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Farmette1769's Blog

by Monica Melograna-Ward

Category Archives: Livestock

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Farmette 1769’s honey bees are no worse for the wear after Tropical Storm Florence last weekend. I guess I can take the tent stakes out of the ground now. Or maybe my shadow can take care of that task.

 

Our honey bees were out enjoying this hot, sunny Saturday. They had been doing this all day while I was at Carolina Chickenstock. It’s like Woodstock, but with chickens.

It is actually a large poultry buy and sell gathering that happens twice a year in Taylorsville, NC. It is almost an hour away from me, which is doable. Breaking an hour and a half total driving in a day is difficult for me. I have degenerative discs in my cervical spine of the neck. I have had surgery, but you fix one spot and the one below crumbles more. I broke my self-inflicted limit and will pay for it for a day or two, but it was so much fun!

I purchased a pair of white homing pigeons, which were being sold in pairs only. We only had one pigeon here since Petunia’s boyfriend was killed by a snake.

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This is the new pair. They’re gorgeous!

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The quad travel cage was still in the back of my truck, so Petunia came all the way into the garage to investigate the familiar sounds of friends. The new pair will stay caged for 2-3 weeks until they know that this is their new home.

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I was lucky enough to happen upon a Dark Cuckoo Maran Hen for sale. They lay dark brown eggs. Even though the nutritional content is the same, we love having the variety of colors in our egg basket.

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I stole this pic off the net. This is what her eggs should look like. We have brown, tan, white and blue egg layers right now. It will be great to have this color too!

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It really was my lucky day. I found a juvenile pied guinea fowl. We have two juvenile pearl, which are this color without the chrome aka white splashes. The contrast is beautiful, albeit hard to see in this photo at this angle.

I got up really early to pack up for selling, did a lot of buying and chatting, came home and got the newbies settled in, took care of Barry the giant, crazy puppy and a gabillion other things.

So that’s all for now – I’m tired.
Enjoy the rest of the weekend!

 

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Since there really hasn’t been any change since last week, I decided to write a combo article.

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Here are a few bees at the entrance of the hive… The End

Just kidding. The really big news is that we finally released our homing pigeons. Actually, it is just a pigeon – singular.

I had purchased a pair, to train as wedding/memorial doves (yes, those are actually white homing pigeons, not real peace doves).

But, there was a small gap in the cage door. A snake got in and tried to eat the male pigeon. He could not, since the pigeon was too big, but in the process of getting to the impassable shoulders, he smothered the bird to death.

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This is the inside of the female pigeon’s new digs. I was in the process of building this when the snake got into the old cage.

It is designed specifically for homing pigeons. The photo shows “Petunia” inside, from the viewpoint of looking in from the newly opened gate entrance.

She had gotten settled in for about 2 weeks. This is long enough for homing pigeons to think of a new space as home.

My husband took a pic of me taking a pic of Petunia. She made it to the landing pad.

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Then our sole homing pigeon hopped up to the top of her house. It is attached to the main chicken/duck coop.

Petunia tried to hang out with the chickens on the ground. One of them got territorial and chased her, so she flew up to the coop’s roof.

26E8E98D-2A68-46D2-832F-1C03A6118267This photograph shows our one and only wedding rental, enjoying the top of her personal home. This image is from the day after her maiden voyage out into the world.

We’ll take our girl farther and farther away from our house, until she knows the home base location well; and can then be used for events.

I’m hoping that the people that sold me the pair are at Carolina Chickenstock poultry sale again in September (It is held twice per year in Taylorsville, NC.).

It would be wonderful to get a few more that are this smaller-sized pigeon (They tend to run larger.), so that she has some matching buddies.

Happy Weekend! Have a great one!!!

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What I want this year is to get back up on my horse.

The Big Man Dakota sporting his shaggy winter coat

The Big Man Dakota sporting his shaggy winter coat

“The Big Man Dakota” (I call him “Bigs”) is officially a pony, measuring 14 hands even. The standard for a horse starts at a height of 14.2 HH (at the withers).

