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Farmette1769's Blog

by Monica Melograna-Ward

Tag Archives: Livestock

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.

DucknEggs

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 –

MeNsnake

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.

CallDucklings4

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.

CallDucklings7

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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.

IcyWaterTroughW

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.

IceRoofW

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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I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But,

Beatrice

“Beatrice”

Abbey

“Abbey”

Luna

“Luna”

Tony

“Tony”

Mozart

“Mozart”

Guinea Fowl

Guinea Fowl

Bantam Chickens

Bantam Chickens

Annie & Muriel

“Annie” & “Muriel”

Rocky

“Rocky”

Bigs

“Bigs”

“Now, Abbey! now, Annie! now, Tony and Rocky!
On, Beatrice! on, Bigs! on, Muriel and Luna!
To the top of the porch! To the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!”

“Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.


The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that Saint Nicholas soon would be there.”

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.
And me in my ‘kerchief, and dadda in his cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap.

Crazy Bird

“Crazy Bird”

Button Quail

Button Quail

Tropical Fish

Tropical Fish

Deirdre

“Deirdre”

Cecilia

“Cecilia”

Penny

“Penny”

“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!”

xmasMoonWbw

excerpts courtesy of

Twas the Night before Christmas Poem

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“RESERVED with $60.00 deposit” by Jessica C.
1. Jessica C.
2. Chelsea F.
3. Laura B.

We’ve been calling her “Little Jeffrey”. It does not make any sense since she is a girl. But, pygmy doe kid #2 born March 9, 2012 is colored just like her daddy, Jefferey (colored creamy white with chocolate markings.). She doesn’t seem to mind it. The name is only temporary since she is up for sale.

Doe kid #2 AKA Little Jeffrey was born the second of two. She was a nice hearty 2 pounds (her sister, doe #1 AKA YoYo was 1.5 pounds at birth). At one week old they are hopping and skipping all around.

LJ’s price is $100.00. She can be reserved until she is weaned for $50.00 ($25.00 of this refundable if you change your mind). We do not expect her availability to last long, so reserving may be your best bet.

She will be ready for her new home the weekend of April 28-29, 2012. LJ will be handled a lot and exposed to children and dogs. We leave our pygmies with horns due to their size, even the boys. Our herd sire will push his harem around, but never ever attempts that with us. As soon as he was weaned – he was raised here. We did not play rough with him as a kid which helps keep the bucks tame.

Pygmy goats are great for brush clearing. They can be milked. The production level just won’t be as high or the milk quality as great as a goat bred for dairy use. Ours are also our very entertaining pets.

They need fresh water, grain or hay or brush… and a good dry shelter for the rain and cold. Ours prefer to stay outside. The shed gets use if it is wet outside or extremely cold and windy.

FYI: Goats are herd animals, so it is best to keep at least two. They will bond with a human or a dog or a horse… but other goats are their favorite above and beyond the rest.

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2011 is here and it is time to pair down. Doing this quarterly helps keep an appropriate number of livestock living on our 5 acre Farmette. Reducing numbers now makes way for the Spring goat births and fowl egg hatching. Also, the original plans for building up the Farmette had to be scaled down due to a medical condition that slows me down.

The most recent to go was “Billy the Kid”. We have enough brush clearing goats, so this wether (banded/neutered male/billy) goat was not a necessity.

8 month old neutered male pygmy goat - SOLD

He had gotten quite fat and was very happy staying with his mother in our little herd. But, it was time for him to move on.

"Billy the Kid" (right) with his Mom "Olivia"

BtK could not have gotten a better home. He was a Christmas gift for the mother of a very nice young couple. The mother kept livestock for pets – not to eat…

If we have any boy goats born this Spring, they will be sold off when weaned and will not linger this time around. Only one boy – the herd sire – is needed here.

We enjoy our ducks, but they love free ranging. Unluckily, they do not come back to roost at night and become easy targets for foxes, coyotes and raccoons.

Two Duck Hens

The ducks have been penned since our trouble with predators. They would be happier loose and with a pond. They are advertised for sale on craig’s list.

There is also an Ameraucana Rooster up for grabs. He is a good boy and a beauty.

A. Rooster - SOLD

He is the last of the standard sized chickens for sale. There is one regular sized hen that we will keep since she was raised here from an egg. She’ll be bred into the Bantam flock this year or will just provide some nice big blue eggs for our breakfast table.

UPDATE: Went ahead and sold the last Standard Hen (Ameraucana/Jersey Giant) with the Rooster in the pic. The Duck sale has been delayed since they are the only ones laying right now – we do love fresh eggs.

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In the post before last, there was a grim story about chicken losses due to  predators. The Jack the Ripper mystery has now been solved. A small group of feral cats are the culprits. They finally showed themselves in all their formerly domesticated glory.

There are at least two, maybe more. Not wanting to shoot the cats (although tempted), I called for help with the situation… The friendly neighborhood (Gaston County) animal control officer was at our house to set a trap.

Cat Trap (after the chicken sprung it and ate the cat food)

Apparently, there is a feral cat rescue group in the Charlotte, NC area that takes these unwanted animals and places them in designated areas away from people (donated use of woods or farm land) and provides them with shelters and daily feeding. They are neutered/spayed before re-release and an ear clipped as a visual marker.

Trapping a cat does not necessarily mean the gas chamber. But, it is a possibility. What do you do with all those wild felines? There are so many.

They are obviously hungry, but my birds cannot be served as their dinner on a platter. And if they are fed, they will stay around.

Presently, there are enough to produce lots of chicks in the Spring. But, our flock cannot handle many more losses.

So far, the trap that animal control set has not caught a stray cat. However, it finally did catch something – one small chicken. We’ll keep trying.

At some point we’ll have to invest in a trap of our own, as I am sure that this situation will happen periodically on the Farmette. All that you have to do is forget to close up the coop one night (of course we lost one little hen the very last time that happened) and the predators suddenly materialize.

What we need to do is move the main coop within view of the back deck. If we see a chicken eater, we could scare them off with the pellet gun or an ominous bang on a frying pan. Maybe we’ll get a mini donkey. They’ll guard goats – but I’m not sure about bird protection.

So, now we are left with a much smaller group of bantam chickens. We also still have 2 turkeys, 3 quail, 2 ducks, 2 guinea fowl and two standard chickens. It is plenty , but I do miss a few of the fancy bantams, especially since they started here as eggs. It is tempting to get a few fill-ins, but we must really work on above ground cages for safety before we do that.

Chicken circle (and my bright green garden clogs)

The pic shows some of the exotic bantam group that survived the onslaught of bad luck. And, yes, that is a pigeon that has made herself part of that flock.

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