Sunday, November 29, 2009

Donkeys are settling in.

Our two new mini donkey jacks are settling in just fine. The come up eagerly awaiting their apple wafer cookies and head scratches. I still have the two boys in with our alpacas. I think this week I will pull Jerry out and put him in the large pasture with our Jenny, Inora, and the cows.

This is Tom on the right and Jerry on the left.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Donkeys are here!

What a long day!

It started early since we needed to leave by 9am to drive the three hours to T.'s farm with the mini donkeys. I was out doing chores while Neil got Evan and McKayla ready to spend the day at the grandparents. Baby Taylor would be coming with us. The morning went well and we made if off on schedule.

The drive down to Greenville, NC was uneventful and we arrived just after noon. We met T., her sister and brother in law. T. had four mini donkeys left to place out of 27. We were taking only the two called Tom and Jerry.

Tom and Jerry are the two boys in the middle.

All four donks were right within reach when we arrived but they soon figured out that something different was up. They headed out to the large back pasture. It was an hour to get them back in the front pasture and into their shed so we could work with them. It was another 30 minutes catching them up inside the roomy shed, getting halters on and dragging/pushing/lifting them into the trailer. Whew!

The donkey shed.

After the donkeys were loaded I took a walk with T. to see her seven llamas. She hopefully will be placing them into the care of the Southeast Llama Rescue and I had been asked by SLR to take some photos of the llamas since T. was unable to do that herself.

Two of T.'s gelded llamas, Barbwire and Mudslinger.

Back on the road again we needed to stop and eat before heading home. We arrived home about 5:30pm... at last light. Neil backed the trailer up to the gate and we opened the trailer doors. The donkeys made the trip fine. They were curious about the new pasture, goats and alpacas. It was Jerry that took the first brave step off the trailer and Tom quickly followed as not to be left behind. I hung out with them in the pasture while Neil unhooked the trailer.

Everybody seemed to be getting along so we got back in the vehicle and drove to pick up the kids at Neil's parents in Virginia. They had dinner waiting for us. We got home at last about 9pm. I went down to the barn to check on the donks one last time for the night. All was well and Tom and Jerry were visiting with our mini donkey Jenny, Inora, through the fence.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Neil's Dad was over bright and early this morning. He and Neil are salvaging the old French Doors that they removed from our bedroom and using them as transom windows on the back of the garage. Unfortunately, the base of the doors were so rotten that they had to dismantle those ends and mill more wood framing for them. It set them back on their day a bit.

By mid afternoon I had to steal Neil away so we could run up to our friend, and fellow alpaca owner, David's farm in Virgina. We were buying 60 bails of hay off of David and borrowing his livestock trailer for the weekend. Tomorrow is the day we are picking up our two new mini donkeys. Also, David sent along one of his alpaca studs to our farm to see if any of our girls will still be receptive to breeding.

All was going well back here on the farm with the offload... that is until I managed to find the nail in the board with the bottom of my foot! I don't know how it got anywhere near the hay trailer on a path I walk pretty much daily. It was just a small board with a single old nail in it. So small in fact it lifted up with my foot. Which means I couldn't step off of it and couldn't continue to walk to sit down. Neil came to my rescue and pulled the offending nail out. We still had 30 bales of hay to offload and loosing light so I worked until we were done and then went and soaked the foot. This is becoming an annual event... sigh.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

My favorite holiday! Family, food, games... I love it all.

We spent the day with Neil's parents. Had a wonderful meal of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, yams, peas and hard crusty rolls (my contribution to dinner). My MIL and I played Chicken Foot with the kids. Chicken Foot is a domino variation that I learned after joining this family. We stopped for dessert, which was an apple pie that I had made. It was declared the best apple pie I had ever made! Later McKayla and I played the board game "Sorry" but it got too late and we couldn't finish. I was a good day... now sleep.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Final turkey done

Processed the last turkey for a customer today. Glad to be done for another year. Now I can enjoy my favorite holiday tomorrow.

Monday, November 23, 2009

More turkey processing

Most of my afternoon was taken up by the two more turkeys I dressed out today. It didn't help that it was raining all day. These two birds are actually going to a good friend of ours in Durham for her Thanksgiving feast. We will meet up tomorrow and do the exchange.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Life and Death

That is what farming is all about. Days like today remind me of that fact...

