Monday, September 27, 2010

Return of the Chickens

We picked up the chickens this afternoon from the processors. And man are those some big chickens

17 of them are currently taking up about 1/4 of our freezer space.

Yes, 17...although we dropped off 18. Apparently one of them still had food in it's crop. This caused some sort of mess (I don't totally want to know the details) and the meat became "infected". They used to just wash off the birds and package them anyways (according to the lady at the plant) but new regulations state they must cut all salvageable meat from the bird and dispose of the carcass. Since this is a relatively new procedure for them, I guess all the bugs haven't been worked out yet and the entire bird was either disposed of, or it had gone missing in the very least.
They paid me out for the bird. At $15 dollars. I was tempted to ask if they wanted to pay me that for all the birds. Then I wouldn't have lost any money in this little chicken raising experiment.
Actually I did ask quite a few questions about how the bird had become "infected" I was more interested in making sure it had been a contamination problem on site. Rather than us bringing in a sick bird.
I probably sounded like an idiot re asking this question is several different ways, but I kept explaining to her "this is our first year raising chickens and we really don''t know what we're doing".
She told me it sure looked like we knew what we were doing because they were awfully big birds.
Maybe she just said it to shut me up.
but Ill take it.
It felt pretty good.

When we got home we spent another couple of hours cutting the Styrofoam insulation for the "Boys" barn. Chris got the front window sealed off too. Hence the ladder. and little jack-and-the-beanstalk, climbing into the clouds. We bought some more wood tonight, and I'm hoping we get finished with the barn makeover tomorrow. I doubt it will get paint right away (I still want it to go red, and we only have white paint kicking around) but I may get some pictures up of the whole PROCESS once I get some AFTER pictures.

I did another "experiment" today. I took Maggie into the goat pen.
She's walked up to them sniffed them and lost interest. She's actually been in their barn, which nearly caused a revolt on their part. But today I decided to bring her into the pen unleashed and see how things went.

She chased them.

But would stop when they were all together.

She actually does have the herding instinct she's suppose too!!!

I'm not totally surprised I've actually seen her try to herd Nathan (minus the nipping at the heels) whenever she feels he's gone too far in the yard.

Overall, Maggie did pretty well as far as I'm concerned.
The goats as you can see in the picture have completely different feelings about this new addition to the herd.
Not that I'll be leaving her alone with them any time soon. We're going to do quite a few more experiments in the next few weeks to make sure she understands her job would be to protect them. Not just make them run around for her own amusement.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

around here

It's nearly 9 o'clock. It is completely dark outside. And my crazy Husband is still out mowing the grass. If I could make all his chores as fun as riding the "tractor" this place would be looking amazing!

This is also the third day in a row the goats have not left their pen.
So whats the score now something like 6-3 for the goats?
and I've probably totally jinxed us by even bringing it up.

I think tomorrow will have to be about securing a hay source for all winter. Chris just took (another) new job on Friday and expect he will be gone A LOT for the next while. Therefore all the bails of hay will have to be here and secured before he leaves. I just don't see myself figuring out how to singled handedly wrestle a 1200-1600 pond bail off the back of a truck...hmmm...I may have to talk to a few of my sources. and find out if there is a way we could reverse a boat lift to take bails of hay off a truck. I've seen several free boat lift ads lately. and it's got me thinking...

And now that the chicken side of the barn is empty, maybe we can start getting all the insulation up against the wall. We bought a monster "package" of Styrofoam to use as insulation in the barn. but until the place has been cleaned out and chicken less we've had that project on hold. Keep your fingers crossed we can get it at least on the go this weekend.

I was also hoping to get the waterer, made over. As in painted, cleaned up and all the wires reattached. And although I'd still like to put it together I'm thinking we won't be using it this winter anyways. We don't have a water source close enough to the goat pen that won't freeze in the cold weather. My original thought was it was only about 20-30 feet that we would have to run a water line. This seemed like a good weekend easy project until I realized we weren;t talking about digging a foot and half down. We're talking more like going a good six feet down to get below the frost line. yeah. 30 feet by 6 feet doesn't sound like a quick weekend job any more. I guess I'll be back in the want ads just looking for a submerseable de-icer that I can drop into a stock tank. rather that using my ever so cool waterer this season.

Guess what we did yesterday?

It was the end of the line for the chickens.
Well  the end of the line with us, and the start of the conveyor belt for them. I'm sure I completely traumatized Nathan as he watched the chickens get hung upside down on a device that resembles those spinning dry cleaners carrousel's, but the chickens just disappeared through the wall never to be seen again.
Not until we pick them up frozen and bagged on Monday anyways.