While the weather is nasty and cold, I am slowly beginning stretching exercises, attempting to get my bad, upper spine to be more flexible and less painful.

This is quite the uphill battle, since progress can be non-existent at times. It seems that every day I am back to square one (I know – everyone is tired of hearing me whine). If I were a horse I could whinny instead, which is a much more pleasant sound.

Pony Stallion Yell Plus Bonus Duck Quacks

My Quarter pony’s yell is much more about getting food than his attachment to me. Yet, Bigs does trust me. That took quite some time. He arrived here as a blind, 5-year old stallion, and the blindness due to the frustration of his original owner.

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Yes, Bigs is a stallion aka intact male. There are two mares across the way, yet Bigs has never attempted to visit them. Blind or not, 90% of stallions would try. Due to his calm demeanor, it seemed pointless to take anything else away from him.

Rocky the pony is already inside, taking advantage of the run-in with its new weather-proofing  (readied for the Arctic blast of Jan. 6, 2014).

Rocky the pony is already inside, taking advantage of the run-in with its new weather-proofing
(readied for the Arctic blast of Jan. 6, 2014).

Bigs's tendency towards claustrophobia leaves him hesitant of the change, but grain coaxes him in shortly after sunset.

Bigs’s tendency towards claustrophobia leaves him hesitant of the change, but grain coaxes him in shortly after sunset.

Although sightless, Bigs functions well and sometimes acts as if he can see things coming. It has taken me up to 45 minutes to get his bridle and bit on. He tosses his head about with a total lack of cooperation (even with a Hackamore). I have a feeling this is why the former owner got so upset with him.

Blind Pony Navigates Pasture

Bigs can’t see, so he has the fields memorized by feel, getting around quite well. He no longer breaks through fences in a panic. He no longer flees from being patted. Bigs’s overall behavior is actually quite good. I can get easily get on his back and could likely lay down to take a nap too.

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I purchased a very cool, used, close-contact training saddle this past fall of 2013. My aches and pains, enhanced by stress and aggravation got the better of me this season, so I only completed a parked test drive. It fits well and will work for both Bigs and I splendidly, once my hurdles ahead are cleared. In the meantime, Bigs and his companion Shetland pony “Rocky” will keep themselves busy doing what they do best – eating.

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Being already run down from physical unrest, my hair-trigger temper has lately become long-term negativity. It has me wrapped up in my own mind, unable to break free of disparity in the human world. There are 7 billion people on the planet. Half of them live without running water or electricity. Therefore they have little or no access to health care, education, law enforcement, transportation, etc.

As one who attempts to follow Buddhist teachings, I must continue to practice not only patience, but also perseverance – and with this new year of 2014, get back up on that horse (pony).

nota bene: I am not looking for a Pep Rally. There is no need for anyone to cheer me on. If I get back up on that pony, that is what the future will bring. If I don’t, something else will happen next.

Chinese New Year 2014 begins January 31, 2014

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On May 29, 2013 –

Our drake (male) Call duck was killed by a big, black Rat Snake (at least 4 feet long). The rat snake was after the eggs that our girl Call duck was sitting on. Daddy duck was very protective of the nest and I assume that this led to his demise.

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However, a rat snake is designed to eat small rodents (and eggs!), so he only made it to the shoulders of our duck. I discovered this when I opened the pen for feed/water. Rat snakes are not aggressive to people, so I pulled him out by the tail and then secured him better, just behind the head.

Normally I don’t mind encounters with snakes, but it was upsetting to lose the drake and have the snake spit out fertile egg to further darken my mood.

Although I have been practicing patience from the Teachings of the Buddha, I did not have enough for this situation. In defense of our mini ducks, I killed the snake with a shovel in the grass. This did not work really well, so I took it over to the cemented garage area and killed it more.

Snakes continue to writhe long after they are nearly split in two. That was pretty terrible. I did not like taking its life – at all.

