older hens get the time off for molting and recharging.
After the brooder box they’re moved to the Little Red Barn where they can interact with the older chickens for a few weeks and then they’re moved into the big house.
This summer after all of the ladies and rooster were together and free ranging the farm an unwelcome beast invaded the territory. He seemed to come on rainy overcast days when we weren’t somewhere out of doors and his first visit took out nine hens in one day. Our dogs tend to stay in their houses when it rains and they were not aware of what was going on. I found the dead hens laying in several places from the barnyard to the cemetery on the hill. The next day he got four more and so on and so on. We caught him out on several occasions but only got some shots off and no kills. We’re convinced that she was probably feeding her young and that’s why she got so many at one time. The following photo I pulled from the internet will give you an idea of the family she must feed . . .
BUT not my hens!!!!
We’ve not had a visit from her lately but my hens (only 18 remain, nine old and nine pullets) have learned to stay near cover that she can’t get into.
My young girls have started laying, two per day so far, and I only had to buy eggs from the local grocer three times. Store bought eggs are definitely different from my free range eggs.
Spring 2021 will be filled with around 25-30 young chicks, five Pekin ducks and 3-5 turkeys. I bake so much and love those duck eggs to make my bread, cakes, pies and cookies. My egg customers are begging for eggs and I hope to fill those orders by January 2021, when all nine of the young hens will be rolling out those perfect eggs.
The green is turning gold and brown, the wild grass seeds are a very few and the wind has a bite to it. My body is not ready for winter chill and blast of wind but I fear it is upon us!
This morning while fixing breakfast I looked out the kitchen window and saw a beautiful sight.
The backyard, where usually a hammock is swinging in the breeze, the ground was covered with little birds of all makes and sizes!! This is my winter bird feeding station and from the looks of it I really need to add more feeders. I filled and hung the feeders last week and have seen titmouse, sparrows, yellow finches, red headed wrens, cardinals, Carolina finches and so many more breeds of small birds. There’s also doves, bluejays, red-headed woodpeckers, Downy woodpeckers and more. BUT, this morning the ground was ever so active with small birds. I love them!
I love watching the birds and they will make my winter just a bit easier to contend with!
Sadie is full grown now and we love her to death! She’s become quite the huntress and catches squirrels, possums and coons along with all the mini creatures you find on the farm. She’s protective of the chickens and ducks though she still likes to run through the flock at times just to get their attention!
She’s my baby and loves everyone she meets!
Daisy has been laying one large egg for me since the spring of 2019. He took one 20 day break during the month of January 2020 and has been going strong ever since.
Her eggs are beautiful and twice the size of a large chicken egg.
Donald is becoming a little aggressive with the adult people on the floor by trying to lead the way when you’re trying to walk somewhere. He seems to hate shoes and pecks any near him. We thought he was being aggressive with Sadie but we now know they are quite chummy! He will come up to her face and lay his head against Sadie’s neck! They chase each other in and out of the pond and if Sadie is laying out in the sun napping Donald climbs up on her back, then the chase is on.
I’m in the process of looking for a couple more female ducks for him. I think Daisy wants to set but Donald keeps breaking up her nests.
So, the word is out, Rita is looking for three or four Daisy’s to add to the farm.
This lovely bird visited the farm during the night and think he may have flew into a wire. He was sitting on the bull lot fence and sat perfectly still for me to get photos. An hour later he was gone!!
He was big and kept clicking his beak together at Sadie!! Love to hear them hooting at night and late afternoon!
This has got to be one of the most loving pups we have ever had in our home. She came to us with some bad habits but in three months they’ve all been corrected or being worked on. Sadie will be eight months old next week and she has stopped chasing the chickens, she’s learning not to jump up on everyone that comes to the farm, she’s treeing squirrels and she not afraid of Donald our drake anymore. She has learned to stay away from the cattle and she alerts us to new guests that arrive. She does get overly-excited when anyone comes to visit especially our kids and granddaughter.
I’m sure this will change once she becomes more aware of the wild animals that are lurking about at night and the not so wild ones! In the meantime, she’s our baby and some hunting/training will begin more strictly once hay season is finished and Eddie has more time to train her to a lead and get her out in the woods on a more frequent basis. Until then I will keep up the simple training in the yard and on a daily basis.
