Thursday, May 26, 2011


   Cold again! 50 degrees this morning. It is almost JUNE!!
   And, where have I been? The farm is very busy right now with babies and more babies and planting and hoeing and cultivating and harvesting and all that other stuff. I started my summer schedule of getting up early and working outside from 7 to 10, inside from 10 to 5 and outside again from 5 to 9. But, today I would've loved to just stay under the covers where it was WARM!

Still waiting to be planted in the field...too cold and wet!
    Actually I haven't written due to a virus on Marty's computer that sabotaged our amount of GB for our internet mi-fi. Meaning - in my real world internet at home. I'm sitting at the library now. And, since the library is in town and I work at home, that means I haven't been able to get in to do the blogging. Sorry folks!
   We had a nice visit on Sunday with the staff members from Gilt Bar and Restaruant and Maude's Restaurant, both from Chicago. They came down for a tour, provided a delicious lunch, and we had a great time with them. After lunch we sat in the 1860 schoolhouse talking as it hailed and 3/4 inch of rain came down. Then it cleared up again and was nice out. Weird weather. We were really glad they could all come. They are great supporters of local farmers, including us. Look up their websites and see what kind of great foods they have...then go for a fantastic dinner!

   Here's the latest animal calf yet. She has her back legs clinched together and isn't letting it out. We'll keep you posted on that tho. Baby chicks and duckies and piggies are good. One little piggie got stuck under the cage fence and smooshed. We put her in the 'ever ready dog crate' for a day and then she was fine again. Almost can't tell which one she was. Didi piggy has been getting out and going for farm tours. She grunts really deep, sounds like a little boy. She hates being picked up, tummy touched, but we keep putting her back in and fixing the places where she gets out.

Didi and Marty having a chat about getting out.
   Didi is having a story written about her by my mama. It is "Grandma Who and the Amazing Radiator Pig" complete with hand drawn pictures. Soon she will be famous! Or more famous anyway.

   I have another story of an amazing animal...the Miracle Chicken.

Brahmama chicken
   This is Brahmama chicken. She was named that because she is a Brahma breed and a mama to the others. If anyone is hurt, she takes care of them. If we get babies, she is right there to check on them. She is also dumb as a box of rocks. Slow and not too bright. And that is how it happened. The big accident. 

  This is the Villian of the story, the D15 tractor and the driver (without the piece on the back thank goodness). I was putting equipment away, using the D15 tractor and with Will to help guide my backing up and help unhook the equipment. We were almost done.
   Brahmama has the bad habit of being around the tractors, cars, whatever mechanical, and not paying attention or walking too slow. We usually yell at her a few times to get her to move and then she lumbers out of the way. You are starting to get the picture, right?
   I pulled forward and heard Will yell "You ran over Brahm!". I stopped, shut off the tractor, jumped down, and came around the back, and there she was flopping around. AH!!! I got down on the ground next to her and started to coo and talk to her to calm her down. Will went to get the gun to put her down. It didn't look good. In fact, it looked really bad. Her eye was closed, just one and the other was open, she was stopping the flopping but was breathing heavy.
   I kept talking and cooing and patting her lightly. Then I rested my hand on her back, just a little to let her know I was there. Her eye started to open. The other chickens had high-tailed it with all the yelling. She looked around trying to figure out where they were, where she was, WHO she was maybe. I waited.
   Will came back with the gun, Marty came to look. I told them wait just a minute. And, sure enough, when I leaned back, up she popped. She was a little disoriented. (You would be too if a tractor had run over you!) We watched her walk slowly, shaking her head some, back to the chicken house. She went in and rested. Later she was better and then the next day she was fine. Still shakes her head a little sometimes.
   The place where she had gotten run over has a divet in it, a detention or hole that was already there. The hole was NOT caused by her being squashed, but she was squashed into it. Apparently the wheel pressed her into the hole. Basically went over her. What a lucky chicken!
   That is why we call her our Miracle Chicken now. She has defied death! She has been run over and lives to tell about it (or lets me tell about it). did NOT make her smarter!

   I have to say that farming and having animals has helped my structured type A personality change to a laid back type whatever. Nothing surprises me anymore. Usually I adopt the "wait and see" attitude and the "shit happens" attitude and the "whatever" attitude, to mention a few. I don't get all whigged out like I used to. Maybe it is just that I'm older. But I like to think it is a valuable life lesson that my animals have taught me.
   Relax and enjoy it and just go with the flow...farming.

Monday, May 16, 2011

A Brrr! Birthday


   What is it with this crappy weather?! It was 44 degrees out yesterday afternoon! We put some wood in the little stove in the kitchen to keep that room warm for the cat. Okay, for us also. I turned the light on the little peeps (chix) in the chicken house. Gave straw to the duckies (baby ducks). Piled on our coats, gloves, hats, etc. to do chores. It is nuts!

Where I would be right now if I didn't love Marty so much!
   So, the news on the animals...little piglets are getting close to being weaned. That happens when Swee gets sick of them. She pretty much shuts them off (or shuts off her valves to her nipples) before the eight weeks and makes them eat grass. They are still growing and looking good. Four got out yesterday and were roaring around the barnyard until we coaxed them back in. We have five girls and two boys still, looks like one little girl might be sold soon.   
   Baby ducks (I call them duckies) got moved from their small cage in the milk house into the duck house. We are putting the big ducks in with the chix at night and training the little ducks on the duck house idea. They LOVE it! They have room to run around, flap their stubby little wings, and play chase. In the next couple of days I will put a fence up on the outside of the door and they will learn to go out in the daytime and in again at night. At night I still put the old cage over them and a weight on top to keep them safe in the duck house. It still needs some wire screen over the windows and corner pieces on the outside fixed.
   Integrating the ducks will happen by training the little duckies to go in and out, letting them in the fenced area where the big ones can see and talk to them, and when the duckies are big enough (another couple of weeks) we will put all the ducks in the duck house one night and see how they behave. We have to wait until the duckies are big enough to follow the big ducks around without running their little legs off too much or getting picked up by hawks.

