Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘goats’

20160905_103233Since my last post, we’ve been preparing for horses.  The sheep and goats were given to a farmer willing to take them on.  The pasture was fallow all summer, allowing it to regenerate.  In the meantime, Tammi found 1800 feet of used triple split-rail fence.  It has a lovely historic look to it, and will enclose the horse pasture.

Stay tuned as we get ready for this new chapter!

Read Full Post »

These just in…

Two of the cats --Simon (the porch cat) and Momma Cat (a barn cat)

Two of the cats –Simon (the porch cat) and Momma Cat (a barn cat)

fancies

Our “fancy” chicks are growing!

goats

Ginnie, Hermione and their mother Myrtle — nubian goats

sheep

Our sheep — Coal — the black ram and the flock of Scottish Highlands

Read Full Post »

Finally, the long cold nasty winter is over for good.  It held on well into April, with the temperature dropping into the 30s on some nights, while fighting to get into the 50s during the day.  Everything is now blooming, and the old Christian Baker Farm looks lovely.

It has been awhile since I have recounted the additions and substractions among the animals.  2012 was a difficult year, as we were getting started and learning “the ropes.” If you’ve been following the blog, you know we went from 25 leghorn chickens to zero in a relatively short time.  Most of this was by design — the rest by varmints!

Hermione and Ginnie

Hermione and Ginnie

This May 14th, we will receive, from the Hoffman Hatchery in Gratz, PA, a shipment of 25 fancy chickens.  I don’t remember all of the varieties — but there are 5 different.  When they arrive, we will track their growth with you on this blog.

Regarding the sheep, we lost the big old ram “Rambo,” who succumbed to pneumonia after some unseasonably warm weather last February (2013).  He did manage to sire a number of lambs.  Our flock grew to 7, thanks to his exploits.  It would have been 9, but two of the lambs were to weak to survive.  They were all born last spring (2013).

Not long after the birth of the lambs, we adopted a young black ram lamb named Coal.  He is thriving, taking the place of Rambo, as he grows to full size.  Thus, the flock is now at 8 — all healthy and recently sheared.

As you know, we said goodbye to the old goats, Nellie and Twinx, who were in their late teens and suffering terribly from arthritis.  A few weeks ago, we added a doe goat, Myrtle, and her two baby daughters, Hermione and Ginnie.

Meanwhile, Gertie, our dog, is now full grown and a handful!

Read Full Post »

It has been awhile since our last post.  Much has happened!  First and foremost, the Lady Leghorns have been laying…

It all started one afternoon with a tiny pullet egg — about the size of a quarter.  Brandon found it and was very excited.  We decided to cook the egg and share in our bounty.  Everyone received about half a forkful of fried egg — “Best egg ever!” Brandon cried.

Since then, the production rate really picked up.  Through the weeks, we increased from one to two to three eggs a day.  We have now been consistently receiving five or six little gifts from our Ladies every day.  We’ve learned that six chickens are probably too many for our needs — at least during their peak production.  We have now been giving a few dozen eggs away here and there.

A huge distraction these last few months has been the facelift we’ve been giving the old place.  We have completely replaced the roof of the house with a metal roof resembling shake shingles.  This replaces asphalt shingles on the back of the house and ancient slate on the front.  The side and porch roofs were metal.  When this was peeled off, there were mid-19th century cedar shingles underneath.  It was a tragedy to have to remove them, but most were rotten and unusable.  The shake metal roof closely resembles the look of the cedar, after aging.

All of the brick has been repointed and a new concrete steps were poured in front.  The porch and stairs will be covered with slate-like stamped concrete in the next few weeks.  We can’t wait!

