animals · cows · farm animals · peacocks

Cows are Comical

On Sunday I picked up some hay bales.  We drove the truck into the pasture with the cows and hilarity ensued.

First, the cows were fascinated by the truck and trailer.  They gathered around and inspected it from all angles.

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Once we offloaded a hay bale the cows were in heaven with scratching.  Lots of scratching.

 

More scratching.  Lots of scratching.  Maybe a nibbled bite or two.  But mostly scratching.

Then the peahen came into the pasture for some unknown reason.  Two of the cows, Dinner & Milkshake, always chase her off quite adamantly.  The other cows never care that the peahen is there.  And none of the other birds elicit such a response!

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I never knew cows had such personality!

 

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animals · guinea · hemlock · peacocks · plants · Uncategorized · weeds · wildflowers

Plato, Aristotle, Socrates? Morons!

I can never resist the opportunity for a Princess Bride reference, even if it is a stretch.

I have been curious about all the plants on our property, and learning a lot.  We have found all manner of edibles:  the cherry tree was a favorite until the birds ate all the fruit (the kids had eaten all they could reach anyway).  Now we have mulberries in bloom and soon we will have wild raspberries.  All fun!  We also have a peach tree full of unripe peaches and baby grapes on the vine.

About a week ago I noticed a patch of tall white flowers, that I thought was perhaps Queen Anne’s Lace.  I had heard there were some dangerous look-alikes to the wild carrot, so I did some research and discovered that we did not have edible wild carrots, but instead had Poison Hemlock.  Hemlock- the one that Socrates drank in tea form when he was sentenced to death.

These weeds are giants– way taller than I am (which admittedly isn’t that hard).  And some of the stalks were 2 inches in diameter.

Thankfully it isn’t dangerous to touch like wild parsnip or poison ivy.  Hemlock is only dangerous if ingested or gets into an open cut or your eyes.  So I suited up in long sleeves and a bandit mask.

It isn’t a strong plant, much easier to cut than honeysuckle, so I was able to use a branch trimmer.  The trickiest part was not falling down the slope into the creek!

On a positive note, we saw a fawn.  No picture, the baby was old enough to scamper away in the tall grass and was quicker than E was.

It took about an hour to get the big patch all down.  Then E pointed out another much smaller patch on the other side of the meadow. On our way there we startled a woodchuck.  It was cute.  Not a great picture, but there it is!

The positives from today:  the hemlock is all cut, we saw the fawn and the woodchuck, and we found large amounts of monarch food:  milkweed!  We also discovered a pawpaw tree, so we are looking forward to trying the fruit.

And finally a bit of humor….apparently the guinea fowl want to be peafowl.  They keep hanging outside the peafowl pen, clucking at them.  Crazy guys!

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animals · chickens · farm animals · guinea · mowing · peacocks · tractor · Uncategorized · zero turn

Adventure Filled Day

I thought today would be filled with normal busy-ness.  My to-do list included 15 items, some of which were easy (give dogs flea/tick/heartworm meds), others were lengthy (mow).  I did not complete my list, but I made a good dent, even with all the detours!  Some of the list was easily delegated to the kids.

I started my day by mowing the goat pen.  The silly goats are not as fast at eating as the weeds are at growing.  It was a quick mow, and I kept the blade high so it won’t take long for the weeds to be tall again.

Moved on to mowing most of the park area, then the backyard.  Unfortunately, our backyard is badly sloped, which resulted in this:

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That picture is from a few weeks ago when hubby did the same thing.  I had foolishly thought that since the ground was dry this time the mower would be able to handle the slope.  I was wrong.

Hubby was at work, so my oldest and I copied his method and got the mower (both the machine and me!) out of this predicament.  Tractor to the rescue!  The chain and winch is actually supposed to be for trees, but I think right now the usage is tied between trees and getting the zero turn out of the fence….

 

Meanwhile, back at the barn…..

When P and I went up to get the tractor we found the goats had escaped and were eating  chicken scratch out of the storage bin.  This is their first ever escape where they weren’t coming toward our voices.  They were pretty easy to get back to their pen, if they had been super stubborn I would have pulled out the secret weapon to goat love:  rabbit food pellets.

I was able to get back to mowing and got a good bit done today.  There is more to do tomorrow, but not too much.

Our peacock keeps showing off!  He is gorgeous.  We really need to name him and his harem.

 

I need to get a good picture of his tail completely out, but he hasn’t been in the right position when I had my camera handy yet.  This pen is temporary- in a few weeks they will free range.  This is really barely big enough for him to spread his tail in one direction (the other direction has plenty of room).  It is sufficient for him for learning where home is and will be great for night time once they are all free ranging.