Dreaming of my feet in the nice warm sand....ah!
   For Mother's Day I got my chix...over 30 of them. Mother's Day for me is what I envision it to be like for a traditional Jewish kid in a gentile neighborhood at Christmas time. Everyone else is getting gifts, flowers, dinner out, etc. and I watch. That is what not birthing a kid is like sometimes...just watching others, listening to their cutsy stories, and wondering what it would've been like. But...I got the mother of all Mother's Days when the post office called (on a Sunday!) and said to come pick up the chix. So, I became a mother times 30 plus! YA on you all!  
   We lost one tiny one, one with a crooked neck, and that was it. They are super healthy and a nice calm bunch. It is surprising what the one month difference made, and the week of warmer weather, for their overall health. They, already, are occupying the whole huge box, running and flapping around, and eating a lot.
   The chix are similar to the ducks when we integrate them. In a few weeks I will move the baby chix into a small metal building that has a screen on one wall. They will then have a fenced area around it, go out at day and in at night. The big chix will get to see and talk to them for a couple of weeks until the babies get bigger. Then when they are big enough, we will put the baby chix in the big chix house at night. Everyone wakes up in the morning and looks around..."who the heck is this little runt?!" is what most will say. But, then they work out their own pecking order. The babies usually fall to the bottom of the pecking order and it seems they stay that way most of their lives.
   I have to say, the poultry is good about figuring out who is in charge. We only have problems with some of the roosters as they get older. But so far we've not have bloody wars so I think it is working out okay.
   That is the news for now...busy at the farm with orders, harvesting, chores, fixing flat tires, etc. I'm trying to take more pics so keep posted!

Only chix pic I have right now...more soon!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Birding Time

   It is time for our spring bird count. Every year we go out and see what birds are moving thru. And, we are sent a list to fill out and send back to the person that keeps track of all of it (as you can tell I know not much about all that!). So, we grabbed our list, our bird books, our binoculars, and set out this morning.
These don't count!

   But...wait - back up! - yesterday was our first REAL find! Actually I almost mowed over the poor guy. I was just mowing along, minding my own, and whoosh flew out the side of the mower. Or so I thought. Then I got a better look and it looked like I had scared up a female woodcock. It whooshed again into the pasture fence and it looked more like a duck of some kind. As I jumped up on the top of the mower (not a safe thing to do by the way, but I did turn off the blades first), and somehow made it over the pasture fence without breaking something including my fool neck, the whatever it was whooshed again thru the second pasture fence into the north east pasture.
   The sheep, needless to say, were a little freaked out. "What in the world! That crazy mama of ours is jumping fences and chasing ducks that aren't OUR ducks...baaaad woman!". I raced around the corner and into the north east pasture and the whatever was bashing itself against the far fence. So I ran up to it.
   Then I noticed it was grayish, or blackish, or shiny, well it kinda looked pidgeon like. YUCK! But, I reached down and picked it up. Having worked for a nature center and also having volunteered for a wildlife rescue place, I had a general idea of how to grab it. Altho my best lessons were taught to me by my own poultry. I looked down and...

Ahh! What the hell kinda feet are those??!!
Then, the demon eyes...

Okay, this is definitely NOT a pidgeon, or a chicken, or anything else I've ever seen up close. Get the bird book! I like my National Geographic bird book best so we grabbed that and the camera while the whatever was under a crate with a rock on top.

This shy little guy is an American Coot. No...not an old coot like you-know-who uptown, but an American Coot bird. This was a super great siting! I didn't have this on my life list, let alone ever had one on my lap!
Toooo Cooool!
   I was worried it couldn't fly since it had been crashing around so bad, but we took it out toward the prairie and let it go and it flew away. It must've got off track in the wind and rain last night and was resting, or trying to rest until I almost mowed his head off.
   That was the start of our bird count weekend. Today we went birding again thru our woods and saw lots of warblers (I hate warblers cuz they are so hard to figure out), robins by the hundreds, and a couple other good sitings. One, we think, was a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher. We also counted a couple of red-breasted grosbeaks, sparrows by the dozens, indigo buntings, and some regulars like blue jays and red-bellied woodpeckers. Around the house area are lots of starlings (another YUCK from me), more robins, nuthatches, and goldfinches by the dozens.
   Then we took a drive to see some wetland birds. Lesser yellowlegs, another coot, and a couple of Least Sandpipers. I love water birds the most. I could watch them all day. They have such funny and unusual habits. The prairie areas showed us some bluebirds, tons of red-wing blackbirds, kingbirds, and an eastern Meadowlark.
   I'd like to go back out tonight for the owls and more night loving birds. The larger birds we saw included red-tailed hawks, turkey vultures, and great blue herons. But, one of the best sitings was to see four wild turkeys walking silently thru our woods...two hens, a young jake (male), and an older tom. I am sooo glad we have wild turkeys again and they feel safe in our woods.
   So...if you get a chance this next week - go birding! The migrants are flying thru and there are a lot of cool birds to see right now. Just watch out for the old coots (not the bird kind)!