Saturday, September 3, 2011

Angel Wings

The ducklings as a few months old
Sometimes ducks and geese develop a condition known as "angel wings" where their wings tips will point outwards from their bodies. Know one seems to be very sure what causes it, either genetics or maybe too much protein in the feed. Either way, as we learned, it can also just be a growth spurt.

It didn't slow her down!
Dewie developed a problem where her wings were dipping as her feathers grew in. It did look a lot like angel wings but instead of carrying through with the treatment (which involves wrapping the duck's wings while they are still growing) I left it alone and watched very careful. Her wings became more and more normal as the days went by so I was sure it wasn't angle wings.

Getting better week by week
You'd never know she'd had a problem!
The wings have grown completely normally. 
When choosing to interfere or not you have to consider how much stress you are going to cause the birds. As well as the fact that you are going to restrict the muscle growth in the wings. Both of these lead me to the conclusion not to act on what was a minor cosmetic detail. If it was been more sever I would have wrapped her wings.

Now we just need to come up with a new name. She's definitely female so I don't think we're keeping the 'Dewie'

Friday, September 2, 2011

HK 101: Is my equine professional a real professional?

New or seasoned, many people in the horse world have been 'scammed' in one way or another. Your guess is as good as mine as to why this is so prevalent. Perhaps it is the love for these great creatures that blinds us, perhaps it is the mystery in their ways.

There are far clearer reasons as to why there are people that scam. There is a great deal of money to be made in horses for those willing to work hard; and most people who own horses have money to spare and are used to handing it over.

The best way to protect yourself is education. If you're just wanting to get into horses, before you start looking for an instructor, read. There are hundred of amazing books, online articles, magazines, about horses. You can start as simple as the Wikipedia entry to get the basic terminology and let your mind expand from there.

The second way is reputation. Almost everyone leaves a trail, good or bad. You can't be swayed by one experience either way, but if you ask around and find x trainer or vet so-and-so has left a number of unhappy clients behind them, you know to stay away.

If you're new to horses you probably don't know anyone to ask, so please, let me offer you some little warning lights to watch for:

Thursday, September 1, 2011

HK 101: What's in my stall? What isn't?

A horses stall needs to be a very safe place for them. Inside a little box is a pretty unnatural place for a horse to be, and although most learn to live in a stall, if something scares them for any reason those natural instincts kick in and some serious injuries can result.

Don't assume because you know horses you know how to build. I have seen some of the worst stalls build by horse-people! Some bad by construction people that are not horse people too. Consult someone who has built horse stalls before and does know what they are doing. You don't want to build something that looks pretty but is going to explode the moment an angry horse kicks the wall because his dinner is late.

Baler Twine

There are lots of reason why you should never leave baler twine to float around your property. This one left by previous owners met our lawn mower.

I don't let the string go out in the manure pile, since hopefully some day we'll be spreading that somewhere. If you want to save them, tie them in a huge bundle or have a special bag hung up just for them (they do have a million uses on the farm).

Hubby did not appreciate my joke about having prop fouled the mower...

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

HK 101: Nutrition

Equine nutrition is a science, but it's also a little bit art. Balancing what feeds are available to you, with the caloric needs of your horse and costs. Nutrition isn't really my strong suite so I'm happy to defer to the experts, and there are many excellent articles on the 'net.

I can, however, provide a basic over-view of what we do with our animals. If you're new to horse-keeping you should really consult your veterinarian, or local feed store owner.

Rain water

Love this feature of the barn! Along the line someone has run the eaves trough so they run all along the front of the barn, down the slope of the run-in portion & into the field!

All we had to do was pop the water tank underneath and voila! We had a fairly light 5 minute shower yesterday and it still filled up half the tank. Hubby has since added an extender piece to the eaves so we can move the tank a little farther back from the gate.

