Saturday, March 25, 2017

Marion Gave Birth

Our middle daughter and I are flying out tomorrow to a cancer center to find some answers that have eluded the local doctors. That puts hubby and the oldest daughter in charge of four grand daughters and babies galore. Those who follow on Facebook know that we had our first batch of kits ,Wednesday. Eight in total to a first time mom. They are fat, happy, and doing well. We are proud of our sweet natured girl. I really need to get to naming some of my critters. This doe and her sister have none. As you can guess I've been a little preoccupied lately.
The triplets born a while back are doing well but bottle fed as it stresses their mom to no end to just watch over them. I need to find homes for two of the kids soon as Belle has lost a great deal of weight. She will pick up when the kids are gone. I'm saying two because I will keep the black one and watch her. I really like the way she looks. That brings the total of babies to 11.
Then just a little while ago twins were born to Marion. The last one had its head sticking out with no legs. Not good so I did a little rearranging, I pulled one leg forward and since there was plenty of room I pulled gently and out came buck number two. Whew! I'm sure the home crew is saying as their delivery experience is nil - hubby and maybe once - oldest daughter.
As I write I'm still waiting for the arrival of the afterbirth but in the meanwhile I gave the kids a little colostrum and set them under the heat lamp. Pretty nice outside but the one buck I pulled is feeling slightly rough. Warm him up and he should be ready to hog down on the colostrum when I introduce it once more. At that point when they are standing, I will put them on momma's teats and Marion can raise these two with a little bottle feeding to make sure I can sell them earlier than weaned  --if I get a chance.
I mentioned in the last birthing post that you needed to get to know each doe. This one is not like her mother. She showed signs that she would give birth  on today ----- yesterday. The top line down her hip was pushed into a sharp ridge. You can see it here. The tail head was extremely loose. Her flanks sucked in deep because the twins had moved into position just outside the birthing canal. The missing link was a udder that was filling with colostrum. 32 years of experience has taught me a thing or two and saved me lots of sleep lost. Marion's hips tilted even more sharply today slanted downward in a slide position. This is the direction in which you pull when you are trying to extract kids. NOT OUTWARD! Downward and with a steady pull while holding the two front legs is the norm.

In this case it was a leg and the neck near the shoulders since there was lots of room and I could see from the condition of the kid that I needed to hurry. As soon as he was out, I swung him in an arch back and forth a couple times using centrifical force to extract fluid from his lungs and stuck my finger in his mouth to clean it out. He still wasn't breathing so I stuck a finger down his throat a little to force a gag, which he did. I had a live kid. The eyes when I was delivering had me questioning that fact. I then rubbed him roughly to stimulate him. He gasped and began to breath normal. My next move would have been to evaluate him to see if CPR was in order if I had gotten no response. I've done CPR on many different species right after birth. You get a feel before you start whether too much time has passed or whether you need to just jump start things.  
 Marion's bag had not filled yet at delivery but some does fill while in labor and others wait until after. This girl bags up fully after delivery. Not something I like and has her way down the score card. But... I need milk and so Marion is here for the time being. When you breed your does, you should put Ole Reliable in first. She is the doe which bags up nicely before birth and has lots of colostrum. You never know when that colostrum will be the difference between life and death of kids to come from another doe. Right now Ole Reliable, Belle, is first as she is my heaviest milker and colostrum provider.
That puts spare colostrum in the freezer.

Besides kits and kids, I have two baby ducks my hubby promised the four-year-old so I purchased them on Thursday at the local feed store. There are also two chicks of ours which their story needs to be told but at another date.

We have two more doe rabbits due very soon and two hens sitting on chicks. Also an incubator with eggs. Still having trouble with that thing though I bought a new heater system for it last year.

If you don't hear from me for a little while, remember, I am out of town but will be back soon. My family will make sure of that--- LOL


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

BPA in Canned Food

I've shared what I've learned about plastics. Now I'm going to tell you the other criminal lurking in your kitchen cupboards ----- cans. They are bad guys too for they contain BPA in high levels.
This is one of a cazillion articles that talks about BPA in cans.

