Friday, October 22, 2010

New Additions to the Farm

We have some new additions to the farm. It's nice when projects get completed...

Grain Bin

We finally got our grain bin installed! Larry said that we look like real farmers now. We have a grain bin! We are looking forward to the savings in chicken feed. I am also excited about not having to unload 18 bags of chicken food from the truck every week! Now I just have to fill a bucket and take it to the chickens. So, we will keep our eye open for a second bin on craigslist. One for layer ration, one for flock raiser. Then we'll be pretty much stuck on raising birds!The Badger

You have to be familiar with Monty Python to understand why we named this the badger. This is chicken house 2.0. Our first is called the Rabbit. I used to hum the music from Monty Python and the Holy Grail every time we pushed that stupid chicken house around. Eventually, when we put on the doors and egg boxes, we couldn't push it anymore, and had to pull it. This past summer, over time, both doors fell off, one axle broke, and the egg boxes started to fall apart. So, we took one of our dead 1970's era Ford F100's, and made it into the chicken house. I am working on getting it painted this weekend, we have another set of chicken boxes to make, and 4 more perches to put inside. It has a clear roof, so even in the cold, the chickens get sunlight inside, perfect for the winter! As opposed to the Rabbit, this one is sheep and coyote proof. We don't need to haul around chicken fences, as the sheep can't get to the food inside the truck, and when we close the tailgate, the coyotes can't get in either. And with big tires and a truck frame and suspension - it shouldn't get stuck in the mud, either. Hoorah!


OK, so he's not really a farm dog - as in, he isn't meant to herd or to guard. But he's new to us! This is Moose! He's my new companion! After losing Hobbes, I really needed a buddy who would do farm chores with me, and nap by the couch. So i found Moose. They claim he is a Malamute mix (I saw his sister, she was certainly a Malamute mix, she had the right markings). But he's brindle, which is not a super common dog coloring. So we have NO idea what he is. I only suspect that he'll be big and fluffy, which is just what I want! And so far, he's a total DOLL! I love him!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Grain Bin

So, we got a great deal, on an unused 2 ton grain bin on Craigslist. These people bought it, built it, but never had it installed. So we bought it. Small enough to get home in our truck, and here it has been sitting for a while now.

So I finally got off my duff and hired some folks to pour a concrete pad for it.

However, most of the people we called just didn't get it. They wanted to pour a 6" pad, reinforced with rebar, and then we could drill some holes, and glue in some studs to hold down the bin's feet.

That would work fine, even for large racks in an industrial shop, or an RV pad or a sidewalk. But this is outside - a glued in stud might pull out over time. And this sucker has to withstand wind - who's to say 6" of concrete isn't just going to peel up out of the ground during a 100 MPH wind gust.

SO I finally found A & E Land Construction - they understood what I was talking about, and yeah it was expensive. But my grain bin isn't going to blow over in the wind. And the bolt isn't going to heave out of the concrete either. These guys put caissons, or feet, under each of the bin's legs that goes over 3 feet deep, all reinforced with rebar.

And the studs sticking up to attach the feet to... those are looped around the rebar, so they won't pull out over time, either. Very cool. Now we just need to get the bin up on the pad, and get it filled with grain!

It'll take a while, but this grain bin will eventually pay for itself. The bonus here is that a) grain is a LOT less expensive if we buy it by the ton, instead of by the 50 lb bag b) I've been hauling 18 of these bags into the barn every week. Great workout, yes, but I am TIRED of hauling feed bags! I'll still have to haul it out to the chickens in buckets, but it will come to ME first.

Friday, October 1, 2010


So as we are at Bridget's 20th day of being ill, we finally had the tests run. She came back positive for MCF, Malignant Catarrhal Fever. Most publications (and I have read publications from CSU Vet School, MSU Vet School, Ag extensions in Iowa, Washington State and other places) say that most cows succumb in 10 days. Bridget is so far, beating the odds.

So we have decisions to make. While many of her symptoms have subsided - her nose is clear, she has a great appetite and is eating, she's more active (and feisty). Other symptoms have appeared or stabilized. Her temperature goes up and down, but has never hit below 102. Her eyes show signs of edema, and they are swollen with fluid and milky white. It seems to be affecting her vision, but she is not blind.

She has not yet shown signs that her systems are breaking down inside. Lots of things are going in - food and water. And all of those things are coming out as they should. Those are positive signs, too.

However, the vet seems negative about her complete recovery. He still thinks she will die from this, though some cows can survive, and I am still betting on Bridget to be one of those.

But we have decisions to make. If our sheep are carrying the OVH virus that causes this disease, then we, responsibly, shouldn't raise any more cows. We can attempt to breed this virus out of our flock, and we can be successful at that. It does not show signs of hanging around outside of its host, so if we can breed it out, it can go away. This also gives us the ability to possibly breed out the CL from our sheep, too, though this does hang around outside of the host. We have the winter going for us.

The process is to remove the ewe when the lamb is about 1 month old. In our case, this would mean that the ewe goes to be processed, either as mutton, or as dog food. But she has to go. This would then allow us to test the lambs for CL and OVH. If they have either, then we are unsuccessful. If they have neither, we can vaccinate for the CL to make sure (since it might hang around on fence posts or something) and know that we might be winning the war on both fronts. We could possibly replace our sheep flock in one go, keeping the ewe lambs and one ram lamb. We won't allow any outside sheep back on our farm.

This could start as soon as next month, as our sheep start to lamb. We would have to segregate the new lambs from anyone else, until all the ewes are gone.

This would allow us to keep Marlow, and Bridget, and possibly allow us to get more cows next spring. But it would mean that our sheep all go away. Shirley, Gertrude, Marcia, Cindy, Jan, Alice, Lucy, Velma, Daphne, Angel, Trouble, Betty, Pebbles, Peppermint Patty and Veronica. We would lose them all, and start with a new flock. Granted, they would all be raised on our farm (and bottle fed, so maybe they would all like us!) but it's hard to imagine saying goodbye to them all... But maybe it's the responsible thing to do, to breed out a virus that they carry, and a disease that chances are, they all have (aside from Peppermint Patty and Veronica, who were vaccinated at 8 weeks)