Saturday, September 10, 2011

Fly Mask Info

There are lots of stories floating around the horse world about non-equiestrians calling the ASPCA because someone has blinded all their horses and put them out in the field. I've even been asked a few times.

Megs modeling here no-ears variety
Maddie does have covered ears on his mask.
Fly masks keep the flies off the horses face, but they are as see-through as sunglasses for people. Some have ears on the mask, and these are usually very long giving your horse a very strange appearance. Some have funny faces on them.

My guys go out in their fly masks every day during the summer, except if it's going to rain. When it's rainy or dark, combined with the fly masks you can be inadvertently actually blinding your horses. 

Only under special circumstances (blind-ness, eye-injury, sever sun reaction) should a horse be wearing a fly-mask outside at night, and you've got to make sure your paddocks are very safe. All fly masks should come with straps that can release if the horse gets hung up.

A bane for owners who have their horses out with others who enjoy taking off their friends fly masks for entertainment purposes!
(In which case a doubled velcro strap usually puts and end to the shenanigans)

Friday, September 9, 2011

Pastured to Perfection

Because of the small flock growers laws (grrrr!!) I can't, for instance, put an ad online saying we've got chicken to sell. So when we ordered our first birds we only got 50 because (1) this was our first time doing it and I knew we might mess up (and we did!!) (2) because that was enough for our family for a year and we weren't sure we'd find enough 'customers' for the rest of the birds.

It's amazing who comes out of the wood-work when they find out you've got meat birds. Despite the set-backs we've had with these birds, it makes me feel pretty darn good to hear there is a market for what we're producing!

One of hubby's friends drives past frequently (which is why I really need to stop wearing my PJs to feed in the morning...) and in conversation asked my husband about the meat birds saying "Are you selling any? Those birds out in the field in front of your house? I've seen them! I want some!!"

For the record we actually have none to sell at all right now, in fact we're trying to see if it's feasable to procure any more (most of the hatcheries don't sell birds for the winter) to raise under lights in the barn or something. Come Spring, and once we've got the worming thing sorted out (!!), we'll definitely be getting many more birds for next summer!

Quote of the day

"I understand me, and that's all that really matters" - Mr. Howie Mandel.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The new feed room

After their last break-in to the feed bins we had to do something to keep the goats out of the feed. It costs us money in spoiled/spilled feed and it's very bad for the goats.

So we converted the old grain room into a tack/feed room. I don't know why I didn't think of this sooner!
As with everything else, it was a big job. Still filled with lots of junk and old feed, had to clear that all out so we could use this space.
The best part about the old grain room is that is that the room is covered in steel all over the walls to keep the mice out! So I now have a mouse-proof feed/tack room!

This was not as dirty of a clean up as most of the other spaces. The old feed was easy to remove. The wood siding that was placed on the floor, thankfully, wasn't covering anything up! I think they just put it down because it is slick & easy to move the feed over.
Some of them did, but we're
not sure all these windows came
off the house

We are keeping all these old windows to re-use them into a recycled window green-house in the future! Very excited for that project, but it probably wont' happen for quite awhile.

The grain chute
We're going to try and put a door into the main part of the barn in the back of the feed/tack room. That was you don't have to walk through the snow/rain when feeding. 

Because it was our project, when repairing the side of the wall here, we went to 'well this is great, but how can we make it awesome?' and hubby installed the window. It looks into the loft, so we don't get too much light, but just enough that you can see to feed without turning the light on.

Hubby still has to do the electrical, we'll have a few lights and some plugs. I don't think we're going to be able to insulate because of the amount of space, but I do have plans for paint. Including adding a painted on black-board to one side.
Still lots more work to do to organize the feed/tack; but for now everything can have a place (which makes me very happy) and the goats can't get into the feed any more!

The goats are not pleased.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Loft

The purpose of a loft in a barn is to provide storage for hay and straw. If you aren't going to use it for storage, leaving down some old hay or straw will provide a nice thick layer of insulation for the horses underneath.

When this is a bad idea, is when you've let the hay build up over 2', and over time small leaks develop in the roof. So the now the wet hay/stray is holding all that moisture against the very old boards; and the boards all start rotting out.