EWG's tests found:
  • Of all foods tested, chicken soup, infant formula, and ravioli had BPA levels of highest concern. Just one to three servings of foods with these concentrations could expose a woman or child to BPA at levels that caused serious adverse effects in animal tests.
  • For 1 in 10 cans of all food tested, and 1 in 3 cans of infant formula, a single serving contained enough BPA to expose a woman or infant to BPA levels more than 200 times the government's traditional safe level of exposure for industrial chemicals. The government typically mandates a 1,000- to 3,000-fold margin of safety between human exposures and levels found to harm lab animals, but these servings contained levels of BPA less than 5 times lower than doses that harmed lab animals.
 BPA testing in canned food. We contracted with a national analytical laboratory to test 97 cans of food we purchased in March 2006 in three major, chain supermarkets in Atlanta, Georgia; Oakland, California; and Clinton, Connecticut. The lab tested 30 brands of food altogether, 27 national brands and 3 store brands. Among the foods we tested are 20 of the 40 canned foods most commonly consumed by women of childbearing age (NHANES, 2002), including soda, canned tuna, peaches, pineapples, green beans, corn, and tomato and chicken noodle soups. We also tested canned infant formula. The lab detected BPA in fifty-seven percent of all cans.

BPA is a heavily produced industrial compound that has been detected in more than 2,000 people worldwide, including more than 95 percent of 400 people in the United States. More than 100 peer-reviewed studies have found BPA to be toxic at low doses, some similar to those found in people, yet not a single regulatory agency has updated safety standards to reflect this low-dose toxicity. FDA estimates that 17% of the U.S. diet comprises canned food; they last examined BPA exposures from food in 1996 but failed to set a safety standard.

There are some companies who are switching to non BPA liners but whether they are using BPS instead is another question - some do. I do know that the acids in foods eat the lining of cans so besides BPA, you are eating metal. In my twenties a research doctor told me I was allergic to the lining of cans and to avoid them when possible. Can't remember exactly what it was in the lining that he said to avoid but I've  slowly been doing just that. The hold outs are pineapple and olives. I don't use much of those two items but I keep a few on hand. I also buy oysters in the can on occasion to make oyster soup and Devil Ham for my husbands breakfast sandwich. Neither item is used often enough to probably cause us any real lasting harm. And I am trying to produce more and more of what we eat. My goal is for that to include Devil Ham and mustard so watch in the future to see how that works out.

I do know that the more acidic the contents the more of the can that is eaten which puts tomatoes up there in the high no, no level.  So what can one do. Foods in glass jars is a much better choice and more and more companies are giving consumers this option.  So when you see grapefruit or tomatoes in a jar, think about purchasing them instead. Now that I say that, do tomatoes come in a jar? I don't go down that isle of the store since I've started canning tomato sauce, stewed tomatoes, salsa and the like myself so I'm rather in the dark.

As I was researching cans I happened upon a site He wrote of there being BPA in aluminum cans, and in thermal paper receipts such as in cinema tickets, airline tickets, and receipts at stores. There is even BPA in some dental sealants and composites. It seems like we just can't avoid the stuff. Maybe we can't completely but we can decrease dramatically the amount of exposure. Maybe someday the government will ban the stuff but don't hold your breath, America is usually the last in line to do so.

Meanwhile, join me, I am changing the plastics in my kitchen, avoiding microwaving them and freezing them which increases the release of BPA. I am decreasing the amount of cans we use. I'm not throwing up my hands and saying "Everything is bad for us! I'm just going to ignore it.", which I'm sure is the reason for cancer being so high 1 in 3 women, and 1 in 2 men is just because of the fact people are burying their heads in the sand. Disease and cancer are caused from immune systems being over loaded and not fed proper nutrition. So if you want to be next in line be my guest but as for me and my house, we will work harder to preserve our health.

Our daughter is dealing with cancer and it isn't pretty. She  is only 34 and the next youngest person a large cancer center has seen  with her type of cancer is 47. Cancer is hitting people at a younger and younger age. Babies are even being born with it. Will you be next?


