Saturday, July 2, 2011

Henny's Got Eggs!

A week or so ago when we brought the turkeys home, Henny started acting strangely. Those ugly squawking little critters set her hormones ablaze (for some reason the chicks of her own species just didn't do enough for her...). She went broody.

I tried rousing her off her nest, I tried putting her out in the sunshine, I even tried dunking her in cold water (sorry Henny!) it didn't work. The next option is to lock her in a wire-bottom cage (so it's uncomfortable to sit) for 2-3 days. Apparently this works very well, but it's gotten hot here recently, and I'm too worried about heat stroke.

I knew a former neighbour of mine had chickens, and she was kind enough to give us a few fertile eggs. I figured, if you can't break'em, join'em. We weren't really looking for any more chickens right now, and I miss my breakfast eggs! But look at those beady little eyes? How could you deny her anything?

Anyway, Henny is very happy a clutch has magically appeared in her nest box, and she's settling down with a new vigor.

The 21 day count down is on... we could have chicks by the 23rd.
(Didn't get a chance to candle the eggs, so I'll have to do that in the next few days to make sure!)

Had to be my favourite...

Lost our little Cochin this morning, dead in the coop.
I think he had an impacted crop, but I'm not really sure what happened.

It's too bad he was a spunky little dude & definitely one of my favourites.

Friday, July 1, 2011

To my fellow Canucks

Happy Canada Day!!

(Just remember fireworks can be terrifying for pets & farm animals. Prepare, be smart, and have fun.)

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Surviving an Auction with Kids

#1 idea would be not to being them with you :). For us that isn't really an option, so I thought I'd share some of our experience.

Auctions are boring for children. They drag on forever, especially if they don't understand what is going on. The few things that might be fun to play with, they can't and the novelty wears off pretty quickly. So prep for the auction like your would a doctors appointment. Lots of extra snacks and games to keep their hands busy.

For older kids electronic games or dvd players a good idea, but for our little guys that doesn't keep their attention. We just bring a few hot-wheels and they make their own fun. As long as the weather is nice, there is always a little spot somewhere we can sit and play when they need a break.

Bring a partner. My husband and I tag team. So we go early, decide what we'd like to buy and he can do the bidding while I kid-wrestle. It's pretty easy to communicate with someone across a crowded room if they are looking for your signal.

Get your older kids involved. If you're picking out new animals for the farm, have them help you select individual chicks, or explain why this or that adult bird is a better choice. You can even have them bid (ask the auction organizers first) as long as you're right beside them to give the "real" signal to the auctioneer.

One thing we learned this time with the chickens, was to bring sturdier boxes. There wasn't a huge amount of space in the auction hall, so the kids kept bumping and kicking the boxes by accident. None of the chicks got hurt, but next time we'll bring stronger crates with us.

Try to keep them quite, I know not everyone is overly keen on little kids, and an auction hall isn't really a great place for them. If your kids are going to cause a big disruption you're going to have to leave, so come prepared with that possibility in your mind so you don't get angry at them later.

Best of Luck!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Billy, Meg & New Arrivals


Billy is doing VERY well. He's finally taking full 600ml bottles like he should be, of course he looks like he's eaten a beach ball after downing the whole thing. Billy has also almost stopped limping! So it was just a stone-bruise or something that has resolved itself and he's running about and playing like a little lamb should.

He's moved out to his new digs in the barn, which he's not too impressed since he thinks he's a house-lamb! Right now he's taking every opportunity to break out & run back to sleep on the deck. Yes, cute, but he's pooping everywhere!

The New Arrivals

So I'm off today to pick up two little Saanen billy goats who will hopefully convince Billy to stay out in the barn! No names yet so we'll have to think of something. The seller has told me they got the goats under similar circumstances. The seller breeds miniature goats and someone dropped off the two billys in very bad condition because the original owners didn't know a thing about raising/feeding goats properly. They are now 3 months old and almost up to the weight they should be. I think they'll make great additions to our little herd.

The 2 shorthorn cow/calf pairs are coming this weekend & that's it for new animals for a WHILE! We mostly chose shorthorns because they are what our former landlord raises and we got a good deal on them. Short horns are a dual purpose cow, and are known for their excellent temperament. They are also delicious! I think even if we hadn't already had a good line on purchasing a pair, shorthorns would be what I would choose for our farm. I really like dual purpose animals.

The golden mare has arrived home!!

