Here we are another year soon to end. Time seems to just fly by anymore and so many of us are so busy we don’t seem to have time to enjoy our families or life in general. At least, that is the way it is here on our farm. Even though I work at home and don’t travel everyday to a “job”, like my partner does, I do believe that it is harder than holding a 9-5 job working for someone else. I am constantly busy with the animals, we are beginning our fall kidding season and have only had two Nans deliver so far, and just taking care of the everyday farm needs, I could spend hours out in the barn and still not get everything done that is on the “to do” list. Then we have the yard work where there is always something to do, like decorating this time of year, and then the house, need I say more, and at last we get down to my actual job of selling livestock and pet food. Now if this is not enough, I am in my last year of achieving my bachelor’s degree in business and marketing. I really do not think I would know what to do without all of this; on the farm is where I am happy. A friend told me the other day that she would hate my life but was so happy for me that I get do what I love. Believe me, I am happy as well.
On another note, our blog is going to expand a bit and since our website is getting a complete makeover we are going to add some links to other websites that are affiliated with us. We will still remain providing articles about the farm but will have an extra flare for all kinds of different products for out around the barn and home both for business and personal. Keep a look out after the holidays for some new ideas and changes to the blog.
We want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. May the New Year bring great health, profitability and happiness to each and every one.
There are a lot of different things that happen on the farm, such as having to bale hay and straw, harvest crops, feeding livestock, hauling rock, repairing barns and gates and the birthing of new babies. This year started out glorious with my goats giving me several beautiful kids. A couple of months ago I have lost two of my first time young mothers and their babies during birth and I lost a little newborn boy a few days later. The mama was so lost and just cried for the longest time. She is a my special pet and I feel so bad for her. We had coccidia and I treated the whole herd so we aren’t having that problem, it was that the babies were too large for the mamas, they were bred too young and their frames were too small, and the little boy was turned upside down and his head was backwards and we could not get it to turn after trying for such a long time. It was a very san time for me. My animals are my life and when I lose one, it is like I am losing one of my children. Even though we are expected to know that these things can happen and will at one point or another, we are never really prepared for the loss. It is like anything else, no matter how much we prepare, we are never ready to accept the reality of the situation.
There is nothing like watching the birth of a new little one and watch it take it’s first breath and first step. I feel lucky to be able to watch and see these special events occur and privileged that I can live this life on the farm that I love. This year we have added several dozen new calves, new chicks, new ducks, several sets of twins and two sets of triplet kids, goats, and my first miniature horse. This year we are also experiencing a drought and as we begin to end the month of July, we are now facing a shortage of water here on our farm and the surrounding farms. The ponds are slowly depleting and our yards are just as brown as a brown paper bag. Our gardens are not producing and our hens are laying less eggs than normal. I hate walking outside and seeing all the plants, flowers and vegetables that I worked so hard to plant earlier just burn up and nothing to show for it. I should not fuss because there are many others in the same boat and the farmers with their crops in the field with nothing to harvest is a sad situation. If we learn nothing else, a daily dose of prayer does a body good.
Many things happen on the farm, some we witness and others we don’t as the actions of the predators that watch our livestock and sometimes get lucky and snatch a chicken, duck or cat. We often hear the coyotes howl on all four sides of the farm and wonder if we’ll lose anything this night. Maybe it could be the cougar that wanders the farmlands and has been seen close by every now and then or the smaller critters such as the skunk and coon, and some of them are not too small. The coon around here can carry off a 5 gallon bucket of cat food like it is nothing; they even get the lids open. Pretty smart for a country animal. So as you see, several things happen on and around the farm. What a life!
Recently I was appointed to care for both of my son’s dogs. They live in the city and the dogs have mostly been house dogs all their lives. In the process of taking care of them, having them neutered was first on the agenda. My younest son’s dog, Bandit, came first to stay because he and my other son’s dog could not seem to get along even though, they had been raised together. It seems so strange that these two dogs would not get along since they have been together since they were pups but even animals change as they get older. So it was time to make some necessary changes.