Friday, March 17, 2017

What Plastics Are Safe?

 I was visiting with my daughter-in-law and she commented that she had changed out all of her drink containers to BPA free ones and felt her family was much safer now. I had just recently done some research into BPA and plastics and had some bad news for her.  I want to share with you, my friends what I found since plastics have come to the forefront of my mind recently. Our daughter was diagnoses with two cases of breast cancer and they are further investigating to see whether she has cancer elsewhere also. Her cancers are estrogen and progesterone fed and a source of imitation hormones is plastics.

 "We know that, "BPA causes hormone disruption, reproduction harm, increased risk of certain cancers, malformation of organs in children, risk of miscarriage, sperm defects, and increased risk of mental disabilities in babies. 93% of 2517 urine samples from people older than six years old showed detectable levels of BPA." A survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control  

The research is conclusive in the area of BPA and simply put, it is toxic. But what most don't know is that most companies have replaced BPA with BPS, which is just another bisphenol.

{In the case of BPS, there's reason to believe it is just as dangerous to human health, and possibly more so, than BPA, although the research is not nearly as abundant just yet. Writing in the journal Toxicology In Vitro, researchers stated:ii
"In 2011, the European Commission has restricted the use of Bisphenol A in plastic infant feeding bottles. In a response to this restriction, Bisphenol S is now often used as a component of plastic substitutes for the production of babybottles. One of the major concerns leading to the restriction of Bisphenol A was its weak estrogenic activity. By using two highly standardised transactivation assays, we could demonstrate that the estrogenic activity of Bisphenol A and Bisphenol S is of a comparable potency."
Not only does BPS appear to have similar hormone-mimicking characteristics to BPA, but research suggests it is actually significantly less biodegradable, and more heat-stable and photo-resistant, than BPA. GreenMedInfo reports:
"... while regulators wait for manufacturers who promote their products with "BPA-Free!" stickers at the same moment that they infuse them with BPS to voluntarily reformulate,there isevidence now that BPS may actually have worse effects to environmental and human health, alike..
"... BPS' relative inability to biodegrade indicates: 1) once it is absorbed into the human body, it may accumulate there for longer periods of time. 2) it is more likely to persist in the environment, making external exposures to it, and its many metabolites, much more likely than the faster degrading BPA. In other words, its potential to do harm will worsen along the axis of time, not lessen, which is a common argument made for the purported "safety" of BPA."}}
So what we have here is a switcheroo. One bad guy in exchange for another bad guy probably worse than the first. The whole BPA free campaign has millions of Americans making the switch but are we are no safer than before. Disturbing isn't it?

So once again here is an example of where we have to protect ourselves because no one else is going to do it. But how? How does one tell for sure if they have a BPA containing plastic?
This is what Mayo's says:

{A resin code of 7 appearing on plastic containers indicates that the container may be made of a BPA-containing plastic.  It is a rounded triangle with a seven inside.
Some exploratory scientific studies have appeared in the public literature that have raised questions about the safety of ingesting the low levels of BPA that can migrate into food from food contact materials. To address these questions the National Toxicology Program, partnering with FDA’s NCTR, is carrying out in-depth studies to answer key questions and clarify uncertainties about BPA

The testing showed that more than 70 percent of the products released chemicals that acted like estrogen. And that was before they exposed the stuff to real-world conditions: simulated sunlight, dishwashing and microwaving, Bittner says.  Then, you greatly increase the probability that you're going to get chemicals having estrogenic activity released," he says, adding that more than 95 percent
of the products tested positive after undergoing this sort of stress.The team concentrated on BPA-free baby bottles and water bottles, Bittner says, "and all of them released chemicals having estrogenic activity." Sometimes the BPA-free products had even more activity than products known to contain BPA.
"We've long cautioned consumers to avoid extreme heat and cooling for plastics, to discard scratched and worn plastics and we feel like this [study] validates one of our many concerns," she says.}

#5 Rubbermaid storage containers. Love these as the lids fit multiple sizes and they stack so nicely. I found the idea of Pinterest to use a tension rod to hold things in place in a drawer. LOVE IT!!

