Wednesday, July 31, 2013

New friends on the farm, Squashini

Norman is officially a grass calf. I had to go around and lower about half the insulators on the fence so the little weasel couldn't get under them. We did a lot of maintenance on the fence too over the last week. Trees, shrubs, brush, some downed branches, a few places where the wind had blown the braided wire into the old barbed wire fence. Each little spot was a power drain and made the fence hit not as hard. It's rocking 8k on the little light up meter now. When we first put Norman out it didn't zap hard enough to keep him from going under it. It sure does now though. The horses had been zapped enough when it was still really hot to not want to go anywhere near it when they had plenty of tall green grass to nosh on.

The two steers from last year finally got moved out to the front pasture. It was a total anticlimatical, non-event. I really expected to take down the fence over at Andrea's and have them run out, tails in the air and act like wild yabangies. They didn't. Andrea's steer did a little bolt, but I had Norman on a leash in front of him a ways, and he just followed us into the pasture. The other calf hung back, just outside the gate, and after walking Norman back, he followed with just a little pressure of someone walking behind him.

Andrea's weimer, Loki had to go check them out, and the silly cows let him chew on their little bud horns.

Norman does not like them. He doesn't know he's a calf. He thinks he's a pet that lives next to the house. He did a little bit of hollering the first couple nights. He runs when they come near him. I've had both Ben and Apache out with them. The lighter steer tried humping Ben. Silly cows. They hump anything.

After all the squash and zucchini I pulled out of the garden last year and didn't eat, I told myself I wasn't going to plant any this year. Scott talked me into one little pot of zucchini with four little sprouts in it. No yellow squash though. Yeah right. I was kicking the stuff open last year after the plants died to frost, so the chickens could eat the insides. Scott tilled everything up so nice and pretty for me this spring. I have a corner in the back where the corn is that is now over run with yellow squash and "squashini". It is the shape of a zucchini, but a very pale green. It has to be stuff that got cross pollinated with the yellow or the crooked neck squash from last year. It's tasty though.

The second batch of meat birds are well past big enough to process. It's just finding the time to do it. I'm working 6 and 7 days a week right now with summer shave down season, and helping the 4H kids get their dogs ready to the fair. I did three roos the Sunday while everyone else left for Pocatello to get the rest of Connie's stuff. Scott and I should both be off Teusday next week. I think we're going to have a marathon chicken butchering day. Andrea, Connie, and Liam can all help. 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Everything's Growing

The garden is growing weeds faster than I can snatch them out of the ground. The corn is growing even if it looks like a drunkard on a three day binge put it in the ground. I'd take pics to prove that the strawberries have taken off like crazy this year, but the older chickens eat them before I get a chance to see them. I keep telling myself I'm going to go out there and put wire around the berries, but I never remember till it's after dark.

My second batch of meat birds are getting closer and closer to processing time. The roos are all battling with each other. They start with the beak to beak stare down, hackles raised and then one jumps at the other. I swear that sometimes the stare downs last longer than the fights. I keep calling this batch the Red Meats instead of the Creepy Meats. They still swarm me in the morning, but I don't expect the ground to shake as they all run towards me. There is a lot less lumbering as they run. They actually run instead of waddle. Before it got so blessed hot they actually did much more ranging around looking for food than the Creepy Meats.

My first batch of pullets that I picked up with the Creepy Meats look like full grown chickens now. They are 12 weeks old now. One of the Sagitas is a rooster. One of the White Plymouth Rocks is a rooster too. The Sagita has been giving me the stink eye recently, lowering his head at me just a little, and generally not getting out of my way when I wander on through the herd. I think he's gonna be a freezer camp candidate. I call him and the first batch of pullets the Marauders. Four Sagita pullets, one Austra White, one White Plymouth pullet, and the two roos all tend to hang out together. They bully the Red Meats, eat first, and range further than the other chicks. The Sagita roo is right there watching me and making sure I'm not picking on His chicks to push around though. Some where around four more weeks to go before I can start looking for eggs from the Marauder pullets.
Austra White Pullet
Austra White Pullet

Jersey Giant hen taking a dust bath

White Plymouth Rock Rooster Dust Bathing

The Easter Eggers (EE) have all their feathers in. I have two darks, one with a grey head, and one with an orange and black head. There are two white with red barring. One with a grey head and one with an orange head. Those two are my favorite colored chickens. The EE's are so hard to tell rooster from pullet. They have little bitty combs, and no waddles. The muffs they get under their beaks remind me of owls for some reason. They are much smaller than the Sagitas and the Jerseys, but not a tiny as the little Cochin Banty.
Banty pullet

Easter Egger Pullet

Easter Egger Pullets

The other groomer I work with started chicks this year with her kids for 4H. One of the Polish Cresteds turned out to be a rooster. I brought him home with me today. I really wanted a fuzzy headed chicken when I was in a chick buying frenzy earlier this year. They aren't super good layers, and I didn't want to get a chicken I was going to feed just to look silly. I knew out of the 6 straight run chicks Shelly got, that one was bound to be a roo, and I just needed to bide my time. He's a little guy with a mop of feathers on his head. I have him in with the banty and the ee's for now. they're all his size.

Norman is growing a little more every day. Dairy calves don't get as big as fast, or put on as much weight, and have a slighter frame than the beef calves. I take him for a walk every couple of days, or just turn him loose while I'm out with the chickens. He likes to eat weeds. He's eating his hay really good now. I still have him on milk once a day and Growena calve grain once a day. He still flips the bucket over his head after eating his grain or his milk. 


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