Dirty Boots

Remember these boots? I got them on Wednesday after the two pairs I brought failed me on my first day.

So pretty and clean!

So pretty and clean!

Here they are 48 hours later:

20130315_0001In case you were wondering that isn’t mud. It’s cow manure. But I’ll come back to that.

After we found the dead piglet on Wednesday, Ryan noticed another one was looking sickly. It was still active, but had the runs and was losing weight. This morning he decided we needed to treat it. Which meant we had to catch it. Easier said than done.

There are 15-20 piglets in a good-sized run, along with a few sows and four three goats. In the run are 3 huts where the animals can sleep if it gets too cold. The piglet we wanted wasn’t up by the feeder and wasn’t out in the pen so we knew it had to be in one of the huts which actually made things easier. We found it in the 2nd hut. We trapped it inside and Ryan tackled and held it while I gave it the shots.* Yep, I gave a pig a shot. Two shots. Just call me Dr. Doolittle.

After that I went to collect the eggs and get them ready for market. Chickens are gross and poop all over everything, including their own eggs, so the eggs have to be thoroughly washed before being boxed up for the market. While I was doing that, Ryan and Steve caught one of the goats which we’ll send off to the slaughterhouse this weekend. I was a little bummed I didn’t get to help. There was lassoing involved. But there are still 3 goats left and I’ve got 51 weeks!

Along with the goat we had to catch 2 pigs (no lasso required) and I did get to help with that. It was a little anti-climatic compared to what I’d been anticipating for the goat. The pig feeder is in a small pen. Normally the gate is open so they can come and go as they want, but once we got the two in that we wanted, we closed the gate, brought in a crate with the skid steer and forced the pigs into the crate. That was that.

Getting back to my manure-covered boots: we needed to catalogue all the cows. Each cow has a number tag on its ear. I’m not sure why, but there isn’t actually a master list of all the cows. They recently switched tracking software and I think the list may have gotten lost or maybe there was never one to begin with. Who knows! The point is, we had to get an ID on each cow along with the color of the animal (red or black). This meant wading out into the cow pen and chasing around 80 or so cows. In the spring, summer and fall the cows are out to pasture, but in the winter they stay in the barn and adjoining pen for safety, warmth and feeding purposes. It’s a large area, but 80 cows in a confined space for 4+ months are going to make a mess of things. My boots are the proof .

Once all the cows were accounted for, we had to tag the newest calf. He wasn’t too happy about it, but once it was over he was fine. The hardest part, as is proving to be the case with all the animals, was catching him!

After that it was chores as usual. We fed and watered all the animals and got things ready for the weekend. Typically the farm hands have Saturday and Sunday off. Since there are still daily chores to be done (mostly feeding and watering), Ryan and Steve rotate weekends. Luckily, the chores only take a few hours so they are generally done by lunch. My schedule is a little different. I’ll be working Saturdays and Sundays, but on the market/customer relations side of things. The plan is for me to give tours and help educate customers about how the farm operates. So if you have any questions or if there are things you’d like to know about the farm, let me know! It will give me ideas of what to write about here and what to tell people who come to visit.

Highlight of the day: feeding the baby lamb.



*I know the use of antibiotics in animal husbandry can be controversial and I will do a whole post on why and how Wyebrook uses medications with the animals.

2 thoughts on “Dirty Boots

  1. “Awwww” – that’s exactly what I said when I saw the lamb!
    How do you tell the piglets apart? Was the sick one significantly thinner?

    • Yes, he was very thin and hanging back from the pack. They are also all tagged so they’ve basically got an ear piercing with a number on it. So if you see one looking sick, you note which number it is so you can check up on it from day to day.

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