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Certified organic poultry farmer in SE Mass

Mother's Day weekend
May 12. The weekend was much more quiet than I had planned. I hoped that I would have two extra pair of hands to work on Sunday, but Mother's Day plans put them out of the works. I would have had them scheduled for Saturday, but the weather man said it was going to rain hard. It didn't, they didn't come and the day was lost.

Two hens now set on eggs. A third is now broody. All of these hens are Dominique. One hen has her lone chix, she is quite off her rocker right now. A week after hatching her lone egg, she doesn't have enough to worry about. She needs to get outside with the chix, but it was very cool and windy till yesterday, and even yesterday, the wind was pretty gusty.

I can only hope I can get some help here soon so I can get somethings done that are not just keeping up with the birds.

Ducky Lucky (my oldest Muscovy) has improved greatly over the past three weeks. She is now going out into the yard with little limping. I have seen her bathing in the duck pools and she seems to be pretty happy except when Sir Walter Drake has his way with her.The ducks are laying pretty regularly now, I collect between 5 - 6 eggs every day from the ducks. I have hard cooked some duck eggs for the hens this morning since I have so many in the house.

Today, temps will soar into the 80's. Too early for these high temps, for sure. Tuesday, the weather will cool off, be cloudy with some chance of rain. The pasture needs watering! The birds have eaten the clover and grass down to the nubbins and are eating broad-leafed Plantain now.

Have a great day, enjoy the coming cool weather!
Today, one year anniversary
May 6. One year ago, my mom died. I lit a candle and will let it burn right to the bottom for her today. If her spirit is still earth bound, maybe this will help her find her way to where she is headed. Mother's Day is this Sunday. I think of going to her place of rest for a visit. Somehow, I don't think I can do that just yet. I will be sad all day today.

When I came home yesterday from running errands (I bought two new garden hoses!!! Big purchase for me!), unpacked and put away purchases, I went out to late-day feed and other related chores (walk dog, put up solar lights on relocated fencing). I checked on the one egg that was pipping out earlier in the day. It had hatched and I am almost certain it is a boy. Of course!!! I cleaned out the condo, dusted with DE, put fresh shavings in one corner. I waited till dark and lock up time before I transferred the broody and the new (boy oh boy) chix to the condo. I re-dosed the broody for lice. She clucked plenty on her way out b/c the chix wasn't right under her. As soon as I set her down in the fresh shavings, I slipped the chix under her. She was quick to peck at my sleeve, the little nut. I shut the roof and left them to "be alone".

Then I headed to the main coop to re-examine the Dom roo. Once again, he was very easy to handle once he was off the roost. I placed a towel around his body so I could keep him from flapping his giant wings. I flipped him over onto my lap and checked his feet out (second day in a row for this). I don't think the raw area has diminished, but overall, the feet look a bit happier. Earlier in the day, I bought some special salve and put that all over his feet and up onto his legs under his feathers. I dosed him again for lice. After I flipped him over so I could look at his comb, I checked his crop. It was not easy to find under all those glorious feathers of his, but when I did and expressed it, he BURPED!!! Crop had a lot of air in it. Air may have gone into his crop while he was on his back, but since I didn't check crop before flipping him over, I won't know. Anyway, I massaged his crop so the air was out and gave him some red wine. After about a teaspoon, he started to shake the wine off his beak and I put him back on the roost.

Then I moved the one white layer out of the nesting boxes where she was setting. As I picked her up, I noticed her lower abdomen was very hard. When I looked at her vent, it seemed as if she was about ready to lay an egg. I carefully transferred her to a clean kennel for the night. No food and water, I want to check her crop and give her some red wine first thing in the morning.

9:30 when I came inside. Tired. Cleaned up, went to bed.

Today is another cog in the wheel of life. Keep it turning!

5 day of May
Hey Pam,

I understand the busiest time of the year is now, but that can be said for harvest time, too! I am wrestling with infertility problem with my Dom Roo. Seems his (earlier) eggs (except for one, pipping today) are duds where the Americauna roos are all fertile. Americauna has barebacked all the pullets and layers with his constant "attention" and his clumsy breeding habits. These gals all sport duct-tape saddles right now, but the roo finds a way to tear them off!

Since I am a bit uneducated about pigs, what is the difference between "The gilt weighed about 70 -75 lbs, at 9 weeks!! The barrow was not far behind her, maybe 10 lbs lighter."? I thought gilts were young females. What is a barrow? Good luck with all your busy projects.