Our Homestead – nearing completion

On a sad note, our two elderly nubian goats, Twinx and Nellie (ages 16 and 14) were put down a few weeks ago.  Their arthritis had become very painful and their health was failing.  Neither was eating well and both were beginning to look emaciated.  It was a sad day, and the farm has felt empty since.  They had lived here a long time…

Read Full Post »

Last week, while driving home from York with one of the now fixed feral cats, the feline couldn’t hold its bladder, leaving a small puddle of pungent liquid on the back bench of the F150 — despite it being adequately covered. The next morning, the odor was unbearable, forcing me to abandon the vehicle to the wife in a fit of rage. “You’re responsible!” said I, as if poor Tammi had been the one leaking in the back. I went to work angry, worried about how it was going to be cleaned.

Late in the morning, I became so worried it was going to be cleaned improperly, I called Tammi to no avail. So, I headed home to see what was up. I also needed to vacuum my car a bit to make it presentable to some coworkers who were to be lunch partners. As I arrived in the driveway, there was no F150 — no Tammi — and no Brandon (who was now off school for the summer). Perplexed, I set about cleaning my car when the large animal vet pulled into the driveway for his scheduled visit. Tammi had forgotten to cancel the meeting meant to review the health of our goats and sheep — especially the pregnant ewe.

I showed the doc around myself, apologizing for Tammi’s absence.  Fortunately, the doc was able to see Twinx and Nellie, the old goats. He was not able to see the sheep, who were out in the field. After a few minutes of examining teeth, hooves and front legs, the doc declared the pair as “very old” – especially Twinx. Apparently she had worn her teeth down to nothing. Both were diagnosed with arthritis and possibly encephalitis. Both were given less than a year to live. “I will prescribe some pain medication to keep them comfortable,” he said. I had no idea they were both in such horrible shape. “They both have lived well past their normal life expectancy” he continued. I was relieved to hear the prior owner had taken great care of them. I knew we needed to tell him of their pending demise.

I returned to work, not having seen Tammi or Brandon. The vet left not seeing the sheep – especially the pregnant ewe.

About an hour later, I received a call at work from Tammi.  She reported Brandon had been out in the field looking for the sheep and stumbled upon a newborn lamb with its mother!  All appeared well.  Tammi jumped to action to find some way to separate the mother and baby into a holding area to be sure they bonded. It turned out this was unnecessary – the bond was obviously strong and the mother was providing more than enough nourishment, though we did worry a bit on the second day.

We discussed the fact that dinner may just have been born. Given my mood about the cat odor and the missed vet appointment, I was still not happy. But, when I returned home that evening and saw Tammi pick up the newborn lamb, I knew another bond had just occurred. There was no way we could butcher the poor thing (I am talking about the lamb, not the wife). It was just too damned cute and my wife had found something else to care about. I realized, some day Tammi will be a wonderful grandmother. Her mothering instincts are amazing!

So, the talk around the farm and at the office was all about the baby lamb. Brandon had declared it was a boy and that he would name it. I suggested we wait until the sex is confirmed. In the meantime, if it is a young ram, my stepson has declared it to be Ram Bam — an appropriate monicker if he should be anything like his father.

That Saturday my parents dropped in to visit from Alabama. They looked about the farm and were enamored with the baby lamb. After some small talk and a tour, we headed out to an antique mall to look for some items and pass some time. One of the items I found for less than 20 dollars was an old metal chicken feeder painted with a Taneytown (Maryland) Feed Mill advertisement. It was a legitimate old antique with a lot of eye appeal. “What better to feed our chickens than an antique feeder!” I declared, confidently carrying it to the check out. “I am actually going to use this,” I said the the clerk with a smile.

When we got back to the farm, Dad, Tammi and I filled it and hung it in the coup. We then continued our visit. After Mom and Dad left, Tammi and I settled in for a movie — The Descendants.  We highly recommend the film, but about halfway through, there was a huge boom outside — almost like the Battle of Gettysburg was being relived in our front yard.  Poor Gertie, who had been laying asleep on the wood plank floor, jumped awake, startled and confused.

“What was that?” asked Tammi.

“Township fireworks!” I replied. We headed to the porch and watched a spectacular display of pyrotechnics lasting a good 20 minutes. “Impressive for Monroe Township!” I declared.

