Thursday, October 6, 2016

Livestock Update

Still canning and will be for another month or two. The pace has slowed but the march goes on. Meanwhile, we had our first frost last night. That ends anything but broccoli growing in the garden. I've let some of it go to seed in hopes it will indeed give me something I can use next year. If so I will try and start some in the house wa....y early with the thought to produce my own seed each year.
I don't remember frost ever waiting so long. No complaints here as I was able to get far more out of the garden than normal with the extended season. A special blessing since last year the first frost was August 24th leaving me with a skimpy harvest.. 
When I'm not canning, I'm feeding livestock or kids. They keep me hopping. House work, what's that? Not this time of year anyway.
Sam here is getting really big and the biggest of babies. At times when he sees me he bellers at the top of his lungs even though his feed and water containers are full. He is wanting a good rub down. Flies are really pesky and bite hard this time of year. Some of you may wonder who Sam is. He is the big red steer in the background and in the front is two month old Bull Winkle.
What a sweet natured calf but he is getting a bit of a pain when bottle feeding. You always know when it is time to wean off the bottle because the calf starts ripping off the nipple on the bottle and tugging on it before settling down to sucking the milk. You also notice that if you leave the calf on the bottle too much at this stage then they don't gain weight as well. Cows in the field with calves on them wander and kick the calf off from sucking more and more frequently doing the same job I'm doing of slowly weaning only at a slower pace.
 Besides feeding Bull Winkle is a real chore with Sam here still thinking after a year and a half, that he would like some of that milk in the bottle. Good thing he is nice since he weighs over 1100 pounds. Ellie and Hesston would like some milk also. It becomes a real challenge to keep the nipple in Bull Winkles mouth while three others want it also. 
 Ellie use to be the worst at fighting her way in to get the bottle but she has decided that lovings is better than milk. So while I'm pushing the other two away, I'm trying to get in some loving strokes on her. Not only am I rubbing the sides of her face and back but I'm rubbing her belly and udder area. It is in preparation for when she will be milking. I do the same with the young goats and train them to the milking stand. It makes milking them for the first time a breeze. I'm also picking up her feet so I can trim her hooves when necessary. Milk cows get lots of grain and grain equates to quicker growing hooves. It might be two years away until she will be having a calf but it is always easier to train a calf when they are little instead of waiting until the weigh over a thousand pounds and can knock the slats out of you. Ellie is getting that Brown Swiss dish in her face. She is a cutie!
As for Hesston, the black and white Holstein calf, his stomach problems have finally worked themselves out and he appears to be normal. I like him so.... much better as a steer. He has calmed down and is quite sweet. If you have ever worked with a Holstein bull you know they are meaner than sin.
As for Elli, she is surprising me. She once was brown but is turning black, all but the white on the tip of her tail and the white spot under her belly. She might end up with some brown highlights in her flanks but I would have never guessed coal black.  
You might recall the hen I featured quite a while ago. She was setting on eggs. She hatched out four chicks. Three others inside the eggs shells had begun to form but stopped. That seems to be the norm this year with up to six hatching and two or three starting to form in the eggs. When I talked to a friend of mine a month ago she said her old, old hens were hatching on average 12 chicks and some hatched out two batches this last summer. Just like with everything, experience normally leads to better results. These new mothers probably did not do too bad for their first time and will be even better next year. I plan on keeping the best setters and mothers each year. That setting and mothering ability is genetic. I banded the setters with a red ring on their left leg and the other yearling hens with a band on the right leg. All the new hens born this summer are getting so big it is becoming confusing to who is one year old and who is just a teenager.
Unfortunately, O, the white chicken that we had hoped was a hen is a rooster. He and the young rooster our 7 year old grand daughter calls Crazy, will need to be made into bone broth and canned chicken. No idea where the name Crazy came from. I do know that I don't need three roosters. I just want the one year old Easter Egger. Right now I want to keep the hen numbers a bit high going into winter since we have lost eight chickens to fox. Sad to say, two were setters.
We have not lost any ever since I asked the UPS man to keep a look out. After all he is on the road all day in our area. I had seen fox around but they were a few miles away and I wanted to know what direction our problem fox were coming from when they headed toward our house. A few days later the UPS man came by to drop off a package and told me he saw two fox headed up to my house in the middle of the day and they were coming from the direction of the draw to the east of us. I started dragging out chores to last all day. That way I was in the yard at random times. Fox adapt well to circumstances and these had learned that the hens were locked up at night and early morning.
 Found out from another neighbor that a gal a few places over from me had lost almost all of her poultry. That includes ducks, geese, and chickens. The neighbor I talked to was setting live traps for my sweet poultry neighbor who is just too soft hearted to do it herself. The number of fox are slowly being lowered. I'm sure the remaining ones will move on to other pastures further away. Predators are a problem when you live near the mountain and in a lightly populated area.

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