Life on the farm isn't without hardship and painful decisions. I learn as I go (thank goodness for Google) and bringing life to the farm also means inevitably at some point dealing with death whether it is the butcher of an animal, old age, or circumstantial. I have made it through eggs that haven't hatched, helping chicks hatch that weren't ready with dire consequences (a story for another day), stillborn and stuck kits, a chicken massacre from a loose dog, and bottle calves that haven't made it despite consistency and dedication, however every batch of hatchlings we have ordered has always miraculously turned out perfectly wonderful. This last batch however has proven to be a saddening disaster.
It all began when I went to pick up my box from the post office so excited about the prospect of our new turkeys, guineas, and my much anticipated new egg layers. The smell from the box was overwhelming. At first I thought maybe turkeys just STINK. Upon opening the box I knew I was wrong. There lay my Silver Dorking hard as a rock at the corner. She must have died right upon shipping and been dead for at least a day from the smell. My other box mates were moving around like zombies and I was terrified they would suffer the same fate. I immediately got them out of the box and into their brooders ensuring they had an extra dip of electrolyte water. By the second day despite my best efforts to syringe feed I had 2 dead guineas and another that was near death. In a panic that probably borders on crazy I made her a sling which I tied around my neck so I could keep her close. I knew she wasn't going to make it but it didn't seem right to let her pass away under a heat lamp being trampled by her litter mates. Upon putting her in the sling she began to quietly chirp. It was a heartwarming sound. A couple hours later the chirping stopped and I knew she had passed.
A simple act of kindness is all it takes sometimes to make someone else's life a little better even if their time is short.
So I made the leap and ordered 3 Broad Breasted turkeys. A far cry from the pasture raised heritage breeds I wanted but the minimum order was 20 and I thought before I worked on fencing and pasture placement I should do a test run with a few easy ones first. These kind don't mate naturally so they will be serving the purpose of putting weight on and providing us with Holiday meat this year. If it goes well our plan will be to continuously raise them to butcher weight and to provide our own constant supply of meat.
And...the best news of all....after being on a wait list for over a year I finally was able to purchase some of my chicken must haves. We now have Marans, Welsummers, Barnevelders, Dorkings,and Salmon Faverolles. I'm so excited to have some dark chocolate colored (not covered lol) eggs. I also purchased a Maran Roo in the hopes that I can breed it with my Ameraucanas and get some Oliver Egger hens.
This has been a very busy spring and I took some time off from blogging in order to focus on finishing school (Yea Master's Degree!). Well, even though I have been MIA from updates life always goes on at the farm and lots has happened.
We finally moved the ducks from their temporary pen into their new space. It didn't turn out as large as I wanted but because they primarily free range and prefer to spend the majority of the day on their "pond" they seem pretty happy with it. My husband built an amazing duck house which exceeded my expectations and will last forever. He also built it big enough so I can add more ducks if need be (he knows me too well). Ducks are enjoying it thoroughly and the horses have been very curious of their new "friends".
I had my first experience dealing with Bumblefoot a few weeks ago. For those that have no idea what it is it's basically a nasty foot infection that starts from a cut that gets bacteria in it. One day I noticed that one of our Buff Orpington hens that my 8 year old affectionately named Banana (Oh My!) was limping and only standing on one foot. At first I had no idea that bumblefoot could be what it was because there was no outward signs except for the limping. I thought maybe she sprained it so I cleaned the area and made her a temporary home in our extra large dog crate where she could see the others and lay eggs but mobility would be less. A week went by and she seemed to be getting better. I started letting her out in the evenings and she was now able to walk on it however now I noticed a boil forming on the top of her foot. After doing some research about it on the internet we decided to do the surgery ourselves to remove the infected tissue. Let me just tell you she handled it like a champ and I almost passed out! Coming from a girl who dreamed of being a veterinarian, its brutal. For starters I cleaned her whole foot in Epsom salt and warm water. Then my husband who is much less squimish used a scalpel to cut and remove the infected tissue while I held Banana. It's amazing how calm and docile they are. After everything was removed we cleaned the wound again, put Neosporin on it, and bandaged it up. She seems to be healing rather well. Thanks goes out to the Chicken Chick for such detailed surgery instructions with photos.
So as many know I am a 2nd grade teacher by trade. This year, with the support of administration and the other teachers we started a new tradition at my school. We were able to hatch eggs. This was a wonderful experience for the students who left with a wealth of knowledge and understanding and are now Eggsperts in the hatch process. We did so much more then just put some eggs in an incubator and wait for them to hatch. The students were able to learn about the chicken life cycle, look through the eggs each week in a special microscope (Ovascope), and use hands on experience to actually see the difference between fertile and infertile eggs. Afterwards they learned about chicken care, responsibilities, proper habitat, and handling. This was something I think they will always remember and a tradition we plan to continue year after year.
I am a 2nd grade teacher by day and a full time farm wife by evening (and weekends and the summer!).
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