“Sure beats Harrisburg!” said Tammi. Both of us reflected on that comment — realizing it meant a lot more than just the fireworks.

After it was over, I quickly went to close the chicken coop and returned to the house for the remainder of the movie.

In the morning, I went out to retrieve the Sunday paper and open the coop. I was surprised to find all but three of the chickens out in the yard. “What the…?” I thought. I realized I had not checked them before I closed the door. I went inside to tell Tammi.

“The chickens were out all night!” I said. “They were probably spooked by the fireworks.”

Later that day, Tammi noticed none of the chickens were going in the coop — not even to feed.

“It wasn’t the fireworks, Baron,” she said to me. “It’s that damn antique feeder!”

“What?” said I in disbelief. “Get the f*ck out!”

We went to the coop and switched the familiar plastic feeder back in for the antique.

“Money well spent!” said the wife, sarcastically as I hid the blasted thing in the corner.

“I guess this metal contraption scared the hell out of them!” I said. “To them it probably looked like a robot from outer space!”

While the chickens did return to eat, they did not return to sleep. So, we were forced to catch them in the barn, where they were roosting and returned them to the coop. The next day, the same thing happened — chickens did not return. So, we caught them again and cooped them up — this time for three days. We’ll know the results soon…

Read Full Post »

It’s not long before a “back-to-the-lander” neophyte farmer discovers the real meaning of farming — waste removal — as in the shoveling, hauling and otherwise cleaning of one’s barn, coop and/or self of sh*t!

It all started with a squish under the foot one evening — that soon revealed a very fragrant and acrid odor that could be only one thing — dog sh*t. Apparently the farmer’s wife had been training Gertie, her puppy, that it is perfectly fine to do her business at the foot of the stone steps that lead to the upper pasture. Scatological Ruminant #1 – Do not train your dog to sh*t where thee tread!

Next was the realization about the little lady leghorns. We had them in a kiddie pool until they outgrew it. Every day, we would change the newspaper. When they were tiny, they left cute little poops — imagine little fluffy yellow balls emitting tiny little pellets — essentially the chick feed they were eating just passing through. Of course, as they migrated to the coop, things got a little more complicated. We spread straw on the floor and let them loose. As the birds grew rapidly, so did their excretions. Thank God, we eventually let them out all day! I can’t imagine a coop of cooped up poop! So, I had to empty the growing pen, where our little pullets grew from chicks to maturity. It was a dusty affair – straw and pungent poo. But, I managed to get it all into one wheel barrow. Scatological Ruminant #2 – When someone says “chicken sh*t!” in anger, and they are not a farmer, they have no idea what they are really saying or complaining about. If they are a farmer, then you know they are referring to a real mess!

The previous owner of our farm stopped by one day to ask permission to remove some of the goat and sheep sh*t in the barn. “Good for the garden,” he said — and proceeded to shovel as much as he could into the back of his pickup.

“Take as much you like!” said I.

I imagined a conversation between Cheech and Chong — the former farmer was an old hippie-type.

“Yeah, it’s good sh*t, man — really good sh*t” said imaginary Chong farmer.

“What do you call this ch*t, man?” said imaginary Cheech farmer.

“It’s goat sh*t, man,” said Chong farmer, “like Nubian or something like that!”

“Hehehe!”, giggled Cheech farmer, “Let’s do some Nubian Doobian!”

Scatological Ruminant #3 – This ain’t the kind of sh*t you can smoke, unfortunately!

Back to reality — he was taking a portion of what was in one stall. There was an entire other stall where our critters were currently living — full of the stuff!

So, this Saturday morning, at the crack of dawn, like a good farmer and his wife would, Tammi and I headed to that stall full of straw and goat and sheep sh*t and began to break away at it and shovel it. We had set our sights on clearing the whole thing this morning, but soon realized we could barely get in the door — after three loads.

“Oh my God!” said Tammi, “I hope the whole thing isn’t this deep!”

