Saturday, August 30, 2008

posts may be few and far between

I have some really cool pictures to post. Of our big fun turkeys. And of our bantam Buff Cochin rooster crowing (it's so funny, he's so little!)

We also have 5 new sheep (Alice, Carol, Marcia, Jan and Cindy). And I'd love to share the pictures.

Not that I can't do it at all, obviously I am logging in somewhere. But my laptop died. It's been trying to boot now for about 30 minutes. I have over a year's worth of farm pictures and files on there. I have financial data on there since before I got married. I have pictures of every Halloween party I ever threw.

I must find a computer magician to pull these things off for me, to save them for me, and post them to a nice new shiny hard drive. One that doens't buzz and whine and make funny clicking sounds.

So, in short, without my precious system, and all the computer gadgets I find holy in this world, there will be fewer posts from me. Sigh. Eventually, we have to say goodbye to everything!!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Chicken Processing Day (in the rain)

OK, be forewarned, if you don't want to know where your food comes from, DON'T READ THIS POST. No, I won't post any truly graphic photos, but there are some pictures in here of Larry and I in mid process of chicken day.

If you are OK with knowing where your food comes from - PROCEED!

OK, so chicken processing day is looming near. These birdies are happily living in their crates, pooping on our pasture, and their destiny is coming and can't be stopped. A reminder to everyone who now wants to come to our farm and set them free (you can't, but you can eat one!) These birds are cross bred to grow fast and be tasty. In the process of messing with nature, we now have a chicken breed that can't live much past 3 or 4 months. They become so large that they get crippled. We put them out of their misery (and into our tummies) before we let that happen. So if seeing pictures of happy birdies makes you want to be vegetarian -you have that right. If you do eat meat, remember, the birdies you buy at the store don't get to live like ours do. They don't get to see sunshine and grass, and they don't have someone like me kissing them all goodbye at the end of their days.

Our favorite piece of equipment that was worth EVERY SINGLE PENNY. THe Featherman Plucker. Instead of painstakingly pulling every feather by hand (which I have done on dozens of birds) I can now put 4 or 5 in this little spinny washtub and they come out almost perfect every time. These guys really look like rubber chickens, don't they?

It was POURING rain all day saturday. I still don't know how I had the stamina to keep it up all day. But we finished all the broilers and 2 of our roosters. This is Larry and I working hard, getting along, and getting the birdies ready for market. Larry does the knife work, I make sure all the feathers are gone, and sometimes have to use my smaller hands on smaller sized birds. The man behind the camera is Larry's Dad. He spent the entire day with us, and helped scald, pluck and assist with the processing in any way he could. It was a great help.

Every now and again, when we order egg layers, we don't get all females. We sometimes get a small percentage of roosters. We can't keep them. They are males, and have one thing on their minds. Because of this, they are constantly harassing our hens. They make a heck of a noise crowing all the time. But really, they bother the hens a LOT. So when we break out the equipment to process broilers, we must say goodbye to our roosters, too. They were difficult to catch. But while Larry was roaming about trying to shoot them with a BB gun, I managed to catch 2 of the 3. This one made the mistake of wandering into the chicken house. I had him cornered. I made the mistake of following him in there, when the floor of the house was covered in poop and mud from a full weekend of rain. I got him in a corner, he flapped his wings and covered me with poop-mud. Score one for both of us, but Larry's knife prevailed and he is with us no more. Well, that's not true - he's in the freezer and I am looking forward to Larry making him into dinner. SOON!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Goliath wants to be a house pet

But I don't want to be in the barn...

I prefer sleeping in the house!!

This dog is mounting a full-on campaign to be an indoor dog. It's not a joke. He's putting in every effort he can think of to convince us he deserves to live in the house. It might have something to do with his big brother sometimes not wanting to put up with him anymore. But I'm not convinced, Atlas might just be playing along to help a brother out.

I think his first attempt was his utter dirtiness. Even on cold days, he goes straight to the stink pond and jumps in, turning his white coat black, everything but his face. That means we have to drag him in for a bath and keep him in the house until he dries. That gets him in the house.

Once in the house, he puts on the cute face, and starts pawing you, and rolling over for belly rubs. Those big amber eyes looking at you like, "see how cute I am? Don't you just love me?" It's hard to resist that face.

Just this past week, he somehow got the idea that snuggling with me on the couch would be a good idea. He must have seen Ditka do it, but Ditka had special exceptions. This guy had the nerve to put both of his front paws on the leather couch next to me and try to jump up. NOPE, I can't let it happen. No matter how much I want to snuggle with that cutie pie, I can't let a 100 pound dog on the furniture. Total mayhem would ensue. He tried that three times.

Since we had an awful rainy weekend -Michigan kind of rain, we decided to let the pups sleep one night in the house. (didn't hurt that there were loose chickens in the barn, awaiting their destiny the next morning, didn't need the dogs making them into a midnight snack) Goliath tried to climb up into the bed with me! Boy, after a cold rainy day of being outside plucking chickens, he would have been warm to snuggle up to, but no, can't let a 100 pound dog into the bed either. And he just stared with those big amber eyes. He's working it, that's for sure, and he picked the right human to work it on.

This morning, possibly his best maneuver yet... he saw Larry playing fetch with the house dogs. Hobbes sometimes plays along, and Goliath found great fun in chasing Hobbes, as he was chasing a ball. Then he figured it out, and tried playing fetch too. He's working that angle as best as he can. I asked Larry, "How long to you think it's going to take for him to convince us?"

He replied "NEVER"

Love ya, Goliath, but you still have a job to do!!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Too many goodbyes

When you live on a farm, sometimes things happen. This morning, we said goodbye to Bandit. Bandit was one of our Americauna chickens, they lay green eggs. I call them 'Caunas for short. Since we only had 4 of them, and they lay green eggs, it's easy to tell when there are issues. One of them has been laying blood covered eggs on occasion, and sometimes it makes you worry.

This morning, Larry came in and said "I need your help, I think we have a Cauna with a prolapsed uterus"

Yes, sort of gross. But it happened to us before with one of our Production Reds. I noticed something red hanging from her rear, and thought that she may have been bitten by a critter, or damaged in some way. When I picked her up, I discovered that her innerds were now her outerds - an there was an intact egg inside. Her uterus was hanging out! We grabbed some betadyne, and Larry carefully massaged the egg out of her - intact even! Her outerds quickly protracted into innerds again. We left her in a stall in the barn for a few days, assuming she might not survive. But she has, we don't even know which one she is anymore, she's happy and healthy and laying eggs with her friends.

So when I went to find the prolapsed Cauna, I was hoping for the same results. They are much more flighty and don't like to be handled, so this was going to be fun. But then I saw her, laying in the grass and thought I might be too late. I picked her up, and there is was. Not an egg in a uterus, but intestines. And they had feces on them. And they looked damaged. This was not something that she could heal from, and her death would be slow and painful, accompanied by other chickens pecking at her bits. We decided to say goodbye. I gave her a pet on the head, and she became breakfast for the pups.

Goodbye Bandit.