I've had Meg for almost 6 years now. We've been through a lot over those years, learned a lot, and enjoyed each others company. Since the kids came along I've had a lot less time for my favourite hobby, but now my girl is home! It's so wonderful to be able to see her every day, manage her feed, and yes, even clean her stall, the way I want.

And the best part is, if I can't find someone to transport the cows for a reasonable price, we can always hitch'er up for an ol' fashion cattle drive!! (I am hopefully kidding!) 

Monday, June 27, 2011

Billy Update

Bill is the little "orphan" lamb we picked up at a bird auction on the weekend. I would love to hear from anyone who has bottle-raised lambs before, specifically for anyone who has raised neglected bottle babies before.

We have been told "Billy" is 2 weeks old, WAY too young to be off his mom.
He's also very small. He started off at no more then 20lbs and when we got him from the auction you could feel absolutely every single rib all the way down (you still can, but at least now he's got a full-belly too).

Guesses between the feed store/the sheep farmer I was talking to:
- he is a premie
- he is the runt of a triplet
- he may also be a small breed
- he is a ram and the farmer took no interest in his care

Considering he is INFESTED with Keds, something a reputable sheep farmer would never let run rampant in their herd, I’m starting to really wish we knew where he came from, if for no other reason then to call the ospca. There is really no excuse for his condition, the poor thing came to us with ever single rib sticking out under his wool. (I’m a little pissed after seeing all those happy/healthy lambs down the road yesterday!!).

So he is VERY underweight so we are bringing his feeding up really slowly so he doesn't bloat. We started off with him eating 50-80ml a feed for about 400ml the first day :S (and that was all his little stomach could handle). He's not up to about 200ml a feeding for around 800ml a day. Still a long way off from what he should be eating, but we're getting there!

The feed store woman led me to a older sheep farmer around the corner from us so I had a little visit yesterday morning morning, picked up some creeper for Billy*, and got some really good advice! (*The feed store wouldn’t sell it to us since it was $60 a bag and there was no way he was going to eat that much before it went bad - how is that for amazing people?? Plus the farmer gave it to me for free!). So Billy is getting a little bit of corn/soybean meal. He's not too keen, but he will eat it out of my hand  not the bucket. I have been mixing a little corn-syrup in to make it sweet and yummy.

He's not getting any hay yet, but we're giving him all the lawn he wants to eat. Plus at night (or right now because it's about to storm) he's getting a few handfuls of pulled grass & clover he sort of munches at. I didn't want to put him on alfalfa right away, I'm sure that would make him sick! But he'll be on hay by the end of this week. Probably only a 1/4 flake at first. He really only nibbles at the grass so he's getting a few mouth-fulls every hour.

He's been limping but I think it's an abscess or a bruise

He was COVERED in keds, GROSS! I picked the big suckers off and doused him with powder (which is why he's a little off-black in that video). The feed store also didn’t want to sell us wormer for him since it was $140/container and we need one dose… so Billy has been doused with the tick powder I actually already had at home (Duh! It even says “kills sheep keds” right on it!), it was left here when we moved in, so not sure how old it is, but hopefully it’s gonna work!

We think he *may* be a Jacobs, JacobsX because he's got two huge horns growing out front and may possibly have some side-horns slowly growing in. He's also got the colouring/disposition.

Billy does still have his tail, the farmer was telling me banding a tail should be done at 3 days and he’s got quite a few that have tails because they just didn’t get around to it in time. It’s fine. The only problem is that they get poop build up on their bums because of their tails. Billy is a bottle-baby so if he gets a gunky bum I’m going to notice and clean it :).

We just moved into our hobby farm 2 weeks ago so our animals haven't arrived yet. So Billy is sleeping in the garage until the barn fills up. Just seemed like leaving one little lamb in the barn all by himself would be a dinner bell for the coyotes! He'll be sleeping out in the barn as soon as this weekend, (depending on how things go) hopefully I can find some more sheep/goats to keep him company too.

Because everyone asks me:
We have no real plans for Billy except to give him a forever pet-home here.
Not sure yet if we are going to have him wethered or not (probably will), but I am teaching him proper manners. As cute and cuddly as he is right now I don't want a 100lb hormonal creature with giant horns thinking he's a pocket pet! We'll make a decision about that once he's got some weight on him in a few weeks.

Any suggestions/experience/etc. would be much appreciated!
I've worked around horses but this is my first sheep-experience!