I am terrified of heights
This was NOT fun
In the back corner, you can see
how rotten the boards were getting
The way to fix this is not by throwing more boards on top of the old ones then piling more hay/straw on top.

This resulted in a month long job for me, removing the old hay and repairing the boards. For reasons I can't understand, none of the boards were nailed or screwed down. I'd love to hear from anyone who has any idea why this might be. I used 3" deck screws to attach every board to every single support beam it went over top of.
Still needs some clean up
but so much more open!

Most of the reason I wanted to remove all the hay/straw was so that I could make sure there was something sturdy to walk on, but also to improve air quality in the barn. All that very old hay/straw was very very dusty and was holding a lot of dust and spider webs against the ceilings in the barn. I've improved the air quality a great deal in the barn, but we'll have to wait and see how cold it gets. If we find it's too cold I'll move firm bales up onto the loft and perhaps in the future we'll spray-foam.

Only half-way done
I have left some gaps against the very end of the barn, mostly because I ran out of usable boards, partially for the air-flow and to make this low part of the barn feel as open as the front does. The entry way into this part of the barn is already very small and squishy (really it's too small to safely move a horse through), by removing the loft above it, that whole area feels much less claustrophobic. I do need to build a bridge of some sort in the loft so I can get from one half to the other.

About 80% of what came out
of the loft
We're still going to use all the old hay/straw from up here to bed the goats for the winter. Especially after being thrown down below most of the dust has separated. I removed any wet/moldy bits, but mostly it was just the wood that was rotten, not the hay/straw.

I wore a good quality respirator to clean all this up, very important since you can get round-worms by inhaling dust from raccoon poo. Also because of all the dust and mold from the hay being here for years and years. I only chose nice sunny days when all the animals were outside, which also meant it was stinking hot up there!! And I didn't allow anyone in the barn for any reason with out a respirator as well.

At the end of the day, I'm pretty darn proud of myself! Worked through my fear of plummeting onto the concrete floor below, and only actually fell through once (not to the floor, I was hanging on at the time). The floor in the loft is still a little precarious, the spans between the support beams are too far by today's standard. I don't think there is a way to fix that so we're going to leave this as a "non-usable" loft.  So happy to have gotten this fixed before winter!
The almost finished loft above the horses
I'm leaving the cow-side for next year.

Chicken FAIL

I understand that most people don't make back their money on their first round of meat birds, because of the beginner mistakes you make; but I was sure, SURE that I had read up enough, and figured this all out and that wasn't going to happen to us. Not.

Consulted with the processor yesterday afternoon and it's most likely our birds have roundworm. Apparently it's been a really bad year for the worms & that's why they haven't gained any weight. We've sunk all our money into feeding worms, not chickens.

So as soon as we worm they should gain some weight, of course the feed store just ran out! I gave them some D.E. with dinner and we'll go with the commercial wormer as soon as it's in.

I don't know how long roundworm can last in the soil, considering there haven't been animals on the land for years, before us; this really caught me by surprise!

Still feels like a bit of a failure in my part, but we've learned a good lesson! Just glad we started out with 50 meat birds instead of 100 or more!! These birds better be tasty 'cause they were expensive!

Everyone is getting a round of de-worming including the dogs & cats. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

KSCC: Sewn Knitting-Needle Holder

I wish I had the link to the page that had inspired me to do this. I started on this project probably 2 years ago now. I'm not great at finishing projects in a reasonable time frame, but I sure do love to start new ones! With a quiet rainy day and only our littlest son to sit behind me on the chair while I sewed, I managed to knock this project off my list.

It's fairly simple, I started with a big piece of old jean for the back. You'll probably notice the holder is not a perfect square, it follows the taper of the leg. I did this so that when you rolled it, the most outside piece would be the longest; so that it looked neat all rolled up (not with uneven bits sticking out).

For the pocket-part I chose a piece of fabric to attach to the jean, and created a pocket on the front. Then I ran my machine along the front of the pocket to create many smaller pockets. If I was going to do this project again, I would dart the small pockets like a pleat, so that there is more room in each one for the needles. 