Our farm is constantly growing something whether it be crops for the cattle, the garden, the herd or the flock. Each spring I try to add new chicks to the flock so that in the winter months I can still have eggs while the older chickens can take a break. Most chickens start laying at six months of age. I recently added eighteen bitties to the farm.There are six Buff Orpingtons, six Speckled Susses and six Columbian Wyandottes.
We had a visitor on the farm not too many weeks ago and at first glance we did not realize it was a crane that had come in during the night with the fog. We see them all the night but had never seen one preening itself on our boat house.
He looked so very short sitting up there and I was convinced it had to be something different until. . . .
It flew off and set atop a broken down locust tree in the bull lot next to the boat house. These birds are huge, endangered and eat lots of fish from our pond and we think are probably the cause of the demise of our frog population too!!
They are huge yet elegant birds with extremely long legs.
He sat in the top of that tree for most of the morning and I don’t think we’ve seen it since that morning.
March plagued us with unusual calving events but not due to weather events. First and previously posted was the “trouble” issue from a first time mother and a calf to large to deliver normally. Eddie assisted in that delivery which produced the largest calf we have ever delivered and to date the largest calf this year.
Our second abnormal delivery was an older cow in our spring herd and she had never had any issues in the past. This time she delivered a normal to small bull calf that was dead. Shortly after this delivery she had another small dead bull calf and then all of her insides came out. I’m not talking about prolapse, this was all of her female organs and intestines. Eddie put her down quickly after to prevent ANY suffering.
Then about 10 days later another heifer delivered a huge bull calf that Eddie and I both helped deliver in our holding. This calf lived but mother and calf were weak for about two weeks but the calf is growing.
The last one born was also a five-hour labor ordeal with a heifer and we had an issue after the deliver that Eddie assisted. About an hour or so after the delivery the calf was never able to get up to nurse. We have found in the past that if the new babe and mom are left alone things usually go as expected. We watched this calf and mother from our front porch and Eddie decided to take the heifers some grain to keep them away from the new mother and babe. After pouring the grain he went to investigate the situation and found all of the calf’s intestine had come out of its belly button/naval. NEVER had we seen or heard of this! We called a neighbor and they had never dealt with it but had heard of it and was willing to come assist. In the meantime, I googled it and how to fix without a vet’s assistance (the cost of the vet and having to take to a hospital would far out weigh what we could get out of the calf IF it survived). We got a clean tarp and put it in the bucket of the tractor and Eddie and I lifted him into the tractor bucket without issue. We then hauled him to the garage where our neighbor found us to work on the calf. First we sterilized all the equipment with 100% alcohol and then poured it all over the intestines and tried to get as much dirt and debris from the navel and the intestine without bursting them. This took lots of time and Andy was so meticulous about cleaning everything. Inch by inch he started pushing the intestines back into the body cavity and at one point he had to make the navel opening a bit larger and after about an hour he was ready to close up the opening. During this entire process Eddie was holding the back feet & legs and I was holding the front legs and feet, the calf did not move even being on it’s back during the entire time. Andy cleaned the incision several times more and then closed it all with vet staples. He gave the calf a large dose of antibiotics and covered the wound with more alcohol. We took the calf back to his mother and she started cleaning him all over again. You have to remember that his calf had never been able to get up to nurse. We tried to give him colostrum to no avail and in the next three days he got up three times that we saw but we NEVER saw him nurse even with mom’s encouragement. On the fourth day he died and as an afterthought we think we should have used a system that you put a hose down their throat into their stomach for nourishment or may should have put it down immediately but we always try to save them after the mother has gone through nine months of keeping them alive.
I want to thank our wonderful neighbor, Andy Hutton, for all he did that day and help he has given us in the past. He hauls our cattle, helps us find good buyers for our stock, helping in repair our equipment and there for us to answer our questions. Though we’ve been farming for 40+ years it’s always good to get first and second opinions. Andy is our “go-to-farmer”!!!
We only have two more heifers to calve and about 9-10 older cows in our spring herd to deliver. Wish us luck!!
We’ve not decided if he will possibly become a sire on the farm but he definitely looks and acts like a full-grown young bull!
Sadie turned five months old this month and it’s hard to believe we’ve had her for a little over a month! She has turned into quite a guard dog by barking when someone comes in, if she sees someone walking along the road, if the bulls move from one side of the bull lot to the other, and especially if the newborn calves are running and playing.
