Thursday, October 28, 2010

I can't believe that it's come to this...

My evil roosters' evil ways forced me to buy a couple of these this morning -

That's right it's a hen's saddle (also known as an apron), meant to protect a young lady's feathers from the amorous assaults of a rooster, or in our case, two roosters. The boys tend to grab at the girls' neck and back feathers with their beaks, and sometimes even dig in with their spurs during mating, leaving a poor hennie quite a bit worse for the wear. Two of my girls in particular, Rose & Annabel are looking just pitiful these days. Liv says that they look half-plucked. I wouldn't go that far, but they are missing quite a few feathers, especially in the neck and tail regions. Poor babies! And of course just as soon as the poor girls were plucked, the overnight temperatures start dropping like a rock.

Enter the apron. I'm hoping that these will at least offer my girls a little extra warmth until their feathers grow back. The evil roosters - aka the terror twins, Harold the Terrible and Scout the Destroyer are about to be taken out of the equation, if you know what I mean. ;)

It wasn't easy to break that bit of news to the kids, I assure you, especially so soon after losing Eglantine to the road. However, they seem to have made peace with the idea that the boys need to go in order to save our sweet lassies from being plucked/tormented to death. They have even begun referring to the doomed roos as Chicken Strip and Chicken Burger, and eye them with the most venomous disdain for reducing our once-lovely hennies to the skittish, scraggly messes that they are at the moment.

The boys having been whooping it up for a while now, but come this weekend, the ladies of the coop will be having the last laugh. After deposing our two mean and nasty roosters, the reign of Mr. Jeffries the Gentle shall commence. He is a very mellow boy (at least so far) and has never participated in the frat boy behavior of the evil boys. Let us hope that he will have learned a lesson from his doomed predecessors and be a kind and gentle man o' the house. Or else, buddy, or else...

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Best laid Plans...

...frequently get shot to smithereens around here.

When I started the Bog Blog, part of my intent was to keep a daily-ish log of what we were harvesting/collecting each day. Well, that was just plain silly of me because a) Consistency is not my best-known trait, and b) I should have known that the lack of a garden + unreliable laying hens = extended dry spells between harvests. D'oh!

I miss picking, and weighing and canning the glut of garden goodies so much. Spring can't come soon enough!

Decisions, decisions...

Murray McMurray hatchery, why did you have to send me your catalog so soon?

We won't be able to accommodate any additional chicks until Spring, after we've designed and build our new, vastly expanded coop. Yet here I sit ogling the Buff Brahma's, Phoenixes, Barred Rocks and Blue Cochins like most women my age would pour over a jewelry store catalog. Is it wrong that I'm kind of proud of that? ;)

After intensive research (mostly on Livy's part), we're leaning towards adding more Americauna/Aracaunas and a few Buff Brahma's to our laying/breeding flock, and mulling over Barred Rocks, Buff Orpingtons and Rhode Island Reds for our meat flock. Livy's advice is that we go with the RIR's because they are not known to be overly friendly, a good trait in critters that are destined for the dinner table.

But in the mean time, I'll just sit here by the fire, reading and re-reading my battered catalog, and changing my mind 50 times between now and March about how many and what kind of birds to get.

Oh, the torment of waiting!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Liv's Egg Label Art

Livy just up and decided to make us an egg carton label for our yummy BHF eggs.

Didn't she do a great job?!?

Unfortunately, we wouldn't actually be allowed to label these as organic (even though they are), since we're not certified. But you have to admire the girl's creativity and commitment to healthful hens & eggs. That's my girl! :)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

It's Official

We're farmers! Well, hobby farmers anyway. I guess we'll be "real deal" farmers once we sell something that we grew for a profit. Anyway, my definition of a farmer up to this point as been one who owns actual livestock, aka, something with hooves. And here we are, goat owners shepherds lackeys.

Introducing our 3 newest babies, Gertie, Archie & Spike-

All are Nigerian Dwarf goats, two wethers (castrated males) and one doe. The boys have already exhibited their stubborn streak by head butting fences and each other, and showing off some highly skilled evasion tactics while we attempted to herd them into their pen. Our girl, Gertie, so far is nothing but sweetness and light. We hope to breed her ASAP so that we might have her kid in Spring, and hopefully get a little milk for us by Summer. I still have a WHOLE LOT to learn about caring for these little rascals, but we're already madly in love with their goofy faces and their curious little nibblings (Bill was not totally thrilled that Archie tried to eat his shorts, but human/goat relations will no doubt improve over time).

I am very fortunate to have a cousin who lives a few miles down the road, who's daughters are serious goat experts. I'm going to have to learn the ropes of goat grooming and maintenance lickety-split, so I'm incredibly grateful to have someone who is totally enamored of goats to be showing me the right way to care for them.

According to "Raising Miniature Livestock", our wee little farm might now qualify for some sort of tax break in the form of an agricultural exemption, now that we've got actual livestock. Holy mackerel, what a year this has been!

More pics for your goat viewing pleasure-

Archie, the shy guy

Our sweet little Gertrude

Spike, Mr. Bossypants

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Hardest Part... saying goodbye. We lost our first chicken today. In fact, it was the first loss of a pet that my children have ever suffered. Today we had to bury our sweet Eglantine.

Eglantine was originally named "Rocky", as she was the first egg to wiggle, and in her struggles to pip, moved around the incubator a great deal, bumping and thumping her siblings along the way. I actually had to help her hatch, as some membrane had dried on her from her prolonged, weak efforts at pipping her shell open. I have a really hard time believing that that was just 5 months ago. It feels like we've had these "babies" forever.

Eggy somehow found her way out into the road and was struck. The most upsetting part of which was that whomever did it did not bother to stop and tell us, but left her there for Scarlet and I to happen upon while going to get the mail. No kid should ever have to see their beloved animal like that. I can still hear my poor girl's wail.

While I took Scarlet inside to break the news to Olivia, Papa buried our chickie girl under the biggest Alder tree that he could find in the back pasture. I told the girls that that means that Eggy's body is a part of our farm forever now, and that she will, in a way, grow with the tree. But most importantly, that her lively little spirit has gone to heaven to frolic with Grammy's dog, Shadow, and to eat endless corn and red worms.

We're all still having a little trouble getting past the sudden trauma of her passing, but the goats coming tomorrow has helped brighten an otherwise very dark day. Please keep my kiddos in your thoughts, their hearts are saddened and strained as they struggle to learn and accept the rules of life and death. I could pray that this would be the last such traumatic loss that we'd suffer, but accepting the realities of life on a farm means accepting the brutality of sudden loss. I just wish that I could save my girls from the pain of it.

The Goats Cometh!

Three of them!!!

Pics and more details tomorrow. :)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The New Kid in Town

May I introduce, Miss Cotton.

Young Miss Cotton is a full-figured white Cochin seeking new friends and adventure, but sadly meeting with little luck in the friends department. The other boys and girls like to pick on her and chase her.

This is day 3 of Cotton's life at Boggy Hollow, and thus far she has only ventured out of her hidey-hole in a blackberry bramble a handful of times, only to be chased and snipped at by the Alpha hens (aka the big girls) and the roosters. Poor girl. She outweighs them all and could kick their sassy butts if only she had the nerve. In the mean time, she's hiding out and getting bread and pellets hand delivered to her twice a day and somehow managing to sneak into the nest box and lay us some pretty pinkish/brownish eggs.

If anyone has any thoughts on how to help integrate Cotton into the group, I'd be most open to hearing them. We want our girl to feel safe and at home, and so far, I'm afraid that she feels neither. :(