I've had this fabric for years. I love it enough I've always wanted to do something little and fun like this, but don't love it enough for curtains (for instance). It's perfect here! There isn't any padding or anything in the holder, just the fabric. It still nice and fairly heavy-weight because of the jean.

I added another piece of fabric (sewn together so that there are two good sides) onto the top to keep the needles in when the holder is moved around. Then I simply created some ribbon with extra fabric to close it!

Any beginner sewer could accomplish this, it's mostly making a complicated pillow case! It probably would have taken me an afternoon to finish if I could ever find an entire afternoon for one project.

I'm going to have to make something else to hold my circular needles, and I'd like to make a second holder for my small sets of double pointed needles.

Given a few more weeks of life

Supposed to be going in next Monday!

Had to call the processor this morning to hold up the end-date for the birds (should have called sooner really). The meat birds are still really small, we've got them ranging around the paddocks and they're feeder is full at all times (unless the goats get in there again); but they just haven't gained enough weight.

I'm really starting to wonder if there was a mix up and we have layers now...

Monday, September 5, 2011

Chicken Coop Cleanup!

That's not smoke!
It's dust!

  The small & cramped feel in the coop, not to mention the dust! Has been driving me crazy since we moved in. Removing the "ceiling" was a huge job and I've been putting it off for months. If I had to do it again I would have done it before we brought in any more chickens, so that I could have done it over 2 days.
Just some of the garbage.
I filled 5 large garbage bags.

Over the years previous owners have shoved feed bags and chicken boxes and garbage up onto the ceiling. A great way to avoid paying for bag tags, but a HUGE mess for me to clean up!

Really surprised I didn't find any
live mice up here!

Not only were all the feed bags holding tons of dust and dander from the chickens, but they were also making a very nice home for mice!! Because they carry disease, soil feed, and eat chicken eggs/chicks you don't want to keep mice & rats in your coop!!

Muscovy ducks are known for their
taste for rodent meat.
I'd still rather keep the mice out altogether.
Wore my respirator to do the clean up but I'm still coughing up dust. It was a terrible nasty job, but at least it's done and not bothering me any more!

Took the time to clean out the whole coop
for the winter too, so I laid down new straw.

We may have some heat problems in the coop this winter now, I'm not sure yet what we're going to do. We are planning on building a solar pop-can heater as well as the brooder lamps. Perhaps we'll find an innovative way to insulate the coop too! 

Radio Listening for your Monday

While crawling around in the very dirty, dusty and hot loft Sunday afternoon (which I'll get into soon) I, as usual, had CBC on while I worked. Tapestry is not something I normally enjoy listening too. I'm not going to bring religion into a blog about our hobby farm, but Tapestry is a program examining religion and culture.

This episode not only fit into what I happened to be doing at that very moment, but was absolutely enthralling.

The episode is called "Dominion" and it exams the relationship between animals, religion, and our human responsibilities. It starts off talking about a Ministry of Animals, then a Presbyterian minister about whether or not animals have souls. Then they went to a Halal Slaughterhouse, not all that far from us, the men who run the abattoir have an inspiring respect for the animals that pass through their doors. Hearing them has furthered my desire to learn to process our chickens myself, and see them come to the most humane ending possible. The episodes ends with an amazing whale story, which absolutely must be heard.

My favourite quote from the episode was definitely:

"What do you feed a cat?
Cat food.
What do you feed  a dog? 
Dog food.

Who do you feed junk food?"

Highly recommended listening!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Goodbye Henny

Sad news from the farm today, Henny has taken ill. I'm not sure what is wrong with her but when I found her in the goat's stall this morning she couldn't walk a straight line, or get her head up off her chest.

For now she's found a nice quiet spot, I made sure she's has food & water close by and she's enjoying her last day. If she's still unable to stand by tonight we'll have to make sure she's not suffering.

We don't actually know how old Henny is (she came with the house) so this may simply be the end of a long life. I am going to miss her though. We'll definitely have to get more Delewares in the future, she's got a lovely disposition for not being a tame chicken.

Henny (left) and Penny (right)