Wednesday, April 10, 2013

2013 Calves

It is really strange for us to have only seven calves at this time of year.  We would normally have upwards of 12 ro 15.  Our herd of 30 mama cows, (some calving in spring, some in fall) was reduced to only nine by last years severe drought.  Dumb lost her twin calves a few weeks ago and some how Annabelle is way behind the rest of the herd and has not calved yet.  So right now, we've only got seven.  But they sure are cute!  Here are the stars of this years cow pasture!


I call this guy "Eyelashes".

Today in the Barnyard

I can't stop taking pictures of these adorable stuffies!
Our surprise ewe born last night is doing great!

The bottle babies are hungry!!!

I don't think this is the way you are supposed to do it!

Goat Families.

In this photo there are two mothers, three sons, two brothers, 
one daughter, three half brothers, one grandmother, one grandson,
  one half sister, two uncles, and one nephew. 
(I'll sort that out for you. The two adults are mother and daughter. 
Two boys belong to the mother, one boy belongs to the daughter.
All the boys have the same father. )  

Yearling sisters, Angelina (left) and Jolie (right)
ClaireAnna has had runner ducks for a couple of years now, and only just acquired her first male recently.  We are very hopeful that we will soon have our first purebred runner ducklings.  However, runners are not known for their broodiness or good setting skills.  They are a duck breed that has been developed specifically for two purposes, exhibition and egg production, and like egg producing chickens, they often have no clue how to set a clutch.  But right now, in the runner pen, all five of our ducks have decided to set.  The one standing up only did so when I entered the shed.  Whether or not all or some of these ducks will successfully finish the job and provide us with ducklings remains to be seen.  We are giving them the chance to try! Two are nest sharing on the left, and three are nest sharing on the right.  FYI: Female duck = duck, male duck = drake.
 We only have the one male runner and since all his ladies are trying to be good mamas, he spends his time wondering the pen alone. 

Now Ancona ducks are a different story. 
 They are awesome setters and mamas!
What's under this blue thing?

A boat load of Ancona eggs!

These two girls are nest sharing that beautiful pile of eggs. 
They are both dedicated setters. 
They only leave this nest box when I come into their pen to take a photo!  

This is another ancona duck setting on a nest of runner eggs,
just in case the runners don't come through for us!

Sadly, we found a dead chicken in the barnyard today.  This Brahma hen was one of the free range chickens that we don't collect eggs from.  The good news is that we found her body in a location that Sniper could not possibly have been!  He didn't do it!  It is also clear that she was not killed by something , but rather died on her own.  I do not know why, but since egg production just started up heavy again, she could have been egg bound and since she was free range, there is no way we could have known.  


We expect a big storm late tonight, and so a few things had to be done to prepare for it.....

The Bobsy Twins will spend the storm safe and sound in a stall in the barn.

Sniper too! Since his dog kennel is outside with
 only a small dog house for shelter, he'll spend the night in a goat pen.

I put up a new wind and rain block tarp in the Ancona pen
to protect my setting mamas.
ClaireAnna stuffed the goat's hay rack with hay.

And our resident psychotic has been chained to her dog house
and drugged with benadryl as per her vet's instructions!
I hope it works!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Today in the Barnyard

The Katahdin lambs are all growing and doing great! We have six all together from two sets of triplets.  One triplet from each dam has been pulled off and is being bottle fed with goat's milk.  There are two white w/ brown spots rams, one solid black ram, two solid brown ewes and one black and white ewe.  We are keeping all the ewes and the black ram.  We are trilled and surprised to learn that the young ewe we bought last fall that was accidentally exposed to a ram, turned out to be bred!  She is making a nice bag and we'll have more lambs by the end of April!
Ronald Weasley, left, Severus Snape, right
This black ram lamb is my favorite! 
He's turning out really handsome!

Hermione Granger

Hermione and Ronald

Lily Potter

Harry Potter
Ginny Weasley

We had 11 Silver Marten kits born and these three blacks are the only
survivors but it looks like they are going to make it.  They are
three days old today.

These two look innocent right now,
but the evidenct of their delinquency is between them. 
Clearly, they are trying to bust Sniper out of his kennel! 
And they've almost succeded!

Edit! I was wrong!  We have a new lamb today!  This is our bonus lamb!  When we bought the dam, Clarice, last fall, she was not supposed to be bred, but a ram lamb had gotten into the ewe pen accidentally for just one night, so there was a chance.  Well, we lucked out!  It's a ewe!


