Archive for Life on the Farm

Pickles is a Mommy

This morning was the anticipated day. Pickles became the mommy of three little kittens. We had been watching her full, rounded belly and knew it would be any day.

One is yellow and looks like Pickles, one is a calico with spots of yellow on its head and the third one is mostly black. It is obviously that she had a visit from the neighbors male cat!
One is yellow and looks like Pickles, one is a calico

She had snuck into one of the feed rooms in the store, found the perfect spot-a narrow box sitting on its side on the top shelf. When Summer opened up the room this morning and turned on the light she made herself known. Bubble wrap in the box made a soft cushiony pillow for her little fluff balls.

Pickles was obviously pleased with herself and wanted us to know about the kitts. She let us hold them with some fussing, meowing that we be very careful and under the glare of her watchful eye. Gene was going to turn her box over so that she had more room and put it on the bottom shelf but she made it clear that she was not going to allow that.

For now she is in a safe place and at a spot we can keep watch over her and love on her kittens. That is until she decides to move them!

Congratulations Pickles. You did a good job.

Kat Has A New Name

Kat is developing the habit of getting herself into pickles, precarious situations that she can’t get herself out of that are usually high off the ground. Today Summer again heard the distressed call…”meow, meow” and went looking for her.

And there she was, up in the eaves of a shed with no way to get down. She kept looking for a way down but the rafters prevented her from going to the next eave. Poor pitiful Kat was meowing for help!

Again we got the ladder out and rescued our the little fraidy cat! She really wasn’t up that high-maybe seven or eight feet but it was high enough she wasn’t going to jump. The only way we could see that she got up there was to climb one of the posts but she appeared unable to go to the next eave and there was no eave close to her!

When Kat appeared at our doorstep we couldn’t figure out what to call her and until we could up with a name we called her Kat. The name has stuck until today. I have now decided she is Pickles. Pickles Kat.

We had a book when the children were little called “The Fire Cat” by Esther Averill. It was about a cat named Pickles that climbed a tree and couldn’t get down. His owner, Mrs. Goodkind, had to call the fire department to rescue him. He ended up going to the fire house to live. He learned to slide down the pole, ride on the fire truck, helped unroll the fire hose and rode on the seat with the fire chief. The children loved the book and I read it many, many times. I think the name seems rather fitting to me!

Other adventures of Kat:

Kat Rides in the Tractor

Gene went out to feed the cows and there was Kat sleeping on the tractor seat. Gene had left the back window part way open and she apparently scampered up the back tire and scouted out this thing that daddy seems to like to ride off in every day. Kat can be no where around but if Gene comes in and stops by the house in the tractor, Kat comes running. She knows she will get rubbed and fed.

During the day when the sun is shining, she likes to bask in the sun on the upstairs door stoop where she can scope out the land and watch what is happening on the farm and when her daddy comes home for lunch. She seems to be partial to high places!

Your Royal Highness!

Gene shut the window and took Kat on a ride with him to feed the cows. She looked out the window and messed around on the floor. When Gene opened the window so he could see to back up, Kat escaped and off she scampered on adventure.

After feeding the cows, Gene walked around checking on the cows. It wasn’t long until Kat came tip toeing back through the cow lot looking for him.

I wish I had pictures of Kat’s adventure, but I didn’t know about it until later.

The other adventures of Kat:

Kat On the Tin Roof
Kat On the Tin Roof-Part 2

Kat Escapade #2

Kat has her own way of talking and it is distinct. This afternoon Summer heard the distressed “meow” that she knew was Kat’s help me call. Summer started searching and calling and Kat would answer “meow”. Finally Summer saw her in the big pine tree behind the electrical panel between the greenhouse and the store.

Kat how do you get yourself in such predicaments? Why do you like to explore high and unusual places?

We looked at her and she looked at us. We meowed to her and she meowed back to us. We told her she was going to have to find her own way down. She just looked at us with pathetic eyes. We called for help-Kat’s favorite.

Gene got a ladder and kept talking to her and coaxed her to jump down onto the roof. At least now she was where we could get her.

Kat is very independent. She disappears for a day or so and then shows back up, meowing loudly which means she is very hungry and wants food now. She loves Gene and he pets and pampers her. He is her buddy.

At first she played a little cat and mouse game.

She finally decided to give herself up and started inching her way to Gene.

This is the bigger view of where she was at. She was on that larger green branch hanging down.

The other adventures of Kat:

Cat On the Tin Roof-Part 2

This morning, like every morning, I heard Gene open the patio door and go “meow, meow”! It struck me so funny! He was calling for Kat and soon she came running for her breakfast.

