Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Cheap Chick House

With the cooler weather we decided it was time to get some chicks.

It is easiest if the weather is not so brutally hot, or so cold....  They arrived almost 2 weeks ago.

I  got layers and meat chickens, I am brooding them together for now, soon I will separate them out,
but not yet.

When they first arrive they're so cute! little balls of peeping fluff,  they stay that way for about 4 days, then they become less adorable, they're such stinkers!

I started them all in one cage, but they quickly outgrew it. Next  I moved them into 2 cages side by side, which lasted 2 days... they needed a permanent home!

I had to be creative.

Awhile back I  had acquired a large dog cage, it  was  in a fenced area we had used as a chicken pen
The cage was shelter but not enough...
Chicks do need to be kept  warm and dry, I needed to figure something out.

I took some empty feed bags and cut them open.

I put one end of the opened feed bags under the piece of plywood that was serving as the roof for the dog cage.

I secured it with wire attached to the cage.

Then I laid down another empty bag inside the cage and covered it with hay for comfort.

I made a hook out of wire and hung a heat lamp from it.

Finally I put in their food in a large container that the chicks won't be able to get into and soil ( nice word)

Water for the babes...
They love it!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

School Days

Last week was the start of our little 10 week or so Farm "School".

We had a lot of fun... I guess it stands to reason that the kind of Moms and kids who would want to come out here would be very cool people.

While we aren't doing any real "school" type of learning, I do believe the kids are learning some real life, real useful sorts of things.. like where their food comes from and how much work it is to produce it.

We are working on getting our gardens going, and this week we are having rain to help us out!

The kids loved Bonnie, our Flemish Giant rabbit and her 2 new guinea pig friends.

We milked Mattie with the machine, and soon the kids will be milking Novella by hand each morning.

We sowed seeds in the garden beds, and started
some in flats to transplant.

We loved animals

Painted pictures

Spent time with Bonnie

And just got familiar with things.....
Made friends....

A great success
I will be posting more so you can follow our progress, wish you were here!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Sex Lives of Cows

Submissive behavior
 The thing about dairy animals is that you have to breed them.

We choose to do our breeding via AI, or artificial insemination.

 I go shopping on line for the bull I would like to breed the girl with, and order the semen.
It is then sent to the vet's office and then I wait til the cow is ready to be bred. Then we take her to the vet and he inseminates her... easy as pie.

Lana is trying to chin rest
The trick is learning when the cow or heifer is ready to be bred. Every 21 days she will go into heat, and within  this cycle there is a period of 12 to 18 hours where she can be fertilized. Now let me tell you something, bull semen is not exactly cheap, and the postage and storage will all add up, so you really want to get it right the first time..

What you are about to get here is a little lesson on
learning when a heifer or cow is in "standing heat".

Sunny is standing to be mounted
 I would say it is next to impossible to determine a cow in heat that is  kept alone, really it is all about the behavior of the cows together that you need to be watching.

Initially other cows will "chin rest" on the animal going into heat, the animal going into heat will also
be more submissive as you can see in the photo of Sunny with her head under Lanas head.

Most importantly though is that the cow in heat will allow other animals to mount her, and she will stand for it, thus the term "standing heat".

Honestly, their behavior would make a sailor blush..
the cow in heat will try to mount everyone else, but they won't stand for it, they will walk a way, but the one in heat will stay put..... so after this hanky panky is observed, you have to get her to the vet to be bred 12 to 18 hours later....

It takes a little practice but after you know what to look for it's so simple....

Yet one more reason to thank god you're human.