We're going to have to do this to the back-side of the barn as well.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

HK 101: Costs

Horses are expensive. They are expensive and accident prone, and if you do not keep up with the small routine things you will cause huge problems down the road. Every short-cut when it comes to horses, leads to big money down the road. 

Goats are Trouble

Spent most of yesterday fixing up the front field fence (well... I supervised while hubby did it!) and they still managed to get out! And into the horse feed...
That was Maddie's Fat 'n Fibre
Still fed the stuff off the concrete
but everything mixed into the dirt
is garbage.

We love the guys over at Rooney's Feeds! They've been very helpful with all our supply/farm needs; but they've also given us a lot of really good advice. Although I think we've given them a few good stories to tell too! Hubs had to run in this morning and get some more feed for Maddie, he also asked the owner what to do about the darn goats.

Apparently, goat farmers will just pop their goat's stomachs with a knife to release the air from the bloat... The feed-store owner suggested the bloat eze would probably be a better solution for us!

The less messy option

Horse feed can actually kill sheep because of the copper content and it's not good for the goats. So spending today cleaning out the old grain room, which we now realize we should have been using all along! It will be just perfect for the feed & tack.

The gang has been laying around most of the day, baaaing like the boys after Thanksgiving dinner.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Horse Keeping 101: Nes Style

Actual horse for sale in my area

Crap like this makes me so angry I can't see straight. There is NO excuse for the condition this horse is in.  And I sincerely wish it was the only one I'd seen of late.

And yeah there is always a sob story. Health excuses, money ran out, whatever.
I ran into my own bad experience with a lessee with whom things went well for 2 years until she decided to stop feeding my horse (thankfully the barn manager was a responsible, kind and caring woman who stepped in before too much harm was done). Know who I blame? MYSELF; and only myself for my putting my horse in that situation.
No she's not as bad as the horse in the top photo,
but it's different when it your own horse.
This is after 2 weeks back in real care.

That was the reason I had to bring my mare home. I never had a problem boarding her myself anywhere, but it is very expensive. To keep her at home costs me less then 2 months boarding and she gets the exact same feed & care.
I'm the first to admit our place is far from perfect. We havea lot more work to do. But my number one priority has always been the safety & health of everyone who lives on our property. I have been up in a hot, dusty, nasty, dangerous loft for the last 2 weeks because I want to my horses to breath clean air when they comes into the stalls. If you don't have that kind of love for your animals you have no place keeping them in your company.
I think everyone who has an interest should get into horses, it is a liberating, wonderful, accessible sport; but you must surround your self with real experts to guide and teach you. This can be very difficult when you're new to horses.
And so for the next few days I'd like to introduce: Horse Keeping 101: Nes Style
I swear, one day I will be in a position to help each horse like the one in the top  picture when I come across it. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but one day. For now I'll just settle for taking proper care of my own horses.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Something isn't working

It's very chilly today (well 15C is not chilly for a Canadian gal!) so we had to seperate Mr. No-Feathers from the rest of the chickens, he's freezing. So I decided to grab a few more of the smallest chickens (the ones we have to keep until the turkey go in, they are much too small) to keep him company in the barn. While deciding which ones to separate, I also decided to weigh a few.
My chicken scale covered in plastic wrap

Well... they are all way too small. 700g is not going to make it to the roughly 10lbs we need by early September!

Not sure what we've been doing wrong, but it must be something. They've been getting lots of food, but also running around all over the place (we have very healthy meat birds...). First time chicken keepers, looks like this is going to be our big mistake.

Mr. Ugly and the little guy bunch
(there are 3 all together, one not pictured)
So now, we're just going to have to try to fatten them up! And I have to call the processor to push back their date. Hopefully someone else who booked late will be eager to trade!

Mr. Roaster Rooster on the other hand is 1.5Kg; which is a decent weight for a mostly free-ranging dual-purpose bird.

We think born mid-may

I'm looking into it, but it's possible we/the hatchery/the feed store messed up and we have layers not meat chicks.