Life on the Farm 2020

April 2020

This year has been a shock to everyone globally. COVID 19 was far from expected. You hear about pandemics but to live in one is surreal. We have my mom, Aunt, both in their 80’s, and my Uncle in his late 70′ living on the farm with us. It has been very stressful worrying about who is around, how to get groceries and feed for the livestock and dogs, plus visitors to the farm. We are following all precautions. As everyone probably knows it won’t keep it away. it is only go to slow the spread in a way we pray the health care system can handle it. I believe areas are already very overwhelmed. Our area still has minimal exposure.

Other then following all precautions and being as conscientious as we can be I am giving as much of the stress to God as I can. Things like this is not something we can control, other than following guidelines ourself. How it is spreading is out of any one persons control. Prayers for everyone effected no matter how big or small!

Daily life on the farm goes on. So many changes from 2019 have happened! The first a new flight pen for the peafowl hens, white peacock, ducks and soon as they wont fit through the fence some very fancy chickens. We were down to 2 hens and 3 roosters which have been loose for years. They roost up in the barn rafters, apparently wary enough to avoid the raccoons. Art can’t eat duck eggs, which was unexpected. I had thought the ducks, which lay better then the chickens would be perfect. Since we cant find the chicken eggs, before the raccoons do I decided we need a chicken coop with a large outside run/pen. We can let the chickens out to run around in the day yet lock them up “raccoon proof” at night. With a run off the coop if I went on vacation, or really nasty weather no one has to let them out and remember to shut them up at night. They would still have plenty of room for exercise. I ordered 20 production brown egg layers very early in the year. They sent 22 chicks and all are doing terrific. In the process of ordering I seen all kinds of fancy chickens or beautiful colors funny top knots and those that lay egg and blue eggs. We use to have the Americanas that lay different color eggs. Always fun to have company and a carton with eggs a variety of colors. Art and I talked and decided to get the favorite fancy chickens and then they have a really “good deal” surprise box! Libbie and her neice were her and Art conceded that it would be fun to get a surprise box of baby birds.

The box arrived just a week later. It is amazing little chicks can go 24 to 48 hours without food, or water just after hatching. They have the remainder of the egg yolk in their belly. After that though they need to eat and drink all the time. You have to be very careful each one is drinking and then it eats. They are very delicate when newly hatched.

All the chicks arrived fine. Ordered 6, 7 arrived Appenzeller Spithausen, cool white black polka dot birds with mohawks. 10 order and received 11 or 12 Cackel Toppies, a new line of chickens Cackle Hatchery bred that have a really neat brown white and black polkadot pattern with top hats. There was other breeds in that part of the box so hard to tell which then were part of the 40 plus “surprise box”. We got 46 surprise breed chicks, 1 white turkey chick, and 2 white ducklings! We have been so busy we didn’t even have time to really take good photos and then try to determine which breeds all of them are. I knew some right away. Sadly we lost 2 which were my favorites lavender orpington’s. I was so excited when I seen them in the mix it was quite disappointing. Both due to magnet error on our part. There were apparently too many and they are a little more delicate so were probably the last to eat if the others were more boisterous. 2 were so awful pecking the eyes of the others that several people suggested just putting them down. I separated them, so if they wanted they could peck each other. I think what it was is they were very determined to eat and seeing shiny black eyes thought it was food, or water due to the shine. Being by themselves for 2 days they learned what food and really is and where to get it. We didn’t have any trouble with them after that. The birds they were pecking at I had to keep opening their eyes as the eyelids had little sores on them. they all healed fine in a few days. I can see how in the commercial units birds just die and they expect it. If they cant open their eyes they dont eat or drink. If they are weaker they get pushed out of the way and dont eat of drink enough. Fortunately all the rest, even the one I gave sugar water too made it.

They are fully feathered but still small enough they will fit through the fence in the flight pen. they are in 4 giant horse troughs with a light for heat, the duck grew so giant so fast they are on the floor separated from the adult ducks until they are fully feathered.

I cant wait until they get the chicken coop built. the brows are growing fast and are going to need more room soon. Since the birds have always ended up in the barn I decided the coop needs to be in the barn. Hopefully it will make it easier for us to be able to get them back in and lock them up at night. The barn area is the spot the posts are rotting and needed replaced anyway. As sections of the barn get turned from an old 14 stall horse barn with lots of isles and a very small indoor area; to nothing as we remove rotted wood and then rebuilt we are remodeling as we go. The one 10×20 area that was 2 small stalls on the north west corner of the barn opens into the flight pen. That way those birds can also get into the barn for shelter. Another 10×10 stall is where we put feral cats that need to be spayed/neutered, or cats/kittens that end up here for different reasons until they acclimate to the area and are spayed/neutered. Then we let them loose in the barn. Another stall houses the bottle baby goats until they are big enough to go to a pen outside. The a small horse stalls were changed to a large 10×20 stall that is still a horse stall, but currently is containing the bad donkey jack who was riding the pigs. He is for sale but has not sold yet. His father will go through the fence after him if they see each other. Jacks are VERY territorial. So we put the young guy in with the big hogs, which is out of sight of the donkey pasture where his dad 2 jennys and our old mini horse live. I was worried the pigs would hurt him, but then got worried he was going to hurt them. He’s actually pretty easy going but he is not gelded and they can be a problem.

DreamCatcher Hill Puppies and Rescue