I sometimes take for granted knowledge that is common sense for me, but not for those who do no live on a farm. The biggest of these is the knowledge that livestock can be dangerous. Thankfully I've never taken for granted the damaged a pig, cow, or even a goat can do. But as more and more people start keeping a couple pigs or cows to raise for their own use, there are people owning livestock that may have never owned livestock before. So here is my general rule. Pigs and cows are not puppies. They can kill you by accident.
This past weekend we found ourselves scrambling to prepare for what was supposed to be a massive storm resulting in wide spread power outages. This might have been the case for along the coast but here in Western NY the lights only flickered a couple of times and never actually went out. The mud though, oh my god the mud. We need to invest in some wood shavings for the animal stalls because the dirt floors of the barn get damp and wet in this sort of weather.
In other non hurricane related news, we picked up two piglets this weekend. Meet Reba and Sandy.
This week the chickens resumed laying, I found out that hay is not a good bedding to use when keeping sheep in your basement, caught a funny video of Flower and Sheena, and made Irish Stew after spending a week trying to find lamb and/or mutton.
THEY'RE OUT!!! Woohoo! Yesterday I finally moved all of the chicks from the basement out to the coop with the rest of the chickens. Normally it's a bad idea to just plop a bunch of unknown birds together, but I did it during the evening when everyone was getting ready to sleep. Dumpling fought a little bit with some of the hens, but our older rooster Zorro didn't even care, and let Dumpling take over as head rooster without a fight. Now tonight I will be cleaning up the basement so the furnace people can come and fix it - cause I think all the dust has gotten into the furnace and it needs a good cleaning. After that we will be setting up a bigger pen to put Flower in so I can keep and eye on her.
Yes, Flower is most definitely preggo and I'm a nervous mess over it. She is probably due within the next few weeks so I want to get her over to our house asap so she has time to settle in before she gives birth. The only place we have to put her that is quite and secure is our basement - I can't wait until we move and have a barn - basements are not built for this kind of use! As she gets bigger I grow more neurotic. I have a list of supplies that I need to get from Tractor Supply and I'm hoping that everything goes smooth so I don't have to call my veterinarian friend over in the middle of the night. For anyone else that is a first timer at this whole lambing thing here is the list of supplies I need.
Lube (i.e. Vaseline or you can buy the livestock stuff at TS, or KY if you have some lying around) ~ just incase the lamb gets stuck in the birthing canal.
Gloves ~ because it's gonna be messy - I have some regular gloves but I may need the ones that go up your arm just incase.
Iodine w/cup ~ to disinfect the umbilical cord area on the lamb.
Feeding Tube w/ syringe ~ just incase I need to force feed the lamb.
Electrolytes ~ another just incase the lamb is dehydrated.
Nutrient Drench ~ incase the lamb needs a pick me-up, it’s like a multi-vitamin.
Pritchard Nipples & Bottles ~ for feeding the lambs if Flower can't.
Colostrum ~ Just incase Flower doesn't or can't nurse.
Milk Replacer ~ If either I decided to put Flower back with the rest of the herd and keep the lamb(s) at the house, or if Flower can't or won't nurse.
I have been too serious lately so here are some interesting things I have learned about farming so far. :)
A playful pig is only cute until it exceeds your own body weight then it’s utterly terrifying.
Don’t think if you build a shelter your sheep will actually use it; they much rather be outside. Invest in shade and wind-brakes.
Before you decided to hatch out chicks in winter first figure out where you are going to house them. Basements don’t make good chick brooder.
Rams are called such for a reason.
Dogs can get fat eating chicken poop.
If chickens don’t know what something is their first instinct is to peck it, whether it’s a string on the ground or a temperamental old cat, it makes no difference to them.
Chickens have a bad rap for being stupid, but ducks are worse. They can figure out how to fly out of the yard but not how to fly back in.
Chickens + Dead Frog = Hours of Entertainment
Pigs are smarter then dogs, they know to wait until your back is turned to body slam you.
Don’t ask your pigs if they want an apple unless you actually have some apples to give them, they aren’t stupid and they hold a grudge.
Goats know the best places to stand/walk so they can trip you.
An otherwise quite and late rising rooster will always start crowing at 4am on the days you could sleep in.
Plucking a duck is one of the 9 levels of hell.
The smaller the size of your male goat the larger the attitude.
Never stand directly in front of a male goat; you risk getting peed on.
Male goats can *cough* take care of themselves if you know what I mean.
No matter how much it may suck going out in below zero temperatures to feed and care for the animals after you've had the day from hell; by the time your done lugging buckets of water and wrestling with the animals to get from the gate to their food dishes, you have a smile on your face and you've forgotten that you can't feel your toes.
The four Mallards received a pardon from becoming dinner this week when they started laying eggs! The pekins though, both of which are male, are still slated to become Thanksgiving Dinner. The pekin males where beating the crap out of the little mallard females so they had to be separated until it is time to butcher them (my neighbor prefers it be a little colder out so as to not attract flies). That was Saturday, on Sunday me and hubby Jeff along with sissy Karen took a 2.5 hour drive to West Hartford, VT to pick us up two six month old Alpine does. We left about 6:30am and got back home a little after 11am, which gave me and Karen plenty of time to trim hooves before she had to go to work.
So thanks to my friends over at BackYardHerds.com I have discovered that Sheep and Goats can not thrive on the same food... great. So after taking yet another trip to Tractor Supply (I think they are starting to recognize me) to buy a bag of DuMOR® Sheep Formula and a separate bag of Dumor® Goat Formula, I went to feed my animals around 5pm as I do every day.
Sense bringing Toony, Flower, and Ashes home I have learned quite a bit about sheep, goats and pigs. First of which being that goat and sheep hooves MUST be trimmed every 4 - 6 weeks, something their previous owners must not have know because their hooves where horrendous! Lucky for me my sister owns a horse and knows a few things about hooves so between the both of us we where able to trim their hooves last week. This is not fun when you don’t have a shearing stand to latch them too. It was like WWE farm style with me wrestling the animals while my sister clipped their feet. Would of been funny if I wasn't so black and blue the next day.... and we get to do it all over in a month. Also there are certain vaccines sheep and goats must have, which once I actually find the vaccine I shouldn't have any trouble administering it.
I also found out that there seems to be a consensus among farmers that its a-ok to neuter a farm animal when they are only days or weeks old without any anesthesia or pain medication.... as seen below. (the spray is disinfectant not something to help with the pain)
Now this is done in piglets to prevent something called boar taint in the meat of the male pigs. So guess what I am soooo not doing to my little piglets next year, my little babies are keeping their nuts thank you very much. I guess we will see if I have any trouble with this boar taint or not.
Kayla lives with her family in South Dayton, NY. She along with her husband Jeff and daughter Tanner run a small farm raising all sorts of animals.