The Silver Martins Have Kindled!

We used to raise our own rabbits for meat at Harmon PFarms.  At some point we got rid of them and we've regretted it ever since.  So at the 2012 Pope County Fair, when the rabbit show judge, Tex Thomas brought some of his world famous Silver Martens to sell, Ted bought ClaireAnna a trio.  The term "silver marten" can be confusing because it describes both a color and a breed of rabbit.  Several different rabbit breeds come in the color silver marten.  But Claire's new rabbits are the breed Silver Marten, which of course, comes in the color silver marten.  Confused yet?  In addition, the silver marten color comes in several varieties: black, blue, chocolate and sable.  ClaireAnna's rabbits are black and blue. 
Silver Marten rabbits are small meat rabbits.  We plan to raise them for our own freezer and ClaireAnna will also show them at the County Fair.  Rabbits are easier to raise and butcher then chickens.  Rabbit meat is delicious all white meat, tastes almost exactly like chicken, and is very nutritious.  We love it and use it exactly like chicken.
ClaireAnna's new Silver Martens: A blue buck, a blue doe and a black doe.
I don't have a good photo of Claire's adults, but this is what a
black Silver Marten looks like. (Not our rabbit.)
This is a blue silver marten.  (not our rabbit)
Claire's blue doe kindled (gave birth to) seven kits (baby rabbits) on April 4th.  Unfortunately, the first time mom did not pull enough hair or make a nest, had her kits on the wire and did not feed them properly.  This is not uncommon for rabbits.  We did force nurse her once which is a procedure in which one person holds the doe on her back by the scruff of the neck and the back legs.  A second person then places the kits on her belly so they can nurse.  Doing this often triggers a release of hormones in the doe and afterwards, she may step up her mothering skills, pull more hair and nurse her babies.  Unfortunately, it didn't work well enough to save this first litter.  We're hoping her second littler goes better.

Sadly, all of these kits died.   
ClaireAnna's black doe kindled four kits on April 6th.  These were also born on the wire with no nest made and we lost one the first day.  We force nursed them just to be on the safe side and two days later, the remaining kits are fat and healthy!  Mom is doing a great job!

Three fat and healthy two day old black Silver Marten kits.  
Here is some interesting rabbit color genetics for those who might be interested.  The black color in rabbits is dominant. Let B = black.  The blue color is a recessive gene. Let b = blue.  So Claire's black doe is from all black rabbits and carries two copies of the black gene - BB.   All blue rabbits carry two copies of the blue gene since blue is recessive and would not show up unless there were two copies.  Our buck is blue - bb.  When we breed him to our blue doe, the only color they can produce is blue.  That is because each of them only had blue genes to pass on to the kits.  When we breed our blue buck to our black doe, she will have only black kits.  That is because the buck only has blue to give and the doe only has black to give.  Each kit will have one blue gene and one black gene - Bb.  So, since B is dominant over b, all her kits will be black even though they have a blue sire and once copy of the b gene.  However, these kits will be able to produce blue rabbits since they carry a blue gene.  But for now, we will always know which baby came from which mom.  The blues from the blue doe and the blacks from the black doe. 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Big Bag Bad

This is Freckles.  She started growing that big beautiful bag of milk about one month before she was due to lamb.  Since we were new to sheep and this is our first year for lambing, we thought this was a great thing! 
Freckles lambed triplets! We came around the corner of the sheep shed just in time to watch this little guy be born. 

She gave us a brown ewe lamb and two rams lambs, both white with brown spots.

We were apsolutely positive that she would have plenty of milk for all.  At least at first.  Shucks, her bag was a big as some of our milk goats!

Unfortunately, it turned out that we should have been watching Freckles a little more carefully, feeding her a little less grain, and making sure her bag was not getting congested, which it was.  One side of Freckles bag is so congested that absolutely nothing will come out.  Not one drop of liquid.  So, we made sure that all the lambs got plenty of colostrum, tube fed the littlest guy for a couple of days and finally took him off his mom completely and are bottle feeding him.  We may have to do the same for another lamb after a while.  We'll have to keep a close watch on them.  Freckles has one good side producing milk.  The other side is useless at this point.  This is a huge disapointment to us, since we just purchased her and she may need to be culled from our herd already.  We will give her another chance next year, keep a better eye on her, and hope for the best.  In the mean time, ClaireAnna will have a lot of fun taking care of "Ron."