I felt like an archaeologist digging up a  Mayan Temple in the Yucatan — removing layer upon layer until we hit stone — or concrete.

“It’s six inches thick here!” said I “It’s going to talk all summer!”

It was getting hot, so we resolved to return a couple times a week to chip away at it.

Scatological Ruminant #4:  Don’t let your sh*t pile up too much — gotta stay on top of all of this sh*t — gotta keep up with the sh*t….God this sounds like work!

Just one more humorous item. While Tammi was scraping with the blade, she accidentally sprayed my face with a splattering of poo and straw…

“Gives a whole new meaning to sh*t-faced…” she said.

Read Full Post »

Tammi and I were shopping for antiques recently at Bedford Street Antiques in Carlisle.  If you’ve never been there, we highly recommend it === a nice little surprise on a back street in town. The place is full of interesting items at great prices. We happened upon four old painted benches priced very reasonably. We bought them — two went into our master bedroom to line the back wall. The others were stacked in the bathroom to provide some interesting shelving for towels and such. Besides a few other collectibles and knick knacks, I picked up an original copy of the Country Gentleman magazine dated May 16, 1914 – exactly 98 years old!  Tammi pointed to it and I was instantly drawn to the painting of a mother leghorn on the cover tending to her dozen or so peeps.

The other day, I picked up the old magazine and flipped through it, admiring the ancient advertisements — for the Columbia Grafonola record player or Cleveland Grindstones – or Panama hats for $1 – just write to Geo. T. Bungay, 28 So. William St. New York. (I am sure he’ll be happy to part with his hats for a buck each!)  On page 15 was an article entitled “Shall I Begin Farming at Forty-Five?” Obviously, I could not have picked up a better issue!  Here was a “clerk” who lived in the city, contemplating moving to the country to take up farming at age 45. Two writers at the magazine responded to his query.

Here were the gentleman’s concerns:

He has been a clerk in the city and ‘worked indoors his entire life. ‘ He thought working outdoors would be healthier for him and provide a better setting to raise his boys, without the many ‘temptations’ of the city. He asks if the experts felt he could make a decent living to support his family. Interestingly, he never mentions his wife’s feelings about the matter!

Responder #1 – You Can!

Referring to the clerk as a ‘back-to-the-lander’, he encouraged him to do so, suggesting he study up on the scientific methods of farming now prevalent. ‘It is also a fact, however, that a surprising proportion of the pronounced successes in American agriculture are town-reared men…” (I am beginning to be encouraged, here!)  “They have not had the disadvantages of being full of the notions of father and grandfather.”

“…the city man who really studies his job and applies initiative and common business sense is in the position of real advantage…”  (Yeah!)

The writer then went on to ask the man what his wife was thinking – most city women don’t fancy being a farmer’s wife…. (no problem here — it was her idea!)

“…twenty years of close observation and a rather wide knowledge of the United States causes me unhesitatingly to say that the farm is today the place where a man of brains has the least competition…”  (Ha!  I suspected as much – figured that out at the livestock auction!  We’re on a roll!)

The author even goes on to suggest buying his farm in Central Pennsylvania — done!   He encourages him to start now with a garden and to raise chickens!

“…you almost MUST raise chickens…start with twenty-five hens…”  (WTF? That’s what we did!)

Responder #2 – I Did!

“…I say emphatically that the man of forty-five, with $3000 to $5000 in money, with a brain that will work, with a well-made plan and a firm purpose, certainly ought to succeed on the land. Even if he meets with no more than a part of the success he hopes for, in dollar profits, he will be able to realize something infinitely better — a share, right here on earth, in the peace that passeth understanding.”

Clearly, there is no better peace than looking out over one’s parcel just as the sun is coming up – and seeing the chickens beginning their day, enthusiastically pecking in the grass, and the goats and sheep heading up the hill to the high grass, and the barn swallows flitting about, and our puppie Gertie taking a squat — oops — sorry to ruin that scene for ya…

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »