Saturday, 30 March 2013

Chicken Wrangler

Since the nice weather our chickens have started to get quite adventurous. This morning they started to head down the driveway, here comes the chicken wrangler to get them!!

Friday, 29 March 2013

Hooking up the Electric Fence

It's funny what you take for granted when you are young. I went to set up electric fence with Steve and ummm...wait, surprise, we have no idea what we are doing.

So lets do a little tutorial!

First off you have your ground rod that goes into the ground (should be like 3 feet deep at least). I found an old ground rod at the back of our barn from previous fencing so I hooked up insulated wire to that and ran it through the barn to get to where we have our fence. So that wire hooks right into the electric fencer box. Then you have your live wire which runs from your electric fence box onto the wire on your fence. On our fence we have two strands of wire, these strands also have to be connected with a small strand of wire.

I came home today and our fence wasn't working, when I went to the actually electric fencer box I had a charge there so Steve and I had to start investigating. After some calling people and looking up common problems with electric fence I figured out that a piece of my fence wire was touching one of the T-posts which 'grounds out' the electric shock, same would happen if a tree or a lot of grass was touching the fence. As soon as I fixed that my fence was on and going, then out come the pigs!

It is such an amazing feeling to be able to let the pigs outside. They get to root around and roll around in the mud like pigs should be able to!

We've had a couple of the pigs get a pretty good shock, but I guess that's a good thing! Next step, making an area for mumma and the babies.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

What Happens When You Aren't Home

So Steve and I went to the city last night for a bit of time away from the farm and to see some friends.

I fed the pigs around 4pm, locked everything up and headed out. We've gone away for a night before and if we are home early enough in the morning none of the animals even know we left.

Welllll I guess I should have knocked on wood when I thought everything would be fine.

This morning we came home to absolute destruction. BOTH pens were open and pigs were everywhere, hay room, chicken coop, everywhere. We got everybody back into their pens but they look like they had a harder night partying then we did. The boy pigs are generally so pushy that we have had to figure out ways to get into the stall without them running you down. If you are cleaning the stall they will be pulling at your pants and tipping the wheelbarrow over multiple times. Not so much today, I literally can't even get them up and they don't even want to look at food. So although we are worried about them, we thought we would enjoy the peace and quiet. Good luck with your hangovers boys!

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Travelling Trailer

I have always been around the farm and been in the truck when we were hauling livestock. Or been in the truck while heading to horse shows but today was the first day that I hauled horses on my own. It is definitely a big responsibility stepping onto the highway towing a horse behind you. At the beginning of March my parents brought my old dressage horse to Horse Haven Farms where I currently have my horse so that my little cousin Katie could have a horse to ride. Unfortunately he hasn't been able to be ridden because he isn't sound (limping), we had at first thought his feet were trimmed too short but another farrier took a look at him yesterday and that's not the case. So, my Mum and I decided to switch the horses, her little Arabian horse would come down to Horse Haven Farms and my old dressage horse would head back up to their farm to rest up and hopefully get better (but he will likely never get back into any demanding riding).
I got up, dealt with the daily chores around here and headed out to horse haven farms where I picked up my old horse and started heading to my parents place. I was contemplating tieing him up in the trailer but eventually decided to leave him so he could move around freely, which I wish I hadn't. Having them able to move around causes you to feel too much movement as you are driving and it just doesn't seem as safe. When I got to my parents my Dad and I unloaded him and we went for a quick walk with the dogs, my Dad got a new puppy (Belgian ShepherXGolden Retriever).
We loaded up my mums horse and off I went again! This time I tied him up and the ride was much smoother, I will definitely be doing this from now on. So here's hoping that everything goes smoothly with my mums horse and he can get some good training in before I get too busy at work (booooo to being back at work!).

The pack of dogs after our walk!

This is my Mums horse Sunny wondering where in the world I am taking him. Since my truck doesn't have winter tires I had to walk him down the old driveway (as well as walk Jacob up to drop him off).
This is Sunny in his new (temporary) home. Look at the pile of hair I got from grooming him!!

Friday, 15 March 2013

Videos of the morning feed

The babies pigs have become very fun and rambunctious so I wanted to take some videos to show everybody. They're so cute I don't know how I will ever part with them!


Thursday, 14 March 2013

Steves Workout for the Night

On the way out to the barn tonight Steve saw something running behind the barn, at just that exact moment so did Summer. Now the chase is on. She came back to us only to run off again but since we have had quite a few little critters running around lately we didn't think too much of it. We went on feeding the pigs and then headed back to the house. My method has been not to stand and call Summer when she takes off cause I feel like it just teaches her not to listen. So I went inside and Steve stayed out and called her. Just as I am finishing up the dishes Steve runs in screaming "Coyotes, Coyotes!!", And grabs his hockey stick and is off running into the night. As soon as I got out into the field after him all I could hear was the chatter of coyotes and Summer chain shaking. This may not seem too scary, but when you are in the middle of the forest screaming for your dog in the pitch black night and all you can hear is coyotes all around you, you're happy to have...a hockey stick.

Summer came back and the coyotes thought better of taking us on, all is well in the homestead!

Steve checking Summer over,

We got 4 eggs yesterday, egg production at its finest!

Also, the little piggies are now eating solid food. I'm going to take some pictures tomorrow. The black one looks like a little baby rhino.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Old Habits Die Hard

I'm actually not quite sure how to start this post, as it is not something I am going to be proud of posting.

I was in the grocery store last night getting the regular things, yogurt, some fruit, milk...etc.

I saw that there were ribs on sale, and honestly I didn't think anything of it. Grabbed them and went on my way. "Easy bbq dinner for tomorrow night", I thought.

It wasn't until I was laying in bed that it hit me. What the heck did I just do. I have committed to not buying store bought meat and now there is a rack of ribs in my fridge. It can be a bit comical if you think about it - ok not really.

How did I not realize what I did until I was laying in bed that night, habit? - Maybe. Ignorance - Definitely. I had just that easily fallen into the habit of being the person that just walks around the supermarket not thinking of WHERE their food comes from or HOW it is made or WHAT is in it. But just thinking of how they are going to feed their families that night.

To be honest since I have decided to make the changes in my life I do find myself judging people that are basically only consumers and don't care a bit about where there food comes from. But this last little slip of mine has shown that even when you are consciously trying to make good decisions the world around us makes it so easy to slip into bad habits. I still wish to encourage everybody to make better decisions so that there are more healthy, sustainable options available to us. If we have more options and we are standing looking at the meat section and there was a package that said sustainably farmed, free range pork maybe it would jar our thoughts enough to consider our decisions before we head to the check out line. When we buy into closing our minds and not thinking about our options it gives way to much power to these main stream companies that basically if you think about, rule the way you think about your food. And that's scary no matter what way you think about it.

Now what to do about the ribs in my fridge.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Goodbye Possum

Since this Possum has been at our farm it just circles the barn waiting for somebody to leave a door open and then it's right in there! Today we found it in our recycling bin so we thought it would be the best chance we had of getting it into a container and driving it somewhere far far away. Clearly from reading the possum is not something you want to chance hanging around your barn so I hope that we took it far enough. I will say this....I don't think my fiancee is going to become an animal trapper, his input consisted of throwing the lid at me once it was in the bin and staying in the truck when I was releasing it. Maybe he's watched a few too many horror movies!

Going for a ride!

Enjoy your new home Mr.Possum!

And a little hello from the piggies, I am going to be weighing them tomorrow which is their two week mark, put in guesses on how much they will weigh! They were 1.5 and 2 lbs when they were born.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

You CAN Teach and Old Dog New Tricks

As everybody that lives on a farm knows, cleaning stalls is part of almost everyday no matter what you do. It's a chore that although you get use to, it's definitely not something you savour. For me, cleaning stalls can be a relaxing chore where I just zone out and get it done. Throw some music on and you have an work out! Now, if anything goes wrong in this scenario mucking stalls can go from relaxing to sucking it one big second. This has been happening to me for the passed about month. We have a wheelbarrow at the farm that the wheel was flat, so naturally we got a pump. Then it wouldn't stay pumped up so now finally we have gotten a new wheel. Steve is out there working on it now. Personally I would like wheelbarrow with two wheel for balance, especially since I am the one cleaning stalls. But I have been vetoed and we will see how this goes. Anyways, earlier today I had to think of some way to get the stalls cleaned, lately I have been filling up a bucket and dragging it to the manure pile or trying to pull the wheelbarrow with a flat the snow....not fun. Today I thought if I didn't figure out a way to ease my frustration in the task, I may go insane. SO this is what I ended up doing. I have a harness for Summer that I got from this guy that does dog sledding. I have never put it to use before. Also the previous owners left the top of a wheelbarrow in the barn when they left. I drilled a screw into the front of the wheelbarrow top and put the harness on Summer and attached them by a bungee cord and some rope. I am surprised to say she got the hang of it pretty quick. I had to help her with the heavy loads because she would get frustrated and just sit down but in the end she would pull the empty wheelbarrow back by herself. Smart Dog!

On another note, the Possum returned this morning. I heard a crash during morning chores and it was him trying to get into the quail cage. My poor quail, everybody wants to eat them. Steves argument of getting his hunting license is starting to look more and more practical by the day. I will not be bringing my horses back until this is dealt with that's for sure. Here is the stand off I ended up in the middle of.

 It wasn't too happy with me trying to intervene.

Proud protector!