Here is a hint to whether a plastic may contain BPA. Hard plastic containers have a triangle with a number inside. If it is #3 or #7, it probably is made with BPA. Remember that heat, sunlight, or very cold temperatures causes greater release of BPA's in plastic so don't freeze or put plastics in the dishwasher.

The Green Guide, owned by The National Geographic Society devoted to greener living recommends plastics with the numbers #2, #4, and #5. I've just started checking in my own kitchen to see what numbers are lurking in my cupboards.

Another bad guy is Styrofoam.

This is what Green Guide has to say about it:
{Containers made of polystyrene (PS, or plastic #6, also known as Styrofoam) can also be dangerous, as its base component, styrene, has been associated with skin, eye and respiratory irritation, depression, fatigue, compromised kidney function, and central nervous system damage. Take-out restaurant orders often come in polystyrene containers, which also should be emptied into safer containers once you get them home.}

Once again a tension rod used to hold things in place. This idea is especially nice with drink containers.
There is no way to eliminate plastics from our society and why should we? I think a more sensible approach is to limit where and how we use them. The next blog talks a bit more about this and I will show you another place where food manufacturers are hiding BPA. But meanwhile tell me, how many of you were surprised by this information? I sure was.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The Birthing Process

Fresh milk!!! I am so excited. I can finally quit using frozen. Good thing because I'm about out. Yes, indeed Belle gave birth last Wednesday. Those of you who follow Easy Living the Hard Way Facebook page know this and have seen the photos but since this is an informational post, I've got lots to teach some of you. The rest of you can tell me if indeed this has been your experience. 

 But first let me introduce the oldest, a lovely young doe with great potential. She was born around two in the afternoon. The hour in which Belle had her first set of twins, five kidding seasons ago. Yes, a doe will normally have her kids within a three hour window of the first time she gives birth. If you know the day your doe bred and how many days that particular doe's gestation is, then you know when to head for the barn and keep a close eye out for possible complications. This has become more and more important as the years go by and my energy level keeps taking vacations. Getting up in the night for nothing makes getting up in the early morning to get grandkids off to school much more difficult than when I was young.

That means I have a tendency when possible to cull the night kidders. Two o'clock in the afternoon is perfect and that is just when Belle's had her first lovely little brown doe.

I was a little late for her arrival but hey, she was still all wet and slimy so it could not have been by more than a few minutes. I ran back for towels and the Betadine to do my job. I waited as mom and baby greeted each other and kept looking for the tell tale signs of the next arrival -- nothing. 'Well, this was getting ridiculous', I thought so I slipped under Belle and filled a baby bottle with colostrum. You can see there is no shortage of it. Look at that udder. I always make sure each kid gets as much colostrum as possible in them even if I am going to leave them to nurse their mother.  The only way to accurately gauge that is to bottle feed them the first time. After that I can teach them to nurse or let nature take its course. Yeah, like I've ever really done that. LOL "What if they get too weak or one of the other kids pushes them aside." See, I just can't take the pressure so I interfere. No one seems to mind.

This particular doe I leave her to mother the little ones but she is not keen on nursing. She was not taught to by her first owner and it did not come natural to her. In fact she would not even mother her kids until she came to my house. I started to teach her to suckle her little ones but then I thought I would like to keep some of her offspring and bottle feeding alleviates weaning problems. My does will nurse forever if given a chance and the kids can slip through the tiniest holes to get their moms so no, I don't let any little ones I want to keep nurse.  The other reason I bottle feed most of my kids is that they can go to new homes right away since feeding them does not require their mother.  This gives me the milk I need for the kitchen.