Last night we had a stray dog come to visit and the hair was standing all along the top of her back, from head to tail. She was going to eat it alive! We don’t know who it belongs to but it soon left. It was solid black with a blue rhinestone collar that lit up when our spotlight hit it. Sadie yipped and growled until we went to bed.
She’s just as beautiful as she was when we got her and we’re just as in love with her now as we were a month ago. Her favorite toy our is our coonhound Mischief and they will play all day. She has learned that it’s not polite to run the chickens and ducks and now we’re concentrating on NOT chasing cars from our house or anywhere for that matter. She’s a bit intimidated by the tractors and she still does not like riding in the vehicles or the gator but we’re still working on that. Sadie loves walking in the woods and when there’s no wind we go on family walks with her. Eddie hoping we’ll eventually run across some squirrels during our walks. She has already treed one below Mischiefs doghouse but didn’t stay with it very long since she couldn’t find it once it went up the tree.
More updates to come on her growth and progress! Enjoy your animals!
We are having a whirlwind spring or end of winter and we don’t know from one day to the next what the temperature will be. Last night we were experiencing 35-60 mile per hour wind gusts. Thankfully there was no damage to anything that we have found. We deal with this while waiting on baby calves to be born!! Farming is a challenge, especially beginning this year.
On February 20th Sadie turned four months old and the things she has learned in the short time we’ve had her is amazing. She goes to the door and looks back at us when she wants/needs to go out. The potty training is going amazingly! She has figured out how to get out of the yard gate to go visit with Mischief, our coon hound. When the ATV starts up she knows Dad is going to the woods or to feed the bulls. She knows when I go to the kitchen it’s mealtime. She’s learned the sounds of our vehicles and waits at the door for visitors barking her head off. She has learned how to wake Mom up to go outside (barking by my bed) or when she thinks it’s time for everyone to get up. She has learned that “down” means to stay down and not jump up on us. She has learned that there are moles in our front yard and she’s determined to get them for me no matter how many holes she has to dig. Yard gardening is going to be a challenge this spring!!! 🙂
Because we’ve had so much rain and she loves being outside I have to put down heavy paper in the path she uses from the front door to through the kitchen.
She does not like to ride in the vehicles. We took a ride yesterday afternoon on our road to check out the flood damage and she got sick before we could get back home. Poor thing was as nervous as a cat in a room full of rocking chair!!!
We were supposed to keep our son’s black lab this weekend but I asked him to hold off a couple more months because Sadie is so little and Bucky is a full-grown pup that loves to wrestle and I’m afraid he may hurt it for now. We’ll let them visit before too long though and she’ll have another playmate.
I’m praising her a lot but she still has an issue with my chickens and wants to chase anything that runs so we’ll be doing some heavy training in that regard. Bucky likes to chase the chickens too and their togetherness might just get a little out of hand. More updates on her growth and training to come.
Farms always have a lot of varmints and I guess, towns do too but we seem to be overrun with them. After Sassy died two years ago the varmints have become very brazen and are in the yard as much as out of it! We’ve wanted another dog on the farm mainly to keep such critters at bay yet we wanted one we would train and not someone else’s with attributes that are not particularly farm and socially attractive!! I’m not ready for another Sassy (cocker spaniel) yet.
We’ve had several dogs and cats in our 47 years and have always been partial to Cockers and Norwegian Elkhounds which we have had at least five in those 47 years. We’ve had different people checking in their areas for the Elkhounds and over the weekend we found our new girl!
She was NOT potty trained but in four days has learned that all she has to do is going to the front door and whine to go out. I’m doing a lot of “pooper scooping: in the yard at the moment because we don’t want her to be free to go just anywhere without us. At six months we are hoping we’ll be able to leave the front yard gate open at night so she can ward off varmints or alert us that they are encroaching on her territory!! Yesterday she met Arby and Samson, two of our huge black Angus bulls and she barked her little self crazy until they took a step near her and then she was between my feet. The bulls didn’t pay much attention to her. Later in the morning while we were doing some fence repairs in the heifer lot she decided to let the heifers know that she was the new boss in town. These heifers weigh around 750-850 pounds each and are due any day to have their first calves and they don’t like dogs! Anyway, Sadie decided to walk out into the middle of the herd and give them the devil but not even five minutes later you would have thought the devil was on her heels. She came screaming back toward us and ran into a woven wire fence which she could not get through and headed around the corner of the orchard fence and straight into our arms, peeing and pooping all the way. She was literally petrified and we were laughing ourselves to death. She did learn to stay away from those girls because today I took her for a walk with me to put mail out for the postman and instead of staying close to me as we walked the driveway along the heifer lot Sadie made a broad path about twenty feet on the opposite side of the driveway and growling all the way to the mailbox and back!!!