It was time to have them neutered and caught up on all their shots so, one at a time I brought them home and had their procedures done and kept them for a couple of weeks so they could heal. Bandit, was used to being on the farm some, he would go with my son on visits to his dad’s farm, so he was not too afraid of the quiet and the animals were not terrifying to him. His biggest problem was that he just could not stay where he was put. He tore open a chain link fence with his teeth and crawled out. He jumped out of the other pen (6 ft.) so we finally had to chain him to a wagon to keep him from running off or getting into mischief. Needless to say, I should have known better because he has never been tied up or penned in his life. He actually done well being tied, as long as it was with a chain and not a rope because he ate them like they were doggie treats. He healed well and was ready to go home so I met with my eldest son and exchanged dogs and the process began again.
Now, Max is another story. He had not ever been outside of the city and the farm was terrifying for him. Trying to take him for a walk was a chore that really never quite got started, let alone finished. He would walk, if you could call it that, right in front or I should say on my feet and we could not get one walk completed. Our chickens were out and a few of them came towards him, he turned tail and ran back to me as fast as he could and hid behind me like a child. It was really quite hilarious. For the two weeks that we had Max, he ate the wooden door to the pen and I had to chain it shut so he could not get out. One the one occasion that he did get out, he was at the front door of the house just howling away wanting in. It wasn’t that I wouldn’t let him in, but because my partner has asthma, I could not let him in the house. He barked constantly, morning through night, and never quit. It became a little annoying after a while. My son came to get him, he was so excited, and me, yes, I was too; it was time for him to go home.
It was so nice to have a little piece and quiet, even though we live on a farm and there is always animal noises of some sort going on, but nothing like the bark of Max. It makes you think about the differences that we take for granted. A dog is just normally seen as playful around animals and running free in the pastures but when they have never been in the country and everthing is terrifying to them, you realize they are a little like us when we go into a place that is unknown and we are nervous and terrified at everything new. Just something to think about wouldn’t you say?
I believe I wrote about a similar subject a while back but decided to write about this again since I took a spill last evening and am now nursing my sore body back to whatever it is to feel normal. We have had such a mild and warm winter and it has been so pleasant, but now, here in Illinois, a cold, and I mean single digit cold, has finally arrived. I miss the warmer temps but I am glad for the freeze, I just hope it stays long enough to kill the bugs and insects so we are not over run by them this summer.
As, I mentioned earlier, I took a spill last evening while trying to get some hay for my goats. I am not sure exactly sure what had happened but it was right after dusk had settled in and the ground was frozen and all of the sudden, I was falling to the ground and hit it hard. I am so lucky the pitchfork landed away from my falling body so I didn’t land on it. It sure seems strange that three days ago we were wading in mud and now the ground is frozen hard as a rock.
The weather can change things so fast and the fact that it is so difficult to walk on frozen ground where cattle have recently trod that I am guessing I either lost my footing and tripped over a frozen pile of, well you know, or I had a spell of vertigo. Whichever it was, it was not fun. So in light of all of this, be careful of the changing weather and the ground surfaces. I always feared ice, but now, well I fear frozen manure, how funny is that.
Have a great day everyone and now that we are getting things better organized, we will be posting more.
It has been a very hectic year and so many changes have taken place. We are ending the year in good standing with a few new members to our barnyard, five miniature horses. These new additions were part of my good will effort to rescue them from a farm that had ran out of pasture and the owners were just sick that they could not feed them. They were in good physical shape and between wild and semi-tame.
The owner and I had worked together with putting on petting zoo clinics for the elderly at nursing homes this past summer. She knew I was an animal lover and called me up and asked if I would have room to take 2 or 3 of her herd and give them a home. Al and I went to look at them and came home with three; Cocoa, Jessie and Mistress Minnie, the baby of the herd. I fell in love with them before I even got them home. They are just a pleasure to watch and play around with. It is a task to get them to cooperate at times since they have not been messed with in quite some time. I can get close to all of them but they are still skiddish and fearful at times and spook extremely easy.
They get along fine and I would mess with them as much as time would allow, but not as much as I would like to. About three weeks later I was contacted again and a couple had backed out of taking the stallion and mare, which is expecting in Feb./Mar. I had to do my “FLIRTY EYE MOVE” to get Al to agree to just go look at them once more. Of course, I knew we would be bringing them home because he hooked up the trailer and away we went. So I now have five.