Back to the Dom Roo...I went out last night to see what was going on with him, you know, check him out, give a physical. His feet seem to be giving him a problem. Last month, I treated him for scaly mites since he had a blistered rash between his toes and above the toe-joints. Treated him for lice (again). The feet improved in that the rash went away as did the blisters. But when I examined his feet lastnight, he has red, raw areas inside his ankles (where the feathers join the foot scales). No sign of Bumble foot. He did have some of that  toe rash back again and I can imagine how sore his feet must be with the raw areas. I treated his feet, toes and up past his leg feathers with neem and olive oil. He was so relaxed, he slid off my lap! He is really a nice roo, compared to the Americauna...who gave me a real wallop yesterday morning and split my hand open. I immediately cornered him and pulled out his nicest sickle feather and stuck it into my hat (while I bled all over the place from the gash). He has since given me plenty of space without any threatening attitude. I AM THE BOSS out there!!!

Yesterday, I spent 4 hours with two young, strapping fellows who moved the fencing for the Dom flock to fresh grassed area. This flock has been on dirt for the winter and needed new place. So, if you do the math, it was a 12 hour job to move the fencing! I am pleased with the new area they have.

I have to put up another fence since my neighbor to the east was complaining about one pullet (who jumped the fence, since sold to another farmer) that was scratching at his new grass. Before his complaint, I did ask him to let me know if any of my birds were on his new lawn, but for some reason, he never said anything until we had words about his lawn treatment. He said he had "$1,000.00 into this lawn"...and I asked him how much he thought I had invested in my certified organic poultry farm?  A lot more than $1,000.00 over the past 17 years! We haven't spoken since...but no sweat off my nose.

Today, I am headed out to get some necessary farm equipment for mowers, deliver some eggs, go to the library to pick up a copy of Robert's Rules so I can look up proper proceedure for the Ag Com meetings and buy some new hoses (on sale).

When I get back to the farm, I have to set up a condo unit for the  broody hen with her only hatching chick, get it fenced off and put another broody hen onto the eggs I put under the first broody hen. Yes, I know it is confusing (there IS a method to my madness), but I am still trying to figure out the fertility problem with the Dom rooster. Last night, I pulled out from under two broody hens a dozen Dom dud eggs (out of about 21 eggs total). There were just a few Dom eggs that are fertile but all Americaunas are. I have seen the Dom mate with two hens, but that is nothing compared to what the Americauna roo is doing! I can only hope that I have helped his discomfort with treating his feet. I can only imagine how sore his feet are with that raw skin at the joint.

Well, got to get my self out of the house. Thanks for all of your comments and interest!

May, the month of flowers
May 4. It is almost a year since my mom died. Last week, I got a call from a neighbor who said someone was looking for my mom's place b/c he had to "check the septic system". I went right up to my mom's (her place is 1/8 mile up the lane). No sign of anyone checking out the septic system, but the grass mowing team had been there. They left all kinds of edging stones overturned and cut down a number of flowers when they trimmed. What jerks they are! They had driven their trucks up on the grass and left deep ruts. And I could see the mower tracks since the ground was so wet from the heavy rains. But it is a good thing that something is being done since it has been a year since she passed away. The place was empty all winter and no one checked things out inside. I can only hope the pipes didn't freeze!

I now have two hens setting eggs in the grain room. I have candled the eggs and it seems there might be a fertility problem with my Dominique rooster. I am not seeing him mounting the hens like the Americauna rooster is. Yesterday afternoon, I did see the Dom roo mate with one Dom hen, but it seems he is not nearly as active as the other roo. Since I don't have another Dom roo, I am trying to solve this puzzle. I have a lot of requests for hatching eggs and want to be sure I am selling fertile eggs!

Today, I hope to move the paneled fencing for the main coop with help of two young men who have worked here before. The area that is fenced now is bare ground and the birds need some grass. Even tho' they go out every afternoon, the fenced yard should have grass.

Then I need to start to prepare for moving that coop to a new location. This will take a lot of preparation
and work in advance. I have to buy in some new fence posts and put up fencing to keep any straying chickens off the neighbor's new lawn. He and I have had words about his use of chemical lawn products. He actually had the nerve to say to me, "I have over $1,000.00 in this lawn!"...and when I asked him how much money he thought I had invested in my organic chicken pasture, (I informed him it was a LOT more than his investment) he shut his mouth. But since he demolished the old house and raised the elevation of his house lot by five feet or so, I have continually had problems with run-off from his lawn. This has impacted my pasture with flooding every time we have had heavy rain since 2009. This is one reason why I am looking to sell this farm.

My recourse to correct this flooding problem would be to dig a swail to divert the water out to the road. That will cost me about $1,200.00 and a pasture loss of about 20%. I just don't have the dough to do that! It is difficult enough to find help to get things done her on the farm as it is without adding more to my plate, which is already overloaded.

I have not seen any new comments to my posts. I figure Pat is busy with spring in her area, but I wonder where cats is these days?

I wonder if there are still problems with this blog site? Seems there were some, but I don't know if they are repaired yet. Someone let me know...