Wednesday, December 23, 2015


So I've figured out why Punky Rooster (silkie) was Head Bird around here for so long, in spite of being a bantam amongst full size chickens.

One third the size.  All thirds the attitude.
It all came about because I brought home a new rooster - now don't think I'm super crazy, because he came with a hen, and they are French Black Copper Marans.  Extremely fancy birds and I would have been crazy to pass them up.  I put a small pen in the corner of the coop for new arrivals, so that the old chickens can get used to them without being able to beat them up.  My main concern was Chick Jagger, the Wyandotte rooster, who has supplanted Punky as Lord of the Barnyard by dint of being huge and a jerk.  And I wasn't concerned, because while the bantam hens can get into the introduction pen no matter what I do, Jagger cannot.  Everything would be fine and nobody would get destroyed.

Then I went into the coop to check for afternoon eggs and found Punky jumping on the new rooster's head.  Apparently I can't keep him out of the introduction pen either, and not only does he fight dirty, but this larger rooster was clearly confused why this tiny bird was shoving him into a corner and jumping on his face.

So in conclusion, silkie roosters (or at least my silkie rooster) are devious little bastards, and Marans roosters have excellent calm temperaments.  With luck, Punky is done trying to destroy the poor new guy and there will be peace in the coop again, but I would not count on it.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Dry off is coming.

I whine about winter a lot.  It is cold, it is often wet.  The hoses freeze, so I have to haul water in buckets.  I have to feed a lot of hay, and therefor worry incessantly about running out of hay (even though I never have).  So when Game of Thrones hit my radar, that "winter is coming" thing came out of my mouth a lot.  Gotta get the hay up - winter is coming.  I don't know if I have enough buckets - winter is coming.  Or better yet, why are the handles on my buckets breaking?  Winter is COMING!

But you know what I hate more than winter?  Dry Off Day.  Every goat needs to be dried off (ie, I stop milking her and her milk dries up) two months before she kids again, so that she can rest and rebuild her udder.  If you don't, lactation quality and quantity goes way down, particularly colostrum quality - and that stuff is liquid gold.  Literally the difference between life and death for those baby kids.  So Dry Off Day is super important for the goats.

But it also means no more milking, and chores without milking are just depressing.  It means no more milk, and the kids always cry the first week of store cow milk because it's just not the same.  It means I have to pay really close attention to my yogurt and cheese making cultures or they're going to be dead by the time I have milk again.

So down with winter, sure.  But next year, I'm staggering the breeding of my does so our dry season is as short as possible.  If I'm going to be out there freezing my buns off in the barn, I want MILK, dang it!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Goats: occasionally too smart for my own good

Now I love my goats.  They make me laugh every day.  They do however tend to develop some behaviors that also make me want to scream.  The most frightening at this time revolves around these kinds of latches:

And the fact that goats can open them any time they wants to.  Let's just make this clear: any time she wants to, a goat can get into 2/4 of the kidding stalls, the coop, the stall off the milk room, and THE MILK ROOM.  Did you know I keep feed in the milk room?  Fortunately none of them have figured out how to get open the twist top bins I use, even by knocking them over and jumping on them.  I am also grateful that, generally speaking, they only want in when I'm in there (they know I can get the feed cans open).

So now all my doors and gates have hook and eye latches higher than the goats can easily reach, too.  Or close with a carabiner.  Heaven help me if they figure out how to operate a carabiner.  This is also conclusive proof that goats are smarter than sheep - the previous owner of our property ran Katahdins, and found all these latches to be perfectly adequate.  He also kept several of the tube gates shut by hanging the chain on a nail.  Yeah, goats figured that one out in about five minutes.