A little later we saw her on the warehouse roof. This is a low roof with only a mild grade, and a low-hanging tree for climbing up and down. We saw her there the other day playing a game of “pounce” with the leaves.

Obviously she has not learned her lesson about roofs! She was sitting on the roof crying “meow”.

We snapped a few pictures of her looking over the edge and left her to her own devices. After a while she disappeared.

Sorry, Kat, but we are not going to play your little “come get me” game-unless you are in real trouble!!!

Other adventures of Kat:

Cat On the Tin Roof

Yesterday afternoon while Summer and I were in the store, we kept hearing this very faint, soft “meow, meow”. One moment it sounded like it was on the right, the next meow on the left, then in the ceiling, in the walls, upstairs, and under the building. We had seen a momma cat with her kitten close by earlier in the day and thought it was probably her but we wanted to find her. The meow would come and go. Our search would go and come depending on where we thought the direction of the last meow came from. Of course while we were looking there was no meow!

This morning first thing we heard it again. Meow! We walked outside on the porch of the store and out of the corner of her eye Summer saw Kat peak over the edge of the roof.

Have you ever heard the story of the “Cat On the Hot Tin Roof”? We had a cat on the tin roof but fortunately it was not hot.

Kat came to live with us this summer. One morning when we got up she was sitting on the patio waiting for us. She was a beautiful kitty; hungry and a little skinny. She must have been scouting for a new place to call home and chose us. We called her Kat until we could figure out a name. She is still Kat! Gene is her favorite human.

Kat is not a cuddly cat but does like to be talked to, rubbed and given attention. She knows how to beg for food and is a social eater. She is an outdoor cat but if she sees us eating through the patio door then she wants to eat also. She will peer through the glass door and go “meow” until there is food in her bowl.

Somehow “Her Royal Highness” got herself into a pickle. She was on the barn roof with no way down. She likes getting on the warehouse roof and playing “pounce” with a pile of leaves. But there is a tree by that roof; it is easy on, easy off. I guess she saw the store roof as a new, thrilling adventure.

When we started talking to Kat she tried to come to us. She stepped onto the steep barn roof and almost slid off the gutter above the steps.

We tried reaching her from a step stool but just could quite reach her and she took off slipping and sliding to the end of the barn. She discovered claws did not give her footing on the metal roofing!

We tried to convince her to jump into our arms. Kat seriously considered that option but just could not make that leap of faith.

Should I do it?
I want to do so bad!
Nope, no way!

Finally “daddy” Gene came to her rescue with the forklift. Summer took the elevator ride up and got her.

Kat-Kat now has her paws back on solid ground and there are no more meows coming from unknown sources. Hopefully she learned that steep tin roofs can not be climbed as they are slick sliding boards that send you scooting downward, fast!

Check out the other adventures of Kat:

Henny Penny Wonky-Wackers

Just when we think we have heard it all, answered all the questions….. we hear some more!!!

  • Hens are not chickens.
  • Are the chickens unisex?
  • If they are unsexed, does that mean they can’t go out and run around with the rooster?
  • Are the baby chicks humanely hatched?
  • A hen can lay eggs then “change” into a rooster.
  • Not all breeds lay eggs. (Answer: All breeds lay eggs. Bantams lay smaller eggs)
  • Their hens lay multiple eggs a day. (Answer: hens can only lay one a day at their peak. Every hen will not lay every day.)
  • A rooster has to be neutered to not have babies.
  • Hens can’t lay eggs before one year old. (Answer: hens start laying by 20 weeks or 5 months of age.)
  • Hens can’t lay eggs without a rooster. (Hens lay just fine without a rooster. A rooster is needed if you want the eggs fertilized.)
  • Roosters have to be a year old to fertilize eggs. (Answer: by 5 months they are fully mature.)
  • Green eggs are lower in cholesterol. Green eggs are higher in cholesterol. (There has been no proven data on this. Just wishful thinking.)
  • White eggs are better than brown. Brown eggs are better than white. (Answer: the color of the egg shell has nothing to do with the quality of egg; it is what they eat. The more grass and natural foraging they do, the richer, more flavorful, and darker orange the egg yolk. Typically backyard chicken owners like the hens that lay brown eggs and the commercial farmers like the white leghorns because of their smaller bodies, feed conversion and higher egg production.)
  • Only chickens lay eggs. (Answer: Turkeys, guineas, ducks, geese all lay edible eggs).
  • Debeaked chickens can’t eat right.
  • One backyard chicken owner bought his eggs from me and threw the ones from his into the woods. He can not eat something that comes from his pets.
  • Another chicken owner buys their eggs from the store. They say it is disgusting how their chickens lay eggs!!! They didn’t want to know how store bought eggs came to be!
  • You can’t eat fertilized eggs or they taste different. (Answer: you can not taste any difference in a fertilized egg. Most times you can not even tell.)
  • A lady wanted a hen that lays chicks, not eggs, and neither did she want a rooster.