Taco, the stallion, and Sugar had not ever been separated and she had delivered healthy colts and fillies for the past eight years. The owner said the could not be separated or they would just be uncontrollable. I kept them together for three days and then I took a risk and separated them. It took Taco a while to adjust being alone but he does just fine. Sugar has to stop by his stall on the way back in the barn once in a while just to say “hello” and then goes on. Taco will do his “I am the Man” dance every once in a while but for being told he was wild and I would have a hard time with him, we get along fine. It took me an hour to get him to come to me and a halter on and now we are “buds”. I must say that he is just so beautiful. A miniature black stallion and with the lines and mane to go with it. So petite but full of spirit and spunk. Don’t let them fool anyone, just because they are small does not mean that they cannot put away the food. I feed them Grostrong Ultra Fiber and they eat it up. They are not shy when it comes to meal time. I did have to make some changes in the feeding area and that is they cannot reach any of our feed bunks so feeding pans were placed and it makes feeding time a lot easier.
We have had a busy year but our animal family continues to grow. We are ending the year with new stock and new baby goats on the way within two weeks. Life on the farm is just great.
This has been the year for chickens. I am now the proud owner of 80 chickens. We have White Leghorns, Buff Orpingtons, Bantys, Rhode Island Reds, Americanas and Sexlinks. I, also, had 24 broilers in early spring which now occupy a home in the deep freeze. I enjoy watching them and being witness to all their crazy antics. I do have a couple that I am pretty fond of and on is Charlie, my Buff Orpington rooster. He is quite the gentleman with the ladies and has defended himself against Whitey, the White Leghorn rooster, that he no longer has tail feathers; he is unique looking, I must say.
Around the middle of July until the middle of September, the hens had took a break and we were getting only enough eggs to supply our personal use and a couple of customers, but now that the “spring babies” have matured, we are gathering up to, if not more, 3 dozen per day. The first Americana eggs that I found were green and I was ecstatic. It was the first I had ever seen and now I get pink and a few blue. I have one of my feed customers say the other day that he didn’t believe that they would lay a pink egg because he has Americanas and his never have. I told him I would have to prove him wrong because I get the pink quite often. I take it he won’t believe me either until I actually show him one.
It is an all day event when I get orders for eggs; since living in the country and all my customers are in town, to make the rounds takes up a lot of time, but it is worth it just because I meet all kinds of interesting people. I especially like the real “city” people like from Chicago or St. Louis, or even the ones from the Coasts because they are so funny. I take for granted the fact that there are those that have never seen a real chicken let alone a colored egg.
My coup is full and thriving and time is coming for its fall coup cleaning and getting ready for winter. My girls and guys like their time outdoors, so I am pretty sure I will need to do it soon before it gets nasty out so they can spend the day outside.
I surely love this time of year. Everything is green, there is a freshness in the air, there is new birth in every direction that you look; in the trees, on the ground, in the pastures and in the barns. I tend to get real excited waiting for the birthing season to begin. I just cannot wait to hold the new chicks and kids (baby goats) and see all the new calves running in the pastures.
In my last post I mentioned how many little ones we had so far, well, we are now finished birthing and our total count is 23 baby calves, 13 kids (only lost 1 this year), and we ended up with 57 baby chicks. My total count on chickens now is 105. Thursday, my mom and I dressed 5 Broilers and in a few weeks we’ll have 18 more to do. It is sure an all day job but worth it to have meat in the freezer for winter.
I am beginning to enjoy my chickens more and have a few that really enjoy being played with. I only had three types of chickens, White Leghorns, Buff Orpingtons, and Bathams; oh, and a couple of California Dots. Now I still have all of these plus Americanas, Rhode Island Reds, and Sexlinks. When I first had to get them all on a schedule, it became a round the clock job because I first had to have them in the garage until they could handle the cool weather. Thank goodness they all have a home in the coup now.
I was so upset with them the other day; I let them out of the coup during the day if the weather is decent, and they found their way to my strawberry patch and ate all the tops of them. I did not even think about them doing that, I just wanted them in my compost to stir it up for me. I had just got my first picking off my strawberries and then I find this.
I am now in the process of raising my garden in my greenhouse since it is so wet here. I am hoping it will dry up soon so I can get my plants in the ground. I am afraid we are in for another hectic summer.
Spring has sprung, Easter has passed, and we are on our way to working outdoors in the yard, gardening, and on the farm. We are close to the close of our birthing season for the year; we have 4 more cows and a couple of 2 yr. old heifers to have calves and we have 2 more goats (Boar) to have little ones; I have 10 already. And if that weren’t enough, we have 33 baby chicks. Combining all of them together, I have 52 new baby animals. It sure keeps me busy.