I know we bought the chicken plucker and spent hours putting it together.
But the fact is, we couldn't coordinate Chris' time off with enough good weather to get the chicken processing done ourselves. (especially knowing he would probably take us hours per chicken)

I'm also pretty sure that chickens should be "finished" at about 16 weeks, and these guys were nearing 5 months. I'm hoping we don't end up with stringy nasty meat. I guess there may be a lot of marinated chicken in our future if we did wait to long and have "18 STEW birds"

And...I have a horrible confession...
at 6:30 this morning Chris and I were rounding up the birds and shoving them in the dog crate in the back of the truck. *** Our dog crate is the greatest thing EVER BTW. I was convinced we needed an old horse trailer, but we've managed to move all our animals in this over sized metal cage and the back of the truck- so Awesome- especially considering a horse trailer isn't really in the budget for awhile***  Anyways, The Chickens were not very impressed that we were scooping them up, and taking them somewhere. And that the somewhere didn't seem to be to their outside pen. A few of them got right cranky. Or more like a few of the roosters got territorial/defensive/aggressive??? One of them literally attacked my boot. I'm not talking pecking at the toes. More like full on fly towards me with wings beating and start pecking at my shin.
Luckily my rubber boots go nearly to my knee so it did no damage.
~Except making me shriek like a girl, side stepping (or running-whatever) away from insane rooster. And then refusing to pick up any more of the roosters.~
In my defense I did haul the rest of the hens out to the truck.
By WOULD NOT go back near the Roosters.
Yeah, not my proudest "I'm a true farm girl" moment.
My only excuse is I was incredibly tired and this seemed really really early to be chicken wrangling.

I really don't think I could work at the chicken processing plant. You can't see him really well in this picture (the combination of bad lighting and me not wanting to be a total freak getting in every ones face with my camera- although I'm sure they all thought I was anyways taking pictures) But the dude is carrying 3 of our chickens at once upside down towards the scary looking chicken loading machine.

And here's a closer (as close as I was willing to get) picture of the chickens being loaded for their "last ride" on the conveyor belt/dry cleaners rack/ medieval torture device.

I have to admit I'm pretty relieved that there just gone. Without me having to stick my hand in a freshly slaughtered chicken and remove...well you get the picture.
And the really, really, really best part. It's like having my chores cut in half. Not having to feed and water them anymore.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Goats are kicking our butts 6-0
As in they have escaped their pen everyday in the last 6 days straight. Often more than once a day.
We (as in Chris) goes out and patches up their escape route, only to have them find/create a new one the next day. It was actually kind of funny to me for the last 5 days since he's been home to deal with it.
However with him being back at work as of today, the novelty of escape artist goats is quickly wearing off.

I was outside trying to cajole them back into the pen twice today. This afternoon I came in hot and frustrated. Threw myself on the couch and immediately jumped back up. tearing off my shirt and jacket. (probably a good thing I don't have house guests this week).
Stupid wasp had gotten in my shirt. Probably while I was trucking it through all the long grass chasing after the goats.
Anyways I got the shirt and jacket off, and after I had to almost physically restrain myself from scratching and making it worse, I took a look in the mirror. I'd been thanked for squishing the bugger with exactly 3 nasty bites. One on each side of my spine and one on my hip.
I caught up to the wasp awhile later on the window and squished it dead. But you know the satisfaction in that just isn't there AFTER its stung you.
I can't believe I got through the entire summer without getting bit and the first day of fall I get 3?!?!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Name my goats

2 of the goats came with names that I can't quite wrap myself or my tongue around.
this first one with the red collar is currently named Sweetheart. She is mostly white and you can see the rest of her markings pretty well in the picture.
The other one is currently named Little One. She kind of looks like an Antelope to me with the horns and her colors. She's a light brown with the black stripe down her back and a white belly.
Anyways, neither Sweetheart or Little One are working for me. They just don't roll off the tongue. So these little beauties need to be named (well- renamed)
Any suggestions?

Friday, September 3, 2010

only in my life...

Only in my life does stuff like this happen.

The shed we couldn't finish taking apart the other night? We got back to finish the job yesterday afternoon and discovered this.

The shed was in behind a mobile home that they were moving. They moved it yesterday. and backed it right over my shed.

We ended up getting our money back without a fight. So all were really out is 4 hours of headache taking it apart the other night.

Oh and the goats still don't have any shade in the field now. Back to square one with that.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

why am I insane?

I decided that the goats need a shed. One of those metal garden sheds.
Since our pasture for them is a ways from the barn. they need to have some sort of shelter in the field. From wind rain whatever.
I was told a cow shelter would work. Those 3 sided shacks you see? But even those are expensive, and short of buying it new and unassembled I wasn't sure how we'd transport it to the field. So I thought I was quite brilliant with the idea of a metal garden shed.
I found one that was 10 x 10 and cheap cheap. But metal garden sheds can be taken apart with a few screws right?
uh huh!!!!
I'm not going to tell you how much tin we had to bend and pry just to get at the stupid screws in some places. The roof is screwed into place from a minimum of 3 directions.
We worked for 4 hours to get this shed apart. Were maybe half done. I have 50 pounds of screws in my pockets. The pieces still aren't small enough to transport and when we finally ran out of sunlight we had to throw in the towel. Leaving a note saying we'd be back to pick it up as soon as possible.
But who knows when that will be with Chris' work schedule so up in the air.
I'm just hoping that we didn't half disassemble it for them to turn around and sell it to someone else. That would be my kid of luck lately.

On a brighter note I have managed to wire, assemble or cover with snow fence 4 gates in the last 24 hours. 3 for the corral and one for the front pasture. Leaving very little left to do on the front pasture.