Human: 25, Chickens: 0

Today was chicken moving day.  The “baby” Rhode Island Reds aren’t so “baby” anymore, so it was time to move them from the peep coop (where there’s a heat lamp to keep chicks warm) across the driveway to the chicken … Continue reading

Today was chicken moving day.  The “baby” Rhode Island Reds aren’t so “baby” anymore, so it was time to move them from the peep coop (where there’s a heat lamp to keep chicks warm) across the driveway to the chicken coop with the rest of our Speckled Sussex hens.  Because the peep coop is a pretty confined space, especially since we have 1/4 of it partitioned off for storage, I thought one human could do the job quicker than two, and with less bumping into each other.

Chickens like to huddle when they are nervous (which is most of the time, I think), so the first load was pretty easy to catch.  Grab by the leg, turn upside down, and you’re ready to go.  Do this 3 times (2 if the chickens are larger) and you have a nice handful of chickens to move.  But after the 3 I was holding started squawking, all bets were off.  Now the game was scatter to wherever the big scary human is not, as fast as your chicken legs can move you.

It really only took abut 20 minutes to move them – mostly 3 at a time, sometimes 2.  Sarah (the dog) only tried to bite at them once (we have been trying to cure her of chicken eating – it’s been mostly successful), and none of them had a chicken heart attack during the move.

They are now checking out their new digs, and I got “what the heck is this” looks from the Sussex hens (they don’t play well with others) during the process.  Hopefully, today the Reds will figure out about going outside/pecking around in the grass, and then in a few months, the eggs start coming.

A piano, which at this time, has no name.

http://edition.cnn.com/2011/US/01/26/mystery.piano/?hpt=C2 So how does a grand piano end up on a sandbar in Florida?  I have no idea, but I think it’s pretty cool that they aren’t going to move it. Makes me want to look around for hidden cameras and such.

http://edition.cnn.com/2011/US/01/26/mystery.piano/?hpt=C2

So how does a grand piano end up on a sandbar in Florida?  I have no idea, but I think it’s pretty cool that they aren’t going to move it.

Makes me want to look around for hidden cameras and such.

Breakfast

This is what our winter eggs look like.  There is a difference in the yolk color between cold weather eggs and warm weather eggs due to what the chickens are eating. Mmmmm, fresh eggs and home-made sourdough toast….don’t worry, there … Continue reading

This is what our winter eggs look like.  There is a difference in the yolk color between cold weather eggs and warm weather eggs due to what the chickens are eating.

Mmmmm, fresh eggs and home-made sourdough toast….don’t worry, there is a cup of our coffee, too!

It’s all fun and games until the wheel falls off

Ok, maybe I’m being a little dramatic, but it’s hard to feed cattle when the only tractor we have that can move bales develops a flat tire–probably a broken bead due to the unforgiving frozen terrain of the barnyard. Of course, that whole event started because our bale wagon has been frozen to the ground […]

Ok, maybe I’m being a little dramatic, but it’s hard to feed cattle when the only tractor we have that can move bales develops a flat tire–probably a broken bead due to the unforgiving frozen terrain of the barnyard. Of course, that whole event started because our bale wagon has been frozen to the ground for two weeks.

The flat tire event precipitated two hours of breaking apart round bales stored in the barn by hand and throwing them down into the mangers I repaired over the summer. Let me tell you how much fun 3000 pounds of hay is…

There is a moral to this story, though, that is more than complaining about things going wrong.

First, there is the moral of always be ready to improvise. Contrary to the popular idea, improvisation is more than just figuring a solution on the fly. Sometimes, it means having a plan ahead of time (like having hay in the barn and mangers that can hold it) and thinking about what could go wrong.

Second, there is the moral of learning from one’s mistakes. Having gotten the bale wagon stuck, I now have a whole new plan for how to place said wagon in the coming year so that it doesn’t get stuck.

Third, there is the moral of having the right equipment for the job. Our little Kubota is an amazing tractor, but we’re beating her up moving 7,500 pounds of hay every three or four days. It’s good to do things as inexpensively as possible, but don’t incapacitate yourself by underdoing what needs to be done.

Adapt, improvise, overcome: the morals of the sustainable farm.

DLH

Gates should be vertical, right?

Feeding the animals in the morning is not typically that big of a deal.  Let the chickens out of the coop, check their food and water.  Check the bale wagon and see if we’re going to need to move hay … Continue reading

Feeding the animals in the morning is not typically that big of a deal.  Let the chickens out of the coop, check their food and water.  Check the bale wagon and see if we’re going to need to move hay bales for the cows, then give them a little grain.  Feed the barn cats, give some grain and hay to the horses (hay which they will then toss out of the manger onto the barn floor), then off across the farm to where the goats are, carrying water and grain.  But sometimes the animals “decide” that the normal routine is a little too boring.

This morning was one of those “it’s too boring” mornings.

Usually I don’t take the morning feeding because of my teaching job, but we were on a 2-hour delay, so I volunteered.  Chickens, no problem.  Cats, fed.  Cows and horses – there’s where the problem started.  I filled up the grain bucket and dumped it into the feeders, then turned to go to the horse area.  The horses, however, were in the cow area and there were some cows (including the bull) and calves watching me from the horse pasture.  And the gate between the two areas was on the ground.  Great.  Seeing the cows eating grain, the two horses made a beeline to the feeders, scattering cows on their way through.  I hopped into the horse feeding area, moved the gate and started herding unwilling cows back into their area.  Let me tell you how easy it is to herd calves – remember the cat-herding commercial from the Superbowl a few years ago?  Pretty accurate!  Everyone did get back to their proper areas, I didn’t twist or break my ankle in the frozen muck, the gate was rehung and latched, and life is now good.

Just got the call that my school is closed for the day due to the icy conditions – life just got a little better (even though we’ll have to make this day up later!).

Staying the course, or farming goals for 2010

As I mentioned previously, I give myself a D+ for the past year’s effort. That means there’s still a long way to go, so the goal for this year is to stay the course with what I am already doing. Staying the course means resisting the temptation to add more when what I am already […]

As I mentioned previously, I give myself a D+ for the past year’s effort. That means there’s still a long way to go, so the goal for this year is to stay the course with what I am already doing.

Staying the course means resisting the temptation to add more when what I am already doing is not quite working yet. I have a lot of ideas I would like to try, but before I do, I want the stuff I’ve already started to work.

To that end, I will be focusing on the following efforts this year:

My hope is that, by the end of this year, I can improve my grade to at least a C+ and have something to show for it too. Keep reading on this site for updates.

DLH