Saturday, October 30, 2010

Making More Plans and another Farm Visit

Through doing dog agility, I have met a fellow farmer. She and her family have a 50+ acre farm not too far from here. They have beef cattle, Boer goats, Muscovy ducks, and sheep. Plus lots of dogs. What's a farm without lots of dogs??!! Anyway, Jody invited me out for a visit and a tour of her farm. I am continually researching what different ways I can make money from my farm, so one day I won't have to do the dog boarding anymore, and I figured this was a great chance to get some ideas.

Jody was amazingly helpful, and gave me lots of good information, and my little brain has been going a mile a minute since I got back.
Partly because I fell in love with her little goats. The Boer goat is traditionally a meat goat, but Jody says only about 10% of the goats she sells are for meat. The rest all get sold as pets. They were super friendly, and very cute. I actually cried a bit when I saw two little kids (about 3 months old). I've never seen anything so amazingly adorable. They have little floppy ears, and the friendliest expressions on their faces. I guess they are a friendly and docile breed.
I think I want a couple! I've been going over plans in my head about how to make it work with the boarding dogs. I think my own dogs would adapt to them very well. If I had 2 little goats, they would go a long way in helping me to clear all the brush and grass I have growing around, and keeping all the brambles in check. That's my main reason for wanting them. They need no extra feed, so upkeep and costs would be quite low. I am thinking of getting a breeding pair, then they would have a couple of babies every 8-10 months or so... these I could sell for about $150-$175 each. I think its' a win-win situation. I get free land-clearing, and the goats get an all-they-can-eat smorgasbord.
Jody's babies are born in January. She has invited me out to see the little ones just after they are born. I can't wait! They are weaned and ready to go in April. So, I have lots of time to figure out some dog-proof fencing. I am going to leash train the little goats, and make sure they grow up super friendly, so they will be easy to handle and move about the property.

They also raise Muscovy ducks. Jody sells live ducks, and meat ducks, and eggs. Next time I go out, I'm going to ask many more questions about those, too. Who knows... maybe another way to make some income on my little farm!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

First Frost

Well, all of a sudden the nights are COLD, and we had a really sharp frost last night. It went from being 8-10 degrees C at night to less than zero the next night. Yuck. I am decidedly NOT a winter person. I am already starting to count the days until we start getting more light again. I am not liking this 'get dark by 7 and not light until after 7 thing. And it gets worse before it gets better.

We have had some really, really gorgeous days this month... I have finally been getting off my butt and doing stuff in the gardens again. I cleared a bunch of beds (mostly by just smooshing everything down) and put a layer of hay on them for the winter. This should start composting, and by spring I will have some water-retaining, earth-worm loving, beautiful soil. I am not doing fall rye again this year. What a pain in the butt that was this spring. Trying to dig it in, then it just pops back up and keeps growing while you are trying to plant, and then a bunch of it went to seed, and I'll never get rid of it now... hay just seems so much easier! Hopefully I'm right about that.

My Cochin chickens are not having a good time of it. The male, especially. No matter where I put him, he gets picked on, plus I worry he doesn't get enough food. So, the other day, I had a 'brilliant' idea. There is an old rabbit hutch on the property (it came with a rabbit when I first moved in, but Maggie killed it within about 2 minutes of being on the property). Anyway, it's just been sitting there, getting all overgrown with grass and weeds, so I decided to put the Cochins in it. They are not happy there, either. They refuse to go out the little door to the 'outside' area of the hutch, and are just staying crammed in the little indoor area. I even put their food and water outside, and they will reach out with their necks to eat and drink, but won't go right out. Then, earlier today, I found Maggie had opened the hutch door, and had her head in the coop. That's it, I thought.... those Cochins are DEAD. I got her out, and checked... miraculously, they were still alive! And seemingly unharmed.
Then, a while ago, I found her in the hutch again.
I got her out again. Checked. My Cochins were still alive! Maggie was sticking her head in the coop to eat poo. Not eat chickens. Wow! I was floored. Not that eating poo is a good thing, but it's a darned site better than mascaraing my chickens! She had ample time to kill them, and chose not to.
Am I a proud doggie mama, or what??!!

But, obviously, this hutch isn't working, either. So, tonight, I am going to try moving the Cochins in with the meat birds again. If I have them as a pair, instead of the male by himself, maybe they will do better. The meat birds will only be there for another 2 or 3 weeks, so hopefully they can make it work until then.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Horses, sheep, and other livestock

A couple of weeks ago, Katrina, who owns the horse and ponies that normally board here took them all away to go eat grass on a new field. Review, the horse, is such an iggy-piggy, that he has eaten my field almost bare. That boy just never stops!
She loaded up the equines, then we decided it would be good for her to take my little goat, Burley with them, too, so he wouldn't be lonely. She didn't even have to entice him into the trailer... he just hopped up and snuggled underneath Reviews neck.
My field looks so empty and bare without them. It is lonely, and the farm doesn't seem quite as 'farmish' without them.
Hope they come back soon!!

