After last week’s allergy attack, I was a little nervous about today’s chicken slaughter. This time I did the smart thing and grabbed a paper mask which made a world of difference. I still felt a little congested and sneezy after, but nothing compared to last week. It also likely helped that we only caught 50 chickens instead of 105.
We started with the first broiler house which only had about 20 chickens left after last week’s slaughter. Twenty chickens and Bob. After we’d nabbed all the broilers, Ryan tried to put Bob over with the other sheep, but she came right back under the fence and proceeded to chase the 4-wheelers as we drove away with her friends, bleating the whole time. It was one of the most pathetic things I’ve ever seen.
This was a problem. We didn’t want to keep moving her from broiler house to broiler house every week, but she didn’t seem to fond of the sheep (and they didn’t seem to fond of her, either). What to do with a sad, reject lamb who thinks it’s a chicken? Put it with the layers! She’d still be with chickens, but ones that weren’t destined for someone’s dinner plate. We also thought having a similarly sized playmate might distract chicken-dog and keep her from killing chickens.
Brian and I chased Bob around the pasture for a few minutes before I finally grabbed her. She’s surprisingly quick for a gimp. I carried her down to the layer house and put her in and waited. Chicken dog ran to see what was going out, but as soon as she saw Bob inside her fence, she panicked. She cowered and whimpered. Bob did about the same. They sized each other up from a distance, each one jumping in fright whenever the other made any small movement. Before long, chicekn-dog decided Bob was not dangerous and began trying to play with her. Bob, on the other hand, still considered chicken-dog to be a terror and hobbled away as fast as she could. Eventually, she found a spot under the henhouse and that’s where she stayed all day. Chicken-dog quickly lost interest, but Bob hasn’t been bold enough to venture out. Hopefully by tomorrow she’ll have settled in to her new home.
Who needs cable TV when you have a farm full of mixed-up animals?
We also castrated piglets today. Brian caught them, I held them and Ryan emasculated them. It was a good system, though they aren’t nearly as cuddly as they look. In fact, once you have them they kind of freak out. There was a lot of kicking and squealing. Castrating piglets isn’t as easy as castrating calves, but they are smaller which does help. We generally tie the calves up and then Steve or I straddle them to hold them still for Ryan. With the piglets, I just held them up by their hind legs while he did what needed to be done.
Speaking of castrations, we finally got 107’s calf castrated and tagged. He is now calf 330. Momma is a tiny bit crazy so getting the two of them separated was tough. In the end Ryan lassoed him and carried him over to the other side of the fence while I kept 107 away. It’s easiest to work when you have a fence between you and Momma so you can focus on the calf and not worry about being head butted and trampled.
After work I headed down to Downingtown to check out the farmer’s market. It’s held every Thursday in Kerr Park from 3:00-7:00. I have missed farmer’s markets. Most are on weekends when I work so this one seemed perfect. It was cute, but super small. There were maybe 15 vendors. I was there for all of ten minutes. In Brooklyn I routinely spent an hour or more browsing the stalls. I’m not sure it was worth the 20 minute drive. Still, I like supporting the local food movement so I think I may start planning my weekly grocery trip for Thursday evenings. I don’t think I can justify a trip to Downingtown just for the market.
I must say, between catching chickens, Bob’s adventures, piglet castrations and lassoing calves, it was a pretty full and fun day. More fun than I ever had sitting in an office!