It was cold this morning, the water in the barn was frozen. I was almost done my morning barn chores. One of the last things I do on my routine is throw hay out to the cows into the circular hay feeder. Riona, our smaller Irish Dexter cow, can climb into the feeder to reach the center hay but often is not motivated to get back out again so I wasn't surprised to find her in the feeder waiting for me to rescue her and put more hay into it. I hefted up the round feeder on one side and let Riona walk under it to get out. As she passed by me I noticed her vulva was wet and bloody. Immediately my head popped up and started scanning the area for a calf. I didn't see one anywhere. I also didn't know how long Riona had been trapped in the hay feeder and separated from her new calf.

I gave the cows their hay then set out to find the calf... hopefully alive. We have seven acres of pasture here and after covering most of it I still couldn't locate the calf. Finally, toward the back of the pasture were it adjoins our neighbor's crop field I spotted a dark pile on the outside of the electric fence. Closer inspection told me it was a calf but it wasn't moving so I still couldn't determine if it was alive of not. Their is no gate here along our neighbor's field so I had to walk back up to the barn. I knew I couldn't carry a calf back all that way so I took the tractor around the outside of the fence to get it. I stopped a bit away from it as if it was alive I didn't want to spook it and have to catch it. Even as I stood over the calf it didn't move. I reached down to touch it and was surprised how warm it was as it lay there in the sun. It's head came up when I touched it and I quickly scooped it up and climbed back up on the tractor.

Driving with one hand with the calf on my lap was slow going. I hadn't said anything to Neil so as I drove up behind the garage where he and his Dad were working he came out to see what I was doing driving the tractor through the wood on that side of the pasture. I could see that he couldn't figure out what I was holding at first. As I shifted the calf on my lap Neil could see what it was but his Dad yelled out, "Is that a dog?" I responded, "No, it's a cow." lol

I drove up the gate near the hay feeder. Before I got down I lifted a leg to check if it was a bull or a heifer... it was a little bull. Neil opened the gate and I carried the little guy into see his mom. It was the first time I saw him on his feet and he eagerly started to nurse. She swung her head around to smell him then returned to her hay. All was well and we have a new calf!

Not sure of his color, he is very dark brown/black right now but that can change. His mom is dun and his sire is red.

Once I was satisfied that the calf was all set I finished up the remainder of my chores. I then had to get started on my next task of the day. I had a customer coming at 3pm to pick up her dressed out turkey for Thanksgiving. I went and got my butchering knife and put a big pot of water on the propane burner to simmer. I picked out one of the tom turkeys from this year and carried him behind the shed were I have my bleeding cones attached to the wall. I dispatched him quickly and once bled out I carried him up to the deck to scaled him and pluck his feathers out. I do most of that job outside to keep the mess out of the house. Once that is done I move into the kitchen where I wash the bird, remove any last feathers, remove the neck and legs, disembowel it, prepare the giblets and finally clean up. From start to finish the process takes a little over an hour. He was cooling in the freezer when the customer arrived to pick him up.

A full day and the beginning of a busy week.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Turkey season has arrived

Well, here it is, the weekend before Thanksgiving. The push to get the remainder of this year's turkeys sold has begun. I had two gentlemen come by the farm this morning to purchase a breeding pair each. Those were my last two hens for sale. I have one hen left that will be retained here on the farm as a breeder since I lost one of our hens this year.

One of the guys ended up also purchasing the four Brown Leghorn chickens that I mistakenly was sold this past spring. They just started laying so he was pleased to get them. I even threw in a Brown Leghorn rooster to boot. One less I have to process here!

Neil and his Dad got the exterior wall to the bedroom sided with cedar siding to match the rest of the house on that end. So, the French door removal project is pretty much done. Then Neil got most of the lawn mowed for the final time this season. Looks nice and tidy now.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Rabbit hutches

I have been working on the new rabbit hutches when I can and today I got quite a bit done. I attached the last wire end wall, cut two of the three doorways and affixed one of the doors in place. Yeah!

I moved Chamomile and her five kits over and hope to get the rest of the does moved over this week as well.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Time for a weigh in...

It has been a few weeks since I weighed the little doelings to see how they are growing. They are now 7 1/2 months old.

Cheddar (on the left above) is now 19.25 lbs.
Olive (on the right above) is now 20.75 lbs.

I also weighed our little buckling Jeepster. Jeepster is 8 weeks younger then the doelings.

Jeepster came in at 26.5 lbs.

When I sold our doeling Emily a few weeks ago I weighed her before she left. Emily is only four weeks older then Cheddar and Olive.

Emily weighed in at 52 lbs.