We are also trying to get her used to riding in the farm trucks with us. She is scared of riding and of vehicles. The day we bought her home we had to put her in a dog crate on the back of the truck and I’m so glad we had it because she was very ill riding in the back of the truck. We will start with short trips on the farm and on our road until she feels more comfortable. Yesterday during our second trip riding out the 1/8 mile driveway she tried to jump out of my arms and out the truck window. I also learned a very valuable lesson on this trip, leave the windows up until she is more comfortable riding in the truck!!!
So for now, I will be kept very busy during our very wet season, mopping the floors and keeping the yard as clean as I can. We’re expecting the kids to come visit her for the first time this weekend. I think she’ll love them as much as she loves us!!
The temps are dropping fast this afternoon and the wind is gusting from 20 – 30 mph at the moment. Tonight is supposed to be much worse. We’ll have the stove cranked up and the teakettle full!
The past few years we’ve been and will probably continue to in the coming years be replacing all of the fencing on the farm. The wire has rotted and posted broke off at the top of the ground. We saved all of the locust post just for nights like tonight when the temps will be below zero when the wind is factored in. The locust burns hot but slow which makes it hold overnight (almost) and we don’t have to get up every two hours to load the stove when the fire has burnt down.
Everyone stay warm tonight and don’t forget to bed all the farm animals down with extra food and hay to stay warm!! Bring those pets indoors if you really love them!!
I promised a pictorial today of the what kept me busy during our snow event yesterday and here it is.
The rest of the day was keeping the stove filled and the wood rack filled as well.
The snow event (notice I didn’t call it a storm) left us with one inch of snow and it got packed down during the night with sleet and rain making for a crusty top. The chickens wanted nothing to do with it so we left them in the coop and the ducks could have left their coop but decided to stick close to a spot with no snow in it! Recipes for the chicken salad, cake, bread, cobbler and pork loin marinade will be posted on my cooking page soon.
The final week of deer season ended yesterday and our freezers are full. This year no trophies were taken because we felt we needed to thin the herds (5) due to the small does and too many of them. We talked about this during the summer and decided the bucks were too small and does were very small and believe this is due to inbreeding. They’ve had plenty to eat from the grasses and gardens in the summer and the nut crops in the fall. Only the family participated in the hunts because most of the hunters were looking to kill trophies which there were very few so they hunted elsewhere. My new crockpot and Instant pot have been keeping our bellies full!
During most of the summer of 2018 (when I wasn’t blogging much) I was working hard to make a rose garden in one corner of our front yard that gets sun most of the day. It was hard work and a challenge to position all of them into one corner.
There are over twenty different types and colors of roses in the bed and it looks a little different from the picture above because all of the non-roses were also dug up and moved to different areas of the yard inside and out. Several of them survived the winter of 2017-18 due to the ice and creatures called wild rabbits! They chewed the bark off of every rose in the yard!!
I meant to put up a barrier fence in the new rose bed during our first frost but never seemed to get around to it. My procrastination proved to be maddening, the rabbits got to them before I did. Immediately Eddie and I started putting up the barrier fence around the rose garden.
We have chain-linked fence around the yard so we only had to stake the fence around the roses from the inside of the yard. I’m glad we found the damage before it was to far gone to save the roses. We will be having Brunswick Stew if I catch the creatures getting through this!
I think these are worth saving!!!
The last two weeks have shown us a beauty of nature that we rarely see.
Adult males in spring and early summer are bright yellow with black forehead, black wings with white markings, and white patches both above and beneath the tail. Adult females are duller yellow beneath. We normally don’t have them at our feeders or in the fields until late spring, early summer so this is a real treat.
Since they’ve arrived so early I’m hoping with all my heart that spring is truly just around the corner.