As I gauged whether I was going to keep this little one, I kept looking for sign of Belle being uncomfortable and pawing the ground but she was relaxed and happy. Relaxed and happy is not what I needed. You don't have this size of an udder and sides sticking wa... y out for nothing on a hay diet. There had to more kids inside. Each of our does will follow a certain pattern year after year that is characteristic of her as an individual when she gives birth. There are odd years of course when the doe refuses to follow her set pattern but for the most part she will do the same thing year after year.

I decided to just watch and wait. I would on a younger doe pull the rest of the kids I knew were inside if she was in hard labor and they failed to appear within twenty or thirty minutes. That or labor was not progressing along meaning a possible breach birth or two kids who's legs were tangled near the opening. The reason is if you wait too long the kids will be dead. But Belle was comfortable and relaxed and this was not her first kidding season. Experience has taught me after thirty one years of delivering kids and a gut feeling born of, been there done that's. This felt right and so I bent down and filled a bottle as she stood licking her baby. Milking stimulates uterus contractions. Sneaky aren't I?

 I've learned that with older does they often have a longer labor. More light labor in the beginning and a period of rest in between kids is common. More so between the first and second kid. The third follows shortly after. Patience is a virtue with these older girls. Sure enough, a little under an hour later Belle acted agitated and pawed the ground a few times and just three pushes later I saw.....

 The water bag with two feed inside. They are the dark mass just below her tail. Three pushes and out came a strapping buck. Most of the time a water bag appears first and then the feet but not with this doe. Five minutes later and three pushes, out came a little doe looking like her mother. Belle was done, she had her triplets.
How did I know she was done? Three kids is the normal max for a dairy goat. I've only had one doe have four. Four is too many since a doe rarely has enough milk for that many. Besides there are the pushier kids that hog all the milk. If left alone one or two of them will die.You don't want four. I did not expect four and besides, Belle's sides were sunk in in an empty look.

Some does take a while to pass their after birth but Belle's began to appear shortly after. This is what it looks like. No water bag, and no feet sticking out. Nope -- notice the fibrous texture though. This is the placenta and it has little buttons inside. No, not buttons like the ones on your coat but round dark red solid tissue masses that they call buttons. When I would be in charge of a mare foaling for our neighbors, I was required to count the buttons to make sure the mare had not retained part of her placenta. 

I admit, I never count the buttons in a goat's placenta. I have no idea how many there are suppose to be so how would I know if they are all there? The only thing I make sure of is that the goat does pass her placenta and hopefully in one long connected mass. It should of course be in proportion in size to the amount of kids it held. If it does not come out it putrefies. Big time infection. If ;your doe fails to pass hers within twelve hours I'd head to the vet for a Lutalyce shot. It will put the doe back into labor. She'll hate you but it is for her own good.  How do I know this -- experience.

Don't be alarmed, when your doe bleeds a light amount after giving birth. This can last for a few days and sometimes slightly longer in goats that had a tough delivery. To slow and stop the flow on a doe who is in my opinion bleeding more than I'd lie, I milk more frequently. This naturally tightens back up the uterus, stopping the flow. The larger the uterus size due to multiple kids, the longer it takes for the uterus to shrink back to pre-pregnancy size. If there is an infection, the bloody discharge after birth will become a more maroon color, not a red blood color. It will be thicker, and have a nasty smell to it. Then she needs a penicillin shot, a few of them.

I've taught my does to hold still without restraint in the pen and I bend over at will to fill baby bottles right from the tap. Since I bottle feed four times a day, 6 am, 12 noon, 6 pm, and 10 pm, this is plenty enough to get things cramping. With triplets, for the first few days where there is only colostrum being produced, this method empties my doe's utter each feeding. If there is extra like there was with Belle, I freeze it just in case I need it for kids born to another doe. At night I am sure to drain the doe fully before heading to bed.

 At five years of age, Belle was in light labor for several days after giving birth. She did not eat a great deal or drink much. Then on the third day, it abated and her milk began to come in. By the next day she was crying for relief in the morning. "Please milk me!!" 

She gave 3/4 a gallon this morning and the same amount tonight. Impressive for a Nubian on her first day of her milk coming in. Her supply will steady increase for a while before leveling off. The second morning, this morning, she gave the same amount. 