Folks, we just can’t make this stuff up!!!

Hen House Talk: Interesting True Facts

  • Did you know that you can tell the color of the egg the chicken will lay by their ear lobes? Chickens with white ears lobes lay white eggs. The ones that are dark, red or brown, lay brown. The Araucanas that lay tinted eggs are greenish or blueish in color.
  • There is a gland in a hen’s eye that is light sensitive that determines when a hen lays eggs. When the days start getting shorter, she molts and stops laying eggs. Yes, she loses her feathers in the fall or winter. When the days start getting longer, she feathers out again and starts laying. You can counter this by having a light on a timer and extending the daylight hours to 18 hours so there is no variation in daylight hours. It is best to have it come on in the early morning so that the hens rise with the light but go to roosting naturally. They can not see in the dark.
  • Chickens sleep by roosting on a roosting rod. Their leg joints lock so that they do not fall off.
  • Baby chicks can go three days without food or water after they hatch. The last thing that happens before a chick hatches is that the egg yolk is absorbed into the body providing them nutrition for about three days. That is the reason they can be shipped through the mail.
  • The reason they nip and cauterize the beaks on hens is to prevent pecking and cannibalism. In small flocks this is not an issue but the bigger the flock and more confined the area, the more they bully and are cruel to each other. The pecking order is extremely strong and if they draw blood, particularly in the rectum area, they will literally degut and kill the “picked” on hen.
  • Do not feed egg shells or toss an egg to the chickens to eat. They love eggs and you are introducing them to something they love. They will start breaking their own eggs and eating them and it is impossible once it starts to break them of the habit. You have to get rid of the offending bird.
  • You can not mix different ages of chickens together until they are 5-6 months of age. Before that, the older birds will pick on or kill the younger birds. If a hen hatches chicks, she needs to be separated immediately from the flock with her young ones or the other birds will kill them. The exception is if they are free range and the mother hen can separate herself from the others and protect her chicks.

Mr. and Mrs. Goose: (Part 2) Harsh Reality

I suspect the one on the left was the female as it was the one doing all the honking.

Life can be hard and sad and the reality is that it is sometimes harsh. Mr. and Mrs. Goose are experiencing harsh reality.

Yesterday morning we notice both of them in the pasture behind the house grazing. It was a beautiful, cool, pleasant morning. The sun was shining, the cows were grazing and the birds were busy feeding.

I opened the patio door and Mrs. was honking as if she was crying as she ate. There were no little goslings in tow. A cow will stash her baby calf in the brush or tall grass and somehow tell him to stay while she goes off to eat, sometimes for several hours. When she comes back, the calf is waiting for her. But not geese. When the pond is probably half a mile away, through the woods and across several fields the parents do not leave their babies. Not for one second. But here they were, grazing without the goose children. Mostly one would keep watch while the other grazed.

I texted Mark. “Have you seen the geese? Has something happened to the babies. Mr. and Mrs. are over here grazing by themselves. Geese don’t do that when they have babies”.

The sad reply was, “No, they haven’t seen the babies for a couple of days and mama was on the pond yesterday making a lot of noise.”

It is nature. Survival of the fittest. Foxes, coyotes, turtles, hawks, and coons are all creatures of prey. Their next meal is a feast on something they just caught fresh!

But that didn’t keep Mrs. Goose from grieving over her lost. For a long time she honked. Finally they flew over the treetops towards the pond, honking as they went. Were they going back to look, just in case?

This evening they were back in the field again. It will be interesting to see if they nest again or eventually join other fellow goosers.

Geese mate for life and stick together through thick or thin. Hopefully the next time they will be more successful. It truly is amazing that they are able to ever raise youngun’s.

Blog post, Part 1: Mr. and Mrs. Goose

Mr. and Mrs. Goose

Several weeks ago one lone goose showed up in the pasture behind the house. Every evening we watched it wandering around and grazing with the cows. It seemed to be frantically eating as if it was really hungry.

The cows paid it no mind. This seemed rather strange and baffling as geese travel in flocks or gaggles. We do not have a pond on the farm but often hundreds of geese will land and graze and then fly with loud honks over the tree tops to where ever they go. You never see one lone goose by itself day after day. I took pictures and wondered if it was a Mr. or Mrs. I started thinking of a name; a name that could be a Mr. or Mrs. I considered just “goose” but finally decided on “Sam”. I figured Sam could work for either male or female. I wondered, was it injured and not able to fly, had it lost it’s mate, or was it’s mate nesting near by. It seemed a little unusual for a nesting pair to be on our farm with only a small stream meandering through the woods.

