Chickens Grow Quickly

I brought these chicks home February 21.

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By last week they had outgrown their dog crate and needed to get out into the chicken house. I left them in the crate in the chicken house for a few days, hoping that would help the big chickens accept them. I checked on them the first night out of the crate and saw them roosting on top of it. IMG_8770

I took the dog crate out today because they are now roosting on the perches. Here are their two-month-old portraits.IMG_8862

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I need to find some names. So far this is White Chicken.

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Black Chicken.

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Brown Chicken.

They are actually fairly tame since I’ve been handling them since the first day. Brown Chicken was very interested in my phone and kept pecking at it.

Farm Shots

Most of these photos were taken with my phone during chore time in the last couple of days.

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My chicks have outgrown their dog crate and needed to get out in the chicken house. I checked on them the first night and found them roosting on top of the crate. (This photo was taken by the light of my headlamp.)

Rain gauge

We woke up Friday to another inch and  a half of rain (with another 3/4″ the next day).

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This one was taken after feeding the bottle babies.

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This morning I noticed the wild eyebrow of one of them.

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Speaking of bottle babies…this one followed me right through the 3-strand electric fence…

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…while I was setting up fences so that I could move the ewes.

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Seen in the pasture.

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Also in the pasture.

Jade

We have had several field trips during the last couple of weeks. This was a group of home-schoolers. Can you tell that there is a sheep in there? Jade loves to be petted. What an amazing sheep.

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And how about this amazing sheep? I think Mary is going to take her home.

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Tonight a friend took this photo while I was feeding these two.

 

The Morning After

We sheared yesterday (more about that in future blog posts). Here are some photos from this morning and some before-and-after shots.

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You can fit more sheep at the feeder after shearing and it’s sure easier to keep an eye on udder development and predict lambing.

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The aftermath where the skirting table was yesterday. We were so lucky with the weather yesterday–no rain after continual storms. This water is from last night’s rain (almost an inch).

Meridian Zoey. Zoey has freckled skin but not freckled fleece–that’s two different things.

Meridian Fandongo. Notice how the sheep look like they have brown spots in most of the “before” photos. The wool has sunbleached tips. Underneath it is black, or gray if the sheep are fading, or gray-brown if they are “lilac”.

Puddleduck Petra. A good example of a black fleece that looks brown when on the sheep.

Meridian Alice, a two year old ewe.

Meridian Bertha, another two year old. It will be only another day before the sheep look dirty again and you don’t see that bright white against the black.

Shadow Mountain Shelby. Shelby is lilac. Her facial markings are gray, not black. Her spots are a light gray. I used my iPhone for this morning’s photos so some of the sheep look like they have abnormally big heads. Maybe that’s only partly camera perspective but partly that they no longer have huge fleeces around those heads.

Bide a wee Hallie.

Meridian Cindy, one of last year’s lambs. Oops! It turns out that she is freckled. Those smaller spots are in the wool. You can’t tell about freckling when the lambs are born. After a couple of months it will appear. I think it shows up in the secondary follicles instead of the primary ones and that’s why you don’t see it at birth. (I’d like to hear someone who knows explain if that theory is correct.) I also noticed it in her twin brother, although you can’t really see it in the photo below.

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Meridian Joker, Meridian Catalyst, and bide a wee Buster.

And here is what I saw when I first checked on the rams this morning:

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That wall behind Joker is supposed to be attached to the 2 x 4. I found the drill and some screws and put it all back up and it was only then that I looked at the other corner:

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Oh, that’s a bigger problem.  This wasn’t originally a ram barn. It started out two calf hutches that I made. Eventually they were put on this slab facing each other with a space in between and another roof overhead and the kids show pigs lived there for a few months a year. Then it was Faulkner’s pen and he was pretty easy on it. Now that the Jacob rams live there it needs reinforcement. Dan got the jack out to jack it up back on the cement and then reinforced everything inside with heavier 2 x 10’s at about head-bashing level. It could still use interior solid plywood walls but hopefully this will get us by for a few more months.

Stupid rams. You should be grateful that you have a shelter to get into after shearing and you’re not expected to stay out in the wind and rain.

 

 

Cows, Not Sheep

In a previous life I raised cows. When I married Dan he was a partner in a family-owned dairy. My daughter recently asked for photos of Grandma and Grandpa, preferably with cows, so that my 2-1/2 year old granddaughter would have an association with something memorable she looks at pictures of her extended family.

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The dairy we worked on was sold several years ago and the cows were moved to Orland. That dairy was sold recently and the milk cows are all gone. There is some young stock left at the home place. These are Milking Shorthorns.

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I have always loved this tankhouse. This one has been recently rennovated.

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A young bull.

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Stuart kept a couple of steers to be trained as oxen. This photo doesn’t show their size because they are standing lower than Stuart. They are huge as were the steers that I had when we first moved here.

