On November 15 it was our third year anniversary on our mini-farm. and on the 16th it was the first year anniversary with our sheep. We have come a long way since we first moved in.
We have created new gardens, birthed lambs, given vaccinations, canned tomatoes, stacked hay bales, picked apples, built fences, strung electric fencing, built roosts, killed chickens, picked straw out of my shirt, kneeled in poop, built some cool hayracks, and sooo much more. It ain’t pretty but it’s fun…and a hell of a lot of work.
Our neighbours still find us odd. Why would we want all those leaves? Are you going to do anything with that large water tank? Where did you want to put the greenhouse? What are those little things called? They were really good.
The next year will be another one of great adventure. Some of the things I foresee going on here include:
- actually applying Biodynamic preps
- the forest orchard should really begin to take shape
- our first home compost ready to spread
- getting some sort of greenhouse going
- finally using the large water tank at the side of the house
- breeding the sheep
- hatching our own chicks
- building a chicken tractor for our first meat birds
- building a chicken trailer
- learn how to shear sheep
- getting more herbs established
- growing a 600 pound pumpkin!
Whether all these get done is debatable. Many of these things are the last year’s unfinished projects. I am sure we won’t finish them all so they will move on too or they will be dropped. If they don’t get done then maybe they aren’t that important after all.
We are also finding out what it is we really like doing. I love having animals and desperately want more. If I could get twenty more sheep, two pigs, a horse, and a couple of ducks I would be thrilled. A bit too much to pack onto just over an acre, but if you don’t dream big, what’s the point?
Sad news really. The poor chicken that had been in intensive care did not make it. Her prolapse just kept getting worse. After two days of honey and the Preparation H it was not better. In fact it was getting worse. She was not happy.
On Sunday morning I went down to check on her and applied some more medication to in her vent. When I saw her she had re-prolapsed. I picked her up, turned her upside down and proceeded to apply the Prep-H. She was not happy and it seemed to hurt. That m ade me worry that she may have an egg forming and I was not sure that she would get it out.
After applying the Prep-H she was put back and watched. Within about 20 seconds she prolapsed again. At that point I gave a big sigh and knew there was nothing we could do.
It was a beautiful day out, sunny and 16. It was decided that it was nicer for her to spend her last day scratching with her flock instead of in a basement.
We had chicken for dinner last night. Tim did the deed this time, and was very good at it. Being a drummer has benefits beyond the drum kit. Dinner was tiny but very good. thank you chookie!
Having animals ensures there is never a dull moment. Many people are familiar with the needs and common ailments of cats and dogs. Somewhat fewer are aware of the needs of small fuzzy hamster-like creatures. A select few educate themselves in regards to reptiles, amphibians, and other cold-blooded wonders. Often if anything goes wrong the animal care-giver brings the poor creature to a vet to help it out.
Farming is a bit different. I have learned this today. It has been a long day.
Prolapsed vent on one of our chickens.
It started a couple of days ago when I noticed that one of our chickens was looking a little worse for wear. She is a bit smaller than the others and the gland at the base of her tail was dirty as was her behind. This had seemed to come on quite suddenly. The day before last I also found an egg that had some blood on it.Well this morning I manage to catch her as she was coming out of the coop. I picked her up, turned her upside down and low and behold; she had prolapsed.
I have seen this in magazines and hoped that I would not have to deal with such a problem. At least not yet in my young chicken keeping career. This was not to be, I was not staring an obvious prolapsed vent right in the behind so to speak. I needed to go to the computer.
An hour later I had amassed a fair bit of information of how to treat this. You see, if you have livestock on a small scale using a vet really isn’t an option, and they often don’t know how to deal with a single animal. Chicken are generally kept in huge barns of 10,000+ so one little chicken is often not a problem. If a vet does happen to actually see this the first stream of action is to put the poor thing down. I found different and helpful information on-line. There are a number of resources for novice and experienced chicken keepers alike; thecitychicken.com, backyardchickens.com, mypetchicken.com, theaccidentalsmallholder.net among others. I found out things I never imagined to treat our poor pullet. The causes for this are numerous and I really don’t know why it has happened to her. She is well over 20 weeks, they have the run of a very large paddock and pen so calcium shouldn’t be an issue, and there is plenty of food accessible. Some preventative measures have been taken regardless; such as putting out oyster shells to increase calcium consumption just in case.
The basic information on how to treat a chicken’s prolapsed vent is as follows:
- set up chicken isolation unit
- catch chicken
- wash chicken behind
- have honey ready to apply to prolapse
- insert honey loaded finger into vent carefully
- push vent back in and make sure interior passage is coated with honey
- give some raw apple cider vinegar to chicken to boost immune system
- keep in the dark to attempt prevention of laying
Well this has been a large part of my day minus the apple cider vinegar. I cset up a pen in the basement using our dog Beauty’s old dog cage, caught her, bathed her, pushed the prolapse in with honey and put her in her new home. I have put back her innards again this evening. Hopefully she will be okay, but I suspect that killing cone and knife will come in handy that I ordered from Berryhill. No one ever said being self sufficient was pretty.
Over the weekend we struck another pre-winter job off of the list. There is finally a hay rack in the barn. This doesn’t mean that the woolies haven’t been eating for the last year. No there has been a number of incarnations of feed methods.
The Hay net
First was the hay net.This worked well but was fussy to constantly change especially when our wonderful neighbour was livestock sitting. It was fussy and awkward.
Next was a strange wire, contraption that we thought would work. It was a wire sling between two pieces of wood fixed with some screws and a number of tie wraps. It worked for a while, but as the woolies pulled at it more the more it bent and just got weird. Then a hen started laying in it. This was no good for winter.
Kind of like the rack we built.
So last weekend we managed to cobble together a hay rack. At first we have a really great plan. It looked great. I made the first box for it, took it into the barn and realized that I was on the completely wrong track. So I backed up and started again. Slowly the rack took form. I suppose it is based on a traditional design (is there any other) and one that already exists in the barn originally made for rabbits that is useless for sheep. The best way to show it of is to find a far nicer picture from somewhere else and let imaginations run wild. I just know that now ANYONE can take a coulkd of flakes of hay and easily feed our woolies. Next is the outside rack!