It is a normal thing for a farmer to do. Once a predator figures out how to get an easy meal, they will continue to come back for more. You cannot just let them go back loose on your land if you expect to keep your livestock alive.

Apparently, this prepared me for… May 31, 2013 –

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Only two days later. I was riding the lawn mower tractor when I spotted another big snake. This one was 5 feet or more long. I thought of the ducks. I pulled it out from underneath a trailer and took it to the garage area.

My husband was home and was able to take a photo with his phone. This snake, a Black Racer, was taken down the road by my husband and son to be released in the nature conservancy area. It slithered into the woods in hopes of growing even bigger. I was happy for that.

The duck pen is being better secured, again. We’ll have to keep a few more ducklings to ensure we have a drake or two around for next Spring’s laying season.

To lighten things up a bit, I have included a pic of of baby ducks that was taken recently. This one is literally, a bucket o’ ducklings.

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Country living is not easy. I had thought it would be so much more peaceful than living in the city. But, we must enjoy those calm and happy times as we have them, no matter when, or where.

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Call ducks are Bantams, which places them in the miniature poultry category. Due to their light body weight, they can fly very well. So, unlike your average heavy farm duck, it is advisable to clip a wing so that they don’t wander too far off.

Clipping the flight feathers from one wing sets both wings off balance, leaving them flightless. The procedure is painless, since feathers are just like finger nails and hair.

Some blood vessels are still active in newly grown feathers, so avoid that area during clipping.

Muriel (left), Hector (right)

Muriel (left), Hector (right)

Duck Video

We bought Muriel, a female Call duck, at Carolina Chickenstock in the Fall of 2012. With a bit of searching early in 2013, we located a male (drake) Call duck for sale near Winston-Salem, NC.

In conjunction with the drake duck, there was also the opportunity to buy a male (gander) African goose to go with Annie, our female Chinese goose. It was a long drive from the Charlotte area to get the drake, so without too much thought, I went ahead and bought the gander too.

Muriel seems happy with her new duck boyfriend, Hector. They waddle around together, taking an occasional dip in the baby pool or a spare water pan. They are both super cute and easy to handle. Bantam breeds take up less space/accommodations and also consume less feed. Miniature livestock fit well here at our little farmette.

Our Annie, seemed content with her surprise boyfriend, Robert. They quickly become a bonded pair of closely related (both from the Swan Goose) domesticated geese.

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Robert (left), Annie (right)

Robert (left), Annie (right)

The thing is, we don’t have a pond, stream or a fenced section of land for them, so there were second thoughts. I made the decision that the best thing was to get these full size (Standard) geese out of their pen and into the hands of someone with a more suitable set-up. They were sold to Kunekune Pig Preserve here in NC. One section of the preserve boasts a large fenced area with a big pond. They should be comfortable and safe at their new home.

We greatly enjoyed our time with them. Geese are very wonderful birds and great watch animals for farms.

Four Bantam chicken eggs (left), One Bantam duck egg (right)

Four Bantam chicken eggs (left), One Bantam duck egg (right)

That decision now leaves more time and energy to attend to our Call duck pair. Spring, though a bit unpredictable and chilly this year, has sprung. Beginning mid-March, Muriel started laying eggs. Her eggs are green!

A homemade egg candler shows obvious growth.

A homemade egg candler shows obvious growth.

The pair is now proven fertile and we are excitedly looking forward to Call ducklings. My lovely husband Jamie often says “There’s nothin’ cuter than a bucket of baby ducks”. I am thinking that Call ducklings, due to there tiny size, may just prove to be our new, ultimate, Spring baby fixation.

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We can’t wait to see!

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Last week’s storm #1 of Winter 2013 was wet and got extremely windy, but by the time the temperature dropped below freezing the precipitation stopped. Better to be safe with extra weather-proofing!

