On the Farm Lately

I was looking through my last few posts and realized I’ve barely talked about things on the farm! I’ve also been neglecting Instagram. My apologies all around.

Life without Baab is sad. Every time I go up to see the chickens I expect her to come running, but she is gone. I still have Chicken-dog, but she’s just as much of a mess as ever. We’ve gone back to muzzling her at night because she was, once again, killing chickens. She doesn’t eat them and it doesn’t seem to be a territorial/aggressive thing. Honestly, I think she’s bored. She probably just tries to play with them and doesn’t realize she’s a 100+ lb. dog and they are just 5 lb. birds. It’s all fun and games until somebody breaks their neck, right? She is much calmer with the muzzle on and hasn’t killed any chickens since we started using it again.

Unfortunately, I am the only one Chicken-dog likes. She is very skeptical of Ryan and Steve. When they get out the muzzle, she runs and they have to chase her. When I get it out, she comes to me and hangs her head and looks at me with the most pathetic puppy eyes you’ve ever seen. You’d think I’d killed her best friend. Oh right…Baab…

Anyway, all is forgotten by the next morning when I take the muzzle off and she loves me just as much as she did the day before. We also got her one of those Kong toys and she absolutely loves it. She has no idea what to do with it and is the worst retriever in the world, but she is fascinated by the thing.

She did have a rather exciting day on Wednesday. We got 200 more pullets. If at first you don’t succeed, try again, right? The old flock is fenced in to a corner of one of the pastures. They’ll stay there for the winter. We set up another fenced-in section adjacent to the old flock and put the new chickens in there. Each group has a coop for shelter and roosting and they can see each other through the fence, but the older birds can’t get to the younger ones. We’ll leave them like this for a bit so they can get acquainted. Eventually we’ll remove the dividing fence and after that we’ll remove the smaller coop. By that point they should have the pecking order all sorted out and be able to cohabitate peacefully.

Little calf no. 67 is still alive, though still not well. She’d been doing better so we put her back out with the other calves, but she started to go backwards. It may have just been too much trying to get food and water with so many other calves around. She’s back in the barn for now and seems much happier. We didn’t even have to chase her. As soon as Ryan opened up the gate she walked right back into her pen and has been much happier. Maybe she just likes all the special attention. I’m still pulling for her.

These days most of our time is spent feeding the animals and making sure they stay warm and dry. The various cattle groups all need hay. The cows get 3 bales a day, the calves 2, and the steers down at Lundale get two. That has to be done in 2 trips because the truck can only take one bale at a time. Ryan normally takes one down in the morning while Steve and I take care of things here. Then Ryan and I go back down after lunch with a 2nd bale. We’ll keep the steers down there until the new year and then bring them back to the farm with everyone else.

Cows stay warm on their own with their nice thick winter coats, but pigs don’t have such luxuries. They stay warm by huddling in sheltered places. All of the pig pens have pig huts, even the breeding runs. Every few days we have to fill these huts with more straw to keep them nice and dry. I was putting straw into one of the huts in the breeding runs and Louise and Gertrude were very sweet and tried to help. They’d grab mouthfuls of straw and take them into the hut. After a few trips they got bored and decided to take a nap…in the hut! But I still had a half a bale of straw to put down. They ended up with a nice thick blanket of straw on top of them. Maybe that’s what they wanted all along! Pigs are silly.

A question for all you readers, specifically parents and people who work with kids: How do you explain to kids where meat comes from? I realize all children are unique, but roughly what age is this conversation appropriate? This was one of the hardest parts of giving farm tours. A kid would ask a question about one of our animals and I’d have to explain that Bessie would eventually become a burger. ¬†How do you do this without traumatizing anyone?

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