Remember, the more demand for milk, the more the doe will produce, within reason of course. This means milking three times a day produces more milk than milking twice a day and of course once a day. Milking frequently will up production but if sustained over a long period of time, this will decrease the longevity of your doe. Since I was gone much of yesterday, I only milked twice. Today, I will milk three times and give this poor girl some relief as her production should be greater yet.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Controlling Our Self-Sufficient Lifestyle Dreams


 How am I possibly going to get all this done? Self-sufficiency is overwhelming. Articles, blogs and documentaries make it seem like the simple life. It is not.  Have you noticed those featured as examples of self-sufficient are always someone who is single, a couple, or at the most two adults and two children, -- never a family of six. When I look carefully at these do it your-selfers, I notice there title of self-sufficient refers to only a few activities.
Does anyone really do it all themselves? The word self denotes just you but in truth we do not create anything ourselves. We use wood that a tree created or eggs that a hen created. Maybe a more correct term would be to organize or orchestrate at its simplest form but I get where the name comes from. The question then becomes, 'How will we define self-sufficiency?'

For us it is doing as much as possible ourselves. We have spent years gaining skills and in that learning we have come to realize we can't do it all? There is just not enough time, money or energy. That is when realization dawned. We need to simplify. We need to decide what we can do without? How can we substitute one thing for another. What exactly do we want, and are our wants realistic? The answer is a process of experimentation over time. It will mean thinking long and hard and putting those thoughts down on paper. Then changing theory to fact.

The first step in simplifying is to look at each category of what we currently do and decide what we can do without. How can we utilize each aspect of our plan to a greater capacity? More from our gardens, more from our livestock, and more clothing production and remolding ourselves. To do this we need to set up a permaculture and more efficient methods -less labor to create the same product. The goal will be to eliminate the need for as many outside products as possible. In using fewer outside products it includes learning to substitute and doing without. The whole point of it all is to be less dependent and remove ourselves from the toxicity of the world. Along the pathway we need to trim costs? 

Within the categories of self-reliant we are determining how big of an impact financially and health wise will each area of our plan make? This creates a priority list from which we move on to deciding what goes and what stays and what areas most of our efforts should be focused in. The determination is that gardens are more important economically and health wise so they need to take priority over livestock. Reality tells us that priority and time are not always the same thing. Livestock need to be taken care of all year but the garden work slows considerably in the winter months. We have to keep in mind that some things are not as important as others but still necessary emotionally or physically.

By virtue of the task, some things may take more time, even more money. Meat is more expensive to produce than vegetables but we live in Wyoming. Get it? We can't grow much in the winter. Individually we have different needs also such as my husband and I have physical needs of more protein. I have a need of high calcium levels. Livestock fit the bill and emotionally they are necessary also for us. It does not mean that we will be raising a large herd but instead we want to put more effort into a  larger garden, put in greenhouses, cold frames, and increase the size of our indoor winter garden.
In gaining a measure of self-sufficiency, we have discovered that we are capable of doing many things but should we? So them we question, is it best to purchase an item because we seldom use it? Should we buy something because we can not create the quality, or is it just too time intensive to do it ourselves? We are busy, busy people. Last but not least, what amount of enjoyment will this task bring into our lives? That means doing the task and enjoying the product. Sometimes mostly just enjoying the product.

In the least populated state wa....y up north,there are a great many things that you can not purchase or they are out of our price range. We have need of producing more than others simply because of our location. If you want a home produced product you can forget it. And who really knows what they are doing compared to what they are saying. Calling me a pessimist but I've learned to be leery. It is interesting how often our friends and family say, "I don't like this but since you made it I'm going to try it." It is not to make us feel better but experience has taught them that our home product and the stores seldom resemble each other in quality or flavor.  The superiority is worth the effort to us. 