The ponies were out early in the morning, even though the sleet had already started

The ponies were out early this morning, even though the sleet had already started

Hard to see start of the storm sleet building on the ground

The hard to see start of the storm sleet build-up on the ground

This week’s storm came in icy. It has been running below 32 degrees at night this week, so at least it did not start off warm & wet with that potentially fatal drop in temperature that quickly becomes wet & flash frozen.

Rocky - Still out in the weather

Rocky – Still out in the weather

He thinks I am funny for calling him in

He thinks I am funny for calling him in

Our Shetland pony “Rocky” is made for this type of weather, but I still tempted him into the shelter with snacks (“Bigs” had already given up on standing out in the ice storm).

They will do anything for treats

They will do anything for treats

In the morning, one of the ponies had apparently made their way through the iced surface to the water. The troughs and chicken drinkers sometimes have to have hot water poured on/in on days like this. If need be for your area of the country, you can get special water heaters to use during cold spells.

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Ice forming a shiny coating on items like branches and roofs always looks interesting. I took the rare opportunity to take a few quick pics before escaping back inside.

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Icicles in Southern, North Carolina

Icicles in Southern, North Carolina

If the ice gets heavy on the electrical lines we could lose power. I do not mind losing TV or electronics, but our heating and well water runs off of it, so I hope it stays on.

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Winter storm "Iago" January 2013

Winter storm “Iago” January 2013

For the most part, we have pretty mild Winters here on our Southern farmette. But, although nothing like where I used live in the North East USA, some Winter storms can be especially bad in the Charlotte region of North Carolina.

extra "just in case' shelter

Spare “just in case’ shelter

What I have noticed about this area, is that the temperature will drop in unison with lack of precipitation. And the weather will warm up when it is wet out. So you go along, not really worrying about your animals since you yourself are comfortable out in the weather. Then, out of the blue, a weird Winter storm materializes.

Front yard coops

Front yard poultry coops with weather guards

A few years back I was driving along the road. The day had started out warm and rainy. It had gotten chillier as the day progressed. That seemed odd to me. This never happened up North.

Sleet started coming down. I continued home along our windy, country road. There was a little dog in the middle of the road. I stopped and picked up the tiny canine. It was a mini Beagle covered with dirt and scrapes but friendly/happy.

Later in the day I was grateful that I had brought the stray home. It had gotten colder.

Well shed aka goat shelter

Well shed aka goat shelter with entrance tarp in place

The two goats I had in a pen on the far side of the house had two dog houses to go in. There had been a shelter on stilts too, but the male billy goat (Billy Bob) had enthusiastically broken it apart with his horns. I was pretty new to goats and chickens at the time and rested easily since everybody outside had shelter, water and food.

That was a mistake. We had a slush storm. It reminded me of icy Summer refreshments, except that the sweet drink was, instead, falling from the sky. The goats had been out getting wet before going into the shelter for the night. The temperature dropped more.

Front pasture pony run-in

Front pasture pony run-in, also with extra tarps in place

I ventured out early in the morning. The young goat (Luna) that was out back in the fenced area was fine. That side of the house is uphill and drier. But in the side yard pen, the boy goat was shivering and the female nanny goat (Stella) was dead.

When I read other farm blogs, books, etc. this type of loss is, unluckily, common. Livestock often becomes Deadstock in a vast variety of ways – storms, predators, drowning, accidents and so on. But, I will always feel incredibly horrible about Stella.

More chicken coops

More chicken coops

So, when the weather reports start predicting COLD and WET weather at the same time – BEWARE! And get to work. I was outside all morning. I drove to the farm store and bought more tarps for extra protection on the little goat and pony barns. Fresh square bales of hay have enticed them all into their shelters.

And for the poultry – nylon feed bags work great when cut flat and stapled to the chicken coops. Extra tin was added to the goose/duck pen. We are all set now, but I will be checking on everyone every few hours. And it is likely be a restless night.

Free range rooster will be caught and garaged shortly

Wet, free range roo

This big guy will be caught and penned in the garage shortly, unless roocicle sounds good to you!

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