Lots of normal stuff and tasks handed to the kids.  The goats escaped again, this time into a different weedy part of the yard.

I took the teens to youth group, and when we got back they had to do their nightly animal chores.  Hubby came out to look at the peacock with us and I had to take the goats on a walk.  Except the goats were out of their pen again!  E thinks they are mad that I mowed down their weeds, I think mowing the weeds opened up their eyes to the possibilities beyond their pen and showed them an easy escape route.

The goats love their nightly walk.  They pretty much lead the way.

The white goat is Storm, the black one is Confetti.  They are spoiled rotten and I love it.

About a week and a half ago our guinea fowl quit coming back to the barn at night.  We will see them and hear them occasionally during the day, so we knew they were nesting somewhere.  The older girls had unsuccessfully searched for the nest over the weekend.  Tonight while I was out with the goats I heard the guinea, so I suggested they might be nesting in the cow pasture.  E went off and after a while yelled “I found them!”

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They are nesting in a pile of brambles we had cut down from the fence line– a mixture of honeysuckle, autumn olive and wild rose.  Between the brambles and the cows, they seem to be really safe, we hope!

E brought back 26 eggs so we could incubate them, leaving 5 for the guinea to brood.   Potentially they will lay more.

 

So now we have 40 guinea eggs in the incubator.  Oh my, not sure what we are going to do with so many if they all survive!

Current bird totals:  7 free range chickens plus 1 rooster, 12 pullets we raised from chicks that will free range after Fair.  A pair of Mille Fleurs (bantum chickens) that were given to me by a nice man at a Poultry Swap.  21 Meat Chicks that are almost 2 weeks old, living in a cow water tub in the half bath by my laundry room.  Those will be gone after Fair- either sold at Fair after showing or made into freezer meals.  3 guinea that free range, 4 peafowl.

Current egg totals:  40 guinea eggs in the incubator and 5 in the nest, 30 chicken eggs in the incubator and a bunch in my fridge (yum!), and a few peafowl eggs that we aren’t incubating, waiting to see if the birds will do it on their own.

Yikes.  We seem to like collecting birds…..

 

animals · farm animals · peacocks

More feathered friends!

It’s a long weekend here, and that usually means we get bored…..and when we get bored we scour craigslist for new animals!

Today we started by searching for pheasant eggs.  That search was not successful, but in our quest we found both guinea eggs and peacocks!

Side note:  two of our guinea are not returning at night, they seem to have decided to nest and we can’t find their nest.  It is likely we will lose them to predation, so finding replacements is necessary for tick and bug control!  Besides, they are so fun to watch walk around.

20170529_140508First step:  build a special peacock carrier.  The tails of the male will break if they try to turn in most cages, so there is a special way to make one that allows for the tail.  We did our best to estimate the correct dimensions.  We also packed up the dog cage to bring the peahens home in.

 

First we drove 45 minutes to pick up guinea eggs.  From there it was an hour drive to the peafowl.  The seller first grabbed the peacock and he was feisty.  Our diy cage was way too big and he was able to move around too much, so we jury rigged another idea and Ken pulled off his undershirt and we wrapped the peacock in it.  The peahens were much easier to contain, less skittish and no tail worries.

We drove the 75 minutes home, and then had to finish setting up their new home.  We had started this morning not sure where to keep the peafowl, then 20170529_193010decided that an add on to the back of the barn was the perfect spot to keep them.  It is fully enclosed and has high rafters for them to roost.  The previous owner had used this for sawdust storage.

 

 

The peahens had laid a few eggs, and the seller let us have them.  He said last year they sat on them and tried to hatch, but the male was young and the eggs weren’t fertile.  But this year they might be, so we set the eggs up for the hens.

First we brought in the peacock, we were most concerned about his travel arrangements.  Thankfully he was fine.  He has a couple of broken tail feathers– a few happened before we got him and a few additional ones during the trip.  But he will shed all his feathers in the fall and regrow new, so it isn’t a big worry.

 

The peahens were much easier to relocate into their new home.

 

Within minutes two of the peahens were in the rafters and not much after that all four of the birds were up high.  We spent quite a bit of time building a lower perch for them and it seems like they don’t even care about it, they like the highest roost, of course!

After this, we set the guinea eggs in the incubator, they should hatch in about 28 days.  This is a fun comparison between a peacock egg, chicken egg and guinea egg.

 

We will keep them in here for a couple of weeks, then start to let them free range.  It’ll be fun to watch them walk around on our park!  They are so beautiful.