What I'd like to know is how the title Self-sufficiency has come to be anyway connected to the simple life. Simple has nothing to do with it.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Menopause in Birds

Do birds go through menopause? Now I have you curious, don't I. The answer is maybe. The conclusion is not certain since no fowl has come forward to speak out in defense of their moody ways. You may think I'm making this all up but surely you've seen the famous photo, 'Angry Bird'. Definitely true. I have one hen that stocked Robins, another who hates Magpies, and sometimes they just be in a fight with each other. PMS, menopause, who knows. Maybe it is just too personal for any of them to say something. Observation by scientist say they don't appear to have hot flashes and there is no diminished bone density.

What they do known is that some birds like the Macaw lay all their eggs by their mid 30's and yet live 2 more decades.  A type of menopause is suspected in these birds. Of course I don't have any Macaws flying around near my home in the wilds of Wyoming but it does not mean my brain did not wonder if I let my chooks grow old would they go through menopause? I only wondered for a few seconds, then I remembered that chickens do not run out of eggs before they die. They have all the eggs they will ever lay inside their ovaries before they even begin laying. Production does slow down after age 2 and substantially after age 4 but the chicken die long before exhausting the potential egg supply.  

This is the ovaries of a chicken. The eggs are in full view when you open up the hen's cavity. The first thing to develop is the yolk. There are tiny, tiny ones that are pink, and others at various stages of  yellow to orange. Notice the ample supply of blood vessels feeding these larger yolks.

Older hens sometimes have problems with egg production such as being egg bound because as the hen ages, so do the eggs. Egg production in chickens diminishes after age 2. Substantially after age 4 where they may only lay a few times a month.
This is the tube that runs from the ovaries and out. See the egg inside the uterus or shell gland. Here it is developing the hard shell as calcium forms around it. 
This is a better view.

This is what the egg looks like just before entering the shell gland.

If you want to know the details of egg production in a hen, this site is great.

As our ten year old says when we process chickens, "It is kind of grose but fascinating too!"

Friday, March 3, 2017

How we Keep Whitetail Deer Out of the Hay Yard

Whitetail deer can jump 12 feet up and over if desperate. I've never seen them do it but the Internet says they can so it has to be true -  right? I have watched a whitetail slip between the top two wires on a barbwire fence as neatly as if they were threading a needle. This makes keeping deer out of the hay a real challenge especially when the snow is so deep making fences shorter especially when the snow gets hard and crusty. This is what we've come up with to keep them at out. A hay yard at the back of the barn where it is slightly protected against the building. The deer definitely are not jumping the two story barn so one side is next to it. The front is where the least amount of snow piles so it is simply a cow panel fence and then another four foot woven wire fence above that equaling about eight feet of height. The gate on the left is where the Otter sled and I go through. I have to duck as I'm not four foot nothing like our sweet petite eight year old granddaughter.
On the outside there is a pasture fence just a little less than four feet out. You can see where the snow has pulled the wires down. You can see that the whole fence line to the north will need a lot of repairs come spring thaw. But for now the hanging wires are just enough of a deterrent to keep the deer from leaping it and then trying to leap upward eight feet.  

On the backside of the hay yard is the buck goat pen with deep, deep snow drifts. Beyond that the goat yard  where the does are and the buck also in the winter time. The deer come into the goat yard to steal hay from the hay feeder but they never leap into the snow buck pen. It is just small enough to make them very uncomfortable with the deep snow. Here again we've utilized a two fence approach to keep them out. If there ever was a winter to try out our new hay yard system, it would be this one as the snow has been deep and storms frequent.

Ranchers have told me they have fed nearly twice as much hay this winter and supplies are getting short with fighting the deer for it. With a dry summer and grass short and scarce, there is not much to dig down for, for the deer. This makes the hay a great temptation. We need the moisture but it has been really hard on wildlife. Dead deer carcasses are piling up by the thousands around the county. We had too many deer in our area to start with but you never want to see this happen to them. In sympathy, we always leave a little hay outside the hay feeders for the deer that come into the yard but we can not afford to actually feed the deer any more than a small amount. The beef in defense of their hay have begun sleeping one on each open side of their hay feeder. It is every animal for himself.