Winter is coming…

No, I don’t watch GoT. I know myself well enough to know I’d binge watch the entire show and get nothing done. But winter IS coming, and fast!

We learned quite a few lessons from the last winter, and are applying those this time around. The animals were miserable with the incessant rain. I’ve already modified the rabbit pen to provide lots of cover, but the birds and dog still need some.

The canopy we put in the rabbit pen is pretty great for the price, so I’ll be getting two more. We also had our heating bill explode, so I’ll be getting a furnace tune up, pellets for the stove by the pallet instead of by the bag (wasn’t able to replace it with a wood stove this year), and replacing weather stripping around all the exterior doors.

I’m also considering installing some landscaping steps where the side yard slopes down to the back yard. With the birds out there, it could get really muddy.

The food and water situation is well in hand for the birds because even when it was 18 degrees Fahrenheit, it didn’t freeze inside the coop. The rabbits, I’ll need to work something out for the water.

But there’s some exciting stuff happening, too! We only had our two breeding turkeys last thanksgiving but this year we have one for the table! We will also have a goose for December.

The rabbit population got a little out of hand so my job for a couple weekends is getting them in the freezer. With the baby, it’s been tough finding time for all the farm stuff but I feel like we are already falling into a groove with that. Minus the week I was out with bronchitis, that is!

I’m very grateful for the assistance my nephew gave recently with the baby so I could get the coop door rodent proofed and a few rabbits processed.

Things are hectic, but I look at all we have accomplished in less than a year and a half living here and I know we are going to be more than just fine. We are going to be great!


Welcome to the world, Scarlett!

Huckleberry Hills has a new addition, or several! At 2:24 this morning, our baby girl was born! 6 pounds even, 19 inches, and with toes like a little monkey that tells me she will climbing trees almost as soon as she can walk!

Everyone is doing great, mommy is napping right now.

I’m very excited about showing her around and introducing her to our little farm. She’s always going to have good food, fresh air, and entertaining animals!

Had she been born just a couple hours sooner, she’d be sharing a birthday with a bunch of turklets!

Farm truck time!

Finally got ourselves a truck. Spent slightly more than we had hoped, but we went to stokes auction and got a little white gmc S15. 

It needs an oil change pretty badly, but once that’s done it should be in pretty good shape for what we need. I like that it’s a long bed truck. Getting tired of trying to haul lumber and hay in a chevy sonic!

First Winter Lessons

Ah, January. The holidays are over and the winter has just begun. Already, I can tell you we will be doing things a little differently next winter. 

First, all the animals have water with some sort of heat source. Not powerful enough. When the temperature doesn’t get above 33 for more than a few hours at a time for days on end, the little 5 watt heater just won’t keep it flowing for the birds. So we moved it into the coop. For now, anyway. The bunnies fare a little better but will still need a better option next year. For now, we break any ice and add fresh water nearly daily. And by we, I mean the girlfriend because she gets up early every day and does all the stuff I wouldn’t have time for. 

Seriously, could not do this without her. 

Second, shelter. It’s less of an issue now than it was in late autumn, but when those November and December rains come for weeks on end, it can get pretty miserable. All the animals have shelter, but I feel an awning of some sort would cut down on the muck and get them moving more. 

Third, wood stove. The house came with a pellet stove. Apparently a previous owner swapped out a wood stove for it. Why, I’ll never know. Sure, it’s efficient and low energy and can be hooked to the thermostat. But it also requires electricity to run, and the pellets cost about $5 a bag, a bag lasting a few days. Meanwhile, we live in the freaking forest. So yeah, swapping that out and getting a wood shed set up. 

All that being said, I do feel we’ve planned ahead decently well. We’ve got emergency food and water stores, the chicken coop has a light on a timer (separate timer from the door) which has the chickens on a regular schedule, and laying better. The rabbits have lots of shelter, as does the dog. Seeds for the vegetable patch are already in, along with heat mats to get the warm weather crops a head start. Have buckwheat already and have a local source for barley so we can have some small grain patches. 

Most of the building projects I’ve got right now are small, but in a few weeks things will get pretty busy here. I’ve decided to not rush the pasture and goats. As much as I want goats, if we fence the yard completely then we can more than quadruple poultry areas, to include ducks and geese, and make the rabbit area bigger. Still looking for a truck but once we have one, lots of other projects can start too. 

In the meantime, this salamander was crossing the road and I thought he was adorable. 

Gobble it down

Yeah. That would be nice. So, anyone actually paying attention to this blog may recall a brief discussion about antibiotics and a certain beleaguered turkey. We had hoped that we could simply hide the pill in some sort of food and she would hobble it on down. 

Don’t ever let anyone tell you turkeys are dumb. She saw through that instantly. She actually gave me a look before eating everything around the pill without touching it. 

Le sigh. That of course means force feeding her. Now, these birds may trust us and know we are the purveyors of yum, but they don’t like being touched an will very gracefully avoid it. So we knew this would be fun. So let’s consider this a tutorial. 

Step one. Catch a turkey. I highly recommend teamwork and the use of corners. Hold the turkey between your knees while in a crouched position. This keeps her from going pretty much any direction including up and down, and keeps her wings at her side where she can’t smack you or hurt them. 

Step two. Get the turkey’s mouth open. I do not recommend trying to hold the bottom jaw, as the bird squirming could result in hurting her. Their jaws seem pretty loose and bird bones are delicate. What works best for me is holding the upper beak between thumb and forefinger and slipping the index into her mouth as she tries to stop you. You will get bitten. It doesn’t hurt that bad. Suck it up, buttercup. You wanted birds. Oh, turkey toms can be a bit protective. Watch for them running interference on you. 

Step three. Put the pill in her mouth, as far back as you can reach, preferably slightly off to the side. A turkey’s throat is like 90% esophagus. They’re eating machines. The trachea, for breathing, is very cleverly disguised as a tiny fleshy ring ON the back of the tongue. Not behind the tongue, on it. It’s so crazy. If you ever get the opportunity to stare into a turkey’s mouth, I highly recommend it. 

Step four. Let go of her head but watch to make sure she swallows before releasing her and giving her treats. Amusingly enough, this actually gets easier as they get used to be handled. You’d think they’d come to dread it. 

If this hasn’t made you dream of growing up to be an avian veterinarian, I don’t know what will!

No turkeys were harmed in the making of this tutorial. A human did get dirt in his sandals. Also, the turkey shows significant improvement of symptoms after only a few days. 

The best behaved turkey evah!

About a week ago, Diane started favoring her left foot. We thought maybe bumblefoot, which we can handle on our own. But then yesterday her face swelled up on one side indicating either a sinus infection or trying to eat a wasp. Since, in a purely monetary sense, she is the most valuable animal we own, we decided to go ahead and take her to the vet. 

Well, then the raccoon incident happened. So a vet visit was a good idea anyway. All the staff, from the receptionist to the doctor, remarked on how she was not only a beautiful bird, but also incredibly well behaved. Although she was a bit nosy about what the vet tech wrote in her chart. 

Sinus infection it is. So despite our desire to be 100% organic, she will be getting antibiotics for the next couple of weeks. Not a big deal, as she won’t be laying for several months. Ultimately we decided that the cost of the vet visit and the medicine was well worth it for the health of our bird, especially considering that we expect she will pay for herself and then some by this time next year. We want her to be healthy and happy in the meantime.