Last week on Monday evening I sat in my golf cart by the field until dark watching to see where Sam went for the night. I watched and watched and then suddenly it was too dark to see him. I drove down closer to where he was seconds before but he had magically vanished, right before my eyes and I could not find him.

The next evening (Tuesday) I went down into the field with my golf cart and eased up as close as possible. I wanted to see if he would fly away or whether he was injured. He was not overly afraid but became restless, alert, head up, watching me intently. When I was about 100 foot from him he flapped his wings, turned on his honker, and flew up and away over the treetops behind the barns honking his pleasure as he sailed. I suddenly realized he was heading straight for a neighbor’s pond. That ruled out option #1. He was not injured.

I called neighbor Mark Johnson and told him the story and wondered if he had a lone or setting goose at his pond. We were so curious to know the story on Sam. Mark did not think so but would be on the lookout. Sam was back the next evening (Wednesday) and following morning (Thursday) and then we didn’t see him anymore.

This afternoon (Sunday) I got a call from Mark. He suddenly has a pair of geese swimming on the pond with three newly hatched, fluffy, yellow goslings. Sam is a daddy goose!!!

With camera in hand we went over to the pond this evening to get the goose family portrait. Now we know the rest of the story!

Canadian geese mate for life.
I loved how they swim together, mom and dad, keeping their young’uns between them.
They parked to rest and think they are hiding from me!
The goslings had to really paddle to keep up but the did not fall behind..

Another blog post: Mr. and Mrs. Goose (Part 2) Harsh Reality

Hay Season Has Begun

Spring on the farm means fertilizing and harvesting the hay crop. Gene says all spring and summer he makes hay and in the fall and winter he feeds hay! His whole work load seems to center around hay one way or another.

Making hay is a three day process. This week, on Tuesday, Gene laid the first hay on the ground. This week was a narrow window for hay. They were calling for rain on Thursday evening so he cut a small amount. He also has some new equipment he has to get used to.

Can’t you just smell that freshly mowed hay?

Last fall Gene planted Wintergrazer 70 and Passerel Plus Ryegrass. The two mixed together make a really good early crop of hay. After it is harvested, Gene will let it grow back some before turning the beef cattle into the fields to graze.

Wintergrazer 70 is an extensively proven and widely adapted cereal grain rye. As a grain rye, it has superior cold tolerance when compared to other cereal grains such as wheat and oats. With its excellent cold tolerance and upright growth habit, Wintergrazer 70 is well suited for mixing with legumes, brassica, and/or other small grains such as wheat and oats.

Passerel Plus, an annual ryegrass that produces highly palatable and nutritious forage for all classes of livestock. It is excellent for growing cattle producing average daily gains of 2 lbs./head or more. Good late fall and excellent spring growth. It is is a late maturing variety that provides grazing long after many other varieties mature and diminish. Good cold tolerance and rust resistance.

Wednesday morning he tettered the hay, spreading the windrows out so that the sun could dry it faster.

Later in the afternoon he raked it back into windrows for baling.

Thursday, he baled and wrapped the hay. Tonight while it rains he will sleep well, knowing they hay is finished and wrapped.

The bales may look like big marshmallows in the field to the nonfarming community but wrapping the hay has numerous benefits. It saves time as it cuts at least a day out of the process as you want/need more moisture in the hay. Gene constantly monitors the weather patterns during hay season and often deals with narrow windows on good hay making weather. It improves the quality as the hay ferments inside the plastic making silage which the cows love. It improves the preservation as it cuts out spoilage and mold especially when storing the hay outside. In short, you can make hay faster with better quality and lest waste.

Gene bales a lot of hay, last year he made 2200 bales for his beef herd. He has a grinder, mixer wagon that he uses in the winter to grind/shred the hay before feeding it to the cows.

Checking the quality of the bale and hay.

Gene traded balers this spring and the equipment dealer (Spaldings) and the Kubata rep came on site to get him started. There is always a learning curve with a new piece of equipment, especially the computer technology. This baler has a new feature, it cuts the hay into small pieces as it bales. This will cut his grinding time in half this winter which will be a huge time saver.

Sample of the freshly baled hay.

Friday morning update: It was suppose to rain last night but since it didn’t, Gene was able to get the bales out of the field. He likes to move them within a day or two as the bales sitting on the grass soon make a dead spot.

His first cut was 39 bales. By the time the season is over there will be big stacks everywhere!!!

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