I have also been approached by some other people to keep 5 or 6 sheep in my field. They would use the sheep for herding practice. If they do this, it would be in exchange for herding and/or agility lessons. My idea! Herding lessons are super-expensive.... $40 for a half hour.... so getting a few free lessons now and then would be awesome. I can learn, and Kybosh can hone her skills.

I picked up my 2 new buff Cochin chickens on the weekend. They are very pretty... a really nice golden colour. The male isn't fitting in very well, though. Two days ago, I found him with his head buried in a hole by a fence post (just like you see ostriches do in the cartoons!!) and his butt in the air... several of my laying hens were pecking at his butt. Poor guy! He is do docile, he is just not defending himself. I picked him up and put him in with the meat birds for the rest of the day and night. Then, last night, all he wanted to do was go back in with the layers. He was lonely for his girlfriend, I guess. So, I plopped him back in with the 'girls'. I am watching carefully to see how he does. Hope he's ok, as I really don't have another place to put him right now.

I am also having challenges with the 3 little free chicks I still have in my living room. They are very healthy and robust, but they are starting to escape. One flew out yesterday, and Reckless almost ate him (or her??). Now I have to watch every moment to make sure they are not going to get into trouble! Two more weeks, and my meat chickens go in to be processed, and then I can put these little guys outside. If they survive that long!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Another Visit

Yesterday, a cow from the neighbours yard came to visit.
Some of you who have been 'following' for a while may remember last year when a couple of cows came to visit. It took the owner hours to get the cow back into his own yard. The cow really, really didn't want to go! At the time, I thought...."wouldn't it be nice to have a border collie to herd this cow?!"

This year, I had my little border collie.
We've had all of one lesson in herding, but my little Kybosh has great instinct. I haven't a clue what I am doing.
The cow came over really early in the morning, and I had all the dogs out, and was on my way to feed the chickens, when the dogs all rushed the cow. Blitzen, the whippet, got there first, jumped up and bit the cow on the ass. I guess he thought he was a border collie.
He got a good swift kick in the ribs for his trouble.
The other dogs continued the chase. Maggie, Boom-boom, Kybosh, Reckless and a little terrier, Kira. Blitzen was cowering on the ground at this time, crying.
The cow was back in her own yard in moments.

Then, the stupid cow came back later that day. Cows are supposed to be smarter than chickens... aren't they???

This time, I saw the cow before the dogs did. I rushed them all inside, except for Ky. I told her to 'get it'. Not a herding command, lol, but I panicked, and said the first thing that came to mind.
Anyway, Ky had that cow trotting easily back towards the fence in no time. She looked back at me once to ask if she was doing the right thing, and I told her good girl, and keep on going, and she escorted that cow right back to her own yard. No fear in that little girl! Now I really want to keep up with the herding lessons when I can afford it. It will be so helpful here on the farm in the future!

I called the owner of the cow, who came straight away and fixed the fence. Yay! No more cows for a while, anyway.

Oh! And Blitzen is just fine. The cow obviously didn't get him too bad, and he recovered in moments.

Chicken Rescuer Extraordinaire

I have spent too much of my time this week rescuing really, really stupid chickens. This is where dog boarding and farming do NOT mix!
I am caring for a big Rotti right now. He really is the nicest rotti I've ever met, but watch out chickens! About three days ago, a chicken escaped from the coop. Rocky got it. He's fast for a big guy! Somehow, I wrangled the chicken out of his mouth- while at the same time, I was trying to keep ANOTHER dog from grabbing her,( I still am unsure as to how I did that...!)  and told the chicken she was stupid, and threw her back in the coop.
The chicken survived being chomped by a Rotti!
Yesterday, another chicken escaped.  Rocky got this one, too! This time, I was able to grab him by the tail before he got a good hold on her, put him inside, and then grabbed the chicken and told her she was stupid, and threw her back into the coop.
Later that day, the same stupid chicken got out again.
This time Reckless and a whippet were running about. They both saw the chicken at the same time, and were both on her before I had time to blink. Somehow, I had to hold BOTH dogs back, then with a third hand grab the chicken. Sound difficult??? It was! At some point, I managed to grab both dogs, throw them back a couple of feet, then grab the chicken REALLY fast, before they could grab her again. Amazing how quickly you can move when you have to!
I took the naughty chicken inside, and clipped her wings before I put her back in the coop. Then I had a discussion with her as to how stupid it was to ever, ever leave the coop. Next time she may not make it back alive!

During all three chicken attacks, my three girls were out, too. I do have to mention just how proud of them I am. They kept a respectful distance from the chickens each time. They have become true farm dogs. When I was holding the last chicken, I let all four of my dogs sniff it, yes, even Reckless. I wanted him to get used to sniffing without grabbing, and it's easier to do when the chicken isn't squawking and flapping about. He did really well, and it was a great learning experience for all the dogs.

Flooded Driveway

Flooded Driveway
Too much RAIN!