Thursday, 7 March 2013

The New 'Used' Trailer

One of our biggest inabilities is being able to move around our livestock, haul wood, pick up hay and straw etc. When it comes to hauling anything or picking up hay and straw we are usually able to use one of my parents trailers but that adds a trip to Haliburton. Now that I have my own horse and live in an area that there is a lot of trail riding my mom and I have been talking about getting a trailer. Also as you guys have seen from previous posts counting on somebody to move your livestock for you can lead to problems. We had a pig damaged while being transported here as well I was suppose to get 3 large black males and 1 female and ended up with 4 males, which I could have dealt with had I gone to pick them up at the farm.
I am luck enough to have a great riding coach that came and picked my horse up for me when I wanted to move him to her barn.
Lately with thinking about my mum coming hacking with me, taking our pigs to market, taking the sow to get bred again it has become apparent we need our own trailer. So my parents and I decided to go in on a stock trailer together. We chose this instead of a horse trailer because its so much easier to haul various other things. It has a divider so when you haul livestock you can easily separate them which is convenient as well.
It needs a paint job but pulls like a dream!

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

The Truth about the Possum

Today I came home to a Possum in my barn. Summer and I walked in and he was just cruising around the barn. I couldn't coax him out of the barn, he really didn't seem that scared of my actually which is a bit troubling. So I picked him up with the pitch fork and put him outside on a tree.

I sent my riding coach a picture of him and she sent me quite a startling message back. That Possums actually carry a neurological disease that affect horses. The clinical name is  Equine Protozoal  Myeloencephalitis. The disease affects the brain, spinal cord or brainstem. Horses can not pass it from one horse to another but they contract it from the feces of the possum, the most common areas to come into contact would be if the possum is getting into your feed, water or bedding.

We are definitely going to have to keep an eye on this possum and make sure that it isn't getting into the barn. I had left the door open to let some light in but unfortunately I won't be able to do that anymore since this guy is running around.

Here are some pictures of this cute but deadly little guy.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Keeping Kids Involved!

Fortunately my fiancee and I have a great family that understand what we are doing and the reasoning behind it. I have never once felt judged for branching out and starting farming by anybody on either side of our family. Might not be some of their 'cup of tea' but the support is always there.

The family members that we have that have new editions in their family really want to be able to show their kids the other side of the coin. Where meat comes from? Life, death and everything in between. A farm is a great place to learn the basics of life that we sometimes over look or take advantage of and I admire them all for trying to incorporate that into their lives. It can be something a lot of people don't take the time to teach their children. I think in some respects it can be something a lot of people fear as well and would rather stay ignorant.

Here is some pictures from our great day!

Friday, 1 March 2013

Odds and Ends

Just to sum up the week I thought I would do a little post on a few different things.

First off I'd like to talk about what we have had to do with the new piglets. Once I noticed that we had two new piglets I started phoning everybody I know as well as researching online for what I needed to get done. First off you have to give piglets a shot (needle) of Iron (one milligramme per piglet) in their rump and into the muscle tissue. This stops them from becoming anaemic. Secondly, you have to clip their teeth (both top and bottom) right at the gum line (or just above) or else they will cut the mother when they are nursing. Obviously, if they are males then they need to be castrated as well. I have two little girls so I won't be having to deal with that. Also a big concern is the mother crushing the piglets by accident. My girl makes a big nest out of straw and the babies hide in it to keep warm so I see where that could be a concern since 9 times of out 10 I go out there and can't even see the babies. If she had more then two I would be concerned she would lose track of them and kill one but she seems to be pretty good with checking where they are. If she would have had more I likely would have had to build an area that they babies can get into and sleep that she can't access.

Also today we lost a button quail and now I just came home to my last button quail girl very very beat up. What has happened is my coturnix male (coturnix are bigger then the button quail) has become very aggressive in his.....mating. The coturnix quail females have now learned to tell him off and he's better with them which is maybe why he has turned his attention to the littler button quails to pick on. I didn't see any signs of trauma on the button quail I found dead this morning so it very well could have been a natural death but he is definitely responsible for her state today. On a side note, if a bird starts getting pecked at and starts bleeding everybody else in the flock will start to go after them and possibly kill them. The best is to either remove the aggressive bird into a different cage (where he can still see and interact with the flock but can't touch them) or take the damaged bird out, clean them up and put either polysporine or bag balm on their cuts to mask the smell of blood and deter the birds from pecking at them again. So therefore, I am moving my button quail to a friends house so she can be with other buttons!

Lastly, my horses eye has become very bad again. I had another vet today look at him and has recommend we start back up on antibiotics and medication for the pain and just give him some time off. He just hasn't completely healed from the injury of having the piece of hay in his eye and just needs more time. I'll be giving him the next week off and hopefully we start to see some improvement. Such a shame, I felt like I was making such great progress with him, but his health is the most important.

My cousins and their kids are coming this weekend to see the baby piggies! Hopefully they will be able to get quite close and see them but mumma pig hasn't been as warm and fuzzy since I took them out and gave them their shots and clipped their teeth.