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Hug a Sheep Day

Hug a Sheep Day originated a few years ago at Punkin’s Patch and we think its a great idea! We were a little concerned with the forecast (rain from midnight through noon, then clearing). We went ahead with plans and didn’t see rain all day.  In fact the sun came out and the welcome rain from the previous week had cleared the sky, washed away the dust, and started the grass growing. Beautiful!

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Farm Club friends came early and helped set up pens and find the huggable sheep. Jade will follow you anywhere for a chin scratch.

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Jazz likes those scratches too.

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This is Jade and Jazz both lined up for attention.

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Jazz is probably the most huggable sheep here.

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Spinners enjoyed the wonderful weather and the camaraderie.

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Alison is wearing her handspun 4-ply Jacob vest. Notice the very cool felt Christmas stocking in the background. Jackie was here with her Sheep-to-Shop booth but I didn’t get good photos of that.

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Claire is a friend I’ve known since we were in college in Davis in the 70’s.

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I kind of like this photo because it shows a lot about the marketing of a small sheep farm. Alison and Stephany are both Farm Club members, Alison is wearing yarn from the fleece she bought several years ago, Stephany is knitting more yarn, and she bought a skull, and of course there is the sheep ready to be shorn again in a few months.

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At the end of the day we decided there should be a group hug, although I realize now that this was more of a group picture than a group hug.

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Next year we’ll make sure we all get in on the hug part.

Seen on the Farm

This one isn’t actually on OUR farm. I love this sunflower crop that is Across the Road.

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I took the rest of these photos here.

Monarch caterpillar

Monarch caterpillar on narrow-leaf milkweed.

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Alfalfa butterfly. The caterpillars are considered pests in fields of alfalfa. They also consume other legumes (like clover and trefoil in my pasture).

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I still don’t know what this one is. Previously I tentatively identified one in a better photo as a forage looper moth. Maybe? Do you know how hard it is to chase a butterfly/moth that doesn’t want to be photographed?CA Red dragonfly

California Red Dragonfly. While we’re looking at insects here are nasty ones that supposedly the dragonflies eat.

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We were doing pretty well keeping the pasture mosquitoes at bay.  I guess it was the last irrigation followed by a heat wave that brought them on to this degree. This morning in the pasture I was covered head to foot–overalls and a hooded sweatshirt with the hood tied around my face. I could still hear them buzzing.

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While on the subject of nasty buzzing things in the barn last year’s paper wasp nests are active again. I guess I need to find the wasp spray.

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Same subject. Different pest. This is another black widow on the hay. You have to be careful pulling bales of hay away from the wall or off the floor.

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Also in the barn but no stings or bites (except maybe when the parents dive-bomb the dogs). This is another nest of Brewer’s blackbirds. This photo was taken a couple of weeks ago…

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…and this one a little later. These birds have left the nest now.

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Sheep going to pasture in the morning.

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These are some of the new sheep. That’s Bronagh who seems to take the lead. They are out with the rest of the flock now and are as anxious to come to the fence for grain when I rattle the bucket as the other sheep.

Glimpses of the Farm

Slowly by surely I am trying to get organized with Lightroom, my new photo software. Does learning new software count up there as a stressor along with changing jobs, spouses, or health issues? Here are some random photos taken over the last month while doing chores.

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Our new signpost on the way to the barn, in case visitors are unsure of where they are. Not really. It is on the way to the barn but was constructed by my husband for the memorial service we had here for his dad. Our birthplaces are at the top, followed by parents’, siblings’, and our kids’ birthplaces or current locations.

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Speaking of the barn I call this Dog Toy on the Roof.

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Wood from a tree my son took down for us.

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Brewer’s Blackbird feasting on mulberries.

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I think I got this ID right–Western Kingbird.

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This is Hot Lips making an announcement.

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Ginny hoping to be called into service.

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Did I mention when I got the tractor stuck? This is a dry field, or it’s supposed to be. There must be a leak in a pipe and this corner is sopping weight. I was mowing foxtails and made a tight turn to do a thorough mowing job as far into the corner as I could.

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Do you see that the mower on the back of the tractor is right up at the fence on one side and the bucket is resting on a fencepost. There is no way to maneuver this thing out.

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Dan spent about an hour jacking and digging…

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…and jacking and digging, each time trying to wedge another board under. Every time he’d remove the jack to wedge in another board the weight of the tractor rested on  the fence post which creaked ominously.  The boards that the jack was on kept squishing down in the mud, but eventually he got the wheel up to almost ground level. Still, there was no way to drive the tractor out without some help.

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My 2-wheel drive pick-up was called into service and Dan chained it to the tractor. When he put the tractor in gear the truck gave just enough assistance, pulling sideways, so that the tractor wheel got out of the hole and onto dry ground.