A family farm

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Death on Deckers' Acres

It's been a rough couple of weeks. T-Bone came down with bloat and the vet eventually told us we shouldn't bother sinking any more money into these calves. He said that he most likely had an abcess on his lungs and probably wouldn't make it. Chuck had died the day prior to general poor health. He tried hard, but he just wasn't going to make it. I think he might have been sick from the get-go, but we'll never know. T-Bone died a couple days after the vet told us we shouldn't bother with him anymore. It was pretty sad. Sirloin is doing well, now weighing in at around 170 lbs. He's a nice big fella.

23 pheasants hatched, but one by one, they died off. Now there is only one in the bin. I never saw signs of any fighting or pecking. I did have a bit of trouble with the lighting, and they'd crowd eachother. Perhaps we'll get the chance to buy another bunch of eggs in the near future.

We did buy 2 more dairy beef cows. One is actually a cow! A girl! They are twins, which is why we got the girl. She's what they call freemartin, meaning she's a she most likely born with male parts. Her twin is a little bull, and when you have one of each sex in the womb they share the same placenta and the makings of their reproductive parts get mixed up. She'll be infertile, which is why we got her. Her name is Tenderloin. The little bull's name is Porterhouse.



Monday, May 14, 2012

Pheasant Mama?

Saturday I was at the Ravenna auction waiting to bid on a dozen Maran eggs. They were a mix between blues and cuckoos, which I really didn't want, but I had to get them for a friend of mine. The eggs I gave her didn't work out. It looks like they only made it about 10 days before giving up and dying in the eggs. I say I didn't really want them because I was hoping for another breed of chicken like Americauans or Barred Rocks. I ended up buying Americauna chicks for 25 cents each and was sold some Campines (white egg layers, pretty chicken) for 25 cents each. It was a good day for buying chicks, not such a good day for selling them. There were quite a few people there, they just weren't buying the chicks. A man behind me was also bidding on the doggone eggs. The bid got up to $6.50, and I stopped. It was getting to be too much and I didn't know where the eggs came from. I wasn't 100% sure of the viability to go that high for chicken eggs. The only ones I would have gone higher for would have been black copper marans. I ended up losing on the eggs, but took home about 15 adorable chicks. I still had an egg problem. Someone reminded me I should call Randy, the guy who sells amazing chicks of all sorts, both at the auction and on Craigslist. So later that day I made the call and agreed to meet him at 6pm on Sunday.

Mother's Day went by pretty quick between church singing, the message and later the Hume Home service. Then it was back home for a quick lunch and the painting of the picnic tables. Kellie about turned green! I rototilled my garden until I nearly ran out of gas. Then I almost fell asleep in a chair in the sun. It was so beautiful.

It was time to head over to the poultry farm. As it turns out, Randy has quite a nice setup. He has about 4 rows of bird housing with everything from rare green pheasants to polish chickens in them. He is very careful about his breeding, being interested in the best of the varieties he has. In other words, out of two roosters of a particular variety, he kept the larger one to breed with his hens. He also cross-breeds color varieties of chickens to get a larger, better bird of the color he wants. He has turkeys as well: royal palms, red bourbons, blue slates and bronzes. He has high quality birds, and any chicks I've purchased from him at the auction have a very high survival-ability rate. I was impressed with his set-up. His birds are happy, not at all overcrowded, and the pens are clean and well-kept. I'm looking forward to the eggs hatching for my friend.

Chris informed me this morning that the pheasant eggs were cheeping and pecking holes in their eggs. We have 29 eggs that are getting ready to hatch. Just a minute ago, I learned that I'm a pheasant mama! I'm so excited! We're going to release them when they get bigger, and hopefully, we'll be able to see wild pheasants on the farm as well. Oh, the birds that Decker's Acres has been able to raise! Now if the calves would just get healthy and stay that way, I'd be happy!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Dreary Weather and Calves

When you have sick calves, the dreary, damp weather isn't very helpful. The calves have been battling pneumonia for the past few weeks, and it's getting old real fast. They don't want to eat much with the weather being so icky. It's dark and dampy and drizzly, and they just don't want to eat. We've been trying to get them three bottles per day to get them healthy and bulked up a bit. The additional food was supposed to help them pump up their health so that they don't get the pneumonia again. Two of them had shots from the vet that were supposed to ward off the symptoms for two weeks. One didn't want to eat late last night, and the other didn't want much and had to be pretty much forced. This morning the one that didn't want food late last night ate fine, but the other one I tried to force feed, but he didn't take much. He did want to eat hay, however. That I could not figure out. We'll see how they are when I get home. Perhaps they'll be hungrier, or perhaps I'll find the hay manger is half empty.

On a more pleasant note, during a cease in the rain yesterday, we let the ducks and turkeys out, mostly to get them out of their muddy, poopy pen and out in the grass for a bit, and also to see how the ducks liked the slugs. The ducks loved finding all those slugs. They have no idea just how many slugs they can have to eat, and all the better as well, because I don't want to lose any more goats to deerworm. Anyway, below are pictures of Kellie surrounded by small turkeys and holding little Leonard, and one picture of our lonely little turkey chick. I'll probably move him tonight.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

yesterday ...

Yesterday was bad enough being about 40 minutes late for work because I couldn't find my keys! How pathetic is that! I had to take Chris' truck and park way in the back. My umbrella was in MY car. When I walked into work it was downpouring rain, and I was drenched by the time I reached my desk. My jacket was still damp when I left to go home. The workday was busy, and it was a relief to pick Kellie up from school and head home. Unfortunately, my phone died on the way, and even more unfortunately, Chris had been trying to reach me because Chuck, one of the calves, was doing very poorly. He had his mom pick up some medication from the vet for the calf. I administered the shot, and by the time we went to bed he finally wanted to eat.

The turkey egg with the chick pecking a hole in the wrong place finally hatched. Since it seemed to be taking this one so long, I told Chris that he could help it with the membrane part if he wanted to. The doggone thing is all wrong, however. It won't get off its back, even when you put it over on its stomach. Its feet are curled and won't straighten. Right now, we've just tried to keep it comfortable and have helped it get water, but I'm afraid I'm going to have to go against everything I stand for and put it out of its misery when I get home. There is one other egg laid at the same time that hasn't started to hatch yet. I don't know what the deal is. It doesn't smell yet. Then there are four other eggs that should start to hatch today or tomorrow. There are four more that should hatch tomorrow.

Being a farmer is real hard sometimes. Animals get sick, some die and there's nothing you can do about it. Produce doesn't work out. I vowed the summer after we moved to this farm that I wouldn't ever do corn again because I had so much trouble, even with birds swooping down and snatching up the seedlings! For crying out loud, there's an entire field of corn at their disposal! I did corn again last year, after taking a year off, and it worked out! I was amazed! So even with plants, farming is hard. Last year I had amazing vines for my squash and pickles, but I didn't get much yeild. It's hard, but I wouldn't trade the lifestyle and the lessons my daughter and stepson are learning. There is a lot of hard work that goes into all this, but the payoff, when it works out, is huge. We pray for the calves to grow to be healthy and yummy. We pray for the goats to deliver their kids safely. We pray for the ducks to grow strong and love slugs. We pray for the chickens to lay great eggs, and we pray for happy healthy turkeys. Finally, we pray that our children learn and grow and do their best with their schoolwork and that they are a shining example of Christ.