With the re-birth of Spring and all the new babies, it keeps a person busy making sure all of them are eating well and the mamas are keeping them well fed. From experience, I have learned that is pays to keep a close eye on them for the first couple of weeks to make sure they are staying healthy.
Things to look for is coughing, discharge, fever, being inactive, and loss of appetite. Once they are feeling better, their health should improve. It is not to say that you may need to talk to a veterinary and get some medications in case they do become ill. Even though, we sometimes feel like we know how to treat them and what to give, we are not necessarily always right in our diagnosis. If in question about anything, always check with the professionals.
I am talking from experience, since last year I lost 9 baby goats before I found out the real problem and began treating it. I knew nothing about Coccidiosis and learned the hard way, what it was and what to do about it.
One issue, I am having this year is the nannies are having their babies and a week to two later, they are expelling discharge and bleeding. It has been an issue with everyone of them. So, I went to the vet and he suggested a long lasting penicillin. Then you watch them for 3 days and if it doesn’t seem to have an effect, give another dose and then talk to the vet if not better within two weeks.
Always keep their bedding dry and keep them out of the rain to avoid foot rot. Once you get it on you farm, it is hard to get rid of. Take care of your babies and Good Luck.
Pictured here is Beauty and her triplets born on March 26, 2011, Jack, Junior and Jada. Just minutes after their birth.
Most of us assume that when individuals such as farmers and homemakers work at home; they have a very simple and easy life. Well, that is not the case. Working at home doesn’t mean that challenges and deadlines aren’t a part of their lives just like everyone else. They face them everyday and it could be as simple as being interrupted by excessive phone calls, upset and crying or sick children, nothing going as planned, the overwhelming feeling lack of social contact, and too many projects that need their attention. Working at home can be very economic for some and it works out well, but it can also be frustrating when there are other distractions at home that we do not have to deal with when we work away from home.
On the farm, there is always something to do. Livestock needs to be fed grain and hay on a schedule, morning and evening, a ample supply of water must be available to them at all times, if one is under the weather, so to speak, it needs the necessary attention to get it back to good health so it can return to the herd. Having a vet on speed dial is pretty important when an animal goes down, depending on the illness or injury, it may need immediate attention and professional help. Animals go through stress, as well, when they become sick or injured, so it is imperative that we remain calm while tending to them. The barns and shelters must be kept in good shape and dry for the livestock to have a place they can go out of the weather so hauling manure is a job that must be done on a regular schedule and the fences must be strong enough to turn cattle and horses so that they stay contained within their boundaries. If you have close neighbors, it is not a pleasant experience when you have a few stubborn head of cattle that like to test you and push the fence. People don’t like unwanted animals in their gardens and yards.
When the time comes for breeding your herds, keeping a record of the day the bull or stud went in with the cows or mares, is extremely important. This goes for goats, sheep and other breeds as well. By knowing when you put them together, you will have an idea of when to expect the birthing season to begin and can prepare your barns or make the necessary arrangements for the events to come. Records are also important in keeping track of vaccinations, days bought and sold, births, and injuries and illnesses. I keep track of when I de-worm my goats, when their hooves get trimmed, when I change feed and minerals and etc.
It is a wonderful life, living and working a farm. It has its stresses and challenges on a daily basis but, on the flip side, it can be a peaceful and calming life. Every job has a place for schedules and time management and that includes those jobs at home, it really doesn’t matter what you do, we all have them. Life does feel a little simpler on the farm when out working with Mother Nature and God’ creations but it is LIFE, and with that there is never a dull moment.
Kennedy is getting acquainted with one of the new kittens born this past fall. The mother being a long-haired calico and his siblings being both white short-hairs, Mr. Purdy is a dark calico long-hair kitten. From the first day we found him, he has had such a wonderful personality that has made it easy for Kennedy to be able to get
close. She falls in love with every animal on the farm, especially the newborns. She is quite the little farmer and with every visit, must go to the barn. Her favorite chore is feeding the chickens and she does it well. I give her a bucket of feed, Pen Pals Egg Maker Complete, and she will throw little handfuls on the coup ground and then fill the feeders. With the kittens she does three scoops of feed, 1 per bowl for all 18 on the farm. They get their fav cat food as well, Proud Paws Cat Food.